August 30, 2023

My Son: The Formerly Good Sleeper

Five months is a pretty cool age to be. You smile a lot. You can roll over. You trust that your mom and dad will cater to all of your needs and be able to anticipate when you're hungry and tired. You've discovered that objects feel much better in your mouth than in your hands. And you are learning to crawl.

Oh the frustration! Oh the obsession! It's all-crawl, morning noon and night with this kid. Lately SoJo has not been sleeping well. We were quite lucky in the beginning, when he slept through the night after the first month. He's always had his days and nights pretty sorted out from the get-go and most of his long chunks of sleep happened at night.

Now though, he's up a few times at night and when I go in to him, he's trying to crawl. Up on all fours. Bouncing back and forth with his eyes closed. I'd laugh if it wasn't one in the morning...and then three in the morning...and then five. You get the picture.

I predict he'll be crawling by this time next week. Don't they usually sit up on their own first?

August 27, 2023

Tour of Dirty Diaper Central

I've said this before, but I love doing laundry.
This is some of the reason:
I love my laundry room! It's right off of our kitchen in the converted back porch, which makes washing clothes much more pleasurable than schlepping them to the basement. When we bought the house, this place was a disaster, from the old bed sheets screwed (yes screwed) into the window frames as curtains to the grungy, ripped-up carpet to the Spiderman switch plate cover. I so wish I had taken some photos of the "before" condition. I probably thought my camera might have thrown up at the time. I still need to finish painting the wall behind the washer and dryer though (perennial excuse=5 month old baby). We'd also like to install a tin ceiling to replace the mess that's up there.
My husband and very handy father-in-law put in the checkerboard floor (on the diagonal mind you!) and I sewed the curtains for the 7 windows in that small space. It was really hard to find enough fabric without placing a special order, so I went with a tea-stained floral pattern, even though my heart was set on stripes. I've just moved a table in there for folding too. On a side note: I found that red toolbox last week in the trash on one of our evening walks. And guess what was inside: a set of wooden building blocks! I've wanted some of these for SoJo, so I skipped the rest of the way home on that walk. I intend to wash the blocks and paint the toolbox black.
Here's a close-up of my laundry BFFs from left to right: Jar of vinegar which substitutes for fabric softener, my homemade laundry detergent, a spray bottle of starch, and a box of baking soda which I sprinkle over the cloth diapers for freshness and whitening. That lovely sign I won on La Boudoir, a blog I like to visit. In the background is a fabric from the same pattern as the curtains but in a different colorway. I simply folded around a piece of stiff cardboard cut to fit that space and taped the fabric around the back. Then I used velcro to hold it to the wall. It looks much better than what was behind it.
My indoor drying rack, a freebie from a friend.

Baskets for storage on a shelf above the windows.

So what do you think? Am I spoiled or what? Oh, and guess what?
My new clothesline is almost done. Yay!
No more saggy rope connecting the house to the garage. You can see one of the posts in the background behind the line of diapers. We just need to get some clothesline wire and some hooks. My husband's beloved bonsai starter garden is to the left of the steps. He'd be so pleased that I pointed that out to you. The rest of the yard is mine! And quite untidy at the moment.

Wordless Wednesday

Playing ball at Grandma and Pop Pop's house.

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Not to Get All Techy on You But...

It's bad enough having to listen to darling husband talk Unix and Linux (computer speak) in the evenings, but now I'm getting a little addicted to tech stuff. I recently added a Feedburner RSS feed via email and various Readers (not a person who reads, but sort of like a widget) to this blog and am trying to sort out some things with it. I added the Technorati thing, but am still not entirely sure what that's for. Same goes for Twitter, but I'll figure that out soon just so I understand it on other blogs (I don't intend to put one here anytime soon).

Back to Feedburner: so far it seems like Feedburner only allows email updates on a daily basis. I'd much prefer weekly updates, as I know myself how hard it is to actually read daily updates to the various email newsletters I've subscribed to. I'd hate to lose any subscribers (all 8 of you!) because you're getting my emails too often. If anyone knows how to change the Feedburner settings, please email me. I've scoured their site and have come up with nothing. It seems like if I had chosen Feedblitz as my email feed, I could play with those settings, but alas, it may be too late.

In other tech news, I also added a counter last month through Blog Patrol. You can also get them through Feedjit and Sitemeter. This is pretty fascinating, not just to see how many people have visited your blog, but because you can get some detailed statistics about your vistors. I suppose this is second only to stalking them, but still, it's pretty cool! You can see the google search terms that bring people to your blog as well as other sites that have referred them to yours. If you'd prefer not to advertise the number of people who have popped by, you can always switch the blog counter widget to stealth mode, where it still runs but is not really visible by the public.

