Tag Archives: Living Chartreuse

I Think They’re Putting Mind-Control Serum In Potato Chips

Noted an interesting phenomenon the other day. Thought you-all should know about it, in case you’re interested.

So I’ve written before about how I like to live and eat chartreuse. As far as eating, this means a few things – I try to avoid things like MSG and high fructose corn syrup, I avoid foods with a lot of packaging, especially plastic, and I try to eat local and organic as much as possible. Among other principles.

But this weekend was different. As I write this, it’s May 29, and we just had our son’s second birthday party. To save a little money, we barbecued and everything else we served was potluck style. (Except for my delicious homemade funfetti cake, of course. Great recipe here, and many thanks to Faith over at The Kitchn.)

This meant that there was a lot of food we wouldn’t normally eat, which we considered a minor one-day setback, one happily overlooked because of the price of feeding 21 people a full meal. We had about twenty-seven bags of potato chips, several packages of dip, lots and lots of soda, and several bags of store-bought cookies.

Well, no one took their goodies home, and while I’m not one to buy dinner at KFC, I’m also not one to waste a bucket of free chicken. Which means we’ve suspended many of our chartreuse principles, just until the smorgasbord has been whittled down a little.

The evening after the party, I had eaten almost nothing nutritious for nearly 48 hours. (With the exception of some Bob’s oatmeal. Although to be fair, I had marinated that in brown sugar.) We had traveled up the coast to an aquarium for Ean’s birthday, and on the car trip we’d consumed two meals and a couple snacks’ worth of food with no nutritional value. (Hey, those chips used to be vegetables, you know!)

I was not hungry at all. My stomach was practically distended. In the car with me, I had two bags of chips, several chocolate truffles, a bottle of water, a bottle of juice, and leftover ravioli. Here’s the phenomenon I mentioned earlier. Despite all that, I wanted to stop at the store and buy a pizza pocket!

I was also ravenous for a latte. Every kiosk we passed made me feel more depressed, because I knew how irrational I was being, and I wasn’t about to ask my husband to pull over and shell out more money for a cup full of calories I certainly didn’t need.

But, despite knowing better, I was incredibly frustrated. Nothing I had eaten all day had satisfied me, and I’d sampled aplenty. I didn’t feel full, although I knew I was. The day before, chips tasted salty and pleasant. After two full days of them, they tasted bland.

As I realized how unsatisfied I felt after gorging myself, I noticed a few other things. My skin was unusually greasy. I felt lethargic and groggy. My mood was in the tank.

And I wanted more of the junk that had made me feel that way …??!

So, I just thought I’d share that. Hopefully there are a few people out there who are on the fence about their eating habits, and I’d like to stand up on that fence and shout it:

They call it junk food for a reason!

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How To Cloth Diaper (No Pins Necessary)

In a previous post I listed the most significant factors in my decision to cloth diaper. So now that we’ve got the why out of the way, let’s do the how.

I think people assume that taking care of cloth diapers is more complicated than it really is. The two big things you’ll have to learn right away are (Thing One) how to change them and (Thing Two) how to wash them.

Thing One: Changing

This depends on the kind of diaper you’ve got. When I first started cloth diapering, I was so befuddled by the array of choices that I just dove into the only kind I had seen in real life – pocket diapers. (These are probably the easiest, but also the most expensive.) I sort of wish I’d explored a little more open-mindedly, though, because once I got a grip on how the different varieties work, I didn’t feel the least bit overwhelmed.

Anyway, though.

So some cloth diapers (pocket and AIO) change just like disposables – lay it under baby, pull through and fasten. Well, that’s cake. Then there are diapers which need covers (prefolds, contours, and fitteds). There will be the absorbent pad and a cover. It isn’t much different from putting on two thin diapers, one right on top of the other.

I think, if you’re going to cloth diaper, cloth wipes just make good sense. I have two reasons – one, price. It’s not like wipes are a bank-breaker, but why pay for them if you don’t need to and you’re already doing laundry? Second, and a bigger deal to me, is that once you’re cloth diapering, cloth wipes are such an easy transition. Some people make or buy cloth wipe mix, but I just run my wipes under a faucet and ring them out before changing. There is no additional care for cloth wipes. It’s all the same stuff (although maybe thirty extra seconds at the toilet).

You can buy cloth wipes, but I don't see the point - cut a standard flannel receiving blanket into sixteenths. Voila! Here they are after several weeks of use and washing.

After an on-the-go changing, a waterproof bag like this one is a must. This way you can carry the dirty diaper safely home. At home, if the diaper is just wet, take out any inserts and toss it in your diaper pail (which should be lined with a waterproof liner like this one).

