June 18, 2011

Artique Co-op: A unique shopping experience

Marcelle and Lauren, fellow crafters, at the Artique checkout
When I first walked in, I was immediately taken aback by the delightful range of visuals. On my left, was a beautiful antique hand-carved wood screen door, and on my right was friendly staff at the counter ready to help me find what I needed. There were gorgeous handmade, unique items everywhere offered by over a hundred independent vendors. The merchandise range from jewelry to stationary, hand made soaps to antique bowls, re-purposed, antique items, and much much more, all displayed thoughtfully and beautifully in vendor "booths". But "booth" is really not the right word because it looks nothing like the long windy aisles of home shows or craft fairs. However diverse the merchandise and vendor personality, the store really looks cohesive as a whole and feels much more homey and interesting than any craft fair could ever be.

June 14, 2011

Swagbucks: Earning Prizes Online

 If you're like me, you would want a hassle free way to earn Amazon gift certificates online. Swagbucks is a simple way to to do just that. Swagbucks is an online program that allows you to earn "swagbucks" for searching, doing surveys, etc, and these "swagbucks" can be redeemed for gift cards, entries to sweepstakes, and other prizes. It's completely free to join and relatively easy to use. The best deal for me is earning the $5 in Amazon gift certificate for 450 swagbucks. There are several ways to earn swagbucks, here are my favorites:

June 12, 2011

Loving Babywearing

Since we've had Micah, I've gotten a good work out everyday from holding and carrying him. He gained about a pound a week in the first two months, so each day was a new challenge. I would wake up with sore arms, chest, back, and even my finger tips hurt.

I knew I wanted to use some kind of baby carrier even before Micah was born, but we hadn't bought anything since he was 3 weeks early. We heard great things about the ERGO Carrier , but we hadn't bought the Ergo by the time he was 2 months old because we thought he was still too small and not enough head control. We did get a Maya wrap ring sling which came with a DVD that shows different ways to use it. The videos made it look so easy, but but it was a lot harder when came to using it myself. It wasn't until I went to a Capital Region Slingbabies meeting that I learned I should put the wrap through the laundry a few times to make the fabric more slippery, therefore easier to adjust.

I tried a bunch of different carriers at the meeting, and it was a great way to meet other moms and learn new ways to wear babies. The warm in-person, hands-on advice was so much better than DVDs! Ringslings are great for some people, but the one shoulder carrying position made me sore after about 20 minutes of carrying. I also tried the ERGO, but found that it was near impossible for me to reach the snap closure in between my shoulder blades. I guess I lost some flexibility with being so tight from carrying the baby.

The type of carrier I settled on is really simple, the Bali Baby Breeze wrap from Wrapsody. I love this wrap because of its versatility and comfort. This wrap can be used with the baby face towards or away from mom/dad, and on mom or dad's back.

How I came to choose our Little Giant Ladder

Ever since we moved into our first house, we've been doing home maintenance work and improvements one after another.  One of the first things that we needed was a ladder, because we wanted to replace our bathroom fan and need access into the attic.  I did some research online to see what options are out there for ladders and how much they cost.  At first I was interested in the telescoping ladder such as the Xtend & Climb types because I saw our home inspector use it to get access to the attic door, and it is very compact when folded down and easily fits into a car trunk.  I read some reviews and saw that some users find it not very durable and not long lasting, and it can only be used against a wall or some kind of support; it cannot stand by itself, making its use somewhat limited.  Right off the bat, I didn't want to get a regular ladder because it would be almost impossible to move it around inside the house and get to the room with a small closet that has the attic access hatch.  Very quickly I am converging on the articulating type ladders.  Little Giant is a well recognized maker of articulating ladders.  This type of ladder has a hinge in the middle, so it folds in half.  It can be opened partially to form the A shape for self-standing position, or opened completely to lean against something.  The legs can be extended to reach higher places but retracted for compact storage.  There are other companies selling articulating ladders such as Werner and Gorilla for less money, but after seeing those ladders in person, I've decided to spend more and get the Little Giant Alta-One M17.

June 9, 2011

Green Horizon Diaper Service Closing

Green Horizon Diaper Service is closing their doors as of June 12th, 2011. Too bad we are losing a diaper service company in the Capital District. However, this is a good chance to get used cloth diapers or diaper pails if you are interested. Just contact ashlee@greenhorizondiaperservice.com or 518-275-0595. You might be able to get some good deals!

If you live in the Capital District and are interested in a cloth diaper service, visit Sonrise Diaper Service. Vikki is a cloth diapering guru and will do a free in-home demonstration, answering all your questions about the ins and outs of cloth diapering.

June 7, 2011

Stop Junk Mail

One of the little things that gets me excited everyday is checking the mail. There's something about the unpredictability of it that never fails to intrigue me. Would this be the day that I would get a handwritten note from a long lost friend? Or a card or pictures from a family member?

However on most days, I'm instead not entirely surprised to get a pile of junk mail to sort through. It's actually become a chore to decide what to recycle, what to file away, and what to keep on our coffee table indefinitely then throw out later. More clutter, that's exactly what I need, not.

Did you know that 44% of junk mail is thrown away unopened? And that Americans pay $370 million annually to dispose of un-recycled junk mail? The best way to deal with the flow of junk mail is to stop it at the source.

There's a few classes of junk mail that I get and how I deal with them:

June 4, 2011

Saving money with cloth diapers

When I was a baby, my parents used cloth diapers for me because that was all we had at the time in China. It was laborious to hand wash, hang dry, and fold. Nowadays, it's the norm to use disposables here in the US as well as cities in China. With the convenience, also comes a significant strain on the environment. We throw away about 18 billion diapers per year, and it's the single most common consumer item found in landfills. The environmental proposition for cloth diapering is a strong one, but I will save that topic for a future post. Today I will compare for you cloth diapering to disposable diapers from a purely economic perspective for the average family. Does it really save money to use cloth? Let's look at a few case studies.

Pampers Swaddlers Dry Max Diapers, Newborn, Size 0, Big Pack, 84 CountDisposables diapers: Cost $1387.00 for 2 years
Newborn Pampers 30% off from Amazon Mom + Subscribe and Save: $0.19 per diaper
Assume 10 diapers per day
$0.19 per diaper X 10 diapers per day = $1.90 per day
$1.90 per day X 365 per year = $693.50 per year

Most babies use diapers for 2 years, so overall cost for one baby is:  $1387.00

Thirsties Diaper Cover- Celery, Small (12-18 lbs)Cloth diapering with prefolds: 
Cost 612.67 for 2 years, Save $774.33

Diaper Covers:

Diapering with prefolds requires waterproof diaper covers. I prefer using Thirsties covers because they are soft and fits my baby well. Other brand diaper covers work well too and cost about the same. I will use Thirsties in this example for convenience.

3 X Thirsties Diaper Cover, X-Small (6-12 lbs)   $11.50 = $34.50
3 X Thirsties Diaper Cover, Small (12-18 lbs)     $11.50 = $34.50
3 X Thirsties Diaper Cover, Medium (18-28 lbs) $11.50 = $34.50
3 X Thirsties Diaper Cover, Large (28-40 lbs)     $11.50 = $34.50

Total for diaper covers = $138.00

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