People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Week 2 Menu

I didn't do it as well as week 1, but I still managed to get it done, which says something.  It's time consuming right now, but I know it will get easier as I go along. Zucchini was on sale this week.  I didn't include my grocery list because it was more work.  It's been a crazy week!

Here goes:

Week 2 menu
Breakfast and Dinner

Monday – breakfast quesadillas
Monday: Farmer's Market Vegetarian Quesadillas/ Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Tuesday – yogurt and fruit
Tuesday: Crepes with eggs and fruit (maple syrup) / scrambled eggs
Wednesday – breakfast muffins
Wednesday: Bow-tie Pasta with Veggies
Thursday - pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
Thursday: Zucchini Parmesan / garlic green beans
Friday – fruit smoothie
Friday: French toast with eggs


Breakfast Quesadillas

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend (2 oz.)
4 whole wheat OR flour tortillas (7-inch)
vegetarian bacon
6 EGGS, beaten

Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese on one side of each tortilla. Top each with 2 veggie bacon slices. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat until hot. Pour in eggs and scramble. Spoon eggs on top of veggie bacon, dividing evenly. Fold tortillas over filling to cover, pressing gently. Coat skillet with oil and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Toast quesadillas just until cheese is melted, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. CUT into wedges; serve with salsa.

Vegetarian Quesadillas


1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
cooking spray
6 (9 inch) whole wheat tortillas
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese


In a large nonstick pan, cook red pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and mushrooms in olive oil over medium to medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, or until just tender. Remove vegetables from pan.
Coat the same pan with cooking spray, and place one tortilla in pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese evenly over tortilla, and layer 3/4 cup of the vegetable mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle another 1/8 cup of cheese on the vegetables, and top with a second tortilla. Cook until golden on both sides, for approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove quesadilla from pan, and repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut each quesadilla into 8 triangles with a pizza cutter. Serve hot.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (1 pound) package frozen pepper and onion stir fry mix
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t ground cumin
2 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
4 (14 ounce) cans vegetable broth
1 can black beans drained/rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1 small package frozen whole kernel corn
12 ounces tortilla chips
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the pepper and onion stir fry mix, garlic, and cumin, and cook 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Mix in the tomatoes and beans. Pour in the broth, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes.
Mix corn into the soup, and continue cooking 5 minutes. Serve in bowls over equal amounts of tortilla chips. Top with cheese and avocado. (add some lime juice)


Fruit Crepes


4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
(T vanilla)
(fruit, cottage cheese)


In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, flour sugar and salt until smooth.
Heat a medium-sized skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Grease pan with a small amount of butter or oil applied with a brush or paper towel. Using a serving spoon or small ladle, spoon about 3 tablespoons crepe batter into hot pan, tilting the pan so that bottom surface is evenly coated. Cook over medium heat, 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Scrambled Eggs: 4
scramble eggs


Breakfast Muffin Mix

1 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp finely snipped chopped candied lemon peel
1/2 cup snipped dried cherries, strawberries, apples, or apricots 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix all dry ingredients and store


Beat 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 cup milk (or vanilla yogurt) and 1 egg together in a mixing bowl until combined. Stir in contents of jar. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups and bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes or until done. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Transfer to a wire rack and cool slightly; serve warm.

Bow Tie Pasta With Veggies


1 (16 ounce) package farfalle (bow tie) pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
5 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, bell pepper, and 1/2 the chopped tomatoes until tender. Season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add pasta and 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix well, and heat through. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and remaining chopped tomatoes.


Pumpkin Chocolate chip muffins


1 ¼ cup brown sugar
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons water
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Zucchini Parmesan


2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a large pot boil the zucchini until tender; drain. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is tender.
Combine the zucchini, onion and garlic in a 9x12 inch casserole dish, and mix well. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the mixture and stir well. Top with mozzarella cheese (use more or less depending on your preference).
Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is bubbly.

Garlic Green Beans


1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium head garlic - peeled and sliced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans green beans, drained
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter with olive oil; add garlic, and cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in green beans, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekly Menu

In my quest to have everything organized this year, I decided to start doing "meal planning" and have a weekly menu.  I'm trying to follow what is on sale, in season, etc.  Asparagus is on sale this week, so I tried to incorporate it into a lot of my recipes.

So, here is my menu this week:

Week 1 menu

Monday:  Asparagus soup with spinach/cranberry salad and biscuits
Tuesday: Taco Pita Pizza
Wednesday: Chicken Wraps with asparagus/tomato salad
Thursday: Bean/sweet potato burritos
Friday: Pumpkin Soup with asparagus side dish and homemade bread

Ingredient shopping list:
black pepper
sea salt
taco seasoning
chili powder

lemon juice
olive oil
brown sugar
red wine vinegar
Dijon mustard
Canola oil
prepared mustard
soy sauce

1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups milk
5.5 cups plain yogurt
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese

4 red onions
4 lbs asparagus
(6 ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1 small bunch leaf lettuce
5 tomatoes (Roma)
10 grape tomatoes, halved
6 cloves of garlic - or one bunch
1 bunch of cilantro
1 lime
3 summer squash
3 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
3 sweet potatoes

Canned Goods:
5 cups veggie broth
3 cans kidney beans
1 can pumpkin

1 12-oz. pkg. Ground Mexican seasoned turkey
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

4 whole wheat pitas
16 tortillas

1/2 cup dried cranberries


Asparagus soup

1 pinch of black pepper
2 t lemon juice
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 T sea salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 chopped onion
3 cups veggie broth
2 cups milk
2 cups yogurt
2 lbs asparagus

Place asparagus and onion in a large saucepan or stock pot with 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 6-8 minutes). Reserve 8 asparagus tips for garnish. Pour vegetable mixture into an electric blender and puree until smooth. Using the same saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Slowly add flour, salt, and pepper while stirring continuously. Cook for 2 minutes, being careful that the flour doesn’t brown. Stir in the remaining 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth and increase the heat to medium-high. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the vegetable puree and milk to broth. Whisk in 1 cup of yogurt and lemon juice. Stir until heated through (careful not to boil to avoid curdling). Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt and reserved asparagus tips. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

*Biscuits are just the canned variety this week. 

Cranberry Spinach Salad

(6 ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

In a bowl, combine the spinach, and cranberries. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients; shake well. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat; serve immediately.

Taco Pita Pizza

1 12-oz. pkg. Ground Mexican seasoned turkey
4 whole wheat pitas
2/3 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mild salsa
1/2 cup shredded leaf lettuce
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup Brown Cow Plain Yogurt
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, rough chop
1 tbsp. taco seasoning

Preheat oven to 350º F.
Place pitas on a non-greased cookie tray. Sprinkle each evenly with ground turkey, cheddar cheese and mild salsa. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and pitas have crisped around the edges.
In a small bowl blend together plain yogurt, taco seasoning and cilantro, set aside until ready to use.  Top each pita with shredded leaf lettuce and diced tomato. Drizzle yogurt mixture over each taco pita pizza. Slice pizzas into 4ths and enjoy!

Grilled Chicken Wraps / Veggie Wraps

2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of cilantro
1 cup plain yogurt
juice of one lime
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste

Chicken Wraps
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
3 summer squash
3 zucchini
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
4 whole wheat tortillas

Dressing Place garlic and cilantro into a food processor and chop into semi-coarse pieces. Add yogurt, lime juice, chili powder and black pepper and blend. Adjust taste by adding salt. Chill and reserve.

Chicken Wraps Season chicken breasts by rubbing with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper and 1 tbs. olive oil. Marinade chicken breasts for 30-40 minutes. While chicken is marinating, slice the squash lengthwise, slice onion into 1/4 inch rings, and toss squash, onions and whole peppers with remaining olive oil. Grill these items and then allow to cool. Peppers will take slightly longer, they should be grilled until they are black. Once peppers are blackened, rinse away the charred skin, and then slice into strips. Slice squash halves into 1/2 inch pieces. Grill chicken next, and once done, allow to cool, slice into strips. To serve, place grilled vegetables and chicken into a whole wheat tortilla and top with cilantro yogurt dressing.