One more thing: I kid of course, about my husband and his shop talk. It is actually quite interesting and I've learned a lot about a field that I probably would not have taken an interest in if I hadn't married into it.

August 26, 2023

Future Roger Federer

Those of you who know my main squeeze know that he's a tennis fanatic. He's actually off to the courts right now and is psyched because the college students are back in town and they are his main source of tennis partners (and I suppose he doesn't mind that the hot young co-eds are back on campus too--he works there).

My husband's biggest wish (beyond health and happiness) when it comes to SoJo is that he loves tennis as much as he does. So when he bought our baby a kids' tennis racket, I dutifully hung it on the nursery wall to inspire our little baby Bjorn (Bjorn Borg that is, the former tennis pro, not the baby carrier).

So to make daddy smile today, I took some shots of SoJo and his racket and emailed them to him at work. And now I share them with you!

More interested in trying to put it in his mouth than developing his forehand.So serious! And how timely is this post...the US Open started yesterday!

August 25, 2023

Kitchen Table Crafts: Cardboard Weaving

Since I'm a certified (though not yet certifiable) art teacher, I feel compelled to share some arts and crafts with my readers; after all, this blog's subtitle is making and doing. Every now and then I intend to post an art project that you and your kids can do at the kitchen table. Hence the feature's name "Kitchen Table Crafts." These activities won't require much in way of materials and should suit young children.

For my first project, let's do a cardboard weaving! I've done many kinds of weavings with kids and have found that girls and boys alike enjoy the repetitive and soothing movements of weaving. Once they get the hang of the over and under motions, your children may not stop for quite a while! It's a bit addicting.

What you'll need:
~A small piece of cardboard or other stiff paper (a 4"x4" square works well, make it larger for older kids)
~Yarn (scrap pieces work well, at least 18" long)
~Blunt yarn needle (easily found at any craft store)

What you'll do:
Prep Work
~cut yarn into manageable pieces (18"-24") Each child will need about 5-10 pieces of yarn depending how thick the yarn is

Making the Weaving
1. Mark every half inch starting from one side of the cardboard to the other

2. Draw a 1/2 inch line from the edge of the cardboard along each half inch mark. These will be cut to make slits in the cardboard. I often just eyeball this part, but if you take the time to measure, the weaving will be a little more even.
3. Cut along those lines to make the slits.

4. Tie a big knot on the end of a piece of your yarn. This will be what is called the warp, or the yarn that runs vertically on your weaving. (Ignore that needle below, it's not meant to be on that string.
5. Stick the knot in one of the first tabs on your cardboard "loom"

6. Now it's time to "warp" or "dress" your loom. Going up and down, back and forth, thread your yarn through each slit so it looks like this:
You'll be hooking the yarn around each slit, and the back of your cardboard will look like this:
Sorry for the glare, that old Silk soy milk box was glossy. After you've gotten all the slits, tie another knot at the end on the back. Cut off any excess yarn.

7. Time to weave! Take a new piece of yarn and thread it on your needle. Go over and under those vertical warp yarns, weaving back and forth. Each row will be the opposite of the row before it (if you went under one yarn, you'll go over it on the next row). You are now creating the "weft" of the weaving, the horizontal threads.

8. Eventually, the weaving will look like this.

Not like this one below.
That's what happens when you pull too tight.

9. When you finish one piece of yarn, tuck the end in behind the others and add another piece. Keep tucking the ends inside the back of the weaving. You can add other colors too! I wouldn't use such a flubby yarn as the green one (pretty, yes! Easy to weave with for kids, no).

10. Use a fork to pack down your weft yarn so that your weaving will be sturdy and tight.

11. When you're finished, it should look like this:

12. You can then remove it from the loom (if you're careful, you can reuse the cardboard loom). Weave in any stray ends on the back of the weaving. You can hang it up, use it as a drink coaster, or a rug for a dollhouse, a Christmas ornament, or whatever you want!
Another thing you can do some faux weaving on are those green plastic baskets that strawberries are often packaged in. Ribbons look nice woven between the slats.

Who knows, maybe someday your kids will be weaving on one of these:
My Osma Gallinger Floor loom, for weaving rugs, sadly not in my possession anymore.  I had to give up this space hogger once I had kids and no studio.  Hopefully someone else is enjoying it!  Have fun with the mini-weaving project.

