Tanna & Inna

Two best friends writing about their lives, interests, and concerns, now with babies!

Toddler Approved Chicken Casserole September 28, 2013

Filed under: Life in General — Tanna @ 7:53 pm

I hate casseroles.  Let me just put that out there.  I also hate frozen peas.  Now that I have a toddler, I’m readjusting my food expectations.  They love that stuff.  I compromise by cooking it in bulk and freezing kid-sized portions.  That said, I made this for a pot-luck with strangers and noticed that even the adults devoured it.

 

Basically, mix pre-cooked: chicken, rice, broccoli & a cheese sauce, together in a baking dish & bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes.  Done.

 

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts or a rotisserie chicken

3 1/2 c (cooked) brown rice

2 heads of broccoli with stems

2 cups milk

4 tbs butter

4 tbs flour

3-4 tsp cajun spice mix

8-12 oz melty cheese of choice (cheddar)

 

You can do the chicken lots of ways. I use leftovers from a roasted chicken, shredded into bite sized pieces. We don’t eat a lot of meat, so 2-3 large pieces are plenty. Two heads of broccoli get steamed or microwaved and chopped into small bits, stems included.  Layer or mix it all with 3-4 cups of brown rice in a glass baking dish.  The sauce: the roux ratio is 1 tbs butter: 1 tbs flour: 1/2 c milk.  Heat the melted butter & flour in a sauce pan for about 2 min. to lightly brown it.  Add warm milk while whisking and stir until thickened.  If using skim milk, it will take a bit longer.  Stir in your seasoning of choice, we like Penzey’s cajun spice mix, then add the cheese in small chunks & stir until melted.  Pour over the casserole & mix in a bit.  Heat uncovered at 350 F for 25-30 min, until bubbly.  Eat! or freeze portions right away & reheat thoroughly when serving.

 

Hmm, maybe I need to take some quick pics when I cook next time!  Frozen casserole in a ziploc baggie isn’t quite picture-worthy.

 

Photos of fluffy butts June 7, 2013

Filed under: Life in General — Tanna @ 9:42 pm

 

 

 

Want to see how certain diapers fit? I didn’t take lots of bare leg photos when my son was little as it was the middle of winter, though there are a few!IMG_2034

 

A bumGenius Freetime AIO with snaps on my then 4 week old almost 12 pounder.

 

Note: This post will continually be added to.

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Day 7: Best use of back-of-the-closet t-shirts! May 27, 2013

Filed under: Life in General — Tanna @ 1:41 pm

I’m partaking in Dirty Diaper Laundry‘s week long Flats and Handwashing Challenge instead of machine washing my son’s cloth diapers. This challenge is getting me back to basics, taking inventory of what is really necessary, and thinking about why and how to promote cloth.

Yesterday was the final day of the ‘challenge’ and I just hung up the last batch of t-shirts to dry. While exhausted last night, I contemplated writing something incredibly meaningful about the larger message of this event. It all seemed silly and inadequate to give advice while trying to walk in someone else’s shoes. Here’s my take home message:

Handwashing flats is TOTALLY do-able!

and

Babies pee A LOT.

Not to be overly optimistic, like anything baby related, there are no breaks. You can take a day off, but then your pile of laundry is bigger. I 100% believe cloth diapering can save you money if you need it to, even without a washing machine. I didn’t spend any money on the diapers themselves, t-shirts, scrap fabric and a receiving blanket were perfect. You’d need a cover if you want your child out and about, but at home, you don’t really need one except for naps/bed time. It made me wonder why I spent money on prefolds. Aesthetics? Does a child really need something nice and pretty on their tush? It gets pooped on for goodness sake! And if you’re tired, there’s no harm in just throwing a free t-shirt out. Which reminds me, no disposable diapers means we were able to cut our trash collection costs in half! Utility bills (water/electric) haven’t changed much either and we use the same detergent for our clothes.

Handwashing flats doesn’t take long.

There was surprisingly little time involved in the washing process. I washed twice a day for 10-15 min. active time, 30 min. total each time. My hands are sore, probably from gardening though. See the post from Day 4 on my washing routine.

Ask questions and get some help.

Any extra help makes things easier on Mom. Getting set up with some time-saving hand washing setups or a box fan would be a first step. A few donated covers or purchased second hand to get started. Goodness, you could even use a plastic shopping bag (under supervision of course!), fleece jammy, or old wool sweater wrapped around the flat. As with anything, it helps to have someone you can ask questions and troubleshoot with. Your child may get a rash or your flat fold may be leaky. There are a ton of options and solutions, many of them free or inexpensive.

A great source for getting started is Giving Diapers Giving Hope. Check them out. I also believe that many daycares will work with you to use cloth. If done right, it is just as hygienic as a disposable. Which brings me to my final thought, kind of high horse if you’ll permit me.

*gets up on horse*

Babies Pee A LOT

In the age of super absorbent diapers, it’s great you don’t have to wake your sound sleeper for a midnight change because their diaper will last 12 hours. You could do the same during the daytime. There, you only need 2 diapers a day. I’ve seen this mentioned in forums explaining that disposables don’t cost much at all. This feels wrong. If you use only 3 diapers a day, your baby is sitting in pee (or heaven forbid poo) all day long. It’s gross enough to think about what we all do with our babies at night, they at least deserve a reprieve during the day.