Asparagus/Tomato Salad

2 tomatoes, chopped
4 tbs. plain yogurt
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed

Steam asparagus for 5-7 minutes and transfer to an ice bath. Once cooled, cut asparagus into third. In a separate, medium size bowl, mix together yogurt, mustard and cheese. Add asparagus and tomatoes and toss. Serve cold as a side dish.

Sweet Potato Burritos

Canola oil
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3 cans kidney beans
2 cups water
1T chili powder
1 t cumin
4 t prepared mustard
3 T soy sauce
3 mashed sweet potatoes (bake, then mash)
12 tortillas
8 ozs shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 350
Sauté onion and garlic until soft.  Stir in beans and mash.  Gradually stir in water and heat until warm.  Remove from heat and add other ingredients.  Divide evenly between tortillas, top with cheese, fold as burrito and bake for 12 minutes.

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

1 1/2 cups yogurt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups veggie broth
1 can pumpkin
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a 2 1/4 quart saucepan. Add onion and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add broth, pumpkin, sugar, salt and nutmeg, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add lemon juice, and serve warm topped with dollop of yogurt.

Asparagus Side Dish

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10 grape tomatoes, halved

Combine the asparagus and water in a 10 inch skillet and place over medium heat; cover.
Allow the asparagus to steam until tender, about 10 minutes; drain. Reduce heat to low and return the skillet to the heat. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Add the grape tomatoes to the skillet and replace the lid. Allow to sit covered until the cheese melts and the tomatoes are slightly steamed, about 2 minutes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Greek Bean Pitas

Greek Bean Pitas
Serves 6

It's one of our favorites.

1 (15 oz.) can white beans
1 diced cucumber
3 diced Roma tomatoes
1 diced bell pepper ( I used orange tonight, but any color works)
1 diced red onion
1 can pitted black olives -- chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
whole wheat pitas
lettuce leaves (something nice and green for nutrition)
crumbled feta cheese

Combine all ingredients except pitas, feta cheese and lettuce in a bowl. (May
be made several hours in advance.) stuff the pocket of pitas with lettuce on sides, then bean
mixture between lettuce. Sprinkle feta cheese on top. Eat. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Bars

These aren't sweet enough for me, but Emily likes them, so those who want a low sugar, no butter sweet fix... or something, here they are.

1/3 cup brown sugar (I did 1/2 cup and it wasn't sweet enough, though)
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (that canned stuff is actually healthy)
2 tablespoons of whatever oil you like to use (or melted butter, cause it tastes better)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cocoa (fair trade!)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup of chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 and oil/spray an 8 inch square baking pan
mix the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and oil in a mixer until well blended
Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate bowl until well mixed, then mix into the wet mixture until well blended.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour into your baking dish/pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool a little bit, and eat.  ---- and think about the delicious brownies you could be eating instead

How to make your own Biscuit Mix with no hydrogenated oils

Here's one you can make yourself, and it's much much healthier.  I'm going to try using some rye flour and see how it turns out - like maybe just 1/3 rye flour (it has a smaller glycemic load and far more nutrition)


   10 cups all-purpose flour
   1/2 cup baking powder
   2 tablespoons white sugar
   2 teaspoons salt
   1 1/4 cups vegetable oil


Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add oil and mix with a fork or pastry blender; you should have small lumps throughout the mixture.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to three months.

Friday, April 30, 2010

How to make your own Carrot Cake

Here is my recipe for making a carrot cake from scratch.  So far, so good. My kids and husband don't like nuts, so I didn't make this recipe with nuts, but you can add them if you like.  I also didn't add pineapple because the kids won't eat anything that may be slimy in the cake, so you can add a can of crushed pineapple that has been well drained if you like.

4 eggs
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (the real one, not artificial)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I use the lower fat one, but it doesn't taste as good)
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, brown  sugar and vanilla. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add to wet mixture and stir just until all flour is moistened (if you stir too much, it will be dense). Stir in carrots - just until mixed  in. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake. --- Just a small fyi: It's much easier to do if the cream cheese and butter have sat out until they reach room temp.  It's almost impossible if the butter is cold, and just harder if the cream cheese is cold.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to make your own yogurt and yogurt cheese

Okay, this is how I make our yogurt.  I'll write down the small recipe, for those who don't go through as much, then the gallon of yogurt recipe.  Also, note at the end that I show you how to make yogurt cheese, which is quite good.  ---- and Greek Yogurt, which is so popular now.

Smallish amount of yogurt:

4 cups of milk (whole milk works best, but low fat is just fine)
1/2 cup of powdered milk
1/2 cup of plain yogurt that has active cultures (this is where you get your live cultures)
Some way to insulate your yogurt for 12 hours.  I use my crock pot because it is so insulated, and wrap it in a quilt - unplugged, of course.

First, many people will pasteurize the milk before making the yogurt.  I don't, but if you prefer, you will want to bring your milk up to 185 degrees F, then let it cool down to 120.  Otherwise, pour your milk and powdered milk  in a pan on the stove and slowly (stirring constantly) bring your milk up to 120 degrees F.  You do not want your stove on high, or it will scald your milk and make it taste nasty.  Do this slowly, while stirring, with your stove on medium. Once you hit 120F, turn the stove off and stir for another minute or so.  Grab your yogurt that you are using for culture and pour it in a bowl - then pour about a cup of your warmed milk in the bowl and stir them together until your yogurt is nice and runny.  This will keep it from clumping when you pour it in your milk mixture.  At this point, you want to pour the yogurt in your milk mixture, stir well, (if you want vanilla yogurt, or sweet yogurt, now is the time to stir in vanilla - and/or a quarter of a cup of sugar.  I prefer not to sweeten it.) and insulate your entire mix.  There are different ways to insulate it, including a commercial yogurt maker, a crock pot, etc.  I pour it in my warmed crock pot (not hot, just not cold), put the lid on, and wrap the whole thing in a quilt.  --- let sit undisturbed for 12 hours or so.   If you don't like tart yogurt, let it sit for 8 hours, if you like it really tart, let it sit more than 12 hours.
After the time is up, stir your yogurt and put it in your fridge --- it's ready!  When you want to eat it, you can add a sweetener and/or some fruit compote.  Sometimes we just add some jelly to it.

The gallon recipe:
1 gallon milk (whole works best, but low fat is just fine)
1 cup of powdered milk
1 cup of yogurt

Follow directions as above!  Again, I use my crock pot to insulate it (keeping it in the base, even). -- wrap it up really well with blankets, towels, whatever works.

Greek Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese:
Once your yogurt is done, grab a strainer, a coffee filter, and a bowl.  Put the coffee filter in the strainer, and keep the strainer over the bowl.  Pour as much of your yogurt as will fit in the strainer/coffee filter, and place in the fridge (keeping it over the bowl of course).  This will strain some of the whey off so that your yogurt is thick.  In a few hours, it should be thick enough, but if not, leave it longer.

If you are making yogurt cheese, do as above but leave it there for 12 hours or more.  I've left it straining for more than 24 hours.

Throw that whey in your smoothie or something, so it's not wasted!  It's very healthy.

*It sounds harder than it is, but I can assure you that the second time around, it's super easy.  Once you get the hang of it, you don't even measure.... just eyeball it and it only takes a few minutes once your milk is heated.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to make your own laundry detergent

I've been trying to make everything myself, and here is the laundry detergent I've been making.  It's surprisingly easy, sort of fun, and works just as good as Tide.

