"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Sunday, December 23, 2012

you-can't-be-allergic-to-this-PUMPKIN PIE

OK, well, someone could be, I'm sure.  You can always try to use an egg replacer like ener-G if that's the issue.

I'm feeling really smug about this pumpkin pie recipe, as no one hasd been able to tell the difference between it and 'real' pumpkin pie. 

Start with your crust.  You can use whatever.  Ground almonds make a really yummy 'graham cracker' style crust which is a nice change from a regular crust.  And most any cookbook will have an 'easy oil crust' type recipe which you can use with coconut or spelt flour and coconut oil or sunflower oil or whatever.  Our tester pies were spelt with coconut oil, but our Christmas pie is a gluten-free pie crust mix from Whole Paycheck Foods.

Then, the pumpkin!

you-can't-be-allergic-to-this-PUMPKIN PIE
1 can pumpkin
1 can coconut milk, full fat NOT lite
2 eggs
3/4c coconut sugar, 1/2c maple sugar, or 2/3c agave
1/2t salt
1t cinnamon
1/2t ginger
1/4t cloves

Toss all this in the blender and pour into your crust.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.  Turn down the oven to 350 and bake 35 more minutes.  That's it.  I'll add some pictures when ours is done!

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. " ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies! gluten-free, dairy-free

I'd like to say I've used my blogging break in some uberprofitable or at least ubercool way, but I haven't.  Nope.  Just life and Advent as usual, but a little more unplugged.  I love blogging but I'm not really that fond of the internet.  Go figure.

I have, at least, come up with some smashingly delicious holiday treats, though probably putting them up 3 days before Christmas is not overly helpful.

Ah, well, happy new year!

My first recipe is these utterly perfect, allergen-free peanut butter cookies.  If you happen to be allergic to peanuts?  Hold on till tomorrow for the perfect pumpkin pie.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1c natural peanut butter
1c coconut oil, softened but not totally melted
3/4c maple sugar or coconut sugar (you can sub any sweetener you like)
2 eggs
2t vanilla
3/4c coconut flour (or sub 2c spelt flour)
1/4t salt
2t baking soda
1c peanuts, if desired

Cream first three ingredients.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Add flour, salt, soda, and peanuts and mix well.
  Form tablespoon-sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet or cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.  You may need to add another Tablespoon or two of flour if dough is sticky.  You may need to do some extra forming of the balls if they are crumbling.  Smash with a fork in a criss-cross and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
Now, COOL COOKIES COMPLETELY ON THE SHEETS.  Do NOT move these cookies till they are good and cool, or they will be very crumbly.  They firm up as they sit.

So good with hot tea or hot chocolate.  Our tester batches were inhaled in minutes.

                                                               And my amazing helper:
I couldn't get anything accomplished without my wonderful babysitter.

"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas."  ~Peg Bracken

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Treasures: Good King Wenceslas

I'm to the point where I hesitate.   Majorly.   Before any given homeschool purchase.  Even if said purchase is something as innocuous and non-space-guzzling as a book.  And the longer I homeschool the more wary I become of recommending "things"- any  "things"- to any one.  I'm a minimalist, to be sure.  Plus there are only so many slots in any homeschooler's library!  And I think we all hold our wallets just a little tighter these days. 

So when I call something a treasure, I don't do it lightly.  Let alone a book!  Books.  Books.  Books.  There are so many.  Good ones.  Bad ones.  Sometimes I think I'll write one but then every time I go to Barnes and Noble I get sort of sick looking at the sea of books... only a small fraction of which are worth anybody's time.  Too many books.

We have a treasury of Tomie de Paola'sw Christmas books which we lovingly display and read each Advent.  We don't need any more Christmas books!  But I couldn't walk by this one.  I had to stop and look.  Then I had to read it.  Then, well, I had to have it for our collection; despite all my misgivings, I just couldn't pass this beauty up.

The book tells the story of St. Wenceslas with exquisite illustrations.  And his story couldn'y be more apropo  for the children of our time.  I don't want to tell you the story in case you've never heard it.  But King Wenceslas embodies the spirit of giving in a concrete way that really sinks in for children.  So if you only buy one Christmas book this year, may I be so bold as to say, this should be it! 

God bless, and happy reading.

