In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

Our Cloth Diaper Routine

If you are considering cloth diapering but haven't made the plunge yet, do it.  Seriously, you won't regret it. The cloth diapers on the market today aren't your grandma's nappies.  They are cute, absorbent, and (in the long run) very affordable. I know they sound like a lot of work, but once it's part of your routine you'll hardly even notice the laundering.  And you'll never have to run out to the store just for a box of diapers again!

There is a wealth of information around the web on cloth diapering, and I don't really have anything new or profound to add to it, but I do feel that sometimes a glimpse into another person's life and routine can be helpful.  So here it goes...

The  Diapers

If you are confused by all the different types of cloth diapers available, here is a great article detailing the pros and cons of each.

We use mostly Charlie Banana One-Size Pocket Diapers.  They are adjustable in the leg gusset, so we are able to use the same diapers on our 3 month old as we do on our 20 month old twins.  They don't require a diaper cover and are easy enough for babysitters and nursery workers to figure out.

 We also have Bummis Organic Pre-folds that we use with some adorable diaper covers from this etsy shop.

For my three kids in diapers I have a total of about 30  pocket diapers plus 6 diaper covers and some pre-folds.

The Wipes
Once you are washing diapers anyways, there is little point buying disposable wipes.  Our cloth wipes are mostly just unhemmed squares of flannel from extra receiving blankets.

When we originally started using cloth wipes we had a spray bottle of homemade wipe solution and a basket of wipes at the changing table, but now we just keep a basket of cloth wipes in the bathroom and wet one when we're on our way to change a bum.  Plain water works great and doesn't cost a penny!

The only down side to cloth wipes is that I always forget to take some with us in the diaper bag.   I keep meaning to buy a pack of disposable ones just for the diaper bag, but I always seem to forget!

Diaper Rash Creams
Most diaper rash creams aren't recommended for cloth diapers because they will destroy the absorbency of the diaper.  I now use a small amount of coconut oil to treat diaper rashes and have found it to work quite well without destroying the diapers. Plus, it smells great and is a safe, natural choice! 

The Routine
When I change a diaper I immediately flush any solids down the toilet and place it in a giant wetbag that hangs on hooks behind the bathroom door (I bought it from this etsy store.)

Originally we hung the wetbag on the bathroom doorknob, but that broke the doorknob.  You'll want to screw your hooks into wall studs, the bag gets quite heavy once filled with wet diapers!

We don't own a diaper sprayer.  I know some people swear by their diaper sprayer, but we manage fine without one.  Once, when my grandmother was visiting, she saw me struggling to shake some stuck-on solids off of a cloth diaper and she took it from my hand, plunged the thing into the toilet water and flushed. The swirling water took away the mess easily and quickly. 

I wash our diapers almost every day, but not always at the same time of day so it really kind of works out to every day and a half.    I wash them in 3 basic steps:
  1.  Rinse Cycle: Dump the contents of the wetbag (and the wetbag itself too if it's starting to smell funky!) into the washing machine and run it through a cold rinse. 
  2. Hot Wash.  Wash everything in a hot wash cycle with half the regular amount of laundry detergent (I use Nature Clean detergent).  I know a lot of instructions say to wash in cold, and if that works for you it will certainly prolong the life of your diapers, but ours just weren't getting clean enough without the hot water.  Make sure that the water level is set to it's highest setting so that there is lots of water to wash the suds away. 
  3. Dry.  If the weather is nice I hang everything out on the laundry line to dry. If it's raining or below freezing I hang all of the covers and pocket diapers on my indoor drying rack and put the liners for the pocket diapers,the pre-folds and the wipes in the dryer.   Occasionally, if I'm in a real hurry I dry everything in the dryer.  And then I slap my own hand and promise to never do that again....until next time.

Also, on Saturdays I run the diapers through a second hot wash, without soap, after the regular hot wash cycle is done.  This is to make sure that I'm not collecting a soap build-up in the diapers.

I love my cloth diapers!  If you have any questions about cloth diapering that I didn't address, please ask them in  the comments below.

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on twitter.  

A Simple Tip for Tidy Board Game Storage

I know I've said this before, but we  are a board game sort of family. We love board games!  But I hate storing board games. Different size boxes, lids that don't stay on, a bazillion little pieces... in a small home it's a recipe for frustration.  But then I had an epiphany...

Inexpensive headbands.  They are just the right size elastic to wrap around the average board game box so that you can stand them up in a closet without fear of lids coming loose. 

Tidy, organized board games on a shelf!  Easy peasy!

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on twitter.  

Weekend Graces #2: Stocking up on Essentials

Last week I introduced a new weekly series called Weekend Graces.  Little acts of kindness to make the weekend shine.
 Every Friday morning I post a a small act of love, service or hospitality to bless the people we live with this weekend. 

This week's Weekend Grace is to surprise your loved ones with something ordinary that they need;  new socks, a toothbrush, their favourite shampoo.

My husband,who is a very practical sort of romantic, always seems to notice when my toothbrush needs replacing and brings me a new one.  A pink one, with medium bristles, just the way I like it.   And that simple act speaks volumes of love.  Because he knows me. And he loves me. And he sees my needs, often before I do.

