Friday, June 21, 2013

   Where do my readers live? Is it so hot that you don't want to cook, clean, get dressed, or move from in front of the AC? That's exactly how I'm feeling and I know the pregnancy contributes to a lot of that, but WOWZERS! I keep saying that it's usually not in the 90's in June here (and I know I'm wrong) but my 7 1/2 month belly makes the temperature seem more like 110. Just think though, we'll be moving to Florida next month, I know it has to be more humid and hot there than here! I'm looking at the glass half full because the beach is only going to be like 15 minutes away as opposed to the 45 minute drive now. Which by the way I'm taking complete advantage of my empty schedule tomorrow to hit up the beach and cool off in the ocean.

   From now until August my goal is to wear the least amount of clothes as possible and still look good. Granted my choices are limited right now since the movers have already taken most of our household goods, but I'm working with what I have. I'll actually try to get an outfit pic of today's maternity look so I can share it tomorrow. I did a quick round up of dresses, skirts, and a few accessories that are fab for this weather. For me this time of year is definitely not the time to wear many fitted items that are going to cling to my body and make my body temperature increase by 10 degrees...lol.

Beat the Heat of Summertime




   During summer the beach is always on my mind and as you can see, the colors above show that in greens, blues, and oranges. My favorite piece from here has to be the orange animal dress from TopShop, then I would say the denim RL skirt because it's classic & all American for the upcoming 4th of July. Also, did you see the super cute headbands? I have yet to find one that actually looks good on me...that's my new mission when I hit the American malls again in a few months.

   What are your favorite summer outfits to beat the heat?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Voyager la Côte d'Azur- Cannes & Nice

   Living in Italy for 4 years has given us many opportunities to travel and we've thoroughly enjoyed every bit of that and will miss is dearly. So much that I cringe a little at the fact of moving back stateside. One place that a lot of people don't think to go to, would be the French Riviera. This is mostly a beach, nightlife, and gambling spot but we did none of those things. Why? Well for starters it was too flippin cold to worry about getting in the water, and no partying/gambling because we had our 5 year old daughter with us for this trip as well. Either way we had an amazing time, ate lots of wonderful food, and had the chance to see some beautiful things while there. St. Paul-de-Vence, Cannes, Nice, and Monaco were on the agenda along with a long, exhausting bus ride there and back. Even though I slept like crap and was uncomfortable during the 8 hours bus ride, it was well worth it.

  
   Our first stop was Cannes, which of course is most famous for the Cannes Film Festival that takes place in May. We did get our picture taken on the red carpet where all the celebs go and browsed through the hands of fame.
Angelina Jolie, Johnny Hallyday, & Meg Ryan

   I was totally bummed that the weather sucked the day we were there because the beaches looked gorgeous. If it hadn't been so cold, windy, and a little rainy we would have at least put our feet in and walked on the sand.

Cannes beach in the morning

   There was also a magnificent antique market going on while we were there. I really wish the prices weren't so darn expensive because there were several things that really caught my eye. Unfortunately there were so many signs on the tables saying no photos. The antique cameos were beautiful, unlike many that I've seen before, the cheapest I found was 160 euro. Silver serving trays, French books, lace, and much more. I kept thinking to my myself, okay this is what I would do with that. But you know how it is when your husband is there with you and you're trying to look through stuff? They just don't understand antiques...lol. There is an antique market here in my town the 1st Sunday of the month, I will be going to that since we are moving soon and will post pictures. So back to France. In the center of town there was an old carousal, coincidence of being right next to the antique market maybe, but the perfect touch. I literally stood there and stared at it for a few minutes just imagining this carousal in it's hay day. Even without the actual up & down pieces, it's just simply beautiful in it's own way.

