Thursday, June 4, 2009

June is FREE Month!

To celebrate our summer-time freedom, I thought June would be a great month to go FREE!

Paper-free to be more specific. This month will challenge us to ditch all the extra paper we use daily. Less paper in = Less paper OUT!

I will be addressing some (*ahem*) more extreme methods of losing the paper...feel free to skim over those or embrace them whole-heartedly!

There are a few key areas to address when going paper-free. Let's get started!
*Bills, bills, bills...we hate getting these in the mail anyway so why have them sent snail mail? Nearly all service providers & credit card companies offer FREE paper-free billing so start signing up today! Some companies are offering a billing discount if you sign-up because you are saving them postage costs as well.
TIP: Create a new email account solely for bills/business type correspondance and check in at a regularly scheduled interval. Go all out and schedule automatic payments and save yourself some time responding to those bills!

*Printer paper...Hopefully, you are a little bit better than me about NOT printing out ever little thing that you think you might need to actually carry with you. This is one reason that I love laptops and especially internet-accessible phones! Many times I have directions or recipes that someone has emailed to me and I feel compelled to print away...I have been trying to re-use printer paper as much as possible and re-format my printables so that more than one thing can fit per page. I would love more tips on how to economize on the printer paper!

*Paper Products...The easiest ones to get rid of are paper towels and napkins. Simply replace with regular household cleaning cloths and or cut up some old t-shirts/baby blankets/sheets/etc...to make your own! If you have already done this step you are ready to move on...

Next, what about all those pesky tissues that you need to keep buying and tossing? How about trying it the old-fashioned way with handkerchiefs? Make sure your family members hankies are color-coded (or something similar) and use this thrifty, resourceful option instead! Wash these in hot with a few drops of tea tree oil along with your regular detergent to clean and disinfect. Moving right along...

Once you have freed yourself of all those paper products, what about giving cloth diapering a try? Why throw all that money into a landfill? Check out Jillian's Drawers for a fantastic tester package filled with all the major types of cloth diapers (not all brands are included) risk-free! (Well, there is a $10 program fee, but much cheaper & easier than scouring the internet & ordering the different dipes one by one.) Definitely take the plunge and test some cloth wipes as well! Right-o...here we go...

Now that your baby is not wearing a paper diaper anymore, why are you? Test out some fantastic mama cloth! (I have not had the opportunity to "test-drive" mama cloth as I have had no "reason" to basically since August 2005...well, there was that one chance back in October 2007....) If you are interested in another type of "containment" device...check out the Diva Cup. Some additional benefits (other than environmental) to these products are anecdotal reports of shorter, lighter cycles with less cramping. WOOHOO! Sounds good to me...

Finally, if you really want to go paper-free...check out some family cloth. Doesn't that just sound better than "toilet paper"? I have heard many, many different ways to take this plunge and just honestly cannot quite make the leap.I have also seen recommendations to color-code each family members product. One of the best suggestions I have heard was to use it mainly for girly wiping (i.e. #1) and to continue to use regular t.p for everything else (i.e #2) followed by the "freshening up" with family cloth. Hmmm...whatever works...

(I cannot find a link to someone selling family cloth at the moment although I know I have seen it on Hyena Cart. I will keep looking...let me know if you have one!)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gro Baby Rave (random)

Here is Grant's cute bootie!
I heard the buzz about Gro Baby and I had to try them. Overall, we LOVE them!

Pros: Very absorbent, organic cotton soaker (we go overnight in them w/o the booster b/c sometimes I forget to stuff it in there)
GORGEOUS shell (we have mandarin and the color is so yummy! I also love the natural color snaps)
Super trim
I love the soft "velcro" part (no scratched up tummies! Love, love, love this! You can customize the fit better than snap dipes, but no red irritation especially if you have tummy sleepers!)
Super quick dry shells!

Cons: The velcro is really sticky and sticks to everything (like GSP fur that is taking over my home. :(
I don't have enough! :(

Here is Evan. Yeah..don't mind "George the Steamroller" in the background...lol!

Get 'em here:

The Natural Baby Co.

No...really...go get them! :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paper Towels?

A few months ago, we stopped using paper products in our kitchen to reduce waste (and conveniently save money at the same time!). My dad is a paper towel-aholic so he brings his own roll to my house if he is watching my kiddos for any length of time longer than 5 minutes. (Yeah...I'm working on it...) He left his last roll here in case of any catastrophes.
We had one.

A giant milk spill while all my kitchen towels were spinning happily in the dryer.

Uh oh! I decided to grab the paper towels since they were here for this. exact. reason.

I grabbed one off the roll and headed in to attack the spill. Hahahahahaha!
One paper towel didn't even make a dent in the milk spill...by the time it was over I used a huge handful and was pretty P.O.ed! Seriously, I had been using paper towels for years and I never realized how inefficient they actually are. One of my kitchen towels could have easily cleaned up the milk and lived to tackle more messes. Hmmmmm....

Just a little prelude to June...(June is FREE month!)

Sell-Off Status Update

Craigslisting: Ehhhh...I like it when things sell fast, but I get aggravated if a potential buyer asks 10 million questions and then drops off the face of the earth. All my single baby stuff is gone, but my twin stuff is just sitting there....

Ebay: Gah! I really must say this is not my favorite outlet for selling smaller lots...too many fees and rigamorale...

