Thursday, May 30, 2013

Green Your Summer Giveaway Hop! #GreenYourSummer

Welcome to the Green Your Summer Event! I am so excited to be participating in this great event!  The Blogging Mamas Network has come together with like-minded bloggers to make sure your grass isn't all that is green this Summer! Summer is a great time to try to do things a little greener and help out the environment in any way we can!

Each blogger in the Event is bringing readers a great green prize to win.  You have until June 13th to enter, so be sure to hop around to them all and find great eco-friendly products to help you go green! 

While you're hopping, be sure to enter the TWO Grand Prizes for to Green Your Summer for Mom and Baby!  You'll find prizes including a Lunette Menstrual Cup, Amber Necklace and Bracelet Set, a Merino Wool Sleepsack, re-usable Snack Pouches, and earth-friendly Vinyl Wall Decals from Walls Need Love! 

Here at The Not-So-Secret Confessions one lucky reader has the chance to win two awesome eco-friendly prizes; OraMD natural toothpaste and mouthwash and the Lunette Menstrual Cup!

Giveaway is open to US residents only. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. The winner will be chosen at random and emailed. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

That goes WHERE?! Lunette Menstrual Cup Review! #GreenYourSummer

The Green Your Summer Giveaway Hop starts this Thursday, May 30th and I have two awesome sponsors for this event!

I'm always looking for ways to cut back on waste and for ways to save money. I had no idea, until just recently, that I could even do that with my monthly menstrual cycle! There are a few ways to "green" your period. Some women use "Mama Cloth", which are reusable cloth pads that you wash and reuse. I've never ever liked using pads so I haven't brought myself to use Mama Cloth yet, but when I discovered the Lunette Menstrual Cup I knew I had to give it a try! 

A menstrual cup takes the place of pads and tampons. You insert it like a tampon and it collects instead of absorbs and you empty it, wash it, and reuse it instead of throwing it away and replacing it with another. Yes, sounds a little gross, but it's really not that bad! 

The Lunette Menstrual Cup is made of medical grade silicone in Finland. It is latex-free and safe to use. It is designed for women of all ages and sizes, including women who have not yet had sexual intercourse. It comes in two different sizes for you to choose from depending on your size, amount of flow, age, and other things such as if you've had a baby or not. It's easy to clean, by boiling water or rubbing alcohol, saves money, and is environmentally friendly. 

Now I'm sure you are wondering how this thing works. Before I used it I was worried about it being gross and messy, keeping it clean, and even if it got stuck up there! I've used the Lunette menstrual cup for two cycles now, and it has taken some getting used to, but I'm beginning to really like it! 

You insert the Lunette cup like you would a tampon by folding and inserting. Just like a tampon if you get it positioned correctly you won't even feel it. You can wear the Lunette cup for up to 12 hours if possible without leaks, but they suggest you do not wear it more than 12 hours before taking it out and properly cleaning it. I've only worn mine a few hours at a time. Removing it has proven to be a bit of a struggle for me. I think because I am so nervous about it getting stuck that I tense up. The key to removing it is to relax. It's really not all that messy to remove it either. Everything is all contained inside the cup! In all honestly I find a tampon more gross than my Lunette Menstrual Cup! 

I am really starting to like my Lunette cup! It has taken a little getting used to but once I got the hang of inserting it and removing it, there was nothing to it! It works great, it's safe, and I'm so glad I don't have to create a bunch of waste with tampons and pads! It's so nice not to have to worry about having enough tampons on hand when that time of the month rolls around or having to go pick some up at the store! I just wash my Lunette cup and I'm ready to go! I think I'm a Lunette Menstrual Cup convert and I don't think I'll ever use tampons again! 

Have you ever used a Menstrual Cup or Mama Cloth? If so, what do you love about it? If not, is it something you're interested in trying? You'll have the chance to win one in the Green Your Summer giveaway hop, starting this Thursday, May 30th!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Going Green In My Mouth! OraMD Natural Toothpaste and Mouthwash Review #GreenYourSummer

The Green Your Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network starts this Thursday, May 30th and I have two great sponsors to share with you! The first one is OraMD!

OraMD is a natural toothpaste and mouthwash all in one! It is made with three pure botanical oils, peppermint, almond, and spearmint to kill bacteria and prevent gum disease and tooth decay. All three of these oils fight bacteria and leave a minty fresh taste in your mouth. Because they are oils they don't rinse out of your mouth like regular toothpaste or mouthwash, but instead seep into your gums and attack bacteria even while you sleep! It fights off and heals a huge number of dental problems such as gingivitis, swollen or bleeding gums, dry mouth, and bad breath! 

