Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Keeping it Simple: A Homemade Toothpaste Recipe

I’m a little crazy about taking care of my teeth.  In my efforts to live simpler, I have been changing what I use as far as health and hygiene. Tooth paste is one of them. Many of the popular brands contain chemicals and additives that are not necessary for achieves a clean smile. The most alarming ingredient is fluoride.  Fluoride is most known for being in the tubes of toothpaste that sit on drugstore shelves. But it is also in most city drinking water and in a lot of grocery store items as well.  Most consumers are completely unaware of the dangers of fluoride. Even some may know a little about how unnecessary the use of fluoride is on a daily basis, but in the end it is difficult to avoid since it is pretty much added everything these days like juice or soda drinks.  When it comes to toothpaste, it is just easier to buy whatever is there, or in most cases the tube that is most appealing to the buyer’s eye.   

Given that there is fluoride in the water we use to brush, I really think anymore then that is overkill. So in my efforts to eliminate unnecessary crap I decided to change what we use to clean our little toofers. First I was using Tom’s of Maine for a while but I decided to make my own. I had the ingredients anyway…and I am always up for something new…and practically free.

There are a few variations to this recipe but this is how I put mine together…

You will need:

  • Baking SODA – available pretty much anywhere if you don’t already have this buried in your kitchen somewhere.
  • Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – I get mine at the health food store, some have success finding it at Walmart or Target, but I haven’t around this neck of the woods anyway. It’s up there $ wise but this magic oil has billions of uses and will last forever!
  • An essential oil such as Peppermint, Spearmint or Wintergreen (optional) – Health food store.

Now in a clean bowl mix equal parts baking soda and coconut oil with a clean spoon. I emphasize clean because this is your dental hygiene we are talking about, you don’t want to brush your teeth with yuckiness now do you?  You can do less or more depending on how paste-like you would like it to be but keep in mind that too much baking soda can be bothersome to your gum line. This last batch I put together is on the oily side and I like it this way. Add as many drops of the essential oil of your choice. Store your paste in anything that can seal. I re-purposed a sterilized glass baby food jar and used this to hold the tooth paste. 
I have too many of these empty glass jars.

I have been using this for a couple months now... it is different but I have grown to like it. Keep in mind, getting clean teeth isn’t all about what is used to clean them. It is all about diligent brushing and religiously flossing. I had a cleaning today and I am proud to say that Ms Dental Hygienist lady was impressed with how immaculate my teeth are. No lecture. That’s something to smile about!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bag of Wonders

The contents of my purse
My purse…pocket book...whatever you call it, goes with me almost everywhere. Truthfully, I hate the thing. I am jealous of men and their teeny wallets that fit nicely in whatever pocket they choose. This poor bag is full of so much junk it is ridiculous. I’ve been carry the same bag for over six months now and I am in shock that the threads haven’t thrown in towel. Here are the contents of my purse; most of these things have been in here for months…some things were transferred over from the bag I was using before I got this one.

Starting from the left and working towards the right (sort of):

An asterisk is next to the items I’ve used or needed in the past month.

3 pairs of gloves for me. I wore one once this winter.
1 pair of mittens for baby.
2 bibs, one of which is dirty.
4 packs of gum.*
A travel thing of q-tips. This came from previous purse which was when I went on a mini vacation. In July.
Burts Bees chap stick.*
Hand sanitizer.*
Loose change.
A hair elastic.
One paperclip.
2 mechanical pencils.
2 pens.*
An empty camera case. Yes I carry my camera with me. I also carry the case. They never meet.
Really old appointment cards.
A bracelet that broke.
One earring.
Two baby spoons. Probably dirty.
My wallet, that is a mess on its own.
Really old lotion.
Glasses. I use this sometimes. Truthfully, I need to see an eye doctor.
A picture of my niece with santa.
Tylenol. The bottle is like 7 years old. The contents are not. I never take them. It’s for other people.
A container of CJs BUTTer.*
A pocket brush/mirror. Doubles as a child’s toy.
A soothie. It has a lot of purse lint on it. Baby took a pacifier for about a week (he’s 9 months). He likes chewing on them.
A nail clipper.
Black eyeliner.
Two pairs of cheap sunglasses. In case my other 5 pairs of cheap sunglasses go missing all at once.
A disposable diaper that is too small.
A baggie of wipes.*
Baby keys.
Gloves for my big boy.*
A 3ish inch by 3ish inch pile of trash. Gum wrappers. Receipts. Expired coupons. Even if there is a trash can nearby, I choose to place it in my purse like some sort of hoarder.
A dried up wipe.
A baggy of feminine care supplies. I have not had the emergency situation in which needed them since high school days. I guess I carry them for other people. They are really old…do these things expire??
A stick of deodorant. Why? I really don’t know why this is in there.
A trusty hair clip.*

My phone is usually in there too. If I don't answer, it is either because I don't hear it....or because i cant find it in time.