Let's anticipate our loved ones needs this weekend and get them something they are going to need anyways before they even ask.  It's a simple way to show our love. And that's what Weekend Graces is all about!

Happy Weekend!

A Letter To Myself as a New Mom

Dear twenty two year old me, 
You don't know this yet, but motherhood has changed you.  There are some changes that are obvious; your sleep patterns, how you spend a Saturday night, your body.  But you've changed in ways you won't see for a while yet. The things you fear, the things you laugh at, the songs you hum while doing the dishes.  You will never again be the person you once were, and that's okay.

Don't let anybody tell you not to pick up your baby when she cries.  You won't spoil her, she needs you.  And don't let anyone make you feel guilty for putting her down while you take a shower or brew some coffee.  She needs a mom who can care for herself.

Breastfeed wherever you want.  Stop asking permission, nobody cares.  It turns out that you are going to be nursing for the better part of the next six years anyways, so you may as well learn to be comfortable with it now.

Show yourself some grace.  Your kids don't need a perfect mom, they need a real mom who can laugh at herself, learn from her mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. And while you're at it, stop worrying about what other people think.  Nobody is judging you because your toddler is having a grocery store melt down.  Get over it, move on.  We've all been there.

Don't shout at your children.  I know that sounds like crazy advice as you hold this perfect tiny-toed person, but there will be days of exhaustion and frustration and all of a sudden you will hear an awful ugly tone in your own voice.  Stop.  Smile.  Try again.  Teach your children to control their emotions by controlling your own.  And remember to show yourself some grace in this.

Stop.  Smile. And try again.

Start creating things with the kids as soon as they can hold a pen.  Let them feel the joy and beauty and potential of a crisp white sheet of paper ready to be created on.  Hang their artwork on the fridge, say thank you for the 110th card they've made for you, buy them craft supplies instead of toys.

Please don't stress over potty training.  It turns out that there is actually no correlation between the age your child is potty trained and the quality of your parenting. 

Make time for cuddles.  The truth is you don't have enough time not to cuddle.

Sing even though you are awful at it.  Occasionally stop what you're doing to have dance parties in the living room. Be silly.

Cry. And don't be ashamed of it.  Crying releases stress hormones, and you have a lot of stress to release.

Back up the photos on your hard drive.  You'll be glad you did.  And write down the funny things the kids say. These years really do fly by.

One more thing....  You know those chapters on twins in all of those parenting and pregnancy books?  The chapters you skip over because twins don't seem even remotely possible?  Read those chapters.  Trust me.

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on twitter.  

 What did I miss? What do you wish you'd known as a new mom?

Home Sweet Home Art Journal Style Canvas

This week, my kids and I created a happy little wall hanging celebrating our home.

We started with a blank canvas and some letter stickers and we painted over the letter stickers.

And then carefully removed them.

I touched up some of the spots where the paint bled with a white Sharpie poster paint marker.

And then I sat on the floor with the kids and together we brainstormed things that we like about our home, and things we like to do at our home.  I had a few ideas of my own on hand to get the brainstorming going again whenever the ideas stopped flowing.

For the most part I wrote whatever the kids said. Except I didn't write "making crafts" 11 times and I refused to put down "It has a bathroom."  Just because.

The best part is hearing what your kids love about the life you live in your home. Like "rearranging the furniture." I've always let them ride on the couches as I push them around the living room and never realized that was something that my kids really treasure.  Who knew this craft was really a fact finding mission?

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on twitter.  

My New {Kid-Friendly} Organized Coat Closet

A year and a half ago I posted about our organized coat closet. And for sometime it worked quite well for us. But as my kids got old enough to put on and pull off their own winter gear and (in theory) put it away, the old system of coats on high-up hangers and hats and mittens in a bin on the top shelf was not working anymore. I needed a way to make the closet more accessible to them.

And I needed a way to do it without spending any money.  Because, um, I didn't have any.

What I did have is two cheap cubby shelves that I stacked on top of one another and screwed to the the wall.  I filled it with the same bins I had before, putting kids stuff in the lower ones and grown up stuff higher up.

I screwed some painted 2x4's to the wall and attached to them various mismatched knobs and hooks I had. The boards and hooks extend around the side of the closet to give us plenty of room for coats and bags and whatnot.

To pretty it up a bit I made letters to spell "home" out of a cardboard box and some scrapbook paper.

It works so much better for us in this stage of life than the old closet organization.  And I love it's mini mudroom look.

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on twitter.  

{Weekend Graces #1} A Slightly Special Breakfast

Today is the first installment in a new weekly feature I am super excited about....

 Weekend Graces.  Little acts of kindness to make the weekend shine.  Each Friday morning I will be sharing an idea or tip or inspiration; a small act of love, service or hospitality to bless the people we live with this weekend.

Because it's the small gestures that convey our love more than our words ever could, isn't it? 

I'd love it if you'd join me each week in intentionally blessing our families with one small and simple gesture of love and service.  The Weekend Grace will be different each week, but it will always be an easy and inexpensive way to bless your family.