All you have to do is brush twice a day with just 2-5 drops of OraMD. You don't have to use regular toothpaste or mouthwash! OraMD's website also suggests you use it as a mouthwash twice a day mixed with some water, and to put a drop or two on your tongue up to two times a day to fight bad breath and kill bacteria. 

I received a bottle of OraMD to try out for myself. It's been a bit of an adjustment for me to use this instead of regular toothpaste. I've been using regular toothpaste my entire life so this has been a change for me. The three oils in OraMD taste REALLY strong. I was blown away the first time I used it by how strong the taste was. I'm still getting used to the strength of the taste, but my teeth do feel really clean after brushing with OraMD.  You wouldn't think just a few drops of liquid could clean your teeth, fight bacteria, and give you fresh breath but it really does! I love that it's made from natural oils, which makes it "green" and also saves money! This little bottle can last four weeks or so because you only need a few tiny drops each time you use it! I'm happy I've found something that can keep my mouth clean and I can avoid the harsh chemicals that are sometimes found in typical toothpaste and mouthwash! I'm excited to continue using it to see how much it improves the condition of my mouth and teeth! 

You can win your own bottle of OraMD in the Green Your Summer Giveaway Hop, starting this Thursday, May 30th! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Earth's Best Organic Diapers and Wipes Review!

Disclosure: I was sent these products free of charge. I was not compensated in any other way. The opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own. 
If you read my blog, you know that we are a cloth diapering family and have been for a while. But I'll admit, I do like to keep disposables on hand for certain situations. I put Isaac in disposables for church nursery, or if he gets a really bad rash and needs some rash cream that isn't safe for cloth diapers, I like to have them. When I do put a disposable diaper on Isaac I want to make sure I'm putting on one that is as safe as possible for him, which is why I love using Earth's Best Organic Disposable Diapers and Wipes!

Both the Earth's Best Diapers and the Earth's Best Wipes are chlorine free. The diapers are latex-free, dye-free, and perfume free also. The diapers are made with fewer petro-chemicals and instead made with more naturally absorbent materials. The wipes are unscented, hypoallergenic, and alcohol-free. They are gentle enough to use on baby's bum and their face and hands! 

I was sent both Earth's Best diapers and wipes to review. I received the diapers in a size 4, which is the size Isaac is in. They fit him really well and are very absorbent! A few weeks ago he had a little bit of a rash so I put him in an Earth's Best diaper overnight with some diaper cream and the diaper held up all night without any leaks! I really like that when I do have to put a disposable diaper on him I can put one that is not full of tons of chemicals and is made as naturally as possible! The baby wipes are really thick and cloth-like. They are a bit more soapy feeling than I like so I usually use them to wipe messy hands and faces! They are really gentle on Isaac's sensitive skin, which is great!

I don't always use disposable diapers but when I do I love that I can use a disposable that is made to be as safe as possible for my baby. I love that they are free of chemicals such as chlorine, dyes, and perfumes! Earth's Best is the disposable diaper I will continue to use when I need to use a disposable diaper on my baby! 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

#FlatsChallenge-My Final Thoughts On Flats and Handwashing!

I just put Isaac to bed in a pocket stuffed with two flats to end off the Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry! I've learned so much from doing this challenge and I'm so glad I did it! 

First, I plan on continuing to use my flats. I'm not sure about just flats and covers all the time, but I do want to replace my microfiber inserts for my pockets with flats. I really like the flats stuffed inside a pocket. They don't stink like microfiber does and they are super absorbent! 

Taking this challenge has made me want to become even more of an advocate for cloth diapers! I loved them before and loved to convert a friend when they asked me about them, but now I want to spread even more awareness, even to strangers! Cloth diapering is possible for anyone that is willing to give it a go! Even those in the most dire of financial situations can do it! Flats and covers and handwashing are 100 times better than leaving a baby in a disposable diaper for much longer than they should be or reusing a disposable diaper!

I am so glad I made the decision to take this challenge! I learned new things, and deepened my love for cloth diapers and all the great benefits they have to offer! 

If you are a mom or mom to be and you are considering cloth diapers or are just interested in them please feel free to contact me! I would love to answer any questions you have and help you in any way I can!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

#FlatsChallenge Day 6- My Favorite Fold and Some Things I've Learned About Flats!