There you have it. I’ve noticed that I have so much because I try to avoid carrying the dreaded diaper bag . I seriously hate the thing. When I am solo with the little dudes, I guess I am sort of a minimalist. I have a bag of things packed up in the car and take the must haves with me via purse. The two kiddos are enough to haul...and I do have a stroller but prefer to put one of the kids on my back with my carrier (look for a post on that soon!) and be sort of hands free. Well one hand free since the other is being held by the little guy.

I guess I have no choice but to like my bag full of junk. It serves me well. For now anyway.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cloth Diapering: The Process

If you know me, you know that I am mildly obsessed with cloth diapering. I love how great they are for my children, and how we have saved so much money by using them in addition to cloth wipes.  They are definitely not the cloth diapers that grandma was using; they have changed quite drastically since then. They are now easier than ever to use and come in many different types, colors/prints and fabrics. They are so fabulous that my initially hesitant husband now prefers them over paper diapers any day and has on more than one occasion advocated about how awesome they are!

First is deciding which diapers work best for you and fit well on your baby. Since all babies are not shaped the same, some cloth diapers work better than others.
Here is a site that lays out the different types pretty well.

I have tried and own quite a few of the types and my personal favorites are one-size pockets with snap closures. I like them for the fact that I can add to it for extra absorbency if need be. I also like the idea of using one diaper up until toilet learning. Some moms prefer to use sized diapers and sell (yes people actually buy used cloth diapers, and no it is not gross) and buy new sizes as baby grows. Too much work in my opinion.

The cost of a single diaper varies; my least expensive diapers (not counting pre-folds and covers which were super cheap!) are about 5 dollars each with my pricier ones around $25. You might be shocked to learn that some parents (usually moms) will pay even more then that! If I had that sort of money I would too!  Some parents purchase their entire stash of diapers up front; however we did not have that sort of cash saved up so we bought a little at a time. I am rather happy we did it this way because then I figured out what I did and did not like. Although I am guilty of window shopping my favorite online cloth diaper stores, I am pretty much “stashified”. MUST. NOT. BUY. MORE. RESIST THE CUTENESS.
This is what I started with. I could make it work with just this.
My stash today. My love for pockets took over. There is a few different types in there too.

 OKAY. Now here we go.
What you will need:

Diapers (duh)- the amount varies, but the average is about 25-30 if you wash every other day. I have purchased from many online store but this one and this one are my favorite.

Cloth diaper safe detergent-  This site good list but the kind that you prefer will depend on the type of water you are working with. Keep in mind that the amount you use is usually no more than a few tablespoons, so detergent will last quite a while. If you are really tight on money, you can make a homemade detergent for just a few pennies per load. Wet Bag- ok these are not really essential but make it so much easier, these hold the dirty diapers until laundry day, a good quality bag will hold in any offensive odors. They are available in a different types and sizes.

Cloth wipes- some get away with using disposable wipes here so they are not really necessary but really make the process so much easier. Some mamas (and daddies) are a little freaked out buy cloth wipes but it really is not that bad, and you will use way less since the clean better! I use baby wash cloths mostly, but many different wipes can be found online. Along the lines of wipes, some make a solution (available online or homemade) to use to wet the wipes before using. I tried a few, but I just use water…keep it simple.

Diaper sprayer: this attaches to plumbing by your toilet so that you can spray those super icky poopy diapers clean. For us, this doesn’t need to be done every time, but some days I sing a song about how useful it has been. I did survive a few months without it though, and not every one really needs them, but it does beat scraping and the old fashion dunk and swoosh.

Cloth diaper safe cream- You can find this online as well as in some stores. If your cloth diapering you probably will not run into rashes as frequently, but if you do the majority of drugstore creams will ruin your precious diapers. Alternatively you could purchase bio degradable liners to protect the cloth while using a cloth unfriendly ointment. 

Now that you know what you may or may not need, here is how it works:

Put the diaper on the cutie. Now you wait….tick tock tick tock

Oh! It is diaper changing time!

Get a clean diaper and the wipes of your choice ready. Get baby. Remove diaper. Try not to gag if it is poop…I still do on occasion…luckily daddy lovingly rescues me at these times. Wipe the mess up and put soiled diaper aside, preferably not in babies reach (seriously). Put the clean diaper on the baby and set him down.
If the diaper is just pee then it can be placed the wet bag or pail until laundry day. If its poop then some way or another get it off the diaper and into the toilet, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Don’t forget, if the baby is exclusively breastfed, then their poop is water soluble which eliminates the need to scrape or spray. Flush toilet. Place diaper in bag and wash those hands!

On laundry day: Open your washing machine (hopefully you have one, kudos if your hand washing). Toss in the diapers (hold your breath) and pre wash them on COLD. This gets rid of the yuckies. When that is finished washed them on HOT with detergent and rinse on COLD. Sometimes I do an extra rinse to be sure all the detergent is out. Place diapers in the dryer. I dry on HIGH and I hang dry all of my covers inside, but others do it differently. In the warmer months I will use a clothesline. I have successfully hung all the diaper parts to dry inside when I was without a dryer. So basically a dryer isn’t really necessary at all, but definitely a time saver.

