As some of you know, I have a list of
things to never buy again. One of these includes bread.
Why? Because it’s cheap and healthy and there are no ingredients in it
we can’t pronounce.
Also on the list? Yogurt. And ice cream.
(We make our own frozen yogurt instead. Add fruit, vanilla,
& milk = delish.)
How do you make your own yogurt? Watch the
three videos on www.makeyourownyogurt.com
or read this pdf
and you’ll be set. Here are some of the basic steps I put
together. (But if you are really serious about making your own, refer
back to the aforementioned links.)
Step one: Boil water in a
Step two: Place your
thermometer & stirring spoon in the boiling water to sterilize.
Step three: Place second
pot inside first pot of boiling water and pour in desired amount of
milk. (We usually do one gallon’s worth.)
Step three: Let the milk
raise to 185 stirring frequently but not constantly.
Step four: Cool the milk
pot in an ice bath until it reaches 110. (We just put cold water &
ice in the sink and put the pot of milk in that.)
Step five: Gently wisk in
1-2 tablespoons of existing plain yogurt for every
quart of milk. (4 quarts = 1 gallon) If you are making a gallon’s worth,
use 4-5 tablespoons worth.
Step six: Put the milk
pot over a hot pad on medium setting for 7 hours maintaining the 110
*We bought this heating pad
off of Amazon for $13.06. (Okay, we actually got it free by doing Swagbuck searches.) The nice
part about this pad is that it does not turn off after 50 minutes like
most heating pads do.
Step seven: After seven
hours, remove the lid and stir your contents. You will notice a green
liquid on the surface. This is exactly what you want. Place the yogurt
(If you want a thick Greek yogurt, you can
strain the yogurt with a coffee filter. The longer you strain, the
thicker it will be.)
Step eight: Refrigerate
overnight. In the morning you will have fresh homemade yogurt.
Thanks to my guest columnist (self named OpinionGrub) for this
My lovely Pennybug Wife thought it would be cool for me to do a short
book review for Bugsville of a work we are both reading: In Defense of
Food by Michael Pollan. I’ll shoot for a “short”
review. We’ll see. Not likely.
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” These few words are
the sum total of the advice given by Michael Pollan.
I approached this book from my own somewhat unique perspective: As a
fairly thin (used to be VERY thin pre-marriage!) male with a taste for
red meat ( Veggies? What are those!?) and a penchant of gorging, the
“Not too much. Mostly plants” part was/is not very welcome. I’m also a
scientist, physics by trade. I’m not typically very sympathetic to
journalists marching into the scientific realm claiming superior
knowledge. Further, I am somewhat suspicious of the seemingly
neo-liberal “whole foods” movement. In fact, the store Whole Foods kind
of creeps me out. (Still does. But hey…keep reading…give me a
In Defense of Food, in the vein of video documentaries like Food,
Inc. and Supe Size Me, seeks to expose aspects of Western
industrialized food production and its negative effects on us as
consumers. In particular, Michael Pollan goes for the jugular of the
Western, pseudo-scientific ideology called “Nutrionalism”. This
ideology says that the foods we eat are merely carriers of the nutrients
we need to survive. (For example: Eat 100% of the daily vitamins,
proteins, fiber etc and you’ll be fine.) In Defense of Food tries
to show that real food is more than a sum of its nutritional
parts but works together as a single system. That it is, for example,
the fibers in a pineapple that slow the digestion of the sugars, helping
regulate our metabolism. More, the book ominously suggests that
scientists, industrial producers, medical professionals, and journalists
all have a vested interest in keeping you ignorant about the food you
Okay, so I’m not someone who is readily interested in hearing from
another prophet of dietary doom. I don’t like conspiracy theorists. I
did little more than shake my head politely when our taxi driver yawed
on about how the government controls our weather. And I am predisposed
against anything that tries to get me to eat more things that DON’T have
Yet I couldn’t escape the logic in Pollan’s claim that the food
industry makes most of its money on processed foods…potatoes and
radishes simply won’t make a corporate executive rich. And I couldn’t
forget (nor forgive!) the crushing betrayal I felt when I learned turkey
“bacon” was considered worse to eat than properly cooked real bacon
largely due to the high sodium content in turkey bacon (yes ladies, you
have to tell the truth to your husband on this one).