It's Day 6 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry! Today  is an open topic day so I thought I'd share with you my favorite fold for flats (say that 3x fast!) and also share some things I have learned about flats!

The Origami Fold is my favorite fold for flats! Mostly because it's the only one I'm really good at other than just tri-folding them, which doesn't really count I don't think. It's easy and covers baby's bum very well! It does take a little bit of folding but it's not hard at all once you get it down once! 

1.  Lay your flat out flat
2. Fold flat upward in half
3. Fold flat across in half again. 
4. Grab the first layer at the top corner and pull across making a triangle. (Just the first layer!!)
5. Turn the whole thing over. 
6. Grab the part that is still a rectangular shape and tri-fold it. 
7. Put your baby on the diaper and put the tri-folded part over baby and wrap the triangular part (the wings) around your baby and secure with a snappi or pins! 

See simple! I learned it by watching videos on you tube so you might want to check that out too! I love this fold and use it a lot throughout the day!

What I've Learned About Flats

Before this challenge I had never used flats. I have been cloth diapering for nearly four years and had never used flats. So this has been a complete learning experience for me. Here are some thing I've learned about using flats!

1. Flats are cheap! I sort of knew this already but I didn't know how cheap! My favorite flats so far are the flour sack towels I got from Walmart for $5! They are nice and big and work great! It would cost about $25 to get a little over 2 dozen flats if you just used those! That's really cheap and really awesome! 
2. They aren't as easy as a pocket or AIOs, but they are still pretty easy! Even if you didn't learn any of the different folds except for how to tri-fold it into a cover you'd be completely fine using just flats. A lot of the time that's all I do because it's so quick and simple! 
3. They can be messy. Since I'm not used to just a flat piece of fabric as my diaper I sometimes forget how easily they can unfold and that can make a big mess with a poopy diaper! Not my favorite part, but isn't being a parent of little ones messy in general? It's not the worst I've dealt with for sure. 
4. They can work at night!! I was worried about using flats at night, and granted I still cheat a little and stuff them inside a pocket, we haven't had one leak all week long! They are pretty dang absorbent! 
5. I like them a lot more than I thought I would! I'll admit, when I decided to sign up for the flats challenge I thought I would give it a go but would probably end up reselling my flats and going back to my pockets and AIOs. Now that we are approaching the end of the week I am seriously considering switching to flats full time! They are just so easy! Easy to use, easy to wash, super quick to dry, and so cheap! I really like them! Now hand washing is something I am NOT considering doing full time! I miss my washing machine! 

If you are doing the flats challenge or use flats, what's your favorite fold? What are some things you've learned since using flats?

Friday, May 24, 2013

#FlatsChallenge Day 5- What Works and What Doesn't!

I can't believe it's already day 5 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry! This week has flown by! It's been a fun challenge and I've learned a lot! 

Today we are prompted to talk about what is working for us and what isn't! Thankfully, it hasn't been a very difficult challenge and not a lot hasn't worked for us. I've had to tweak my way of doing things a bit but it's going really well!

What Works

  • Staying on top of the laundry! Since it's a bit of a process I have to stay on top of it or else I end up with a bunch of wet diapers and no clean ones to put on him! 
  • Origami fold! Love this fold! It's about the only fold I can do other than the pad fold that just lays in the cover! But it's a great fold and fits around him just like any other diaper would!
  • Lots of distractions! With a wiggly 18 month old that wants to GO GO GO it can be really hard to get a flat diaper on! So I have to have lots of little toys or something to distract him while I'm changing him. 
What Doesn't Work

  • Poop? Does that count? I can't really avoid it but man I do not like it in a flat! Just yucky! 
  • Waiting until you only have 2-3 flats left before washing DOES NOT WORK! You have to stay on top of the laundry when hand washing because you  have to take into consideration the time it takes to hand wash the diapers and line dry them!
  • Things don't go to well with only 2 covers! That's all I've got and it has been a challenge. I suggest at least 4 covers if not more! 
Like I said, things are going pretty well! There's been a few challenges but I really like how simple flats are! I can just lay them in a cover or inside a pocket diaper and I'm done! Super easy! It's definitely been a great learning experience so far!

And just because he's so cute, here's a picture of my little guy making silly faces in his flat this morning! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

#FlatsChallenge Day 3- But What about the POOP?!

It's Day 3 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry! Things are going well so far! I'm really liking flats! I told my husband I might just switch to flats full time! They are so easy! 