If it’s poopy, you’ll have to get any solids off the diaper. This is The Big Bummer of cloth diapering – it’s not difficult, but it’s not fun either. You can get a toilet sprayer, which you install directly into the plumbing beneath your toilet tank, and which works kind of like a kitchen hose. Take out inserts, spray solids off of the diaper and the wipes, throw everything into the pail and wash your hands (as if I need to tell you that last part, right?). They say that breastfed poo is water-soluble and can go straight into your washer, but personally, I’d rather spray it off.

Thing Two: Laundry

Heck yes!

When it comes to laundry, you’re pretty much guaranteed that you’ll make tweaks to any process you find endorsed. The basics, though – four steps.

  • Run a cold rinse spin to prevent stains from baking on.
  • Run a regular wash with half the suggested amount of a cloth-diaper-friendly detergent (I use biokleen, but there are a lot of options.)
  • Run an extra spin to get out any residue. (You’ll probably have to strip your diapers from time to time, too, but more on that later.)
  • Dry. You can tumble dry everything on low, or you can just do the inserts and then line-dry anything with PUL, the waterproof material. The dryer can wear PUL down, but it dries quickly on a line. I live in a wet climate, so I usually can’t sun-dry, but I hang them from clothespins tied to the closet rod in my son’s room and they dry in two or three hours.

After your diapers are washed and dry, if you have pockets/AIOs, you’ll need to stuff the inserts (you can also do this at changing time, but it’s quick and easy, so I like to get it done all at once in the morning). As for storage, everyone has their own style. Some people use wicker baskets. Some people throw them in a drawer. Some people stuff, fold and fasten their diapers, to make them look tidy. Some people toss them in wherever they go. I have a drawer for diapers and wipes, and I keep wet bags and extra inserts in a little box which I made myself (flaunt, flaunt :P).

It’s really common, I’ve noticed, for moms to feel overwhelmed by all the Stuff that goes along with cloth diapering – everything you’ve got to learn, all the new work you’ll be doing, the supplies you have to buy. I know it held me back from cloth for months and months. I’m glad I finally caved, though. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I have ample opportunity to take care of them. But I was so surprised by how easy they are – I can confidently say that I believe even a working mom will have the time and resources she needs to adjust quickly to the cloth diapering lifestyle.

My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

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The Adventure of Homemade Stuff

It is not gross to never use shampoo.

Really, though! I have been shampoo free for a few weeks now, and so far I’m enjoying it. I wash with baking soda and then rinse with apple cider vinegar. I read about the concept on a few blogs and decided it was worth a shot. (The ones I kept going back to were at A Sonoma Garden and Simple Mom.)

Shampoo isn’t a make-it or break-it expense, of course. So, unlike cloth diapering, my reason for making the switch wasn’t my wallet. Rather, it had to do with knowing what’s going on my hair, and aiming to simplify my process (because, really, what’s the point of all those products?).

Well, I wound up in a vortex. I bet you’ve never thought of all the things in your bathroom that you could make yourself. I was shocked! Did you know you can make your own lotion? Chapstick? Toothpaste? Deodorant?

I’ve never thought twice about the ingredients in these products. They’re FDA approved, and that’s good enough for me. Did you know the active ingredient in antiperspirants is aluminum? I didn’t.

I don’t know anything about the pros and cons of rubbing aluminum in your armpits. (Although I sure am glad I found occasion to use that sentence.) That’s not my point. My point is, I was doing it for something like fifteen years without ever knowing what was in it. Maybe aluminum is perfectly safe – but I should know, shouldn’t I? Before I use the stuff?

And quite frankly, having recently tapped this mine of information about homemade toiletries, I’d rather give that a go than sit online doing research on aluminum and methyl parabens and cancer.

So here’s my breakdown. Sometime in the next several months, I will be making my own:

  • Toothpaste
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Deodorant
  • Exfoliating scrub (a necessity, on my skin)
  • Lavender astringent
  • Hair treatment
  • … and maybe more!
As I go, I’ll post my favorite recipes (mostly from other blogs) and reviews of how they worked for me.

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Why I Cloth Diaper (No, It’s Not Weird)

What People Picture When They Think Of Cloth Diapers

What It’s Actually Like

Seriously, guys, the cloth diapers on the market today are one of the best-kept secrets in parenthood. They are not your grandma’s diapers.

I could break down my cloth diaper routine, but I think I’ll save that for a later post. This time around, I’m going to clarify why I cloth diaper. These are the pros and cons that I’ve noticed most (starting with the pros, so you won’t get burnt out on the cons and stop reading).

