The fuss about fluff

This post is an entry in Jennifer Labit’s All I want for Christmas… Is to Tell the World About Cloth Diapers Contest.  I haven’t received any sort of compensation for this, but if I do happen to win the contest, myself and 1 lucky reader will will 12 bumGenius diapers!

Our home is a busy one with a toddler and an 8 month old.  I am a stay-at-home Mama and as such, I’ve gotten to be very frugal with our one income.  In the time since we had our son, I love that the initial investment in our cloth diapers through shower gifts and following Cotton Babies’ sales has really benefited our wallet.  I’m not buying crates of diapers on a monthly basis only to have them pooped in and thrown away.

I was on the cloth diaper track before we were even pregnant with Liam.  My cousin in Canada and I used to chat online late at night and pass links back and forth with our thoughts.  She settled on the bumGenius brand and when it came time for me to pick my cloth diaper brand a year later, I could hardly wait to see my sweet baby in Clementine and Moonbeam.  We used the diapers faithfully for months.  I washed, dried and folded and used that time as a cathartic break in my hectic life, juggling a job and a family.  Then, one night in April, my son woke  with a horrible poop.  That diaper was the precursor to a week of a stomach bug that I had no previous idea even existed.  We had 22 diapers.  I used them all in the space of just over 24 hours.  While those diapers were in the wash, I put him in a disposable diaper and let him crawl around the house.  I will never forget him looking at me with this sad, sad look as the diarrhea hit him again and it ran out of the diaper, through 2 layers of clothes, all over the floor.  As soon as my diapers were dry, he was back to wearing them.  I don’t care how “leak proof” a disposable diaper claims to be, nothing beats my bumGenius diapers for containment!

The original diapers have been used regularly for 29 months.  Now they are divided by color so that the blues and greens diaper my son, while the whites and yellows joined the sweet pink diapers for my daughter.  I love knowing that my diapers have now successfully diapered 2 children of different sizes and body structures.  While my son grew through the sizes quickly and had to have the snaps let out every few months, my daughter is still in the smallest of our One Size diapers.

The math can be overwhelming.  To think of the number of times I changed our son on a daily basis in the first few months of his life, I know I did laundry every other day at that time.  When we added our second child, I added some Econobums and a few second hand gDiapers to the stash so I wasn’t always doing laundry.  By my calculations, a total of $529 has been spent on the diapers, all 3 styles included.  Let’s say that I change 12 diapers a day between the 2 kids.  Therefore, in a 1 year period, I’ve done roughly 4380 diaper changes.  That makes each diaper change worth 12 cents.  I see Amazon diaper deals all the time with the individual diaper cost being around 12 cents.  Which is great.  But those 12 cent diapers still get thrown away while mine go in the wash for another year of use.

The way I look at it, I’m already doing laundry, what’s 2 more loads a week?  To tell you the absolute truth, our water bill hasn’t changed at all except during the summer months when I’m watering the garden and keeping the kiddie pool full.  And really, a diaper is a diaper: they stink no matter what brand you use and how you choose to handle them.  I’d rather wash away the stink and use them again and again for the next years to come than keep buying more.  I love to hang them on the line in the Spring, Summer and early Fall and see the rainbow they create against the sky.  I love that because of the colors, I get to have one more method of teaching for my son.

Cloth diapers work for us.  The work for our routine, for our children, and for our wallet.  They are easy to use, I don’t have any chemicals on my sweet babies’ bottoms and they keep what needs to stay in, in.  Even when we have a babysitter, they are still simple enough that there’s never been a complaint.  I love our diapering choices and yes, there’s a great deal of fuss about the fluff in this house, but I think it’s worth it!

Speaking of the North Pole…

Which I wasn’t, but these cookies make me think of Elf, The Santa Claus, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer… all those fun Christmas movies that are playing every 3 hours on tv these days. We got rid of our cable so I bought Elf because I found that I missed seeing it all the time.  There’s just something about a fun Christmas movie while it snows!  (Of course, we only had snow for a few hours yesterday, but I was hopeful while it lasted.)  We only get a few channels over the airwaves and I found myself watching The Santa Claus 3 last night while I folded laundry.  Matt was drinking a homemade mocha so I tell you, I was feeling very Christmas-y.   This is the last of my Christmas cookie baking for the year.  I’ll be baking a maple cream tart for Christmas with my family and probably call the dessert making done for the year.

Chocolate Chunkers, Peppermint Mocha Swirl Cookies, & Choco-Mint Crunch Cookies

I finished up wrapping the gifts today and finally have room cleared on my craft table to work on the gifts for each of the kids.  Flannel sheets for Liam and shoes for Sylvia.  Thankfully, I have them already cut out and ready to be put together.  I hope to be done before Christmas Eve.  Otherwise, I might actually turn into my mother!  She made us flannel pjs every year for Christmas and there were many Christmas Eve days when she was finishing hems or sewing on buttons.  Next year, I’ll start my projects in September!