Today is open topic day and we can blog about anything we want related to the challenge. So of course, I decide to talk about the poop! Poop is what people ask me about all the time when they find out I use cloth diapers.  Everyone wants to know what you do with it and how you get poopy diapers to come clean! With flats, I was worried it would be even more of a challenge since they are so, well flat. With my pockets I can usually just dump the poop in the toilet without a big mess but would flats do the same thing? 

So far I'm not having a terrible time with the poop. It's not pleasant, that's for sure, but it's not the worst thing I've ever dealt with either. The flats do like to fall apart right as I'm dumping, but I've found that if I leave the diaper in the cover and then dump it doesn't make near as much of a mess. I don't have a diaper sprayer so it does take some swishing sometimes but, like I said, it's not the worst thing I've ever dealt with. 

To get the poopy diapers really clean while hand washing it takes a little extra work, but doesn't hand washing in general? I make sure to use the hottest water I can get. Our water gets pretty hot so I'm thankful for that. First I fill the pail of dirty diapers with hot water and let them soak for 20-30 minutes. 

After the first soak I agitate the diapers with my plunger. This is like the rinse cycle of my washing machine. This gets anything I might have missed off the diapers and just rinses them out. I then dump that water and add about a tablespoon of detergent to the diapers and then fill it back up with hot water. I agitate again with the plunger for about 10-15 minutes. This is my "wash cycle". It's a good workout! My four year old likes to help with this part too! 

After I agitate them I let them soak for a few more minutes. Then I come back, dump that water, and fill it back up with hot water. I let it soak for about 10-15 more minutes and then dump the water. Then I hand rinse each diaper individually with cold water. The diapers are clean! Then they hang to dry and we are good to go for the next day! 

I really have found that it is not as difficult as I expected. I thought it would be really tough to get the diapers clean by hand washing them, and I'd constantly be worried that they weren't clean. But I kinda feel like they may be just as clean, if not cleaner, than when they are washed in the machine. Mostly because I can determine how much hot water I need, how long they need to soak, and how much agitation they need. It's actually pretty cool!

If you are doing the Flats Challenge how is your wash routine going? What do you do to ensure your diapers are coming out clean? If you have any questions for me that you'd like for me to address in a blog post let me know in the comments!  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#FlatsChallenge Day 2! - What Did I Do To Prepare for the Challenge?

We are on day 2 of the flats challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry and things are going pretty good! I hand washed my diapers for the first time ever last night and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It took about an hour and a half total but there's a lot of soaking in that so I was able to get other things done while the diapers were soaking. So it wasn't all that time consuming after all. I hung my diapers on my drying rack outside on our back porch thinking after hanging all night they'd be dry, but they aren't yet and it's 8am! So I may have to come up with a better drying strategy! But other than that it is going great!

Today we are prompted to talk about what we did to prepare for the challenge! I only had about two weeks to prepare but luckily, it didn't take all that much to prepare. Since I had never used flats before I decided to purchase a dozen Osocozy Birdseye Flats from Abby's Lane. They were $21.99 for the dozen and I also bought a snappi which was about $3 I think.  I also bought a pack of flour sack towels from Walmart to use as flats.  They come in a pack of 5 for $4.98 and work great as flats!I already had cloth wipes, which are mostly baby washclothes that cost about $2 for a pack of 5 at Walmart or Target. I already had two waterproof covers that I'm using and I crocheted a wool soaker to use for night! I haven't tried it yet since I just lanolized it yesterday, but hopefully it'll be dry and ready to go by tonight! 

For washing I bought a single layer plunger for less than $2 at Walmart and a plastic storage bin to wash in, which was about $5. I ended up not using the storage bin and using my diaper pail instead, but I can find plenty of good use for that storage bin, so it wasn't a total waste of money. I already had a drying rack and detergent. 

That's pretty much all you need when using flats and hand washing! If you had to purchase everything it would still come up to less than $100! It's a very affordable way to use cloth diapers and doesn't take much preparation at all! 

Tomorrow we can blog about anything we choose that has to do with the flats challenge! What would you like to see me discuss? The poop? Night time diapering? My hand washing routine? Let me know and I'll discuss it tomorrow! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

#FlatsChallenge Day 1- Why I'm taking the Flats and Handwashing Challenge!

Here we are at day one of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge sponsored by Dirty Diaper Laundry already! For seven whole days I am going to be using flats cloth diapers with covers, and hand washing all of them!  I decided to sign up for the challenge about two and a half weeks ago. I put some real thought into it because I had never used flats before and I have never ever hand washed my diapers before! So I knew this would be exactly what it was called, a CHALLENGE!

