Tag Archives: Conscious Living

Capsule Wardrobe – Maternity Edition

I am currently pregnant with my third child. I’m due in less than 3 months. The following list of clothing has gotten (/is getting) me through all 3 pregnancies. I was due at a different time of the year for each pregnancy (March, December, and July) and this group of clothing got me comfortably through all weather.

Maternity clothes can be hella expensive so it can be comforting to know we can get by with few pieces, supplemented with a few strategic non-maternity pieces. Note that these pieces worked for my casual job/lifestyle and the temperate New Jersey weather; always be mindful of your own lifestyle, location, and climate.

Without further ado, the list of my maternity wardrobe, keeping me warm and covered for 3 pregnancies and postpartum.

Maternity Pieces

  • 2 pairs jeans or trousers
  • 1 maxi-skirt
  • 1 knee-length skirt
  • 2 pairs shorts — I didn’t need/want shorts until my July due date pregnancy
  • 2 t-shirts — I only needed 2 at a time, but since t-shirts are generally made of thinner material for warmer weather, just 2 didn’t last for all 3 pregnancies and I needed to replace them when they wore out. So for 3 pregnancies, I’ve had a total of 4 t-shirts
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts
  • 2 long sweaters or short sweater dresses — I like them long enough to feel comfortable wearing with leggings, but short enough that they’ll still look good with jeans or trousers
  • 1 pair leggings — these can be maternity or not depending on your body, comfort level, and style of legging
  • 1 pair yoga pants — for sleeping, yoga, and lounging
  • winter coat — again, this depends on your due date. I needed one for my March and December due dates, but not this one. And I was actually able to wear a loose-ish flared non-maternity coat that I already had.
  • 2-3 nursing bras — during my first pregnancy, a saleswoman convinced me I would need 4. Now I know that I could easily get by with 2 or 3
  • 2 nursing sleep bras

Supplemental/Non-Maternity Pieces

  • 1 or 2 maxi-dresses — I found the type with a loose cross-over bodice to be quite convenient for breast-feeding, but racerbacks to be the most comfortable
  • 1 cardigan or light jacket — I didn’t need maternity because I just didn’t button them up
  • 2-3 loose shirts — long sleeve or short sleeve; for sleeping, yoga, and lounging
  • 2-3 more sweaters or t-shirts — I used these because I already had these looser items in my closet and they still fit during my pregnancy
  • wrap dress — will at least fit during most of a pregnancy
  • 10 pairs underwear — I find non-bikini briefs to be the most comfortable, but you be you

So that’s 25 pieces (not counting bras or underwear) to get you started for a capsule maternity wardrobe for any time of year. As always, quality pieces will last longer and thus through more pregnancies, but since pregnancy is such a short period of time, it’s pretty easy to make due with whatever quality you can find/afford.

Also, as with any capsule wardrobe, try to keep a simple color scheme in mind — such as 2-3 neutrals with 2-3 colors. You can also create a personal uniform with maternity pieces to make things super simple. Pick your favorite colors and fabrics and at least your clothing will be comfortable and pleasant, even if you don’t feel that way yourself. 🙂

Cooking

I don’t think cooking more in itself will simplify my life. Buying prepared food is easy and fast, but it’s expensive (and spending more money than I have complicates my life). It would be even more expensive to have a personal chef to prepare all of my meals for me, so that’s not happening any time soon. Therefore, knowing how to cook is a very useful skill.

Cooking simplifies food in the way that we know everything that went into our meals. Our diet is simplified. Cooking from scratch reduces the ingredients so we’re eating basic elements of life grown from the earth, not “edible food-like substances” concocted in labs or extra ingredients to lengthen shelf time. (Michael Pollan’s books and documentaries are great resources for getting back to the roots of our food and how humans eat.)

I did not learn how to cook growing up. I could prepare myself some food — like boil pasta, make myself an English muffin pizza, pour cereal, chop up a salad, etc. I could survive, but my repertoire was not very balanced or interesting. I didn’t know what a roux was, how to reduce a sauce, how to make pancakes from scratch, what causes food to rise or be sticky or caramelize, or what happens when you whip in some air. I’ve learned a lot and I continue to learn new things all the time. (I still don’t really know the difference between boiling and braising.)