August 24, 2023

The Herbivore's Dilemma

Is this a permissible play-thing for a vegetarian child?
{smirking here}
I suppose it could be a Boca Burger, come to think of it. I wish I could knit/sew one. Maybe I'll try! At least this one is an all organic burger, from the "tomatoes" to the "beef" itself. Order one at LoooLo Organic Kids Toys and ask them to hold the onions.

August 21, 2023

Green Living: Reusing Newspaper

Despite the proliferation of the internet, it still seems like people love newspapers. I myself subscribe to our local paper for a few days out of the week, and there is something about opening that paper at the kitchen table in the morning while eating breakfast that is comforting. The paper forces me to slow down a bit and linger over articles, that is when my baby isn't demanding my full attention. Plus I don't even mind having a little ink on my fingers. In a way, it's nicely old-fashioned. And who wouldn't like to see this (my photo above) on their doormat in the morning?

So what do you do when you finish reading? Most of my newspapers go to recycling, but sometimes they can be reused around the home.

In the House
  • Use in place of paper towels for cleaning windows
  • Place underneath your cat's litter box to absorb "misses" (replace often)
  • Level a table by folding some up and sticking it underneath the uneven leg (not pretty, but I've done this)
  • Wrap packages or Christmas ornaments in them
  • Wrap presents with it. I like using the comics for kids gifts. My frugal Grandpa did this every Christmas and saved up weeks of colored comic sections from the Sunday papers
  • Roll it tightly to use as kindling for starting a fire in the fireplace
  • If you're eating something really messy (or just serving a table full of kids), lay some down instead of a tablecloth
  • Make a newspaper dustpan
  • Use in your shoes as an odor eliminator. Just crumple a piece and stick it inside and leave overnight
  • Put a few folded sheets in the bottom of your trash can to absorb leaks and odors
In the Garden
  • Fold newspaper flower pots (tutorial Here)
  • Shred it and add it to your compost pile
  • Use sheets of newspaper on top of your soil but under your mulch to reduce weeds (but leave room for your plants to grow)
  • Keep a small pile inside your back door to put your wet dirty gardening shoes on

Arts and Crafts
  • Use as dropcloths under a table or on a table underneath your art materials
  • Tear it into little pieces and make handmade paper (link here)
  • Turn into papier mache strips. Use a mix of white glue and a little water to thin it out and dip the newspaper in it and cover on a form (link here) Family Fun magazine has some great papier-mache ideas here.
  • Make some paper hats

August 20, 2023

Mama the Contortionist

Did you ever notice how once you have a child, your body somehow changes? I'm not referring to the weird paunch that hangs around your mid-section like a deflated jello mold, but to the way your body contorts itself to the occasion? For example, sometimes when I am nursing SoJo on the go, I don't have a pillow handy so I have to make do by propping him up on my thigh which is also being propped up by my foot which is hurting like hell because I have it in a high-heel position without the shoe to go with it.

I become a contortionist about a hundred times a day, whether it's buttering toast and balancing him on my hip, riding shotgun with my seatbelt on and feeding him a bottle while he's screaming in the backseat (really hurts the wrist), or picking up random objects with my foot while holding him, then trying to get said objects from my foot to my hand. And don't get me started on my brain's ability to bend in a hundred ways at once by multi-tasking its way through the day. Could I call that a mind-bender?

Somehow I manage to do it all without falling over or dropping him. Amazingly, no one has gotten hurt yet but man, I ache today. It must be from trying to fold laundry with my feet while changing a diaper with a baby on my hip. Try to figure that out!

August 18, 2023

Monday Musing: Singing to Your Kids

Do you sing to your kids? Do they like it? I sing to SoJo a lot, but since he's my only frame of reference for singing to babies, I wondered what other parents experiences are. I know he loves my voice because that's the main thing he's heard since conception, but frankly, I can't sing too well. My husband has told me so many times, so it must be true (because we all know husbands are always right...uh huh). Although he does say that when I sing to Soren it makes him sentimental and a little teary (in a good way). That melts my heart.

Soren's favorite song that I sing, oddly enough, is from the movie "School of Rock." It the song Jack Black and the kids sing at the end (I think it's called "Teacher's Pet") and even though I only know this part...

And if you wanna be the teacher's pet
Well, baby, you just better forget it.

Rock got no reason, rock got no rhyme

You better get me to school on time.

