Saturday, October 4, 2008

Adventures in making diapers

Last week in my list of ways to save money in the baby's/kids' room I mentioned using cloth diapers and even sewing your own for an even bigger savings.

I have not cloth diapered my children up until now but it's not foreign to me since I helped cloth diaper several younger siblings. I'm not sure why I didn't think of it until now for my own kids, but better late than never.

I did some research on the Internet and found the best and easiest directions on the Diaper Swappers forum. I decided I would use one for a prefold, which is a flat diaper that is already the size it needs to be, with a strip of thicker fabric going down the middle. This is what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers.

I started scrounging around the house for old flannel shirts and T-shirts, and came up with quite a few. I went to my mom's house and collected a sewing machine, some old T-shirts, lots of flannel and other cotton fabric scraps, and a few other essentials like thread and bobbins. I stopped by Goodwill and bought a flannel sheet for $3, and gathered a bag of thread and other sewing things at a yard sale.

The back of a man's large flannel shirt works great for a flat diaper, which is just a piece of flat flannel (or whatever cotton fabric is used) that you fold into the shape you need. I cut out a few flats from a couple of flannel shirts and a few out of the flannel sheet. My son really loves the feel of the flannel flats and so do I. For extra protection I lay a prefold on top of the flat and fold the flat around it.

I made some prefolds next, using old men's large T-shirts as the front and back, a strip of flannel down the middle on the outside (that helps keep the cotton jersey from stretching too much and is just cute) and some of my brothers' old folded up wife-beaters to stuff the middle section.

For someone who hasn't sewn anything other than mending the last 20 years or so, the diapers turned out great! They work really well and are holding up really well. The machine broke before I could make enough to last longer than one day, though.

There are all kinds of other diaper styles that you can make, and I want to try to make a few other styles. I'm not going to make a lot of them, since my son is (hopefully) just months away from potty training.

Whether you buy them or make them, cloth diapers are an investment up front, but you can greatly reduce the cost by making them yourself out of old clothing and sheets. I spent about $10 on the sheet plus supplies like thread, scissors, pins, and stuff like that. So far I've gotten about 10 diapers out of it with enough fabric scraps and old clothing to make a whole lot more.

We are still using disposable diapers for nighttime and when we leave the house, but our disposable stash is moving a lot slower than it used to. Hooray!

My first try at making diapers

A prefold diaper I made from a couple of my old T-shirts and an old flannel shirt someone gave us.

Three prefold diapers I made from old T-shirts, a flannel sheet, and a pair of old flannel pajamas.

Three flat diapers I made from a couple of old flannel shirts and a flannel sheet. You saw the black and white check pattern on a prefold in the first picture. This is my favorite pattern so far and it came from an old flannel shirt that someone gave us. You saw the green and blue check pattern in the second photo. This came from a flannel sheet I bought at Goodwill for $3. I'll have a lot of diapers with this pattern before it's all over.

Saving the best for last, here is my son modeling his favorite diaper (mine too), a flannel flat cut from the back of an old shirt. It's so soft and comfy and he looks so adorable in it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The benefits of natural cleaning

The Money Saving WAHM (that's me!) has talked a lot about natural cleaning, as it is very easy on the lungs, skin, environment and pocketbook and is very effective. Here is a good article on that very subject.

(The links at the bottom of the article appear to be dead but they must be included with the article since I am reprinting it. The information contained in the article is still very valuable!)

The Benefits Of Natural Cleaning
by Lisa Fraley

There are benefits if you use a homemade natural cleaning product instead of a chemically laden commercial one.

Making your own cleaning product doesn't consume a lot of time and it is inexpensive too. How long does it take to fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, water and a few drops of essential oil? About a minute or two.

Once it's done you have an appliance and glass cleaner that's natural and chemical free.

Commercial cleaners can be very expensive and the prices are rising. Homemade alternatives cost only pennies to make and you don't need to use as much.

Most homemade natural formulas are multi-purpose so you will need less space to store cleaning products. This is a big help for those of us who are limited on storage space.

You can be creative with your packaging too. Wash out those old containers that use to store the commercial products and reuse them to store your homemade natural products instead. Store car and wood polishes in recycled coffee tins (the kind with the plastic lid). For your homemade powder cleansers reuse sprinkle top plastic containers (bulk spices come in these).

Essential oils
Essential oils are available in health food stores and you can find them online also. Be sure you are buying pure, undiluted oil and not one that has been diluted with carrier oil. Store your oils away from heat and light to keep them potent for the longest amount of time. The bottle will come with a dropper and that is what you use to measure how much you put into your cleaners. Essential oils can irritate the skin and must be diluted with either carrier oil or other liquid before use.

Here is a list of oils and herbs to have on hand if you are just starting out:

Citrus (sweet orange or lemon)
Wintergreen (take extra care when handling this oil)
Tea Tree

Thyme - antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral
Rosemary - antibacterial
Basil - anti-fungal
Mint - antibacterial
Oregano - antibiotic, antiviral
Lavender - antibiotic, antiviral, anti-fungal
Lemon Balm - antiviral
Sage - antibacterial

Here are a few natural cleaning product recipes you may be able to make right now. The ingredients are common items you may already have on hand.