Super High Horse

Our modern plumbing society has enabled us to live without many diseases carried by waste. I believe that is where my baby’s poop belongs, being treated in a sanitary manner at a sewage treatment plant or septic system, not packed away in a landfill for another generation to deal with. We use disposable items because that’s just how it’s done. I challenge anyone to question that norm.

*dismounting*

I think I will continue to use flats and handwash, especially on vacation. They get super clean and I use so few washing as often as I did, that there is less clutter around the house. I may make a few hand-saving adjustments (gloves!), a better wringing-out method, and pull out the box fan for indoor night time drying. I swear it takes less time than using the washing machine. Having the washer free this week was a blessing because my cat is sick and I’ve been cleaning up after him. I throw EVERYTHING in the washer! (almost everything!)

Consider yourself challenged! Try a t-shirt on your baby for an afternoon, just once, for me?

~Tanna

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Poor little guy is starting the week sick & cuddly.

 

Day 6: New to Cloth Diapers May 26, 2013

Filed under: Life in General — Tanna @ 12:12 am

I’m partaking in Dirty Diaper Laundry‘s week long Flats and Handwashing Challenge instead of machine washing my son’s cloth diapers. This challenge is getting me back to basics, taking inventory of what is really necessary, and thinking about why and how to promote cloth.

Seriously, the most time consuming part of this week’s use of flats and handwashing is the blogging. For the sake of brevity, here’s the list I wish I had when I started learning about cloth diapers:

(1) Do it! Set a trial budget of what you are willing to spend on diapers for a month.

(2) Start simple, but not too cheap.  Pick a decent waterproof cover, like Thirsties brand. On a budget? Go used with snaps.

(3) Find YOUR store, and use them for help over the phone, bonus points if they offer a cloth diaper trial or are local. Mine is Jillian’s Drawers.  They will guide you and work within your budget/circumstance, much easier than google-surfing.  Padded Tush Stats has a great retailer database.

Just go with it! You can’t even get a sample pack of disposable diapers. You don’t have to go all in right away, or ever. Maybe you want to start with cloth wipes. You don’t need to use expensive detergent, Tide works just fine (caveat: avoid free & clears & ones with fabric softeners), though I love me my Charlie’s Soap at 5-10 cents per load.  Don’t worry about all the terminology either. You can’t go wrong. If it doesn’t work for you, you have the bonus of re-selling them!

Other sources: I am not that familiar with diaperswappers.com, since I buy local. Ebay, I avoid like the plague as I’ve found better prices elsewhere and others have complained about deceiving quality.  Craigslist is better.  Ask around, maybe a friend would lend you a few to get you started.

If I ever need a reminder as to why I’m washing a load of diapers every couple of days, I just put my son in a disposable and do an extra load of laundry when he poops up his back, or down his leg, or pulls his diaper off. All bonuses.  Mostly, though, I do it to minimize waste with the hope that he will pass it on, as my mom did with her kids. It’s my way of paying it forward.

~Tanna

 

Flats, Day 5 May 25, 2013

Filed under: Life in General — Tanna @ 12:50 am

I’m partaking in Dirty Diaper Laundry‘s week long Flats and Handwashing Challenge instead of machine washing my son’s cloth diapers. This challenge is getting me back to basics, taking inventory of what is really necessary, and thinking about why and how to promote cloth.

As the week goes on, I’ve found only one thing missing from the supplies list: a fan. It was 90 out for a few days, now it is 40, and damp, and humid, and cold. This isn’t really a problem since we have a forced air heating system, so I just put the drying rack over a vent. If you didn’t have this setup, you’d need a fan, or twice as many diapers. Cold and damp takes forever to dry just sitting. Think teenage boy’s room with shower towels left in the corner.

My son would never do that, of course.

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I’m lucky, my husband has washed the last bit every night, usually a separate bin of 1-2 flats still needing rinsing. He  cleans out half of the poopy ones, even without the diaper sprayer. I can keep a schedule this week because no one is sick, I have only one child, I can work from home, my son usually naps well (finally!!!!), we can afford the occasional take-out dinner. The list goes on. So, for me, this week, so far, is not very different. I think I’d still hand wash flat cloth diapers if the shit hit the fan because I can’t bare to think about throwing $$ and plastic into a garbage heap. I’d never really know until I was there.

On a lighter note, flats rock! I can get a perfect fit. Every poo has been contained in the fabric, rarely touching the cover. I can tell they are getting very clean and don’t worry about what’s lurking in all those extra layers. No leaks at night or day. And I’m using t-shirts!!

My son’s still kinda pissed they take so long to get on/prepare. That would get easier with practice. I can almost put it on while he stands. And if I got it together a bit more (like instead of blogging), I could pre-fold them. Maybe I will remember to chop the long arms off of one of the flats. Every time I try to fold it, I’m twisting and folding and folding and folding, go to snap it on and I pull out one long sleeve.