...and the "Ooh, la, la, la" background chorus, he just LOVES it! I can sing it from across the room and he turns his head and smiles and bounces up and down. I need to learn the rest of the lyrics (except maybe that line "Kick Some Ass!"...I'll wait til kindergarten for that!). I haven't seen this movie since it first came out, but for some reason this song has gotten stuck on replay in my head. So in honor of back to school, go watch this fun and funny movie.

Some of SoJo's other favorites:
Nobody Does it Better by Carly Simon (I grew up with her dad was in love with her. I also love the Radiohead version here.)
Dear Prudence by the Beatles
Oh Darling by the Beatles (Soren's primary nickname from me is Darlin')
Beautiful Boy by John Lennon
Subterranean Homesick Alien by Radiohead
Judy is a Punk by the Ramones
I Would for You by Jane's Addiction
Into the Mystic by Van Morrison
We're Going to Be Friends by The White Stripes (I sing all of their songs: rabid fan here)
Level and Yellow Sun by The Raconteurs (also sing all of their stuff too)

What songs do you sing to your kids or which songs do they go crazy for, even if you're not the one singing?

August 15, 2023

My 100th Post!! One Hundred Things We Can Do to Save the Earth

Here it is folks! I've made it to my 100th post, and it's only taken me 7 months! This blog has been a great outlet for creativity and also to get back into writing, which is what I actually graduated with for my undergrad (I went back again to become a certified art teacher). I love that I can pick it up while SoJo is napping, and that it also serves as a kind of record of what I've been doing or interested in during my pregnancy and the first months of his life.

You've definitely seen a lot of green living posts around here, so that's why I've decided to post 100 tips for saving the earth rather than 100 things about myself. I am still a little leery about privacy and the web and identity theft, that sort of thing, so that's why I chose this instead. Also, when I was in 7th grade, this budding little environmentalist won an Earth Day contest for writing a poem about saving the earth. My prize was a book called "25 Ways You Can Help Save the Earth" so I thought I'd up the ante and post 100 ways, since I'm no longer in 7th grade and can handle more than 25. Boldfaced ones are things that I personally have to work on.

