Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stylish diaper bag for TWO!!!


So, I'm finally back after a LONG hiatus. I have officially moved across the world, found out we are expecting baby #2 in February, and started a new business. Let's just say, LIFE IS CRAZY...crazy good that is!!!
We are finally settled in here on Guam. My house has finally come together and we were fortunate enough to host some friends over for Thanksgiving.
Since finding out we were expecting a new baby (Baby Layne), and a baby girl at that, I've been pretty lazy about planning for her arrival. We still have so many things left from E that this new little one hasn't required us to purchase much. One thing I have thought a lot about though is my bag/diaper bag. I refuse to abandon my personal style simply because I've become a Mom and I don't want to trick myself into thinking I'm going to fit everything I need into a tiny leather satchel like I've been doing. E has been potty trained for the last 4 months and since then I've only needed to carry extra undies and an outfit for her. Now that I'll be transitioning to traveling with two I think I need to get a bag that will accommodate our new needs. Also, I can't resist purchasing a new cute bag.
Here is where I purchased my bag-Thank you 25% off Black Friday Sale-and below are the contents of my bag.

1. Nena and Co. Day Bag-

I thought I would purchase the Day Bag II, but it is actually a bit smaller than the Day Bag and I couldn't find the II in a pattern I liked.

2. Burt's Bees Diaper Ointment-
E never actually got a diaper rash but whenever I noticed redness in nether regions I would immediately apply this and by the next changing it would be all clear. It has a strong scent (of natural oils) but I really like it.

3. Water Wipes-
I used a brand of wipes found at Costco for E. They were natural and fragrance free, but we don't have a Costco here on Guam. I purchased these which I said were too expensive when diapering E but decided to go with for Baby Layne. I really wish I had the discipline to do cloth wipes but I'm no good at keeping up with laundry and I know having to wash wipes regularly would get old. This is also why I don't cloth diaper, which I would love to do, but again don't have the discipline to do.

4. Naty diapers-Newborn size only

This baby around I have become even more ecologically conscious and have decided to find a more natural and biodegradable diaper. I went with these for newborn size because the other natural more affordable ones start at size 1.

5. Nurtured by Nature diapers-

These will be the diapers we use after Baby Layne is no longer in newborns. They are actually priced the same or cheaper than the Pampers we used for E. Hooray!!!

6. E's Klean Kanteen-

I swear by these. They are durable, eco-friendly, and cute. E has been using hers for about a year and we have no complaints. I'll never again by any type of sippy cup, sippy straw cup, tupperware (type) cup, etc...They all end up cracking, breaking, absorbing stains, or are just a pain to clean. Klean Kanteen also has excellent customer service if you have an issue or need replacement pieces.

7. Change of clothes and undies for E.

8. Change of clothes for Baby Layne.

9. Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter- AMAZING!!! All natural! Lasts a long time...DONE!

10. Nursing pads cloth and disposable

11. Extra top or nursing tank-
I still have ones left from E that I got from Target. They are a little large but I think they should work.

12. CleanWell Hand sanitizing wipes-

E has a habit of touching everything!!

13. Aden and Anais Swaddle-

B Jewel tones

14. Burp cloths-
I am making these by hand with 100% Organic Birdseye cotton I bought on Etsy and a cute pink, purple, and teal cotton zigzag print. I made E's burp cloths as well.

15. Waterproof changing pad-

I would like to purchase this one I found on Etsy.
p.s...I love handmade things!!!

16. Mexican baby wrap carrier-

Purchased here on Etsy.

17. EOS lip balm

Last but not least.....

18. My Erin Condren Life Planner-

OMG!!! If you like to write down your daily to-do's and love color, these are for you. I discovered these planners a few months ago and FELL-In-LOVE! I plan to do a separate post all about this planner and what my experience was like purchasing it.

Alrighty, until next time!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Tacos

I think I can speak for Anjelica, Donna, and myself when I say our time in Puerto Rico has given us a newfound appreciation for all things in the squash family. For me, it was specifically the heavy ones: butternut squash and spaghetti squash. Whew, that spaghetti squash. One of those little boogers could cost you $15 if you weren’t paying attention! We, literally, NEVER ate it while on the island because we couldn't afford it. So, the other day when I could get my hands on a local spaghetti squash there was excitement in my soul. It sat in the fridge for a while though because it’d been so long since I worked with one I was torn about what I should do. It lasted until things were running low in the kitchen…you know how that goes. After skimming online for recipe ideas that mostly used cheese (which we were out of) or pasta sauce (we’d had Italian the night before), I went for tacos! Now, we do typically like cheese on our tacos, so I decided a sauce would hit the spot. One by our very own Anjelica, to be exact! 

