Paper jewelry, and also another reason I love my job.

As I'm gearing up to post my first giveaway EVER (so excited!), I wanted to share the spoils of our last giveaway over at the TomKat Studio. One VERY lucky winner walked away with a $100 credit for Blush Envy, where she sells amazing jewelry made out of paper.

You heard me right. PAPER. 

I didn't believe it when I read that she made her pieces from such a fragile textile, BUT THEN. I went over to Kim's house last week and got this lovely PINK surprise that I haven't been able to take off my finger since!

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Check out that packaging- gorgeous! Many thanks to Brandy for thinking of me when she sent the lovely goodies over to Kim!

Hop on over to her shop and show her some love by purchasing one of her handmade treasures! Or feel free to pick a fave and put it on your wish list. Wouldn't these rings make lovely bridesmaid's gifts or a fun gift for a mom-to-be to make her feel pretty? No doubt my dainty and timeless piece will be handed down to LJ when she's old enough to know not to put it in her mouth or play with it in the mud. In other words, she can wear it on her wedding day 🙂

My new lover.

I have a confession to make: I'm cheating on my husband.

I've been saying for a while now that I DESPERATELY NEEEEEEEEEEEEEDED a DSLR camera because I NEEEEEEEEEEED to be able to take the BEST pictures POSSIBLE of Linnea while she's growing up.

That's my excuse, anyway. 

We have a great point-and-shoot camera that Cody's mom gave us for our anniversary- we absolutely love it and take it with us everywhere. I officially caught the SLR camera bug when I went to my mom and dad's house and came across this beauty:

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My grandpa's old Voigtlander Vitomatic II that he bought in Germany back in 1958.

No idea how to use it. All I kept hearing from my parents was, "It takes the most GORGEOUS pictures EVER," but didn't have time for a crash course on how to use a fully manually operated camera. As a consolation prize, I dug out my old 35mm Canon EOS Rebel 2000 SLR
(that I bought waaaaaay back in 1999 when I was a photography major for a semester) and took it with us up to Flagstaff for a day trip.

Four rolls of film, one set of camera batteries and $53 later, we had our developed pictures back the next day. And don't get me wrong- they were great. But some of them were underexposed. Some were overexposed. Some weren't framed right. Sure, I could mail in the negatives to a scanning shop and get the negatives on disk… at $0.69 a pop. Needless to say… I loved shooting with this camera, but it was starting to get ridiculously expensive.

So we finally did it. I had already been researching cameras and decided on the Canon EOS Rebel T2i AND I LOVE IT. It was a HUGE splurge, but to me it was worth every penny we have to pinch in the meantime. I'm still learning how to use it, and so far it has taken some amazing pictures. Meet my lover, Leon:

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I know the basics, but I will be DEVOURING the tutorials on The Pioneer Woman

So what if my kid was the perfect excuse to get a fancy camera? She's the perfect subject. Can you blame me for wanting the best photos possible of the two loves of my life?

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Sorry, Leon. As exciting as you are and as much fun as we have together, I'll never leave him for you.

Know any fun photography tutorials? Share them here!

Thoughts on Food, Inc. and a carrot massacre.

Yesterday we made carrots for Linnea- and boy, was it ever a mess! Our pediatrician warned us about this… but of course, the messier the feeding process, the CUTER the baby! It was simply amazing. Here's a video:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=12529926&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

We used a nifty little baby food steamer and processor that my father-in-law and stepmother dearest gave to us- it's fantastic! It's called the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker and although we steamed the carrots seperately (I jumped the gun- we'll try it with the next round of food!) it worked wonders as a processor. I got the recipe from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby and it was so simple. Next on the menu: sweet potatoes!

We watched Food, Inc. last night, and it was fascinating. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals a couple of years ago, and this movie sums up a lot of the ideas in the book. It definitely made me re-think the way our family eats and especially what we eat and where our food comes from.