Hubby’s putting E to bed in this flannel receiving blanket with a pad folded flat inside a wool cover. No pinning needed. Let’s hope we haven’t used up all the lanolin in the cover already! I typically put him in a pocket diaper for sleeping.  Still feels tacky, so I assume it’s ok? Good question to remember to ask!

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Details on washing: Day 4 May 23, 2013

Filed under: Life in General — Tanna @ 10:42 pm

I’m partaking in Dirty Diaper Laundry‘s week long Flats and Handwashing Challenge instead of machine washing my son’s cloth diapers. This challenge is getting me back to basics, taking inventory of what is really necessary, and thinking about why and how to promote cloth.

You probably don’t spend nearly as much time as I do thinking about washing your clothes. It started before we started using cloth diapers when I took my husband’s t-shirt out of the dryer and the arm pits were crunchy. We had spent two years living in different states and in that time, different water, different detergent, different deodorant had combined to form a steel plate of who knows what. I wanted to cut up samples to dissolve and analyze and join the R & D department at P&G. Instead, I made deodorant and switched to Charlie’s detergent. Now we’re an advertisement for coconut palms.

Don’t get me wrong, all that extra stuff has it’s place. The surfactants, conditioners, sanitizers, deodorizers, chelators, even fillers, work. But when you don’t know what you are combining, and it turns into a brick, something’s gotta give. My guess is many of these continue to be added to preserve fabric quality and clean effectively with low water, HE washing. It’s like using baby shampoo vs. bar soap while washing your eyes.

So let’s back it up a bit. I have diapers that need cleaning. We have bacteria containing solids and a pile of ammonia salts trapped in cotton or occasionally polyurethane laminated polyester/cotton covers. I’m going to go dip my hands in that (and then wash them, of course, just to make sure they get extra dried out).

Handwashing 6-12 pieces of single layered cotton fabric a day is quick. It’s also straight forward. It is not easy on the hands, duh. The coconut based detergent helps, plus lots of lotion. Others are using a camp washer bucket with plunger or washboard, stomping in a bathtub, wringing out with salad spinners, and I’m sure most are using gloves (a very smart idea!). I didn’t want to buy anything extra for washing this week.

I’ve been washing twice a day, so about 4-6 at a time. Here are the basics: (1) Rinse. Get all those solids out with non-stain setting temperature water, like body temp. Even the pee diapers. Takes 5 min. in a bucket in the sink. (2) Wash. You need the detergent and agitation plus hot hot water. I use one of the cloth wipes to scrub, then let it soak for a bit, like over lunch. (3) Rinse. In warm or cold to get rid of ALL the suds. Since I have different styles of cotton weave, I do this one piece at a time. Another 5 min. (4) Dry. Wring and hang in a breeze/sun on the porch and don’t forget to bring inside for the night.

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The smell test: The nice thing about Charlie’s detergent is that it doesn’t smell like much. Kind of a faint coconut odor. If I sniff at any cleaning/drying stage and I smell barnyard funk, I needed more detergent. If I smell coconut, I need to rinse more.

The cloth diapering nitty gritty: You are washing a fabric toilet that goes on your child’s rear. You are limited in the chemicals to use for killing bacteria. Since we are only on day 4, not much detergent buildup is going on, so there is not a lot yet getting trapped in the detergent left behind (or left behind because of not enough detergent!) I’m enjoying not having to worry about this, yet. Plus, the sun is great at killing stinky bacteria in just one layer of fabric. Maybe Inna can fill us in later about that petri dish :-)

Overall, I think it’s taken just as much time as I usually spend on washing my son’s diapers, just different scheduling.  Which is good, I have time to try new folds with my helper.  Look, ma! No snappi!

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And it has been so darn hot, I don’t feel like doing anything extra.  In fact, I feel like sleeping like my cat.  He seriously sleeps like this on the floor when the temperature rises:

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Handwashing diapers: Day 3 May 22, 2013

Filed under: Life in General — Tanna @ 10:10 pm

I’m partaking in Dirty Diaper Laundry‘s week long Flats and Handwashing Challenge instead of machine washing my son’s cloth diapers. This challenge is getting me back to basics, taking inventory of what is really necessary, and thinking about why and how to promote cloth.

Simplicity. Yesterday’s post unloaded too many details. Sorry about that. I unloaded about 17 months worth of them in two days and now I’m exhausted. Washing pieces of fabric by hand is simple, it doesn’t take too long unless you add too much soap (oops!). Writing about it, on the other hand, keeps you up way too late.

A few cloth topics I’d love to document: the chemistry involved, options for recycling fabric, life cycle analysis with regard to water use. This list tells you why I like the details!  Edit: One of my favorite diapering blogs with numbers is Padded Tush Stats. Their retailer search is also awesome and updated with monthly coupons. 

~Tanna

Now photos of why a big diaper butt is handy:

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He could sit up taller in his seat.

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Awesome pants fit sooner.

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Another tall seat.

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Fewer seat belt adjustments.

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It’s just cute and there’s always something to grab on to.

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