How to Keep Your Toddler Entertained While Waiting

It’s always my mission to try to avoid a meltdown when we’re out and about. There’s nothing better than a kid kicking, screaming, crying, and/or throwing himself on the floor while everyone in the store is staring at you like you are the Worst Parent Ever. We’ve all been there…or will be at some point. It’s just inevitable!

Here are the things that I’ve found work for us:

Keep your toddler’s schedule in mind: My son has always been a routine kid…he loves it…I love it…it works for us. I tend to make appointments or run errands when I know it will work for him.

Make sure you have snacks: Before I go anywhere, I pack a sippy cup, Plum pouch, and Goldfish/Cheerios/etc. When in doubt, fill them with snacks!

Have special toys on hand: I carry a coloring book, colors, and a ziplock bag of small cars and action figures in my purse. I tend to only let him have these particular toys when we are out (not at home so they stay in my purse). And I tend to only pull out one trick at a time, as I need it.

Never leave home without your iPhone: Kids love phones. I have all kinds of kiddie apps – flashcards, Talking Tom, anything that might be the slightest bit entertaining for the boy. I have a folder on my phone for just his apps. I also have a few movies on there that he can watch when I’m really in a bind. YouTube is a lifesaver too!

Set your priorities: Let’s face it…your errand time with a toddler is limited. So I run my important errands first when he’s more likely to be in a good mood. That way if he has a breakdown, I at least accomplished my priorities (hopefully).

Know when to call it quits: Some days you just need to cut your losses and try another time!

What kind of tips/tricks are in your arsenal???

How to Reupholster Kitchen Chairs

You can re-cover your padded kitchen chairs easily at home with any fabric you choose. Start by turning the chair upside down on the table and removing the four screws that hold the seat to the frame.

Set the chair frame aside while we focus on the seat. Using a screwdriver and pliers, remove all of the staples holding the existing fabric to the seat. Use the old fabric as pattern to cut the new fabric to size. Place the fabric face down and lay the seat on top of it face down as well.

Using short (1/4” or 5/16”) staples, staple the front edge of the fabric to the underside of the seat starting from the center and working out to the ends. Pull the fabric tightly and staple the opposite end in the same manner. Repeat the process on the two sides, folding the corners over to give a nice finished look.

Set your chair frame back up on the seat and re-install the four screws. Repeat this process 3 more times, sit down with your favorite beverage, and admire your work.

Cloth Diaper Care and Washing

Washing & caring for your cloth diapers shouldn’t be intimidating or hard. Collect used diapers in a designated pail (a basic trash can with a lid and some type of liner: a basic trash bag or a reusable/washable bag works well). Wet diapers can go directly into the pail, while poopy diapers take a quick trip to the toilet. Flick the poo into the toilet, flush and add the diaper to the rest in the pail. The disposable diaper companies won’t tell you this, but all human waste should be sent down the toilet and not sent to the landfill. When it’s time for laundry, start your machine, add detergent and dump in the diapers and walk away. Easy peasy.

Standard washing for cloth diapers:

Wash in warm or hot water for 1 or 2 cycles using a fragrance & dye free biodegradable soap. Hang dry or tumble dry on warm. Do not use chlorine bleach. Do not use fabric softener. do not use dryer sheets.

Helpful Tips for additional cleaning:

  • Adding a half cup of baking soda to the wash cycle will help to neutralize urine.
  • Hanging clean, wet diapers to dry outside in the sun will work as natural bleaching. The sun will help eliminate bacteria and remove old stains.
  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the laundry cycle.
  • Keep a small cloth with a few drops of tea tree oil in the bottom of your diaper pail. Tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial and will help eliminate a funky smell.

Care and Washing of Wool Diaper Covers:

The wool diaper cover is made entirely of natural materials and as such requires a bit of love and care. Due to the natural properties of wool & lanolin the diaper cover will not get sopping wet, tho it may get damp. When it is wet, just hang it up to dry for a few hours. Do not put it in the dryer, as it is likely to felt to a smaller size! This diaper cover also isn’t likely to get a funky smell since wool and urine neutralize. Cool, huh?
When you do need to clean your wool cover simply soak it in tepid water with a small bit (pea size) of Lanolin and a small bit of baby shampoo.

Be gentle: if you scrub or agitate it too much it will felt. It is likely that a small amount of dye may bleed from the fabric. If the diaper cover has a bit of poop on it, you can just rub it together in the tepid water and it should come off. When it is done soaking roll it in a towel to remove excess water and lay flat or hang to dry. It’s rather simple and should not require washing too frequently. However, when you do wash it, remember you can not through it in the washing machine or tumble dry: IT WILL FELT TO A MUCH SMALLER SIZE!

If your wool cover falls scratchy, you may be able to add a little softness by either soaking it in tepid water with a healthy glug of vinegar or a squirt of hair conditioner. Then roll it in a towel and hang it to dry. It should not smell like vinegar when it is dry. Wool is a protein much like your own hair and likes a little acid now and then.

More Out-of-the-Box Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill and Save on Groceries

Okay, let’s get this out-of-the-way now. There are other highly effective ways to save on groceries than extreme couponing.
Not everyone is an extreme coupon clipper. I confess, I only invest a moderate amount of time tracking down and clipping the paper gold. Why? Clipping coupons takes a lot of time and access to piles of coupon inserts, and for me, it just has not worked out that I have much of either. I do use coupons where I can and leverage every one that gives me an advantage, whether they are paper or electronic. Beyond that, however, I just have never gained many advantages. But that did not stop me from cutting my grocery bill and saving on groceries, and it won’t stop you either.

If coupons just aren’t in your wheelhouse, don’t despair; you can still cut your grocery bill down dramatically with some ingenious cost-cutting tips.

Shop the Pantry First.

Chances are good that you have enough in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to make a meal. Before you make that trip, use what you have down to the dredges until you need to go shopping. Once you are at the store, shop only to complement what you already have. Any trip you don’t make to the store saves you money in what you would have spent, in gas, and in time (which you can spend elsewhere making money!).

Grow Your Own

If you have a moderately green thumb, growing your fruit and vegetables could save you a bundle. Admittedly, I did not put much effort into this until I found a bit of inspiration and encouragement. Last spring my husband and kids used a small part of the backyard and planted a garden. It became a group project that seriously cut down our food bill.

Consider Co-op Buying

Buying in bulk can save big money. In a buying co-op members buy into certain amounts of particular items, and split the purchase among the members. Search for local co-ops in your area or start one of your own!

Think Like a Restaurateur and Control Waste

As the old saying goes, “waste not, want not.” Restaurants strictly control waste because much of the profits can get thrown away without careful attention. Buy only what you will use. If you find yourself with leftovers, re-purpose them into a new meal. Keep a log of all the food that you throw away and the price you paid to buy it. At the end of each week, tally the numbers and next to it how long you worked to earn that amount. The reality of waste will be enough to give you the inspiration you need to buy and use products wisely.

Buy and Cook Like it is 1930

Depression-era cooking was purposeful and economical. The majority of what is in the market today was not even dreamed about in 1930. Most of it is processed convenience foods lacking in real nutrition. One of the things that revolutionized my cooking and saved me more money than I ever could have imagined was using an old cookbook as my meal planner. The suggested portions are smaller, and the ingredients are cost-effective. The food is “real” and does not take that long to prepare. Even better, the money you save not buying those convenience foods is astronomical.

Do you have a non-traditional way to save on groceries? Let us know!