Pro Number One: Moolah

This is by far the most compelling reason, for me, to cloth diaper. I’ve never found a decent disposable diaper for less than a quarter apiece. (I found a brand that went for 13 cents apiece – but honestly, I may as well have used a piece of cardboard for all the comfort and absorbency that thing offered.) You can find a used cloth diaper on eBay or diaper swap forums for as cheap as $5. This means, in order for a cloth diaper to be as cost-efficient as a disposable, it needs to make it through at least twenty diaper changes. That’s gonna take two weeks, max. If you buy a more high-end brand like FuzziBunz, BumGenius or Charlie Banana, you might pay as much as $25 per diaper. Yeah, that number sounds outrageous (and it is a little steep), but it’s a hundred changes. You’re still saving buckets of dough.

At birth you’ll need about eighteen diapers (and may end up doing the laundry daily sometimes). If you buy a solid one-size diaper, that stash will get you through potty training. Say you buy Charlie Banana (my personal favorite) in six-packs. That will cost about three hundred dollars.

You’ll need at least two waterproof diaper pail liners (we use this one), and at least two portable wetbags (this one). A toilet bidet makes cleaning up the poopy diapers much, much easier (trust me on this). This BumGenius model goes for about fifty bucks – we installed our own and paid about the same, but I have a friend who did her own and spent $10. Another good addition is cloth wipes (why not, if you’re using cloth diapers?). I didn’t spend a penny – I cut two old receiving blankets and one old shirt into pieces. Then there’s the cost of laundering – I’ve heard from fifty cents to a dollar per load. Plan on doing the laundry at least once every two days.

At most you’ll spend about $700, from birth to potty training. That includes a batch of brand-new high-end diapers, a toilet bidet, wetbags and liners, and laundry expenses.

Disposables run, on average, about $60 to $85 a month. So if your child potty trains at two and a half years old, you’re looking at about $2200, total.

That’s three times as much!

… Why don’t more parents know this?!??

Pro Number Two: Garbage (Or The Lack Thereof)

I don’t need to elaborate on this, I’m sure. It’s not uncommon for a newborn to have five to ten poopy diapers a day, and that’s not considering the ones that are just wet. Even now, my eighteen-month-old goes through at least five diapers each day and often many more. Picture the pile of diapers accrued in two and a half years. It would be nice not to have to throw all that away, right? Even if it’s just for the slight benefit of extra space in your trash can (and less trips to the curb).

Pro Number Three: No Diaper Rash (That’s Right – NONE!)

In the six months before starting cloth, my son has annihilated no less than ten bottles of diaper cream. The poor guy’s bottom was nearly always red and sore, often with open sores and often with serious pain. The magic bullet? Cloth diapers. When I found out I couldn’t rely on diaper cream, it was almost frightening enough that I backed out. Thank heavens I didn’t. My baby’s bottom is blissfully smooth since the switch.

Con Number One: Reluctant Babysitters (And Some Reluctant Daddies)

I have yet to find a babysitter who’s been excited to face cloth diapering. It’s pretty easy to explain, though – at changing time, a cloth diaper isn’t very different from a disposable, and with the waterproof bag, it’s no more difficult. An added kick: if it’s an older woman (or man) watching Kiddo, they’ll often claim to know exactly what they’re doing (they have done it before, after all) – only to be totally flabbergasted by the cushy new models. This always ends with a fun conversation. “It’s all one piece? No pins? They can do that?”

Con Number Two: Maintenance

In my book, this applies mostly to velcro. I hate taking care of velcro, even though some moms swear by it. I use diapers with snaps. There’s also the need for cloth diaper safe detergent. You can’t use diaper rash ointment with cloth diapers, and in time your diapers will of course wear out – holes, thinning, elastic breakage, stitching ripping out. Just like with clothing. Two months in, I’ve already taken a sewing machine to one of my diapers. (I did buy used – and it’s worth the price break.)

Con Number Three: Yes, You Have To Clean Up The Doo-Doo

There’s no getting around the cleaning factor. It’s not as gross as most people figure, so give me a chance on this! But … yeah, washing them isn’t my favorite way to pass twenty minutes. Here’s the breakdown: change it just like a regular diaper, then take the yucky one to the bathroom. If it’s just wet, take out the insert (more on diaper construction later) and dump it in the pail with your wipes. If it’s … you know, the other kind of yucky, spray it down with your bidet, which is no fun and takes some practice, but is far more efficient than dunking (that’s what Grandma did, poor gal). Then into the pail. On wash day, the whole pail liner comes out, you empty it into the washer and throw it on top. A cold rinse-spin, then a regular cycle. You can line dry or use your dryer – if you use your dryer, take the outer parts out fifteen minutes into the cycle. They’ll be dry by then.