From this, I have to consider that the world is not on my health’s
side. Some points Pollan forcefully makes you consider:
1) How much of the press focuses on “health segments” or the
latest dietary study? It’s ridiculous…how much “news” would evaporate
if we didn’t have the latest study on dietary fiber and saturated fat to
2) And are we really sure that the government officials we elect
will do their job? Or maybe they are doing their “jobs” as, practically
speaking, it is the special interest groups who provide most of their
3) And guess who funds the nutritional scientists…very often the
same people who fund the government officials. Bet you didn’t know
Fritos are labeled a health food product now…they are, “scientists” have
4) Most cynical of all, (more inferred than stated) is it really
in the best interest of the medical community that we’re all healthy?
There is too much to cover in depth, so read the book. The book was
an entertaining read and, surprisingly from my perspective as a
scientist, his critiques of the science community valid. Gratefully,
his revised healthy food guide includes a little bit of fats and evil
carbohydrates. So I can forgive him for encouraging me to drink less
pop and pop more carrots.
So I’ve been pretty much converted (Whole Foods crowd rejoice! The
store still creeps me out). Of course I say that while eating a cheapo
brownie from a box. But my big take-away isn’t food related at all.
I’m more convinced than ever that we need to dissect the assumptions we
have preached to us (what else do you call a TV commercial but a
sermon? “Eat this food to be cool and happy…”). It turns out many
maladies I’ve just accepted as “common” were once rare. Did you know
that crooked teeth, strokes, heart disease, and cancer weren’t nearly so
much “just part of life” before? I didn’t. I might have linked these
issues to smoking, but not to the bread we eat and the pop we drink.
So that leads me to my BIG-big question: what non-food beliefs do we
have that are merely assumptions or “hope so’s”? Questions of purpose,
relationships, and spirituality? Are we blindly accepting our beliefs
from the hand of a general consensus, given to us by “experts” who
created their recommendations solely to profit from our poor decisions?
I wonder if our food isn’t a great analogy for how we often live
life. We often blindly consume products that are sweet to the taste and
both cheap and easy to obtain (anyone want a Coke?), but it leads to
unhealthiness. Do we just as readily believe things that are sweet to
our philosophical tongues and fit cheaply and easily into our
comfortable lives, but ultimately lead to disease and death?
I remember shopping at this store when I
was a kid, amazed that everything was just a dollar. Now I am amazed
that these prices are still a dollar, despite inflation. Here
is a list of my Dollar Tree favs:
- Pregnancy Tests: Yup. These are ranked high in
accuracy. Go to another store and pay $12 each. We used these when we
found out we were prego with our little guys… they worked great.
- Neosporin (generic brand): I can’t tell a
difference between the generic and name brand here. The cheapest I’ve
ever seen for this stuff.
- Cleaning products: I’ve tried ‘em and think they
are pretty good. Even their dishwasher detergent was a keeper I
- Cards: Okay, these cards don’t have Hallmark
written on the back, but you won’t pay $3.99 for something that usually
isn’t kept too long. My Dollar Tree has cards 2/$1… saves a lot in the
- Frozen Fruit: Not all Dollar Tree’s have a freezer
section, but if yours does, check it out. Mine has 10 oz frozen
blueberries, 12 oz frozen strawberries, and 16 oz frozen peaches. I
don’t even think it is possible to find frozen fruit cheaper at another
- Sunday Newspaper: The Chicago Tribune normally
costs $1.99. You can get it half price, and these are sold in stores
starting on Saturday.
For more, see WalletPop’s list of worst Dollar Tree buys.
Gotta love a huge online garage sale, with a-lotta great steals.
Today, we are going to learn how to save time and money by subscribing
to Craigslist listings by RSS and email.
1. Go to Craigslist.org and select your state or city.
2. Enter your search in the box. Then Press Enter. Let’s pretend we
are looking for something Star Wars for that Jedi lover in your life.
(This works for apartment/parking space listings too).
3. You will see your list of items. Whoa. We have Star Wars Bobble
Heads and Star Wars Pez Dispensers. Perfect.
4. Scroll all the way down to the very bottom of the page. Find in
the right hand corner an orange rectangle that says RSS. (If you wish to subscribe
via email do not click
on this box.)
To subscribe via RSS/in your Reader/Add it to your Google
6. Click on the orange RSS box.
7. Subscribe via Google or other reader.
To subscribe via Email:
6. Right click on the orange RSS box.
Click on Copy Link Location.
7. Go to FeedMyInbox.com.
8. In the Website or Feed URL, hold the ctrl key down and press
9. Enter your email address in the Your Email Address box.
10. Check your email and confirm your
subscription by clicking on the link.
11. That’s it! You’re done!
My mom used to talk about putting me in
plastic pants, diaper covers, and pins. These things sound plain
foreign to me. When I heard of some friends using cloth diapers, I
thought, “Wow, they are brave.” After seeing me how these “work”, I
realized that the process was much simpler than I thought!
