CSA Vegetables

csa-score

 

I recently signed up for a CSA delivery basket. This is community supported agriculture.

In Phoenix, we have weird growing seasons compared to the east side of the world, and this is our best time of year for a variety of foods.

I made some awesome stuff with those Anaheim chilies. I will be posting the recipes on My Itzy shortly.

Organic produce is amazing for so many reasons.  If you get the chance to support it, please do!

I found my CSA on this link for Local Harvest.

Check it out for your area.

Five Things for Frugal Friday

Five Things for Frugal Friday

So this week I have come to the place where I have not had any freelance work in several weeks. I make a very very small amount on my blogs and reviews, and this will not be sufficient to pay the bills.

We have already cut tons from our budget.

I am looking for a job, this could take a long time.

I am actively trying to solicit more freelance work.

But we need to do more. In this vein, I have been brainstorming ways to not spend money on things we need.

Here are the things I am trying this week:

1. Using coconut oil for oral care

I have coconut oil that I have been using for some skin concerns. I am doing oil pulling, and really like it a lot. I decided to try to go toothpaste-free while I experiment.

2. Making my own dishwasher detergent

I am running out of the detergent I bought or got free for review. Long ago I purchased materials to make this, so I am digging it out and whipping it up

3. Digging deep into the cupboards

For some reason we have a lot of canned and frozen stuff we buy and don’t eat promptly. We are going to remedy this. New recipes will hopefully entice the toddler as well.

4. More ebay and Thredup

This is not so much saving money, but attempting to make some. I have way too many baby and toddler clothes and the consignment store has been ultra picky. I need to unload to make room for the “winter” clothes that some very nice cousin gave us last year. We are in that size now!

I ordered the Thredup bag, and will be sending some clothes off to them, hoping for some return. (by the way if you want to sign up and send a bag in, I get a credit, so go ahead and sign up)

I will turn those credits into anything the toddler will need coming up.

5. Making my own deodorant

I am out of my last tube of sample stuff and Dove. I have been experimenting with a mix of coconut oil and dusting powder that I already made. That powder has arrowroot powder and cornstarch. My first attempt was pretty good, but I had some rose flowers and lavender in the powder and that is less than comfy under my arms.. the de-stink factor IS working though, so I need to get a good recipe that I can get into a stick. That should be fun.

These are a few small things to do, but things that I would be spending money on this week, or soon, so I thought they were good places to start.

So- what kind of things are YOU doing to save money?

Rain, Rain, Rain in Phoenix!

Rain, Rain, Rain in Phoenix!

I am sure you have seen all the news out of Phoenix this week. We have gotten an insane amount of rain in the last 2 days. We are coming off of recovering from another big storm a few weeks ago.

I have lived in Phoenix for 20 years now and this rain is like I have never seen. Of course the storm yesterday gave us record breaking rain. Some areas had almost 7 inches of rain in a few hours.

LIVE  12 News weather coverage

This is the screen shot yesterday morning from 12 news in Phoenix.

That isn’t much rain…

If you live someplace moist, maybe that isn’t a big deal for you. But for US- that is an entire year’s worth of rain in a very short period of time.

It just runs off.

It pools and takes mud and dirt and anything in its path along with it!

There are videos that show how a WALL of water just suddenly comes your way.. all you can do is try to get out of the way. Then the water just keeps rising, long after the rain stops.

This is the case in Mesa this morning- last night I was reading that people were being evacuated even though it hadn’t rained in like 10 hours, the canals were still rising and the homes were flooding. Then last night we got more rain. I am sure those houses are flooded.

It is odd in some cases- homes that are not even located in a so-called flood zone were flooded. Bummer for them, as I suspect their insurance is not going to cover their damages.

So dear readers- how did we fare?

Well, we are extremely fortunate- no issues here, minus a little leak in a bathroom window. We thought we caulked it up after the last storm- in fact we did have issues with 2 windows last time- but just the one this time. More caulk is needed.. I don’t think it will be a big deal to repair.

It is kind of annoying though- I replaced that window less than 10 years ago because the old one leaked.. and here we are again. That side of the house just gets the sun and there is no overhang, so I think the stucco is just falling off.. it is odd.