When I read Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry's blog post about the Flats Challenge I was shocked and concerned that there were so many families who struggled to put diapers on their babies. Some families go without other necessities, such as food, to be able to put diapers on their babies. And if you are struggling to buy diapers, you want them to last you as long as you can right? Well leaving a wet or dirty diaper on a baby for too long can lead to some pretty serious diaper rash. The thought of families in that situation just broke my heart. I myself, as well as a lot of friends of mine, started using cloth diapers to save money. Fortunately we have a washing machine and dryer to use and were able to afford the basic start up costs of using the more high end cloth diapers. But not everyone has the luxury of their own washing machine or can afford pocket cloth diapers that cost $15-$20 each. I want to do my part in raising awareness that anyone can cloth diaper and for a very little amount of money!

I also wanted to take the challenge to learn something new! I've been cloth diapering for over three years between two babies and I've never used flats or had to handwash! So I knew this would be a new learning experience for me and could very well come in handy for me someday if we ever were without power for a period of time or faced financial issues.

I'm very excited (and nervous) to start this challenge! I hope it helps to raise cloth diaper awareness and maybe helps inspire someone out there to give cloth diapers a try! I hope you'll follow me through this week as I blog about my experience using flats and handwashing!

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm Ready for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge! #FlatsChallenge

The Flats and Handwashing Challenge starts Monday and I think I'm ready to begin! I need to work on folding the diapers because I'm really bad at it, but as far as supplies go I think I have everything I need!

My Supplies

  • One large container for handwashing
  • One plunger
  • Roughly 14 flats (will probably make a few more from t-shirts)
  • Two PUL covers
  • Roughly 24 cloth wipes
  • 2 Fleece Liners
  • 2 Snappis

Not Pictured- Detergent and one handmade wool cover. I will be using Eco Sprout detergent and the wool cover still needs lanolin. Also, I have a drying rack that I will use to dry the flats.

I'm pretty nervous about the challenge! Especially the handwashing part! I need to practice different folds too because I can't seem to get the ones I know right! For practice I've just been laying them into the cover and wrapping the cover around Isaac but I'd like to get the different kinds of folds down too. I will probably make a few more flats from t-shirts or either pick up some flour sacks towels at Walmart. I just don't want to run out of diapers in the middle of the day before I wash them! Hopefully I'll have enough! 

 Do you have any questions you'd like for me to address during this challenge? Or subjects you'd like for me to cover over the course of the week? I'll be blogging about the challenge every day so let me know what you'd like to know! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Looking and Feeling Great While Getting in Shape- Ellie Fitness Apparel Review!

In March I started running. After seeing some of my friends take up running and love it I wanted to give it a try. It's become part of my daily routine now and I love it! When I run I like to look and feel confident. It just helps me to be motivated and feel good while I'm running! With Ellie I can look great and feel great in their super cute fitness apparel! 

You may be wondering what exactly Ellie is and how they work. Ellie is basically where fitness meets fashion. They offer styish, yet functional workout apparel for all body types. All of their apparel is designed by women so they know what works and what doesn't. The clothing is cute but still functions great during your daily workout! 

When you visit Ellie you can take a short quiz to let them know your style preferences and size. Then they will show you a huge variety of tops and bottoms that they think you will love! If you are not a member of the Fit Fashionista Club you can purchase any items at a great price. If you become a member of the Fit Fashionista Club you get two clothing items per month for the great price of $49.95 with FREE shipping! Every month they come out with a new line so you will always have something new and fresh to choose from! Plus if you are a member of the Fit Fashionista Club you get priority choice before non-members. You'll also get in on great flash sales, discounts, and other events as a member!

I chose the Back in Black Tank and the Little Black Leggings to review.  I am really loving both the top and the bottom for when I run! The Little Black Leggings are so great for running because they don't ride up at all while I am running! Every other pair of leggings I have rides up and is so uncomfortable, not to mention embarrassing! These fit perfectly and stay exactly where they need to the whole time I am running! The Back in Black Tank is super cute and I love wearing it when I'm running! It's a razorback tank with a built in bra! I love the open sides because when I'm running I get a nice breeze through there and I don't get as hot! Plus I feel super cute when I'm wearing it!

I've had this outfit for about a month now and I've worn it a lot! They've been washed quite a few times and aren't showing any signs of wear at all! Ellie clothing is great quality! I feel sure this outfit will last me through many runs! 

