Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Unpaper Towel

In my effort to "Go Green" as much as I can, I stumbled across the idea of reusable paper towels (It also didn't help that a recent trip to a big-box-wholesaler-who-shall-remain-nameless resulted in spending $19 on paper towels. $19 I will never see again. $19 that will ultimately end up in the landfill somewhere, sure it will break down after a while I guess, but not for a while, anyway...) After using cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and cloth napkins, reusable paper towels seemed only logical! It was through researching that I found my next homemade goodie The Unpaper Towel

There are tons of options when deciding to use reusable paper towels, but none as pretty and effective as these little gems! Bevin, the genius behind these towels, generously provided me with a roll of towels of my choice for the purpose of this review. I picked a fantastic green, brown, and while floral print that matched my kitchen perfectly! Let's start with first impressions, when this box arrived, this is what I opened:

You could just feel the love and pride that went into not only making this product, but the packaging as well! When I opened the box, Polish Prince was just as excited as I was, maybe even more! His exact phrase was "Whoa! These are so cool! They may be our next "thing"!" Whatever that means... :) You know you've got a great idea when the hubby gets excited for reasons other than saving money! In addition to her business card, Bevin included some details about the "unpaper" towels. I couldn't get a good picture, so here's what it says:

These towels come with a cardboard tube that may or may not fit your paper towel holder. Feel free to replace this tube with one of your old paper towel tubes. The elastic bands are there to help keep the towels in place. Be sure to rotate your towels out so they are used equally! Happy unpaper toweling!

The cardboard tube that was provided was so sturdy, I was a little bummed when it didn't fit my paper towel holder. I do have an odd shaped towel holder, if I had a standard one with just a bar I'm sure it would work fine! Mine just happens to be kind of sqaure-shaped. So I did what Bevin suggested and placed the elastic loops over the old paper towel tube and it fits and works perfectly! 

Each set contains 12 reusbale paper towels. They are made of either cotton terry cloth with a cotton print or an organic/hemp terry blend with an organic cotton print. There are tons of colors and options to choose from. My favorite part is the fact that the towels all snap together! I've seen "unpaper" towels before that are meant to just sit in a drawer or on the counter, these babies are meant to shine! They all snap together, then snap to the tube so they become just as convenient as your throw-away paper towels! Bevin also takes great care in making sure the snaps she chooses for the towels match the cotton print pattern. The snaps are also plastic so there's no worry about scratching counter tops or little one's face when wiping after a meal!

I put these towels to the test the first day I had them. Since the towels are pre-washed I decided to jump right in. We were having spinach and turkey lasagna for dinner, so I figured the red sauce would make a great test for the towels! Polish Prince was a little reluctant to wipe his mouth or hands on the towels because they were so pretty. I have to admit, I was a little nervous too! I didn't want to make them dirty! But, alas, I had to break down and dirty those puppies up! We got marinara sauce on both sides of the towels. After dinner, I wet one down and used it to wipe B's hands and face. I wish I would have somehow marked the towels so I could have taken a picture when they were out of the wash. But I forgot, and when they came out of the wash, there were no stains! I'm pretty confident, that had they stained, I could have used the old cloth diaper trick of sunning them to get the stains out, but I didn't have the chance! Great work on choosing quality materials Bevin!  

As much as I hate to say this, I may have to say Polish Prince was right. These may be our new "thing". I would love to get a few more sets to be able to rotate between them. Perhaps a roll for cleaning, a couple rolls for the counter, maybe a roll or two for the holidays? These easily double as cloth napkins and are way more absorbent! Plus, the fun prints make it easy to jazz up a table for a dinner/holiday party without having to run out and get colorful paper napkins. 

Ok, now that you've heard all the fantastic details of this amazing product, who wants some!? You can order you own set here AND Bevin is providing one lucky winner with a roll of Unpaper Towels of their choosing!! Simply enter via the Rafflecopter form below and cross your fingers and toes!  

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

10 months!

Well my dear little B, you've made it! 10 months today! It's crazy to see the little person you're becoming every day. You are a walking, climbing, (trying to) run, on-the-go little guy. You're constantly keeping us guessing with what you choose to play with. Your playroom is your territory, and you're bound to discover every last inch of it. If this means pulling up your SkipHop tiles to see the real floor underneath, you will do it! 

You love food and already have 8 teeth! I gave you a Pluot to hold the other day, and before I knew it you were devouring it! You did very well spitting out the pit. Such a silly guy! You still don't sleep all that well, but hey, with everything you're working on, who can blame you! 