Anyway, we are fine. Others are not so lucky. I certainly hope the rain is over for awhile so we can dry out!

5 Ideas to Help You Stay Home

5 Ideas to Help You Stay Home

Itzybellababy

5 Ideas to Help You Stay Home

I have been home with my daughter, pretty much since she was born. ( I did go back to work briefly after she was born, but it wasn’t working out.. so I quit my job.) How the heck did I do it?

First off, we did have a nest egg. A nice one. But not matter how big that nest egg is, going from 2 incomes to one is a huge shock, especially when you add in a new baby. Not everyone can achieve this. It has been almost 2.5 years now, and we are still ok. Not absolutely fine, but decent enough that we are keeping things as is.

1. Cut costs to a minimum.

We got rid of cable about a year in. I suppose we could have cut this earlier, but with me being up all hours of the night that first year, I really felt that tv kept me sane. HBO, home improvement shows.. you get the idea. I logged MANY hours a day as I breastfed my daughter almost non stop.. it was complete insanity.. but the cost at the time seemed justified. I really thought I would be going back to work after a short time, so it really didn’t seem like a splurge. In hindsight- that was $1700 I could still use! Cut your landline. We never used it. We got that right away.

2. Save money on baby items

Use cloth diapers. I did our set up for under $200. If you are thinking you are going dryer free- use easy to dry flats and diaper covers- I have another post on that.. Breastfeed if you can. Formula is expensive. Bottles are expensive. It isn’t for everyone, but it sure was for us.. for 28 months! Be thrifty on clothing, furniture and supplies. Consignment stores are great places to pick this stuff up and then to unload it later if you no longer need it. Always check for recalls on toys and furniture just in case!

3. Learn to fix stuff

We have an older house, and a lot of my appliances are over 10 years old. Things break. ALL the time. Luckily, I have a man that loves to fix stuff. He can’t fix everything- like garage doors for example- ours has had 2 components fail in 6 years (personal note- would have been cheaper to get a new one installed vs. what we paid to repair this one.) We had to get those things fixed. It was very expensive! He was able to replace the garbage disposal. He was able to fix the dryer (AND OMG it was not easy!) He is pretty handy with the tools. He gets online and watches youtube videos until he understands, and off he goes! As for me, I have a fantastic sewing machine, and a little bit of skill. I can sew split seams, hem pants, replace buttons and button holes.. not fancy, but serviceable. I have gotten extra wear from MANY items. I thought it would be fun to sew baby clothes, but unless I have the fabric around, it is cheaper to buy used. lol.

4. Mama cloth

When my “special lady time” revisited me after my daughter’s birth, I was happy to try mama cloth to save a TON of money. I still use “disposable” pads for going out and travel, but that is such a small amount of time, I actually have not purchased any since daughter was born.. I had a stash and am just using them slowly. Mama cloth is pretty easy to make at home, or you could even buy pads.. but to save the most money- make it! I use old towels, scrap flannel.. and when my daughter finally potty trains, I will be using MUCH of her diaper inserts for my own mama cloth creations.

5. Online coupons and deals

I have always loved coupons, but found it a chore to get newspapers and flyers and such and clip all those little pieces of paper. Don’t get me wrong, if you are into it- do it. There are hundreds of coupons every week, and using them with strategic shopping can get you a bunch of savings. I have found that for us, using one grocery store and shopping their online deals has saved us a bundle. I go online before shopping trips, load the coupons I want to their discount card, and shop from a list. I also end up getting special coupons from them in the mail based on what we buy often. I don’t have to do much work for this.. easy as pie!

 

There are a million ways to save money if you put your mind to it.. what are your favorite ways?

 

 

5 Ideas to Help You Stay Home

Cloth Diapering Without a Dryer

We have been without a dryer for about a week now-cloth diapering without a dryer is different to say the least. I am feeling pretty stubborn about buying a new one so the man has been troubleshooting ours to get it to work.

dipe

We have been finding ways to get our diapers washed and dried without an insane amount of fuss.

For one- my daughter has been sick for a week and has not been making a lot of dirty diapers for me. I am not happy she is sick but the coincidence has made the lowered volume of diapers a bit convenient.