What you need:
You will need a bar of soap.  I smell the different soaps and decide from there.  Right now, I'm using Lever 2000, cause I liked the smell that day.
About a quarter of a bar of Fels-Naptha soap, found in the laundry detergent section of your grocery store.  I got mine at Kroger, on the top shelf.
1 cup of washing soda
1/2 cup of Borax  --- both of which can also be found in the laundry detergent section of your local grocery store.
A bucket
A pot

First, you'll want to put about 4 cups of water in the pot, on the stove, so it will start heating up while you are doing the next step.
Then, you really want a food processor for this:  Shred your bar of soap and 1/4 bar of Fels-Naptha.
Once shredded, slowly add to the water while stirring.  Keep stirring every few minutes, and watching your pot, until the soap shreds are dissolved and you have soap soup.
Add about 3.5 gallons of hot water to your bucket, then pour your soap soup, your borax, and your washing soda in the bucket.  Stir well until all is mixed.  Put a lid on it and let set for 24 hours.  At this point, it will be all gel-like and funky looking.  That's all cool.  Just use a wire whisk or something and stir it up really well.  I pour some into an old laundry detergent bottle so it's easy when I want to use it, and use 1-2 capfulls of the laundry soap mix per load.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

National Geographic in our front yard

It always seems that our yard could be a location for National Geographic. There is always something interesting to see.

Here are some scenes from this weekend:

First off, Tony heard a chirping, so moved his flashlight to the sound. It was unfortunate that what he saw was a hummingbird that had been caught by a orb weaver spider - Yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia).

We tried to save the hummingbird, but the spider had already given it the fatal bite and it died just seconds after we removed it from the web.

We have a lot of these beautiful moths that just hang out all over our plants at night. I haven't figured out what kind of moth it is yet.

And the other night, me and Emily spent over three hours watching a cicada nymph morph into a cicada. The nymphs will spend 13-17 years underground, then all of a sudden they all start crawling out in droves to become cicadas. This a
ppears to be the year for them to come out, as we have shells from them all over every vertical surface.

Here is what unfolded:

This is the nymph who h
ad just crawled up from the ground. He is still covered in dirt, and although he is ugly, we grew to see him as cute in his own special way. He crawled around for a long time looking for just the right place to morph.

After a while, he started splitting open and emerging. It was interesting to be there and watch as he quivered and shook while slowly coming out.

And finally, he emerged as a beautiful cicada! I'm still looking up the species, but it is beautiful. It took until 11am the next morning for the cicada to finally fly for the first time.

And just a few more random photos:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Emily had her first fossil dig!

Me and Tony used to be members of the Dallas Paleontological Society and take Christopher on digs quite often. After Emily was born, we stopped going, and intended to start again sooner. Lately, Emily has been looking through all of our fossils and showing a great deal of interest. We decided it would be a good time to take her on her first dig, so that is what she did today.

The dig went great, and she found her first fossil within the first five minutes of being there!

It's an ammonite, and turned out to be a pretty good one. It's good to find them whole, which this one is.

We all found several nice ammonites and echinoids, and altogether had a great day. I added a link of more photos here: Emily's First Fossil Dig

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Perseids meteor shower

We have been going out to watch the Perseids meteor shower the past couple of nights. It's pretty impressive! This meteor shower is the result of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. We are in the path of the debris right now in our orbit, so as we go through it, we get to see the show of debris hitting our atmosphere (or would that be our atmosphere hitting it?) and burning up. We have seen many very impressive meteors the past couple of nights. It was Emily's first meteor shower, so was a bit special to us. We take our beach chairs outside and sit with our heads up for a few hours, watching the show. It beats TV any day!

Link to Nasa:

This weekend, we are planning Emily's first fossil dig. We haven't been in a while. Now that she is older and will listen to instructions well, we can start taking her. Wish us luck, and hopefully Emily will find her first fossil!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What happens when a six year old is bored?

They use their imaginations! Or, they create spider webs in the restroom and snare unsuspecting moms.

Mind you, this wasn't just any spider web. You see the toilet paper? That's the part that the spider walks on, because it's not sticky. Spiders don't want to get tangled in their own webs. What you don't see is the clear tape, which is what the spider catches bugs (or in this case, mom) with.

It was a great science experiment and demonstrated how "bugs" don't see the sticky web and go right into it, getting it stuck all over them (including their hair, which is painful to remove sticky web from).

I have a new respect for bugs.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Asparagus Soup

Yummy Asparagus Soup

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus (I just assume that a bunch will add up to a pound, it doesn't have to be measured perfectly - ends cut off)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (once again, don't measure perfectly. If you are using cans, just use a couple of cans) or more if desired.
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • seasonings to taste (I use garlic and some chef shake. If I have herbs in the garden, I always pick some to add, usually parsley)
  • grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In saucepan, saute asparagus in canola oil until bright green. (be sure to remove the hard ends or your soup will turn out stringy)
  2. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Place vegetable mixture in an electric blender and puree until smooth (or use your immersion blender, which is what I do).
  4. Melt butter in pan. Stir while sprinkling flour, salt, and pepper into the butter. Do not let the flour brown. Allow the mixture to cook only 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth and increase the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.
  6. Stir the vegetable puree and milk into the saucepan. Whisk yogurt into the mixture, followed by lemon juice. Stir until heated through, then ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The last time I ever take Emily for cheap Mexican food...

Being that it was a busy night and at 8pm I didn't have dinner even thought about, I decided to stop at the local taco place. Now, we don't normally eat that sort of food, of course, so it was a once-in-a-very-long-time thing.

Emily didn't know what she wanted, so I ordered her some chips with cheese (frequently called nachos). It seemed like a good enough choice to fill her up and get the hell out of there, anyhow.

We got our food and Emily sat there staring at her "nachos" like they had spiders in them. I asked what was wrong (which was a mistake, of course), and she said (not in her soft voice), "Look at these. They're greasy! Look at all this grease!" she picked a chip up, holding it like it was contaminated, and continued to exclaim how greasy and "nasty" it was. "What did they do, pour grease on them? I can't eat this! I'm huuuuuuunnnnngry, but I don't want to eat GREASE for dinner!" So, I traded her. I gave her my chicken taco for her chips and cheese. Naturally, she picked the chicken taco up and stuff dripped out the other end of it. "Oh nasty, this is greasy too!", to which I replied, "It's not grease, it's SAUCE." She wasn't buying it. Okay, it really was grease, but it has sauce in it too.

People were staring.
We probably won't be going back to that place again.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A swampy adventure...

I think we need to change our middle names to "adventure". Or maybe to "crazy"?
When I said that we should take a walk this evening, I didn't mean through a swamp. No, really, I didn't.

So, me, Emily, and The Beast accompanied Tony on another adventure. Thankfully, this one was not spider filled. It was actually cool... I have to admit. We went through one of those state areas that are protected... a state park of sorts. It's all wooded, like a mini jungle. So, we followed the first "trail", which is really a river when it's not a gazillion degrees out. There were tons of little frogs, which was a dream come true for Emily. She loves frogs. She tried to catch them, but they were too quick ... even for her. She did manage to catch one, and let it go in a safer spot.

Anyway, we walked and walked .... oh, about 300 miles.... when we came to a swamp. It was all swamp. There were two ways to go... forward, or back. So, we moved forward. Tony asked me if this was too much for me.... for me? No way. So, I walked through the swamp. It stunk, and I wondered what might be lurking... but it wasn't bad. The Beast, on the other hand, decided that he would go no further. If you know anything about Basset Hounds, you konw that when they decide that they aren't going, they aren't. You can tug and pull all you want... they are not moving. By the time we had walked several yards in stinky water up to my knees, we had to turn around.