One of the things we plan to do in our backyard is start a garden, but
we need to learn what we are doing first. There is a community garden
at Agritopia that I may look into to get a handle on what I'm doing-
and what a great way to learn! My dear friend Vanessa gave us some
zucchini, a red onion and parsley from her garden plot there and they were simply
delicious. I must say- any time we make anything from scratch with
home-grown or organic, locally-grown produce,it tastes amazing in comparison to the regular produce at the store! For now, we're starting small- we have some potted basil, yellow bell pepper and cherry tomatoes sitting on our front porch:

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We've already managed to kill a strawberry plant. The pot didn't have a hole for drainage… oops. It's a learning process!

I would love to hear from you about your family's eating habits. It seems as if healthy, whole food is not interchangable with a tight budget. Saving money is top on our list of priorities, but not at the cost of our family's long-term health. It's sad that a healthy lifestyle seems to come at a steep price in our society. So if you are feeding your family organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, and grass-fed meats, how do you make it work? Do you have any tips on how to save money while doing so? Do you grow your own fruits and veggies?

An update and Trumpettes.

First thing's first, people: DAD CAME HOME ON SATURDAY! I am so happy to share with you that the surgery on his aneurysm was a huge success and didn't require that they open him up again- the surgeon was able to go through the femoral artery to take care of it, so his recovery has been amazing. I've seen him twice since then, and while he definitely has to travel the road toward full recovery, he is up and about and none of us can wait until he's at the mall again, covering every square foot of Fashion Square- four times. So thanks again for your prayers- you made a huge difference in the life of our family! The fact that we have more time to cherish with Dad means the world to all of us!

***

Before Linnea was born, I had this idea that we would buy her a pair of tiny newborn Chuck Taylors
and we would all wear our Converse for the newborn shoot with Session Nine. But, alas, Linnea arrived, and her feet were so tiny that newborn socks looked like a cast! Case in point:

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Never mind the fact that her feet look like skis. That has nothing to do with me or my feet… really. Moving on.

My friend told me that once she saw a little one wearing the cutest little socks that looked like Chucks, so naturally I had to have them! I Googled and Googled, but nothing came up. Then, when I was on a jaunt with my nephew in Tucson, we went into the cutest little baby boutique and I discovered Trumpettes. A pair of Mary Jane Trumpettes were given to us by some friends, and I adore them! I mean, seriously, does it get any cuter??!!?

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So, needless to say, these are a must for teeny tiny little feet! Even though she's growing up a storm (12 lbs. 8 oz. at her appointment this morning! Yay!) these will fit her for the first year of her life. I've gotta get some of those Summer Mary Janes… and believe it or not, one of these has inspired me for a possible theme for her first birthday/my husband's 31st!

Cloth diapering FTW!

That's "for the win," in case you weren't ITK ("in the know") with the Twitter lingo.

As you know (what the heck is this, a poetry contest? With all the rhyming?), we made the jump into full-time cloth diapering and… wait for it… it's been fantastic! I seriously can't say enough good things about it. When I was out of town, I decided not to bring the cloth diapers because I was sure my BFF wouldn't want to deal with poopy diapers in her washing machine, and boy did I miss them! I especially missed them when I was burping Linnea and she pooped, and then peed, and IT CAME OUT THE FRONT AND GOT ALL OVER MY SHIRT. Yep, I've never missed anything more in my life. The sad thing is that the expensive disposables are the only ones she didn't leak out of on a regular basis, and they still didn't do the job.

That being said, there is no comparison between any disposable I've tried and the Fuzzibunz one-size diapers we invested in. We got a screaming deal from Go Go Natural when they were clearancing out the old color collection to make room for the new Fuzzibunz colors. Typically, when you buy larger quantities of Fuzzibunz at most retailers  – in our case, 12 or more – you get a $1.00 off per diaper. So we ordered 28. And then we got 15% off on top of that! SCORE! The $700+ investment we were preparing for ended up being less than $450, and she is set for the rest of her diapering days! And so are any future kids we may have. And they work better than any disposable we tried – and we tried many. Ahh, it's a beautiful thing.