Here’s what you need:
-1 medium spaghetti squash
-olive oil
-one onion, diced
-one poblano pepper, diced
-minced garlic, to taste
-two tomatoes, diced
-black beans (I make mine, so about 1 ½ cups)
-chilli powder
-salt, to taste
-pepper, to taste
-8 corn tortillas

-Taco Season

-Cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds and middle with a spoon, and roast it (cut sides up) for 45 minutes at 350. When it’s finished, use a fork to scrape the “spaghetti” out of it.
-Heat some oil in a pan, and sauté the onion and pepper until they’re nice and soft and yummy.
-Toss in the garlic and tomatoes, and sauté a little longer.
-Add the black beans and seasonings and cook until heated.
-Add the spaghetti squash, and mix well

-Heat a dry pan (we prefer our cast iron), and toss the corn tortilla on it just until heated. Be sure to flip.

-Take Anjelica’s ranch dressing, and add your favorite taco seasoning (we use Penzy’s) until you’re pleased with the flavor. I added about 2 teaspoons.

 I often am too hungry to remember to snap photos, but make your tacos and ENJOY!!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

3 Apps That Have Made Life Better

The majority of people with SmartPhones these days have specific things they use their phones for other than communication. We keep our schedules, our photos, our music, and our news on these tiny devices. As I have been striving to make myself more reliable and disciplined, I have found a few apps that I love for accountability.

1. Better

This app is super simple, but profound. You choose one thing that you want to do very often, either every day or five times a week. Then, you plug it in and every time you do that one thing you just open the app. That’s it. You can choose to add notes or photos, but if you go too long without opening the app, it’ll remind you to do the thing you’ve been wanting to do. I’ve used to it for two rounds (28 days a piece) to help me be accountable to do Bible study. It is good stuff for brains that are like mine. I have to make commitments to someone or something. I struggle if I only make a commitment to myself. This is a journey that I can watch happen that is tangible. I love it.

2. Balanced

Balanced is similar to Better, but you can use it for multiple things. I am struggling to be disciplined in sitting behind a computer and writing without having a specific deadline for the things I’d like to do. I am using it for things I would like to weekly. You can set it for any timeframe you want. The free version allows you to plug in 5 different things you’d like to keep up with. I have used it for exercise, calling my parents, completing a project, etc. I am currently using to help me write!

3. Focus on the Family

 I cannot stress enough how having this app has transformed some of my days. I’m a listener. I love hearing speeches and talks, my husband and I frequently listen to talk radio like NPR, and now I have made a discovery I must tell the world about. Focus on the Family has 30 minute programs that they air on Christian radio and can be listened to later on their website. Well, let’s be honest, my computer isn’t on unless I’m typing behind it. And when that’s happening, I’m not listening to anything. The app lists out the latest talks that are available and you simply hit play. I listen when I’m folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, or attempting to sew something (not my strength just yet). I love listening to music, but I have found I need to take in more thoughts from people who are likeminded and unapologetic.

 It’s not just for families either. They have discussed things like why Fifty Shades of Grey is NOT all right for the Christian woman to read, how mental illness has an effect on those around it and the church should be doing better to get involved, what it looks like to have a Kingdom Perspective, etc. If you’re reading this and thinking I had you with the first two, but now you’re gone.  Hear me out. We need accountability in more than just reminders. We need to hear truth spoken from genuine, real people other than our pastors to help us live lives of accountability. What kind of time does it take to just download it and check it out? I’ve also linked the website HERE.

That’s that. I can’t stress to you enough how pretty darn great these apps have been for me. Have fun checking them out!

God bless,


Monday, September 15, 2014

Vegetarian Crockpot Mexican Gloop

I love striving for a no-processed kitchen, but sometimes it requires a little fast thinking. Since we are a one vehicle family, the days that I keep the car by taking my husband to work have become guaranteed crockpot dinner days. This wasn’t just a crockpot day; it was also a we-aren’t-grocery-shopping-for-another-3-days kind of day. I used what we had, it looked pretty ugly, but it tasted mighty fine.

You need:
-Pinto Beans (I make all of my own, maybe 1 ½ cups or so)
-Kidney Beans
-several celery stalks, chopped
-onion, diced
-half of poblano pepper, chopped
-1 ½ cups or so of your favorite salsa
-2 tablespoons or so of your favorite taco seasoning (We use Penzy’s!)
-4 oz. cream cheese, broken up into pieces (half of a packet was all I had and it was more than enough)
-cilantro, red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste
-several corn tortillas

 I’m going to tell you what I did, and what variations I might do later.

-Mix everything except the tortillas together in a bowl
-Lay a few corn tortillas on the bottom of the crockpot
-Pour some mixture, and continue layering that way until it’s all gone. I made 3 layers.
-Cook on high 3-4 hours or Low 6-8

The next day, J was off work and wanted to make tacos for lunch with the leftovers. He seared some corn tortillas in the cast iron skillet and put the mixture inside. This got me thinking that you could make the mix in the crockpot or stove top and just use that to fill tortillas if you wanted. OR make quesadillas even…WOAH! Crazy!! I also think potatoes, any other kind of bean, and even chicken or beef for you carnivores out there would work too. 