Good King Wenceslas

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers.  My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.  There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher." 
~Flannery O'Connor

Monday, November 12, 2012

NOT-So-Ordinary Pork and Beans

"Worries go down better with soup." 
~Jewish Proverb

Soup weather at last!  I made this soup in honor of an organic, free-range pork roast we're trying out from a local farm, but any old pork roast will do.  It's a great way to stretch the meat for a hungry crowd.  Or substitute extra seasoning and 2T extra virgin olive oil for the roast for a yummy and vegan- but still very rich- bowl of soup.

3 lb pork roast
2c black beans
1c brown rice
2c chopped carrots
1c chopped onion (or leave it in a solid half for flavor if your family hates onions- I do this then John Paul and I eat the onion whole)
2 t sea salt
2 t salt-free seasoning mix of your choice (mine is just the cheap stuff from ALDI)cajun seasoning is a good choice, too
2 4" strips of kombu
2 Tablespoons seaweed flakes (wakame, dulse, etc.), optional
10c boiling water
Start with the beans and rinse well.  Pork is usually paired with white beans or split peas but I prefer black beans with pork.  Well, with everything, really.  Black beans are delicious!

Adding kombu to the soup means you can use plain water and it turns into soup stock while the soup cooks.  Way easy for the lazy cook like myself who doesn't plan ahead.  (Actually, I had 6 cups of good chicken stock in the fridge when I made this but I had forgotten about it.  Sheesh.)

 Now, follow along closely: dump everything into a crockpot and walk away.  See my half onion floating?  It enriches the soup, but no one has to eat it.  Fine with me!  I love to eat an onion like this, and so does Johnny.
"This is every cook's opinion -
no savory dish without an onion,
but lest your kissing should be spoiled
your onions must be fully boiled."
~Jonathan Swift
 Come back 8 hours later:
 Voila!  Really yummy soup. 
This recipe  approved by my pickiest eater

Lots of crock pot recipes actually do better on the stove where you can brown or saute ingredients separately.  This recipe doesn't really need it, though.  Why?  Well, truth be told, it's the pork fat.  In case you haven't noticed, pork fat tastes good.  Really, really good.  It's hard to screw up recipes involving pork fat. 

"I would like to find a stew that will give me heartburn immediately, instead of at three o'clock in the morning."
  ~John Barrymore

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elderberry is in; Echinacea is out...

Guess what?

Recent 'for real' research shows that echinacea doesn't work for your cold.  Or for cold prevention.

Say what???

 Yep.  True.

So what's a mama to do?  Well, don't throw out that echnacea tincture just yet!  Turns out echinacea really works on infected flesh, but the tincture needs direct contact with the infection- which makes it perfect for your sore throat!  I was skeptical, but recently had the good luck to come down with an awful sore throat.  I tried using the ecninacea-cinnamon tincture I make as a gargle- straight.  Knocked a serious sore throat right out in just three doses.  Nice!
Random pic of world's cutest baby

I first heard this 'herb news' from my doctor.  He trained in Germany so is pretty hip to herbal healing, for an MD.  He went on a tirade about echinacea in my first appointment with him, which was so surprising, I didn't counter.  Instead I came home and, in my next 4 minutes of spare time, tried to find these new studies.

The book Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria (provocative title, eh?) is where I found it.  (An excellent book, but not light bedtime reading.)  It gives a fascinating history of the herb (well, fascinating to an herb-nerd like me) and also lays out the most up-to-date research on echinacea.  Most of which, big surprise, was not conducted on this continent.

So.  Apparently echinacea's use is very new, in the grand scheme of things.  And while many German physicians use echinacea, they tend to use fresh juice.  I'm not sure I've ever even considered juicing fresh echinacea, and I've never seen it for sale anywhere!  So that's pretty key when looking at studies on the herb.  Water infusions (tea) of echinacea have shown in clinical trials to be pretty useless against active infections (something I've long suspected), alcohol preparations (tinctures) have a different action, and fresh juice does somehting altogether different.   

What gets confusing, thoough, is that while echinacea apparently won't get rid of your cold, or prevent a cold, it does 'work' as a tonic.  A tonic is an herb that will build up and strengthen your system over time, but shouldn't be what you reach for first during active infections (when you are actually sick, right now). 