I am writing a three part series featuring
Cloth Diapers 101, thanks to one of my reader’s suggestions!
in the world?
Many cloth diapers have two parts: the diapers and the inserts. The
diapers have a slit in back to slide the inserts into. I usually put
two inserts in as my little boys drink a lot of milk!
Velcro & Snaps
Most brands offer both velcro and snaps.
-Pros: Easy to fit the diaper to the size of the baby
-Cons: Velcro tends to wear out over time and not stick
-Cons: If you have a toddler, he may have an easy time undoing the
velcro and taking off his diaper (I’ve had this happen before!)
- You can buy a small, medium or large size
- Or, you can buy a one-size-adjusts-to-all
(good from and 8 pound newborn to a 35 pound toddler) size. These
diapers have little snaps down the front to adjust to the baby’s size.
Of course this option is usually more expensive, but will get more use.
There are hundreds of cloth diaper brands.
I am going to mention the three that I have tested and tried.
For each diaper listed, I have read
countless reviews and found people who said that these diapers were
their “perfect” and “their favorite.” But again for all three I also
read that the diapers caused rashes, leaks, and red marks around their
babies legs. (This is similar with reviews about brands of disposable
diapers. Some people are very loyal to a certain brand, while others
can’t stand them.)
1) Bum Genius
Bum Genius is probably one of the most
popular brands. Each cloth diaper usually costs around $17.95 – $49.99
each. The part that I do not like about BumGenius is that their velcro
tabs are quite small and easily fray over time.
2) Happy Heiny’s
Happy Heiny’s diapers cost around $17.85 –
$18.95. I really like the BIG velcro tab that these diapers have.
These usually run around $19.95 each.
FuzziBunz traditionally come in snaps only.
Have you tried cloth diapers? Do you like a
certain brand over another? Be sure to stay tuned for parts two and
Here, I share the most effective way I know to wash cloth diapers.
Just be sure to read your cloth diaper brand’s instructions as the
If you, like me, flinch at the thought of dunking a soiled diaper in
the toilet, I have good news for you! You can just shake off the
remains in the toilet, spray the diaper with a water bottle, and then
put the diaper in a pail. If you have a newborn who is still on
breastmilk, you will not have much shaking to do.
If this thought is still to much for you, you can purchase flushable diaper
liners. These are great at capturing solids and can be used
with any cloth diaper brand.
Wet pail vs the Dry
You will want to keep your diapers somewhere until you wash them.
There are traditionally two methods:
- Wet pail: Put the diapers in a
bucket/pail/garbage bin, sprinkle them with baking soda*, then cover
them in water. Since this can creates messes, cause a potential
drowning hazard, and start to stagnate, the more popular method is…
- Dry pail: Put the diapers in a bucket, sprinkle baking soda* over
them, and cover with a lid or cloth. *Baking soda is not strictly
necessary, but helpful for managing with odors.
- Keeping them in the machine: Forget the
pail all together and place the diapers directly into the washing
machine. Then, run the diapers on a short cycle. A great way to keep
diapers odor free since they are frequently rinsed.
Choose a detergent that is without these additives in order to
prevent a residue or build up which makes diapers less absorbent. Note
that sometimes, more expensive is not always better! Aldi’s Astra
detergent only has one additive as compared to Dreft or Tide which have
quite a few and are not recommend for cloth diapers.
If possible, stay free of these additives:
- Brightener – You can
tell this is added if the detergents says, “Brightens color.”
- Fabric Softeners
has one of the best laundry detergent/cloth diapering charts I know of
which you can find here.
It lists Charlie’s Soap,
which is a very reputable detergent, great for cloth diapers. (Don’t
let the name fool you… it is actually a detergent.) Planet also has
good reviews and is available at Whole Foods or Amazon.
Do Not Use:
Clorox Bleach: Clorox is much too harsh and eats
away at the diapers and can cause holes. Use baking soda or a little
hydrogen peroxide instead as a good way to remove odor.
Diaper Rash Cream: Cream can also cause a waxy
build up. You will want to use some sort of barrier between the baby
and diaper in this case. You can use a diaper liner.
I’ve also used cut up t-shirt squares… a great idea from friend of
mine. (If you child has a severe diaper rash, you may want to consider
switching to a disposable diaper until the rash clears. You may also
consider switching laundry detergents.)
Fabric Softener: Both liquid and sheet fabric
softeners leave a water repelling residue. We do not want a diaper that
does not absorb liquid!