Happy Eating! 


Monday, September 8, 2014

Moving? How to Tackle the Church Search

Who likes to move? NO ONE. Well, not many people. It often involves trucks, heavy lifting, scratched furniture, and missing items. Much bigger than that, it sometimes means a new job, new neighborhood, new roads, and new church.

My husband, J, and I have been married for almost six years now. We realize we’re certainly not veterans on the topic of marriage or parenting; however, we have started fresh four times since we’ve called ourselves a family. During that time, we really feel like God has revealed to us and equipped us in ways that have made each transition smooth and timely.
As Donna previously stated, all three of us (bloggers, I mean) have now moved away from our sweet little island. This should help explain the intense pause that’s been going on for quite some time. The latest move my family finished was an unexpected play on God’s part; He loves doing that to us. If you recall, we left Puerto Rico in late February, moved to Dallas in April, and then moved to Houston in July. Boom, boom, boom. This tends to be our story and our song. As we’ve looked back at all of our relocations, even prior to initially leaving the mainland, we’ve noticed a pattern that God has taken us through.  Just about everything we do to settle into an area revolves around one thing: church. Ah, the church search. Here’s what we have learned to do over the years to make this painless, fast, and, we feel, Biblical. Two steps, and…GO!

1. Be Close to Home
This is near and dear to our hearts. With one exception, we have not been more than two miles or so away from the church we’ve attended. When we lived in Irving, Tx, we went to Valley Ranch Baptist Church, and we could walk there from our apartment. The second time we lived in the Dallas area, we were in Garland. We attended Casa View Baptist Church, and (aside from lacking sidewalks) it was walkable. We have just started attending Cy-Fair Christian Church in Cypress, Tx, and it’s probably just out of walking range. To be fair and share our latest story, it was the third church we visited. The one closest to us is a mega church with a pastor on a screen (I’m not fond of that). The second we visited was further than we first thought. I found it online when I was looking for 5Ks. We felt like it was just too far.

This has been more important in our lives the past few years than ever before since we only have one vehicle. Nonetheless, we truly believe this to be the way to start fresh. Church is about community. Living life together. I’m not a Bible scholar, but it doesn’t seem like the New Testament church was able to shop around all over their city. Walking was the majority of their transportation. They didn’t seek out the church with the best children’s ministry, praise band, or coffee bar. I’m hesitant as I type because I know how things worked. I’ve grown up in the church and, at different times in my life, I’ve worked in the church. This is touchy panties-in-a-wad material. Here’s the deal, one of the best sermons on this topic I’ve ever heard was by our pastor in Puerto Rico at Church Without Walls (which was the only exception to our distance beliefs, but I’ll get to that). He spoke of how the New Testament church was a body…the way the church is intended to be. They were filled with people who had a variety of spiritual gifts, and that’s how they thrived. Although we are BLESSED beyond measure to have church the way we have it now in Western Culture, we have changed the dynamic into something it maybe wasn’t intended to be changed into. I do have a preference as to how I like the music during worship. I went to school focused on communication, so I appreciate effective teaching. Over the years, I have been a part of student ministries that struggled and some that have thrived. I prefer home groups to Sunday school, and I like when preschool areas have those handy sticker systems for kiddos and parents. BUT here’s the deal…if I drive all over the city looking for a church that has absolutely everything I want it to have, I will never stop searching. Churches are made up of people, and that, automatically makes them imperfect.
1 Corinthians 12:18-20 says, “But God made our bodies with many parts, and He has put each part just where He wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.”  He has put us where He wants us.

The only time we have ever driven far to go to church was in Puerto Rico. That was because we decided for that area of our lives, we needed to find a truth-teaching and English-speaking place to worship. Now, even though this wasn’t close to home, we found it a lot like the Biblical church set-up. There weren’t many options in English, so it was filled with English speakers from all over our side of the island. Truth was preached. There wasn’t fancy music, but there was worship. There wasn’t a nursery, but the babies didn’t mind. There wasn’t even a building, but when it rained, it just literally brought us closer together. That’s what it’s about.

If you’ve just moved, I’d challenge you to visit the closest church near you. Check out the website. See if it is part of an association. If they teach Bible and they believe Jesus Christ died and rose again so that we can live eternally with Him in Heaven…move on to step two.