Clear as mud, right?

Here's what might actually be helpful to remember:

-echinacea is still good
-Echinacea Augustafolia is medicinally useful, while Echinacea Purpurea (much cheaper) is not as powerful (just look on the label, it will say the variety)
-go for the tincture
-use it like a vitamin, not a medicine, unless you are applying it directly to infected or potentially infected flesh (it's cheaper in your natural first aid kit than lavender essential oil, anyway!)
-don't take echinacea continuously- during cold and flu season, a typical regime is 5 days on, 2 days off, or 2-3 weeks on, 1 week off
-elderberry does work well during colds

Save money by making your own elderberry syrup:
Elderberry Syrup How-To

Random pic of world's cutest baby

"Nobody seems more obsessed by diet than our anti-materialistic, otherworldly, New Age spiritual types.  But if the material world is merely illusion, an honest guru should be as content with Budweiser and bratwurst as with raw carrot juice, tofu and seaweed slime. "
~Edward Abbey

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Venerable Vitamins

I'm not here to convince anyone they need vitamin supplements.  (Herbs might be another story, since in other cultures "herbs" and "food" are mostly synonomous.)
random pic of world's cutest baby
So if you feel good, have plenty of energy and resiliency, rarely get sick, and are satisfied with your overall health, you probably don't need extra vitamin and mineral supplements.  And my sister was telling me recently that a Swiss study has found supplemental vitamins are purely placebo.... 

I know that I feel better, get sick less often, get well faster, and handle life better on my carefully designed supplement routine.  How did I figure it out and where did I start?

I started with Marilyn Shannon's Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition .  I started with the vitamins she recommends, but during my last pregnancy I had to experiment to find something that wouldn't make a reappearance 10 minutes later... eventually finding a raw whole food vitamin supplement: Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal 

And while I use several different supplements for myself and my little people, I would scale back to just the kids sugar-free chewable multi and my raw prenatal if I needed to keep the cost as low as possible. 

It can be confusing and annoying to try and figure out if the ingredients in a given vitamin bottle are causing as much harm as good, and it's not as fun for some people as it is for me, so I'm sharing a list of 'clean' vitamins with you today.  The vitamins are all for sale at Iherb.  I shop there if I'm not buying locally because their prices are always between good and awesome.  (And if you buy anything from them, yes, I get a miniscule referral fee.  Like if 100 people bought something, I could probably get a cup of coffee with it....)  Do use the code in the link for $5 or $10 off your first order! 
Bread with Honey's vitamin and herbals recommendations for cold and flu season

And check out the bubble bath on my list, too.  If you are trying to keep chemicals away from your little people's bodies, chances are you don't give them bubble baths.  Or, you pay astronomical prices for natural health food store stuff.  Iherb sells Nutribiotic's bubble bath for a crazy-low price and it is a bath time staple around here.  We love it.

"In its complexity and sensuality, nature invites exploration, direct contact, and experience.  But it also inspires a sense of awe, a glimpse of what is still "un-Goggleable"... life's mystery and magnitude."
~Kim Payne, Simplicity Parenting

"Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?"
  ~Author Unknown

"I take a vitamin every day.  It's called a steak." 

~Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, Kicking & Screaming, 2005, spoken by the character Buck Weston

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween Hangover, anyone?

Is there such thing as a sugar hangover? 

Well, let's see... 

Alcohol and sugar act similarly on your system, creating a blood sugar high followed by a blood sugar low.  If you don't stop the cycle, you crave more and nothing else appeals to the palate.  Overindulgence in either pulls water from your cells (dehydration), though with sugar you get simultaneous dehydration and bloating- know that feeling?  Both tax the immune system and prevent your body from fully utilizing available vitamins and minerals.

So in my opinion, yes.  Halloween Hangover is real.  And it sets you up to reach for those candy leftovers again and again (especially at about 10 am, 3:30 pm, and 9 pm).  Right up until a few days before Thanksgiving when they run out.  And after that, 'the holidays' take over. 

January 1, everyone's holiday adrenaline crashes.  Bodies realize they've been running on fumes for at least 6 weeks, and cold and flu season sets in with a vegeance. 

Wow, Maureen, thanks for painting the most wonderful time of the year with such bleak strokes!!!