  
   Let me tell you about French food...OMG, heaven, paradise, tasty, mouth watering, everything I hoped it would be...does that pretty much wrap it up? Our lunch was 7 euro each and that included sandwich, drink and dessert. I had the most amazing chicken baguette sandwich! It only had (juicy & tender) chicken, lettuce, tomato, and cheese but the sauce took it over the top. I know there was some horseradish in there but not sure what other ingredients they used, I may have to see how close I can come myself. My husband and I took forever to decide on which desserts to get, we went with a white chocolate cream & a honey cream pastry. You can't even say these don't look friggin awesome!
The best desserts!

   The 2nd stop was Nice and to be honest we didn't really do a lot here besides walk around the town, look in shops, and eat more food. We thought there was going to be more time in Nice but we didn't get there until late afternoon and left at 830 am to head for another town. However, the crowd without kids did go clubbing and from the looks of them the next morning, they had a pretty fun time. But I would like to share a few pictures of the beautiful church and more delicious food that we had.
Church in Nice, France

Church in Nice, France

Check back in a few days for Part 2 which includes Monaco & St. Paul-de-Vence!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Diapers, Diapers :Part 2

   When a person first hears "cloth diapers", they're usually thinking of the big square pieces of fabric that you have to fold several times and then pin. Those still exist, now called flats, but the CD (AKA cloth diaper) world has grown and developed so much since then. It really is amazing (to me it was) when you learn about all the different types of diapers, which is what this informing post is all about. Since I'm super excited to cloth diaper my baby when she arrives, I wanted to educate my readers as well and share some stuff that you may not know.  
 
Before we get to all the types, let's talk about a couple other things first.
 
Sizing:
   There are sized cloth diapers, specific newborn sizes, and a OS (one size) that is advertised to fit from birth to potty training. Most of the OS diapers start properly fitting a baby at around 8-10 pounds, but go all the way up to 35 pounds. The diapers have adjustable snap down rises so that you can make it a small, medium, or large. These (pic below) are the exact same diapers, just different colors. On the left is the diaper at a larger size, but still not the largest it will go. On the right everything is adjusted down to a newborn size. These particular diapers are a little different than most because they don't have the snap down rise, instead the elastic in the leg holes and waist is adjustable. I am sticking with OS after the newborn stage, I feel that this is the best bang for your buck and lasts until potty training.
   A lot of people like to order several newborn sized diapers for proper fit during the first month or two, before switching to OS. I am one of those people because I tend to have small babies, my first was 6.4 lbs. Making sure the diapers fit well is important and helps prevent leaks and blow outs. Of course if you plan on having more children you can reuse these later or you can sell them pretty easily and use that $$ to buy bigger ones.

2 FuzziBunz Diapers adjusted to different sizes
   
 
Snaps vs. Aplix (Velcro):
   1. Convenience- Velcro is definitely the easiest option. During the newborn stage a lot of people choose velcro so that they don't have to deal with snaps at those night time changings. As they get older a wiggly baby could be hard to do since they'll be trying to get away from you.
   TIP: For this reason, I've noticed that parents give their child a toy during changing time. It buys you a little more time when dealing with snaps and baby is entertained. Of course this doesn't always work...lol.

   2. Longevity- Snaps last longer, with wear and wash the velcro gets less sticky and collects fuzz. Your aplix will probably need to be replaced if you plan on using the diapers for more than one child. PS...your little one will figure out the velcro because it's so much easier to undo as opposed to stumping them with snaps.
  
   3. Fit- Think of snaps almost like a belt, they are pre-sized. Sometimes you may be in between the holes on a belt which is the same with snaps because all babies aren't the same. Velcro allows you to adjust the fit to be more tailored to your child.

Either one size, sized, snaps, or aplix...it's really a personal preference. I have majority snaps in our cloth diaper stash simply because of the longevity of them as opposed to velcro.
 