I’m not taking a kitchen 101 class or a cooking course or anything. I’m just going in the kitchen and trying my hand at cooking different recipes. Sometimes they work — most of the time they work — but sometimes they flop. I learn from both outcomes. And I’m having a lot of fun doing it.

I put “cook new recipe” on my weekly to-do list for a month before I finally got around to doing it, but now I’m on a roll. I don’t even have to put it on my list anymore. Every Saturday morning before work, I drink my coffee and flip through a cookbook (usually The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook) and pick out 2 or 3 recipes to try to that week. Then I go to the grocery store after my shift and get everything I need to cook those recipes. This has been the best form of meal planning for me so far.

Cooking is more than a hobby for me. I wouldn’t really call it a passion either. It’s a way of life, I guess? It’s a way to life? We cannot survive without eating and being able to provide for ourselves will make ourselves better — more independent and more sustainable. And, above all, I enjoy cooking. I think it’s fun and interesting and sexy and delicious.

Cooking, I believe, is love — that we give to ourselves and share with others.

9 Easy Ways to Watch Less TV

I don’t like everything about tv (as you can see here), but I think watching some is okay. In addition to making sure we watch “good” tv, we would probably benefit from watching a little less of it, too. So here are a few changes we can make to our lives or homes to make tv-watching a mindful event instead of a mindless habit.

  • No televisions in the bedrooms – here are 18 good reasons why.
  • No televisions in the kitchen – cooking shows are impossibly fast to follow along with IRL anyway. Plan the meal first, cook following written reminders if needed, and eat together if possible. Even if we need to eat alone, we can be more aware of tastes, flavors, and textures, thus enjoying the meal better than if we were distracted by a screen.
  • Better still, have only 1 television in the house – even if you have room for more televisions in your home, consider keeping only 1, and don’t make it the focal point of the room. Living rooms and family rooms are for living and family. Design a room around social interaction and it’s more likely that memorable social interaction will happen. And then, even when we’re watching tv, we will be doing it together, cooperating about what to watch, and sharing the experience.
  • Turn the television off when you’re done – just makes sense, doesn’t it?
  • No televisions in the car – long drives are great opportunities for conversations, listening to music, enjoying silence, or letting the mind (and imagination) wander. Traveling is an experience — enjoy the unique surroundings.
  • Go to restaurants that don’t have televisions hanging everywhere – I really don’t like televisions in restaurants. Nobody’s really watching them (there’s too much noise), but their flashiness can be huge distractions, even to someone who is trying to ignore them. Restaurants without televisions are getting harder and harder to find where I live (especially without paying $20+ per plate) and I think it’s a shame.
  • Don’t stream videos to distract children – children need to learn how to occupy themselves, be patient, be pleasant around others, and be present. The only way they will learn to do all that is by practicing. We need to let them have lots of opportunities to practice.
  • Limit the amount of time spent watching – the other options are more decide-and-be-done, whereas this one takes some self-discipline. If you have the willpower, create guidelines for yourself, such as: only 2 movies per week, only 2 hours tv per day, only 3 episodes per day, or whatever.
  • Cancel your cable or streaming subscription – You don’t have to cancel all of them of course, but if you have less to watch, you will watch less. Getting rid of cable also gets rid of commercials (win!). And having less subscriptions means you’ll save money.

Just imagine all of the other things we will be able to do now that we aren’t spending so much time watching tv.

Children and TV | Minimalist Kids

I limit the amount of tv that my children watch. With my firstborn, Wingnut, we waited until he was 2 years old before letting him watch any tv. With my second, Pigpen, it’s been harder. If Wingnut wants to watch some tv and it’s a good time, I don’t want to deny him just because Pigpen is around. If our tv was in a different location where I could keep them separated, that would help, but that’s just not the situation in our house right now.