While other mommy bloggers are laying out plans for homemade Christmas cards and tree ornaments, hand-knit scarfs for everyone on the block (and their dogs), and recipes for artery clogging, brain-fog-inducing treats, I'm drwaing up battle plans to defend your little darlings from invading viral forces.

So, fellow mothers and health-food freaks, here's the plan:

1) Throw out any remaining Halloween candy.  You can utilize a magical falsehood we like to call "The Sugar Fairy."  You leave aaaaaaaall your extra candy on the front porch at night and she flies by to pick it up before sunrise.  She takes the candy to her home in the woods and uses the sugar to spin snowflakes for the upcoming winter.  (We do this the night of Halloween and there's no more candy.  They get 10 pieces each.  This year Rosie and Isaiah didn't even make it through their 10 before choosing to stop due to feeling sick.  John Paul, on the other hand, ate all his and had a wild night.)

2) Remember that Vitamin C you stocked up on after reading my last post on whooping cough?  Utilize it.  You might not believe Vitamin C therapy is for real- bully for you.  But I've seen it work too  many times to scoff.  I don't use high levels of Vitamin C on a regular basis, but in high-stress situations, I don't hesitate.  ("Holiday diets," ie moose tracks, candy canes, and sugar cookies, are a nutritional stress on your body and its reaction is the same as to any stress: increased need for Vitamin C and increased production of stress hormones.)  The protocol is simple.  Take it and give it to your little people until you see loose stools, then back off a bit.  A gram is plenty to start with for wee ones; increase from there.  An adult under stress might need 10 grams or more before seeing loose stools.

3) Take your own homemade dessert to any and all functions you attend between October and January.  Apple Crisp is my little people's favorite.  Some all natural "soy whip" might be in order if I need to distract them from the mountains of brightly-colored crap also on the table.  (Recipe forthcoming, io prometto.)  Worst case scenario, you didn't bring your own dessert, eat a big healthy meal before you eat 1 or 2 servings of your FAVORITE THING- cheesecake or death by chocolate in my case.  Carry mint tea bags or really strong peppermints or brush your teeth after that to help you limit your sweet intake. 

4) Herbs and vitamins.  In a perfect world, all our nutrition would come through our totally balanced, mostly raw, fruit-and-veggie-ful diet.  In the real world, we need an insurance policy for 'sugar season.'  That's why I'm extra careful with vitamins and herbs during the winter months.  And there are, apparantly, a plethora of winter months up here in Nebraska.  *Sigh*.

Come back by tomorrow and I'll have a list of my favorite ready-made herbal and vitamin products up for you.  That is, those of you who procrastinated and didn't make up multiple batches of elderberry syrup and rasperry-licorice-cinnamon tincture!

"Buddy: We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup!"
-Elf, the movie

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pertussis and Vitamin C

Well, this week I'm a-dither again over pertussis.  Omaha has a high incidence at the current time, including cases at schools within a mile of our home.  Our family has been blessed, yet a third time, with exceptional health care providers who are interested and open to alternatives to allopathic (standard Western pharmeceutical) treatment of health issues. 

I was freaking out this week because my kids all contracted some really nasty virus involving spiking fevers and a whooping  cough.  But not whooping cough.  Thank the Lord.

Anyhoo, I came across this article:

Naturally, this article will be received by many with great skepticism.  However, I am very interested in medical journals from about 1880 through about 1940 because they represent the end of the accumulation of alternative medical wisdom in Western medicine.  At the time, of course, it wasn't alternative, and most medicines were made in-house by 'chemists', aka pharmacists.  Most medicines were made from natural substances, aka plants.  While ascorbic acid is not (the subject of the article), neither is ascorbic acid a pharmeceutical.

Unfortunately, in the thirties and forties, medicine became big business, homeopathic information was yanked from medical textbooks, and pharmacists became pill dispensers instead of pill MAKERs.  In the 1970s, Adelle Davis (nutritionist, writer and medical researcher), tried to find out why a reputable study on vitamion C for the common cold was refused publication, she was told by the editor of a big-time medical journal that he'd be run out of business if he dared print information on a cheap, readily available treatment for the common cold.

