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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Yum, Homeade Butternut Squash Babyfood!

Hubby & I think butternut squash is delicious and we're excited to share the eating experience with our son soon. 

I'd hoped to wait as long as possible to feed him anything but mommy milk- for simplicity and to see if his teeth come in before his interest. Basically, we're in no hurry to feed the little baby dude (LBD). Note: He's now 5 months and 3 weeks... nearing 6 months and the magic pronouncement by many docs of "ready to eat."

We won't be waiting much longer. If he's in my arms and I'm eating, our darling is lunging for my food. If he's nearby and we're eating and he's not in our arms, he fusses until we hold him.

In short: it's feeding time.

How exciting!

His first foods (last 2 weeks) have been little teeny bits of slightly cooked egg yolk and sips of bone broth- from local grass fed cows and lambs. (I'm a little sad for the lambs but they make AMAZING broth) We plan to wait as long as possible for grains and sweets, but to include vegetables, animal products and eventually some fruit during this first year.

For fun, and for months now, we encourage LBD to smell things like essential oils, herbs, spices, and of course, food. This has evolved to our LBD opening his mouth and slowing moving toward the foods we're holding out to him. (He does not do this for the other smelly things. He knows.) 

It's been pretty neat to see his experience with food change, and will be really neat to feed him more and more diverse kinds of food. 

For now, we're taking it easy. There are no teeth in his mouth and no sign of them (besides drooling, tons of drooling, and his chewing practice on toys.)

So, when I made butternut squash my favorite way tonight, and it came out mushy, of course I thought of our LBD and saved some. Here's how I made it:

One butternut squash, sliced into 1" pieces (triangles, actually)
About a 1/4 cup of OJ, lemon or apple juice would be nice also
Two ladle fulls of lamb stew with lots of the fat that had congealed on top

Put into a baking dish (I used a glass one) and bake at 425 until your preferred doneness. I liked it about 40 minutes and pretty mushy- The squash still held its form, the liquids were bubbling, and it smelled divine.

We ate part of it ourselves and once cooled, put the leftovers into the freezer tray pictured below. 

Next, I'll pop them out of the tray, bag them up, label & date them, and replace them in freezer. 
We'll have a fun and wholesome food to warm up for our son someday soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

OOoh, awesome *new* IKEA glasses


hehe, just had to share. These are only .99 at IKEA... so pretty!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Fin Art of Ray Troll, Salmon and Ratfish's crazy jaws.

I found this article (while researching cod liver oil & ratfish oil) about a fossil that finally helped scientists understand how to put together an ancient fish's mouth. There's such cool stuff out there, and are/used to be so many strange creatures all over our Earth.

The Fin Art of Ray Troll
Through that article at National Geographic on the ratfish jaw structure, I also had the pleasure of discovering "the Fin Art of Ray Troll." This guy is amazing. Check it out. Above is an image from his site. It's such awesome and inspiring art, with really fun twists and plenty of science thrown in.

Alright, one last thought to end this post. Have you ever seen a picture of a salmon? It's long been among my favorite foods, but sometimes we end-users can be quite detached from our food sources. I'm hoping to improve that one step at a time in my family's lives. (future LINK)

Here's the real deal, folks: (wild! Oncorhynchus nerka)
Oncorhynchus nerka 2.jpg

"Oncorhynchus nerka 2" by Dave Menke - This image originates from the National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

so much squash!

Hubby and I planted 18 squash seeds and each came up. Mom planted 25 more (or so) and they all came up, and now we have totally plenty of squash. I visited Grandma Betty and she gave us more squash. How could I say no???

Time to cook it up. (or pickle them?) While looking for quilting recipes patterns, I found these.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Second pot of bone broth soup

Mmm, so we LOVED our first pot of bone broth soup. I think I made eleven quarts, and put away about 6 talenti (pint-sized ice cream containers- we've collected these over the last few years and they're great for 2 servings of soup each. They're also BPA free and have screw on lids) jars of the beef broth.

After a week of eating beef broth, both hubby and I felt that we'd experienced some improvement in our health, generally, particularly in the feeling of inflammation. It is different for each of us, but we include joint aches, swelling, muscle soreness, and unexplained tiredness in the category of inflammation. This seemed like a good food for us, especially compared to other stuff we'd been eating. I really don't feel as great when I eat grains, and have been surprised lately by cutting most beans at how much I feel better without them.

So, I made our second pot of bone broth soup. The first time we left the 2" and larger bones on the stove for 3 days and I stopped it on the 4th day. On day 4 I let it cool and stored some in the freezer. We put the rest in a huge La Parfait jar in the fridge and I made it into a soup on day 6. This was so awesome & so easy. We added a bunch of homegrown squash, potatoes, onions and some greens.

