Cloth Diapering Part 3 – What Else?

Welcome to part 3 in my cloth diapering series. So far, we’ve talked about why you should try cloth and what your cloth diaper options are.  Now what? What else is there?

clothdpart3

Well, there are a few things. First, I want to break down a few more things that you will face when choosing your diapers. After that, I am going to briefly talk about the last bit of stuff you will want to think about getting if you are going to cloth diaper your kiddo.

I know this seems like a lot. Just remember that this is all of the extra bits, sort of a Cloth 102 section. If you are overwhelmed, that’s fine. Just walk away and come back later.

So, first, let’s talk about some options that you’ll come across when choosing diapers.

Sizing

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Rumparooz One-Size diaper size range

Cloth Diapers are a bit of a pain when it comes to sizing. You will see that you often have several options. Preemie (tiny), Newborn (itty bitty), Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, Size One, Size Two, Size Three and One Size. Yeah. And just to make things more of a pain, there isn’t really a set standard so you will find that one brand of One Size will fit differently than another brand.

The easiest way to manage all of this is to look at the weight guidelines for each size. Pick the size that your baby’s weight fits in to. For those that want to start cloth from day one, you will need some Newborn sized diapers and then up, even if you go with One Sized. Why? Well, most diapers, unless specifically stating otherwise, start at around 8lbs. This means that they are just a little too big and bulky for those tiny little squishes.

Some diaper brands have really tried hard to make a one size diaper truly one size. I have personally been really impressed with Bum Genius, Charlie Banana and SoftBums for how small they can be, and yet how large they grow.

Materials/Fiber

I sort of mentioned fiber a little bit in my last post. This is a way to really customize your diaper. Inserts come in a variety of materials, including blends, to cater to your individual needs. For those that are concerned, you can choose organic materials. For those that want to customize the absorbency and options of your diapers, you can choose to pick up diapers and inserts in different fibers and blends.

Generally speaking, from least absorbent to most absorbent, fibers range from microfiber (which is what comes with most diapers), minky (another man made material that is softer than microfiber), to cotton, bamboo and hemp. Microfiber is a manmade material that wicks away liquid extremely quickly but doesn’t hold as much as the natural fibers. Cotton is the most traditional and affordable of the natural fibers. Bamboo and hemp are super absorbent but can take a little longer to wick the moisture away. Also, hemp can get a little stiff, so make sure to give it a tumble in the dryer to help keep it soft.

Changing up your materials allows you to control what goes against baby’s skin, how much moisture it can hold (like for overnights or heavy wetters) or how dry baby feels after a pee (microfiber for the win). Obviously, they all do their job of absorbing what baby puts out, but it’s just another way that you can make your diapers work better for you and your lifestyle.

Ok, so now that you know about those options, how about we talk about the other stuff that you might need when choosing cloth diapers?

The Other Stuff:

tide

Detergent. So, the thing with cloth is that it needs to be washed. Some people are really super precious about their laundry routines. Others, like me, not so much. What I recommend is that you choose a cloth friendly detergent (no scents, no softeners, etc… all of which can cause build up on your diapers which can cause repelling of moisture and stinkiness). You can go with fancy cloth specific detergents, like Rockin’ Green or Laundry Tarts, or you can try something like Tide Free and Gentle. Some detergents have sneaky ingredients, so avoid any of the baby specific detergents as they have softeners. What do I use? Country Save, as I am allergic to Tide.

planetwisewetbag

Planet Wise Wet Bags

Wet Bags. Because these diapers probably aren’t going immediately from butt to laundry, you need somewhere to put them in between washes that won’t make them gross or make your house stink. Enter the Wet Bag. Wet Bags are coated fabric bags that contain the mess, but allow air flow to keep stink to a minimum. They are washable and go right in the wash with your diapers. You can get them in a number of shapes and sizes, depending on where you want them or how you want them stored. Some people get a laundry basket and put a wet bag inside. Other’s hang them from the back of a bathroom or bedroom door. Whatever works best for you. I recommend having a couple big ones (so you always have one ready to go while one is in the wash with the diapers), and a couple small ones for diaper bags. They come in all sorts of cool fabrics so you can really make them fit your taste and your home. What do I use? A mix of brands. I currently love Planet Wise and Rumparooz/Kanga Care.

Dryer Balls. For those who love their dryer sheets, I have some bad news. Unfortunately, they also create a residue on cloth diapers. Not only can you not use them on your diapers, but we actually recommend quitting them all together because the left over residue in the dryer can still coat your cloth and cause repelling issues. So, what are you supposed to do to keep clothes soft and static free? Dryer Balls! Wool Dryer Balls are the big thing right now, as you can scent them with essential oils (lightly, otherwise you end up with residue agan), and they make fun safe toys for kiddos too. Laundry Tarts also has some that work great. What do I use? A mix. I have a couple Laundry Tarts old school ones that allow you to add scented sticks, as well as their newer blue ones. I also have a few wool balls (that usually get stolen by my son and used as toys)