I’m very unapologetic here. This is for new believers and veteran Christian alike. J and I always take note as to how churches respond when we fill out a new visitor card. There is a responsibility as the church to follow-up with new visitors and see where they’re at in their lives. However, there is also a responsibility on our part to dive in and get involved. Go to a new member class even if you’re not ready to join. If there is no new member class because it’s a small church, talk to the pastor. I am passionate that all parents of preschoolers should volunteer in the preschool area. Other people watch my kids, I should take a turn too. J and I love working with students, so we find the student ministers and ask what that looks like for us in their ministry. I like to find out quickly what mission and ministries the church is involved with locally and globally.

The Lord will provide something you are interested in. If you don’t feel like you’re interested in anything they’re offering, then start something new. James screams it out in these verses: 2:14,17, “Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone…So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless.”  Sorry, I’m not sorry, but being shy isn’t an excuse either. 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” I’m not saying that everyone needs to teach a Sunday school class the first month they move…or ever. I am saying that getting involved is important and Biblical. When you’ve settled down at a church, God has you there for a reason. Romans 8:28, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Getting past the yuckiness of the boxes and the paperwork after a move is so satisfying. Finding community soon after is even better. Happy moving!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A confession, a testimony, and some summer recipes

Hello St. Louis Arch
As most of you know by now, S and I are moving back to St. Louis.  Puerto Rico has been a wonderful adventure and I am very sad to leave, but it is time for us to move on.  Now me and my fellow lovely PM&C bloggers will have all moved on from where we originally met.  I have learned a lot about myself through this experience though and I am immensely grateful for all of it.  I have made some amazing friends here and God has taught me a lot.  In fact, He is still teaching me as we speak.

Playa Susia
I confess that I have really been struggling for months with where God wants me to be.  S was deeply unhappy here, and I was very happy, so there was a disconnect in our marriage as well.  I also have a really hard time trusting in God to lead me where I need to go.  As a concept, I totally get it, but when I have to apply this concept to real life situations, my controlling personality takes over, and it ends up totally lost on me.  Especially when it is something I don't really want to do.  I have been praying and praying that God would show me clearly that St. Louis is where He wants me to go next and, as always, He listened.

Playa Combate
A couple of weeks ago, we made the decision to officially make the move back to St. Louis.  I was still fighting that decision, but I knew it was happening so I needed to get okay with it.  As we were trying to figure out details last week, such as how to transfer the car loan from PR to the mainland (which is apparently not possible) and other major roadblocks, the answers just kept coming to us.  It was as if all of the problems just fell away with super simple solutions because of the generosity of Scott's work.  I know now that this was God working in our lives to show me that this is what I need to be doing.  I still really don't want to go back to St. Louis, but God has shown me that that is where He wants me right now.  I know that He has some sort of plan for me there and I am going to do my best to trust in Him.

For now, as we plan our next move, I wanted to leave you all with some sort of a post so that I am not abandoning you entirely.  You've heard my confession and my testimony.  Now all that's left are some summer recipes to get you by.  I don't know if these are actually any good, but in looking them over, they look like they will be.  Anyway, here is a roundup of "29 Meat Free Meals You Can Make Without Your Stove".  I hope you enjoy them.

Cueva Ventana
Please pray for us if you believe in that stuff, and if not, send positive thoughts our way.  Much love to you all.

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My Yogi Tea Bag 

Donna AKA Mindful

Friday, July 11, 2014

Curried Calabaza Coconut Soup

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Ready to eat. Yummy!

A couple of weeks ago, I did not have much in the way of fresh produce.  The farmer's market just didn't have much that week and I had to get creative.  No worries though, I live in Puerto Rico.  I know how to get creative in the kitchen.  As you may have figured out by now, there are some staple ingredients that I always have in my kitchen and use for almost every meal.  The two main staples being onions and garlic.  I think that these are the best, most universal base for any recipe.  If you start every recipe by sauteing onions and garlic in coconut oil, you will be guaranteed to have a flavorful dish to build on.

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Two other staple ingredients that I use in about half of the things I cook are ginger and turmeric.  Ginger is great for your tummy and turmeric has all kinds of fantastic health benefits as well.  Turmeric is a powerful natural anti inflammatory, so it is sort of like nature's advil without the nasty drug hazards.  Both ginger and turmeric have been shown in various lab studies to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor effects on a cellular level.  Obviously, these studies used differing amounts of the two foods, but the way I see it, eating ginger and turmeric regularly can't hurt.   

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The broth was red from using beets so it turned pink when the coconut milk was added.

One ingredient you can find all year long in sunny Puerto Rico is calabaza.  This is a squash that is similar to a pumpkin.  The varieties grown in PR have a mostly green skin and orange flesh.  Calabaza can be substituted for pumpkin or butternut squash in some recipes, but it is slightly more watery, so some substitutions may need to be made.  This pumpkin is also rich in nutrients like potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.  It is a very low calorie food as well.  Depending on what I plan to use calabaza for, I usually choose to leave the skin on for the extra fiber content.  Be aware that this can make your dish look less pretty though.