Our second pot of bone broth was oxtail. I found these bones from a local farm and I cooked the bones for about 15 minutes on 350 degrees Fahrenheit and about 5 hours on 225 degrees. I put them all in the pot with about 10 quarts of water, then brought them to a boil and turned it down, letting them simmer for about a day, then turning it off and storing some, cooking the rest into a soup. We ate about 3/4 of the pot just as broth. It is so delicious. This time I made soup using local uncured sausage, onion, green bean, and squash. YUM! Again, so easy.

Still, my favorite way to eat our home made broth is a spoonful of sauerkraut, a spoonful of chili garlic sauce, and a tsp or so of sea salt. (until I am making our own, this is my favorite kraut.) I really like that Farmhouse culture doesn't use jars for their sauerkraut.

Diapering - Pail

We use a DEKOR diaper pail. I like that these come in colors, and really like the "sage" green one we chose. This pail holds in the pee/poo odors pretty well, and supports our full-cloth system well. We put our reusable wipes into the pail, too.  There's a little knob that allows the caretakers to lock the pail's door - the part you push the diaper into. The insert can be plastic bags, or can be pail liners that are washable. We really like the reusable bag and haven't used any of the plastic ones that came with it. Hmm, maybe we'll re-purpose these as household garbage bags...

I found this awesome picture with explanations on this website.
Dekor makes pail liners that fit their pails, and I just got two- one for the laundry and one for the pail. This way one's usually clean while the other's in the wash with the diapers. Um, actually there's a kinda funny story behind this pail choice. I found the liners at Target on clearance for $6 instead of the $24+ that they go for at full retail value. I bought them before we even had a baby shower, thinking I wouldn't be able to beat that price, and that if the company made cloth pail liners, I would probably like the pail. I looked it up in the store on my "smart"phone and liked it well enough to add it to our registry.

Diapering - Wool Covers

I've now tried wool covers and am excited to share my experience. Hopefully more to come.

I ordered the Disana wool diaper cover in green & blue. Since I have lots else to say, I'll get to the point first. :) They are so wonderful! I might use these only, if I had known about them before investing in higher tech shells. As long as we already have an assortment of other shells, I'm using them sometimes under the wool, or instead- the wool covers I ordered are SO big that they goes up to his armpits... can't put this on under overalls, pants, etc.

I'm really happy with the cover's ability to keep my son feeling dry and keeping our bed, blankets, play areas, and clothes dry. This hasn't been a super- conclusive run since he's generally out of a wet diaper really quickly. He lets us know! Also, he generally has been pottying on/near sinks & toilets lately instead of in diapers. He really wants us to get him out of the diaper before he pees & poos. Cheers! (5 month-olds can be potty trained... they just can't walk to the potty. :/)

Most importantly for a diaper cover, I'm SO IMPRESSED by the smell. These diapers have picked up a smell of our house but NO pee/poo smell, even after repeated uses for about a week. I'm using one a day, or if it gets a little wet, switching for the other, and he's wearing them even to bed. I've used them with a shell and insert, or just a pinned prefold, and have had absolutely no concerns about any urine or poo smells, though the prefolds and inserts and even shells sometimes do pick up an odor.

Here's what says about the sizing:  (this is just for the size I ordered)
size 86-92,   Medium, 17 - 26 pounds (tag says 12-24 months)

This size is really funny looking on our son, but to be fair I did no felting or washing before wearing. I hope that he'll wear it as long as possible, and two years seemed plenty long, while also fitting his approximate weight. A few weeks ago he weighed 16 lbs.

There's been no difference in the absorbency/wicking between the covers after I processed them differently- one I soaked and the other I put directly on, no washing, lanolizing, or even rinsing.

Green Mountain website/printout on diapering and wash suggested I lanolize if water doesn't just bead and fall off the wool (the wool did absorb some water on arrival) and to start by soaking.

With the first cover I was uncertain how to proceed. The Disana instructions were that it didn't need washing, should never be soaked and should be minimally washed in general. I soaked it and was preparing to lanolize but didn't feel right about adding soap and/or lanolin. Green Mountain suggested not using Woolite or regular detergent, but instead to use Ivory or Eucalan. I didn't have these on hand. I'd premixed lanolin, hot well water, and a bit of peppermint doctor bronner's liquid castille soap (figuring this would be gentle on baby skin) but discarded the mixture because: a) the lanolin was "glopping" on top, and b) I didn't have the heart to add anything to what felt like a perfect product. It just seemed so right the way it was. When I read Disana's info on their product, I decided it was clean enough to go ahead and put on. They smell like sheep and I really like that. I really love natural wool.

