February 25

Why I love my cloth diapers – Part One

I LOVE my cloth diapers. Oh let me count the ways:

  1. They’re soft
  2. They’re 100% natural; no chemicals are used to make them
  3. They’re super easy to use
  4. They’re inexpensive compared to disposables
  5. They won’t be sitting in the dump in 500 years; although energy is used to wash them it’s a fraction of the energy needed to make disposables
  6. They can be used for subsquent children
  7. Cloth diapered children tend to potty-train earlier; the cloth tends to hold moisture closer to baby’s skin

But cloth diapers is certainly not for everyone. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Does your baby have super sensitive skin? Statistically, babies that wear disposables are more prone to diaper rashes, compared to babies in cloth diapers.
  2. Do you have the time, space, and patience to run frequent washes? If you choose cloth, you’ll probably want to forgo a diaper service, they literally use tons and tons of toxic bleach, which is terrible for the environment and baby.
  3. Are finances a concern? As a general rule, you’ll save about 30 percent if you choose cloth over even bargain disposables. However, there are now so many kinds of cloth diapers available, that you can end up spending much more than you bargained for. 
  4. Is water a tight commodity where you live? If so, cloth may not actually be the greenest option.

I will write more on the types of cloth diapers I have tried and what I find to be the most successful for us as a family.

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February 25

Homemade Cleaning

One of my biggest hangups in being a new mom is that my house is never up to the “clean” standard I’d like it to be. I’m not talking about the pile of clean clothes sitting on the sofa waiting to be folded, the toys scattered around the various rooms, or even the unorganized pantry. I’m talking about the actual business of cleanliness. It seems like a constant battle to keep the floors free from dirt and dust, the bathrooms in respectable order, and the kitchen just never seems to be happy! I have friends whose houses always seem to be completely dust and dirt free and I’m utterly amazed. How do they do it?!

Lately I’ve been using Green Works Cleaning Wipes, which I love because they are easily available, biodegradable (I can throw them into my compost!), and they do an excellent job cleaning. However, they aren’t cheap, they aren’t 100% natural, and I go through them quickly! In my quest to become a more environmentally conscious and a frugal homesteader, I’m on the search for some more homemade cleaning solutions.

Here’s are a list of products I’ve discovered that are generally inexpensive and nontoxic:

  • Baking Soda – helps clean, deodorizes, and soften water
  • Lemon – as a strong food acid it is effective against most household bacteria
  • Borax (sodium borate) – helps clean, deodorize, disinfect, soften water, clean wallpaper, painted walls and floors
  • White Vinegar – is excellent for cutting grease, removing mildew, eliminating odors, removing some stains and wax build-up
  • Liquid castille soap – can be used for nearly everything that needs a good wash, including your skin!
  • Cornstarch – can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs

My next goal is learn how I can transform these products into simple cleaning solutions.

For photo credit click here.

February 24

Just another reason to love my butter

As I’ve become more aware of the list of ingredients on our food labels, I am learning how often corn and soybean oils saturate what is known as the Standard American Diet (SAD). It’s pretty shocking.

Vegetable oils are basically polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) that our bodies don’t know how to use. Instead, they add fat on our bodies and weaken our immune system. These same oils are highly sensitive to oxidation and rancidity. What is the most disturbing is that the actual process of making the oils causes them to become rancid! Food manufacturers have to deodorize and bleach the oils to make them marginally palatable to consumers.

Like most animals, our bodies are primarily comprised of mono-unsaturated and saturated fats. Only 4% of our fat composition is polyunsaturated. In order to stay fit, lean, and healthy, we’ve got to give our body the kinds of fats it needs and craves. Maybe this is why the fragrance and taste of butter and bacon actually make our mouths salivate. What’s even better, these same fats almost never go rancid. Works for me.

So here is a list of healthy fats:

  • Lard (non-hydrogenated)
  • Tallow
  • Butter (best from grass fed cows)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Palm Oil
  • Olive Oil (only cold-pressed, uv-protected, and at low temperatures)

For more information check out Know Your Fats.

For photo credit click here.

