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Simple Natural Living: Cloth Diapering {Basics, How To Start, Why, &Useful Tips}

ohdeardrea marlowe cloth diapering
From Emily:
Reduce and Reuse. I try to live by these words, especially when it comes to parenting. No one really prepares you for the insane amount of stuff that comes along with a new kid. The clothes, the gear, the toys, the baby care items, the diapers. And when you factor in the rate at which they go through these things, and then the number of children born per minute...well, let's just say it's enough to give any environmentally conscious person a panic attack. Aside from the littering-the-earth-with-junk thing, there's also the staggering cost of purchasing these items. I did and continue to do what I could to limit the impact on the planet and my wallet by buying secondhand, taking a minimalist approach to toys and gear, and by cloth diapering. 

Drea and I both cloth diapered our babes, and I don't know about her, but most people looked at me like a crazy person when I mentioned that I would be going that route. I went right ahead, because to me, it just made sense. It was less expensive, less taxing on our landfills and safer for my baby's butt (most disposable diapers contain bleached paper products and harsh fragrances.) I created a plan of attack, and somehow, managed to stick with it for almost the entirety of our diapering days. 

There are a ton of cloth diapering options out there, pre-folds, covers, all-in-ones, bamboo, cotton, microfiber, wool...the list goes on. Drea and I both went with BumGenius 4.0 (one size fits most covers that come with microfiber inserts.) They were easy, affordable and pretty cute. I started off with 16 diapers which turned out to be plenty for us, because my daughter had a fair amount of diaper-free time. I also purchased a reusable diaper pail liner, a zippered wet bag for outings and a large bucket for presoaking the particularly soiled diapers prior to washing. All in all, I spent around $350-$400 for everything. Which, in comparison to the $2000 that a typical family spends on disposable diapering, seemed like a win. 

How:
And the execution really wasn't that difficult. Dirty diapers went into the pail (after dumping any solids in the toilet) and got washed every two days on a gentle cycle with a detergent free of dyes and fragrances, then line-dried. Super simple. I know that some people shudder at the thought of washing and reusing something that has been pooped on, but the reality is that when you have a baby poop pretty much ends up on everything. So, unless you plan on tossing every article of clothing, sheet, blanket, burping cloth, etc after each poopy encounter, you'll be doing it anyway. The liner and the wet bag got washed as needed and afterwards I'd add a drop of lavender oil to mask any lingering smells (which weren't really an issue to begin with. I'm just a big fan of lavender oil.) 

ohdeardrea: cloth diapering

What you'll need to get started:
Now that my daughter only uses diapers for bedtime, and given the fact that I no longer have my own washing machine (if any of you fellow city dwellers cloth diaper, I'd love to hear how you do it!), we've moved on to using a chlorine-free fragrance-free disposable brand. But, I'm happy and dare I say a tiny bit proud that we were able to do cloth for as long as we did. 


ohdeardrea cloth diapering basics

From Drea:
Unlike Emily, I didn't start cloth diapering right away. (Look at this four month old diaper butt!) I wanted too, but only picked up two diapers and debated on it. Two cloth diapers isn't enough--- cloth diapering is mostly an all or nothing thing. You can do it part time, but to have it work smoothly it's best to do it completely so you can create a proper washing schedule. About two months in of the 'raising a baby' thing, I had had enough (with diapers, not the baby). I felt awful seeing our trash pile up from and with diapers. Diapers aren't the most bio-degradable thing, it's estimated they take about 500 years to decompose--- and with billions of diapers making they're way to the landfill each year, well, thats a lot of garbage. Anyway, this isn't an environmental lesson, the point is, I had never had more than a grocery bag or so of garbage every month (unless you count food trash) so I felt bad. The other big factor for me was money. I like to be smart about money (cough: frugal) and I just couldn't get comfortable spending so much money on diapers, when I was already struggling with money as is. So to literally spend money (to fill up with crap) and throw in garbage? No, I'll pass.  (Read more about my thoughts on that HERE). 
So I started cloth diapering--- and sure it takes a tiny bit more work than the disposable option, but it was one of the best decisions I made for our lives and my wallet. I should mention, I never even purchased a pail or liners for the pail. With it being only M and I in the house, I was able to just toss the (rinsed) used diapers into the washer--- I never had to worry about anyone else ever needing laundry done, and once I had about 4 left, I'd run the load. I had somewhere between 12 and 14 diapers total. 