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Simmering away.

Curried Calabaza Coconut Soup        


1 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
3/4 tbsp fresh turmeric, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp recaito
3 cups calabaza squash, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 cups vegetable broth (I make my own. Adjust the salt if using store bought broth)
2 cups coconut milk (I make my own. You may need to adjust the broth if using store bought)
2 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Raw pumpkin seeds (optional for protein and garnish)


1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion, ginger, turmeric and saute for a few minutes until the onion is translucent.
3. Add the garlic and recaito and saute for one more minute.  Do not let the garlic burn.
4. Add calabaza, vegetable broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and salt and bring to a boil.
5. Turn heat down and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the pumpkin is cooked thoroughly.
6. Immersion blend until mixture is relatively smooth, then serve.  Top with raw pumpkin seeds for protein and garnish if you like.

I hope you enjoy this healthy, vegan treat.  What are some staple ingredients you always use? 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cloth Diapering: It’s How We Doo…Doo

Like what I did the title there? I know, so clever. So, here’s the deal. This is how WE do it. When this journey of pregnancy and parenting began, I learned quickly that I wanted to learn from others, but that was all I wanted. In turn, I try not to give advice unless asked. I believe in making informed and educated decisions that are YOUR OWN. Figure out what works for your family, and if it’s cloth diapering, I hope this helps! This is only from my own experience.

Why? Why not? We already do laundry. Despite arguments that it increases water and electricity bills, we didn’t notice any change when we converted when M was 2 weeks old. It takes a little time, but not much more than folding laundry. In fact, I fold clothes and stuff diapers in the same sitting. It’s good for our wallet. It’s good for our world. It works for our home. That’s enough for me! 

How many? I’m actually not totally sure how many we have. I think it’s around 36. We have 24 newborn size and around 36 one-size. That was our goal when we started buying them. Everything I read said to have about 12/day…so if you don’t want to be forced to wash all of the time, plan accordingly. I will say that I wash about every other day. Sometimes I go every three days. By the way, NO WAY older babies use 12…that’s only for the tiny ones.

 The newborn diapers we have are all prefold. These are the old-school ones that are now most known as burp cloths. 

The majority of our one-size lot are pocket-diapers. These have inserts made of different things. I sometimes use the newborn diapers as inserts. We have a few one-size all-in-onesThese are pricey, but convenient. 

We also have several one-size prefolds that I bought on Ebay for super cheap. I’ve accumulated covers as they’ve been inexpensive on Ebay as well. These are good when there’s a diaper rash; I put him in one without a cover so his behind can breathe a little more and I know when he’s wet instantly.

Cleaning? When we take diapers off, we toss them in the dry pail. If a baby is solely breastfed, the poo is water soluble. There is, seriously, no need to do anything about it. If you think it’s gross, consider…newborns have blow outs…I mean, SERIOUS poo. Poo all over pants. Poo all over shirts. Poo all over mom’s pants. In my house, after those incidents I didn’t rush to do a load of laundry every single time. It’s all right. It comes out. Now, I can’t vouch if a baby is not breastfed, but breastfed baby poo is easy squeezy.

Our Pail
As the little poo maker gets older, things change just a tad. This is where diaper sprayers make a lot of money; however, J (my husband) and I decided they’re totally not worth it. Most poo just slides right off into the toilet. If it doesn’t, we use the little spray bottle they give you (mama) at the hospital after you had the little one. It works just fine to get those little pieces into the potty where they belong.  You can also use flushable or reusable liners so that the poo doesn’t stick to the diapers. These last forever and work fine as well.

The Squirt Bottle Thing
In terms of detergent, we used Ecos Free and Clear for the longest time. It was the best bang for our buck, and it did just fine. Now, I make my own using the same one that my fellow blogger, Donna, taught me. To wash, I do one short rinse cycle. Then, I add about half of the detergent I normally would and put it on the longest cycle. Now that I’m stateside and it’s an option, I wash with hot water about once a week. Every now and then when I feel they might be getting a tiny bit stinky, I put a few drops of tea tree oil in the wash. It’s magical. Then, I rinse again, and I hang dry.

When it's sunny! 

When it's rainy!
Aside from diapers? I strongly recommend having extra inserts. I haven’t felt the need as strongly as I do now that my little guy is older. It’s getting necessary to double up inserts for naptime.

You need a bucket or trash can that is a designated diaper pail along with wet bags. We have three and it works wonderfully. There’s usually one being used in the pail, one hanging to be dry, and one ready to be used at all times. They make some so that you can unzip the bottom and the diapers fall out into the washer. These are fine, but just regular wet bags work as well. You can easily dump diapers without touching them. 