We turned around and walked back, then took the other "trail". Thankfully, no swamps on this one. We walked along, and it was very pretty. We walked along a river, saw more frogs, saw trees and just a general beauty all around. We got to a part of the lake and walked up on an egret nesting ground. They were huge, and white, and noisy. They are absolutely beautiful. I stood in awe for a bit, just watching them.

We were watching the egrets when Tony asked Emily if she liked this adventure. Her reply was, "When I grow up, I'm going to take better care of my kids. I'll never let them near a place like this." We thought that was pretty funny. As we walked back, the forested areas were getting pretty dark and we could see fireflies. Emily got quite a kick out of that.

At some point, something that sounded huge moved in the brush. It was too dark for me to see, and I have to admit to getting scared. We shined flashlights in the general area, and I imagined a large dog, lion, tiger, panther (well, okay, little exaggeration, but whatever)..... Tony insists it was an armadillo. I still think it could have been a bear or something equally frightening.

I told Tony that we would have to bring the camera next time. Yeah, I actually said, "next time" (proof that I am crazy).

(ps, it wasn't really a swamp, more of a shallow pond, but lets just call it a swamp, shall we?)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A "spider" filled adventure

I generally refuse to accompany Tony on his fishing expeditions. There is a reason for this refusal.

So, I decided to be a nice person and agree to go with him. Tony has a very strong sense of adventure. He doesn't just go to a spot on the lake and fish. He has to find the hardest spot to get to, which is exactly what he did. We had to go through some brush, move some branches aside, then scale rocks on a steep incline. I had the dog's leash in one hand, and Emily's hand in the other, so this was quite a challenge. Being the good sport that I am, I didn't complain.... I just went along with the adventure.

We finally got to the spot that he wanted to fish in. It is under a bridge, and on several large rocks. As he was fishing, I was talking to Emily and just looking around. I looked down to see a "daddy long leg" (I know they aren't really spiders, but they look like them and I'm still scared of them). Being scared of spiders (or anything that looks remotely like them), I moved away from it. When I moved away, another came up. Once again, I moved away, and once again, another came up. A few minutes later they started coming up from the rocks... thousands of them. It was like watching a nightmare. They were everywhere. Apparently, at a certain time in the early evening, they all come up from between the rocks. Me and Emily were screaming and jumping from side to side to try to keep them off of our feet. I dropped the dog's leash, grabbed Emily, and headed back to the car. At some point, me and Emily were running along when a real spider (a very large one, I might add) caught the wind and blew off of the big rock, right on to her face. She screamed and screamed and couldn't move. I picked her up and just kept running toward the car. I ran through the brush, knowing perfectly well that I was running through webs and touching real spiders.

When I got to the car, my hair was covered in spider webs. I got the shivers and they wouldn't go away. I had Emily check me over for spiders, and she didn't see any. Thank goodness! So, we sat on the trunk of the car and waited for Tony. It didn't take him long to show up, because when Emily screamed from the spider being in her face, The Beast took off running toward us. This dog is protective, and the sound of his Emily screaming was enough to bring him running to us. (I love The Beast!) On the drive home, I brushed a spider off of my leg. No big deal, really... though I was finished with spiders. As luck would have it, I ended up with a nice spider bite on my upper thigh. It already has a black center and a rash around it. Yuck. (It is not a brown recluse bite, though. No worries. I've had one of those and they are very painful. This one does not hurt, and is already healing, despite the black middle.)

I think me and Emily are done with adventures for a while (I always say that, and I always go on the next one)...

For more info on the "Daddy Long Leg", click here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Emily says...

I decided to keep a regular spot here for my "Emily-isms".

"I mean, this Easter bunny thing is kinda creepin me out. He just breaks into our house while we're sleeping?"

I was telling her that her martial arts place is having another tournament. So, she said, "I might do it. If I won, would you buy me a piece of wood..(pause) or a cactus?" ---ps, don't most kids ask for things like candy and necklaces?


"That's the wasp that stung the f*ck out of you!" Me: "Emily, don't say that word." Emily: "But (insert name here) told me that I can't say heck or hell." -- so apparently she figures if she can't say heck or hell, f*ck is a good substitute.


 "Mom, you know what my favorite things in the whole world are? You and water."

 "People say that I can't dig a hole to China, and I know that, I get it! But I *can* dig a hole that still goes back to Texas. Okay? I mean, really, I can just dig a hole, it doesn't have to go to China or something."


"Mommy, for my birthday, I want cool things like toasters, vacuums and things.  I don't want baby things like toys."


We were driving home and saw an animal on the side of the road. Emily asked if it was dead, and I said that I was pretty sure it was. She said, "we should go back and poke it with a stick"


"Mom, don't you wish that birds had a thing where when they lose a feather, another bird finds it and puts it in a special place - like a lost and found for birds - so they can find their feathers?"


"You know what I am? I'm a martial arts princess!"


"I'm so happy I brushed my teeth! When I didn't brush my teeth, my cheeks never looked so healthy. Now ...they look healthy and my chin looks healthy too."


"Socks make my toes get mad at my feet. That's why I don't like socks, mom."


"Mom, Kroger must make a lot of money, cause they are right by martial arts." ---- so now we know where all Kroger's business comes from!


Emily has been obsessed with having a salt water tank. So, we set up one of our tanks for her to put some live rock in. She wants me to look up all possible information on saltwater aquariums for her. So she said, "Mom, I need to tell you, though: Having a tank is a big responsibility."


Mom, daddy said he doesn't have any money. Why doesn't he have any money when he works all the time? Do you take it all away from him? 

"mom, I'm trying to be like a ninja"


We were in the kitchen and she was asking me about why I decided not to be vegetarian anymore (after years and years of being one). I was explaining, so she thought a moment and said, "okay, I'm going to be a vegetarian from now on." She sat there for about 15 seconds and said, all desparately, "oh maaaan, I just can't handle it anymore! Okay, I won't be a vegetarian."


I'm not sure you'll ever hear this from any other kid: "Mom, can I please do more school work? I wanna do more school work tonight."


I was sitting here pretending to hear and know what Emily was saying. Apparently she had asked me some sort of question pertaining to whatever it was she was talking about. I think she may have repeated her question a few times, and each time I answered with "mmmm hmmm" as though I were listening. All of a sudden, she says, "Mom, focus!"


"mom, I can't imagine what it would be like not to like science. I mean, look at the sky: It's white. That's no big deal, the sky is white. But if you like science, you think 'why is the sky white?' and that's science. You wonder why about everything, even things that people don't think about."

Tony was saying that he's getting fat, so Emily said, "no daddy, you're not fat!  You just weigh a lot."

Mommy, when I grow up, I'm going to have 30 acres of land and I'm going to have a little house or a big house.  You won't like the smell of my house, though, because I'm going to have a lot of animals.  And, when I grow up, will you be a good grandma for my kids?  You have to have a house with an apple tree for my kids.  They need an apple tree.  

Emily was telling me that she liked it when I did certain things and wanted to know what I liked her to do. So, I said, "I like it when you..." and started laughing and laughing (while rolling on the floor). After a couple of times doing this, she tried to complete the sentence for me, only instead of saying "laugh", she said very seriously, "control yourself?".

Emily was on the playground and a little boy pushed her down to get to something before her, so she came up to me and said, "Mom? I think that boy's mom forgot to explain to him that girls can be tough." She acted very concerned.

We were playing the wii when I said, "Oh man, I suck at this game!" Emily came and whispered in my ear, "Mom, you're supposed to say I CAN DO IT. You get better at it if you just practice. Don't say you suck, just practice."

"I don't want people to look at me and see a girl who loves pink and all that girlie stuff. I want them to see me and think I'm tough and dusty." - I call her Princess Tough and Dusty now.

Before eating her dinner: "Wait a minute. Does this have any hydrogenated oils in it?"

Said to our friend (who isn't fond of exercise): "I call your butt your anchor."

