June 7

Cotsford Update

I know it’s been a long time. Way too long! I’ve been too busy with my other blog and then of course life with Caroline kept me busier than I had anticipated!

So what’s new?

Well, Caroline is growing super fast and keeping us on the constant go. She’s currently 20 months and will soon be a big sister. That’s right! I’m 37 weeks at the moment. So far this pregnancy has been so much easier than with Caroline. I’m not sure if Caroline has figured out what’s inside my belly but she’s certainly fascinated by it!

In the meantime we’ve been busy trying to get everything in order before the little one arrives. We’ve got a full fledged garden in the works. All our rooms have been repainted, including an amazing mural in the baby’s room. Michael now has an official workshop in the basement. After two years our “new” home is staring to feel lived in as we begin to decorate and add our personal touches here and there.

Next week we’ll be welcoming Grammy for an extended stay, as she comes up to help us during our transition from at threesome to a foursome. We can hardly wait to have her!

 

 

April 23

Caroline is 7 months old today

Our little (but getting bigger!) Caroline is 7 months old today! She is doing great and is a joy to watch as she learns new things and gets more interactive each day. We took some pictures with her bear as we like to do every month.

I'm 7 months today. See how big I am!

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March 31

Cloth Diapers and their accessiories – Part Three

It really is amazing how fancy and complicated cloth diapers can become, that is if you’re not careful. Once you’ve decided what type of cloth you’d like to use, the next step is to choose accessories.

Here is a list of the main accessories.

  • Covers – A diaper cover is anything that covers the diaper to keep moisture in. The main type of covers are plastic, nylon, fleece, wool, and polyester. I found choosing covers to be both fun and overwhelming. There are so many choices and designs. My personal recommendations are  Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, Mommys Touch One Size, and Thirsties. I found that all three of these covers worked very well in that they covered the diaper (prefolds and fitted) very well as well as washed easily in the washing machine. My favorite is Mommys Touch, simply because I find them a bit softer to the touch and they can be worn through many sizes.
  • Snappis – If you are going with the prefolds you might want to invest in a  few of these. They are basically the “new” diaper pin. They’re super easy to use and really do hold the prefold very snug.
  • Diaper pins – While I can’t vouch for diaper pins, simply because I haven’t used them yet, many prefold users swear by them. I have heard that are fantastic to use when the baby gets a bit older and is crawling around and such. Both the Snappis and diaper pins are cheap enough that it is certainly worth giving them both a try to see what works best for you.
  • The Potty Pail – Trying to find a way to wash off those diapers before throwing them into the washing machine? Consider the Potty Pail System or even just the Potty Pail Sprayer. We have just the sprayer, which works amazing at rinsing off dirty diapers into the toilet. However, if I were to do it again, I would have purchased the entire system.
  • Wipes – I found using cloth wipes is easier than disposable, plus they’re super cheap. There are many kinds of wipes but I just went with the basic cotton terry on one side and flannel on the other. My big complaint with using cloth wipes is that I have yet to discover an easy method of keeping them moisture and ready to go for changing time. We currently are using a diaper warmer which I like because it keeps the wipes moist, warm, and ready to go. However, it does take some prep work to roll the wipes and pour a wipe solution over them.
  • Diaper Pail Liners – A diaper liner makes it easy to move the dirty diapers to the washing machine.

There are many other additional accessories that can be purchased and are extremely useful such as wet bags, wool covers, and diaper lotions. Wool covers, I found, to be amazing especially when it comes to nighttime diapering. I will write more on using cloth at night in another post.

Photo credit.

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March 30

And then came the rain

We are on day number three of non-stop rain and here is a glance at our yard. Thankfully we’re up on a hill and have no problems with a flooded basement. My newly planted peas, on the other hand, have a different story to tell!

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March 30

Keeping a garden journal

I’m starting to understand the hard work being a homesteader takes. Spring has arrived and I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m usually able to keep my “to-do-list” in my head and get most things accomplished. Blame it on the “mommy brain” or blame it on the fact that I’ve started to dream too big an have begun more projects than I can handle.

We all know that the key to being successful at anything is to start small and slowly build up to where you envisioned yourself to be. Being organized is the beginning accomplishing anything. With this in mind I’m going to take the time these next couple of weeks to organize the Cotsford home beginning with the garden. We have purchased our seeds, planted some, built two raised beds, and began the task of renovating an area of our land for the garden (which involves removing a gazebo first). I need to get ourselves organized cause I’m forgetting things like those seeds we started and are growing under a lamp in the basement!