At first I was worried about Pigpen being exposed to tv before he was 2. After all, that was the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (now you can see that it is 18 months). But in reality, Pigpen really didn’t end up watching that much. I would set up the tv for Wingnut with some “high-quality programming” and Pigpen would sometimes hang around and watch. But he usually only watched for about 10-15 minutes before wandering off to hang out with me or play somewhere else.

I understand the purpose to limit time spent watching tv. There needs to be time for family interaction, for quiet, to be alone, for creative play, music, reading, etc. But the more I think about it, the less I agree with forbidding it altogether.

As I’ve said before, I am not an expert on children and I am not an expert on television. But I do think that it’s hard to prove that tv is totally detrimental. There are studies that conclude that children under 2 years old should not watch tv because it may inhibit their learning and development. But by the nature of this activity, we could only compare children to other children. We could never compare how a child turned out after watching tv to how he would have turned out if he didn’t.

No two children grow, learn, and develop at the same rate. Add in the millions of external factors that could influence a child at any moment during their day to day life and extrapolating the effect that something like tv watching could have seems impossible. I’m not saying that these studies are completely invalid. I’m saying we should watch and monitor our own children and how tv effects them, be mindful, and decide how extreme to be with the regulations we place on them.

Some researchers have even found that watching tv can be good for toddlers. Even accepting that children may learn less from tv than from live interaction, it doesn’t mean that that learning isn’t worth it. The stories children hear and see from tv can enhance their lives, just as much as books I would say, depending on what is understood and how the rest of their life experiences grow and build on them. Hearing stories and seeing different parts of the world expands the mind, opening it up to more curiosity and acceptance of differences.

Perhaps that is where the idea of “high-quality programing” comes in. What is high-quality programing and who decides what does or doesn’t fit the bill? I have a few of my favorites (that I will list below) and I have a few that I really don’t like (here’s one example). This is a totally personal choice I have made, though, and the views you may have for your children may be different. As parents, we need to pay attention and be involved with our own children, deciding what tv — if any — is best for them just like we decide what is the best for them out of everything else.

Too much tv, like too much of anything, is not a good thing. But balanced well into a week full of diverse, stimulating, and restful activities, I think tv is okay for children.

Also, I must add here, that I benefit from the hour Wingnut is engaged watching tv. It gives me a much-needed break (2 year olds can be very attention-demanding) where I can rest and recharge or be productive, where I can concentrate completely on something for a whole hour. This is very important for my sanity — a stressed-out mama is not pleasant for anyone. When I am able to receive the self-care that I need, I am better equipped to provide the care my family needs, and that is better for everyone.

 

Some of my favorite “high-quality programming” on tv:

  • Puffin Rock -A young puffin and her ever-curious little brother explore an island off the coast of Ireland – Netflix
  • Mouk – Young Mouk and Chavpa discover the world on their bicycles, making friends along the way – Netflix
  • Kazoops – A imaginative young boy and his pet pig explore home life and encourage children to challenge the workings of the world – Netflix
  • Stella and Sam – Sister and brother have many adventures, mostly outside, because they know they have more fun when they’re together – Family Channel and Netflix
  • Wild Kratts – Follows the adventures of animated versions of brothers Chris and Martin Kratt as they encounter wild animals during stories of adventure and mystery – PBS Kids 
  • Sesame Street – Bridges many cultural and educational gaps with Muppets teaching children numbers, colors and the alphabet, set on a city street full of valuable learning opportunities PBS Kids
  • Peg + Cat -Inspires preschoolers’ natural curiosity about math and helps them develop new skills and strategies for solving problems creatively in their daily lives – PBS Kids
  • The Muppet Show – A medley of sweet and mischievous, a weekly variety show with songs, dances, and comedy featuring a range of famous guests – DVD

What Happens When Our Children Watch Certain TV Shows?

I’m not an expert on children and I’m not an expert on television. But I do have this nagging thought about a certain type of children’s tv show.

I’m talking about the tv shows, targeted at children, that encourage them to interact with the characters by answering questions or doing certain actions. The characters will abandon their setting and look out the tv at your child and ask them a question or tell them to do something.

“Will you help us figure out blah blah blah?”

“Do you see the letter X?”

“Pull the lever with me by moving your arm up and down like this!”

