Friday, March 7, 2008

I’ve Gotta Tell *Someone*

My seven year old son is particularly adept at dragging a day's lesson of Explode-The-Code out for several hours. If I could find any verses referencing it (which, to his chagrin, there are none), I might be able to call it a spiritual gift. However, I am convinced that it is a gift to be able to randomly jump from topic to topic (forty-seven to be exact) at will while managing to make four pages of workbook phonics take two hours. He tells about his recent escapades and travels, inquires about what angels eat, and have I ever been on an African safari, shows how far his loose tooth can wiggle, queries regarding the ingredients in tar, the height of the Empire State building, how does Mrs. S get her Hot Jam hot, and what is for lunch, seemingly all in the same breath. The ease with which he seems to drag his mother along into his forty-seven random subjects causing her to temporarily forget the phonics as well is, well... nothing short of dumbfounding to me.

So, in the spirit of my seven year old's random musings, I share with you the recent happenings at our place.

Since we survived the flu, and Spring had not yet come, I decided to buckle down and try to get some projects wrapped up so I'd be free to play outside when the weather gets nice. Some of these were begun before the morning sickness began, only to be quickly shoved to the back burner during said morning sickness, then finally dragged back out and completed. In any case, what follows is not to be construed as, "Look what we did this week!" by any stretch of the imagination. It truly is a compilation of several months... and it truly is random. But I wanted to share because I'm excited, and... I have no one else to tell.

Fall 2007 191

First, to update the progress on some of my sidebar goals, here is what we came up with for cloth napkins. I wanted to not have to worry about matching napkins with tablecloths and all other fancy-schmancy details that don't quite fit the casual nature of meals with seven children, so I looked for a ton of something all the same color. I had heard that lots of MOMYS use cute dishtowels for cloth napkins, so that got me to thinking outside of the box and allowed me to ditch my original plan of making napkins with my serger. (Whew!) The girls and I found off-white (who knew they came in that color?), unbleached cotton shop towels at Sam's Club, and thought they would be perfectly cute and quaint for napkins. They are not perfectly square or uniformly size (and neither are we) , but they are close enough, and the price was right. We paid about $12 for 100 towels. We love them!

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Next, we had always made our own baby wipes from paper towels, but I wanted to switch over to non-disposable ones. We had heard Moms talk of using the shop towels for baby wipes, so we considered those, but I didn't like the rough texture of them for delicate bottoms, so we settled on cheap wash cloths. We picked white because I wanted to wash them in hot water with the diaper loads and be able to see if they were really getting clean or not. They have been wonderful! Not at all too thick to wipe with (which I had wondered about), and they are very quick to throw together. They also don't dull my good butcher knife like cutting the paper towel rolls for the disposable ones did. We mix about a quart of water with two tablespoons of liquid soap, mix it together, and pour on top of as many washcloths as we can squeeze into our container. (We grate a bar of TN Farmgirl's soap, and pour two cups of boiling water over it, let it dissolve, and voila! Liquid soap that lives in a squeeze bottle in the bathroom closet, ready for making wipes!)

We also switched back to cloth diapers successfully. My first three were in cloth, but when I had four in diapers at once, I was given a large quantity of disposables and I switched to disposables and never looked back. Well, until now that is. I started making homemade cloth diapers with these instructions, but haven't been totally happy with them. They are thick and absorbent, very soft (made from old T-shirts), but the weave is so thick that pins refuse to go through them without a fight. If you decide to make them, I recommend adding the Snappi-able fabric, and using Snappi straps instead of pins. I would have continued to make more anyway (and buy some Snappi straps), except that someone (Thanks Anita!) just passed on to me a large bag of nice cloth diapers, and now I am freed from one more sewing project! (Yay!)

I also made (and totally fell in love with) wool soakers - diaper covers made from felted wool sweaters. WOW and double wow! I had NO idea the things would work so well. I will not bother with pictures and details, because Holly has already covered that well, but I will tell you that I am amazed that they work so well and are so sweet and cozy. I will never go back to any other cover after trying these! I made some wool longies (long pants-type diaper covers) and regular no-legs types. The wool longies are not the least bit scratchy (if you choose well when picking out which sweaters to use) and are so, so yummy-cute sticking out from under a little girls' dress in winter. They are also quick and easy to make! This is a great thing, as I priced pre-made ones online for upwards of $50 per pair! So there are three things now marked off my Switching-Over-To-Cloth list. Cool.

Winter 2008 039

These jars contain some of our herb projects. The green one on the right is Healing Salve that we learned how to make from TN Farmgirl's Medicinal Herb Course. It is green because we used extra virgin olive oil for it. We use it for boo-boos instead of antibiotic ointment (it has several herbs known for their antibacterial/antifungal qualities), and for diaper cream in place of any kind of Vitamin D ointment. It is so much fun to slowly, one-by-one replace all those petroleum-based products with something HOME MADE! Although I usually hate the way this word is overused, I have found it to be empowering... I can really do this? Yes, I really can! Things like this remind me so much of the ideas in Mary Pride's The Way Home book... another few pieces of life brought back home. It is a good feeling.