Personally, I have used the technique described in the article (I thought I made up the term "Vitamin C loading", but maybe not?).  It's a fascinating phenomenon.  On a regular day my body only absorbs about 3 grams of Vitamin C, but as soon as I'm ill I can take 10-12 grams before reaching tolerance.  (As described in the article, you find out how much your body can absorb by noting when your bowels get loose, then you back off a gram or two the next day.)

Once, when I was pregnant with Rosie, I had a terrible virus and my temperature kept creeping up till it was hanging out around 104- not a pretty picture with a 20 week old baby in utero.  Under my doctor and midwife's directions, I took 25 grams of Vitamin C per day for 5 days straight to fight the infection.  It also kept that fever down in a safer range.  If you think this all sounds like nonsense, go ahead, take 12 grams of Vitamin C and see what happens!  Then take 12 grams of Vitamin C when you have a cold and see what heppens.  (Actually, don't do that.  You need to have a small amount of Vitamin C supplemented every day when you feel fine for it to work well without messing up your system when you are sick.)

If this still all sounds ridiculous to you, consider that many mammals, rats for one, make their own Vitamin C.  They don't need to get it from thier diet.  When rats are stressed or sick, they make about 20 times more Vitamin C as usual.  Don't take my word for any of this, though.  By all means, find somewhere to read about it for yourself.

And ya, google is fine.  I recently had a doctor friend confide in me that he uses google about equally as he uses the books lining his office wall.  Go figure.

Ok, that was longer than intended.  I'm off to bottle a fresh quart of elderberry syrup for my scratchy little throats upstairs.

Half the modern drugs could well be thrown out the window except that the birds might eat them.  ~Martin H. Fischer, Fischerisms

In the 1960s, people took acid to make the world weird.  Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.  ~Author Unknown

I don't like people who take drugs.  Customs agents, for example.  ~Author Unknown

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pinkalicious Pie

Another dessert, a cream cheese pie, ready in a few minutes, plus a few in the freezer.  A dairy-licious trecipe for my many friends who eat dairy.  Everyone loved this pie.  Loved it so much we had to nickname it.  (Pinkalicious Pie.  Pinkalicious.  Ugh.  I hate that book.) 

It made us all sick.  Really sick.  We all have dairy allergies.  But hey, sometimes you crave cream cheese and you have to live a little... and accept the consequences!

Pinkalicious Pie
1 block cream cheese ( you can substitute extra soft silken tofu PLUS 1 oz coconut oil), room temp
1 bag frozen berry blend, 12 -16 oz., room temp
1/4c raw honey, or to taste
1T fresh lemon juice (DO NOT skip the lemon juice if you make the tofu version!!!)
1 crust (gluten-free, spelt, granola, or regular graham cracker from the store)

Blend first 3 ingredients and pour into your crust. 
Freeze until set, or freeze as long as needed and partially thaw before serving.

Yum.  Ed has asked me to make it again, but next time I'll slip him the tofu version.  Still yum, but I can admit... there'll never be any real substitute for cream cheese.

"Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead." 
~Scottish Proverb
"Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out.  That is what it is for.  Spend all you have before you die; do not outlive yourself."
~George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guiltless Peanut Butter Cups

Well, BreadwithHoney did another little disappearing act, didn't we now?

I know you've all been on the edge of your seats, chewing your finger nails, desperate for a recipe, an anecdote, a book review.  I know I mean so much to you... who elase can you count on to get you all excited about vegetables?

You need me.

But sorry, dear reader, no veggies will you find here today.  Now, you could sneak some freeze-dried kale or some Trader Joe's Greens powder into this recipe.  You could.  And I'm the sort of person who does that.

But this recipe has become kind of sacred to my post-partum self.  So I refuse to screw up the indulgence trying to make it healthier.  And ask my husband- I ruin a lot of good food that way.  All in the name of recipe development, of course.  But still, I've forced a lot of green meatloaf on my family.  So the least I can do is offer the occasional, unmitigated, healthy and delicious treat.

It's not my recipe; my sister Christine invented it- thanks, Teen.  So hats off to her, because it has prevented me from grabbing and devouring entire cheesecakes in my currently stressed, sleep-deprived, postpartum state.  Technically this can be a 'paleo' recipe, which is good for indulging without adding to the remaining belly flab, but all the same, I'm pretty sure our ancient ancestors had other things on their mind than gourmet desserts.  Paleo.  Sorry, it's a joke, folks.  A tasty, but silly, diet trend.  Ahem.  Moving on.

