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Product Review, Giveaway and Blog Move!

13 Dec

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Hello Friends! So, I’ve moved my domesticgeekgirl.wordpress.com blog to a self-hosted blog at domesticgeekgirl.com. Apparently WordPress is going to move all of your subscriptions over, but, well, they’ve yet to do so. Hmmm. So while I don’t need you to DO anything to keep on following me (and you know you want to), until WordPress actually makes the switch, I won’t be showing up in your WordPress Reader and you’ll have to visit me at domesticgeekgirl.com to see my updates.

To celebrate my move, I’m hosting a product giveaway with Kidecals.com! You’ll have to visit my new blog at domesticgeekgirl.com to sign up! And please do! The more successful my giveaway is, the more likely I’ll be to get more product to review. And free stuff = win for a stay at home mom! Haha! 😉

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE GIVEAWAY, AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

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DIY Baby Pixie Hats from Old Sweaters

2 Dec

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It’s starting to get a bit nippy out here in the sunshine state, and baby Tessa is in need of hats, having outgrown her little infant beenies. But even when they fit it, I’ve discovered I don’t really like baby beenies. They are awkward, they slip off tiny heads, and I spend more time adjusting them and keeping them from slipping than they actually spend on her head keeping her baby ears warm.

I finally decided to make Tessa a couple of bonnet style hats that tie under the chin and completely cover her ears and cheeks to keep her warm on family outings. I was ruing the fact that I am still far too impatient to learn the art of crochet or knitting, and then the lightbulb went off. Just buy some old sweaters at the thrift store and turn them into pixie bonnets! Brilliant! I could even use the finished edges and hemlines of the sweaters for decorative trim! Woohoo!

So, as with every “original idea” I have, I ran online to find that… well, it’s already been done. Many times, in fact. *shakes fist at the internet heavens* So rather than reinvent the wheel, let me point you to a few good tutorials on turning an old sweater into a do it yourself baby pixie hat.

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Ella Bella blog has a great no sew tutorial on upcycling sweaters into pixie caps. The only warning I have with this method is that the fuzzier and looser knit the sweater is, the more likely it is that the “steam a seam” or “stitch witchery” won’t hold. Likewise, some knits don’t do as well and the no-sew method works better. (We’ve used BOTH sew and no-sew methods in making our pixie hats.) Also, this tutorial leaves raw edges on the bottom of the cap, which will cause your hat to unravel and not be machine washable. So do whatever works for you!

I Am Momma Hear Me Roar has a great tutorial that involves using bias tape to edge the hat so it is machine washable. I personally prefer not adding any accents to the hats, but this is definitely a good sturdy tutorial. If you’re looking for a long term keepsake hat, I’d recommend this method.

Sew Liberated also has a sewn pixie hat tutorial, this one from scratch in case you’re itching to use some fabric you had no idea what to do with up till now.

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For my pixie hats, I used the basic outline of Ella Bellas pattern, only I lengthened the points to various legnths to get more of an exaggerated tail and to change it up a bit (I also found that the 6 by 7 inch measurement was spot on for Tessa’s 3 month old head). Then I sewed the seams. For the neckline, I gave it an inward curve so it fit Tessa’s head more snugly. I also turned the raw corners in and hemmed them with very light interfacing so the hat won’t flap around on her when it’s tied, and so there’d be no loose edges for machine washing.

And voila! The husband and I cranked out 6 hats out of 3 different sweaters in about 1 hour on Thanksgiving. (Yes, we have odd date nights, I know.)

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Anyhoo, if you make one of these, post some pix and share! I think they’re crazy adorable!

DIY All-Natural Baby Body Wash

16 Nov

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This recipe is so easy I don’t even know if it warrants a blog post. But post I shall, because when I was a 15 weeks pregnant first time mommy browsing the aisles of my local Babies R Us to make a grand wish list of junk my baby may or may not need, I had no clue what to do come bath time.

I had bought into the illusion that to keep my child sparkly clean, I needed to buy the piles of baby bath products lining the shelf of the baby bathroom aisle. Since every single bath product (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, etc.) was on the new baby “essentials” checklist the store handed out, I assumed, naturally, that I would be using all of these products on my newborn the moment she popped out of me. If I didn’t, I’d be a bad mother with a dirty baby. Right???!

With the help of wonderful crunchy momma friends (thanks Bree!) and gleaning info from the interwebs on the science behind baby skin and the way it all works, I finally have this whole bath time thing (mostly) sorted out.