Choco-Mint Crunch Cookies

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. Andes Peppermint Baking chips
Cream together the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla.  Then, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together.  Gradually add them to the butter mixture.  When the dough is well incorporated, stir in the chocolate chips and the peppermint chips.  Drop Tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Makes 4 dozen.
The recipe is linked up with the Christmas Cookie Blog Hop at the Farmer’s Daughter!  Check it out for more great recipes!

Coffee Swirl

This year, I tried my hand at rolled icebox cookies.  It was not the success I had hoped for, but it wasn’t so awful that I won’t try again.  This recipe and the 1940s slice and bakes were the best experience with this type of a cookie.   I liked that this recipe yielded dough that was easy to work with and held up well in the fridge.  I made the dough one day, 2 days later sliced and baked half of it and still another 3 or so more days later finished the cookies.   The flavors are subtle and perfect to accompany a cup of coffee.

Peppermint Mocha Swirls, snuggled in my neighborhood cookie boxes.

Peppermint Mocha Swirl Cookies

  • 3 cups purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 oz. Dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy.   Add in the sugar, eggs and vanilla gradually.  Beat well so that all ingredients are well incorporated.  Finally, the mixer on low speed, gradually add in flour mixture until just combined.  Remove dough from mixer and divide into two EQUAL portions.   Then, return half of the dough to the mixer and add the instant coffee.  Mix until combined and dough is speckled with coffee granules. Remove coffee dough from mixer and set aside.  Return the other half of dough to the mixer and add the melted chocolate.  Mix until well combined.  Roll out each dough separately between two sheets of wax paper – approximately 1/4″ thick.  (*Note: don’t skip the wax paper step.  It is simply the only way I discovered that the dough wouldn’t stick to everything in sight while you are working with it.)  Each piece should be an approximate 9 x14″ rectangle. Chill in the refrigerator, for at least 1 hour.

When dough is thoroughly chilled, lay out the chocolate dough and top with the coffee dough.  Gently press together the two dough pieces using a rolling pin.  Let dough stand at room temperature until malleable.  Trim the edges if needed.  Roll dough tightly, jelly-roll style, using the wax paper to aid in manipulating the dough.  The chocolate dough tore a little when rolling into the spiral. If this happens, stop and pinch the dough back together before continuing.  Be slow and purposeful while you roll the dough together.  It’s not a race.

Wrap the dough roll in wax paper, and then in a length of plastic wrap if you plan to save slicing for later.  Chill thoroughly, at least 1 hour.  Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  When you are ready to bake the cookies, remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap and slice in half with a sharp knife.  Place half of dough back in the refrigerator to keep cold or freeze for later use.  Slice the dough into ¼ inch rounds.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.   Makes 3-4 dozen cookies depending on how tightly you rolled the dough.

The recipe is linked up with the Christmas Cookie Blog Hop at the Farmer’s Daughter!  Check it out for more great recipes!

Chunky

Chocolate Chunkers, Peppermint Mocha Swirl Cookies, & Choco-Mint Crunch Cookies

This year’s Christmas boxes for the neighbors are still not quite where I’d like to have them, but we’re getting closer.  I did 2 different kinds.  One with today’s recipe of Chocolate chunkers, Peppermint Mocha Swirl cookies and Choco-Mint Crunch Cookies.  The other had the Chocolate Chunkers and the Choco-Mint cookies and a bag of homemade marshmallows.  Liam went with me to deliver the boxes and we had fun stomping through the snowy grass.  I hope everyone enjoys their sweets… Liam and I had so much making them!

 

Chocolate chunkers

  • 1 c. softened butter
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. bakind soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 c. chocolate chips

Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs.  Add in the cocoa and salt.  Sift together the flour and baking powder and add gradually to the cookie batter.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Place the batter on a parchment lined baking sheet in Tablespoonfuls.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Makes 3 dozen.

The recipe is linked up with the Christmas Cookie Blog Hop at the Farmer’s Daughter!  Check it out for more great recipes!

For the hubs

He doesn’t ask much of me when I start baking in December.  Mainly for chocolate.  And lots of it.  But in the last few years, he’s taken to requesting Rum with that chocolate.  Once, when we were first married and I baked an easy 10 dozen cookies in a weekend, I made Rum Balls.  It was funny sounding and he loves the flavor of rum, so I tried it.  He loved it.  Now, I use it as leverage to get things accomplished.  Him designing the site and a new header and helping me set things up?  Oh yes, the cost was Rum Balls.  