So, I pulled it out of the warm soak water, rolled it in a towel to dry, carefully moving it around with my hands supporting its weight underneath so as not to stretch the fibers.

After drying, the one I soaked (and almost washed and lanolized) felt softer than the other, has pilled slightly more, and shows less stretching from pulling on and off our son.

I suppose that rinsing alone may have done it some good, and perhaps soaking, and may do that for the other one, but for now will continue with them as they are just to see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Diapering - Inserts

A note about how we use inserts:

I find these really simple to use with our shells. This is the best thing about shells instead of all in ones.

We simply insert the liner, snap or velcro the shell and are good to go.

If the diaper is wet or poopy, we just take the liner (insert) out and put another in. Or if the shell is also soiled, we replace the entire diaper setup. The Gro-via shells dry incredibly fast, so unless they're soiled or really smell stinky (pee), I just leave them out to dry and wash the next time the inserts are washed.

Soiled Shell & Prefold Insert - no pins!

The good old Prefold:

We have about 24 newborn prefolds, 36 medium sized prefolds, and I've just ordered 12 large sized prefolds. I think we'll be getting more large ones as our son keeps growing. I just didn't think I should invest in more until I try them on, since every kids a different size and I'm not sure quite what size he is right now. To be clear, the mediums still fit but we are going through them really fast, even though we have so many. I've been washing laundry once daily or sometimes every two days, but if I go that long, I'm running out before they're dry. We have found it's good to have disposables on hand, but don't like to have to use them.

I really have enjoyed using prefolds. They are old-fashioned, simple, and easy to wash. They dry relatively quickly compared to some of our other inserts, and have a pretty high success rate at keeping the pee and poo inside the diaper, though that really seems dependent on the cover we're using.

Benefits to prefolds:
They lay sorta flat on a shelf instead of taking up extra space. (insert image)

They are cute!

They wash & dry easily.

They are super-absorbent.

We used the orange (newborn) and blue, not pictured below, but equivalent to mediums.

Here's an image of Green Mountain's cloth diaper prefold options:
(Go to this page to see more of their diapers and really cute pictures of how they fit on babies. The author of the site even lists their ages and weights, which helped me to plan ahead.)
cloth eez prefold diapers white cotton

The Insert/Soaker:

Inserts come in many styles. We have tried several. I really like flat, rectangular ones the best and have enjoyed some made of bamboo that we were gifted.

I prefer prefolds, but have found some inserts to be really useful. When we first got started, my hubby was helpful with diapers but really didn't like using the prefolds- found them cumbersome & bulky.

The Gro-Via inserts take longer to dry than the prefolds, but can be dried in the dryer. The leg gussets do not work well for us at all. I noticed these do not have very high ratings from other users, and though they are "easy" to use with the Gro-via system, are not as good for keeping our son clean.

I do love to take them along places, and keep them pre-inserted in covers for quick changes on the go. These are also really great for hubby & other caretakers as inserting them is very direct.

I lucked out with an insert score at the consignment shop, and got six of them all half off the new price. Here's what they look like: (ours actually look only kinda like this, must be an old version)

GroVia® Organic Cotton Soaker Pad

Disposable Inserts:

These are pretty cool.. innovative. I like them, but we use them rarely. We always have one or two along, just in case.

Warning: you DO NOT want to wash them in your washer (like I have) They breakdown very easily. Unlike the Seventh Generation disposable diapers I've washed (whoops!) which come out completely engorged with water and intact, the biosoaker came apart almost completely... (urgh) Luckily our washer has a "clean" setting. It seems oK.

Gro-via makes some awesome biodegradable disposable inserts. I do not prefer to use anything disposable, but they make diapering pretty easy for grandparents and some occasions (can't actually think of any right now. Maybe just tired ;)

Here's an image of Gro-via's biosoaker on a hook & loop shell:

One big criticism: the gro-via biosoaker inserts have adhesive and it gets stuck to the inside of the gro-via shell fabric and snaps. I find that pretty disappointing, but easy to work around. We just don't use the adhesive. Our little baby dude is *very* active, but still we've had no trouble putting the biosoaker in his shells without securing it.

Diapering - Wet Bag

We got a wet bag once we wanted to be out more often.