Types of Cloth Diapers**Contact me if you would like a more in depth explanation of any of the types of diapers**
 
Flats & Pre-folds:
   Flats are the old school way of cloth diapering. They're a large, one size, square of cotton fabric that you can fold many different ways to fit babies of all weights. Flats dry (even on the line) much faster than any other type of CD. The absorbency is the same throughout the entire flat, which is why you fold many times. These need to be pinned or secured with a snappi, a 3 part piece with little claws that are easier & quicker to use than actual diaper pins.
   I think of pre-folds as an updated flat. Instead of such large pieces of fabric, they are smaller and you can buy them in sizes to fit babies based on weight. They take longer to dry than flats (but quicker than other types of diapers) and get more fluffy & absorbent with each wash. As you can see in the picture below, they have 3 sections. The outer 2 sections have less layers than the middle, which usually has 5-8 layers of absorbency. This is the soaker part of the diaper that most of the waste will end up on. Again, these also need to be fastened with a snappi or pins, but you don't have to fold as much as with a flat.
Unbleached Indian Prefolds
    Since these are made of absorbent cotton or other materials, they are not waterproof which means you will need a cover (see below). If you're interested in the different types of folds used for prefolds & flats,  YouTube has many examples. That's how I learned to fold but I still have a couple months before I can test out my knowledge.

Fitteds:
   Fitted diapers are very breathable since they are made from cotton and other organic materials, and there is no barrier (like PUL) sewn in to make it waterproof. They are like prefolds but with leg elastics and there's no folding involved for you, the diaperer. They are super absorbent and because of that a lot of people prefer fitteds for night time use with a cover over top. Some of them do have snap in soakers for extra absorbency or you can lay one right in the diaper as well if needed.

Kissaluvs Newborn Fitted 
Printed Fitted by Green Child Creations

Covers:
   Diaper covers make your cloth diaper waterproof and add another layer of protection to prevent leaks. These are used over non-waterproof diapers, such as flats, prefolds, and fitteds. The great thing about covers is that you can rotate a couple throughout the day without having to throw them in the washer. If there's no poo on the cover then wipe it out, let it air dry, and use it again later in the day. They used to be called "plastic pants," but now you can get them in aplix or snaps and there's a wide variety of colors and prints.

Pockets:
   Pocket diapers have these main components; they're waterproof, they have pockets (typically open up in the back), and the inner part is made from some absorbent material, sometimes a stay dry. So there's a pocket for reason! What you will be stuffing the pockets with are inserts, the main 3 are microfiber (always use in the pocket, not next to baby's skin), hemp & bamboo blends. The pocket allows you to personalize the absorbency to the needs of your child by adding in more than 1 insert if needed, like at night time. Inserts are also a quick, easy, cheap DIY as opposed to buying enough for every diaper plus. Back to the prefolds & flats (not to mention flour sack towels), these can be folded and used as inserts to. Granted, most pocket diapers do come with inserts already but not always, especially if you buy the diaper used.

Kawaii One Size Heavy Wetter Pocket Diaper
  

AI2 (All in 2)/Hybrids:
   Even though my stash currently consists of mostly pocket diapers, with the exception of 5 gDiapers (AI2s), I really like the idea of the All In 2 (AI2). These diapers have no pockets, a waterproof outter, and an absorbent inner that snaps in. Because the inner part snaps in, you can reuse the cover as long as it doesn't get soiled and snap in a new insert. Drying time is also quicker than an AIO since all of the layers aren't sewed together.

Bum Rite AI2, you can see cover and absorbent snap in inner


gDiaper, the white pouch unsnaps from cover where insert is laid in

AIO (All in One):
   An AIO diaper is the closest in cloth that you can get to a disposable. These diapers tend to be more expensive than the other types, but there is no need for a cover since it's already waterproof & the inserts are already sewn in for maximum absorbency. Some AIO diapers also have leg gussets on the sides of the inner soaker, which helps to prevent leaking. Because this diaper is all 1 piece, it is harder to get all the way clean & the drying time is much longer. However, there are brands that have snap in soakers for the middle or partially attached pieces, which does help to cut down a bit on dryer time. People who plan to CD at daycares tend to use this type because it is pretty simple and user friendly for those unfamiliar. This is a wonderful option for dads and grandparents to.