Guiltless Peanut Butter Cups
No exact measurements here, but:
a scoop of coconut oil
a slightly larger scoop of peanut or almond butter (peanut butter is technically non-paleo, if you care)
1-3 Tablespoons cocoa powder (raw cacao powder is MUCH MORE nutritious than dutched cocoa powder form the grocery store, fyi) make it as dark as you like
sweetener to taste (maple sugar or syrup, raw honey, agave, stevia powder or liquid)

Gently melt all that if your coconut oil is solid, or just mix well if it is liquid.

shredded, unsweetened coconut
rolled oats (not paleo)
sunflower seeds
to make the mixture moderatelt stiff- just eyeball this- coconut is divine, oatmeal will make it more cookie-ish, sunflower seeds make it really crunchy

Spoon into muffin cups and freeze till set. 

Sorry for the crappy picture, but I think you get the delicious idea, right?  Start to finish in about 10 minutes.
Talk about instant gratification.

(Mentally insert cute pics here of my big kids smiling with chocolate smeared all over their faces, ok?)

And the real reason for my recent absence from the web:

Yep, it's pretty much me, Ivy, and my brown chair.  Snuggles, stories, chocolate, and coffee.  Because you don't see sleep on that list, do you now?

This too, shall pass.  And then I'll miss it.  Because I'm just like that.

"And though she be but little, she is fierce."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bumble-Bee Rice Krispie Treat

Credit for this awesome idea goes to my mom.  She spent weeks trying to come up with a bumble bee birthday cake for John Paul.  Without dairy.  Without wheat.  Without entire jars of FD&C yellow #5 (apparently the only way to acheive a good bumbly-yellow frosting).  Not sugar free, but it is a birthday, after all!

So while this isn't a cake:

it is a bumble bee, and for John Paul, that was the important thing.

So, long story short, get yerself 1 box of regular, organic, gluten-free rice cereal, and one box of chocolate, organic, gluten-free rice cereal.  Find yerself some chemical-free marshmallows. 
 Substitute coconut oil for the butter.  Our chocolate rice cereal wasn't very brown, so I added about 1/2 cup cocoa powder for better color.

We formed the body in my oval crockpot crock.  The wings we formed in a Pyrex pie plate; the head and stinger, in a smaller Pyrex bowl.  (All well-oiled with coconut oil.)  Cut the wing circle in half and shape it a bit.  Slice a bit of the head circle off for the stinger. 

Very easy.  Very bee-ish.

"You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." 
~Desmond Tutu

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Baby Stuff Brag Post #4: Ivy's Diapers

Everybody poops.  They've written books about it:

Excellent book for big brothers and sisters with a baby in the house, when said baby is doing it every hour or so.  My sister-in-law used to keep this book decoratively displayed on her guest toilet.

As I mentioned in my last post, I detest plastic diapers.  Detest, detest, detest.  I tried to use some newborn diapers on Ivy (fancy chlorine-free ones someone gave me), but her sensitive newborn skin couldn't handle it.  Plus, she's a heavy wetter and leaked outta those things in a single pee. 

Luckily, we've got the cotton.

Here are some of Ivy's cloth diapers:

These are my favorite diapers, PooPockets.  Dorky name, great pattern.  They fit from about 8 lbs up through potty learning, depending on the build of the baby.  Recently I tried one on Johnny for fun, and it fit.  (Just barely.)  An older baby or toddler will need a lay-in doubler for extra absorbancy.

Ivy has some random diapers to make it to laundry day, but these organic hemp/ cotton PooPockets are my fave.  I have more cut out and I'm hoping to get them sewn up soon.

See the squishy softness of the velour?

Some PooPockets made from birdseye that belonged to Rosie and John Paul:

These have been loaned to other mums several times, but they still work.

Some others, made from recycled turtlenecks, with snaps added:

 If you don't sew, prefold diapers are the most economical way to cloth diaper.  They are super if you want to use PUL (polyurethane-laminate) covers:

For using beneath wool covers, you'll need to use a Snappi or pins:

This is tricky at first, but eventually you get good at it and (usually) you can keep poop off your wool covers.  While you can sew your own prefolds, it usually works out more cheaply to buy them.  Unless you have tons of flannel in your fabric stash, or you want to use a luxury fabric like hemp fleece or cotton velour, in which case, sew away!