Second, we can’t dry anything outside because of allergies and and insane amount of dirt and pollen in the air. We CAN use the garage though, and in Phoenix in summer that is just as good as a dryer without the tumbling. We do have access to the tumbling function of our dryer, so even though there is no heat, we can still use it for that.

So what did we find out so far?

1.Microfiber, velour, terry cloth and thick overnight inserts take forever to dry and they end up crunchy.

2. Flats are fabulous. They dry fast anywhere, and they don’t end up terribly crunchy.

3. Flips are always fabulous and it doesn’t matter if you have a dryer or not for these because we usually hang them dry anyway. We have about 10 I think and we find them more than enough for a toddler. We had a few more diapers in the mix as she has grown, but if you are on a budget Flips are where I would put money. They are one size, and easy to maintain and clean.

4. We have a few pocket diapers, and they do ok in this routine. Frankly though, I am not a fan of pockets overall, so I don’t suggest them. If you do want to use these with microfiber, you don’t have to worry about scratchy microfiber touching baby skin since it is tucked away.( I always hang my pocket diapers to dry anyway.)

See the Amazon widget for a link to some examples of what we are using.

So here is our set up.

1. We wash. We have a HE washing machine so the liquid is pretty effectively removed.

2. We take out the Flip liners and just hang them any old way in the bathroom. We keep a regular clothes hanger on the shower rack and I snap them all together and hang them there. It is like a big diaper chain. It dries within a few hours since our humidity is so low here. We can add a fan to the room if we need the diapers faster.

3. I separate out the flats and unwrinkle them. I try to get them as unwrinkled as possible and hang them individually, spread out on our dryer rack.

(see the Amazon widget for the one we use- we had one already that we used to dry hockey gear with. It works great for stinky gear and diapers.)

I can fit a decent number of these on here- probably about 20 easily. You don’t need clothespins for this type of process. You can add a fan to this area as well if you need to dry the flats faster- I find they dry easily overnight, so I don’t usually do that.

I do all the baby laundry together, so anything else she has in there I put on baby hangers and just dangle those along the drying rack. That stuff takes a little longer.

As a side note, we are of course drying our clothes and towels by line as well. Those go in the garage, on a make shift clothesline that the man set up for us. Everything goes on hangers out there too.. lol

4. We are still washing some microfiber inserts and thick overnight inserts. This I do not suggest with no dryer. I am hanging them in the garage, and I find they take FOREVER to dry. They are not soft and they are all stretching to weird shapes.. When I take some of them out they are literally as stiff as a piece of paper. Once we get a dryer again I am not sure if they will return to softness again.

 

5. Since we do still have the tumbling dryer available, I toss everything in there for a cycle and fill the dryer with my wool dryer balls. I have a few home made ones, but most of mine are Woolzies, which I reviewed last year, and  find to be superior.

The dryer balls really soften everything up and it has been great. If you don’t have the dryer, you can definitely get by with squishing up your flats to soften them. They don’t get nearly as crunchy as the microfiber inserts and such

Overall, I am only missing my dryer a little. I find the house is much cooler, and although it adds a short amount of extra work, it isn’t terrible. I do wash the loads a little more often so I don’t need to dry a lot at once. It hasn’t been as terrible as I thought it would be.

The man is going to be trying another round of troubleshooting after work tonight, so we shall see how that goes. Until then, I will keep “line drying.”

It CAN be done, and I will say I am CERTAIN if you go this route, you will be able to save tons of money both on diapers and electricity!

If you want to go one more step and go without a washer, I am betting you will find that possible as well. Don’t let the naysayers say nay!

Cloth diapering without a dryer can be done!

Flashback: Breastfeeding a 20 month old, Updates from 12/13

To continue my celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2014 I decided to republish blog posts from breastfeeding a 20 month old from my blog http://www.itzybellababy.blogspot.com. This post is from December 2013. I was way over a year into my breastfeeding experience, and the story shows me how far we have come.

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So if you have been following along with my breastfeeding posts, you know I have a 20 month old and we are still breastfeeding. No, this was actually not my intention to breastfeed this long- my initial goal was 6 months. Then a year.. then.. well, I decided as long as I was at home with the baby, we would just see where we ended up.