Using the giant pile of “recommended” products on your baby isn’t natural or healthy at all. Especially not the majority of products out there. I didn’t discover all of this until around the month Tessa was born. I didn’t even think to question the current status quo of baby bath routines till I discovered the Johnson and Johnson baby products scandal, which I wrote about earlier in my DIY Baby Wipes article.

Basically, it was discovered not too long ago that Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby shampoo contains the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens. They’re even freaking listed on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services list of known human carcinogens NOT to be used in cosmetic products. And here we are, slathering this toxic junk on our newborns skin. W.T.F?!

Baby skin is like a sponge. It soaks up EVERYTHING. That’s why you can’t even put sunscreen on an infant. The SAFE chemicals in sunscreen will get soaked up into a newborns skin and literally POISON the newborn with an overload of chemicals that would just safely sit on top of an adults skin.

So all of that said, the fact is, the best way to care for your baby’s skin is to keep it away from products – even “natural” ones, for the most part. A newborns system has to work extremely hard to remove toxins from the bloodstream, so the less you use on your baby’s skin, the better. God has designed our little munchkins so magnificently – they have naturally protective oils in their skin that are better not washed off.

BUT! Every once in awhile, if baby is getting really grimy, you CAN use extremely gentle natural cleansing solutions on your baby to help clean off and sanitize the gunk that can gather in those beautiful chunky baby skin folds.

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Here’s the utra-simple recipe I use for our DIY All-Natural Baby Body Wash:

1 cup of warm water

2 tablespoons Castile soap

1 vitamin e capsule

Castile soap is made by a process called saponification, a process in which an alkali is added to oil. This is how soap had been made for centuries until the recent proliferation of synthetic surfactants, which consist of potentially toxic chemicals. *cough*Johnson and Johnson*cough*

Castile soap made by saponification is safe because none of the unreacted alkali remains in the soap. And since the soap is made with gentle natural oils, like olive oil, it is one of the gentlest cleansing agents you can use on your baby. Used sparingly, the soap will cleanse without drying or irritating delicate baby skin, and what is absorbed into your little ones skin won’t pose a threat to her delicate little system. Just be careful with your baby’s eyes because saponified soap is not tear-free – only baby shampoo made synthetically can be tear-free.

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant found in many plant and animal based foods. Vitamin E oil closely mimics the natural oils found in your babies skin, and is one of the few natural oils that are safe for direct use on newborns. The tiny amount added to the baby wash serves as a moisturizer and a preservative for your little squirt bottle of baby wash.

And there you have it! I use this stuff sparingly on Tessa, and only when she gets milk getting all grody in her neck folds. Or if she has a particularly explosive diaper. But we try not to use it all the time – and only sparingly when we do use it. For instance, the last two baths were just plain ol’ warm water baths with a wash cloth to gentle wipe away any sticky milk grime.

If your baby appears to be suffering from dry skin, cut back on the frequency of bath times and use a gentle, safe, natural moisturizer like a DIY All-Natural Diaper Rash Cream to spot treat dry patches.

And voila! Bath time with baby, made simple and fun! I am so lucky that my little Tessa loves bath time so much. She giggles, and splashes, and laughs, and watches the water droplets with such wonder in her eyes. It is such a fun bonding time for Jonathan and I as a new little family. I am going to forever treasure our bath times with baby!

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DIY All-Natural Diaper Rash Cream

10 Nov

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I made this cute little jar of diaper rash cream on the same day I made the DIY All Natural Baby Wipes. And I’m just now getting around to posting it, because I’m horribly lazy. (That, and I am a new mother of a two month old… but yeah, mostly because I’m lazy.)

First off, if you need any jars with character that make you feel like a crafty DIY home recipe guru, check out the selection at Hobby Lobby. They have home cosmetic safe glass jars with solid sealable lids for crazy cheap (when you catch them on 50% off days, you can get a jar like the one pictured above for 99 cents) and they all have old worldy charm. I think the jar I’m using for the diaper rash cream looks like an Alice In Wonderland-esque “Drink Me” jar, so I’m already loving this project. Ohhh, the things that make me happy!

This recipe is another slightly tweaked version of a couple different recipes I found on the ol’ Google machine. I like to find recipes that contain ingredients I have close to hand and I pick and choose ingredients based on what I feel will work best for our needs – for instance, since Tessa is not prone to diaper rashes we just needed something mildly drying, and primarily moisturizing.

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So for this super simple and crazy effective recipe you’ll need:

¼ cup of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of shea butter

1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder

1 vitamin e capsule

2 drops of lavender essential oil

Melt the coconut oil, shea butter, vitamin e capsule and essential oil together in a small saucepan and gently stir into a smooth cream over extremely low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from head and use a small electric mixer to slowly blend in the arrowroot powder, one teaspoon at a time.

Pour into a small, clean glass jar and put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes. This will firm up the mixture till it is solid. Pull it out of the fridge, and as it adjusts to room temperature it will turn into a firm, but smooth and airy cream.

Then simply apply as needed! We also use this cream on Tessa after bath times as a moisturizer behind her ears, in the creases on the inside of her arms, and anywhere else the humid Florida air threatens to dry out or rash up. It smells lovely and works like a charm.

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What each ingredient does:

Coconut Oil – This is the main diaper rash fighting ingredient. Coconut oil contains high levels of Vitamin E and is excellent for hydrating skin. It sinks in deep, conditions, moisturizes, and softens skin. Coconut oil mimics the sebum in your skin and so it naturally and gently clears away dirt, grime, and dead skin cells. It even has some antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, killing off harmful bacteria. All must haves for a dirty baby bottom.

Shea Butter – Shea butter contains massive amounts of essential fatty acids and natural moisturizing antioxidant compounds, which makes skin incredibly soft. It is an anti-inflammatory and contains anti-fungal and yeast-killing properties. It is also high in Vitamins A and E, which promotes skin elasticity and soothes irritating and painful rashes.

Arrowroot Powder – Arrowroot is commonly added to moisturizers as a thickening agent and to help active ingredients penetrate the upper levels of the skin. It aids in giving the skin a silky feel and gets the cream to a beautiful, spreadable texture.

Vitamin E Capsule – Acts as a preservative. Vitamin E contains natural antioxidants which extend the life of oil based products. Just a few drops do the trick.

Lavender Essential Oil – Not only does the lavender oil add a nice scent to the cream, but lavender oil is known for its skin healing properties and its use as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic and deodorant!

Emergency Car Kit Checklist – Baby Edition!

26 Oct

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So one of the major changes I’ve noticed in myself ever since becoming a mother, is that I now feel the need to be freakishly organized and prepared for any and every worst case scenario. My new nightmares consist of finding out that we’ve run out of toilet paper or lightbulbs or that we need a screwdriver that we just don’t own. EGADS!

Anyway, a couple of months ago I made a “Things To Keep In Your Car” checklist. Prior to having Tessa as a resident in my uterus, I just wasn’t all that prepared – ever. And I was (and still am) chronically forgetful. So now that Tessa is here, I thought it would be wise to add another tubful of goodies to my car kit checklist and stay on top of this whole being prepared and taking care of my family thing.

I’d like to mention that the brands that I have stashed in my baby car tub is NOT indicative of brands that I support or regularly use or endorse in any way. These are all quite literally baby shower gift leftovers and gift registry freebies. Since I don’t anticipate actually having to use this bucket – it’s meant for the direst of emergencies – I figured I’d use them in the car stash rather than just toss them. That said:

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Emergency Car Kit Checklist – Baby Edition:

DIAPERS – My little poop factory is only 7 weeks old, and I’ve already come to realize that you can never have too many of these stashed away. While we’ve never been completely diaper-less when I’ve needed one, I have forgotten my diaper bag on some quick 30 minute outings (like going to pick up my husband from work). And had the poop machine decided to blow, I’d have been screwed.

BABY WIPES – Again, I don’t like using store bought wipes on my baby. I use all natural DIY baby wipes for her little tooshie. But in the off chance we’re in a situation that requires wipes, and there are none on hand (for instance, just last week she decided to poop all over her car seat and her diaper decided to have major leakage issues), we have some hypoallergenic baby wipes stashed away for cleaning things and / or baby.

HAND SANITIZER – I have SO MANY of these stashed away… at her changing pad, at our nursing station, in the stroller, in the car, in the diaper bag, and now in the car kit. You can usually find little three packs at a dollar store.

FORMULA AND BOTTLE – This is for the “oh crap, I forgot the diaper bag and we are nowhere near civilization oh god oh god oh god” emergencies. To date, I have not given my daughter a drop of formula. She has been exclusively fed with donor breast milk, and Lord willing, she’ll continue to be so till she is weaned. But in the extremely unlikely event I somehow fumble in her feeding duties on a road trip, I have a random freebie formula sample I was given from Babies R Us stashed away so my darling doesn’t starve.

BURP CLOTHS – Like diapers, I am loving having tons of these scattered around everywhere. You will always need them around with babies, and since plopping this emergency car kit in the car, we’ve already dipped into our burp cloth stash once.

RECEIVING BLANKET – In case she soils the one in her car seat, or if for some unforeseen reason it gets too cold and one blanket just won’t cut it.