1. Buy Less Stuff! (considering gas and natural resources used to manufacture things, this is probably the most important tip). This video is pretty interesting.
2. Recycle
3. Use cloth bags when shopping
4. Buy local foods (to reduce the gas used to transport them)
5. Buy organic
6. Walk if you can rather than drive (easy if you live in town like I do)
7. Substitute at least one meat-based meal a week with a vegetarian one. Go here to see why
8. Use phosphate-free laundry detergents
9. Shop for used baby items like toys and clothes
10. Support Freecycle by listing your unwanted items on there to find a new home rather than throwing them in the garbage
11. Take shorter showers
12. Stop using paper towels and use worn clothing scraps instead
13. Use cloth diapers, even on a part-time basis
14. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs when your incandescent ones burn out
15. Compost your kitchen scraps and yard waste
16. Grow your own food
17. Use organic or chemical-free health and beauty and baby products
18. Use organic or chemical-free cleaning products
19. Keep vinegar and baking soda in your home for natual cleaning (see my post from a few days ago). Borax is also a great eco-friendly cleanser.
20. Get rid of the clumping clay-based cat litters in favor of natural ones
21. Learn to cook so you can eliminate some or all pre-packaged convenience meals
22. Put an end to junk mail (see my post from a few days ago)
23. Hang laundry out to dry on a clothesline
24. Use dryer balls in place of dryer sheets if you can't hang your clothes out to dry
25. Set your thermostat higher in summer and lower in winter
26. Unplug appliances when not in use to prevent "vampire electricity"
27. Keep your car in good condition to maximize mileage...change air filter, inflate tires to proper levels, drive slower, etc.
28. Recycle old t-shirts into memory quilts or reusable shopping bags
29. Plant a tree
30. Plant drought-resistant plants in your garden to reduce watering. Lots of established perennials and geraniums work for me!
31. Nix the insecticides and herbicides. Vinegar is a good weed killer.
32. Take the stairs instead of an elevator (good for your body too!)
33. Consume less fish, since they are rapidly becoming over harvested. And fish farms are an environmental catastrophe. This article explains why. And this one guides you toward the best fish choices.
34. Don't buy bottled water. Instead, invest in a reusable, BPA-free bottle like Sigg ones.
35. Buy fewer disposable products like paper cups, paper napkins, and tissues (I haven't done tissues yet). Cloth napkins and handkerchiefs are your alternatives.
36. Switch to reusable baby wipes. I'm thinking of cutting up those small flannel receiving blankets and using them as wipes and washing them with my cloth diapers.
37. Wash clothes in cold water (I do this only sometimes...I use warm)
38. Patronize your local library for books which saves on paper, ink and shipping of new books
39. Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. Dry-cleaning chemicals are bad for the ecosystem.
40. Get your junk out of the trunk (car that is, not your booty!) to avoid using more gas while dragging around heavy stuff (kids not included).
41. Close your car windows at high speeds and put on the air conditioner. The drag created by open windows uses more fuel than the air conditioner.
42. Use low VOC paints for your home
43. Fill your yard with flowers and veggies rather than a lawn so you don't have to mow. Better yet, fill it with native plants.
44. Check the weather stripping around your windows and doors and replace it if it's not sealing properly
45. Turn your hot water heater temperature down to 120 degrees
46. Fix leaky faucets and toilets
47. Read magazines and newspapers online if you can
48. Make your own art supplies like sidewalk chalk and play dough. Kids will love to help with this!
49. Use soy or beeswax candles rather than synthetic wax ones
50. Go for a walk or dance rather than sitting in front of an energy-consuming TV or computer
51. Wrap presents in newspaper or old maps
52. Learn some basic sewing skills so you can mend your clothes instead of buying new ones
53. Make sure your fridge is running properly (see my post on that)
54. Purchase recycled toilet paper if you can
55. Take a field trip with kids to the local landfill for an instant wake-up call. Hopefully it will open everyone's eyes to the saying "Reduce, reuse and recycle"
56. Compost your Christmas tree, if it's a real one. Our local Boy Scout troop collects them at the curb and chips them for free.
57. Buy foods with minimum packaging. It drives me crazy how many things marketed at children are so heavily packaged with plastic (think Lunchables)
58. Buy free-range eggs and hormone free milk. The little extra money is worth it when you consider how factory chickens and cows are treated and that all of those hormones and antibiotics are going into your body.
59. Switch to organic pet food
60. Make handmade gifts for birthdays and holidays. It can be as easy as a nicely presented bowl of pinecones collected on a walk, baking cookies or knitting a scarf.
61. When cleaning your hairbrush, consider tossing the hair outside so birds can use it to line their nests, rather than tossing it in the landfill. Or you could compost it!
62. Use natural dyes for dyeing Easter eggs
63. Make your own fruit snacks, rather than relying on ones made with artificial colors and flavors.
64. Join a food co-op to get local and usually organic produce when it's in season and at its freshest. You can find one near you via Local Harvest.
65. Be kind to bees! Encourage children to do so too, because they are very important to our eco system and are in danger of colony collapse.
66. Be kind to spiders. They help eliminate harmful and pesky bugs like ants. When anyone notices a spiderweb in her house, my mother-in-law tells them she's decorating early for Halloween!
67. Eliminate sandwich bags and plastic wrap. I need to make or buy one of these Wrap n Mats.
68. Recycle old batteries. You can find a local place here.
69. Eat brown bread rather than white. Find out why it helps the environment here.
70. Recycle CDs and DVDs rather than tossing them in landfills.
71. Buy Fair Trade products whenever you can. We have a great local store, Ten Thousand Villages that is inspirational.
72. Don't leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth (an oldie but a goodie).
73. Swap out your Teflon pans for cast iron or stainless steel. Here's why
74. "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down" to save water.
75. Use baking soda and water to clean silver rather than using chemical-laden cleansers. I've heard olive oil works for stainless steel.
76. Get rid of chlorine bleach by using Borax, lemon juice, or sunlight instead. This is a hard one for me in the sink because we have an old white enamel one and Comet is the only thing that seems to work.
77. Grow your grass long, at least an inch and a half so that you don't get dried out spots and need to water it unnecessarily.
78. Take a shower every other day rather than every day.
79. Carry a reusable coffee mug to your local coffeehouse
80. When baking, try to maximize the number of foods that need to go in the oven. After your cake is done, throw in a Shepherd's Pie that you can later freeze for another meal.
81. Don't use chemical air fresheners. For a natural scent, simmer orange peel, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in a pot of water, or make your own potpourris with items collected on nature walks and essential oils.
82. Avoid buying really hard woods like teak which take a long time to grow and aren't so plentiful. Softer woods like pine are easier to raise.
83. Visit a car wash to clean your car rather than doing it in the driveway. Most car wash places recycle their water and you use less of it too.
84. Avoid buying balloons which make their way into the oceans and onto the land where animals sometimes ingest them, mistaking them for food.
85. Be wary of circuses and their treatment of animals as well as the methods in which they obtain their animals.
86. Don't feed ducks at wildlife preserves. Here's why.
87. If you can, breastfeed and do it as long as possible. Breast milk has no additives and you don't have to worry about packaging. If you do breastfeed, use reusable cloth breast pads rather than disposable paper ones.
88. Snip apart those plastic rings that 6-packs of beverages come in. Animals can get caught in them and die.
89. Make your own baby food. Less packaging and you can control what you put into it.
90. Consider cutting down your Christmas card list to save on paper and the fossil fuels that go into mailing your cards. You could always send e-cards!
91. See if you local garden center will accept the return of plastic pots that your plants come in.
92. Mulch your garden to conserve water
93. File your income taxes electronically rather than a paper copy. Same goes for paying bills (saves on postage and gas to transport the mail).
94. Unravel old sweaters that you don't wear anymore and use the yarn to knit or crochet. To get out the kinks, wind it in a big loop, dampen it, and hang it to dry with a weight on the end.
95. If you have a small yard, use a push mower rather than a gas one. When our hand-me-down mower goes, I'd definitely like one of these.
96. Turn out the lights when you leave a room (unless you'll be right back). Same goes for the TV.
97. Buy or make a rain barrel to catch rainwater for watering your plants.
98. Use recycled paper and recycle your paper. Write on both sides of it
99. Don't let your car idle for more than one minute.
100. Set a good example for your children of living an eco-friendly lifestyle! Pass it on!