I had made the decision around 14 months to start adding a bottle of cow milk after nursing sessions. I was having a lot of pain nursing a teether, and I had not slept more than 2 hours a night since before she was even born, and needed something. She started sleeping all night, and everything in life got better for all of us. I was sure nursing would stop. It didn’t! ( I am not advocating supplementing, especially before a year, but this is just our story.) I was convinced for about 3 months though, that every nursing session would be our last. What ended up happening was a really good groove. We nursed at naps, bedtime and once at night a few hours before waking. After that session it was back to sleep for both of us.


I always nursed on demand. It was what I was taught, and it worked. Over the last 2 weeks toddler has been really having a hard time off and on with napping and just generally not being herself. She has no physical ailments we could detect, but she has been pretty fussy about eating. She would periodically ask for more than a bottle of milk after nursing. I chocked this up to not eating as much, and since it was periodic, I really wasn’t too concerned. She eats a good variety of food most days. I generally give her what she asks for when it comes to food, and she asks for healthy things.


The last few nights she has been waking up around 3 to nurse instead of 5 or 6 or 7 am. No problem, we nurse. We go back to sleep til 8ish. But on 3 occasions now, she has asked to nurse again a few hours later. I have to admit, that I did not want to nurse again so quickly. Twice in 3 hours is painful. There is not a lot of milk.


At this phase of the game I understand, we are not going to be increasing our supply through pumping and increased nursing like what happens in that first year. I actually talked to a lactation consultant about this around 15 months or so. I usually use fenugreek and a few other herbs and supplements on the second half of my menstrual cycle because after I ovulate, my production is even lower. It helps a little, but not much. It is a temporary fix. Nursing hurts during those 2 weeks. My nipples peel, they are sensitive and she clamps down and sucks harder to try to get more milk out. She bites and leaves teeth marks. She hits and pinches to get more. So when I say I don’t want to nurse another session so quickly, this is why. The rest of the month, we go back to normal.


But then we have this increased nursing request. I said no. It hurt me to say it, and I really hated her reaction which was a full blown toddler fit. What I did do is get her a bottle of milk, and try to hold her while she drank it. The first two times, this worked. She calmed down, drank her milk while we snuggled, and we both went back to sleep. One of the mornings after this, we had more cuddles when we woke up. We just laid in bed snuggling for an hour when we woke up, which is pretty uncommon.


But this morning, after nursing at 3, she asked to nurse at 7. I said no, but I would get a nice bottle. She had a full blown toddler fit. Sobbing, gasping, rolling about inconsolably as I got her bottle. I brought it back and she wouldn’t drink it. She pushed me away. She screamed. I died inside. I did not anticipate this level of upset.I second guessed myself. As I was about to go ahead and nurse, she took the bottle, and drank it, then calming down for snuggles. She finally fell asleep on my chest. All is now well an hour later and she should be getting up for breakfast soon.


So here I am typing away. Trying to decide if I did the right thing, or if I am being selfish. I have been readying my mind for her to wean. I have been anticipating decreased nursing sessions. We have not nursed out of bed in over 6 months. We have really been on a schedule ( hers, not mine), which is something I hadn’t anticipated ever happening based on her first year of nursing.  I admit to feeling very confident over the past few months, and happy with our pattern. Now this. So of course I headed over to Kellymom to see what is said about increased night nursing in a toddler. Of course the reasons are the same as a younger baby- teething, developmental changes and needing more time with momma.


We have had 6 months of all of those things that did not end up in increased nursing. I have to wonder though- since most people are not nursing at this point, what does the toddler do instead? Just more bottles? More hugs? I am feeling guilty about this, but I am not sure what to think. Eventually she will wean. Eventually she will have developmental changes and teeth issues and such. What then? There is so little out there in the way of information about extended nursing compared to a younger child. I suppose I could talk to a lactation consultant or such, but I am sure they would tell me to go ahead and nurse. I know that is probably the answer, except I don’t want to. I feel like a jerk about it. Anyone else have this issue?

 

Gift card Giveaway for The Ultimate Green Store

If you are interested in picking up some green school supplies for yourself or the kids, check out the giveaway on the Itzybellababy giveaway and review blog.

The Ultimate Green Store has a ton of post and preconsumer supplies as well as TONS of other eco-friendly and organic products for your household.