Monday, August 18, 2014

Wash FuzziBunz #clothdiapers every day? This mom says, "No Way!"

FuzziBunz has finally (hopefully) entered a stage of consistency.  The company I fell in love with in 2010 struggled with major issues: delaminating diapers, inconsistency in sizes, and different releases of "new and improved" products.  The consumer was left feeling a bit frustrated.  I still love my FuzziBunz "One size" diapers I bought in 2010 (Hey, we're still using the covers!), but the FuzziBunz Elite was just bad news. Now, the company is under new ownership and consistency is key: they spent a year testing the diapers, redesigned the product, and have quality control measures in place.  I'm excited to see FuzziBunz digging back out of the trenches!

Although I haven't gotten a chance to view the new diapers in person, I'm disappointed in the recommendations for washing and care of the FuzziBunz diapers.  The website recommends washing diapers DAILY.  What. What??  As a mom who has cloth diapered two kids and has about 4 yrs of cloth diapering "expertise," I could never imagine daily washing being reasonable for my lifestyle.  Now, there was a time when we had a very limited supply of diapers and, then, I washed the diapers nightly because we did not have enough to go two days between washing.  It was a headache and I was looking for every chance to get more diapers and stretch the time between each load of laundry.  I asked for cloth diapers for my birthday because it was just that rewarding to not have to slave over the washing machine every day (spoiled? yes, we did have access to a washer and dryer--and it was still difficult to find time to get this chore done).

I am extremely worried that this overzealous washing recommendation will deter new parents from even trying cloth diapers. I already hear people saying, "This sounds like way too much work!"  When I did the flats and handwashing challenge, I estimated that for each day of using cloth diapers (instead of disposables), I was saving about $2.30. Now, if we factor in washing diapers (in a machine) then we need to consider additional use of detergent, energy to run the washer/dryer, and the value of my time.  Suddenly this daily savings really gets eaten into.  I may even be questioning if it's worth it to cloth diaper (Maybe it would cost me more?). 

I have always washed my cloth diapers every 2-3 days and have no issues with them.  I do agree that microfiber cloth diapers can be a real challenge because they seem to hold onto odor and are more difficult to maintain.  After using microfiber exclusively for our first child, we decided to use natural fibers for our second child.  Regardless, you can maintain microfiber by using a sound washing routine and a good detergent.  We did have to strip our diapers in Oxiclean a few times when we lived in an area with extremely hard water, but we had a very good experience with the microfiber diapers and the 2-3 day wash routine.

Hopefully FuzziBunz will come around and realize that the daily laundry recommendation is too stringent and too time consuming.  Many people rinse their diapers with a cloth diaper sprayer (aff link) if they are concerned about the diapers sitting for too long before laundering.  Rinsing can be incredibly helpful for overnight diapers because they contain the most amount of liquids.  I would be more likely to accept a daily spritz with the diaper sprayer than a full-fledged washing routine.  For parents sending cloth diapers to daycare, they are already emptying diapers nightly and it would be simple to add an extra rinse to the urine-soaked diapers too.  Or, FuzziBunz can just accept that cloth diapering parents are really busy and we need a solution that works well with a 2-3 day laundry routine.

What are your thoughts?  What is your laundry routine?

Kelly's Closet Link is an affiliate link.
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Does it work: Eco Nuts™ and the *new* Natural Ammonia Bouncer for #clothdiapers

I recently had the opportunity to try Eco Nuts™ and the Natural Ammonia Bouncer for our cloth diapers. I was already familiar with Eco Nuts from watching their pitch on Shark Tank but I was not aware that they could be used for diaper laundry. Although exited, I approached this opportunity with caution as my little one is allergic to most detergents and it’s always tricky settling into a new laundry routine. With that in mind, I set to find out whether Eco Nuts effectively cleaned our diapers.

The Eco Nuts arrived at our house with perfect timing. Our little one had outgrown the small diapers and we had just gotten a shipment of new diapers that needed to be preped for daycare. A perfect opportunity to test the Eco Nuts and the Natural Ammonia Bouncer.