Keep in mind that this is my routine that works for us. Other families may do their routine differently but along the same lines.

Once every few months I strip them (this get rid of detergent build up) and dry the covers to help reseal the PUL. If you take great care of your diapers then they will last at LEAST 2 years. The first diapers I purchased for Bubs are still going strong on my littlest man. 

See ya later!


During my oldest child’s first year I spent countless hours researching cloth diapers. Since the entire process is initially overwhelming, I was back and forth with the idea of cloth diapering until one day I finally took the plunge and I am so pleased with my decision. My oldest has now learned to use the potty , but I now I have tiny little one using them, thank goodness because I don’t know if I will ever be able part the cuteness on his little tushy! I am also very proud to say I successfully converted two mamas (Hi Katey and Erica!) to use cloth diapers in my time with the amount of information I have gathered. It really is SO EASY and I have wondered why more families are not a part of the cloth diaper business.

I have collected so much information about cloth diapering in this brain of mine over the past couple of years that I feel the need to share! Fair warning: it is a bit long. So here is part one…

Many parents are completely unaware of the risks come with the use of disposable diapers. I will admit that I was quite oblivious myself! Disposables are made up of paper, plastic, and a variety a chemicals. A deeper look inside the disposable diaper is quite alarming (no not a dirty diaper).
1. Dioxin, which is used in the bleaching process, is a carcinogenic known to cause cancer.
2. Polyacrylate is what makes the disposable diaper hold pretty much a gallon of baby pee. This particular chemical was banned from feminine care products in the 1980’s when studies revealed that it was a primary cause for a deadly illness known as toxic shock syndrome. This chemical is still being used in disposable diapers and has yet to be tested long term. If you are familiar with diapering, then you have seen it cover your babies bellies before…when the diaper just couldn’t hold any more.
This is straight from a sposie...gross right?

3. Tributyltin, another dangerous chemical, is added to disposable diapers. It has been known to cause hormonal issues in humans and animals and may play a role in obesity due to its ability to trigger the growth of fat cells.
4. Perfumes and dyes (that are a chemical mess on their own)  are added to the majority of disposables on the market. Now any sane parent would not spray their baby with perfume or dye their little baby hairs, so why should we wrap their baby bits in it 24/7?!
These chemicals play a role in the rash of rashes and diaper area infections that could ultimately be avoided with the use of cloth diapers. Also general exposure, such as touching the diaper or opening a new package has shown to cause irritation to the skin, eyes and throat. Now, don’t get the wrong idea…I am definitely not a “snob” by any means given that I do on occasion use the dreaded disposable. Cloth diapers do not impose any such risks when they are being used and cared for properly!

Disposable diapers are not recyclable and many attempts have been made in order to make it happen, but it has proven impossible. Cloth diapers are used 50 to 200 times before they are retired to be used for other tasks such as swim diapers or cleaning. In a home where disposable diapers are used, they take up 50% of household waste. It has been difficult to come up with a specific number but it takes an estimated 500 years to fully decompose. That means our great great grandchildren will be sharing the earth with all the disposable that are being thrown so carelessly away today.   Since disposable diapers are not biodegradable, millions of them are added to the already large pile in landfills every year. Even the brands that boast being all natural, are incapable of decomposing in a timely manner. Additionally, many diapers and being sealed tight in plastic bags before being thrown away, which adds to the hundreds of years it already takes for a disposable diaper to decompose. Cloth diapers have had very little, if not any impact on the environment, and we are quite sure of that seeing as how they have been in use for centuries.

What is INSIDE the diaper before it is tossed away that is extremely hazardous. On most disposable diaper packaging it instruct parents and caregivers to dump solids into the potty before discarding. Now, how many actually do this? ...Exactly
 This means a poopload (A.K.A. millions of pounds) of poop is being sent to the local landfill each year. The fecal matter that sits there becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that is then released as toxic gas into our earth’s air and harms our ground water supply. Alternatively, cloth diapers are rinsed and cleaned in a way that does not impact the environment.

MONEY TALKS…well it does if you are me.
 The amount of cash that a family can save should be enough to convince anyone to switch to cloth…but unfortunately it is not waaaahhh. If disposable diapers are being changed at the rate they should be, immediately after they are soiled, then a child should go through 10 to 12 diapers each day, which adds up quickly. Since diapers are often purchased one or two times a month, they amount of money being spent can often go unnoticed. Parents also forget that diapering can often go into additional years if their child is less then interested in toilet training right away. With the average cost of a disposable diaper at twenty-five cents, it adds up to a MINIMUM of $1600 for just two years, this does not include the expense of wipes and trash bags. Alternatively, cloth diapers will cost an initial $300; more money can be spent if a parent is interested in expanding their collection beyond the basic necessities. When cloth diapers are used on subsequent children it will save even more money! I did the math and I will have saved a minimum of $2,000! Now I am not rich…so to me that’s a decent amount of money!

And there you have it; these are the main reasons behind my decision to cloth diaper. Stay tuned for the next post where I will be laying out the EASY process and different types of diapers as well as some pics! :D