You also need a few travel wet bags. These are small for you to put dirty diapers in while traveling.
These are some of our extras. We do have some wipes, but we rarely use them. The top, funny shaped things are snappies for prefold diapers. The brown bag is a small wetbag, and the folded pile of white, blue, and red are our big wet bags. The rolled up case are flushable liners that we don't use very often. The CD was from Real Nappies. 

Kushies is a simple, affordable travel wetbag.

G-Diapers products are good. I like their big wet bags. We just don't use their diapers because they don't do a lot of one-size. 
Cloth diapers are not friendly with powder or regular butt paste. Good things to have on hand are coconut oil just for baby’s bum and Grandma El’s Diaper Cream (check that out HERE). These are, of course, if your little one HAS TO have a diaper on. If not, let that little rash air out.

Of course, if you're super intense on not having any trash, you'll want wipes and such too. 

Buy used? The majority of our diapers were purchased new; however, we do have some there were used when we bought them. Some feel that is gross. I feel like I buy used baby clothing that was potentially peed and pooed on as well. If I trust the lack of stains to mean that it’s all right to put on my baby, then I feel the same about used diapers. I will not buy crazy stained diapers, but I will buy used if they look all right.

Brands? This is where my experience actually contradicts what I will do in the future. It’s a “If I had thought then what I think now” moment. I will just tell you what I have, and what I feel about them. I’ll also tell you my plans for future purchases.
Real Nappies- all of our newborn diapers are Real Nappies. They are prefolds and I love them. They are made in New Zealand and they have a 2 kid guarantee. After using their prefolds as inserts, I believe the guaranteed whole heartedly. Check them out HERE.
Alva- Many of our pocket diapers are Alva. They are extremely affordable and they are good diapers, BUT, they are truly too good to be true. In the same way that we have been striving to eat local, real food…we have been convicted to try and be a little more aware of where our money goes. These are unfortunately straight from China. We will not be buying them again.
Kawaii-We have a few of these diapers. I do really like them; however, they find me in the same predicament as the Alva. Even though the price is right, I probably will not purchase these again.
BumGenius-These are my favorite!! Unfortunately, when new, they are pricey. The quality of these diapers is far superior to the Alva and Kawaii. To top that off, they are made in Colorado and a newly opened factory in Egypt. I am a fan. Check out their story HERE.
Happy Heinys-These are my second favorite! This company is based out of Indiana and run by two lactation specialist mama’s! The diapers are not cheap, but I really like them. They get the job done, and there is an evident difference in quality when compared to the China-made brands. Read about them HERE. 
Smitten Baby- I can’t vouch for these diapers…yet! They’re on special on Zulilly AS I TYPE. My biggest draw to these diapers is that they’re 100% made in Canada. It’s so difficult to find diapers that are not made in China that when I do, I get excited and curious! Check them out HERE!

ALWAYS cloth diapering? Not in this house. We didn’t start cloth diapering until our little guy was about 2 weeks old. Then, we only did it at home. Now, it depends on how long we will be out. You do need to change cloth diapers more frequently than you change disposable. So, if we’re going to the store to be home by lunch, I will let M stay in cloth. If we’re driving an hour and planning to visit for a while wherever we’re headed, I will put M in disposables until we go home. Currently we do disposables at night because I haven’t quite figured out how to maintain his new heavy-wetter status! It’s just easier that way. Otherwise, cloth diapering is not much work at all. If you’re thinking it could be for you then it probably is. If it’s your first baby, I recommend requesting a shower exclusively for diapers. If you know you’re going to have more than one…use one to start your stash!

I mean, it doesn't get much cuter than that little cloth covered booty! Well, that’s that. Let me know if there’s anything I missed.  Happy cloth diapering!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Real Food Resources

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Chana Dal and Roti (Indian flatbread) from Leanne Brown's Free Cookbooks.

I am writing this blog post ahead of time in an effort to keep from skipping out on writing during busy weeks.  Today, I was surfing the internet and I came across a website that is run by a food studies scholar named Leanne Brown.  She has generously put together two completely free cookbooks on her website which look phenomenal.

Brown's newest book called Good and Cheap, is a collection of real food recipes designed for families on SNAP (aka food stamps).  Don't get me wrong though, these recipes are not just for those on SNAP.  They are healthy, simple, REAL FOOD RECIPES that anyone can make.  The added bonus is that they can be made for very little money.  In fact, according to the author, these recipes fit into a $4 per day food budget.

The author apparently wrote this cookbook for her capstone project while getting her Masters degree.  After it received positive feedback online, she decided to launch a kickstarter campaign in order to get this book into the hands of those who need it and may not have access to a computer.  How wonderful is that?!?!?!  The author states on her kickstarter page:
      "It bothered me that so many ideas for fixing the food system leave out the poor: it seemed like they didn't have a voice in the food movement. I wanted to create a resource that would promote the joy of cooking and show just how delicious and inspiring a cheap meal can be if you cook it yourself."