Benefits:

-eco-friendly
-saves money
-diaper rash is less likely
-you never have to worry about late night diaper runs to the store, you always have them.
-they look adorable! seriously, who needs pants?

ohdeardrea cloth diapering its easy
Tips:

-look at your initial purchase as a smart investment. The number is much larger than just buying a bag of disposables, but if you do the math, you'll find yourself very, very pleased in the long run.
-decide to do it and commit. It takes a bit of adjusting if you've already started using disposables, but if you plan to do it, and buy all the things you need off the bat, you're set! 
-line drying your diapers outside will do wonders for stains and keeping your diapers bright! Emily is right, I did have diapers hanging in my kitchen---- basically 100% of the time during rainy season. But in winter I line dried them outside, insides up. The sun helps to bleach away stains.
-create a schedule. sure you can't really predict the number of soiled diapers you'll have in a day, but you can mostly guesstimate to create a weekly schedule between diapers and regular clothes.
-don't wash the diapers with your regular laundry. keep it separate. 
-speaking of which, follow wash directions carefully. If you want your cloth diapers to last up until potty training (or better yet, through to your next kid) then watching to take proper care of them is key. Over time the protective lining can wear, so properly washing will help them last longer and throughout the years! 
-avoid creams, unless it specifically says it's safe for cloth diapering. Creams can create a barrier between the absorbent layer and other problems. 
-between the snap variety and the velcro variety, i'd personally recommend the snaps. They can be a touch tricker to close, but the velcro can wear over time. 
-if you have your own blog, consider doing these posts when your child is still in cloth diapers, not two years later, it just makes more sense. 
-Emily's list of what you'll need is perfect. Sprayer is optional, but a lot of people recommend it. Other than that, it's not at all as hard or as messy as it seems, we promise! 

Happy cloth diapering! 



Authors: Drea & Emily 
Illustrations by Emily De Nicolais exclusively for ohdeardrea. To see more of Emily's work, click HERE

It's Been A While & A Long Time Coming

drea and marlowe I'm not sure what clicked tonight, but something inside said that I should just sit down and write. It's been a while, guys. I mean, I post everyday-- 5 to 6 times a week--- thats a lot of work and takes up a lot of time(!), but I still feel like I'm not sharing much of myself (my soft squishy insides) but it's not intentionally by any means. I think I've just let my work and fun side take over, without letting my emotional side out. I play play play and work work work (I think thats what they call "living") but there's not much to pour my inner guts out about. Which, let's be honest here, is a good thing. No, not a good thing, an amazing thing. I mean, the days (nights) I opened up the most in the past, were the days (and nights) I struggled the most. I was overworked, like now, but instead (of choosing to intentionally and happily over work myself like I do now), I was just emotionally over-worked. I am and have always been one of those people who want all or nothing-- that goes for emotions too. And when emotion finally comes in (or out), it really comes in--- the sad and luckily, the happy. I've always worked hard on myself (too hard) to find a balance on the outside in order to be happy (and less anxious) on the inside. But now, as I'm settling into my older self (that feels funny to say) and all the outside necessities seems to be set in place, I've also learned how to refine my inside. Well, still learning, because growing never stops, right? If you've stopped growing, you're doing it wrong. I mean, does that make any sense? Or does this all feel out of context? I've had a few very subtle and quiet reality checks this summer. The book was hard, but it made me appreciate this space even more. And this bit of traveling that we just finished doing? I don't know--- it was just so good. Okay, some personal external parts were hard, but overall, it gave me insight to what is good around me. 

I feel like a lot of us typically look at the good around us and it becomes this comparison of the greener, greener grass. Sometimes the good can make us itch with questions and sometimes doubts--- is what I have enough? Is it better there? Am I enough? This time away from home gave me the ability to look at the much greener (and temperately cooler) grass. And instead of leaving me with questions of "is my lawn green or flower covered enough?" (it's not, it's literally kind of brown and wild flowers aren't abundant in summer), it left me feeling grateful for my own (hypothetical) green grass. And what I feel is even more important than my gratitude, is that is left me not envious or questioning of myself and my space, but instead: inspired by all I saw. Travel is good for that. 

I'm seeing a lot of amazing people doing amazing things--- and the more I get out there and open up to it, the more I'm getting back. Yes, there are many others with a lot more than what I have or my family has, but you know what? I wouldn't change a thing of what we have or ask for to be given more. I love what we have. And the only thing I really want more of right now is time--- because I do more want more--- lots more--- but only in the sense that I want to be able to DO and accomplish more. But even without the possibility of endless time, I'm okay with it all. I'll never have all the time in the world, but I am excited to use the time I have (as much or as little as it may sometimes be) to keep enjoying this...... continuous refinement growing. Sure, I still have mild anxiety, a skin mustache that comes and goes (I mean, it's mostly gone, but give me a full day in the sun without sunscreen and forget it, we're back to square one. womp womp), and I feel like there may or may not be a possible rat living in the walls of my house (I could also be hearing things, because I have minor paranoia)--- but I'm happy here.