Emily talking to her friend - "don't go in the garage, I have a demon cat living in there." Her friend - "but your mom is in there" Emily - "yeah, my mom is evil, she can go in there"

While we were driving in the car, there was a fly buzzing around. Emily suddenly said, "Somebody needs to Obama that fly!"

"Mom, don't tell daddy this cause he won't want to have another girl, but when I was outside, I was holding a black widow just for fun. I saw a black spider with a big ball for its butt (abdomen), so I was petting it, then I held it and it was a black widow. But don't worry mom, it didn't bite me or anything." --- probably shouldn't let her be outside without me, huh?

"Mommy, I found a way to watch movies even when I'm not allowed to, and I can't even get in trouble for it!" I sat there with a confused look, "how?" Emily: "I just watch them in my head!"

This was completely random: "Mommy, if you have been looking for a mountain made out of candy, where the trees are even candy, you won't be able to find it. You have to make it yourself. If you really want something like that, you have to just make it, because you won't just find it."

Emily: Mom, what is it that makes babies smell so good? Me: Hmmm, I dunno. They do smell good, don't they? Emily: Maybe it's a scent that makes humans not want to eat their babies?

I was taking a shower one day (I do that sometimes). Emily walked in to tell me something, and there was this long pause. All of a sudden, she pipes up and says, "Wow, it's like washing an elephant."

While on an adventure where we walked through a swamp (well, a shallow river or something, anyway) and some wooded areas... "When I grow up, I'm going to take better care of my kids. I'll never let them around a place like this."

I told Christopher that he was being difficult. Emily pipes up with, "I told you to get rid of him, mom!"

"I love you so much mommy! I love you even with short hair and no matter what shirt you're wearing." ~Emily

Emily: "Mom, you know what the grass is?"
Me: "What is the grass?"
Emily: "The Earth's hair"
Emily: "You know what lava is?"
Me: "No, what is lava?"
Emily: "The Earth's blood."
Emily: "You know what mountains are?"
Me: "What are they?"
Emily: "The Earth's goosebumps! I can't believe you don't know that, mommy!"

Emily does this thing... every now and then, just out of the blue, she'll pop up and say, "mom?" and I HAVE to say, "yes Emily?" and she'll say, "I like you." And I've just been all sentimental about it. So, she says to me the other day, "Sometimes I just say I like you because I forgot what I was going to tell you or I don't know what to say."

When she purchased one of those scented car air fresheners for me, she opened it, smelled it, and said, "Mom, do you like the smell of chemically vanilla?"

Of Emily, remodeling, bread pets, and other stuff...

Once again, it's been a while since I wrote in this blog, and I apologize for that. A few friends have asked that I blog more often, so I will try.

So what is going on in our household? Well... too much to even write about, of course! I'm never bored.

At the moment, we are doing a restroom remodel. Tony thinks that we are only replacing the tub, but we will actually replace the flooring and sink, etc as well. We already replaced the
toilet. But the tub.... oh, the tub! First off, I picked out one of those bath surrounds to put in there instead of tile. The surrounds they have now look really nice. Had I not seen them at Lowes, I would have never been open to the idea of having plastic panels around my tub instead of nice tile. Really, though... they look nice.

Now, one has to realize that our restroom is tiny. I can sit on the toilet and lean one way to wash my hair in the tub and the other way to wash my hands in the sink. No, I haven't actually done this, but I really think I could if I wanted to.

So, realizing how tiny our restroom is, you can only imagine how fun it was to maneuver a tub out of there. It took us hours....
literally hours. Before we even played with the idea of taking the tub out, we knocked the rest of the tiles down, to take the drywall out and replace it with duralock (isn't that what it's called? It's like drywall, but for places like around a shower). As it turns out, the builders who slapped this place up used drywall instead of something graded for a tub, tile, and water. The result of this wackjob was mold and disintegrated drywall.

As all home repairs go, once we started doing one thing, we found another thing we would have to do. So, we started out with replacing a tub. This seems like something where you would pull a tub out and put another i
n its place, right? But it's not. Now, we have to replace the plumbing, the drywall, and the flooring. As it turned out, we also had a leak, resulting in standing water under the tub, that seeped under the linoleum on a pretty constant basis, creating a disaster that we didn't know was there. We have an amazing amount of work to do in such a tiny room. We are do-it-yourselfers, so we will be doing it all ourselves. What an adventure!

And, in other news.... Emily is officially registered for kindergarten! She starts this Fall. I'm excited, nervous, and overwhelmed. She is such a free-spirited and strong little chica.... I hope that she isn't forced into a different mold. I love who she is and want her to be "her" forever. She's funny, smart, witty, strong, and so much more. She's the silly little girl who loves to surprise me. For a while, she was having a hard time counting past 15. So, I told her that when she can count to 20, we would go buy another webkinz. She looked at me with that little stinker smile and said, "Okay, okay... 1234......20". She counted to 20 perfectly. So, on the way to pick up a webkinz, I was telling her how happy I was that she can count to 20 so perfectly now and that I would buy her a webkinz for each 10 more that she counts. So, she let out a long sigh, with that smile that I know all too well, and counted to 50. Those things are expensive! I certainly didn't expect to buy 4 in the same day. Later she told me, "Mom, I can't tell you the things that I know because I have to keep it a secret until the right time to tell you." I know what she's getting at.

Being the tricky little mom that I am, I said, "What? nut-uh. Like what? I know ever
ything you can do!" So, she proceeded to count to 100. Ahhhh, so she has that all figured out! Now, she's doing addition, subtraction, and simple multiplication, and being able to get past 20 is very helpful in practicing these skills.

When she was an early 5, we were in the grocery store. She was in the cart sorting the yogurts (we buy a lot of yogurt) into piles. I noticed that she was counting the piles, but just went about my shopping business. After a few minutes, she said, "Mom, I know what two twos is! Four. I know what two threes is! Six. I know what three threes are! Nine." She just went on and on with this. I was completely shocked.

She can read 3 letter words as well. The other day, I told Christopher, "you should come in here and hear how well your sister is reading now!" and Emily responded, "Yeah, Chris.... B-R-A-T brrrrat!". I never thought we would have sibling rivalry he
re, but apparently there is a little bit of it. Of course, we all got a huge laugh at her new found skills. If you've ever watched the movie, Roger Rabbit, Emily reminds me of a line in that movie.... When Valiant says, "You mean you could've taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?" and Roger responds, "No, not at any time, only when it was funny!"

Speaking of funny, Emily has a new thing. Hopefully this is a normal phase they go through. She likes us to buy baquette (long, hard, thin loaves of brea
d) for her. She doesn't eat them, they are her pets. She has a toy dog leash that she will put on one and walk it around, take it places with her, and take care of it. We have affectionately named these pets, "Bread Pett". So, when this phase first started, Tony was completely unaware. Who would have ever thought that the bread on the table was actually a pet? So, he came home from work, and a loaf of bread was the only thing on the table. As any person would do, he walked over and tore off part of the bread and started eating it. Emily walked in and completely melted in to tears. As she was sobbing, I was trying to explain to Tony, who had a look of utter confusion. So, I went and got Emily another "Bread Pett". I came in the door with the bag of groceries and set them on the floor while I ran to the restroom. When I came out, Emily was again in tears and sobbing. The Beast had grabbed "Bread Pett" out of the bag and proceeded to take it outside, kill it, and eat it.

I tried to talk her into a stuffed animal, maybe? A pet that is less edible might be a better idea, but it didn't work. So, once again, I picked up a "Bread Pett" and instructed everybody to make sure "Bread Pett" did not get harmed in any way.