This week's Weekend Grace is to make breakfast slightly special on Saturday morning. Here are some easy ways that you could do that:
  • Make a family favourite that you haven't had in a while.
  • Make familiar things in a fun new shape,  such as smiley face blueberry pancakes or heart shaped french toast.
  • Leave a love note and coffee for your spouse if you have to rush out in the early morning.
  • Dress the table with fresh flowers, a favourite table runner, or your best dishes. 
  • Serve what you normally would except with an extra special addition like fresh fruit, whipped cream, or bacon.
Keep it simple. You don't need to make a feast;  just do one little thing to make breakfast a celebration. And let me know how it goes.

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  If you haven't yet, please consider following me on twitter, liking me on facebook, or signing up for my RSS feed. Happy weekend! 

12 More Things

In December I shared a bunch of links and other tidbits in the form of a list of 12 random things.  Since I have some more links and tidbits to share I thought it's about time for another "12 Things" post.

1. Our Dreadlocks. As some as you know, hubby and I dreaded our hair in the summer. And I am shocked by the number of readers who have been asking for an update on our hair. So I'm just going to bite the bullet and tell you that the dreadlocks, unfortunately, didn't last.  My hair didn't want to stay dreaded and I was getting tired of constant maintenance.  I just don't have that much time to devote to my hair right now. So I applied some conditioner a few times and the dreads came right out.

My husband's dreads locked up great and looked awesome.  But for reasons I still don't understand, one  day I woke up and he had cut his dreads off. And  most of his beard! 

2.This grain-free, sugar-free coffee cake.  If you are gluten or grain free or have a friend who is that you really want to bless, make this cake. 

3. This 52 Lists Project by Morrea Seal.  She gives a topic each week and you write a list. I am a list maker by nature and always in need of a little inspiration when it comes to journalling and memory keeping so I am so on board with this idea.

4. I love this post: 200 Ways to Bless your Children with a Happy Childhood.

5. My Dishwasher broke, and we decided not to replace it.  And you know what?  I don't even miss it except that now there is a hole in my kitchen where the dishwasher used to be.  We're thinking of putting little cubbies with baskets in it's place.  In the mean time I've put my cute Raskog Trolley from Ikea there.  I'm a sucker for turquoise.  But you already knew that....

6. This smile.  It melts my heart every single day.

7. I'm getting a craft room!!! (Can you tell I'm excited?)  We've decluttered so much in the last year that I've been able to clear out what was a storage room in the basement and turn it into a sewing/crafty space. More on that coming soon!

8. "Become the kind of person who notices the good in others–and speaks it."- from How to Pay a Compliment at Modern Mrs. Darcy.   This post really made me consider how to be more intentional with compliments instead of just blurting out awkward things like "nice, um....shirt, or something, you know..."

9. I seriously love my Bravado Nursing Tanks.  That is all.

10. I wouldn't have thought that I was the type of person to take blurry pictures of a fortune cookie with my cellphone and post it on the Internet, but it was just too good not to share.   It says "Man's mind is not a container to be filled but rather a fire to be kindled."  That is pretty much my entire homeschool philosophy summed up in a fortune cookie.  

(I looked it up, and it's actually a quote by Dorthea Brande.)

11.Lately I've been loving the blog A beautiful Mess.  If there is a blog you are really enjoying lately (other than, you know, this one...ahem) please tell us about it in the comments so we can all check it out!

12. Starting this Friday I'm going to be doing a weekly series/feature thingy that I'm really excited about.  So stay tuned, okay?

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking. And Happy Valentine's Day to my lovely loyal readers. I love you guys!

Candy Heart Carrot Cake for Two

For the cake: 

4 eggs
2 cups of sugar
1 cup oil
2/3 of a cup applesauce
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 cups grated carrot.

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed for one minute or until everything is combined.  Pour batter into to greased and floured eight-inch cake pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Trim the tops of the cakes to make them flat in the center.

Cut a heart out of construction paper and use it as a guide to cut your cakes into heart shapes.

Save the pieces you cut off and use them in place of bread in a baked french toast recipe or a bread pudding!  Or just feed them to the hoards of suddenly-famished children that have eagerly and curiously collected at your feet.

Slice each heart into two layers to make a total of four layers.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 8oz package of cream cheese
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
 a dash of pink food colouring

Combine ingredients in a stand mixer and whip on high  for a couple minutes until smooth.

Construct cake with cream cheese icing between each layer. Place cake in the fridge for an hour so that the icing can firm up a little.

Print your candy heart sentiment from your computer and cut the letters out with a craft knife. Use a sans-serif font and all capitals to mimic the look of  a candy heart.

Place your stencil on the cake and press down softly.

Add some blue or teal food colouring to a small amount of pink icing and spread a thin layer of blue or purple icing over your stencil.

Carefully lift your stencil...

 Phew, it worked!

Place in the fridge to share with somebody you love on Valentine's Day!

Our super romantic Valentine's Day plan is to put the kids to bed, light candles, play Carcassonne, and eat cake.  What are you doing for Valentine's Day?

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