It wasn't at all needed when we were mostly home, but our little baby dude soaks a lot of diapers, especially with pee, and we didn't want to use disposables when we're out unless necessary (if we ran out of cloth, for example). Every couple days I wash this in the diaper laundry as it starts to smell pretty funky if we actually use it. And we use it every time we go out.

I couldn't imagine needing one that was as big as the one I purchased, but at 12.5 x 15.5 inches, it's just right. This would be an item that would be worthwhile to have two of, one for the wash and one for using.

Here's an image of a wetbag like ours:

April Flowers - Wet/Dry
My hubby and I value the few features this bag has; they are all necessary. This is the only wetbag I've used, so I'm not sure if we'd need or want anything more.


Strap with snap for easy carry along & attaching to other bags. (so many bags!)

Zippered front pocket for "clean" things, such as our wipes, spray bottle, shells, and inserts. I always throw in an extra onesie & baby pants.

PUL liner to keep wet stuff inside.

This one is from Planet Wise. I wanted to buy one locally made but they all had princesses and I'm so not a fan. :p

Diapering - Newborn

Many companies make diapers specifically for newborns. I'd not recommend for or against investing much in this until baby arrives, unless you somehow magically know just what size baby you'll have. (I know, it can be estimated by sono, but it can also be waaay off)

Ours was 9 lbs + at birth and outgrew his newborn diapers in about two or three weeks. We had 5 all in ones (AIO's) from gro-via, about three or four more all in ones from another company (I'll add that in later, loved them!) and about four or five more covers that were exposed PUL style.

We were using Green Mountain diaper's orange prefolds for newborns at the time. I was lucky enough to find these on sale in our local consignment shop. They were about $6 for a dozen, used, and I got two sets. New they'd be $25 per dozen at Green Mountain. I really like the color coding (edges are colored), though it is very obvious they are way smaller than our next size up. I'll include a photo of the sizes in the inserts section of the diaper info.  It was lovely how they fit for that time, though many newborn clothes are only meant to fit from 5-8 lbs. He was about 10.5 lbs by 2 weeks, so we were kinda stretching it keep diapering with the newborn AIO's.

Gro-via had a newborn all in one sale right before our son's arrival, so I ordered 5 of their discontinued prints at about $11 each. This was a great deal for these AIO's. These are also the only AIO that we've used, since I'm really into getting as many uses out of our shells as possible, and an AIO needs washing after just one use. These totally stayed away from his cord stump.

The image below shows a normal Gro-via hook & loop shell on our 3-day old. You can see under the diaper top that we've put it on very loosely and that his umbilical clamp is in place. We ended up leaving the clamp on until the whole stump fell off, so we really tried to either not let diapers touch it, or keep them loose in front. You may also be able to tell that there are scratches on his inner left thigh from the velcro. This is my main reason to go for buttons instead. I strongly prefer snaps. I just don't want to cause our LBD any discomfort, especially if it is avoidable!

Also, in the picture above, you can see that the pink cuff meets the flowery pattern without any snaps exposed. We have it on the tightest rise setting using all the snaps to make it short enough to fit our little guy. Here's a picture of another gro-via diaper on our newborn at 4-days old. The image is really dark because we kept the lighting low at first, but you can probably see the gap in the leg area and that the front of the diaper elastic on the inside leg is by his knee. We didn't quite have the hang of fitting diapers yet. :) This is where patience and persistence come in...

Since we had a newborn and were just adjusting to the high-maintenance lifestyle of a baby, it was pretty nice to have a diaper we just put on and took off - no inserts or adjustments needed for newborn size AIO's. If you don't mind shelling out the cash (pun intended!), or if you have access to consigned or hand-me-downs, these  may be a good option for the first lil while (depending on size of baby). Or maybe you'll love All in Ones and just go with these for all your diapering - it's comparable to using disposables in that you just put it on and take it off. These cost more up front, but they are all you'd need.

I did not like the newborn Bummis and the "aplix." The (aplix) velcro was hard to keep away from little baby dude's skin and made little scratches on his super fresh tummy. They do a good job of fitting away from the cord stump, but I was otherwise unimpressed. I thought they were so cute and had high hopes, but would not use these again. I would consider trying their snapping style wraps.

Diapering - Finding Shells

Top Choice (for us) is the One Size Fits Most and Snaps

Shells by Gro-Via

True size. 

G-diapers(S/M/L/XL), Thirsties (only 2 sizes), Bummis for newborns, Happy Heiny (I found this page absolutely overwhelming!)

Newborn Shells vs. AIO Diapers (LINK)

PUL exposed. (Polyurethane laminate)

PUL is the stuff that makes these diapers mostly leak free. This is only part of what makes a good diaper. Another key is fit.