Garden journals are a great way to write down things like what seeds were planted, when they were planted, and where they were purchased from. It’s a way for you to look back to see why certain crops were a success and what pests were problems and so on.  Garden journals don’t have to be fancy books purchased from the bookstore and you don’t have to spend hours writing down details. For some ideas on what a garden journal entails or if you’d like to design your own in a notebook check out these sites: Arbico-Organics and Homesteadgarden.com.

Photo credit.

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March 13

Choosing Cloth Diapers – Part Two

When I first started looking into cloth diapers, I was blessed to have a dear friend loan me some of her pre-folds. And that’s exactly what she said, “I’ll loan you some of my pre-folds.” I was like, “sure” though I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. She dropped off a big box filled with what looked like really big face cloths. I was totally dumbfounded and lost. It took a lot of time, research, and determination but I finally overcame my anxiety about using cloth diapers and realized how easy they are.

In my quest to sort out my confusion on the cloth diaper options, I stumbled across Green Mountain Diapers (GMD), an excellent website that provides detailed descriptions about the various kinds of cloth diapers, along with pictures of how they look on actual babies. With so many options available, choosing and buying cloth diapers can become very expensive and confusing. I ended up purchasing most of my them from GMD. I found their prices competitive and I like that I’m supporting a local New England business. In short, here’s my two cents worth of advice:

  • If you’re a stay-at-home mom (or dad) and have easy access to a washer and drier and are looking to use cloth diapers to save money, then I recommend either pre-fold or birds-eye flat diapers. I am extremely happy with my choice of using the organic pre-folds. If I were to do it again, however, I may have gone with the birds-eye flats; that’s how easy and comfortable I felt with the pre-folds. You’ll also notice how really inexpensive these types of diapers are compared to other cloth diapers and especially to disposable.
  • If you’re able to spend more money, then I highly recommend fitted diapers. Fitted diapers are designed with elastic in the waistband and leg areas to provide a more snug fit. They also have built in closures, such as Velcro, which eliminate the need for Snappis or pins. These type of diapers are much better at reducing leakage. I used several fitted diapers during the first couple of months. I found them to be extremely helpful with those very loose bowel movements that newborns tend to have.
  • Finally, if you’re using childcare or if money is simply not an issue then I highly recommend All-in-Ones. These are fantastic diapers in that no additional items are needed for a change. There are some companies that design All-in-Ones in a one-size fits all. one type of cloth diaper is certainly not a hang up! In fact that is how I started, mostly cause I was interested to see what was the best option.

My final piece of advice when choosing cloth diapers is “have fun!” I’ve only listed the general descriptions of the main kind of cloth diapers but there many more to choose from. Choose a few cloths and see how they work of you. I can promise that no matter what kind of cloth you choose you won’t be unhappy.

In addition to choosing what kind of cloth diapers suits you best, there are endless options of accessories available. Unless you are using an All-in-One, you will need a diaper cover and some sort of diaper pin. I will write more on the accessories in another post.

Photo credit.

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March 4

Cheap and easy cleaning solutions

There are tons of recipes for making your own cleaning solutions available on the internet. My search left me feeling overwhelmed! Here are a few ideas that I ran across which I felt offered the cheapest and easiest solutions:

All-Purpose Cleaner:

  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 gallon of lukewarm water
  • a few drops of lemon oil

Mix the vinegar, baking soda, and lemon oil into the water. Store and keep until ready to use. Now how easy can you get?! Using lemon oil instead of just plain lemons is recommended as the juice form the lemons may attract ants or other unwanted insects.

Bathroom Disinfectant:

To treat the mold and scum in the bathroom, mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water in spray bottle.  After treating the area with the solution, it’s best to wait at least an hour before rinsing it off with water.

Thyme Cleaner

2 1/2 cups water
1 handful of thyme (fresh or dried)
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
A squirt of liquid castille soap

Add thyme to a pot of boiling water, cover and let it simmer over medium-low heat.  Let the water-thyme solution simmer for as along as possible, up to a couple of hours if possible. Once the water cools down, strain off the thyme and poor it into a spray bottle Add the vinegar and soap and you’re ready to go.

Furniture Polish

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
20 drops lemon essential oil

Combine all the ingredients in a bottle and shake. Moisten a clean, dry cloth into the polish and rub the furniture in the direction of the grain.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda and then drizzle with white vinegar. Let the solutions sit for at least 20 minutes then scrub with toilet brush. A squirt of essential oil (such as lavender) will always help to enhance the smell!

Additional items:

  • Microfiber cloths – these are the latest rave in cleaning with claims they can clean up most “dirt” without anything needed but water. I will write more about these later.
  • Rags – try using old tee shirts torn into small pieces
  • Spray bottles – if possible use old spray bottles from previous cleaning solutions
  • Essential oils – can be applied to almost any solution for a more gentle smell.