The jar on the left contains homemade lotion/cream. We mixed yummy things like coconut oil and sweet almond oil with cocoa butter, herbs great for skin care like calendula, and essential oils like lavender and lime for that invigorating aromatherapy factor. It turned out great! We found the instructions from KeriMae at A Happy Home, and it really was as simple as she made it sound. My big girls really could have made this themselves - it was that simple. If you can make mayonnaise, you can make this... it is the same process (only without the eggs).

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These yummy looking morsels are not truffles, no matter how hard I tried to convince my children. But they are close. Ever wonder how to get herbs into little children? Me too. Carla Lynne encouraged me to make what she calls "Herb Balls" to help get herbs into small children easily. She told me to powder the herbs I wanted included, then mix them with honey. Then, grind nuts, dried fruit, etc, and mix it all together. Make small balls, and roll them in carob powder, and refrigerate. She did not give me an exact recipe, so I can't give you one, but, I recommend the taste test plan. I tasted the mixture as I went along to know how much of which ingredients I wanted to add. The key to getting these yummy, I found, was to really powder the herbs well, so the texture doesn't stand out. They turned out great, and the flavor improves with a few days in the fridge. Now my little children beg for "those chocolate balls" and I have no trouble getting the herbs into those little bodies.

Fall 2007 185

These little babies are the beginning of our making our own herbal cough drops. We got the recipe from TN Farmgirl's blog. I am not going to link to the exact post, because I want you to have fun digging through the archives and learning about all kinds of other herbal things on your way to this recipe. I will tell you this, though. They only have two ingredients, and making them was close to as fun as a taffy pull, if you have ever done that. They taste yucky. Horehound is a bitter herb, and it only is effective when bitter, BUT, my kids actually ate them OK. They said they weren't that bad. I did not try them, as horehound is contraindicated during lactation and pregnancy!

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First we made the drops, then we rolled them in corn starch to keep them from sticking together. Next we wrapped them in freezer paper squares and put them in jars. They really work well for loosening chest congestion!

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So that's the happenings around here. I hope you have survived enjoyed the journey through our random musings!

P.S. My Inbox is swamped, but I hope to catch up this week, so if you're waiting to hear from me, I'm hurrying! Thanks for being patient with me!

9 comments:

  1. so much good stuff :-)

    we did the rags for napkins thing.
    we had some guests & one of the young men asked for a napkin. he was passed one; he looked at it a second and said, "at my house, we call these rags." too funny :-)

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  2. WOW!! you have been SUPER busy!!

    I'm tired just reading it!! ;) (still in the first trimester here...)

    Always enjoy reading here...

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  3. wow, great info...thanks for taking the time to share...I've been making homemade disposable wipes for a while (I cut the paper towels with an electric knife-works great), but I'm interested in switching to the cloth. I'm going to come back to this post a lot.

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  4. have you ever heard of ittybittybabybunz.com

    I have a couple of friends who have tried it and like these cloth diapers. They are a bit expensive, but have heard they are worth it.

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  5. Thanks so much for the tip about the shop cloths from Sam's!

    I've been looking for some cloth napkins for awhile- had my eye on a small package of some cute old-fashioned ones at the thrift store. But when I read your post, I knew the 100-pack would be great so we could wash some and still have the rest to use.

    They are actually quite pretty, if folded nicely! Cor has taken that task on himself. :) So thanks for sharing!

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  6. Oh man, SUCH fun, Julie! :)

    You are doing great! Thank you for the tip on Sam's Club for the cloth. What a great deal...my "washcloths" are in need of replacement, and I do NOT want to sew napkins right now!

    It truly IS amazing how well the wool covers work. I no longer look at sweaters the same....but now I know to do the "scratchy" test first. :)

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  7. I accidently ran across this sight looking for a CROCK SAURKRAUT receipt for my daughter,that is just learning to do organic gardening and canning. Was most thrilled.Ispent over an hour on it without even realizing it. Have already sent it to all my friends and family. Truely amazing. Thank you
    Dawn

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  8. Hi there. I found your blog through Tammy's Recipes. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I have been using some flannel wipes I made a while back but I think the bath cloth will work better since it has some texture to it. Do you cut yours in half and then sew them or what do you? I was completely convicted by your Yeah It Matters post. I am looking foward to more reading. Blessings to you and your family.

    Em

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  9. oldpathsfamilyfarmOctober 25, 2008 at 6:02 AM

    Emily~

    I don't do a thing to the washcloths in order to use them for wipes. While cutting them in half would make more sense for tiny bottoms, leaving them whole makes messy toddler diapers a one-wipe job. Having that whole wash cloth to be able to use makes changing messies well... a lot less messy, in our (the diaper-changers in my house) opinion.

    I think the secret is using *cheap* wash cloths, not the nice, thick ones, so that they are pretty "flexible" when you wipe.

    I'm glad you found us, and hope you come back, Em!

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