Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reuse, Reduce and clean up -homemade wipes

I admit it. I like cleaning wipes. I like to take out the premoisened towels and wipe up whatever is yucky and then toss it in the trash without another thought of the mess I cleaned up. Unfortunately, those wipes hold little secrets. They're expensive. They're harsh on skin. There is never enough.

Logically, these wipes aren't even that great. They're not very absorbent because they're already pre-saturated. They're not very large meaning you'll have to use multiple wipes for each job. They're not safe for kids to use. But, we're subconciously aware of the lady (come on, it's almost always a lady) quickly pulling out a wipe and swiping up that spill/dirt/germ with a smile on her face. Never looking back and never using any elbow-grease. Her kids are happy and healthy because she averted germs with her magic wipe. Then we get the coupon in the mail or paper with a whole .50 or even $1 off! Woo hoo today is the day I'm stocking up on wipes....but wait. The average size of these containers is about 40 wipes at a few dollars a container. On average I use 2-4 wipes to clean which means I have the ability to clean between 10-20 messes before popping out a new tub.

Well, people I'm not doing it anymore. I can't see myself sawing papertowel rolls in half (I have tried this before...) or replacing the premade wipes with disposable alternatives. I have a few of these tubs floating around my house and for the sake of not wasting what I already bought I'll use them up but here's what's going to replace them...

1. Get your empty tub and wash it out throughly. Preferably, with something not as harsh as what was in it. My choice was Dr. Bronners' Castille soap, this is also what I used to replace it.
2. Get some cheap wash cloths. I got mine at Ikea in the kids section. They're supposed to be baby washcloths but they work great as rags. I purchased 10 for $3.99 and got 3 packs giving me 30 wipes, plenty to make up a few tubs of reusable wipes. You could also raid your towels closet and cut up some stained towels.

3. Make a solution for your wipes. I used 1 cup of warm water to 1 cap full of Dr. B's Peppermint Castille Soap.

4. Wrap your towels/rags/cloths up individually. I was able to fit 6 washcloths in a medium size tub folded in half and rolled up. Stick these in the cleaned out wipes tub. Here are the wipes, laid out, rolled up and stuffed in the tub.

5. Pour the solution over the top of the wipes and let it sit to they all get saturated.

6. Congratulate yourself on reusing the tub and reducing your waste both in the trash and out of pocket.

I labeled my wipes with the solution contents. I have a few more tubs out there that will get this makeover after they're empty so I'll have plenty of wipes on hand when needed.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Butternut Squash baby food at home

It's really a lot easier than it seems to make your own baby food at home. Here I've made some yummy butternut squash for little Max, who will be starting solids in a few weeks!

2 medium sized fresh butternut squash (I picked mine up at the local farmer's market, while not certified organic, this squash was grown locally without pesticides or herbicides and in organic soil)

I like to bake mine cut in half with the seeds scooped out (I also washed and dried the seeds to grow my own squash!) But you could also chop it up and steam it. It helps to cook it to soften it up for the blending process.

After the squash is lightly cooked and cooled scoop out the meat and discarded the skin. When baby is better able to chew you could opt to leave the skin on and not blend it as much. I add this to the food processor.

I use my Hamilton Beach food processor for this job. I picked it up on clearance at Target for about $20, originally I think it was $60 though). You could also use a high powered blender in small batches or a hand blender. Start to puree the squash and slowly add water in small batches to get the desired consistency.

There you go, you have baby Butternut Squash puree! To make small frozen portions I like to use a mini muffin pan and a cookie scoop. This gives me estimated single portions and is easy to freeze up to 24 pucks at a time. 2 medium squash yields approx 24 pucks.

If you end up with extra pucks save them for later! Add them to soups, stews, sauces, casseroles or other baby food combinations like turkey, chicken, potatoes or a vegetable medly.

Here are the pucks next to a bag of homemade chocolate chip waffles, recipe coming soon!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Getting Green

My middle child, Cordi, has terrible eczema issues. Lately, she's broken out all over and I have had to rethink my routine of washing everyone else with regular soaps and her with special ones. I tend to do well when she has a break out but after it gets better I get more lax regarding her and avoiding soaps. I have finally decided to just get rid of everything that is harmful to her (and probably to us too) and that way even if I do fall off the wagon it won't matter because there will be nothing in the house that will bother her.

So, based on this and my renewed interest in saving money and maintaining a more natural state for my wee ones to thrive in, I'll be blogging about our trip to getting ourselves green.

I have a whole bunch of posts lined up over the next few weeks focusing on recycling, natural cleaners, sustainability, organic gardening, making baby food and more. Lots of tutorials and reviews, so sit back and bookmark us 'cause I'll make it easy to be green. If you want to green along side us I'd love to hear any feedback or ideas you may have!

Green Green Beans

I picked up some locally grown green beans for .99 a lb. While these aren't certified organic they are grown without pesticides or herbicides and in Organic soils. It helps to get friendly with your neighborhood farmers market as these details sometimes aren't advertised. I ended up with about 4lbs of beans. I followed these directions for freezing green beans

I did about half the beans to start and froze them whole in 1qt freezer bags after snapping off the ends. This will be either additions to soups or sides for meals for all of us. The other half I blanched and pureed up for baby food for my munchkin. Even if I over do the quantity on these (I'm sure I'll end up with A LOT of puree!) I can add them to other pureed foods like chicken and potatoes or even pasta sauces and casseroles.

After blanching I added these to my food processor and pureed the heck out of them. Green Beans are stringier and coarser than the squash we blended up in the other post. I still added water in small increments to the beans as they pureed but blended them for about double the time. They are still more coarse but will be palatable for my wee one.

I used a mini muffin pan and a cookie scooper to dole out approximate portions. I stuck this in the freezer for about half an hour then added them to a plastic zippy freezer bag that I labeled with the contents and dated.

Here are the green bean pucks

It helps if you have small helpers snapping the ends off the beans. After they sifted through the discards for bean seeds which we'll try and sprout to grow our own.