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Knitting = Love

Guys, I love knitting. I learned how to crochet in 5th grade from my teacher, Mrs. Lingenfelder. We’d have free time where we watched educational videos each day, and my best friend and I sat by her desk instead, learning to crochet chains. From 5th grade ad infinitum, I crocheted everything I possibly could (without reading a pattern, meaning everything with fairly straight edges). Friends and family got laptop cases, camera baggies, Game Boy pouches, and scarves – oh they got scarves.

But my pastor’s wife… she knits. She’d be knitting away during sermons, parties, Bible studies. What beautiful creations! And how do those two needles work like that?? At the time, the friend giving me job training also knit, so Heather taught me the cast on, Stacey taught me the knit, and the Internet taught me the rest.

My first real pattern was a sock. I remember following the instructions and holding it up going, “I have no idea what this is doing.”  And then I got to the end, and voila! it was a sock! Patterns are like magic!

But my first actual attempt at following a pattern was a washcloth. It took me so long – it was the only thing I gave my Granny that year because it was such an accomplishment. So here: this is a link to one free knit washcloth pattern, gratis Knit Picks. Maybe this’ll be the start of your knitting fancy, too.

(By the way, that was just two years ago I picked up knitting, and I’m currently working on spinning yarn for a sweater for my husband. It’s like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” – careful. You don’t know what you’re getting into.)

KnitPicks.com is offerng a year of free weekly washcloth patterns. Sign up for their newsletter to get them all!

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One Cleaner to Rule Them All

Alas, my computer crashed. I don’t have the proof. But if you’ve been to my house for dinner and gotten the comfy chairs at dinner, you would have noticed about two months ago that you were not sitting on white cushions. They were, at one point. Maybe two years ago. Well, come on over for a cuppo soup! We have white cushions again! Gee thanks, Branch Basics.

It honestly took less than ten minutes to clean two chair cushions. I sprayed on the diluted spray, let it sit about a minute, and used a damp rag to rub it clean. I did the same on Copper’s secondhand touch-and-feel book – the front of Kipper’s tummy fur was restored to white. It’s food grade, so I use it to clean produce, especially broccoli, which is notoriously difficult to clean. It’s especially useful in the kitchen, on cutting boards, faucet handles, and eating surfaces. It’s safe for toys. Upholstery. Carpets, Car seats. Laundry. Dishes. Windows. Grease-covered pans.. Name it – it cleans it.

The BB product line.

The BB product line.

And safely! It’s food grade, folks – you could eat it. Can you eat just any old cleaner? This is made with plant-based fatty acids. That also means it’s lethal to bugs’ exoskeletons – you can spray it on bugs and it kills them. But not us. Wonder-cleaner, or what?? I love that I don’t feel dirty after I clean. You know what I mean – you get out your rag and spray bottle, but… you’re just about to cook. If you clean now, you’ll have to wash your hands before you knead that dough. Or your little one is trying to reach up to the sink and help mama clean – No, don’t put your hands in your mouth! Ohmygosh, I think I sprayed the top of his head. Shoot.

Not anymore I clean all the freaking time now. It’s safe for me, it’s safe to eat off of, there’s never any rinsing, and it won’t make my kitchen smell funky. Did I mention it has absolutely no smell?

Here’s one of my favorite stories of its amazingness: This 100+ year old farmhouse rental didn’t come with a dishwasher. I’m a hand-washer from way back, so generally no problem. But we have these Potato Sundays where my husband fries up some potato cut into some wedge or hash or another. Sometimes, he gets too much oil and wants to save it. We generally put it in a mason jar till the following Potato Sunday, and wait until a visit to my parents’ house to put it in the dishwasher. Alas, the parents go to Florida for winter. So this week, after fruitlessly trying to swish warm water around the lower unreachable half, I sprayed some BB along the inner walls. Left it sit a few minutes. (Never sure if I need to do that step.)  Rinsed. It was done. All the used cooking oil sitting in it for a week was nuthin’ for a few sprays of BB.

If I wasn’t so stingy with it, I’d replace a-l-l-l-l my cleaners with it. (As it is, I kept my dish detergent, floor cleaner, and laundry detergent. But all are replaceable with Branch Basics.) Annnnnnd… it’s on sale. Just for you. Branch Basics sent our local moms’ group a sample pack with a coupon, and you can be in on it, too! Our group plans to go together on a 5 gallon bucket, but it’s great if you want to get clean all on your own, too.