Whew! That's quite a list!

Which ones have you tried or are trying to do or which seem entirely ridiculous? Is there a tip you'd like to add?

Stay tuned as I think I have a great giveaway lined up to celebrate my 100th!

August 14, 2023

Green Living: 10 tips for Conserving Energy in the Summertime

Yes, I know it's a bit late for a post on ways to conserve energy in the summer on cooling your house, but it is only August and in some parts of the country, summer-like temperatures can extend deep into the fall.

We have 2 window-unit air conditioners in our 1903 house and we don't need to use them too much except for the hottest days of the year. One is in our baby's room for those hot and humid night. We have a window fan in our bedroom, which works great for drawing in the cool night air.

Here are 10 tips for those of you riding out a heatwave:

1. Open windows at night and close them in the late morning before it gets too hot outside. We do this and it really works well, especially if you're fortunate enough to have nighttime temps in the 60s and low 70s.
2. Invest in insulated curtains that you can close during the day to keep the harsh hot sun out. These curtains are also great in the winter when you can pull them closed at night to keep the heat in your rooms and not escape through any windows.
3. If you have an air conditioner or are thinking of installing one, put it in a shady spot. This will reduce the amount of power that it needs to cool. You could also plant shrub around a ground unit (but not too close or it won't get enough air flow to function properly). Consider installing window units on the North or Northeastern side of your house.
4. Run your air conditioner on low but also run a oscillating fan too which will help circulate the air and make you feel cool too.
5. Clean out your air conditioner's air filter. Easy enough to do, just run it under water and remove the dust/lint and let air dry.
6. Ceiling fans also work well for this but only use a ceiling fan when people are in the room. They actually don't cool a room but the breeze from it cools a person's skin.
7. Two window fans are great for creating cross breezes. Install one on one side of the house and another at the opposite end. One should be pulling in outside air while the second one should be facing outward to pull the inside air to the outside. Leave as few obstructions in the air path as possible by leaving doors open or locating fans at the end of a hallway.
8. Plant deciduous trees or shrubs (ones that lose their leaves in the fall) along the Southern or Western sides of your house. They'll shade your house in summer but in winter, their leaves won't prevent the sun from warming your home.
9. Take a cool shower and then sit in front of a fan.
10. Drink lots of fluids, especially with ice. Below is my recipe for Lazy Girl's (me!) Iced Tea.

Lazy Girl's Iced Tea
1 Pitcher (whatever size you have)
12 Tea Bags (whatever you've got, but don't mix too many odd flavors together)


Sweetener (optional) I like making a simple syrup by boiling one cup of sugar with one cup of water and a bunch of mint that you've crushed with your hands. You can keep this on hand in your fridge. It dissolves better in cold liquid than sugar.

Fill pitcher with water. Add tea bags (remove labels if they have any). Stick in fridge for at least 6 hours. Stir. Remove tea bags. Add sweetener. Done.

Green Tea Iced Tea...almost gone!