You love to yell and test your new voice, it's actually pretty remarkable how high-pitched you can get. :) You love to say "da-da" and use it ALL the time. Yesterday, we took a little road trip with your cousin and you got such a kick out of the taxidermy decorations at this silly little general store.

I love experiencing all of your new firsts with you, but do me a favor, slow down a little please!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Busy Bags!

I was recently invited to be a part of a busy bag exchange for little B and I thought I'd share the fruits of my labor with you all! What's a busy bag exchange? It's were a group of people with little ones roughly the same age commit to a small DIY project of creating something for your little darling to play with. The rules are simple:
  • A busy bag is a ziploc bag contatining an activity for your child to enjoy either with you or on their own. It is a form of creative occupation. It may be educational or may not.
  • Self-contained. This way, you can just grab a bag and GO! (without having to add a number of supplies to the bag in order to make it useful.)
  • Transportable. Yes, they will definitely be used at home, but I want to be able to grab a few bags to take to a restaurant, a waiting room, plane trips, car rides, etc.
  • Convenient. None of the bags will have supplies that require major set-up or clean-up: (no paint, watercolors, liquids, sand, dirt, etc.)
  • Inexpensive. This shouldn't cost an arm and a leg!
  • Easy to Make: Do not spend hours making your bag.
  • Re-usable. These activities are meant to last a while so that our other children can use them in the future. Therefore, avoid activities where you would have to buy new supplies to re-stock the bag. This is why lamination is important for some of the activities.

I chose the I-Spy bottle idea from this website. I had some trouble with the sand and the plastic bottle. One type of sand would cloud up the inside of the bottle making it hard to see into. The other type would stick to the bottle despite the bottle being bone dry. So I ended up finding some glass spice jars at the dollar store. This makes my project one for "adult supervision" so the child doesnt smash the glass on the floor, but other than that, it was a success!

Yes, I wrote the poem  myself based on the contents of the jar! :) On the back of the tag is a "Find Me" list of items to search for

So, once everyone has signed up, you will make that number of busy bags. Our group had 15 people commit. Everyone drops their bag off at the organizer's house. That person then divides all the bags up (1 to each mama) and then re-distributes them, so everyone got back 15 different "bags".

Here is everything we received in return:

So many fun ideas and easy games for on-the-go!

We had such a great time participating in this project that I definitely recommend it to anyone that's in any sort of playgroup. It's quick and easy, and you can really benefit from others' creativity!

To get busy bag ideas you can simply Google "Toddler busy bags" but here are a list of websites that were drawn from for some of the above projects:

3. Cupcake Magnetic Puzzle-
4. Colorful Flowers-
5. Homemade Stringing Beads-
6. Pool Noodle Pattern Threading-  
19. Picture # 4- Brown Bear Heads and Tails Match- (downloadable pictures- print in color or color them yourself)
20. Mini Sensory Board-

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fluffy Wishes Giveaway!

The long awaited Fluffy Wishes Giveaway and Twitter Party has finally arrived! We have tons of great prizes to give away, and all for a great cause. Many sponsors and bloggers have teamed up with Fluffy Wishes Cloth Diaper Closet and My Cloth Diaper Stash to help host this giveaway! 

Fluffy Wishes Diaper Closet is a cloth diaper lending service serving Southwest Michigan and newly expanding to Indiana! Fluffy Wishes provides cloth diapers to low income families who can not afford to diaper their children, or have to make the choice between diapers and the basic necessities in life. Fluffy Wishes runs completely on volunteers and donations. There is no cost to families who are approved for the program. 

Here is a list of sponsors who made it all happen:-)
GRAND PRIZE (Ribbons n Stitches):
1 Bumkins Pocket Diaper
1 Bumkins Cover
2 FuzziBunz Elite's
2 Kawaii Heavy Wetter's
1 Thirsties AIO
1 Thirsties Fitted
2 Best Bottom Shells
2 Microfiber Inserts (1 Medium, 1 Large)
1 Changing Diapers Book
FuzziBunz Hanging Diaper Pail
Cutey Baby Wet bag
Rockin' Green Sample
Jar of Mother's Love