EXTRA ONESIE – I don’t know if it’s normal to go through these frequently on outings, but about every other trip out of the house since she’s been born, she’s decided to poop on, massively spit up on and just general wreck her outfit. There’s been a couple days where she has soiled the outfit she left the house in, AND the two extra onesies I had stashed in the diaper bag. So I’ve got a few more hiding the car tub as well.

EXTRA SHIRTS FOR THE PARENTS – I haven’t had a massive wardrobe disaster yet (knock on wood), but I have arrived to functions with spit up stains or huge wet spots on my blouse. So I’ve got one of mine and one of my husband’s spare shirts hiding in the trunk for that inevitable emergency.

BUCKET TO HOLD ALL OF THE JUNK – Slap some Velcro on the bottom so it doesn’t slide around the car when you’re driving.

Other things you might want in your tub, that I have covered in my regular car kit:

FIRST AID KIT – With baby Tylenol and kid specific items

BOTTLED WATER – For mixing formula, cleaning up messes, etc.

ANY IMPORTANT MEDICATIONS FOR BABY

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Maraschino and Rum Infused Body Chocolate Recipe

19 Oct


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This is a recipe that Jonathan and I tried out when I first moved to Pensacola. I hadn’t seen my husband in over two months, and I was a whopping 8 months pregnant. While my raging hormones wanted sexy fun time, my body was in beached whale mode and sex didn’t sound very sexy. Which called for some creative innovation on date nights with the hubby.

(No, I’m not going to talk about my sex life. Well, kind of.)

Date nights around the Freeman home usually involve some kind of amateur chef foodie concoction, followed by a make out session with a Mel Brooks film playing in the background. So we put our thinking caps on and…

Enter the booze infused body chocolate! There’s just something about drawing chocolate flavored doodles on your husband and then eating said doodles, that just appeals to my gluttonous sensual and foodie sides. Body chocolate is like a naughty dessert. And you can say “desserts on me!” and chuckle at your cleverness. Like twenty thousand times. I know I did.

Anyway, this recipe makes a chocolate that is a paint consistency, which is perfect for using actual paintbrushes. The chocolate paint only keeps for about a week or so, so I advise using it as an ice cream topping afterwards. ^_^

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YOU WILL NEED:

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 pinch kosher salt

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon of rum

1 teaspoon of maraschino cherry syrup

Put sugar, salt and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Don’t stir, but wait for the mixture to come to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and watch the pan closely until all of the sugar granules have dissolved. Once it’s all gooey, remove the pan from the heat.

Next, add the butter and stir with a wire whisk until well mixed. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, the rum and the maraschino cherry syrup and whisk until completely mixed. And voila! Use the paint as soon as it is cooled enough to be comfortable! (You can always reheat in the microwave too.)

Enjoy!

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All Natural DIY Baby Wipes

10 Oct

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I said I was on an all-natural kick, and I wasn’t joking. After learning about the Johnson and Johnson scandals, where toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde were being used WITHOUT disclosure on the bottles in their baby bath products, I’ve taken to seriously reconsidering what goes in, on, or around my daughter.

A week or two after her birth, I got to thinking. You can’t put sunscreen on an infant because newborns have what is called a high body surface to volume ratio. What this means is that proportionately babies have more skin for the size of their bodies as compared to that of an adult. Sunscreens are made of chemicals. On an adult, the chemical exposure is relatively minimal because the body surface ratio is smaller than a baby. Therefore, babies get a higher “dose” of sunscreen than adults, and babies can literally overdose on the chemicals and have serious adverse reactions.

The thing is, the same is true of every product you put on your child’s skin. The FDA regulate chemicals based on their safety levels for ADULTS. So for instance, while parabens are considered “safe” up to a volume of 25%, putting that “safe” amount on an infant will literally poison a newborn.

So when you think about it, conventional baby wipes contain a variety of ingredients that are being absorbed into baby skin in far greater quantities than you’d expect – and in quantities that these huge companies legally are not required to disclose. And when you consider that the average baby wipe contains parabens, phthalates (artificial fragrance), PEG’s, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol and a variety of other chemicals, it’s worth seriously reconsidering slathering this junk all over your babies bottom 14+ times a day.

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services and FDA Guidelines, here are some of the known risk factors of the various chemicals that are found in conventional baby wipes:

Parabens – Weakened estrogen production and breast tumors.

Phthalates – Early puberty in girls, reduced testosterone production in boys, genital defects and testicular cancer.

PEG’s – Uterine and breast cancers, leukemia and brain cancer.