They are not unlike a truffle, being that they are rich and chocolatey, but he claims they are manlier since they have rum and not champagne or wine.  Whatever makes him happy, right?  This is a simple recipe and makes 2 dozen large balls.  Be warned, however, that this not a recipe to make prior to a visit with a teetotaler.  Your hands and your house are going to smell like Jack Sparrow’s breath for a few hours.  

Rum Balls

  • 8 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Dark Rum
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat.  Cube the butter into small pieces and whisk them into the melted chocolate.  Pour in the vanilla and rum.  Then, in a clean bowl, mix the powdered sugar and warm chocolate mixture together.  Stir quickly to combine before the chocolate cools and it become lumpy in the sugar.  Keep mixing until all the powdered sugar is absorbed into the chocolate and it’s a thick, heavy… blob.  Then, split the chocolate into 24 pieces and roll to form into balls.  Roll in sprinkles, sanding sugar or cocoa powder to finish.  Keep refrigerated.
 The recipe is linked up with the Christmas Cookie Blog Hop at the Farmer’s Daughter!  Check it out for more great recipes!

Super hero Cape for a Super Little Boy

Superhero Cape
Superhero Cape

This was cross-posted over at the Mommy and Me Fitness Blog.  Head on over there to check out other DIY Christmas ideas!

Every Christmas growing up, my mom made us kids a gift.  I always treasured those gifts because I knew she made them with so much love.  This year, I decided to make gifts for my little ones, too.  Simple gifts, just something that we can look back on and cherish.This superhero cape is a quick and frugal project.  I used basic cotton fabric from JoAnn Fabrics and cotton twill tape for the ties.  1 yard, 1 40% off coupon and this project was less than 5 dollars.  It’s also a quick project in case you’re finding yourself scrambling the week before Christmas for a gift.

This took me about half an hour to make, including the time for my husband to draw me a lightening bolt. Since this cape is for my 2 year old, I only needed 1 total yard of fabric.  I cut a 20 inch square on the natural fold of the material from how it was stored on the bolt.  Fold the material in half with the fold at the top.  Then, mark the fabric at 4 inches and cut a diagonal line from the 4 inch mark down to the corner at the bottom of the cape.  The top of the cape will measure 8 inches and the bottom will measure 20 inches. Using scrap fabric in a contrasting color, cut out an emblem for the back of the cape.  I used fabric from another project, but you could also use felt.  Once you have the emblem you’d like to use, pin it to the back of the cape, on one side only.  Sew or glue the emblem to the back of the cape.  I used a zig-zag stitch to sew my lightening bolt on with black thread.Now, turn the cape so that the emblem is on the inside and you will be sewing the right sides of the fabric together.  Pin the three open sides together, leaving an inch and a half unsewn at the top on BOTH sides (this is where you will insert the neckties).  Sew  around the sides of the fabric, using a 5/8 inch seam allowance.  Once you’re done sewing, flip the cape right side out by pulling the material through one of the spaces you left.  Iron the cape so that the sides are smooth and the seams flat.  Cut 8 inch strips of the twill tape to use as the ties.  Slip the ties in the unsewn spaces and pin.  Adjust the fabric so that when sewn, it will be even with the rest of the seam.  Then, topstitch around the edge of the cape so that the ties are sewn into the cape and the fold at the top of the cape is finished like the rest of the cape.Now, all that’s left is to tie the cape around the neck of your little superhero!

Little Superhero
Saving George from the Evil Pink Dragon

Icebox

When I was newly married, I realized that I had a stash of old recipes from my great grandmother.  I sifted through the recipes and pulled the ones I thought had potential.  And I carefully, reverently even, placed her cookbooks on my shelf where they would be safe.  Every now and again, when I’m feeling nostalgic and very Mad Men-ish, I get out those recipes and look for something new.  I like to think about my Great Grandmother and wonder what her life was like and if she ever baked these cookies.  I’m not sure, but I hope she did, they’re amazing.
My Grandmother’s cookbook is copyrighted 1942, and from what I’ve read regarding the history of homemaking and the American cook, recipes from this time period were created so that they used the ingredients that weren’t rationed.  So this recipe, uses brown sugar.  Essentially, it’s a sugar cookie, rolled into a log and sliced.  But the subtle carmel flavors from the brown sugar make them so amazingly special, you’ll want to just keep them in your fridge for those spur-of-the-moment cravings.
1940 Slice and Bakes
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda.
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Cream together the butter, sugar and egg.  When they are fully incorporated, mix in the remaining ingredients.  Dump the dough out onto a piece of wax paper and form into a roll about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in the wax paper and chill in the fridge until firm.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the cookie log into 1/8-1/4th inch rounds.  Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (they don’t spread, so you can place them fairly close together) and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden.