Baby Prep: Why buy organic baby foods?

Ok, I’ll admit, it’s been awhile since my last post.

But with Blaze and looking for a job, I’ve been a bit preoccupied. (Though I have to admit, playing Mr. Mom for the last few months has been pretty fun.)

Anywho, I was chastised the other day for not feeding Blaze organic-only products. My response was “eh, it’s corn/sweet potato, they’re not one of the dirty dozen.” The person looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.

For those of you, (like the person that I was talking with,) that don’t know, the FDA puts out a list of the “Dirty Dozen” vegetables that are the ones that are most likely to retain herbicides/pesticides and therefore are the ones that you need to replace with organic if you’re going to. (It’s said that you can reduce your pesticide/herbicide intake by 80% by replacing just the dirty dozen with organic.)

You can find the Dirty Dozen and the “Clean Fifteen” here.

Believe it or not, washing and peeling the produce doesn’t help all that much. Most pesticides/herbicides are absorbed into the plant, and therefore the fruit or vegetable. (However, if you don’t wash them, then you’re actually getting higher than average amounts of pesticides than the vegi’s that are tested. That’s because all of the tested produce was washed thoroughly prior to testing… believe it or not.)

So, if you don’t want to buy “all organic” don’t worry, you don’t have to. Just make sure that the ones you do buy conventionally are off the “Clean 15” list.

Till next time!

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Baby Preparation: We’re going mobile!

Well, since I was laid off from AT&T, and we needed new cell phones, my wife decided that we needed up get the new iPhone from Verizon. Now, I still have reservations about them, and I’m pretty sure that I would have been just as happy, (or happier,) with an Android-based phone, but having said that, it’s not bad… I would even say that it’s starting to grow on me.

(For example this post was created on my iphone.)

The one thing I don’t like about it is the battery life… However, I’m sure that the engineers that designed this thing probably didn’t anticipate the amount of usage that I have put this puppy through.

Well, gotta get back to the family, B-man is about ready for his next bottle, so I’ll cut this short.

PS the tomato plants are doing well, the ones on full sunlight at least…

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Crafting: Let there be heat!

Backstory: Kim and I have been using these washer/dryer set that was pretty much given to us years ago… they were a set of Kenmore Series 80 HD (Heavy Duty.) Now, I’m not sure what they were called in the laundry world, but in automotive terms, they were lemons. We pretty much replaced every part on the washer a couple of times. The final straw that broke the camel’s back was Kim trying to wash a bunch of bathroom mats, (you know, the ones with the rubberized backing,) and it burnt up the clutch. This was the second time replacing it… the first time it died of natural causes.

So I call a buddy of mine, we’ll call him Peter, (mainly because it’s his name,) and Peter has two laundromats, and collects antique washing machines. He even goes to what are called “wash-ins” every once in awhile… If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand. God knows I don’t…

Anywho, I call Peter, and ask him if he wants to help me fix the washer, (again.) He suggests that we actually invest in a new set. Now, given that I was unemployed at the time, I told him he was on crack and nearly couldn’t stop laughing at the idea. He said, no, “not “new-new” but new to you. I’m sure that we could find something on craigslist that would be an improvement, mainly because the ones you currently own need to go to the scrap metal yard.” (Side note: that’s actually where they ended up.)

So, he sent me about 20-30 different Craigslist postings that were of used Maytag washers. (Not just any Maytags either, but Newton-made Maytags. I would get into the differences, but let’s just say that they’re bulletproof.)

I called all of the ads, and one of them said that they would be willing to give me a deal, since they weren’t theirs, they were just selling them for someone else. I think I got the pair for 125 bucks.

Fast forward about a month, and about a hundred or so loads of laundry… (Remember we had a baby, and we didn’t have a working washer/dryer set for awhile before getting the *new* set.) The dryer starts making a god-awful racket when we turn it on. I have a recording of it here somewhere… once I find it, I’ll post the before/after sounds.

I call Peter because, well, he’s the man with the repair knowledge. He’s like, “no problem, we’ll go to the appliance parts warehouse in Marietta and booyah, we’ll have it fixed before the weekend. The repair-ability of the units was one of the reasons I picked them out for you.”

So, we pick up a bunch of parts from APW and tear apart the dryer. I have to admit, before I opened it up, I thought for sure it was going to be crazy complex, but it turned out to be really a pretty simple apparatus. I think that I probably could have even fixed it myself, though it would have taken me a lot longer than if Peter hadn’t been there telling me exactly what to do.

It ended up being the blower fan being worn out and not fitting on the blower axle properly. But we ended up replacing the blower fan, the drum rollers, the belt and the belt tension wheel, since well, we had it open, we might as well. Then we decided to reverse the door on the front, since it would make things easier for me and Kim… and Peter gave it a thorough, and I mean THOROUGH cleaning… there were dust tigers in there.

When we started it back up, I swear it was a different machine entirely. This thing runs so quietly that I wondered if the belt was put on wrong, but no… everything was working, and I swear, I’ve never felt the heat come out of there like that… It was truly beautiful.

Well, it might not be crafting, but rebuilding a dryer and getting it working better than ever sure ranks up there pretty high in my book! Thanks Peter, we owe you big-time!

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Well, I started the garden…

I started the garden based on a article that I read… it was something like “easy way to start an organic garden” or some such.

Basically, it said to take bags of garden soil and poke holes in one side for drainage, lay the bags out into “rows,” and then cut the tops off and plant your seeds. Kind of like an artificial raised garden. It looked interesting and quick so I thought I would give it a try.

With a twist. Topsoil costs around $.77 a 40 lb bag. Garden soil costs around $7.00 a bag. Being newly-unemployed, I decided to use the topsoil and some of the manure that I got earlier in the year, and some of the compost that I have made in the past. Topsoil is different from garden soil in the fact that it’s more humus than soil, and it has less nutrients as well, (I think… I need to check up on that…) The way that I worked it was I put some “raw” composting material on the ground first, (leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, etc.) Then, I put down some of the mostly composted manure, then the bags, then I put the seeds in the topsoil material, and covered them with the fully composted material. The reason I put the composting materials down first was because they will start to decompose and kill off the grass under them. Then the reason I used the mostly composted manure was to give lots of nitrogen to the seeds that I would be planting. And lastly, the reason I covered them with the fully composted material was because it will protect the seeds by covering them, and it will drain well, and add nutrients into the topsoil bags.

Basically, I planted some salad ingredients… lettuce, tomatoes, onions, as well as some beets and basil. (Kim and I love caprese salad… it takes us back to Italy.) I happen to have a bunch of quart mason jars, so I think if the beets come in, I may just can some pickled beets this year.


Anywho, I have a couple of things to do today, I will try and get on this evening and post the pics of how it all went down, so to speak.

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Well, welcome to unemployment…

Monday was the first day of being employment-challenged. I had worked for AT&T for almost ten years now, and I was surplussed in a recent downsizing. It wasn’t personal, my boss was assigning me projects all the way up until he/I got the notice, then I got to transition them all off in a mad dash. I’m getting a severance, which is better than most people these days, but I still don’t like the fact that I was let go because of some number on a spreadsheet, since there is all sorts of deadwood all over the company. Oh well, it’s not the same company I joined up with… Cingular really knew how to take care of their employees, and was more results-oriented. Maybe it was just time to move on anyways…

Basically, I stayed home on Monday with Blaze hanging out with him, since more than likely, whatever next job I get is going to be a traveling position: I better get all the tummy-time while I can. Yesterday was trying to get things around the house accomplished, and today is trying to get everything taken to the dump/scrap yard/recyclers and doing laundry.

I was looking over my reading list, and I think that the first thing that I am going to do is go through a book that was given to me called “A Year to an Organized Life.” I’ve never had the time to really get into it, so now might be the best chance for that.

Also, I am a notorious starter of crafty projects, and I have about a 75% finish rate… (I get involved with work, Kim, Blaze, the dogs, house, or the next shiny object, and I get sidetracked… This might be a good time to finish all of the projects that I have around the house/yard/garage/basement.