Propylene Glycol – Cancer and reproductive dysfunction. Propylene glycol is also a known allergen and eye irritant and can also be toxic to your immune system.

Phenoxyethanol – Shut down of the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis. It has also been shown to cause reproductive problems, and the FDA has even issued warnings that use of products with this chemical could cause “respiratory distress or vomiting and diarrhea in infants”.

And so on and so on and so on.

Now, I’ve been using conventional wipes on Tessa for the past 4 weeks, waiting on my shipment of all natural and organic ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs. (Most of the ingredients are hard to find in their pure form, with no additives, at the local markets.) So I’m not saying that baby wipes are the devil. But I don’t intend to continue using them now that I have a better, safer and healthier alternative in my home. While she may not be absorbing enough of these chemicals to cause a noticeable reaction or long term harm, why put these chemicals on my baby AT ALL, when there is a better alternative? I firmly believe that my baby deserves the best.

Now, I trolled the interwebs for natural baby wipes recipes, and I finally decided to use a slightly tweaked version of these wipes from Wellness Mama. Here’s the skinny:

1 roll of heavy duty paper towels

Dispenser container

1 3/4 cups warm water

1 tablespoon of pure aloe vera gel

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap

2 vitamin E capsules

1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil

6 drops of lavender essential oil

6 drops of lemongrass essential oil

Cut a roll of heavy duty paper towels (like Bounty or some such) in half. You’ll be using one half of the roll for one batch of wipes. Pull out the center tube, and put your wipes in their container. Next, mix the ingredients together and gently swirl until slightly bubbly. (Note: If you don’t plan to use your wipes right away, use distilled water since tap water can potentially grow bacteria in your container after a couple months. But seriously. NOT using wipes right away? Hahahahahahaha….) Pour the mixture over your wipes and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. For REALLY absorbent towels you may need to mix up another half batch of the liquids. Anyhoo, after ten minutes, close your container to lock in moisture, and voila! Homemade, DIY, all natural baby wipes!

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Why these ingredients:

Pure Aloe Vera Gel – This acts as a moisturizer for babies bottom. It is gentle and suited to sensitive skin. It is also a natural anti-bacterial agent.

Apple Cider Vinegar – The acidic properties of apple cider vinegar effectively soften and soothes dry skin, fighting diaper rash. It also works as an astringent and an antibacterial, killing harmful bacteria and fighting yeast infections.

Liquid Castile Soap – An all-natural, oil-based soap that’s extremely gentle on the skin, cleanses thoroughly, and does not require rinsing.

Sweet Almond Oil – While the aloe vera gel works as a moisturizer, the sweet almond oil works as an emollient – it softens skin rather than hydrates it. It also acts as a humectant to help prevent the loss of moisture, effectively fighting diaper rash.

Vitamin E Capsules – Acts as a preservative. Vitamin E contains natural antioxidants which extend the life of oil based products. Just a few drops do the trick.

Lavender Essential Oil – Not only does the lavender oil add a nice scent to the wipes,but lavender oil is known for its skin healing properties and its use as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic and deodorant!

Lemongrass Essential Oil – Known for its analgesic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, bactericidal, deodorant and fungicidal properties.

In my opinion, these wipes work FAR BETTER than conventional wipes. After using them my hands feel SO SOFT. I seriously want to use these as hand and face wipes, they are that gentle and cleansing. I last changed Tessa’s diaper 2 hours ago, and my skin STILL feels clean, fresh and gently moisturized.

While making the baby wipes, I also made a small batch of “butt spray” to keep on my changing table for the really, uh, generous diapers of Tessa’s. (How is baby poo so.. sticky?!) It’s essentially:

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon castile soap

1 vitamin E capsule

2 drops sweet orange oil

Again, the castile soap is cleansing and does not require rinsing, the vitamin E serves as a preservative, and the sweet orange essential oil drops are mainly to add fragrance, though the oil is a natural antiseptic and bactericidal. Just mix well, put in a spray bottle, and then spray directly onto babies bum for really sticky messes.

Not even ten minutes after whipping up a batch Tessa was kind enough to supply me with a test diaper to try out the effectiveness of my concoction. And let me tell you, it works like a charm. It cuts through poo quickly, cutting down the number of wipes used, so there’s no pushing around and spreading the mess. It also made cleaning her little lady parts free of wayward butt goop much easier.

I thought that going the DIY route would be a form of sacrifice, using sub-par product with superior ingredients. But in all honesty, the wipes and spray work BETTER than the store bought variety, and they are roughly the same cost, if not cheaper. Happy me, realizing that giving your baby the best is so EASY! ^_^

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