Eco Nuts aren’t nuts at all, they are actually berries and are only referred to as “nuts” because the dried shell looks like a nut. These dried berry shells contain saponin, a natural surfactant that functions as a natural detergent. Saponin works by penetrating the fibers to lift dirt and stains allowing them to be carried away with the water during the rinse cycle. Eco Nuts harvests their soap berries from wild Sapindus mukorossi trees grown without chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides in the Himalayan regions of Nepal. Eco Nuts also have a proprietary USDA-certified organic sterilization process before the de-seeded nuts are packaged for distribution.

We do have very hard water where we live so we had to run a few loads to optimize our laundry routine. The Eco Nuts staff was very helpful during this process and their website has excellent information about laundry science. I started by doing a cold prewash with a bit of Washing Soda, a cheaper alternative to Calgon that helps with the hard water. I then added the cloth bag with 5 Eco Nuts and washed the diapers on a hot cycle. The hot water helps release more saponin and makes soiled clothing easier to clean. Once a week I also added 2 tablespoons of Eco Nuts Ammonia Bouncer to help prevent ammonia buildup.

The first thing I noticed about using Eco Nuts was that our diapers were very soft and fluffy. The saponin helps loosen the fibers allowing the fabric to remain absorbent, even after many washes. The second thing I noticed was the lack of smell. Clean diapers smelled like nothing, no ammonia or lingering BM smells. We had residual BM stains that easily disappeared after sunning the diapers for a few hours. Finding the Eco Nuts bag in the washing machine was never a problem either since I straighten out all our diapers before transferring to the drier.

Thanks to Eco Nuts my daughter’s cloth diapers are clean, soft, as well as smell and stain-free. Eco Nuts were also great for my daughter’s sensitive skin. For environment-conscious moms like me, Eco Nuts are a perfect organic, renewable and green option for cloth diaper laundry.

 Eco Nuts™ and the Natural Ammonia Bouncer are available from a variety of retailers and you can now find them at Kelly's Closet!  Get a 100-load package of Eco Nuts for only $9.95!

Agnes Lenagh is a scientist by training, a free thinker by design, and a bohemian soul by nature. She is committed to pursuing the passions that inspire her while taking non-conventional approaches to accomplish a meaningful life. Visit Bohemian Nevertheless, where she documents her bohemian approach to life and methods to live a simpler and more substantial life. @SilverAntigen.  

Disclosure: All opinions in this post are my own. Green Team Distribution provided a free box of Eco Nuts and a bottle of Ammonia Bouncer for us to review.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Photography and Photo Editing 101 for Bloggers: From DSLR to iPhone

If you are a blog visitor, you probably come here to read, learn, and also enjoy some interesting photography.  You may have noticed that I have a *thing* for photography.  If I'm not writing, or editing text, I have a photo editing project up my sleeve.  Many readers (and companies) don't realize the work it takes to bring a nice photo to the web.  If you're a blogger (novice, or experienced) you may be trying to figure out the best way to portray your photos so you can grab your readers' attention.  Today I'll share a few secrets on how I get top-quality photos.

Take a good picture.  Duh?  This sounds really simple, but there are so many factors that go into a good photo.  My primary complaints with blog photos are about ones that are out of focus or have too much going on in the background.  If the photo is out of focus it will only deter readers from your page and lead them to question your credibility. Keep photos:
    • In Focus. You can sometimes fix an image by using a sharpening filter, but it's best to start with something that is focused and clean.
    • Not too "busy". Keep background distractions out of the shot, or crop out distractions.
    • Think ahead about the message or end product. Are you going to add text?  Crop?  Plan your shots and think about how you might edit the photos to get your message across.
    • It's all about the lighting.
      • Natural light (flash can make the images look yellow--it can be fixed with editing, but shadows from the flash can take away from the image)
      • Outdoors (on a cloudy day, or early in the morning) 
      • 45 degree angles. If you are photographing indoors, try to find a natural light source and angle your subject 45 degrees from the light.  This produces the most appealing shadowing.
    • Think product features. If you are taking photos specifically for a product review, show photos that really bring out the best in the product.  Highlight the beautiful colors or interesting patterns of a fabric, show the product in a way that will get the attention of a reader.
    • Leave room to crop. It's always easier to crop in on a photo than try to work with an photo where the subject is too tightly fitted to the frame.  I'm often guilty of not leaving enough room.
    • Take a lot of photos.  I always take at least four times as many photos as I end up using because I never know which photos I will like the best.  If you are taking pictures of kids, assume that at least 80% of the pictures will be unusable.
    • Don't get into a camera rut or assume you need expensive equipment. I use my DSLR and my iPhone for taking photos for my blog--each has a purpose and different benefits.  Experiment with your available tools and learn how to be an expert in your own equipment.  Read a lot of photography blogs!
Even "bad" photos can be saved with careful editing, but it's best to start with a good shot.