If I don't take a moment to sit and spit out my thoughts in this space, it's not because I don't want to, because, I really really do, it's just that, well, unless I'm in all the emotions, it's hard for me to dig deep and create stories within these happy times. I'm not the sappy kind, you guys who have been reading for a while know that--- so it's a bit of a stretch for me to create romantic stories about how the earth is blooming beneath us. (It is though, isn't it?). The sap and the sentimental bits, it's just not like me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I cry happy tears from time to time, and I often sit back and I'm like "whoa, the earth is good, how did I get so lucky?" but those moments--- they're the quieter inside moments. On the outside I'm a mix between deer caught in headlights, composed statue, and a black ball that spews out floral rainbows--- with a bag of sarcasm to sprinkle everywhere--- but on the inside, I joke that my heart is black, but I'm still soft, squishy, and full of love. (The coffee didn't work today, thats the best visual comparisons I could think of). So the earth is blooming (figuratively) and will be (literally) and I am grateful for it.

I'm still asked often how I made this space grow into a business, and to be honest, I'm not quite sure, but holy hell, I'd be lying if I said I'm not thankful it has. This space (more specifically: you guys) have been here with me in the hardest times and seeing me through the good times too. And I just can't explain enough gratefulness that I am able to just sit down and spit out (rainbow spew) my thoughts on a random tuesday evening in my life. I'm not an easily moldable person, I'm a bit too stubborn and a bit too off beat, but I do believe there is a space for everyone---and I know I've found mine here. 

So yeah, I'm not to sure what sparked this sit down session with my laptop tonight--- I'll be honest, I always second guess when I hit publish on these sorts of things--- but in the end---- to have this freedom to grow, change, live, and of course share--- as painful or embarrassing as it can be at times--- well, it has made my life better.

Thanks for inspiring me and helping me grow.

^ &a real life face halfie (taken at my moms last week) for your evening--- cause my friends joke (completely call me out) that it's all I ever do. It's true.

Happy Tuesday ;)

A Summer Party / Grilled Summer Fruit Recipe / We Love Olive Oil / A 300$ Giveaway To Oliviers & Co!


Oh summer parties, you are romantically wonderful. Am I right? I'm right. Outdoor summer entertaining does not exist in Florida. I mean, you can have a pool party, sort of--- but you're always more than likely to have rain. So for us, our sometimes summer visits to Massachusetts are always guaranteed to be filled with dining outside--- and it always leaves me lusting after Florida winter. For summer (and for life) enjoying meals together needs to be easy. There's no point in stressing out over meals and feeling too anxious to enjoy them-- trust me, I've done that too many times. Now we often stick to things like toast--- and things on toast. I mean, you guys know I'm in love with all things on toast, I always have been-- so for me (and for our friends and family) this always seems perfect. And best of all, it's easy, and pretty good looking too :) 

mixed olives quickly sautéed in olive & green lemon oil, lemon zest, grapefruit zest, and fresh rosemary.



When asked if we wanted to try out Oliviers &Co. I squealed with joy--- we LOVE (LOVE) oil and vinegar around here. I joke that Alex and I could single handily keep the olive oil and vinegar industry alive--- but you know, we almost probably could. Alex uses olive oil like it's his job, and I would drench anything and everything in vinegar. We aren't big splurgers around here, as you guys know--- we stick to our basics, but really good cooking staples? They are part of our basics. To make any meal delicious, all you really need is delicious quality products--- I swear on it. For us, finding O&Co (or them finding us) was like hitting the jackpot. (For you too, with a 300$ giveaway, haha!Can we say delicious party?)

Oliviers &Co works with  top artisanal producers to offer the worlds best olive oil. And they are involved in every step of the production process. From overseeing family farms throughout Europe, to the mills and bottling facilities, and ultimately to its boutiques – from grove to table, O&Co. is focused on maintaining the highest integrity in their products.

Oh, and I'm kind of obsessed with this 'how to taste' guide. It's so fun-- and would be blast to have a wine and olive oil night with friends to try to figure out smells and flavors. Right? I mean, we're food nerds, but that sounds ridiculously fun and delicious. 

Grilled Summer Fruit With Vegan Yogurt Dressing & Fig Balsamic Vinegar

you'll need:
4 peaches
6 apricots
6 large figs
handful blueberries
mint leaves
1 cup plain coconut yogurt
1 tbsp honey 
1 lemon zest and juice
oliviers &co organic persiani olive oil
oliviers &co fig balsamic vinegar

how to:
-coat peaches and apricots with olive oil
-sear on hot grill until fruit shows good marks and color
-remove and arrange on plate, tear figs open and lay on plate
-sprinkle with fresh blue berries and torn mint leaves
-in separate bowl, combine yogurt and lemon juice/zest
-drizzle over fruit
-finish with drizzle of fig balsamic vinegar and persiani olive oil
 

grilled fruit with fig balsamic vinegar
simple hummus, sprinkled with piment d' espelette
green pea and mint pesto with lemon oil
hand crushed tomatoes with reserve sherry vinegar
simple green salad with a wild poppy vinegarette 

wine, can't forget wine. 