Herbal Sink Scrub
? cup baking soda
? cup coarsely ground sage leaves
? cup ground rosemary leaves

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and blend together by shaking. Sprinkle a small amount into the sink and scrub with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse the sink well. Use only whole dried sage and rosemary leaves.

Rust Remover
? cup baking soda
Juice from half a lemon

Sprinkle the baking soda directly on the rust stain. Sprinkle the baking soda with lemon juice. Let set undisturbed no stain overnight. Wipe away baking soda and rinse thoroughly.

No Scrub Toilet Bowl Cleanser
1 cup borax
1 cup vinegar

Combine both in a plastic bowl or bottle and pour all at once into the toilet bowl. Allow it to sit overnight and in the morning just flush. This works great for toilets that have an everlasting ring around them. By morning even the toughest stains will be gone!

Laundry Fabric Softener
6 cups of white vinegar
1 cup of water
1 cup of baking soda

Combine all ingredients into a plastic container (heavy duty). Only takes 1 cup in your rinse cycle per load for wonderfully soft clothes. If you want to scent this, simply add about 15 drops of your favorite citrus essential oil.
Lisa Fraley is the author of "Frugal Comes In Green." An e-book packed with earth friendly ways you can have more money for the things you want.

She is the owner of Home Works Natural Skin And Body Care. Where you can purchase natural products for the natural you.

Visit Lisa's natural product blog for articles, tips, do-it-yourself recipes and more.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Frugal blogs

If you need more of a frugal fix (I know I do!) then be sure to check out the frugal blogroll over on the right side navigational bar of this blog.

I joined Frugal Hacks and the 600 or so blogs on the list. I spend a little time each day checking out a few of the blogs on the blogroll and have found some great ones.

If you have a blog related to frugality be sure to join and get the blogroll, too. If not, just enjoy all the blogs!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cooking on the cheap

If you are looking for ways to prepare cheap, quick, and easy meals for your family, we have something in common! With a tight budget, five kids to feed, and not much cooking ability (what a combination!) I am all about cheap, quick, and easy in the kitchen.

My blog I Hate the Kitchen is full of recipes and ideas for feeding the family on the cheap. It is pretty much my online collection of recipes that we have made up, tried, and will try in the very near future. I prepare a lot of meals with a very limited amount of time and fixings on hand, but they usually turn out pretty good. Either that or I have hungry kids who will just about eat anything!

Check it out and let me know what you do to cook on the cheap!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Money saving tips

I hope you have enjoyed all the tips for saving money in each room of the house posted here over the last several days. By no means is it an all-inclusive list, but just a few things that my family does every day to reduce our costs and to be conscious of the environment. I love that these money-saving tips are also environmentally-friendly.

What are some things that your family does to cut costs and tread lightly on the earth?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Saving money room by room: The baby's/children's room

Everyone says kids are expensive but there are actually a lot of practical ways to spend less on things for the kids.

Saving money in the baby's/children's room

* Use cloth diapers. They are an investment initially but that's all there is to buy other than the laundry detergent to clean them. I have not done this with my own until now, but helped cloth diaper several younger siblings. You can sew your own out of old flannel shirts and T-shirts and reduce your cost to almost nothing. Here are the directions for a couple of styles.

* If you aren't that adventurous, try store brand diapers. My favorite are at Fred's. The tabs and elastic back are unbeatable and I like the fact that there are no dyes or fragrances. A large package costs only $9.99, and sometimes they are on sale for $8.99. Kroger (Comforts brand) and Wal-Mart (Parent's Choice brand) also carry quality store brand diapers.

* Use baby washcloths in lieu of baby wipes at home. This works wonderfully. I have a stack of store-bought baby washcloths that were given to us before the baby was born that I use for cleaning up after dirty diapers.

* Use cloth to wipe little runny noses and wash dirty little hands and faces. I have a separate set of cloths that we use for this. My mom and I have made all of these from old T-shirts and thin baby blankets.

* Use soaps, shampoos, and lotions for the entire family rather than purchasing separate products for the baby. Baby products are expensive, contain fragrances and other chemicals, and for us, they just don't work! We have a couple of little ones with eczema/sensitive skin so we must be careful what we use, but white Lever 2000 soap is great for everyone. We also order our soap, shampoo, and lotion products from a wellness company called Melaleuca. The entire family uses their white bar soap, herbal shampoo, and Renew lotion.

* Recycle plastic shopping bags by using them to dispose of dirty diapers.

* Shop for kids' clothes at yard sales and secondhand stores like Goodwill. You can also pass clothes around with family and friends.

* Get LED nightlights ($1 at most dollar stores) instead of leaving a lamp or even worse, the bathroom light, on all night.