OOOOhhh, and I forgot. I wanted to get a garden in this year. (Now it looks like I might need the food more than ever…:-)

Hmmm, looking at this list, I don’t think that I would have had time for a job this summer anyways.

Wish me luck!

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Crafting: Cooking up some Chicken Noodle Soup

A guy that I’m working with came down with the flu, so I sent him the Chicken Noodle Soup recipe that I normally make for myself or other people when they’re sick, (or when I have a craving for Chicken Noodle Soup…)

Here’s the email:
Huh, I can’t seem to find my recipe for Chicken noodle soup.

That’s ok, I normally make it by memory instead of by recipe card anyways.

Now, normally, I’ll take a leftover rotisserie chicken from Costco and pick it clean of meat for the soup, and then make the stock out of the bones, but that’s me… I usually have a couple of quarts of chicken stock in the fridge like that… And you can sub 2 cans of Large Cut Veg-All instead of most of the vegetables. (Though this will raise the sodium content.)

David’s Cures-everything-but-AIDS Chicken Noodle Soup: (a lot of servings)
1 small package of baby carrots, diced
1/2 bunch of celery, diced
1 medium onion
3 Tbsp diced garlic
Either 1 can or half a pkg of frozen peas. (optional)
1-2 lbs cooked, diced chicken or 1 pkg chicken breast strips from Tyson (you can get at Target)
3 to 4 quarts of chicken stock (depending on how “thick” you like your soup.)
1 pkg extra wide egg noodles, or Kluski noodles.
4 eggs, beaten
Sriracha sauce to taste

Start off by putting the chicken stock in a 6 qt stock pot on the back burner on simmer. On the front burner, saute the items in order. (Once the carrots start to turn, add the celery, once the celery starts to turn, add the onions, etc. etc.) After you have added the chicken to the pan, let the meat absorb some of the flavors of the vegetables. After the mixture has had time to get warmed up, add it to the chicken stock. Move the chicken stock to the front burner and turn up the heat until the stock begins to have a rolling boil. Then add the egg noodles. Beat the four eggs and set aside. Once the egg noodles are soft, slowly drip the eggs into the soup, stirring the soup the whole time. (This should make it like egg drop soup.) Turn the heat down to low and simmer. At this point, you can add your spices. (Some people like using rosemary or tarragon or thyme, some use “fine spices” a mixture of spices that you can buy at the stores. Some people just like the soup as is. This is a matter of taste per the individual the soup is made for.)

Soup should be served with Sriracha hot sauce, (Thai hot sauce that has a big rooster on the label.)

You want to add as much as you can stand. The chili in the sauce will get your metabolism up, giving you more energy, and the heat will clear out your sinuses if need be. Start off small… a little goes a long way.

Hope this helps out!

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Baby Prep: How and why to buy onesies.

Now I’m going to say something that most mothers-to-be are going to cringe at. For the first couple of months of the child’s life, they shouldn’t even have all of those designer clothes/outfits/etc. Or if they do, it should be limited to one outfit for photos.

Why do you ask? Because for one reason, you shouldn’t be taking your new baby all over creation. They don’t have the immune system developed enough at this time to deal with constant viral attacks from other people. Therefore, if they’re just going to be lounging around the house, then they need the baby equivalent of sweat pants… and that would be a onesie.

Second, you are going to be constantly changing them during this time. You’re not going to have the skill/dexterity developed at this point to want to try to wrangle a kid into all of those clothes. And believe me, the last thing that you want to be doing is trying to keep the $30 outfit from getting poop on it after junior has a bout with constipation.

Third, they’re going to outgrow it so fast that it’s going to make your head spin. (Especially in our case… Blaze was a preemie, and still the size of a full term baby… now, three months later he’s barely fitting in 6mo clothes.) I wouldn’t even recommend buying newborn-sized clothes, because they’ll more than likely be out of them before they get out of the carseat on the ride home from the hospital. But maybe that’s just our case.