Scratch-me-not Sleeves review: photo after editing shows features of the papaya colored shrug.

Boba Air Review.  Model's outfit was planned to accent the white colored baby carrier. Photographed in natural light.
An in-focus image taken with an iPhone can be cleaned up with a lightening filter.  This looks as good as a picture taken with a DSLR camera.

Edit your photos to bring out the best in the images. This is another section where I can write a novel, but just I'll share a few of my favorite tricks. The most important editing advice I can give is to watermark your photos.  This deters people from right-clicking, copying, and re-posting your pictures.  If that does happen, you have a clear watermark stating that the image is yours. I like PhotoMarkr, which is a free app for iPhone that allows you to add and customize text (intended for watermarks). You can also watermark in PicMonkey or in one of the Adobe products (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc).  Since I primarily use Adobe products, I'll focus on how I use Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Using Photoshop
    • Take out obvious photo flaws.  I start by using the magic eraser tool to remove major problems in the photos.  Baby's drool stains are not going to look good in your T-shirt review.
    • Lighten photos or apply a filter. Visit the Pioneer Woman blog and download free action settings (action settings 1 and 2) for Photoshop.  I use the "Slight Lighten" action almost every time I edit a photo.  If you used a flash in your photography, you can reduce the yellow hue by "Cooling" the photo.
    • Freshen up imperfections.  This is a favorite of mine when I edit newborn photos, but it can be helpful for any portrait.  I use Baby Powder Room from the Coffee Shop Blog.  This Photoshop action allows you to do skin smoothing, enhance the eyes, and much more.  Use care with this action package, or it can make the photo artificial looking because it can be too perfect. 
  • Add text.  I actually prefer doing this in Illustrator because it can do more interesting things with text and it tends to export better.  However, you can also use PicMonkey or Photoshop to add text. Text can often be the most exciting thing about a picture, so get creative.  Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct!
  • Reduce your image to a web-worthy size.  You don't need a gigantic photo to upload to your website and this can actually reduce your website space or cause a slow-down for the reader.  I edit my photos to a maximum width (or height depending on the orientation) of 800 pixels.  Sometimes the images may seem as if they are going to be too small, but they will view perfectly on the web.  If I anticipate selling copy write-released, full-size images to a website sponsor, then I make sure to save a high-resolution image to my hard drive.

Photoshop can get overwhelming, but using action settings can make editing fast and simple.

Edited in Photoshop and after "Boost" action from Pioneer Women blog

Photos taken with iPhone and combined using a Pic collage App. Exported and added text in Photoshop.

Photo taken while an iPhone in good lighting: no editing needed (other than watermarking), but applying an Instagram filter could make this more interesting.

Stock photos available for free online and combined in Illustrator.  Use Illustrator symbols and glyphs to add interest.
That is the 101 of Photography and Photo Editing for bloggers.  Have fun with your images and remember that photography is a process: you're going to improve with practice! 
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Haven't you Heard? This Hip Mom is "Changing Diapers"! #BookReview

Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering.  Despite being a 4-year cloth diapering mom, I only recently received a copy of this book.  Green Team Distribution graciously provided a copy after I decided that the time had come: I needed to see what the buzz was over this book!