And last, but not least, the butterflies. We love science here, so Emily got a cool thing called a butterfly tent from Nonna as a gift. It came with live caterpillars! We followed all instructions, and our caterpillars made their chrysalids, then came out as beautiful Painted Lady butterflies! We kept them for a week, then released them in our garden. It was an amazing experience for all of us, and every time we see a Painted Lady, we say it is one of her butterflies. I managed to get a decent photo of one of the butterflies after it had been "hatched" for about 3 hours. They stay in one spot, with crumpled wings, for about 2 hours, then start flying. We learned a ton of stuff about butterflies that I never knew, and had a great time taking care of them. When we would go in the tent, if we sat still, they would come over and land on us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A cloth diapering FAQ...

I'm working on my FAQ today. Here's the link to it on my cart. Please feel free to share the link with others: FAQ Link in my store, click here
It's still under construction, but I think I have it pretty well started. Since Emily pulled an all-nighter last night, I worked on my FAQ until I could actually go to bed. Here is what I have so far:

How many diapers do I need?

How many diapers you need really depends on how often you plan to wash, and how many you want to buy. A newborn baby will pee every 30 minutes toan hour. For a newborn, I tend to either keep them naked on top of a prefold, or keep them in a wool diaper with an absorbent cotton or bamboo liner, so that I only have to change the liner every 30 minutes or so. I try to never, ever leave them in a wet diaper, as their skin is so delicate and sensitive.... and they deserve to be comfortable.

If money is an issue, I recommend purchasing two dozen infant prefolds (unbleached Chinese or Indian prefolds). Do not bother with cheapo prefolds... get the good ones, as they are pretty low cost anyway, and work so much better you'll be happy you got them.

If money is no issue, have fun and purchase as many diapers as you want.When you are done, you can sell them or pass them down.

If money is only a slight issue, I would purchase a dozen fitted diapers and a dozen infant prefolds, a few wool covers, and maybe 2 All In One or Pocket diapers. Really, it depends on how much money you want to spend, what kind of diapers you want, and how often your baby pees and poops.

Many toddlers will wait 2-3 hours between pees. For these children, a dozen diapers is plenty.

Another thing to consider is whether you plan to change during the night. I always changed my children's diapers through the night. I found that they slept better in a clean, dry diaper. For this reason, I had to calculate how often they peed during the day, and how often I changed during the night.

I always keep at least 6 prefold diapers on hand. This is great for times when baby has an upset tummy,or when you aren't able to wash diapers. The more the merrier, I always say.

How do you wash cloth?

There are as many answers to this question as there are cloth diapers. I'll give the basic guidelines:

Rinse poopy diapers off with a sprayer to get rid of the solids. Solids should be flushed whether you are using cloth or paper diapers (read the package of paper diapers and it does say to dispose of poop in the toilet) You can store the cloth diapers in a diaper pail, or you could try my little trick -

After doing laundry for the day, early in the morning, I make sure my washing machine is empty. Through the day, when I change a diaper, I throw it in the washing machine. At the end of the day, I turn the machine on just a rinse cycle on cold, with some baking soda and dawn dish soap in it (just a small squirt). Once the rinse cycle is done, I do a regular wash cycle with my favorite powdered laundry detergent. I use about half the amount called for on the box,and use hot water. Once they are finished, I hang them to dry on my drying rack that I have inside my house. They hang there over night,and go in the dryer for a few minutes in the morning to finish drying, kill any germies that may be lurking, and fluff them up to their regular softness.

Do not use any bleach, unless absolutely necessary, as it will break down your fabric and elastic.
Do not boil your diapers, for the same reason.
It's best to wash your diapers on the gentle cycle of your machine, as this will help the elastic and fabric last longer.
The less time they spend in a dryer, the better for the elastic.
Liquid detergents do tend to leave a buildup, which isn't great on diapers.
Do not use fabric softener, but you can use some vinegar in the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener.
I highly recommend washing your diapers daily. The longer they sit in urine, the more your fabric will break down, and the more your diapers will stink. The more they stink, the harder they are to get clean. For me, throwing a load in every evening is very easy, since I don't have to hand wash them or anything. (and I have done that, by the way)
Although you may find many people online who have huge, complicated washing routines with their diapers, this is not necessary. Using cloth diapers can be simple and fairly easy. You might even find that you prefer it.

I've seen cloth diapering items that are wool. Isn't wool scratchy and itchy?

Some wool is. There is no simple answer to this question. Many cloth diaper makers have worked specially with fabric millers to mill soft wool. Most wool used for cloth diapers is purchased for its softness, and is therefore not scratchy or itchy. Many times, over processed wool will be scratchy, or wool that has been stripped of its lanolin. Sometimes over felted wool is uncomfortable, but sometimes wool that is not felted at all is scratchy. Your professional diaper makers take special care to make sure they felt the wool just right, and find wool that is nice and soft. Wool yarn does not need to be felted, and most knit wool items are not scratchy or itchy. Your professional diaper cover knitters take special care to find wool yarn that is super soft, not over processed, and perfect for cloth diaper covers. In short..... the wool used for cloth diapering should not be itchy or scratchy.

Why do my cloth diapers leak after a few hours?

Many people have gotten used to the idea of a paper diaper that has "super absorbent polymers" These polymers absorb the liquids and keep the diaper from leaking. Although many people have gotten used to keeping a disposable diaper on a child for hours at a time, it can't be comfortable, or healthy. When using cloth, one has to let go of the concept of the diaper lasting for hours, and change the baby when they are wet or soiled. Just as we don't want to have our own urine or feces against our skin for hours, our babies don't either. In short... change more often.

I've heard moms saying that a diaper only lasted 15 minutes? Does that mean that it isn't absorbent?

No. In order to understand why a diaper would be wet and need changed 15 minutes after putting it on, we need to first understand how babies pee and poop. A baby is not like a slow drip faucet. Rather than having urine or feces constantly leaking, they wait until the urge hits, then let it all out at once. When a diaper only lasts 15 minutes, this simply means that the baby peed or pooped 15 minutes after the diaper was changed. This is a good sign that the baby sat in the previous diaper for a while after soiling it, and might be a good sign that he/she needs changed more often. While some babies may hold their urine for 3 hours, then flood the diaper, others may actually urinate every 30 minutes. It's important to check often and get to know your baby's habits. This will help to avoid a diaper rash.

Is it really better for the environment to use cloth diapers?

It is. I would urge you to read this very informative article, in order to save me from having to write a looooong dissertation on this.

Is it more economical to use cloth?

Well, it can be. This really depends on how you cloth diaper. If you want the super fancy materials, like bamboo and organics, it will only be slightly less money in the short term. In the long term, however, you are able to re-sell those diapers and recoup some of your costs, or pass them down to the next child. There is no simple answer to this question. If you want to cloth diaper for economical reasons, it is easy to do. You can purchase prefolds and a few covers. Nice prefolds do not cost very much. I highly recommend unbleached cotton. They can be found on ebay, or by doing a simple search online. Many people are not cloth diapering for economical reasons, and they prefer the super boutique cloth diapers. This is a good thing, as it keeps the small businesses in business, makes cloth diapering fun, and makes the world a prettier place.

Why are cloth diapers so expensive?

Not *all* cloth diapers are expensive. If you are looking for materials like organic bamboo velour, organic cotton, etc, they are expensive. Let's do a small cost breakdown: I purchase bamboo velour for $11 per yard. Then, I have to wash and dry this bamboo a few times to shrink it and get the stuff off of it that was used to process it, etc. This uses some energy and water, that I have to pay for. It costs me about $6 in fabric to make your diaper, but I have to buy snaps, thread, needles, maintain machinery, pay for web hosting and cart hosting, pay for shipping materials, pay paypal fees in order to accept credit cards, and the list goes on. By the time I add all of this up, it costs me about $11-$15 to make your diaper. It takes me an hour to an hour and a half to make each diaper. I need to make at least minimum wage, right? And since I'm a business owner who has been doing this long enough to be considered a professional, shouldn't I make above minimum wage? And while it might take an hour to an hour and a half to make each diaper, there is still the time spent photographing the diapers, editing the background out of the photos, listing the items, answering at least 30 emails daily, sourcing fabrics, keeping an inventory of fabrics and of finished product, doing the "books", etc.