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February 23

Another reason it’s good to be Swiss (or Japanense, or Austrian, or Greek!)

So I’ve been digging around and researching about fats; the good, bad, and the simply disgusting. What I’m discovering is almost completely opposite from what I had thought. It turns out the basic animal and vegetable sources of  fats provide a concentrate source of energy in our diets. They also help slow down nutrient absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry, and act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

There is an endless world of research dedicated to fats, claiming high fat diets to be the main culprit of cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer.  However, nearly every research study I have read has essentially turned up no solid evidence against healthy fats. I could name many studies out that debunk the low-fat diet ideologies, but here are a few that really stood out:

  • The Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial (LRC-CPPT), a study that is often cited by low-fat supporters, I found to be very inconclusive. In the study all subjects were given a low-cholesterol, low-saturated-fat diet. Dietary cholesterol and saturated fat were not tested. Despite independent researchers who tabulated the results of the study, finding no significant statistical difference in coronary heart disease death rates, both the media and medical journals touted the study as the long-sought proof that animal fats are the cause of heart disease.
  • The second study is based on the diets of Japanese, who are famous for their longevity. What is interesting about the Japanese diet is that it contains moderate amounts of animal fats from eggs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, and organ meats. They also consume more cholesterol, through shellfish and fish broth,  than the typical American. However the most significant factor about their diets when compared to the American diet  is their lack of vegetable oil, white flour, and processed foods.
  • Next in line to the Japanese for longevity and overall health are the Swiss, who interestingly live on one of the fattiest diets in the world. They are  followed by the Austrians and Greeks.

For photo credit click here.

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February 22

My Quest for Traditional Foods

In my quest to incorporate more nourishing meals into our diet, I am gaining an understanding at the important role traditional foods play. Personally, I am very worn out with all the “politically correct” foods, the “new” foods, and new products that are swarming the grocery store. It’s overwhelming!

While I believe in progress, I don’t believe changing or alternating a food’s natural state is progressive. It’s no amazing feat to discover that humans have eaten traditional foods or foods in their natural state for thousand of years and have managed to survive beautifully, yet today despite our vast wealth of medical capabilities and endless food options, Americans are literally dying from conditions (heart disease, cancer, diabetes to name a few) that were considered rare at the turn of the century. What is going on?

I am also wary of the massive food selections available in the grocery store simply because I know that food processing is the largest manufacturing industry in the United States, which makes it the most powerful. I know for a fact that the food industry will use it’s financial clout to influence university research and government agencies. Fortunately, I live in a free world and have the option to dig through the politics if I want to learn the “truth” behind my foods.

There is an endless flow of information out there on nutrition, diets, and simply just on foods. I’m on a quest to learn and discover the “truth” behind the curtain. I understand refined sugars and processed foods aren’t healthy, what I want to learn is what kind of fats and carbohydrates are wholesome and natural. I want to know how I can plan nourishing meals that incorporate unprocessed foods without diluting taste and draining my wallet.

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February 21

Hanging out with the Crosbys

The other night as I was standing in the kitchen I started to think “we really should have Steve and Suzanne over for dinner, we haven’t seen them in a long time.” Not even a second passed by before I could hear Michael answering his phone, saying “hi Steve!” Funny how things work out sometimes. So the Crosby family joined us for some spaghetti and chocolate chip cookies.

It was so nice to see Katie, she’s getting to be so big! Here are a few pictures:

The girls having fun.

Katie is saying to her mommy, “Mr. Michael needs to clean his fish tank!”

For more pictures click here.

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February 21

Finding Joy

I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy. C.S. Lewis

As someone who has often struggled with “the blues” and even depression at various times in my life, I often have to ask myself, “where is your joy?” The question is really a reminder to the self within me, a reminder that true joy is unfleeting and cannot be affected by outside forces. Joy is a state of the heart, and unlike the other states of the heart; happiness and peace, joy is the only one I have control over. No one, nothing can mess with my joy unless I let them. So regardless of who has harmed me, or what my circumstances may be, or what sorrows I may face, the joy in my heart will always prevail.

For photo credit click here.