This pocket-sized, cloth diapering "how-to" book was a fun read and something that got me excited about cloth diapering all over again.  When I started cloth diapering I was totally overwhelmed by all the information I found on the internet.  I couldn't tell a prefold from a fitted, and I was terrified of "folding" anything.  Changing Diapers explains the How, Why, and What of cloth diapering and Kelly Wels does it in an easy and fun way.  This is a must-have for moms who are new to cloth diapers and trying to get a feel for where to start.  But, its also a fun addition for a cloth diaper "expert" whom wants to revisit the basics and have a handy book to share with a friend or family member.  I'm definitely adding a few loaner books to my stash.

My favorite thing about this book was that it was easy to pick up and flip through because there were so many beautiful photos and diagrams.  I loved the diagrams that grabbed your attention and showed you exactly how to stuff a pocket diaper, or what "One Size" really means. My attention was pulled to a graphic depicting that I will change 5000-8000 diapers from my baby's birth through his potty training (wow!  That's a lot!).  I couldn't imagine throwing 5000+ disposable diapers into the trash.  My husband jokingly suggested "What if you bought 5,000 cloth diapers?" I took that as a challenge! The pictures of fluffy diapers in this book were adorable as well.  You'll see a great shot of the artisan series from BumGenius as well as a variety of cloth diaper styles in action (even wool!).

Reading through this book was an absolute pleasure, but my favorite part was definitely the  section about Cloth Diapers and Dads. It was refreshing to hear perspectives from dads--tips, tricks, and great stories!  It was humorous and informative.  The moms weren't left out because there were many stories sprinkled throughout the book that gave perspectives from women. I felt like I was sitting in on a casual conversation with some of my closest friends.

Naturally, this book is intended to be a starting point and not a do-all-end-all guide to cloth diapers.  Kelly fully acknowledges that there is more information available and she references several websites where you can go to get more details or answers to specific questions-- one of which is the Kelly Wels blog, where you may have already seen us blogging.

This is a great read and it's a book that I love to pick up and just flip through.  I find myself fighting my daughter for it at times because she also love to open it and look at all the nice pictures.  I like to think I'm helping to make the next generation of hip moms! Pick up your own copy--on sale at Kelly's Closet (aff link)!

Disclosure: Green Team Distribution provided a copy of this book for us to review.  We were not required to publish a review or publish a positive review. These opinions are my own.
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Boon Flair Pedestal High Chair #Giveaway


Cloth Diaper Guru is excited to partner with Conservamom for another fun giveaway! 

Welcome to the Boon Flair Pedestal High Chair Giveaway Event Sponsored by Pish Posh Baby Hosted by : Conservamom. Pish Posh Baby is a one stop shop for all baby gear. Not only do they offer top of the line and the best baby gear and items out there, but they have a team of amazing Mom reps ready to help you on your decisions, question and more. You will find a price match guarantee here as well so when buying your little one their items you will know you are getting the best service, selection and price! The Boon Flair Pedestal High Chair is an exclusive feeding seat with a sophisticated pneumatic lift system. Its chemical-resistant, waterproof pad provides a soft cushion and can be easily removed for cleaning. The Boon highchair is equipped with an adjustable-position, compact tray, as well as top-quality safety features including a five-point harness and restraining post. The Boon High chair glides in any direction on six urethane casters that will not scratch floors, while the hands-free braking system easily locks the chair in place. Boon's neat lift allows for continuous height positioning, making it easy to adjust the seat to the perfect height. With it's Streamlined contemporary design that fits easily under tables this high chair is a dream. Now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will get their very own Boon Flair Pedestal high chair! So head below for your chance to enter and win! This giveaway is open to US only and ends on 8/22 at 11:59pm.   

Disclosure: This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network.All opinions and experiences are Conservamom's. Open to US & must be 18+. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of the giveaway. Conservamom will not be responsible for prize fulfillment. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For questions or to see your product featured in an Event you can contact Elia At Conservamom.
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