Use TryBB15. Today. Or tomorrow, if you need another day to find friends to share it with.

(I’d recommend checking out Branch Basic’s website, especially the FAQ’s. I wanted to share my experience and utter joy with it, but they have a lot more to tell you about the science behind it.)

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Diapering Refined

Ok ladies. Here’s the rundown: it’s week 2, and we’ve learned a lot as we enter these double-digit days.

First: Inserts are a good thing. They’re basically washable Maxi pads. We started out with prefolds (large rectangles you need to fold before inserting), and they’re great for heavy-duty absorption. But, I would recommend using prefolds when you know you won’t be dealing with solids. (If you do use them with solids, place a thin liner on top. Single layers are much easier to dump out than something with many soiled surfaces once unfolded.) Inserts are great on their own for daytime use. They’re a quicker change and less messy when you remove them.

Second: Flushable liners. Folks. These are amazing. The Bambino Mio Liners are the only ones we can use, as they’re made out of cornstarch and are septic-friendly. Also, they’re thinner than a page in the Bible, so they won’t clog pipes. You just lift and plop right into your porcelain pot.

Third: We had our first public change! Just needed a plastic bag for the used and insert a new liner. Bam. Just like good old times.

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Here’s a list of our supplies, including new additions:

4-6 waterproof covers (check out some of those designs in the photo! How cute!) – We have one of each brand, and they’re all comparable. I would just recommend snaps so your dexterous darling doesn’t undo them.

12 thick inserts

4 thin inserts – Single layer pieces of cloth. These came with one of our covers and we use them to catch solids when we use a prefold. I’m not sure we would buy them if they weren’t included, especially now that we have the liners, but they serve a purpose.

6 prefolds (mix of these and Chinese and Indian – honestly, I can’t even remember which is which and it hasn’t mattered yet)

One pack flushable liners (mentioned above)

3 wet bags – We just got these and I’m looking forward to trying them out. We got a tall one, a small one, and a Kanga one that is supposed to sit up on its own (but doesn’t, at least not empty). We had been using a makeshift setup with a cloth hamper bag inside a wooden hamper with a hinged lid, but that was just barely cutting it. It just needs to be waterproof and close securely.

Regular wipes – We still have our Diaper Dekor, and there will be times we still use and need to dispose of plastic diapers, so we have a secure place to toss wipes. I thought about getting fabric wipes, which require that you either buy or make your own cleanser to use on them, but I decided I really like something that gets thrown away. Then, if you really have a mess on the table, you can swipe and toss.

Washer/Dryer/Clothes line – I do a cold prerinse with vinegar, then a hot wash. Sometimes, another cold rinse for good measure. And I would recommend a detergent like Free and Clear or something.

Happy diapering!

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Crunchy Mom

It’s a cool thing we humans do with language: I read the term “super-crunchy” in an article and instantly thought, “…I think that’s me.” Here’s what Urban Dictionary says it is: “persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons.” I would adjust that to include human-conscious reasons. So that means we buy organic not just because it’s better for the field and surrounding areas where it was grown, but because the people who picked the lettuce will live longer, healthier lives, and my family and I just might, too.

I ran across this term in an article about vaccinating your kids. (Amen, sister.) I admit, I considered not vaccinating my son. Hear me out: we’re at the pediatrician’s office and two nurses come in and tell us to hold him down so they can give him shots. “Shots? What kind of shots?” They had to go find info sheets on what it was they were giving him. So there, I thought about not, but then again, I didn’t want him contracting rubella, measles, mumps, and the like.

The author said it’s usually super-conservative or super-crunchy types that don’t vaccinate, and that they’re usually very different camps. Actually, I’m probably part of the small population in the Venn diagram that overlaps them both – not completely, but I’ve got a foot in each. Crunchy: our future house is very possibly going to be off-the-grid. Conservative: yay big business. Crunchy: I make bread, applesauce, and yogurt. Conservative: 10% goes to the church. Crunchy: I’m a stay-at-home mom diapering my baby in cloth, collecting rainwater for plants, selling a natural alternative skincare line (Arbonne) from home. Conservative: we have a 401k and a lot of our money is in long term, high yield stocks.

So put that in your local honey-sweetened granola with almond milk and chew on it.

...and we garden. Like fools. Wherever that falls.

…and we garden. Like fools. Wherever that falls.