“Jump up and down and clap your hands to scare away the evil owl!”

I’m pretty sure these shows are designed like this to get your children “active” so they aren’t just sedentary sponges. Shows want you to think that they are getting your children’s minds engaged in the story, making them cognitively superior, and their bodies in the action, making them more fit.

But I see it completely different.

Television is not the best interactive device. It’s design is completely one-way, transmitting images and sounds, with no interface for receiving feedback from the audience. So when our children watch these shows, they are not engaged with the story or the character. They are mimicking, performing, and obeying an “other” just because they were told to.

This is just a theory, but I feel like these tv shows, geared toward children in their most formative years, are priming viewers to follow the commands of advertisers. Advertising already preys on our psychological weaknesses (see below). If advertisers start with a group of people who are already willing to do what they ask without questioning, it will be all the better for those advertisers.

Now, I’ve done no studies and have no proof of this. Maybe the creators of these tv shows really do just want to improve our children’s cognition and fitness. Maybe our children will grow up to be just as skeptical as any other person in any other generation, regardless of the tv they watch or don’t watch. Maybe watching these shows doesn’t have any effect on how we consume advertisements at all.

I’m just saying, that to me, it feels a bit… odd. Those tv shows make me feel uncomfortable and I don’t want my children following along. Adults aren’t expected to talk to a television so why should children? Why teach them to behave in a way that won’t serve them as they get older? That would actually make them appear crazy if they continued to do it?

The way I see it, tv is meant to be seen and processed. Interactions should be reciprocal — that is their very definition. After all, isn’t respectful interactive discourse how the best communication happens in the real world anyway?

 

Resources:

Sweet Talk: Where I Am Now?

There’s a bit of a [huge, glaring] discrepancy between my post this past Wednesday and the post of my September-October sugar journal. As in, Wednesday I admitted I was still struggling with sugar, but I claimed to have given it up for good at the end of October.

I honestly don’t even remember making that decision. That obviously wasn’t very mindful of me. Now I’m thinking that it wasn’t a conscious decision at all, but one born out of my frustration at the difficulty of introducing moderate sugar back into my life. It was kind of like, this is hard! I give up! Instead of re-evaluating where I should make some changes to make things work better for me.

I doubt it was the next day that I started eating sugar with abandon, but once I stopped tracking what I ate, I just didn’t pay as much attention. I paid attention, just not as much. Not enough.

It was a gradual slide from the end of October to now. I still don’t feel addicted anymore, which is very good. But I’ve given in to cravings and I’ve had bad days where I felt like crap because I didn’t realize how much sugar I was consuming throughout the day.

I must be honest with myself and admit that I am not an all-or-nothing type of person when it comes to food. Cigarettes? Definitely. I’ve never had one and never will because they are proven bad, bad, bad. Alcohol? I have some. It can be harmful, but it has some benefits, too. So I drink in moderation. But I’ve never struggled with either of them like I struggle with sugar.

I like my original Rules and am going to follow them again. I won’t track everything I eat, because as long as I’m avoiding sugar that’s NOT

  1. part of a whole food or
  2. honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or
  3. the occasional exception
    1. ice cream, when there is walking involved
    2. homemade desserts (i.e. dinner parties)
    3. restaurant desserts (rare)
    4. anything I want on my birthday

I will be fine. Those 3 sweetness circumstances are hard to come by in my suburban New Jersey area, believe it or not, unless I’m cooking at home. It allows sweetness in my life (fruit, honey, syrups, birthday treat) without the likelihood of extreme excess (half a box of cookies, cake icing, jars of candy, etc).

It’s an ongoing experiment. I will not allow perfection to be the enemy of the good here. I will be mindful, while still enjoying small pleasures. I will try to be better. I will do my best.

Sweet Talk: My 6 Week Sugar Journal (9/16-10/16)

[This is a companion post to Sweet Talk: My Battle With Sugar]

The Rules

  1. Eat whole foods.
  2. Accepted sweeteners are:
    1. honey
    2. maple syrup
    3. brown rice syrup
  3. On my birthday, I can have whatever kind of ice cream I want.