August 13, 2023

The Misto: Works for Me Wednesday

As you must know by now, this blog has an inclination towards green living. So for my first "Works for Me Wednesday" (who I just found out is on vacation this week, shucks! but I'll post this anyway) I wanted to share my thoughts on an item that makes all the home cooking I do much easier and healthier. It's probably something you've seen before, or maybe even have...enter The Misto.
This little aluminum beauty saves you from buying cans and cans of unrecyclable cooking sprays like PAM. You just pour whatever kind of oil you like to use, in my case, olive oil or canola, pump the top a few times, then spray just like you would with Pam. When it gets a little clogged, just fill with warm water and a drop of dish detergent and spray it out. Easy as pie, or at least as the spray you use on the pie plate!

You can get one on Amazon or at Bed, Bath and Beyond, where I bought mine.

August 12, 2023

Tackle it Tuesday: My BFFs---Baking Soda and Vinegar

I don't know about you, but I don't think my household would function so well if they took vinegar and baking soda off the market. They're my true BFFs (best friends forever, silly!). I use it for everything, from cleaning to deodorizing to softening my clothes in place of fabric softener. This afternoon while washing the lunch dishes, I had to face a pan that I "overcooked" (read: burnt) some black bean burgers. Rather than soak the pan or use an abrasive steel wool pad, I got out the trusty box of baking soda. Just sprinkled it in the pan, added a few drops of water to make a paste and used my fingers and scrub brush. It took all of 2 minutes to do.


Cue the oohs and ahhs! Not only is this a cheap solution, but it's very eco-friendly! I used the vinegar to get the hard water stains out of the toilet, but thankfully for you (it looked pretty gross), the photos didn't come out so good due to my ancient camera. To remove the hard water deposits, pour a quart or so of white vinegar in the toilet and let it sit for an hour or so. They will magically disappear! This also works great of teapots and coffee makers.

A Few Tips for Getting Rid of Junk Mail

As much as I love getting mail (especially giveaway prizes!) when you stop and think about it, mail can be very wasteful. Think of all those lovely catalogs you look through for about 10 minutes and then toss, hopefully into the recycling bin rather than the trash can. Think too of all of the miles that those catalogs have traveled and the gas used, as well as the resources devoted to producing the catalog in the first place. Yikes!

So what can you do? Nip it in the bud right at the source (take that, Pottery Barn! As much as I love you, your catalogs come way too often. Even Kramer from Seinfeld got fed up with it).

1. Catalogs: Abacus is a collector of addresses from people who have purchased things from catalogs. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to or visit their website for their postal address.
Be aware that if you unsubscribe, you'll most likely lose ALL of your catalogs. You can also contact each individual company for the catalogs you receive.
2. Unsolicited credit card applications: This one really works! I've done it!
Visit to get your name off of those pre-approved lists. You can do this permanently or for a five year run.
3. Val Pack coupons: Visit their website to unsubscribe. Although, some of you frugal moms may want these coupons for their sometimes savings.
4. General Junk Mail: The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is responsible for a lot of this. Visit their website to opt out. I haven't done this but it seems like you need to pay $1 so they can check your credit card info. That's a shame.
5. Publishers Clearinghouse: The Daddy of all junk mail. Email them at I don't get their stuff, thankfully, so I haven't done this. Let's just hope they don't spam your email address! You can also call them at 1-800-645-9242.
6. One last tip: DON'T fill out those WARRENTY CARDS for applicances and electronics! They're just ticking time bombs of junk mail waiting to flood your mailbox. Keep your receipt for the item and only fill out the name and address on the warrenty card and enclose a note stating they can not share your name/address with other companies.

August 11, 2023

10 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Refrigerator

If you're like me, you don't think too much about your refrigerator. Believe it or not, I don't spend evenings thinking about how well it works and how shiny the stainless steel front is. But lately as I try to maximize our energy savings and minimize our consumption of natural resources, I've been looking for ways to make my fridge work in a more eco-friendly way.

10 Tips for a Greener Refrigerator:
1. Keep your freezer and fridge on the lowest setting possible. I've always done this but sometimes I forget to reset it when we have a power outage or surge and it resets itself back to the "normal" (read:high) manufacturer's setting.

2. Don't overfill your fridge. Air needs room to circulate in order to cool food properly. Keep it full but not packed like sardines in a can.