Free & Clear: Just because a detergent has this
label does not mean that it is clear of additives. These products are
usually geared toward a person with allergies. The fungicide and/or
bacteriocide ingredients in some of these products (All Free & Clear
and Purex Free & Clear) leave a build up.
Soap: Just as we see soap scum in our showers, soap
also leaves a waxy build up on diapers as well. Stay clear of soap.
Keep in mind that laundry detergent is different from laundry soap.
If you have already used a bad detergent or a “do not use” item, try
stripping the diapers. You can do this by running them in HOT water two
to three times to get rid of any residue.
Machine Washing Day
- Wash all of your cloth diapers together,
do not wash these with your other cloths. Also most machines cannot
handle more than two dozen diapers.
- Fasten all of the velcro tabs. (You don’t
want a train of diapers to come out and the velcro frayed.)
- To avoid build-up, plan on using 1/4 to
1/2 of the normal amount of detergent that you use per load.
- First do a COLD cycle. This will prevent
stains. Second, do a HOT cycle. If you do the hot cycle first, you
will bake in stains!
- Drying/heat is important to sanitize the
diapers. If you can smell an odor, bacteria is probably lurking.
Just run it through the wash/dry cycle again.
- If you would like to save on your
electric bill, consider line–drying your diapers. You could also put
them in the dryer for several minutes to get them hot and sanitized,
then pull them out to line-dry.
Washing By hand
Two reasons why I chose hand-washing:
- Our condo does not have a built in washer
- Since cloth diapers cannot be washed with
other laundry, it did not seem time or cost effective for me to machine
wash a small load.
My Step by Step
- For a soiled diaper, shake the remains in
the toilet. Spray water over the soiled area. Then run COLD water over
the soiled area and put diaper in a pail.
- For a wet diaper, run COLD water over the
diaper. Then place in a pail until you are ready to do a load of hand
- Place diapers in the sink or tub.
- Add two to four tablespoons of detergent.
- Add HOT water until all of the diapers are
covered. (You can let the diapers soak for several hours or overnight
if you wish.)
- Knead the diapers as you would bread
dough. You can wear rubber gloves if you like.
- Drain the water out of the sink/tub.
- Rinse the diapers under hot water until
you do not have any more foam in the water.
- Squeeze the water out of the diapers.
- Hang the diapers to dry. You can do this
on a wooden drying rack or over the shower curtain rod.
- When dry, the diapers may be stiff. If
possible try to expose them to the sunlight for heat and to reduce the
What did I miss? What diaper washing methods do you find helpful?
Do you have a favorite brand of detergent that you use?
Sources: Diaper Jungle,
Diapers, and Zany Zebra.
We have added bread on our list of things to never buy again!
Since we grind our own flour, we have tried dozens of times
to get just the right bread recipe. I’ll share the one that works for
us… if you have a different type of wheat kernel or wheat flour, you may
need to tweak the recipe a bit. It takes about 5-10 minutes of prep
time… and then we leave the bread machine to do the rest! (We found a
bread machine on Craigslist.)
Whole Wheat Bread
(makes a two pound loaf)
4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Brown Sugar/ Honey
2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Oil
4 Tbl Gluten Flour (can be purchased at Dominicks, Whole Foods,
1 Tbl Quick Rise/Bread Machine Yeast (or 4 tsp Active Dry Yeast)
1 & 1/3 cup Water (80 degrees F) (I usually guess on the
temperature… just make sure it is above room temperature)
We set this on the Whole Wheat setting on our bread machine and
usually delay the timer for about 30 minutes. (I’m not sure why, but for
some reason delaying the start time seems to help!)
Today my husband took my baby boy on some errands and I had the rare occasion of having the house all to myself! So what did I do? I cleaned a little bit, and posted about a dozen things on Craigslist and Ebay.
I wanted to share a couple of tips I have learned from putting items on Ebay:
- Start your credit rating by buying items! Sellers will leave postitive or negative feedback for the person who is doing the buying. On items I bought, I paid right away and then received positive feedback, which helps my rating score.
- You can put up to 5 items FREE month when you choose the Auction Style option. Since it's free, take advantage of this!
- Before you list an item, type it into the search bar. Then look at the Completed Listings tab on the left hand side of the screen to see what similar/same items have or have not been selling for. (You must be logged in to see this.)
- Read Ebay Secrets! It is full of great selling tips! One of the most important tips I have learned is to chose your wording carefully. Make it fun & memorable! If you do nothing else, look at this example: A wedding dress that cost $1200 sold for $3,850!!
I just got a sample of a Pop Tart new flavor, Wild Grape in the mail! Sign up here
to become a VIP of
Pop Tarts for samples and coupons.