"In spite of the cost of living, it's still popular." 
~Kathy Norris

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Baby Stuff Brag Post #3: Ivy's Soakers

Crunchy Mom Confession:

I have a cloth diaper fetish.

I love cloth diapers.  Love, love, love.  I hate disposable diapers.  Every time I give birth and sleep on a chux pad my hatred only increases.  Ugh!  So hot and sweaty and plastic-y.  I'd much rather use a plain cotton towel, and I'm pretty sure plain cotton is more comfy for a baby's bum than plastic and polymer gel diapers, too.

Deeper in crunch land... you can avoid even putting poly or vinyl covers over your cloth diapers by using wool covers (generally referred to as wool soakers) instead.  Just like our great-grandmas did, before the invention of polyester fabrics.  Wool is super-soft, if you pick the right wool, and water-resistant (but not water- PROOF), so it works just the same way as those plastic-y covers.  As a bonus, if you make your own wool soakers, they will cost you almost nothing. 

Wool sweaters for sewn wool soakers can be found for $1 at thrift shops.  If you find wool sweaters with holes, you can get the store to give them to you for a quarter or so.  I got a pumpkin cashmere sweater for free that way.  MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm, cashmere.  If you knit or crochet, the cost of your cover will be determined by the price of your yarn.  You can find soft wool yarn pretty inexpensively, but if you buy fancy yarn, your covers can get pricey quickly.  I use Cascade 220, 100purewool, or Lion's Fisherman (the latter is not super-soft, but the more often you wash and lanolinize it, the softer it gets).

For sewn soakers, I use the Sweet Baby Soaker Pattern by Wired Up Designs.  There are many free patterns online, but the Sweet Baby pattern is really the best, and I've tried 'em all!  My favorite is a double layer cashmere soaker.  You need 2 layers for cashmere; 1 will not be enough.  Cashmere doesn't shrink or felt and is machine washable.  My next favorite is rib-knit merino.  Also hard to shrink, but it will felt.  Depending on the thickness, sometimes 1 layer is sufficient.  Rib knit will stretch a ton, too, as baby grows.

Here are some of Ivy's sewn soakers:
four cashmere and two lambswool stripe

Lots of these were handed down from John Paul and Rose.  Wool lasts forever.

two cashmere and a lambswool stripe

If you use the Sweet Baby pattern, you don't need anything but sz small and medium, unless you expect a 6 lb baby or your babies get enornously fat.  (No, she isn't paying me for this review!)  Don't forget to make pants from your leftover sweater sleeves:

Google for a trillion tutorials for these sleeve-pants
You can't handle the cuteness:

My favorite knit soaker pattern is The Curly Purly Soaker Pattern.  Knits up quickly, and requires no bulky waist drawstring to stay on.  This is major, as many knitted soakers fit poorly under regular clothes due to the waist drawstring issue.  It's free, too!  (Donations accepted.) 

Curly Purlys:
four in hand-dyed Lion's Fisherman and a 100purewool merino

On the needles:

Another awesome knit pattern is for a wrap-style soaker.  Also free,  Warm Heart Woolies' Plain Wrap is the only diaper cover my husband has ever requested more of.  It's fantastic.  Particularly nice for newborn frog legs that are tricky to maneuver into soaker leg holes.

A couple of Ivy's wraps:

both in hand-dyed Lion's Fisherman
Need to make more of these!

I realize my wool stash makes me look like I have no life outside of wool-crafting, but do remember that some of these woolies have been handed down through 3 little people, and all 4 of these patterns are fast to make.  The sewn soakers and pants take less than 1/2 hour each after you get to know the patterns, and the knit patterns are also very quick and easy, as far as knitting goes.

And guess what?  All the covers photographed on this page cost less than $20 in materials (plus the pattern) to make!

I won't go in to cleaning and care of wool diaper covers only because there are 7 million other blog posts out there on how to do it, so happy Google-ing.

"What is a home without children?  Quiet." 
~Henny Youngman