Overall I am loving my outfit from Ellie! It is super cute, super functional for running and other forms of exercise, and super great quality! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Crafting with the Kids- DIY Picture Frame Gifts!

Yesterday was Mother's Day and before the big day I was trying to figure out what to get for my mother and mother-in-law. They are very special mother's in my own life as well as my son's life. They always love great handmade gifts from the boys so I decided we'd make them something. 

So while browsing the new Micheal's in town I came across some adorable wooden picture frames for only one dollar each! I decided that would be the gift! So I picked up the wooden frames, some acrylic paint, and a container of cool foam letter stickers. For three frames, the paint, paint brushes, and the stickers, it only cost me about $10. 
All I did was laid out some newspaper on the table, squeezed out some paint, and let Noah go to town! He loved painting the frames. He was very careful about getting it just right and making it look very pretty!

After we let the paint dry overnight we picked out the stickers we wanted and just pressed them firmly onto the frame! We decided to say "We Love Mimi". It was a cool way to work on letter recognition too! I dumped a bunch of the stickers out on the counter and had Noah pick out the letter I said I needed. It was a lot of fun! I then put one of their newest photos in the frame and it was finished! 

The frame looked so great, and Mimi was very pleased with it! My sister saw it and said she wanted us to make her one! It's such an easy project but makes such a great, thoughtful gift!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Something Special For Mom Giveaway Hop! #specialmom

The month of May is a special time to celebrate Mothers.  Being a mom is the best job in the world and also one of the hardest jobs! Every mom deserves something special every now and then!Whether you are a mom yourself or you're doing something special for your own mom, the Something Special for Mom Giveaway Event is for YOU! A great group of bloggers have come together to show you special items you might like to receive or give as gifts this month. You'll be able to enter to win these great products from May 10th-26th thanks to the Blogging Mamas Network!

Be sure to hop around to all of the participating bloggers, in the linky below this giveaway, as they have some great prizes to share with you! Make sure you also enter the Grand Prize - a $250 Gift Card to Mía Mariú! One lucky Mama is going to look so pretty with all that eco-friendly makeup! Mia Mariu Giveaway

Here at The Not-So-Secret Confessions of a Second Time Mom, I am self sponsoring a $25 gift certificate to my etsy shop Two Brothers Blankets

At Two Brothers Blankets I specialize in custom crochet creations for every member of the family, including mom! I make hats, blankets, scarves, and much more! Whether you win this for yourself, your mother, or a new mom to be, I can create something she will love and treasure! 

Giveaway is open to US residents only. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Only one entrant per household allowed. The winner will be chosen at random and emailed. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Five Things to Look for When Purchasing a New Car Seat

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for writing this blog post, however the opinions expressed below are 100% my own.

Purchasing a new car seat for your baby or child is a big deal. You want something that will keep your most precious cargo safe, most importantly, but you also want them to be comfortable and the seat to be practical for your vehicle. So what features do you need to look for when purchasing a car seat? What's a must, and what's not so important when it comes to safety, as well as comfort features? Below is a  list I've compiled for exactly what you want to look for and check when you are purchasing a new car seat. 

Height/Weight Limits -  I think this is one of the most important things to look for when purchasing a car seat. As a big advocate for extended rear facing I feel it is very important to get a seat that will make it possible to rear face your child comfortably for as long as possible. If you are looking for an infant seat, you'll see that some have a weight limit of only 22 pounds while others have a limit of up to 35 pounds, like The First Years Via 35 Infant Seat. Depending on whether or not you want to move your child up to a convertible car seat sooner rather than later will depend on if you want to look in to an infant seat with a larger weight limit. 

For a convertible carseat the weight and height limits are very important because you can rear face and forward face with these seats. So if you are looking for a good carseat to practice extended rear facing you want something with a larger rear facing limit. The Diono Radian R120 rear faces all the way to 45 pounds! It forward faces in a five point harness from 20-80 pounds and up to 57 inches. Considering my four year old isn't even 45 pounds yet and could still be rear-facing in this carseat, I'd say this is a great carseat to practice extended rear facing in! 

Versatility- I think this is another very important thing to look at when purchasing a carseat. If the carseat you purchase isn't versatile to fit your needs it's not going to be a good fit for your family. First, you definitely want a carseat that fits well in your car. If you have a small car you aren't going to want to purchase a huge car seat that won't fit in the car. Or if you have more than one child in carseats you want to make sure they will both safely fit in the back seat of your car. 

You will also want to see how easy it is to install and uninstall. I didn't think we'd be switching my son's carseats between my car and my husbands car as much as we do, but we do it pretty often. The fact that they are so easy to install and uninstall is a big perk. 