Rumparoo Lil Joey AIO


    There are several different types of cloth diapering for all budget ranges, the key is to find out what works for your family. I wouldn't recommend buying all one brand or one type because those may not work for you. I personally love the idea of the gDiaper but only have 5 in my stash because like everything, all babies are different and what works for 100 people may not work for us. I hope this helped explain cloth diapering a little more, of course it could be more extensive, but I figured this was already a long enough post. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have or if you would like to see a post on another aspect of CD. Over the next few months I'll also be showing you all my stash, some DIY tips to save more money with cloth, and more.

  
 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Galimard Perfume Factory in France

   I have quite a bit of perfume and always wondered exactly how it was made. All of my questions were answered at our first stop along the French Riviera, where we toured the famous Galimard Perfume Factory. This factory has done business with a lot of high end labels in the past and currently the present. Some of those names include Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabanna, and more.

   The tour guide took us through the factory and explained all of the steps in creating a scent. In the photo below, you'll see a wooden box with a glass lid. Inside there are jasmine flowers and cleaned animal fat (or as the tour guide said, jazz-man). The essential oils from the fresh flower petals infuse the fat. The flowers stay in the box for so many days and then the old ones are taken out so that new ones can be put in. As you can see there aren't many jasmine flowers in this box, but I think she said those had just been changed to the 2nd batch. This fat is later mixed with alcohol and then what's left at the end is the intense scented alcohol part of the perfume. The percentage of scented alcohol you receive in each bottle varies, but if you have 12% then that's how much scent you have and the rest is water with maybe one or two other main ingredients.
  
Jasmine flowers infusing cleaned animal fat
   

Older machines used to make perfume


 
   At the end of the tour we were taken to the factory shop and I was in perfume heaven. Everywhere you looked in 2 big rooms there were cute bottles of perfume, soaps, lotions, body washes...it was the French Bath & Body Works, but so much more than that. There were 4 ladies standing at the counter spraying on samples to anyone that wanted. I will say that it did begin smelling like a French whore after about the 3rd go round. But I was smart, I only tried one scent on myself and I'm pretty certain my 5 year old had like 4 different kinds going on. 

   Of course I couldn't step foot into this place and leave empty handed, so I settled for a vanilla soap and an exclusive perfume. What do I mean by exclusive? This was they're newest ladies perfume and it won't even be available on the market for at least 2-3 more years. Why? She was telling us that they haven't marketed it out to designers yet and I guess that process takes a while. So whatever brand, very possibly a high end label, will decide they want this perfume with their name on it and it will be triple the price (maybe more) once it hits store shelves. I tried looking on their website for the exact one so I could share it with you, but I guess it's not up yet. But if you click HERE it will take you to the ladies perfume page so that you can browse. I enjoyed all of the ones we smelled at the factory, but some of the men scents weren't appealing to me. Although that could be due to the pregnancy hormones as well...lol.

   If there's a perfume factory anywhere around you, definitely schedule for a tour. I find this type of stuff pretty intriguing and would love to find one in the states to visit. Or if you've been to one let me know about your experience. I will be posting more about our trip along the French Riviera as well, just didn't want to make this post forever long. :-)



Monday, June 3, 2013

Diapers, Diapers :Part 1

   I will be exactly 27 weeks in two days and couldn't be more thrilled. I am not the most patient person, but this pregnancy has actually flown by. We just realized that if she comes early like my 1st daughter did, it's possible she'll make her grand appearance in 10 weeks. WOW we need to get busy!
   When expecting a newborn there are many things you have to consider, decisions to make, items to buy, and much more. I have decided to exclusively breast feed as I did my other child but we've also made another BIG decision...
*We are cloth diapering, hopefully from day 1 in the hospital.*
 
If someone would have asked me a year ago if I'd ever cloth diaper I would have probably said no. Only for the fact that I knew nothing about it, didn't realize how easy it was, not to mention how much $$ we could save. I've had several friends and family members give me the "eewww why," "what about poop," "what's the point," and even the "I just can't see you doing this for long." That last comment just makes me want to CD (cloth diaper) even more to prove that we can and will do it. Of course there's more to it than that, so for this post I'm just reviewing our reasons for cloth. Cloth diapering today just isn't what it was years ago.
**This is part 1 in a series of cloth diaper posts :-)

Here's our top 3 reasons and more...