3. Don't stand with the fridge door open, deciding on what to eat. (Duh!)

4. To prevent #3, organize your fridge. Put snack items in a long bin that you can just pull out of the fridge entirely when you want to rummage for a snack. Same goes for sandwich making stuff. It's easier to keep all of those in one bin that you can grab easily.
bin made from recycled plastic

5. Keep drinks at the front and center so they're easy to grab.

6. Dust off your coils periodically.

7. Be sure your door seals properly. If you can slide a sheet of paper in between, you'll need to replace the seal.

8. Wipe off any major condensation on containers, such as a cold pitcher that was left out for a little while on a hot day. The defrost mechanism of the fridge needs to work harder to remove that excess water.

9. If you're in the market for a new refrigerator, buy an Energy Star model. And of those models, the most efficient are the ones with freezers on top (cool air falls). Least efficient are side-by-side double door models. UPDATE: Here's a great point from Rebecca of Green Baby Guide from the post comments--"Be careful about energy star refrigerators. A smaller refrigerator without the energy star label almost always uses less energy than a huge one WITH the label. An appliance can get the energy star label by being the most efficient model for its size." Thanks Rebecca! I didn't consider that! Also, she tells me that Consumer Reports says that bottom freezer models may be the most efficient after all. I'm going to do some more research on that.

10. To clean messes inside the fridge, use an eco-friendly and food safe solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water in a spray bottle.

Bone-Tired but Still Functioning

"Wow, your baby is so alert!" "I've never seen such an active baby." "What do you mean he won't nap in the stroller or on the floor? He'll only sleep in his crib?" These are the responses I get whenever family or friends visit SoJo. It's like they don't believe me when I tell them how he is, but need to see it for themselves. I've referred to this article on high-needs babies by Dr. Sears in a past post, but I swear I read this at least every other week to assure myself I'm not alone.

My first experience as a mother to a high-needs baby happened in the hospital the night after Soren was born when even the nurses couldn't soothe him. They brought the little bundle back to me a half an hour after I asked them if they could take him for a few hours so I could get some desperately-needed sleep. I cried a lot that night while I clung to my little vacuum-cleaner nurser in my hospital bed. If only I knew that 12 hours of labor was nothing compared to the exhaustion that would accompany me for the following months (and probably years).

This past week has really drained me. My body and mind are just so tired from this baby. I've been around babies before but I don't recall ever knowing one who is so active and alert and demanding of my attention. I love him dearly but MAN! I wasn't expecting a baby who abuses me while nursing (constantly slapping his arm on me or intensely groping my clothes) and who still needs to be swaddled tightly to get to sleep because he can't calm his arms down enough to relax. By the time he busts out of the swaddle, he's fine, but it's just that initial departure to sleep that he needs restraints. Will I have to buy a straight jacket for when he's older (where would you buy one of those anyway...kidding of course). This baby on You Tube is a very mild version of what SoJo is like. Add in some "hoooing" and squealing that accompanies the kicking and arm slapping.

I don't know about you, but it irks me when many older family members (who shall remain nameless due to some of them who may read this...MOM!) tell me that I should let him cry in his crib until he falls asleep, that I am spoling him by going to him when he's crying, that he's manipulating me, and that I am feeding him too often (he's asking for it!). It's exhasting enough trying to survive each day, let alone second-guessing my parenting skills.

I hate hearing him cry and will always respond within 10 minutes (sometimes he'll fall back asleep on his own). I want him to develop a sense of trust with me and his dad, that he knows we'll always be there for him, especially when he can't vocalize his needs. And don't get me started on the laisez-faire attitude toward car seats (Dad!..and others). Just because you didn't have them for us, doesn't mean I should not worry about buckling him in or using one in the first place. This is why you don't get to babysit SoJo alone.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I hope my next post will be a little more positive. Gotta go, guess who's up again!

August 7, 2023

Thrifty Green Thursday

The gals at Green Baby Guide have a post on laundry for Thrifty Green Thursday and to express my dorkiness, I wanted to confide in you that I just love laundry. I love using natural, thrifty products (see post a few days back on homemade laundry soap), hanging clothes out on the clothesline, and smelling freshly laundered fabric. There is also something wonderful about seeing a stack of neatly folded cloth diapers that were dried in the sun sitting next to the changing table. It takes so little to please me!

For my contribution to Thrifty Green Thursday, I wanted to share a green tip that doesn't involve laundry but involves water conservation.

I keep a bucket in our shower to catch the water that is wasted while the water is heating up (sorry, but I just can't stand in a cold shower).
I then dump this water into my watering can and use it with the plants on the porch. It's also good for the water in the can to sit for a while so the chlorine evaporates out of it...much better for your plants. I'd love to eventually install a gray water system, maybe when we renovate our crumbling bathroom.

For more green living tips, visit Green Baby Guide.

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