Econobum & Wink are in this PUL exposed category. On the upside, when our LBD wets his liners with econobums and wink's covers, we can feel the warmth on the outside so it makes the turn-around time from pee to clean again faster. I'm not sure there are any cons, but they do take a little longer to dry after wetting than the Gro-via's.


(hook & loop, aplix)
Why I don't like velcro:
1.  Our 5 month old already gleefully pulls these off.
2.  He's gotten little scratches from them since he was a newbie, and that makes us a little sad.
3.  It wakes our baby if he's asleep, I'm changing him and I pull the velcro.

Why we kinda like (hubby definitely likes, baby loves) velcro:
1.  It's most like a disposable diaper, EASY to use. 
2.  LBD pulls them off- it totally thrills him.
3.  Easy for other people to use for our LBD.


 (compatibility doesn't matter for our recommended style of diapering.)

Fitted, no closures

Wool "longies," pull overs- usually woolen

I love these, but I haven't grown to trust them fully yet. Maybe in time...  

Essentials for Cloth Diapering

In progress... This page will function as an index for individual articles on our diaper choices. This way we'll be able to keep it from being too messy. It is about keeping clean after all :) 

Wet bag - and why to get a big one. 


Shells - Many styles, definitely not equal! 

Wool Covers
Newborn diapering.


Diaper Pail

Laundry/soap (i'm not sure i've figured this out yet. except this: lots of laundry, lots of soap, lots of rinsing.)


Baby Wishlist!

OK, so I've been shopping for an upgrade in size for our diaper inserts on

I found this and wanted so much to get it, but it's summer here!

Disana Melange Merino Wool Jacket Sweater

Maybe later this year, when it's actually cold... Also, I have no idea what size our little baby dude will be by then... who knows, it may not fit him at all.

green melanage disana wrap around sweaterblue disana melange

First cup of Bone Broth Soup

It's been about 24 hours since the bone broth soup started. When I made our supper last night, I added kale ends, onion tip and skin, and carrot ends to the bones and broth. It's been really fun to add what might otherwise be lamentably "garbage" (ideally compost but our home is currently an apartment).

I tried just the broth and it was very plain, but tastes mineral-rich and has a beautiful, clear oil across the top. Too plain for my taste though.

I added salt and it started to taste better, then added cayenne powder to taste and about 1/16 tsp of tumeric. It still was a little boring. I'm sure I'll get used to it plain, but wanted to "jazz" it up a bit. I looked around in the fridge and saw the sauerkraut. YUM! This totally did it. I just added a couple forkfuls of caraway kraut and my mug of broth is now absolutely amazing.

Bone Broth Soup from Nourishing Traditions

We picked up two big hunks of bone from the natural foods store this week. I am definitely not a vegetarian. I love eating meat, and would eat just meat and berries if it was cost/health effective.

I inquired as to whether the cows were grass fed and our butcher said they were until they were "finished" with grains. It felt a little funny to describe a cows final days, munching down on grains as "finishing," but I'm familiar with the term and just got over it. I do SO love cows... and I really enjoy eating them, too. Next time I buy the bones I'll insert an image of them.

I'd read on Wellness Mama blog (really enjoy many of Katie's posts) and all over the internet, about bone broth stews, perpetual "soups," and other styles of making nourishing broth from bones. I was ready to try it out! This is the first recipe from Nourishing Traditions that I felt ready to make. It somehow seemed lots easier than making my own whey. (future LINK)

Something I enjoyed from looking at "perpetual" bone broth recipes is that I realized that food scraps from cooking these days can just be added into the bone broth.

It was really simple to start. I roasted the two cuts of leg bone (with some meat on them :) for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then added them and about 1/8 cup of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar to an IKEA stock pot.

Yum! After about 18 hours, it was smelling more than edible. I added a handful of bay leaves (if your pot is as big as mine, that might work for you, or you may want to add only a few leaves) and left it simmering, but first added a ladle full to a cup of quinoa and roasted butternut squash. Presto-change-o! My grain and squash was instantly transformed to a delicious soup. I added a liberal amount of salt to this and felt it really satisfied my hunger.

Here's my 11 quart pot's description:  IKEA 365+ stock pot with lid, stainless steel, Diameter: 12 " Height: 7", and below I've added an image of it. I use it with a glass lid so that I can see the insides. The glass lid fits perfectly, and is a Wolfgang Puck chicken fryer pan lid. I love this fryer pan so much! I'm not sure if the lid is oven safe, but I use the pan in the oven well as on stove top. Perfect for frittata!