You'll also want to check into things like what materials the carseat is made of. Will the seat be easy to clean? Will the cover come off easily to clean it? How do you clean it? The Britax Marathon 70 G3 Convertible Carseat has a cover that is easy enough to remove for washing without having to uninstall the carseat. 

Safety Ratings- Of course, you want your child to be safe in the car seat you choose for them. So it's important to be sure that it truly is safe. Do some research online and find out how the car seat you are interested in measures up to other carseats as far as safety goes. Check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for ratings, recommendations, and recalls of carseats. Make sure you are putting your child in a safe seat, because unfortunately you never know what could happen once you get out on the road. 

Safety Features- As well as safety ratings, safety features are also nice to check out too. Features such as side impact protection are good to look at. The Maxi Cosi Pria 70 Convertible carseat has side impact protection and the FlexTech system to provide multi-directional crash energy management. 

Extra Features- Even though things like cup holders or head rests may not seem important, they are a good thing to consider. My oldest son's car seat has a cup holder, but my youngest son's does not. I really wish my youngest had a cup holder for his because that is so much easier to deal with on car rides. While they may not be as important and weight limits or safety features, the extra features of a seat are definitely something to be checked out. 

At Pish Posh Baby you can choose from a huge variety of infant, convertible, and booster carseats! They carry all of the carseats I mentioned above and many more! Pish Posh baby gives you the answer to all of the questions you have when looking for all the things above and you can even talk to someone via email or phone to answer any other questions you have. Finding the right carseat for your baby is so important and Pish Posh Baby wants to help you find the perfect one for you and your baby!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Just Signed Up for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge!

In the 3+ years that I have been cloth diapering I have never used flats! I bought some teeny tiny newborn prefolds to try when I was pregnant with Isaac but had pockets and aios to use so I never gave them a shot. I've just always been very comfortable with my stash of mostly pocket diapers and haven't had any real interest in trying flats.  Until I heard about the Flats and Handwashing Challenge! 

The Flats and Handwashing Challenge was started by Kim over at Dirty Diaper Laundry. This is the third year of this challenge but I only just heard about it last year. I found it very interesting. You can only use flats for diapers and you have to hand wash all the diapers! The point of the challenge is to raise awareness of the many families around the world who struggle to provide diapers for their babies. But this challenge shows that it is very possible to use just a few flats and a simple bucket to cloth diaper your baby. 

The challenge starts May 20 and lasts through the 26! Seven whole days of hand washing diapers! It's going to be tough! But I am excited to do it. I think it will be a great learning experience! I'll be blogging about it all the way through! I am purchasing some flats today and I also plan to make some flats out of t-shirts like Kim shows in this tutorial. My husband is going to make me a camp style washing machine with a big 5 gallon paint bucket and I'm going to give it a go! 

I'm very excited to do this challenge! I hope it raises great awareness, even within myself, about the struggles people face every day just to diaper their kids. I hope it shows people who are skeptical about cloth that it is very possible even on the smallest of budgets! If you are interested in taking the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, visit Dirty Diaper Laundry for all the details!

Do you or have you used flats before? Have you ever hand washed your diapers? I'd love to hear your stories or any tips you might have! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Easy and Delicious Baked Apple Glazed Pork Chops!

I made these delicious pork chops last night and thought I would share my recipe! There are a lot of similar recipes out there but most of them you have to cook the pork chops on the stove top. With two little ones running around getting in to everything, I don't always have the time to keep them out of trouble and keep the pork chops from burning! So I tweaked some of the recipes I've used and made them so I can just throw the chops in the oven! 

What You'll Need

  • 4 pork chops (about 3/4" thick)
  • vegetable oil
  • 2-3 apples of your choice
  • 2 Tblsp Brown Sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
What to Do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a skillet and sear both sides of each pork chop, place in a baking pan, and set aside. Peel and core your apples and chop them into small cubes. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, salt and pepper, and cinnamon. Add apples and spice mixture to heated pan along with the butter. Heat and stir until apples are just tender. Pour over pork chops. At this point, I made another batch of spices and heated them with some more butter to make a little bit more sauce, and poured it over the chops. Place in oven uncovered for about 30 minutes or until pork chops are cooked through. 

The smell is fantastic while these are cooking and I always think to myself I need to make more pork chops next time because my family always wants seconds! I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five Fun Date Night Ideas When You're On A Tight Budget!