Not to mention… her li'l fluffy bum could not possibly be any cuter in these cloth diapers if she tried. We got a slew of colors so she'll always be coordinated. Check her out:

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The laundry process is for a whole other blog. So stay tuned, and I'll keep you ITK.

By the way, the bow she is wearing is a very special bow. It's called the Taylor Bow, and it was made in honor of a tiny baby girl who died of SIDS in mid-April at five months of age. All proceeds were donated to Taylor's family. You can read their story and find additional links here, and I purchased the bow here (I didn't realize it sold out- otherwise I would have posted the info so much sooner!).

Current favorite toy.

When I was in California (more on that later), I picked up a new play gym to keep Linnea occupied when I am trying to get some work done. While she loves the play gym she already has, it was time for a little change of scenery. And let me tell you, she LOVES IT! I got her a Petals and Friends Activity Gym from Bright Starts, which is one of my favorite brands for infant toys. It has teethers, a mirror, links, rattles and a musical birdie (perfect for her room!). She literally plays on it for hours at a time and seems happy as a clam! She's learning cause and effect like crazy because she pulls on the birdie and makes it sing over and over and she's enamored with the bright colors. Here's a little video of tummy time. Just a li'l peek of everyday life around here 🙂

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=11904129&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

Meanwhile, Linnea is like, "Mom, get that camera out of my face, I just wanna chew on my lion teether…"

Novice cloth diapering.

When we found out I was pregnant, Cody and I immediately began stocking up on diapers at the recommendation of… well… every parent we knew. We stocked up on size ones because we didn't know what to expect as far as what her weight would be, and most people had big babies, and we might too, and even if we had a small baby she would eventually grow into the size ones so let's just go with that. And before we knew it, we had a closet full of size one diapers, mostly the value brand from Fry's. Dirt cheap and we heard they work just as well as the more expensive brands!

Not so for us. Apparently we have a little diaper snob on our hands. Sad, sad day.

As soon as Linnea grew into the size ones (three months after she was born!), we ripped into the packages, stoked to try out the cheap diapers because, what can I say, it doesn't take much to excite us these days. Cheap diapers that work is pretty rad to a new set of parents. But her first night into it, she woke up in a puddle of her own pee. Poor baby. Poor Mom and Dad. Poor Mom and Dad's bank account.

So we had two options: spend big bucks on the diapers that work… or start a gradual investment in cloth diapers. At the rate our child goes through diapers, the thought of bankruptcy via Pampers started to sink in, and I started to revisit the cloth diapering idea. If you remember, it was an idea we tossed around for a while but never fully embraced. We had visited Wildflower Diapers up in Scottsdale but weren't married to the cloth diapering trend… yet. They were very helpful and answered all of our questions, and we were able to narrow it down to the type of diaper we wanted to invest in if we decided to make the leap and commitment it required to cloth diaper Linnea. 

Last week, we made our first purchase: a pair of Fuzzibunz One-size Pocket Diapers in pink. In order to diaper full-time, we need to purchase at least 24 (and maybe even 36, because apparently THE UNIVERSE IS IMPLODING any time Linnea has even the slightest wet diaper), so we decided that we will use my income for that purpose until we have everything we need. The colors we get from here on out will be gender-neutral, which- I'm not gonna lie- kind of breaks my heart a little bit, but I know it's better to go that route instead of buying all the girly colors like I want to. I'm already itching to have another baby (but we're not any time soon… just saying. We'll be diaper-ready when the time comes), and the thought of never having to drop another dime on diapers for our kids is definitely an appealing one!

The poop, on the other hand… not so much. I know that people cloth-diaper all the time and there was a time when that was the only option anyone had, so it's not like it's this impossible thing. But my two biggest reservations about this whole ordeal is the poop and cloth-diapering on-the-go. But have no fear, dear readers. Cody and I will be brave and face the Poop Demon head on. Because you know it's coming.

YOU KNOW IT'S COMING.

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Are you a cloth-diapering mama? I want to hear from you! Share your experience with my readers and me and tell us what you love (and maybe even what you hate) about cloth-diapering your little one.