Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Thursdays

Our Thursdays have taken on a little routine.
Story time at the Bull Street Library.
Quick potty break.  Cambria is hidden in the background.
Walking to the car.
Eating some snacks in the field at Forsyth Park.
My boy swinging.
My girl swinging.
Both of dems.
Peeking through the bars.
Making friends.
And then it was time to go..
I'm loving our new Thursday.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Midas

Midas Be-Good Congdon

August 27th, 1997 - January 26th, 2012
{14 and a half years old!} 

Midas was the best dog. 
He should've been a lap dog because that boy loved hugs, kisses, pets, and attention more than anything.   
He truly was a sweet being, even in his old age blind years.
We've always said that he never had a single mean bone in his body. 
We got his mom Shannon in 1994 so Thursday brought an end to a very long era in our family.  
18 years actually. 
Only true dog lovers can understand the deep love that you can have for a dog.  
Midas was a member of our family who will always be missed, just like his mom.


I'll love you forever Middy Moe!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cloth Diaper Update


We've been cloth diapering now for a year + a month, so it's about time for a little update on how it's all going.  I think the easiest way to get information out there is a Q&A sorta format, so I'll start with that.

Do I like cloth diapering after a whole year of it? YES, actually, I love it.
Has the initial upfront investment actually paid off in the long run? I think it has.  As of today, we've spent just at $700 dollars to diaper two children (well, 1 for 1 month, 2 for about 10 mos, and now just 1 during the day and 2 at night).  We haven't actually worked all the numbers but I'm certain buying disposables for both of them would have cost us more money. 
What does $700 include? The diapers, laundry detergent, diaper bags, Bac-Out cleaning spray (we don't use that anymore), wipes, wipe solution, and a few other accessories.
How many diapers do we have? You guys may be shocked to know that we only have 14 all-in-one/pocket diapers.  This is an extremely low number considering we had two children using these diapers at the same time for a solid 10 months.  We also have four fitted diapers and one cover which we used when both kids were in diapers, but we rarely use now.
Do we have a favorite brand? Yes, by far we love our bumGenius diapers the best.  Fewest leaks and best durability.
How often do we have to wash them? When they were both in diapers we were doing a load every night.  Now we do them every day and a half.
How do we dry our diapers? We always hang-dry the shells, unless we are leaving the house and have none ready.  I hang the inserts probably 90% of the time too. 
How are our diapers holding up? Out of the 14, two of them are almost useless.  The waterproof barrier on those diapers are gone or torn, making them extremely prone to leaks.  We will likely be tossing them soon.  I've also had to replace the Velcro on all of our hook BumGenius diapers.  There is definitely wear and tear on many of the diapers, but overall most are still in good, usable condition. 
Do our diapers have stains? Our diapers have no stains at all.  I think it's a combination of the intense washing cycle we use and the sun.
I replaced the tabs and laundry strips on all the diapers.  They were very easy to replace and I bought a kit to do it here.

our only all-in-one that is literally falling apart at the seams, no idea why
What are our reasons for using cloth diapers? All our reasons are pretty much the same: they benefit our wallets, our earth, and our children's booties.  Also, they are cute.
Is it gross getting up close and personal with so much poop? Yes, of course.  I will never miss smelling, touching, and washing away poop.  But our sprayer makes it sooooooo much easier to deal with.  For us, cloth diapering would be way more nasty if we didn't have that sprayer.
Have we bought disposables since making the switch? Ezra wore disopasbles for the first week or so,  but after that we did not buy a single disposable diaper until the first week of December when Ezra developed an ammonia burn from a little ammonia build-up on our diapers.  (We've since changed some things around to help with the ammonia problem) And then we bought another package when we flew to Texas for the weekend during the middle of December.  We just figured it would be easier for our mothers and sisters.  So, we didn't buy disposables for 9 months.  I'm proud of that.
Do we always take care of the diapers right after we give a change? No, sometimes they pile up on our toilet for a few hours before being dealt with.  It's kinda stinky so we try not to do that...
stinky diapers waiting to be sprayed
Do I judge other people for not using cloth? No, I try not to.  BUT, I'm very passionate about using cloth diapers so I love to encourage curious people, parents, and friends to find out more about them.  I realize cloth diapers are not the right fit for every family though.
Is it a lot of extra work? Yes and no.  Yes they are less convenient + more work than disposables, but the whole process is so engrained in our routine that I never think about it anymore.
How do we handle diaper changes in public? We just change the diaper and then put the dirty diaper in our travel diaper bag.  We sometimes dump or scrap some poop off, but usually we just throw it all in the bag and take care of it when we get home.
What do we use during the night? We stuff our "nighttime diapers" with one large insert and one prefold gerber cloth diaper.  Having the cloth diaper in there to soak up all that nighttime pee has been the key to having fewer leaks at night.
the large insert on the left, and the prefold cloth diaper on the right. both are stuffed into our nighttime diapers.
stuffed
What's one secret behind cloth diapering? CLOTH WIPES! You want to save some money, freaking use cloth wipes.  We bought 3 or 4 packs of wipes for less than $5 each and have saved tons of money by doing so.  We've had to buy more of this wipes solution concentrate a few times, but the money saved has been much greater.  I'm in the process of making our own soulution too which will save even more money.
How do you use cloth wipes? We spray the liquid on a wiper using either our spray bottle or a peri bottle then wipe.  We use 1 for #1 and 1 or 2 and sometimes 3 for #2.
Is it true that cloth diapers help ease a child into the potty training process? Ummm, for us, no. We're currently dealing with a serious potty training disaster, so I don't think that little myth is true. 
Any negatives? Cloth diapers make clothes fit a little odd at times.  Basically they make the baby's butt look huge.  That's kinda cute though. 
We've learned a lot since we first stared cloth a year ago. 
Overall, we really do <3 our cloth diapers. 
They're such a huge part of our daily life and I really think I'll miss not having a child in them one day. 
And I hope I answered some questions some of you may have had. 
my cutie ezra in one of my favorite diapers

