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Trader Joe's, I Love You

Trader Joe’s is my regular grocery store.  I make it to a Safeway or Lucky’s every month or two. I am truly sorry if you do not live near one.  Here are


10 things I love about Trader Joe’s


1. 19 cent bananas
We eat a lot of bananas at my house. 



2. Competitively priced organic produce
Some of their organic produce is nearly as cheap or even cheaper than conventional produce at other stores: baby lettuce, romaine hearts, oranges, baby broccoli, celery.


Cloth Diapers Explained in Disposable-eese

This one's for you, Nisha-dog. 

 Thank you, Microsoft clip art, for this awesome photo.

The Parts of a Disposable Diaper

The outside of a disposable diaper is plastic and holds all the wet in.  We’ll call it the waterproof shell.  The inside layer that touches your baby’s skin is a stay-dry plastic material, we’ll call it the stay-dry layer. The inner workings of the disposable are cellulose pulp and SAP (super absorbent polymer).  That’s what holds all the pee.  We’ll call it the absorption.  [For more on the anatomy of a disposable, click here.]

Disposable Diaper
Photo from madehow.com

Types of Cloth Diapers

Now let’s discuss the different types of cloth diapers in terms of the parts of a disposable diaper, with the plusses and minuses of each.

10 Ways Omnivore’s Dilemma Changed My Life (Food Rules Giveaway)



The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by journalist Michael Pollan is a long book about where food comes from.   For me, it was a quick and fascinating read and I highly recommend it to everyone.  For a more accessible/ quickly digested version, you can watch Food Inc., which is based on Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation (which is too gross for me to read).  In a nutshell, OD convinced me to strive to eat more naturally, more in harmony with our own biology, more the way our ancestors ate (before fast food and TV dinners came along). Of course, I did not make all 10 of the following changes at once -- because I'm more into Going Green Gradually, doncha know.  I made these 10 changes over about a 2-year period of time.

I Am Not the Master of My Backyard


When I was a kid, I remember my dad wheeling around the fertilizer dispenser several times a year.  Afterwards, we kids were repeatedly reminded not to walk on the lawn for a while.  I thought this was because we would mess up the lawn.

I have since learned about the toxins in fertilizers and what they might do to young developing brains.  And now that I'm a parent, I find I'm not comfortable with the use of conventional fertilizers and weed killers on my lawn.  But we are renters and the owner pays for the gardening service.
 

I Love My Bread Knife

Victorinox 10-1/4-Inch Wavy 
Bread Knife, Black Fibrox Handle


If you are going to make all of your own bread, including bread for sandwiches, you will want to have a very good bread knife.  I love my Victorinox Wavy Bread Knife, top rated by Cook's Illustrated and not too expensive.


This post is part of Things I Love Thursday.

Posts in the series -- Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread:
Part 1 -- 5 Steps to Get You Started
Part 2 -- Homemade bread even cheaper (buy in bulk)
Part 3 -- Vegan whole wheat bread
Part 4 – Additional bread supplies (nice but not necessary)
Coming Soon:  Part 5 -- Special Treats (white bread, rolls, etc.)

Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread (Part 5) -- Special Treat: White Buttermilk Bread

Photo from allrecipes.com

It's summer! And where I live, it's hot, and there's no A/C.  The bread machine is a beautiful thing in the summer.  Fresh bread without heating up your entire kitchen.  If you put the bread machine in your garage, it doesn't heat up your house one bit!

We usually make and eat 100% whole wheat bread, but occasionally I make white bread for a special treat.  We use it for French toast, for "buns" for black bean burgers and for sandwiches.  Straight out of the oven with butter it is better than a slice of cake.

Bread Machine White Buttermilk Bread
1 1/8 c warm water (45 sec. microwave)
1 T oil/ butter
3 T honey
1 1/2 t salt
3 c + 2 T white flour
1/4 c powdered buttermilk (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
2 t yeast

Add all ingredients in the order listed.  Check dough after first kneading – should be moist and sticky. Add 1T water or flour if necessary. I would err on the side of wet.  This particular dough never really forms into a ball, but just looks like a doughy mass until it's baking. 

Basic cycle, 1.5 lb. loaf, light crust (take it out 5-10 minutes early if you have the chance). I have a Sunbeam/Oster bread maker (which is the lowest end one you can buy).

This post is part of Works for Me Wednesday.