All my travel posts are a bit out of order (I still have New Orleans photos to share), but regardless, this was such a nice easy day--- and the best way to spend our first day in Massachusetts: sharing delicious food with friends and family. I'm looking forward to winter here in Florida and our next year summer party in New England :) 

GIVEAWAY
Want your own amazing treats from Oliviers &Co? Well, O&Co is graciously offering one ohdeardrea reader the chance to win they're very own 300$ delicious shopping spree. 

TO ENTER: simply click HERE, enter your email address, pick out your favorite items and come back here telling us which items you would choose if you won! It's that easy :) 

Want a discount? Receive 10% off your first purchase at Oliviers &Co. when you enter the giveaway (with THIS link)! 

*please note: don't forget to leave your email address for us to contact you! &this giveaway is available for US readers only (sorry international friends!). This post was sponsored by Oliviers &Co. Thanks O &Co, you are delicious! 

Enjoying Summer: Fruity Party Straws!

fruit straws
It's so crazy-crazy that labor day is just around the corner. School is starting up again, long days are going to pick up for a lot of people, and for me, well, I'm mostly looking forward to the cooler weather and soaking in every minute of every day---- as much as possible. Since we have been traveling so much the past few weeks, we don't really have any labor day getaway plans but I'm absolutely already dreaming about parties and relaxing with friends. You guys know I'm all about parties, so it's been fun to team up with smirnoff once again to share some fun party ideas :) Halle and I have a few themes in mind for a near future party, but knowing us, no matter what theme we choose, it'll be colorful, delicious, and fun. For now, we've been celebrating our creative jobs by doing what we love best: unleashing colors (and scissors) to create fun (in party decoration form). 
color party supplies
glue place snip party straws
I'm not sure why I'm so obsessed with these little fruit cut outs we made, but I am. There's a world of possibilities for personal straw toppers, but how cute are these in these bottles or paired with another summer cocktail? And the supply list? So simple: straws, glue, card stock, scissors, and smirnoff ice (or the peach flavor, that one is better). We cut out a few basic shapes, glued them together, and created a wrap around straw holder. So simple, so fun. 
color party
halle summer
I'm funny, I know. Orange you glad I didn't say bananas? Cause I REALLY dislike bananas. 
smirnoff ice fruit straws
drea summer fruity color party smirnoff ice
Are you guys partying on labor day? Or just taking the day to relax? I'm hoping I can manage both :)  




Smirnoff ice celebrates the absurdly awesome. 

Simple Natural Living: The Best Organic Pest Control For Your Indoor Plants

ohdeardrea natural indoor pest control for indoor plants

Last week we shared a list of plants that are great for improving indoor air quality. Bringing nature indoors can sometimes come along with a few natural (but generally unwelcome) house guests. Most commonly, gnats. These pesky little guys love to make their home in the moist dark soil of overwatered house pants. You can usually get rid of them by cutting back on watering until they've moved on. But, if it seems like they are setting up a permanent residence in your beloved plants, there are a few natural pest control remedies for you to try. 


Garlic:
This is the easiest and more humane way to deal with pests. Simply peel a clove of garlic and push it into the soil of your potted plants. The strong smell acts as a repellant. If the clove starts to sprout, just trim it back. 


Honey Traps:
Find a piece of bright yellow construction paper and cut out some little 1/2 inch squares. Tape one on the end of a toothpick. Using a paintbrush or q-tip, coat each side of the square with a layer of honey. Now, just stick it into the soil of your plant and wait. Once it becomes covered with bugs, toss it out and replace it with a new one. 


Apple Cider Vinger Mixture:
Mix 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar with 3 1/2 cups water in a spray bottle. Give your plants a light misting. This should be used as a last resort because while the vinegar is highly effective at getting rid of pests, it can also kill your plant. I only use this method if the infestation is so bad that I'm worried about it spreading to my other plants. 


Have you tried any other natural pest control methods? We'd love to hear about them. Happy growing!

-Emily 

note from drea: we just left emily's house yesterday evening. we're all a bit sad in the ohdeardrea household. we miss you Em& co. can't wait to look through the pictures. please move back to florida anytime. K? A blue floral couch awaits you. Also, as Emily mentioned, vinegar can kill your plants. We use it is a weedkiller (more on that later), if your bugs are mostly in the soil, spray there and avoid the leaves. Hooray! 

Author & Illustrations by Emily De Nicolais exclusively for ohdeardrea. To see more of Emily's work, click HERE
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