I agree with her wholeheartedly.  The poor are almost always left out of the discussion and often, they are the ones most affected by "junk" food because it is so cheap.  Have I mentioned how awesome I think this is yet?  

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Rolling out the Roti.  
My absolute favorite part of all of this though, is the fact that the author is addressing eating real, wholesome food on a budget, while utilizing less meat and more filling vegetables and fruits.  As we all know, I am a huge proponent of at least being conscious of your meat intake, while substituting fresh fruits and vegetables.  But, I think that the most important thing you can do for your health and the health of your family is to cook your own food from scratch.  There is no better way to find out exactly what is going into your body, and this helps you to make healthful decisions.  

The first cookbook that Brown wrote, From Scratch, is also a great looking read.  She says on her website that "From Scratch is a vegetarian cookbook intended for people just becoming comfortable in their own kitchens".  Most of you may have noticed that I am very comfortable in the kitchen, but I still thoroughly enjoy the recipes and ideas that she has presented here.  Again, all of these recipes utilize real, whole food ingredients to make delicious looking, nutrient rich meals.   

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Closeup of the dal with kale stems.
The great thing about both of these books is that Brown explains how to cook for yourself.  She gives ideas for substitutions and teaches you how to make things from what you have in your own fridge or pantry.  This is super important because, too often, people try to change their eating habits too drastically, which, in turn, often leads to failure.  When people learn to look at a recipe and substitute the ingredients that they like, they will find it easier to stick to a real food plan.      

I have to mention that the photographs in both of Brown's books are amazing!  After looking through these books, my mouth is literally watering.  It might also be dinner time, but the fact remains, I want to try out every single one of these recipes.  Well, maybe not the roasted chicken or the pulled pork, but almost all of them.    

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Chana Dal cooking away.
You can download both of Brown's cookbooks for free here.  If you feel so inclined and can afford it, I encourage you to check out her kickstarter campaign here as well.  I hope you all enjoy her cookbooks as much as I do.  

Note: I made Brown's version of chana dal with spinach and roti last night for dinner and it was phenomenal.  Even though I made a rookie mistake and used yellow split peas instead of actual chana dal which is apparently a split chickpea.  Whoa!  Anyways, my pictures are not nearly as pretty as hers, but I have included them in this post for some added color.  The only substitution I made was to add some extra water and to use kale instead of spinach because that is what I had this week.  In case you are wondering, the recipe for the chana dal can be found in From Scratch on page 67 and the recipe for roti, the Indian flatbread can be found in her other book, Good and Cheap on page 104.    


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Who do you trust with your children?

Hello all. I have been MIA for a while...sorry. It has been a very busy past few weeks. B, E, and I traveled to Germany and France for a 2 week vacation, then returned to pack up our home, then moved to a temporary place for a few days, and then journeyed back stateside for a short respit at my mom's for a couple weeks before traveling to our new home...Guam! (You can read more about that here.) Wow! It sounds even more crazy as I type it out.

So this post is mainly for the Mamas and Papas out there, but I would love to still here from those who may have insightful information to share on this subject; both personal and professional.

Who do you trust your little ones with? This goes from simply who do you feel comfortable with your children being around, to who do you trust leaving your child with?

I feel that I grew up in a time where all adults were trusted and it was not considered rude to tap someone on the shoulder during a neighborhood cookout and say, "Hey, please don't curse like that, my kids standing right here and can hear you", without fear of being punched in the face or convicted of prohibiting free speech. Can we say, "Times have definitely changed." We know now more then ever that all adults cannot be trusted. By saying this I don't mean that they all were trustworthy in the 80's and 90's. But we see daily on the news and through social media that even family members cannot be trusted. We are able to see more easily that predators of all kind lurk in each and every corner of our society...from your Pediatrician's office, to your local police, even your home church. So, what are we as parents left to think?
Are you a worrier (like me) who pretty much does not leave their child with anyone? Do you happen to have a close group of really trusty friends or family that you feel hands-down comfortable leaving your off-spring with? Do you have one set of grandparents you wouldn't hesitate leaving your babes with for a whole weekend, yet others you wouldn't let keep an eye on your kids while you went pee?...Do you feel completely freaked about placing your kids in daycare or church childcare? Have you pulled your kid out of a daycare? Please share with me your thoughts. I'm really curious. I feel this is a topic we don't openly discuss much in detail as parents, but all think about on a daily basis.

I would love to do a follow-up post about this, where I share your responses and stories as parents or as children (growing up) left in the care of really trustworthy or untrustworthy caregivers and the affect it's had on you and/or your parenting. 

I couldn't publish this post without adding a photo from our Euro trip.

Until next time....


