The Basics of Cloth Diapers

cloth diaper basics, how to use cloth diapers, cloth diapering tips, cloth diaper pros and cons

We were graciously given a two-week supply of disposable diapers from some very generous friends, and so for the past week we have been using them. After months and months of cloth diaper laundry, it’s been very eye-opening for us to take a break and use disposables!

As a self-proclaimed hippie, it is to be expected that I am all about cloth diapering. As a new mom who is still sometimes having difficulty believing that this little person is truly mine and I’m not just babysitting for a really long time, I wanted to talk some brutal honesty about the differences in diapers.

First, the pros:

  1. The cost. I LOVE that I can use these diapers for any future children we might have. You definitely can’t say that about a disposable!
  2. The cute. Guys, cloth diapers are absolutely adorable. And on Etsy, they are even cuter. Like all the Harry Potter ones. I can’t help myself. I need them all.
  3. You always have them. You don’t have to run out in the middle of the night after realizing that you just used the last diaper.

Now the cons:

  1. It’s a lot of laundry. We do laundry 2-3 times a week, and you have to do a short cycle  first to clean off all the gross before adding in the other clothes (unless you have enough cloth diapers to fill an entire full load, we have about a half load’s worth).
  2. Sometimes it takes awhile to find a brand that fits your child’s specific build properly, and the process can be frustrating. When we first started cloth diapering, we were lent a bunch of cloth diapers by some friends, but they didn’t fit Tristan’s long skinny  legs very well. He was always leaking and we almost gave up on cloth diapering altogether until we tried a different style that was more customizable to thinner babies.
  3. If you’re easily grossed out, cloth diapers probably aren’t for you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to scoop mess out of diapers before I could put them in the wash. The pro for the disposable diapers is definitely that you only see that once.

Every once in awhile, it is very nice to have a break from tons of laundry. In general for our family, the pros of cloth diapering outweigh the cons. Though the investment seems like a lot, once you do the math and realize how much money you save by not having to purchase diapers regularly (especially if you have more than one in diapers at once!), the cost per diaper goes down drastically. Even for the Harry Potter diapers.

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3 Tips for Living Large in a Small Space

3 tips for how to live large in a small space
We live in a 660 square foot apartment on the outskirts of a hip little neighborhood. We can walk to my favorite coffee shop and yes, in case you’re wondering, that was a requirement for our apartment hunt. Our apartment consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen with the largest pantry I’ve ever seen and a living room.

This is our third winter here (which is really crazy to think about!) and we have really gotten everything how we want it. It’s been quite a journey because while Peter moved in with only 9 bankers boxes and a suitcase of clothes (for real – he’s such a minimalist), I moved in with WAAAAAY more than we needed to fill the place.

Here are 3 tips I have learned along the way to live well in a small apartment (which, by the way, now I think is the perfect size and most houses seem entirely too large for me):

“Have nothing in your life that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

We follow this as the main principle for our home. We also have a “one in, one out” rule that is basically meant to keep me from collecting too many pairs of shoes.

Make sacrifices and choices strategically.

There was a lot of furniture that we sold because it either didn’t fit the space well or it just didn’t look good. But does my portable washing machine look particularly beautiful sitting in the corner of the kitchen? Not to most people. But cloth diapering and getting to do laundry in the comfort of my own home is beautiful to me, so take that, Better Homes and Gardens expectations.

Remember that many generations of people have lived with less.

I sold my KitchenAid mixer last summer. If you’ve known me for any length of time, I’ve always loved KitchenAid mixers. I think they are one of the prettiest pieces of kitchen machinery ever made. But I rarely used it, it was big, it was heavy, and it took up space. Plus, the sale of it ended up funding this little fiasco adventure. Any time I see things that “make life better/easier” I remind myself that I’ve survived 26 good years without it, so I can in fact live a full life without it.

Like I said, I can’t imagine living in a larger space. I’ve actually really come to enjoy our small space!

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6 Ways To Cut Your Heating Bills This Winter

how to stay warm this winter, save money on heating bills

We are coming up on our third winter in this apartment. The first year, we kept the heater on as much as we wanted, despite the costs (which were almost double). But last year we were barely scraping by financially after multiple job changes, so we avoided turning on the heat in the apartment for as long as we could. Basically, we didn’t turn the heater on until Tristan was born on December 19th.

This year, while technically we can afford to run the heater as much as we want again, we are also about to go into 2016 having met our 2015 savings goal by 150%, so we want to maximize our savings! Here are 5 tips we learned last year that will help us this year:

Wear layers

It might seem like common sense, but wearing layers doesn’t come naturally to this happily barefoot hippie. Wearing house shoes is a new habit I’m getting used to, but I don’t like socks.  However, it’s winter, and my toes don’t like winter. So socks and house shoes it is.

Get a reliable space heater

Rather than turn on the heater for the whole apartment, use a portable heater for wherever you are. Some portable heaters can be fire hazards, so be careful when choosing one. We have two electric fireplaces for this winter that are quite warm and add such a homey feel to our home. Opt for an energy-efficient heater if you can find one.