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Getting those Greens

Last week I made two new veggie sides for dinner and they were both so tasty that I had to share.  Both of these dishes are going to become regular staples in our diet,  for sure.  The first recipe is for Roasted Brussels Sprouts
 Wash the Brussels sprouts.
 Then cut off the brown parts on the ends.
 Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper.  You could also add garlic or any other type of seasoning.
 Bake them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
 Until they look like this! Yummmmm.  Just looking at this picture makes me want to make more right now.  They are so flavorful and delicious.
My favorite part were these little pieces that broke off and became really crispy.  Kyle commented that they taste like chips, they really do!! So the next day I was browsing one of my favorite food blogs Shutterbean, and found a recipe for KALE CHIPS!!! I made them for dinner that night.  They were amazing.   I didn't get any step-by-step pictures, but I just followed the recipe and it worked great. 
So crispy, salty and amazing!!!! Seriously, if you've never used kale before or are just looking to add some veggies, try both of these recipes.  I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

I finally took some pictures of my Eggplant Parmesan creation process the other night so I could share it with you all. This recipe is the most delicious and savory dish I make.  Warning: DO NOT make it if you are on a serious diet, as it's basically just a big pan of cheesy, oily goodness.  Also, I'm very much an "eyeball it" type of cook so nothing in this recipe is exact, so make sure you tweak it to your own liking.

What you need:
2-3 medium eggplants (depending on how much you want to make)
1 container of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese 
4 or 5 eggs
A lot of olive oil
2 jars of pasta sauce
4-6 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese 

The first thing I do is grab my biggest frying pan and pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan about half an inch or so.  I then make a little assembly line.  I arrange my eggplant on my cutting board.  Then I whisk the eggs in a bowl with a tablespoon of water.  I also fill another bowl with breadcrumbs and a little bit of grated Parmesan, maybe 1/4 cup.  Then I cover up a plate with paper towels to set my just-out-of-the-oil-eggplant on after it's fried.
I then start slicing up the eggplant into about 1/4 inch thick pieces.  You can slice it thinner or thicker depending on your preference.  I personally like the slices on the thin side because I don't like huge thick pieces of eggplant.  I try and slice up all the eggplant at this point so I get it out of the way and won't have to worry about it once I start frying.
After all the eggplant is sliced, I dip it first in the egg mixture.
Then I dip it in the breadcrumbs+grated Parmesan.
Then I toss it in the oil.  I usually fry 3-6 pieces at a time, depending on the size.  You want to fry both sides until they're a nice golden brown color.
I then set the hot eggplant on the plate to cool off and drain some of that oil. 
 Once I've got a decent amount of eggplant, I cover the bottom of my baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. 
 I then layer the eggplant in the bottom of the pan.  You don't have to cover every single spot, just don't leave any huge empty spaces.
 Then I add a layer of sauce.
And then a layer of cheese. 
Continue this layering eggplant, sauce, cheese until you have 3-5 layers. If I'm just cooking for our family I do three layers, but if I'm cooking for my whole family (my dad, haha) I'll definitely do five. 
Don't put cheese on the last layer quite yet.  Cover it and bake it at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Then take it out and add the last layer of cheese.  I like to make this layer nice and thick because, well, I love cheese.  Then bake it for another 15 minutes or until the top layer of cheese is all melted and bubbly. 
 Exactly how it should look.  Pure deliciousness.
Now enjoy it.