1. The biggest reason for us is that it's cheaper than disposables.
 
- From birth to potty training a family spends (on average) $2500 on diapers and $600 on wipes. This average amount was determined on 2 1/2 years (which is 30 months), so $83/month on diapers & $20/month on wipes. These numbers are not the same for everyone, some may spend a little less and some a bit more.
 
-There are cloth diapers for every price range. But you can cloth diaper a child, birth to newborn, between $200 and $300 total. Yes there are the expensive ones that some pay $25-$50 for, but that's not me at all! The most I've paid so far for 1 diaper is $10.00, but I did buy a cover for $12.75. But you can also get prefolds, which are more old school (but more modern than way back when) that you fold and pin and this is the cheapest way.
 
- You may be thinking, well you still have to wash the diapers so how much does that cost? Let's say you do the diaper wash 3x a week for 2 1/2 years, that's 390 loads. We'll calculate that it is $0.75 per load, which is actually on the high end for some, that brings you to $292.50.

BONUS for us? We'll be living in base housing when the baby is born, which means that we don't have to pay utilities because it's included in our house. I will only be spending money on the diapers and the detergent.

2. Cloth diapers are better for baby & environment

- Disposable diapers have many different chemicals in them. If you have a baby with sensitive skin you may see a lot of rashes, and majority of the time it's actually caused by the chemicals. Yes diapers are made to pull the moisture away from babies skin but sometimes it also pulls away their natural oils, which can lead to over drying on their little bums.

-I have become more "green" in the past few years of living in Italy. I love that they use natural ingredients as much as possible and everything is practically organic (even the wine). Disposable diapers need tons and tons of plastic & trees to be manufactured. And did you know that they actually don't dispose themselves very quickly? They sit for years and years and years, like I'm taking 100's, built up with contamination from the poo and pee that fills them. Disposables are the 3rd largest item in the landfills right behind newspapers and bottles/cans from drinks.

3. I hate leaks & blowouts!!!

-My baby isn't here yet, so obviously I haven't had to deal with the poo yet in cloth. My 1st was in disposables and OMG did she has the nastiest blow outs ALL the time as an infant. I'm talking up her back, out the leg holes, coming through the cloths...get the point? Everyone that I've talked to about cloth says they've had less pee leaks & have had very few blowouts. Fit is very important because it will not catch everything if your fit is off.

4. Cloth diapers have a long life

- For us this isn't really an issue since we don't plan on having any more. Although let me just throw in that I wouldn't mind having a 3rd close to this one but he says no...lol. But back to the topic at hand. You can still buy sized diapers for your child if you prefer, but the most popular are one sized. They have adjustable snaps on the rise & waist and are meant to fit babies 8-35 lbs. As long as you take good care of your cloth diapers, they will last for years.

5. You can resell when you're done or donate

-Disposable diapers are literally money that gets thrown away. You can't donate them or resell them unless of course they're brand new. With cloth diapers you wouldn't believe how well they sell used, which means that you can get some of your initial investment back. Or if you don't want to resell you can always donate to a friend or charity. There is actually an organization that takes used diapers and distributes them to families who want to use cloth but can't afford to.

6. They're adorable

-We're women, love of the cute factor is in our blood! There are so many colors and prints to choose from with cloth diapers. They even have minky fabric ones that are ooo so soft and adorable! And then there's this diaper called a fitted which basically looks like a disposable but it's all cloth, I am in love with the natural fabric ones and think they're darling.



There are other reasons people decide to cloth diaper, but these are the main ones you hear about. Like I said earlier in the post, this is part 1 of a cloth diaper series. Still to come: types of cloth diapers, my stash (so far), some cloth diaper DIY, and maybe more.