1 Original Ergo Baby Carrier (Black/Camel)
4 Bububibi Bamboo Pocket Diapers
1 Go Green Champ 2.0

Glow Bug Cloth Diapers - Cloth Diaper
Buttercup Baby - Incredibum Bamboo Cloth Diaper in Raven
Pure and Simple Baby - Dandelion Organic Diaper Bag
Boba - Mystery Twitter Party Only Prize
Rockin' Green - Bag of Laundry Detergent 
The Balm - $30 Gift Card 
Rumpkinz - Mystery Twitter Party Only Prize
Super Lotion - Pure Joy Pack, (5) Happy Packs, Super Happy Pack, Lip Balm
Lollido - Green Pocket Diaper
Diva Cup - Size 1 Pack w/wash & Size 2 Pack w/wash
SoftBums - Omni Solo Cloth Diaper Pack
Fluffy Wishes - Mystery Twitter Party Only Prize (HINT: Econobum) 
Green Baby Goods - $20 Gift Card
Greenie Beanie Bottoms - $20 Gift Card
Ecobloomers - $10 Gift Card
FuzziBunz - 2 Elite Diapers (2 Winners)
Bummis - Cloth Diaper Starter Pack
Jack's Choice - $15 Gift Card
Kissed by the Moon - Hanging Planetwise Wet Bag
Scents from the Moon - $15 Gift Certificate
Kalasz Krafts - $15 Gift Certificate (handmade baby items)

Some Notes About this Giveaway:
  • Enter on the Rafflecopter form below. There are no mandatory entries, but the more entries you have, the greater your chances of winning. Remember that there are tons of prizes to be given away, so that increases your chances even more!
  • In order to be eligible for the Mystery Twitter ONLY Party Prizes, you still must enter on the Rafflecopter form below, but you must also tweet at least once during the twitter party on July 24th (9-10pm EST)
  • All prizes will be announced at the Twitter Party. All winners will be contacted by the e-mail provided on the Rafflecopter form.
  • Open to US and Canada

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Flipping or Flopping...traveling with Cloth

I think if you're reading my blog, it's safe to say at this point you know I'm a fan of cloth diapers. Just a little bit. :) I have a decent little "stash", I've finally perfected my wash routine to curb the "stinkies", and Polish Prince is totally on board. We have settled into our nice little cloth diapering life. Cue vacations. As practical as cloth diapers are at home, they are not necessarily the easiest item to travel with. They can take up a lot of room in a suitcase, you've got to have a reliable washer (or be okay with handwashing/using a laundromat), and you've got to travel with your own detergent. It's all a bit cumbersome if you're going away for a week or more. The great news is the cloth diapering community has an answer! Hybrid diapers. These brands are marketed to people who want to cloth diaper, but want flexibility as well. Hybrid diapers typically consist of a reusable cloth cover and a reusable or disposable insert option. As long as the cover isn't soiled, it does not need to be washed. Just wipe it out, I use wipe solution, let it dry and re-use! Some popular brands are Flips by BumGenius, GroVia and gDiapers. After doing my research and talking to some other cloth mommies, I decided to try the Flip system for my most recent trip.

The OS Flip cover

The OS Rump-A-Rooz cover. Note the double gusset along the leg
I went to pick up a couple covers and a pack of disposable inserts from Zoolikins and while I was there, I was perusing other covers to tuck the disposable inserts in, rather than just the Flip covers. I already had some Thirsties duo wraps (which I love), but was also shown the Rump-A-Rooz covers, which I hadn't previously considered.  The Thirsties and the Rump-A-Rooz have one of my favorite features in a diaper cover, the double gusset around the legs. B does not have skinny legs by any stretch of the imagination, but I did notice the Flip cover left a slight gap when he would sit. Since we were going to be on a 4 hour plane ride and an 8 and a half hour car ride, sitting was a reality, the gap was going to be playing with fire. I grabbed a couple Rump-A-Rooz covers just to try the difference.

 Now, just to backtrack a little bit, the Flips have little fabric--flap--I guess for lack of a better term, that hold the insert in place, whether  you choose the reusable or disposable ones. Since the Thirsties and the Rump-A-Rooz covers are not part of a "hybrid" system, they do not contain this extra fabric flap. I was worried that this would make the insert move around. Not the case in my situation! 
The Flip cover with the disposable insert tucked in the "flaps"

 What I would do is lay out the cover and place the insert inside. I would then lay B on his back, on top of both.Next, I fold just the insert up to his belly and then bring the cover up over the insert and snap it. (Please see the pictures below with my model Mr. Bear. There is no way squirmy B would cooperate for pictures of each step!) :)This was the quickest and most effective way to use the disposable liners in a "non-flip" cover.

Step 1: Lay out the cover with the insert placed inside

Step 2: Fold the insert up, leaving the cover still down. This gives you room to maneuver the insert.

Step 3: Locked and Loaded. See the inner gusset hugging the bum?

Through all of our travels, I did not have one leak, #1 or #2! I was shocked! Some mama's have told me they struggled with leaking through the disposable inserts in the Flip system and have suggested doubling up on the inserts. I was prepared to do that, but never ran into that issue. I think having the double gussets along the leg holes helped immensely! The great news is, I also use the covers for night-time since B has figured out how to work Aplix closures. Both the Flip and Rump-A-Rooz covers go great over fitted diapers and their snaps are A-MA-ZING!