A quick breakdown:

If I’m willing to launder diapers, bother with maintaining them and deal with the weird stigma people have about cloth diapers, I can drastically reduce my garbage output, eliminate diaper rash entirely and spend a third of what I would have on disposables.

And that’s no contest, in my book.

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What I Mean By Being ‘Green’

I am not an environmental activist.

I’m letting you know this because in the last six months or so, I’ve had a lot of people assuming that I am. There are reasons for this. For example, my husband and I have recently switched to cloth diapers and wipes for our eighteen-month-old. I am finishing off my last bottle of shampoo and will be switching to baking soda when it’s gone. We avoid unhealthy food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate (MSG). We bought reusable shopping bags and a to-go cup to get coffee in at Dutch Bros.

We’ve been making these changes for various reasons. Cloth diapers are much cheaper than disposables, and food additives have been linked to all sorts of health problems. The one result which has put the single biggest smile on my face is not one I expected: we’re producing about half as much garbage as we were six months ago, and I’d say about eighty percent of that output is biodegradable material like food scraps and paper. We also waste about half as much food as we used to.

I love that.

But the reason I love it is not because I worry about the landfills dotting the globe, or about the ozone, or global warming, or any of that stuff. I’m not happy about those things, but I don’t worry about them much. God’s got it under control, and if the earth is going to have a catastrophic breakdown, I trust Him with it. By that, I do not mean “Trash the earth – who cares, since it’s just going to burn?” Instead I mean that, if it’s true that we’re headed for a massive ecological disaster, while that certainly is going to be a rough time in history, if not the very end of history, it’s still part of God’s plan.

I certainly don’t advocate destroying the planet, whether intentionally or by sheer neglect. But saving it isn’t a high priority of mine, either. I don’t feel called to that (but kudos to you if you are – there’s certainly nothing wrong with that).

So, then, we come to a question. If I’m not mainly concerned with saving the planet, why do I bother with all these environmentally-minded lifestyle changes?

There’s a little experiment that I really wish I could do. I wish I could take a cross-section of twenty people in my city, strip them of all their cultural bias for or against environmental activism, and show them their own personal pile of trash. Maybe a years’ worth.  The pile of yuck that they and only they are responsible for. I wouldn’t include their family’s output. I wouldn’t include the output of social functions they went to. Only each person’s individual trash.

My hypothesis is that each and every one of them, when separated from their cultural biases – from their stubbornness – would be disgusted by their wastefulness.

Not by their negative impact on the planet, but by their own selfish, greedy wastefulness.

Part of me wishes I could see my pile. Part of me is glad that I can’t. One thing’s for sure; I want to make it smaller.

By these lifestyle changes, I’m not advocating – or opposing – environmentalism. I am opposing consumerism. Here’s an example: next time you buy yourself lunch from a fast food chain, look at the packaging before you throw it away. Imagine that multiplied by however many millions of fast food meals are consumed in America each day (64 million at McDonald’s alone). Don’t worry – not right now – about all the plastic winding up in landfills. Right now, I have a different question.

How much money do you think was spent on that packaging?

Fast food has a purpose, to be sure. When I’m in a rush and don’t have time to cook myself a meal, I’ll hit a fast food joint, and I’m not ashamed of it. But what if everyone in America limited those trips, to only the days when they really had need of that convenience? Imagine how much money we’d save on packaging alone. How many impoverished kids do you think we could feed with that money?

I am not, therefore, an environmental activist. I don’t do what I do in order to save the planet. I do what I do because I want to be a good steward of the resources I’ve been entrusted with. 

Among the resources God has entrusted to me: money, time, space, skills, grocery stores, electricity, the internet, friends, the Bible, the Holy Spirit. (There are many more.) I combine these resources to achieve various desirable results: a picnic, clean laundry, spiritual maturity. (There are many more.)

In this process, there are two things I aim to not do:
a) reach non-desirable end results (eg: making drugs instead of making dinner), and
b) waste resources (eg: spending money on paper towels, when I could just use a washrag to clean up that mess or to hold my sandwich).

Because when I waste resources, I minimize desirable end results. That is, all the money I’m saving on diapers can go to buying Action Packs to send to Pakistan or Iran. And that’s a good use of resources.

Appendix A:
I’ve decided, after some thought and  lot of prayer, that I’m going to start a new series called Living Chartreuse. I thought about calling it “Living Green,” but as we’ve discussed, I’m not ‘green’ in the traditional sense. So chartreuse it is. I’m going to discuss ways that you and I can be good stewards of our resources. By nature, the series will focus pretty heavily on being a Christian wife and mother – you’ll probably see a lot of Proverbs 31 coming up. Hope you enjoy!

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