Curl up with a good book and a blanket

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder, great news! I was just reading about a Danish practice called “hyggye,” which basically is intentional relaxation and “in-the-momentness.”  It’s a time to mindfully indulge in something that makes you feel good, which can be anything from a long soak in the tub to a cozy homemade meal with friends. Apparently this is how the Danish combat long winters.

Drink coffee/hot cocoa/tea

Going along with the good book and blanket, drinking a hot drink is a great way to warm up. It’s common knowledge that I love coffee, but I recognize that there are other options.

Bake something

This morning the apartment was the kind of cold where you don’t want to get out of bed. So rather than turn on the heater, I turned on the oven instead. Sunday is typically my baking day, so I enjoyed the warmth of the oven – and the delicious aroma of bran muffins (I use this recipe, but I use almond milk and coconut oil instead of buttermilk and vegetable oil).

 Winter-proof your home

Approximately 11% of heat escapes through your front door.  Last year Peter noticed a large draft coming through our front door, so our maintenance man installed some new weatherstrips on the inside.  It was a simple fix and now there isn’t a draft! We also have blackout thermal curtains that help cut the draft around the windows with an A/C unit.

By implementing these 6 simple steps, we estimate that we will only need to turn on the heater on the coldest of cold days, and then only for a few hours as our home is appropriately weather-proofed. I hope they help you save too!

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5 things I’m loving right now

My my, it’s been quite awhile since my last visit with you all!  I have to admit that I have missed blogging something awful and am anxious to get back to it.  So as a return, here’s what I haven’t been blogging about recently:

1) Doing my own laundry.  

We purchased a portable washing machine a few months back and I realized how much I enjoy doing laundry.  Especially cloth diapers. It’s oddly satisfying to have a clean and dry load of diapers.  My fellow cloth diaper moms understand me though, so maybe (hopefully?) it’s not just me.

Tristan is fascinated by the spin cycle.
Tristan is fascinated by the spin cycle.

Related: How to do laundry in an apartment (without hookups)

2) A budget that works.

After a year and a half of marriage, we (actually it was totally Mr. Crunchy) finally settled on a budgeting system that works for us! We are so excited that it works for both of us, and thanks to his forethought, we came in significantly under budget this week!

3) Watching our baby grow!

Tristan is now scoot-crawling, saying “mama” (which currently means “I need something,” “I want something,” or “someone please pay attention to me right this instant!”). Still teething, though not at all miserable about it.  Working on sitting and can manage for a bit on his own.  He has his own little scooter chair that he rolls around the house in and he feels like such a grown up.  We have given him some mashed up blueberry and banana so far and both times he has acted thoroughly insulted so solid foods aren’t really a thing for him yet.  I can’t believe he will be 7 months old on Sunday!  Father Time, please slow down.

Our sweet big boy!
Our sweet big boy!

4) A new routine.

I worked my way through Money Saving Mom’s Makeover Your Mornings course and LOVED it.  I can’t recommend it enough.  For one, I learned that I actually enjoy waking up at 6am.  Whodathunk?? I get more accomplished and my household has been running better now that I am not waiting for the last minute to do things like dishes, laundry, and baking.  I downloaded a free app called Wunderlist and now have a running “to-do” list of things – organized by day for necessary tasks and then another master list of things I would like to do eventually for when I have spare time.  Download it, use it, thank me later.

5) Personal development.

I just started Chalene Johnson’s free 30 Day Push, and though I’m only on day 3 I’m really enjoying it!  I’m excited to work through the rest of it and see how implementing what she says influences my life.

Bonus! (because I can’t stop)

6) My morning shake.

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This morning I made a vanilla chai shake for breakfast and I can’t get enough.  And now I get to experiment with different flavors.

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How we are Saving $312 a Year on Laundry

How to save $312 a year on laundry

Laundry. An unfortunate reality of apartment-dwellers, “laundry day” often means walking around outside with a basket full of your delicates, no matter what the weather. It also means a never-ending search for quarters. Every time you need quarters, you have to go to an ATM or write a check to have something to trade at customer service at the grocery store  for a roll of quarters.

Peter and I recently  started doing laundry at our apartment complex.  After a few all-day laundry affairs where we felt tied to the apartment and scouring the car for extra quarters because the jeans didn’t finish drying in one round, we started hanging our laundry to dry over the shower.

This idea may seem really simple to you, and perhaps a little inconvenient, but Peter calculated that it costs about $1.50-2 to dry each load.  We typically do a few loads twice a week, so now we only dry one load with the smaller items. We also bought a few drying racks for the laundry that needs to lat flat (like sweaters). We are also looking into possibly installing a couple retractable clothes lines.

Peter estimates that this one small adjustment saves us around $6 a week, which adds up to $312 a year!  With all of our other budget cuts, this helps that much more. It’s exciting to be able to see so much difference with our budget!

For more money-saving tips, download a free copy of my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

4/2016 UPDATE: We are now able to do laundry completely at home, without hookups! We bought a portable washing machine that hooks up to the kitchen sink, and a dryer with a 120V plug, so it hooks into any outlet! Vent it inside using this nifty lint trap.

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