Please feel free to share your traveling with cloth tips and tricks below!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

WAHM Wednesday: Kalypso Twist

WAHM Wednesday is back ladies and gentlemen, after a brief one-week hiatus, I'm back with a new mama made cloth diaper, and ONE for a lucky reader too! 

This next business, Kalypso Twist is a new favorite of mine for a few reasons:
  • She's local. The lady behind this business is just around the corner, so to speak, from me, and I always love working with and supporting local business. 
  • She has a great product. There's way more than just the "cute" factor going into these lovely diapers
  • She is an absolute gem to work with! Ms. Kalypso Twist, or Amber to her friends, is always quick to answer an email about her diapers and products, and is even able to do repairs on other diapers! (Like certain sized diapers that seem to have elastic that loosens up too quickly :) ) 
 WAHM's never cease to amaze me with their talent and ability to multi-task, but when I started learning more about Amber and her business, I was shocked to find out she had never sewn before making diapers! This is coming from someone who struggles with making napkins, to meet someone who never sewed a stitch and now makes a fantastic diaper, call me awe-struck! And diapers aren't her only interest! She's also working on developing another new product in her "free-time"! I love her entrepreneurial spirit!

Ok, ok, I get it, enough with the "behind the scenes", let's get to the diaper! When you place an order from Kalypso Twist, you can do it directly from Hyena cart. She has some ready to go diapers, but she also conducts a lot of her business through custom orders. She starts her custom orders by having you choose your fabric, any fabric you want through Fabric.com. She will make your choice of a pocket or an AI2 diaper. Each diaper has your fabric on the outer, a hidden PUL, and a stay-dry inner. Each diaper also comes with a handmade bamboo fleece insert. Super absorbent and super versatile!! Since there are so many options for customization, pricing is based on what you choose! What a great way to make sure you stay in budget!

Amber graciously offered up my choice of a pocket or AI2 diaper for review. I chose to review the pocket and giveaway the AI2. Although, when I saw the two diapers side by side, I almost had to rethink my choice! Both diapers were so stunning to look at, it was so hard to pick just one! That's saying a lot for someone who has yet to find an AI2 that I like! 

So let's chat about the pocket diaper. The guitar fabric is one I've been lusting over for a while now, and I was so glad to see how Amber put it together on this diaper. The colors are great and really stand out! (On a side note, I posted a picture of my "stash" to a local CD meetup group and a couple people picked out the guitar diaper right away as a favorite, and I like to think I have a very colorful/pattern heavy stash!). The diaper came with the insert laid out and wash/care instructions. This is always the worst part for me, the waiting to have this puppy washed and ready to wear! 

Can you see the "ruffle"?
Alas, the day came and I got to try this on my little man! I was surprised at how easily I was able to stuff the tri-fold insert into the back of the pocket. There was no maneuvering, special folding, or tucking. Just a simple tri-fold and it popped right in. Once I got B all locked and loaded, I noticed the leg holes almost seemed to "ruffle" . I really don't have any other word to describe it and since he was such a wiggle-worm when taking pictures the one I managed to get is still a little blurry, but anyway. The "ruffle" actually worked to my advantage--as I believe it's supposed to. It gave him room to move his chunky thighs without seeing those redmarks we've all come to notice on cloth babies!

What's even better is that there were no leaks at all with this diaper, ruffles and all, everything stayed right in place! I loved it because it made me feel like he was more comfortable in this diaper, since his legs had a bit more breathing room, and I didn't have to worry about outfit changes! :) The overlapping waist snaps gave him a great fit up top and still plenty of room to grow! This has also proven to be a new go-to for Polish Prince. He loves the print and likes that there are only one row of snaps to worry about when getting him changed. I think I'm going to have to make a stamp or something that says "Daddy approved" because let's face it, sometimes what daddy wants in a diaper and what mommy wants can be two very different things!! :) Overall, I'm very impressed with the quality of this diaper/insert combo. I may even have to give the AI2 a whirl since I may be falling in love over here and it just looks so pretty. I can only imagine the quality and fit are just as amazing as this pocket!
Fits like a glove!

No pants necessary!

Just to get you all even more excited, I've taken pictures of the lovely diaper that one of you lucky ducks will get to win! It's an AI2, complete with snapping insert, in a bright, fun, gender-neutral gecko print. The only request I will make to the winner is that you let me know how much you love it when you get it! Deal? Ok, enter on the Rafflecopter below!! 

Look at those great colors!

Behind this insert is a snap at the top to keep it in place!

a Rafflecopter giveaway