Yard Sale: Well, I am still trying to determine my pricing strategy for the yard sale. I typically like to price things a bit higher and then immediately mark them down (can you tell I spent many years working retail?), but I am not sure how that will work with a yard sale? I am counting on people trying to make offers though so I do think I will price a bit on the higher side...any suggestions?

I haven't tried out Consignment selling, but I wanted to add 2 other selling venues for baby/mama gear (and some other stuff too!):

Diaper Swappers

Spots' Corner

Both of these sites allow you to sell items that you are no longer using to mamas that may need them. You would want to save these sites for gently used clothing/shoes/maternity items b/c they would need to be shipped. (ummm....I won't tell you how this is working out for me... ...I'll just say try to post your items and run without looking at anything else!)

Let me know your status!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cloth Diaper Parties (Random)

I know this isn't quite fitting in with the great sell-off, but I was so excited to find out about this...

The Cloth Diaper Superstore has a program called Booty-in-a-Box which is fantastic for cloth diapering advocates! I will admit that I have created my own "Booty Bag" filled with all the different types of cloth diapers (okay, not all of them...it is only a shopping tote!) that I keep in my van to show friends who look even mildly interested in the twins' dipes. But this kit actually has all the promotional materials as well as a cost comparison sheet and offers a free wetbag to the hostess of the party. I think this is a FABULOUS idea b/c I know that without seeing the diapers in person it seems like anyone talking about them is speaking an entirely different language. To those thinking about switching or starting with their first baby it can be very overwhelming. Hopefully, parties like these will allow mamas to feel comfortable enough to make the decision to cloth diaper especially since all those newbie questions can be answered at the party.

Rock on Cloth Diaper Superstore!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Craigslisting Craziness!!

Okay..you caught me! It's true...I am a huge blog slacker...it seems whenever I actually think about what I want to write I can't get anywhere close to the computer, but on days when I have nothing to say I seem to have unlimited computer time. Ugh!

I promise to TRY to do better.

Anyway, by now you should have had plenty of time to organize your stuff. Unless of course you are blessed to have a hubby that collects crap (oops, I mean stuff!). If you do, then you might run into a problem. (Or if you collect "stuff" too you might have an even bigger problem!) There are 2 ways to deal with collections:

* If the collection is a genuine, legitimate collection that your spouse (or you!) loves, the best bet is to find a good place to actually DISPLAY the collection. This may seem like going against the BtoB way, but you may actually have to find & purchase (or swap for or barter for or whatever...) a storage unit to keep the display neat and free from tiny, grabbing hands.

*If the collection is made up of "I can't walk past the $5 DVD bin at Walmart without grabbing at least 5 DVDs"...then you can institute the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule of BtoB life is: "If one comes in, one goes out!" That means for each new addition to the DVD collection, one DVD needs to find a new loving home. This rule requires you & your family to really think about whether or not to make a new purchase.

On to the Craigslisting...
*Take great pictures of your gear in an area free from clutter and with good natural light!
*Post your listings on the weekend when lots of people are already in "shopping mode" and most likely just got paid!
*Include as much description as possible for your item...google it (better yet Swagbucks it!) and get the manufacturer's description to copy and paste into your ad.

Another great idea...CONSIGNMENT SALES!
If you don't have time to deal with individually selling items yourself, look around for a nearby consignment shop and have them do the work for you! We do not have any really close in my area so I have not gone this route, but I have heard great raves from other mamas about this method!

Alright mamas, post your craigslisting tips or success stories here!

Friday, May 1, 2009

But I want more babies.........

Yes, it does seem a little silly to think about clearing out any baby gear before you are done having babies. But here are a few things to consider when you are taking inventory of the baby booty (no, not your baby's booty...you know, all their loot!):

*Did it work for you? Did you like to use it or did you spend hours each day cursing it out and wishing you had a different version?

*Does it expire? (This probably only applies to car seats and baby food, but hey, who knows?)

*Will you most likely get good use out of it again? Is is seasonal? Is is likely that one of your own kiddos will actually get to use it again? (Seasonal baby clothes are a tough one to decide what to do with...basically, you need to have another same gender/same season baby to get the best use out of those little-bitties and even then it is a crapshoot! My twins were unable to wear ANY of their older brother's summer gear even though he was born in May and they were born in June.)

*How far apart do you plan to space your kiddos? (One thing I discovered even with only 2 years between my kids is that there was TONS of cool new gear available by the time my 2nd & 3rd were born. Some of it we were easily able to bypass, but some of it was just callling our names. By purchasing it from craigslist and keeping it clean and resellable, we were able to have some of the best new gear only while we needed it for a fraction of the cost.)

Want to keep it, but don't have enough space?
What about lending it out? Be sure to set very clear, firm ground rules before lending out any items including a return date (even if you don't really know when you'll need it again). Explain you would like the item returned in the same condition it was lent out in (although it may not come back perfect...if this expectation is in place it will encourage the borrowing mama to be a little more careful with your gear) Be careful who you lend to. A good rule of thumb is if you would trust them to babysit you can trust them with your stuff! Keep track of who has what either on your computer or in a notebook.
**If you want to "lend" out clothing, go for it! Just don't expect to get any particular pieces back and you will probably be happily surprised with the outcome!**

Any other ideas about what to do with all this stuff, mamas?