Friday, June 13, 2014

Homemade Pizza on the Grill

I don't know about the mainland, but here in Puerto Rico summer is definitely here.  It has been ridiculously hot this past week.  I can't bring myself to do much of anything unless it involves going somewhere that actually has air conditioning.  Right about now, I would really love central air.  Maybe I'm just doing my part to slow global warming or something.  Yeah, that didn't have the desired effect of making me feel better.  In this heat, I just don't care as much about the planet.  ;-)

Wedding photos at the Muny in Forest Park. 
Monday was my two year wedding anniversary with S. We didn't get a plan together soon enough to do anything last weekend, but we did find some awesome goodies at the farmers market on Sunday.  We had baby spinach, pounds and pounds of lovely tomatoes, leftover red onion from a pasta salad last week and some kalamata olives from the same salad.  Of course we had lots of other goodies from the farmers market, but these are the things that are actually relevant to this post.

I love this one with the bubbles.
S. was craving pizza again (imagine that) so we decided that we should make homemade pizza.  Since that is sort of a fun, multiple-person-friendly cooking activity, we decided that it would be a good anniversary dinner.  Little did we know, Monday was going to be the start of an epic heat wave.  After S came home from work, we went to go get coconut water to try to cool down and re-hydrate.  It helped until we ran out of coconut water.  We talked about how miserable it was going to be to turn on the oven and make pizza, but with all the talk about pizza, we were both really craving some.  Not to mention, I had spent most of my afternoon simmering pizza sauce on the stove.

Anniversary Coconuts!
Suddenly, I had an idea.  I wondered if you could grill pizza.  I figured it was a long shot, but totally worth it if it worked.  Well, as it turns out, grilled pizza is phenomenal!  I started out by searching the interwebs for success stories and some tips and tricks.  In my research I found that the general consensus was that you have to cook the dough on one side first and then flip it over and top the pizza while it is on the grill.  Otherwise the dough may not cook all the way through.  This made for a less than perfect looking pizza, but the taste definitely made up for the aesthetic aspect.

The grilling process is pretty intense, because it all happens very fast.  As a result, I don't have any pictures except of the finished product.  It really is sort of a two person process.  Here I am going to share my recipe for pizza sauce and the pizza dough recipe we use.  If you have a favorite pizza dough and sauce that you would rather use, feel free to adapt.

Maybe not the most symmetrical pizza of all time, but it was the best homemade pizza I've ever helped make.

From Scratch Pizza Sauce

2 pounds of good heirloom tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar (preferably organic cane sugar)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
2 teaspoons basil (or substitute fresh if you have it)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder.

1. Put the tomatoes in a blender and blend on high until you have a nice liquid consistency.  There will be small chunks left.  That is okay.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil on medium and saute the onion until it is soft, but not brown.  
3. Add the garlic and saute another minute.  
4. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and spices and turn heat to the lowest setting.  
5. Let tomatoes cook on very low heat until all the water has absorbed or until the sauce reaches the desired thickness, about 3 hours.  

Important note:  The idea is for the sauce not to even bubble.  You really do want to do this on the lowest possible heat setting.  If it bubbles too much, it burns.  

Makes enough sauce for approximately two 12 inch pizzas.  

From Scratch Pizza Dough 

adapted from Wolfgang Puck's Pizza, Pasta, and More
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup warm water, plus 3/4 cup water 
1 package of active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for spraying

1. Dissolve honey in 1/4 cup water, then add yeast and let activate for 10 minutes.
2. Mix dry ingredients: whole wheat flour, white flour, salt, garlic powder and onion powder.
3. Add the yeast-honey mixture, 3/4 cup water, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix.
4. Mix until it forms a ball, then kneed by hand in the bowl for about two minutes until thoroughly combined.
5. Spray the top with olive oil, cover with a towel, and let rise for one hour until it has doubled in size.
6. Pound down the dough after an hour and divide into two equal portions.
7. Roll out dough on a floured surface to your desired thickness.

Makes enough dough for approximately two 12 inch pizzas.

How to Grill Pizza

Pizza Crust
Pizza Sauce
Desired toppings such as spinach, onion, and olives.
Note: If you use meat as a topping, you may need to cook it first, depending on what it is.  (I'm the wrong person to ask about that, though, so use common sense and safe cooking practices, please.)
Olive oil spray (we use a Misto)

1. Heat grill.
2. Spray the top of the dough generously with olive oil.
3. Place dough on grill oil side down for 3 minutes, rotating if necessary.
4. Spray the top of the dough with olive oil and flip.
5. Quickly add sauce, cheese, and toppings to pizza and close lid.
6. Cook for about 5 minutes or until crust is browned to your liking.

Enjoy your summertime grilled pizza!  Have you ever grilled pizza or anything else out of the ordinary?  Do you have any summer cooking tips for keeping the kitchen cool?