So, if you purchase hand made diapers, made with high-end materials, they can be expensive. If you go to a boutique and look for hand made clothing that is made out of high-end materials, I would guess you would be paying quite a bit more than shopping at Target for your clothing. You can use prefolds and keep the cost of cloth diapers down, but of course, it won't be quite as fun as enjoying the number of prints and dyes on high-end fabrics.

Why do so many cloth diapers come in pretty prints when you just cover them up with a diaper cover?

In short, because it's fun. If you go to Gymboree, you'll see little girls undies with pretty flowers, or ladybugs, etc. Why? Because it's fun. It is important to have fun with your infant, and enjoy even those tasks that seem so.... not fun. When you change your baby's diaper, they are focused on you, and seeing your reactions. If you open up a diaper and have a look of disgust, they see you looking at them with disgust. Ifyou open up the diaper and are smiling and enjoying your time, talking about the cute diaper you got them, kissing their cute little belly and feet... what a difference! So, if you want to buy the cute little diaper with giraffes all over it, do. Life is short, enjoy it while you're here.

Why do people use cloth diapers?

There are a few reasons why most people use cloth diapers. One of those is because it is SO much better for the environment. We are concerned about the environment and the future of our children. The impact that our choices have on the environment is important, and cloth diapering is a great choice for the environmentally conscious.

Another reason many people cloth diaper is to save money. Because cloth diapers are re-usable, you do not have to keep buying them. As a matter of fact, they can be passed down to the next child. If you spent $1,000 on cloth diapers, and those cloth diapers lasted through potty training, then on to the next kid through potty training, you have saved a great deal of money. Even using the high-end boutique diapers, you can save money in the long run.

Many people use cloth diapers for health reasons. Cloth diapers can be associated with less diaper rashes. Cloth diapers do not contain chemicals or heavy bleaches and perfumes that can irritate sensitive skin. You know those super absorbing gel beads that are in disposable diapers? They are Sodium Polyacrylate Crystals. They used to be used in women's tampons, but had to be removed because they were found to cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. And yet, we put those on our babies? Then there are the super bleaching agents used in disposable diapers. One of the by-products of that bleaching is dioxins. The archives of Disease in Childhood reports that trace amounts of dioxin are present on disposables. Dioxin is a strong carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor.

"Need more information? Not entirely convinced? Here ya go:

Study: Disposable Diapers Could Cause Male Infertility

By Anthony Browne
London Observer Service
September 26, 2000
Disposable diapers could be the cause of the sharp rise in male infertility over the past 25 years, according to an authoritative scientific study to be published this week. It is thought that disposable diapers heat up baby boys' testicles to such a degree that it stops them developing normally. Diapers lined with plastic raise the temperature of the scrotum far above body temperature and can lead to a total breakdown of normal cooling mechanisms, according to the study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Doctors in Kiel, Germany, started the study after being alarmed at the temperature of the testicles of infant boys who were brought into hospitals with infections. The cells supporting sperm production are laid down in the first two years of life. However, their development and sperm production in later life is very dependent on temperature. Testicles need to be cooler than the rest of the body, which is why they are external.
Boys whose testicles descend too late in adolescence are often infertile because they have been kept warm for too long. In adults, exposure to high temperatures, during a fever or while in a sauna, can dramatically reduce sperm count. Tight jeans can also lead to higher testicular temperatures, possibly causing a reduction in sperm count. Dr. Wolfgang Sippell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Kiel, monitored the scrotal temperature of 48 healthy boys, from birth up to 4 years old, using a tiny thermal probe. His team tested the temperatures when boys wore disposable diapers and when they wore re-usable cotton diapers, both during waking and sleeping hours. The temperature was consistently higher when the disposable diapers were worn, with the highest temperatures recorded in the youngest babies. Scrotal temperatures were the same as rectal temperatures when cotton diapers were worn, but far higher when disposable diapers were worn.

They concluded that the insulation properties of the disposable diapers impaired the normal cooling mechanisms of the testicles. They found that in 13 boys, the cooling mechanism failed altogether. Sippell concluded: "A prolonged increase in scrotal temperature in early childhood may have an important role in subsequent testicular health and function, with implications for male fertility." Repeated studies have shown that average sperm counts have fallen by almost half from 1938 levels, and are continuing to decline as fast as 2 percent a year. The Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association, which represents makers of disposable diapers, said the study had dubious methodology. Association spokesman Peter Stephenson said: "There is no evidence to support the assertions made by this study, which would appear to be implausible. The safety of our products is of paramount importance. Disposable diapers are, and remain, safe."

New Tests Confirm TBT Poison in Proctor & Gamble Pampers

Greenpeace Demands Worldwide Ban of Organotins in All Products
May 15, 2000
HAMBURG -- New tests carried out by Greenpeace found the hormone pollutant TBT (tributyl tin) in "Pampers Baby Dry Mini" babies' nappies (diapers) sold in Germany by the company Procter & Gamble. Last Friday, Greenpeace uncovered that TBT and other organotin compounds were found in Procter & Gamble's Pampers "Baby Dry", in the Paul Hartmann company's "Fixies Ultra Dry", and in Ledysan Spa's "United Colours of Benetton Junior unisex". All tests were proven by scientific analyses made on Greenpeace's behalf.
The new test, during which several parts of "Pampers Baby Dry Mini" were analyzed, found the highest contamination in the belt section of these nappies. "Pampers Baby Dry Mini" contained up to 38.4 micrograms of TBT per kilogram, a much higher level then in the first tests of a pool sample. (1) Furthermore the inner and outer layer were found to be contaminated. Greenpeace also found other organotin compounds in the Pampers, including DBT and MBT. If all discovered organotin compounds were added, a total of 53.2 micrograms per kilogram were found.
Greenpeace'sscientific test results contradict a statement by Procter & Gamble, in which the company denied that its nappies were contaminated with organotin compounds. Greenpeace toxics expert Thilo Maack said: "The reaction of Procter & Gamble is a scandal. The company is downplaying the danger instead of actively searching for the source of TBT in Pampers. It is absolutely irresponsible to expose babies to these extremely toxic substances".

"Fact is that TBT is one of the most toxic substances ever made, and it is being spread through the skin and contaminates the environment as well as people," he noted.
This environmental pollutant, which has been in the headlines for months because of its extremely high toxicity, has a hormone-like effect. The smallest concentrations of TBT can harm people's immune systems and impair their hormonal system. "The German government must ban this toxin in all areas of use immediately," says Thilo Maack. Greenpeace last January found TBT in fish for human consumption, and in March detected TBT in football shirts despite textile manufacturers declaring them safe again. TBT has furthermore recently been found in plastic PVC floorings. Witco, a company in Bergkamen/Germany, produces 80 per cent of the TBT used in the world. The smallest quantities of TBT kill algae and mussels and for that reason it is used in ships' paints to stop their growth on hulls.

Greenpeace has been calling on the chemical and ship industries to ban it production or application. There are less harmful alternatives to TBT in all the spheres in which organotin compounds are used. Greenpeace is at present analyzing other brands of nappies on sale in Germany.

Chemicals In Diapers Cited As Possible Asthma Trigger

Penny Stern, MD
October 6, 1999
NEWYORK, Oct 06 (Reuters Health) -- Childhood respiratory problems, including asthma, may be linked to inhaling the mixture of chemicals emitted from disposable diapers, researchers write in the September/October issue of Archives of Environmental Health.

Lead author Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, of Anderson Laboratories in West Hartford, Vermont, told Reuters Health that chemical emissions of some disposable diapers have immediate health effects in animals breathingthe diluted chemical mixtures. ''Upon analysis, the diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity,'' according to the paper.