Now, when you do get your onesies, make sure that if they’re long sleeved, they need to be the ones that have the fold over mittens. (or whatever they’re called.) These will help you in ways you can’t even imagine. Trying to put mittens on the hands of babies to protect them from scratching themselves is like Sisyphus pushing a rock up the hill. You’ll work to get the mittens on, then they will just take them off in about .1% of the time it took you to get them on. (If you do have to put mittens on them, I don’t suggest using mittens at all. I would use socks. They usually expand further to get them on their hands, and they’ll stay on the hands longer.)

Next, make sure that the hole their head goes through is LARGE. Kid’s heads are huge, and some onesies are more generous in this requirement than others. I like the ones that have the foldover slits on the shoulders, and the ones that have the snaps in the back. Yes, they are a little more of a pain because you have to snap them up after you get it on them, but its soo much easier to put it on them that it’s worth the extra little bit.

Speaking of snaps, that’s another thing… if the onesie has footies, it’s considered a sleeper. These should have snaps down *both* legs. (Believe it or not, some of them only have them down one side. Why they did that, I have no idea.)

Now, you’re probably going to be asking, “How are we going to keep baby warm if all they have are onesies?” It’s not rocket surgery, but I’m going to have another article on sleep sacks and blankets. With these two things, you should be able to go out in any weather with baby in a onesie.

By now you have a good idea of what to look for in a onesie, and why you should care. (Cost, usability, and convenience.) Hopefully, the moms out there that send me the eventual hate-emails on this can wrap their head around the idea that most of the clothes that we buy for them at this age aren’t for them, they’re for the parents. (I have yet to see a kid this age complain about the clothes they are in. Though I have seen a woman worry about which coordinated outfit that they should put them in for the day. And then have to change it 20 min later…) Save the money and spend it on Doc Brown’s bottles… something you’ll get way more use out of and will make your lives a little better. (But that’s another article.)

Bring on the comments!

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Crafting: Anyone ever check out these books?

Handmade beginnings by AnnaMarie Hornes
How to use, adapt, and design patterns by Les Hollahan
Sew U. – Wendy Muller

(Also anyone check out Engage by Brian Solis)

Post comments if you have any.

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Finances: What do you think?

I’m on a conf call right now, and I thought I would go through the ideas for articles I came up with awhile back, notes, and little ideas that I wrote in the notebook. (Yes, I carry a notebook and pen pretty much all the time.)

Awhile back I was looking into setting a personal budget so I checked around the web, and there are literally a hundred thousand different ways to set up a budget. Here’s one of the aggregates of what I found.
Credit Card Debt – 5%
Student Loan Debt – 10%
Housing – 30%
Transportation – 15%
Rainy Day Savings – 5%
Retirement Savings – 10%
Health Insurance – 7%
Food – 10%
Misc – 8%

What do you think about the breakdown? Do any of you have any input on budgets that you guys use?

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Crafting: Felt like poop Sunday…

Or Manure rather. In case you didn’t know, I’m a certified Master Composter. And while I haven’t done too much of it lately, that’s more because I didn’t have a consistent supply of nitrogen-rich material. (Got plenty o’ leaves though…) I was on Craigslist, (one of my favorite sites,) and saw that this person had horse manure to give away.

Well, you can’t beat that price with a stick, now can you?

So I made my way over there and filled up the truck. (Rather overfilled.)

When I left I noticed that my truck wasn’t handling all that well. I was like, “Man, I must have overfilled it and it’s riding low.” So, I kept it in first/second gear and it was long slow trip. (about 1/2 hr to go about 10 miles.) But I made it home without incident and offloaded the offal. :-)

The best part was, I didn’t even really put a dent in their pile. See for yourself:

pile of horse manure

Nitrogen-rich environment

Well, this means Dad’s going to be able to do a little experimenting with the compost pile for awhile… or if nothing else, be able to get rid of some of these dang leaves!

Some of you are probably thinking, “Ewww! Stinky!”

Believe it or not, vegetarian animals, their manure doesn’t smell as bad as omnivores, or straight carnivores. I mean, it doesn’t smell like roses, (but roses do love the manure,) but it’s better than dog/cat scat.

Anywho, if I can muster up the energy to make the multiple trips it’s going to take to get the whole pile, I should be sitting pretty for this year’s garden… Hmmm, that reminds me, I need to buy an almanac.

Well, talk to you all later.

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