Posts in the series -- Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread:
Part 1 -- 5 Steps to Get You Started
Part 2 -- Homemade bread even cheaper (buy in bulk)
Part 3 -- Vegan whole wheat bread
Part 4 – Additional bread supplies (nice but not necessary)
Part 5 -- A Special Treat: Buttermilk White Bread

What is your favorite summer recipe?

QUIZ - Are Cloth Diapers for You???

Some people are absolutely sure they want to use cloth diapers and some are just as sure that they will never ever ever use cloth diapers.  I never had any intention of using cloth diapers but ended up switching from disposables to cloth when my first child was one.

If you answer YES to even 5 of the following questions, maybe cloth diapers really are for you.

Quiz: Should Use Cloth Diapers?

Summer Infant 3 Stage Super Seat, Green
1. Do you have a baby or are you expecting a baby? Have you ruled out infant potty training?
Maybe you'll be able to skip diapers all together.  If not, cloth diapers are one of your options!

Huggies Overnites Diapers, Size 6, Big Pack, 48-Count Box
2. Does your baby leak through her nighttime disposable diaper practically every night?  
Dealing with leaky diapers at night can drive you crazy, especially when you are already sleep-deprived.  I co-sleep with my babies, so they nurse (and pee) A LOT at night.  I tried nighttime disposables (so expensive!), 2 disposable diapers (one on top of the other), changing diapers during the night -- nothing worked consistently until. . . cloth diapers!  You have so many more options with cloth.  I found something that worked for me, and now we enjoy dry nights every night.

Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread (Part 4) -- Homemade Bread Supplies

The following bread supplies are nice but not necessary.  To learn how to start making your own bread in 5 easy steps, read this post (awesome whole wheat bread recipe included!).


Electric grain mill: $30 - $200+
I have a very low-end grain mill (no longer available) that I purchased at the supermarket for less than $30. It is noisy, has a small capacity bowl, and blows flour around. But it works just fine for me! I grind my flour in the garage on top of the dryer and clean up the loose flour every few months. I used to grind around 15 cups at once, and never had any trouble with it going rancid before I used it all up within a few weeks. I have heard that whole wheat loses 90% of nutritional value within 24 hours of grinding. This is the kind of claim you can find all over the Internet, but I've never seen any hard data or reputable source that backs up the claim. All food loses nutritional value over time, but I'm guessing my 2-week old flour is still fresher than store-bought. Benefits of grinding your own wheat include:
  • you will have very fresh flour
  • you can buy wheat berries, which have a shelf-life of 30+ years, in bulk. I go through 25 pounds of wheat berries in about 3 months
  • cheaper
  • you can grind other stuff into flour too, like rice, millet, barley (I grind rice, millet and barley to make infant cereal)


Bread machine: $50-$200 new, $10+ on Craig’s List
Currently I own this low-end machine which I got for $10 brand new off of Craig's List. I would love to own this bread machine, which is very highly rated by Consumer Search. Someday. I am watching for it on Craig's List. Or maybe eventually I'll figure out that whole artisan-bread-in-5-minutes business and make all my bread in the oven.

Victorinox 10-1/4-Inch Wavy Bread Knife, Black Fibrox Handle
Good bread knife
If you are going to make all of your own bread, including bread for sandwiches, you will want to have a very good bread knife.  I love my Victorinox Wavy Bread Knife, top rated by Cook's Illustrated and not too expensive.


Norpro Bread Slicerand Guide with Crumb Catcher
Bread slicing guide
My sister has one of these.  With a good bread knife, I personally find it unnecessary.


Lock & Lock 38 Cup Rectangular Container
Container or bag for bread 
We use a Tupperware case intended for CDs.  I find it easier to take the lid on and off the CD case than to deal with a plastic bag and twist tie.


Escali Primo Digital Multifunctional Food Scale, Chrome
Food Scale: $10 - $15
I bought a cheap one at IKEA.  It's more accurate to weigh rather than measure (with a cup) flour.  Home-grinding also tends to produce less finely ground flour than store-bought flour.  I also just find weighing flour easier than scooping and leveling it.  It's pretty easy (and consistent) to measure wheat berries, however, if you are grinding berries for each loaf of bread.


What are your favorite bread accessories?


Posts in the series -- Lazy Person's Guide to Homemade Bread:
Part 1 -- 5 Steps to Get You Started
Part 2 -- Homemade bread even cheaper (buy in bulk)
Part 3 -- Vegan whole wheat bread
Part 4 – Additional bread supplies (nice but not necessary)
Part 5 -- A Special Treat: Buttermilk White Bread