"Mice were used in this study because of their general physiological and biochemical similarity to humans", Anderson explained, "adding that both humans and mice develop bronchoconstriction as a response to certain (odors and substances)". Bronchoconstriction refers to a narrowing of air passages in the lungs that is associated with respiratory difficulties.

"Upon exposing the mice to various brands of disposable diapers, a decrease was observed in the ability of the animals to move air during exhalation", Anderson said. Noting that this finding accurately describes asthma or an asthma-like reaction, she added "that if mice and humans respond in a similar manner to diaper emissions, disposable diapers could be important with respect to the worldwide asthma epidemic.''

In contrast to the results obtained with disposables, new cloth diapers produced very little respiratory effects and appeared to be the least toxic choice for a consumer, the researchers write.

"Though the disposable effect was noted even when the emissions of a single diaper are diluted in the air of a small room,'' Anderson said, she cautions that it is too early to indict diaper chemicals. "Whether the diaper chemicals initiate clinical disease, simply trigger an asthma-like response or are not implicated (at all) in human disease will not be known until after a vast amount of human data has been accumulated,'' she commented.

Therefore, Anderson believes that formal epidemiological investigations must be extended to infant products in order to evaluate these items' possible role in triggering or aggravating asthmatic conditions. She and herco-author, Dr. Julius Anderson, have (previously) published similar findings associated with other products used in infants' environments." A number of these manufactured materials -- air fresheners, mattress covers, fabric softeners -- have many rapid-onset toxic effects in common,'' she pointed out.

In Anderson's view, the current epidemic in childhood asthma cannot be explained solely on the basis of what she termed, ''the usual suspects: dust mites, cockroaches, maternal smoking". Maybe child-care products such as plastic diapers... plastic baby bottles, and plastic toys are important factors through the release of chemicals with toxic effects.''

Until such time as this asthma-inducing effect can be confirmed in humans, Anderson reminds parents and healthcare professionals that precaution costs nothing. When you are dealing with a toxic chemical or chemicals, avoidance is the only proper action. ''She suggests that parents and doctors... believe themselves if they think a product is harming the breathing of the mother or the baby.''

SOURCE: Archives of Environmental Medicine September/October 1999.

Disposable Diapers Linked to Asthma

January/February 2000
Harsh perfumes and chemical emissions have long been known to induce asthma-like symptoms in children and adults. Now, researchers have found that disposable diapers might be a trigger for asthma.

A study published in the October, 1999 issue of the Archives of Environmental Health found that laboratory mice exposed to various brands of disposable diapers suffered increased eye, nose, and throat irritation, including bronchoconstriction similar to that of an asthma attack. Six leading cotton and disposable diaper brands were tested; cloth diapers were not found to cause respiratory problems among the lab mice.

Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, lead author of the report, "Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions," explains that the diapers were tested right out of the package, and one at a time. Even in a mid-sized room, the emissions from one diaper were high enough to produce asthma-like symptoms. Solvents and other substances are typically added to products during the manufacturing process in order to affect malleability and other properties, Dr. Anderson explains."Even if you don't want these chemicals in the final product, it's hardto take them out. We are finding chemical off-gasses in all sorts ofbaby products besides diapers, including baby mattresses and mattresscovers," she says.

What chemicals were released from the diapers? Tolune, xylene, ethylbenzene, styrene, and isopropylbenzene,among others. Dr. Anderson says these, like certain scents, are bronchial irritants. "It's similar to when asthmatics smell perfume and all of a sudden their chests get tight." Although mice are much smaller than humans, they were chosen for the study because their physiology and biochemistry are similar to that of humans. Of the brands tested, three diaper brands were found not to affect the breathing of the lab mice: American Fiber and Finishing Co., Gladrags organic cottondiapers, and Tender Care disposable diapers.

Further study is needed to determine what level of diaper chemical emission triggers infant respiratory distress. In the meantime, Dr. Anderson advises asthmatic mothers to avoid exposure to these chemicals, and to be mindful of the fact that their children may be sensitive to these and other asthma antagonists such as dust mites, roaches, and smoking. Asthma rates are on a sharp incline in the US and worldwide, particularly among poor and inner-city children.

Anderson,Rosalind, and Julius Anderson. Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions, Archives of Environmental Health, 54, October 1999.

1)Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1990Update. (1990). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 530SW-90-042. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

2)Lehrburger, C. (1988). Diapers in the Waste Stream: A Review of WasteManagement and Public Issues, P. O. Box 580, Sheffield, MA.

3) Rathje, W. L. (1989). "Rubbish" The Atlantic Monthly, 264 (6), 99-109.

4) Hollis, R. W. (1989). "The ethics of diapering"; Mothering (Fall), 29.

5)Little, A. D. Disposable Versus Reusable (Cloth) Diapers:Environmental, Health and Economic Considerations. Cambridge, MA:Arthur D. Little, Inc.

6) Lyman, F. (1990) "Diaper hype" Garbage: the Practical Journal for the Environment, 2 (1), 36-40.

7)Clark. G.S., et. al. (1974). Incidence of viral infections among wastecollection workers. Institute of Environmental Health, Cincinnati, OH:University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

8) Energy andEnvironmental Profile Analysis of Children's Disposable and ClothDiapers. (1990). Prairie Village, KS: Franklin Associates, Ltd.

9)Dallas, M. J. and Wilson, P. A. (1989). "Diaper performance:maintenance of healthy skin" Proceedings: Association of CollegeProfessors of Textiles and Clothing Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA.

10)Bartlett, L. K., Moore, M., Gary, W., et. al. (1985). "Diarrhea illnessamong infants and toddlers in daycare centers" Journal of Pediatrics(107), 495.

11) Berg, R. W. (1990). The effect of diaper type onthe potential for fecal contamination in group daycare settings. TheProcter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, OH.

12) Stone, J.(1990). Groundwater quality: the diaper dilemma. Iowa CooperativeExtension Service Publication No. Pm-1401, Iowa State University, Ames,IA.

13) Joseph, L. E. (1990). "The Bottom Line on Disposables" The New York Times Magazine (September 23), 26 ff.

14)King, L. W. (1990). A Study of Municipal Solid Waste Composting on theImpact of Paper Diapers. The Procter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, OH.

What other things can I do to help the environment?

Each person/family has their own level of contribution to helping our environment. There are many small steps you can take. A few examples:
Buy energy saving light bulbs.

Change your household cleaners to simple and natural. You can look up online how to make your own cleaners usingmostly baking soda, vinegar, borax, lemon, and salt. It's much better for the air in your house as well.

When you wash your hands, don't sit and wait for the water to get hot... just wash in cold. You are not going to get the water hot enough to kill germs anyway, and it wastes alot of water to run it until the hot comes out.

Don't keep water running while you are brushing your teeth.

Try using your bath water to water the garden.

Turn off the lights when you aren't in the room.

Shut down the computer when it's not in use.

Turn down the water heater, and take shorter showers.

Try hanging your clothes to dry. We purchased a drying rack at Ikea and hang our clothes on it in our bedroom. It takes as much energy to run most clothes dryers as it does to run an air conditioner.

Don't hold the refridgerator open, as this takes an enormous amount of energy.

Try not to drive when you don't have to. Wetry to run all errands in the same day, once a week. Carpool.

If possible, try to use renewable energy, or go with an electric company that supports renewable energy. I use Green Mountain so that I am supporting renewable energy.

Try bringing your own re-usable bags tothe grocery store, instead of using their plastic bags.

You can make a HUGE difference in many things by supporting small business whenever possible. Many small businesses are more concious of their impact on the environment, not to mention the focus on quality and customer service.

If you have any further questions that youfeel should be added to this FAQ, please email me. I am happy to spendtime doing research and answering as many questions as possible. This is a work in progress!