After having kids, sometimes it's not as easy to keep the spark as strong in your relationship with your significant other. It's important to take time to spend with your partner when you get the chance. My husband and I try to have a date night at least once a month. But it's not always easy when we don't have the extra money in our budget to pay for a sitter or to go out and spend a lot on dinner and a movie. It seems like everything is so expensive these days that it's hard to find things that are cheap, or better yet, FREE, to do with your special someone! 

Here's a few ideas for fun, but cheap or free date nights! 

1. Have a "Day Date"! Take a stroll in the park! If you're close enough, drive down to the beach together! Make a picnic lunch and have a picnic in the grass! Just enjoy the day together!

2. Date Night In! After you put the kids to bed for the night cook your own dinner together, pour a glass of wine, put in a good movie, and snuggle on the couch together! You don't have to even leave the house to have a great date night! 

3. Game Night! Call up some other couples and have a game night one evening! It's great to have adult interaction with other friends and catch up! 

4. Make Something Together! It doesn't matter if you are baking together or working on one of your "honey do" projects together for the house! Spending time together accomplishing something is great! I love to do little house projects with my hubby! It gets us talking and we get silly and then when we are finished it feels great to have accomplished something together! 

5. Check Daily Deal Websites! Websites such as Groupon have all kinds of deals for all kinds of different things to do! From food, to activities, to massages, to getaways you can usually find something fun to do at a really great discounted price! 

So there you have it! A few fun ideas for your next date night! Spending time with your significant other is so important! Life gets busy and sometimes we tend to put that relationship on the back burner. Try to make your relationship a priority and get out there and have some fun with that special someone! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cloth For A Cause Grow Your Stash Giveaway and Fundraiser! {US and Canada}

I absolutely love helping out a great cause! I also have a great passion for cloth diapers! So I was super excited to team up with a group of other like-minded bloggers to bring you this great giveaway and fundraiser! 

Parents decide to use cloth diapers for a multitude of reasons. Some choose cloth diapers because it is kinder to the environment. Others choose cloth diapers because of the long term cost savings. Some families, though, are truly struggling: they are part of the one in three families in the United States and Canada who have to choose between buying disposable diapers and buying food or paying rent. Regardless of why these families choose cloth, the start up costs can often be intimidating. For that 33%, the start up costs can be crippling and seemingly insurmountable. That's where Cloth for a Cause, Cloth Diaper Addicts, Viva Veltoro, and Leettle Baby... and the Build Your Stash Bash comes into play.

Cloth for a Cause is a brand new Canadian charity. We've been operating since 2011 with a simple mission: to help those 33% get their babies in diapers. In the year and a half that we've been open, Cloth for a Cause has expanded from one little chapter here in Prince George to fourteen stretching across Canada. We've helped nearly 150 families get their babies in cloth. Last month, Cloth for a Cause became a legal charity. Not only does that mean that our ability to help struggling families has grown, it also means that our need for assistance has grown! You can help by donating to Cloth for a Cause through our PayPal account or by sending a cloth diaper donation to one of our chapters. (If you live in Canada and are making a donation of $20 or greater, we can issue a tax receipt!) If you're near one of our local chapters, you can donate material goods and cash directly to the chapter. If you're not and you'd like to donate some diapers, our Nova Scotia chapter has a large need for services!

Now for the Grow Your Stash part of the Grow Your Stash Bash!
Several wonderful companies have teamed up to put together to help us put together two awesome packages to Grow Your Stash!

Package #1 is open to Canada and the US: One Best Bottom Shell and two medium inserts from Nicki's Diapers
One Glow Bug Spectrum Package (six diapers, eight inserts, and a wetbag)
One newborn diaper by Diapers by Chris
One pocket diaper and insert from Hunny Bunny Baby Wear
One fabulous bag of Rockin Green detergent!
One AppleCheeks swim diaper!

Package #2 is open to Canada only:
A Thirsties Package (Thirstiest Prefold, a Thirsties Stay Dry insert, a Thirsties Duo Cover, and a Snappi pack) and a Rockin Green sample pack, all nicely bundled in a Cozy Bums shopping bag.
A fifty dollar gift certificate to Lagoon Baby
One Glow Bug Spectrum Package (six diapers, eight inserts, and a wetbag)
One pocket diaper and insert from Hunny Bunny Baby Wear
One fabulous bag of Rockin Green detergent!
One AppleCheeks swim diaper!
One diaper and wetbag from EcoWays!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: The Not-So-Secret Confessions is not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their giveaway.