Reminder — Sugar per day = 6-9 teaspoons or 25-37 grams

[Food list has been omitted for brevity.]

DAY 1

Went quite well. Good start. Actually quite shocked about the amount of sugar in the Taco Bell stuff.

DAY 2

A little nervous today because I have work and there are treats here. I have gum for intervention. And, whoa, that bread! Gotta stay away from certain brands.

Whoo-hoo! I did really well today! If I had a different brand of brand it would have been even better. Selfie-high-five! I did have 2 pieces of [sugar-free] gum at work though. I remember gum tasting better when I was younger. Now it seems… sensational. Like, sensational in the bad way like U.S. cable news stories are. I guess gum is not good because it is formulated. It is not good because it is not a whole food.

DAY 3

The sugar level of that jam is so crazy! I was soooo close to the limit, too. I’m learning, though. And I’m still proud of myself for today because I didn’t have any dessert at the German buffet. None! I resisted all the cakes and puddings — even the fruit. Good thing, too. I mean, damn, jam!

DAY 4

I can’t believe it’s only been 3 days. If I wasn’t keeping track, I’d have thought I had been “good” long enough and deserved a treat. Then I would have kept treating and treating, being addicted again. But I’ve really [barely] just begun.

I helped my mum make peanut butter bonbons today. Specifically, I did the chocolate melting and dipping part. And I didn’t eat or lick any of it at all!

I resisted salt water taffy, cookies, and grapes at work today!

DAY 6

Whoo-hoo! I did it! I got nervous there with that drink with dinner. I only drank half. It was a treat from Andrew. He brought pizza home for dinner and I saw he brought a 2 liter of soda home with it. I knew I wouldn’t drink it, but was a little disappointed because I wanted some. I really like the flavor of Dr. Pepper. Then he pulled out a bottle of Izze for me. And for a moment I got even more upset. He thought of me and my ragus aspirations and got me a special drink. So thoughtful of him! But I still didn’t think I should drink it. But I checked out the ingredient list and the sugars were from all natural juice. If I only drank half, I could fit it into my day.

And it was a very special treat. I wanted to drink more, but I was just really thirsty so I had water. Lots of water. I don’t know what Andrew did with the other half of the Izze Maybe I’ll find it [flat?] in the refrigerator tomorrow. I’m really, really appreciative of his help, support, and love.

DAY 7

Lot and lots of sweets at work today because of our supervisor’s return. I just enjoyed their ascetics. 🙂 Belly feels a bit bloated and squishy — just my monthly hormones? Or that drink yesterday?

DAY 8

I’ve been in quite a good mood for the majority of this past week. Could it be less sugar-fueled mood swings? Or the slightly cooler weather? Even Andrew noticed my good mood tonight.

DAY 9

Alright! Success, even with some cake in there. I treated myself to a big portion since I controlled the sweetness. Not too sweet at all. Sweetened by maple syrup and brown rice syrup. (The coconut whipped cream I attempted was a total fail, though.

Although I must say that after such a big portion so late at night, it’s sitting pretty heavy in my belly, and even up my throat a bit. I guess after 9 days I’m a bit detoxed?

Still in range for today so that’s good.

DAY 10

Oh, no!!! 2 teaspoons over. 🙁 It turned out I got the wrong kind of coconut cream and there was sugar added. 🙁 Won’t be making that mistake again. Back on target going forward.

DAY 12

Nice! Super low! I hope I didn’t forget to write anything down… Oh yeah, I had a slice of cheese to distract myself from a sweet craving.

DAY 13

Today I really wanted a rich, sweet, buttery cookie (more like a box of cookies), but I did not. So I felt deprived today.

Andrew offered me a bite of the rice pudding at the diner after dinner. I refused (even though I wanted some!) and Andrew said, “Good. That was a test. You passed.” I must admit I was proud of myself for “passing” his “test”. I mean, I can do it! I’ve been doing it for 13 days! That is quite the achievement for me. Honestly, I don’t know how I am doing it. Being mindful, I guess; paying attention to what I eat. And honoring myself.

Got quite the headache at the end of dinner until even now, though. Don’t know if it’s related to what I’ve been eating or something else.

DAY 14

I felt kind of deprived again today. Wanted… something. Sugar, I guess. That satisfying sensation in my mouth. Although, I guess it’s not “satisfying” because I never could get enough.

DAY 17

I was a bit lazy with tracking my food today and did it all tonight. Eh — it’s a Sunday. And I erred on the side of caution at dinner because I wasn’t sure where my numbers were so c’est bon.

DAY 18

Another headache tonight. 🙁 Upset stomach, too — too much coconut oil on popcorn?

DAY 23

Mother-in-law brought over freshly baked chocolate chip cookies today. Homemade! Warmish and smelling delicious! Chocolate chip cookies, especially homemade, are my favorite. This is quite a test. I will pass.

DAY 26

I found lunch to be really sweet today. Can you imagine? Me! Thinking half a kiwi and a few slices of orange makes a meal “really sweet”!

DAY 34

Really wanted a little Hershey chocolate bar today. I even had Andrew bring one to me. He said I shouldn’t deprive myself. Recent event highlighted the “life is short — enjoy it” argument for me. But sugar does not equal an enjoyable life. My self control is something I am proud of. I am not depriving myself — I’m teaching myself to be responsible, starting with a rigorous test.

I did not open that candy bar. I didn’t even smell it, ha. It sat next to me on the couch and I forgot about it — that would have been inconceivable a little over one month ago. The power is shifting back to me, away from sugar. I am proud and I will carry on.

DAY 38

I’m really doubting whether I want to go on with this or not. Part of me wants to just continue for 3 more weeks to complete the 8 week detox program designed by the writer of I Quit Sugar, but another part argues that she just made that 8 weeks up, it doesn’t mean anything, except, perhaps, that that’s what worked for her.

I feel good. I feel in control. I feel more confident when it comes to sweets. Wasn’t that my goal? To not be addicted? To not be a slave to cravings? Is wanting to do 8 weeks or 100 days just a silly quantifiable measure?

I never planned on quitting sugar for life. It, especially in chocolate, brings me great pleasure. I want to learn how to live in harmony with it in my life.

Aha. I will continue while introducing sugar back in my life, tracking what I eat and its sugar grams for the 3 more weeks, to learn how it looks like in my diet and practice moderating it.

DAY 39

Wow. Looks like I overdid it already. 🙁 Those little bits of sugary chocolate have a lot of grams and add up fast!

DAY 40

Wow, I’m bad at this.

DAY 41

Boo me! Well, no, boo frozen yogurt. I can’t believe that! It is SO much more sugar than ice cream! Give me fatty creamy ice cream — fro-yo is a disaster!

Boo me, this whole this is a disaster.

THE END

I am not going to track my sugar any more because… I have decided to give it up forever. (!)

I’ve tried to reintroduce sugar into my diet during this past week and it’s been horrible. I have noticed my moods were not as stable, my skin is broken out, and I’ve felt awful on the days that I’ve gone overboard. And it’s SO EASY to go overboard.

So I’m just giving it up. I won’t worry too much about ketchup and fruit, but I will be mindful. And perhaps on special occasions I will indulge. But I mean super special occasions. And I will indulge in good stuff, that’s worth it. The end.

Sweet Talk: My Battle With Sugar

I love(d) sugar. Too much. I was dependent on it. If my children didn’t nap, I went crazy, and a big reason for that was that I couldn’t have my sugary snack. I would only eat sweets while they were napping because I didn’t want to give them any. I know the effect sugar can have on a child. It’s something I’m battling 20 years later. I want to spare my children if I can.

First, I read I Quite Sugar by Sarah Wilson. I also flipped through her The I Quit Sugar Cookbook, but it is not great for anyone who wants to be mostly vegan. For vegan sugar avoiders, I would recommend Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr.

If you don’t want to read an entire book, there is this extensive, yet un-definitive, article by Gary Taubes for The Guardian.

As for my own story… it is disappointingly incomplete and failure-ridden. But it is a pursuit that I am still very interested in. Avoiding sugar is a very, very tough battle to fight on the American food-front, but I want to get strong enough to win it. Or at least survive through it.

I first became interested in quitting sugar when I realized I was addicted. I craved it and ate as much as I could, even though it left me feeling like crap. I needed it every day, usually at certain times, or else I would be irritable. I didn’t like being dependent on it to stay out of cranky moods. I wanted to be free of the addiction and I also knew it would be healthier for me.

I kept a journal, as suggested by Sarah Wilson, for 6 weeks — from last September to October — to track my sugar intake and how I felt. I will post a summary of those 6 weeks in another post.

Right now, I can’t say that I’ve quit sugar. I am much more aware of how much sugar is in foods, though, so I am better prepared to lower my intake at meals. It’s a lifestyle change, for sure, so I think it may be something that I can never complete. But I count being more mindful as a step in the right direction.

“If you are fighting to overcome an unhealthy addiction in your life — you are doing a noble thing.” – Joshua Becker

Home For The Holidays – The Hope Effect

A couple of the things that I am most thankful for — perhaps even the thing (or 2 things) I am most thankful for — is my home and family. Especially when it’s cold outside and it seems like all the world is getting together for the holidays, I notice how lucky I am to have the home and family that I do.

Since becoming a minimalist, I’ve asked for nothing as a gift for the holidays (in my family’s case, it’s Christmas). I must admit I haven’t had must success with my extended family when it comes to this blatant rejection of what has become a social norm. So this year I’ve decided to try a little something different.

This year, I’ve set up a fundraising page to help build small family-style homes for orphans and I’m asking all of my friends, family, and you readers to donate. I’m hoping to raise $500 before December 26, but really any amount is wonderful. People have already donated so I already feel like a success!

You can click to read about the charity, The Hope Effect.

You can click to learn about the campaign, Home for the Holidays.

And you can click to view my fundraising page — and donate!

No pressure, though.

And remember, it doesn’t have to be #GivingTuesday to give.

I hope everyone is feeling warm and snug and loved. And I hope that everyone knows that buying more stuff won’t make you feel more loved — you must first be loving.

A Simple Cloth Diaper Set-up

Once Wingnut started eating solid foods, we started using cloth diapers. We wanted to save some money and reduce the amount of waste we were contributing to landfills. We supplement with disposable diapers for overnight, travel, hot weather, and when the cloth diapers are in the laundry. We now use the same cloth diapers with our second child, Pigpen.

Our simple set-up includes:

We have two types of prefold inserts because we were gifted the burp cloths and then supplemented by buying some Bummis. The burp cloths are much thinner than the Bummis so we have to stack 2 or 3 before folding them into the covers to provide enough absorbency.

I like the Flip covers because they can be reused throughout the day by just swapping out the dirty insert. They are usually quite good at keeping in wetness, but we do have to change cloth diapers more frequently than disposables. I like to change them after about 2 hours and really try to avoid letting them go longer than 3 hours.

During a typical cloth diaper change, I usually just switch out the soiled insert with a clean replacement. If there is just pee, I put the insert in a covered garbage pail lined with a laundry bag. If there is poo, I dump it (and/or scrape with a clean corner of the insert) into the toilet before putting the insert into the pail. If the cover is wet or soiled, I toss that in the pail, too, and use a new cover.

I know 4 covers isn’t that many, especially for 2 boys. But now that Wingnut is learning to use the toilet and (disposable) pull-ups, he doesn’t wear the cloth diapers as often. Having fewer covers means I wash the cloth diapers in the laundry every 2 to 4 days (depending how much we also use disposables in that time). I think that’s pretty often to have to wash laundry, but it is a small load. And I don’t like the diaper pail with soiled cloths to sit longer than that anyway because it can get smelly when opened.

This cloth diapering system cost us about $110. If we had had to buy the burp cloths, too, it would have cost us about $140. By the money saved as opposed to buying disposables, this system had paid for itself within 2 months.

This system isn’t perfect, but it works for us. I did most of my research to figure out the products and system I wanted by watching YouTube videos by people who have done cloth diapering themselves. If you are looking for more information, I definitely recommend checking them out.

Good luck with your own cloth diapering adventure and bon voyage!