Cloth Diaper Safe Creams. While cloth babies are reportedly less likely to have rash issues, I would say that rashes happen to everyone at one point or another. Unfortunately, a lot of the common creams on the market aren’t safe for use with cloth diapers. Any zinc based cream (opaque white creams) create a seriously bad residue which basically kills the absorbency of cloth. There are many “safe for cloth” creams out there, however I would warn that any cream used to excess will eventually create a residue on cloth. Some people opt to switch temporarily to disposable diapers when having to use cream, just to be safe. What do I use? I have tried a ton of different creams. Some of my favourite cloth safe creams are Eco Chic Movement, CJ’s, Substance, Pea in a Pod and Earth Mama Angel Baby.

wipes_500x500

Cloth Wipes. While I personally just kept using disposable wipes, I know some people find it to be a pain to use cloth and then still have to find a garbage to toss your wipes. You can either make or buy cloth wipes. Some people use them dry, others make their own wipe solution or buy some for easier clean up. Some people just use water. What do I use? When L has had a bad flu and a sore bum, I have cut up flannel receiving blankets to make my own. Otherwise, I use Pampers Sensitive disposable wipes because they can be used for EVERYTHING.

Snappis/Fasteners. For those of you that use prefolds, snappis and other similar fasteners have taken the place of the old school safety pins. Safe to use on baby, they hold your prefolds closed snugly against baby for easier diapering. Bonus side use: They are AMAZING for getting fuzz out of velcro. What do I use? Snappis.

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Bummis Bio-Soft Liners

Disposable Liners. Disposable liners are awesome for bigger kiddos, when poop becomes more solid. Basically, you put down the small sheet (that kind of looks like a dryer sheet) on the middle of the diaper where the business happens, and when baby poops, you can just toss the poopy liner and not have to worry about scraping or spraying the poop off the diaper itself. They allow liquids through, so they don’t inhibit absorbency of pee however this means they are useless for young baby poops, as they tend to be mostly liquid anyway. What do I use? Nothing. I have no problem scraping and shaking poop off diapers.

Other Liners and Boosters. You can get washable cloth liners to help protect your diapers from stains and for easier poop removal. Fleece liners are great for more solid poops as poop tends not to stick to them, which allows you to just shake them above the toilet and the poop falls right off. They are also a great option for those moments when you use a safe diaper cream but want to be extra sure that your diapers don’t get any build up. Boosters are for those that haven’t found the answer to their problems with different inserts. They allow you to add an extra layer to your diaper for extra absorbency. Great for older kiddos, heavy wetters, long trips and over nights. What do I use? I haven’t used any other liners or boosters so far, but I did pick some up for Baby M to try. I have a few hemp boosters and a couple Apple Cheeks fleece liners.

DiaperSprayerBox400x400

Diaper Sprayer. So, the thing with poopy diapers is that you need to scrape/shake the more solid bits of poop off the diaper before washing. A great product that has arrived on the scene to help this unpleasant task is the diaper sprayer. It’s basically a little hose and nozzle that attaches directly to your toilet. You use it to spray the poop right off the diaper into the toilet for easy hands-off removal before tossing the diaper in the wet bag. Woo! What do I use? I picked up a cheapy sprayer, but it turns out our plumbing and toilet at not sprayer friendly. I’ve heard the BumGenius one is great.

rlr

Stripping Agents. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, you end up with your diapers repelling or a nasty stink that your regular wash routine just can’t seem to kill. There are a few products out there that promise to strip your diapers of all residues. Some people swear by RLR, others prefer just adding vinegar to their routine. It’s really up to you. What do I use? Well, I picked up a bunch of cloth second hand for Baby M. Just to be safe, I decided to do a disinfecting soak. I used a bleach bath and picked up some RLR so that I can do a stripping if I notice any repelling. I have also heard that vinegar works great, which I also intend to try down the road.

 

There you have it. There are always new products popping up, but these are the ones you are most likely to come across. If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a line. I am by no means an expert, but I will try my best to help. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and found it helpful as you consider starting your cloth diaper journey.

 

The rest of the Baby Basics Series:

 

Because they are so pretty

Because today was supposed to be about cleaning and organization and has instead become a day of itchy watery eyes and the urge to claw my face off, I will take this moment to interrupt my regular posting to show you these:

I don’t really know why I love them so. The delicate lace, the black… I just know that I want them. And that they cost about the same as the 32gb iPhone 4 that I’ve been coveting for months. I absolutely do not have the kind of life or style to carry that kind of shoe, so I’ll just drool from afar. Here are the deets. They are Louboutin Fetilo lace satin pumps and I first saw them here.

Now, back to being grumpy and itchy.

Wheels and Wedding Crafting, Part 1

Good afternoon everyone!

We in Canada were lucky this week to have Canada Day on Thursday. For me, it coincided with my summer hours week, so I got Friday off as well (at my job, we work 45 minutes more each day during the summer, which earns us every second friday off!). Faced with this long weekend, I wanted to get a lot done.

One result of weddings, that I hadn’t prepared for, is the mess. Firstly, you’re bringing home a bunch of stuff you didn’t have before (yay gifts! Oh wait, that includes ALL of the decor too!) and no where to put it. It also means all of those jars I used for centerpieces came home with flowers in them. I’ve been slowly working towards reclaiming our home. I feel that today, finally, I’ve made head way. All the flowers have been composted, water dumped, jars washed and sorted. I’ll be selling some of them, and keeping the few that I really love. Unfortunately, with these flowers, came some of the BIGGEST EARWIGS I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. Yes, they warrant caps lock. Seriously. Thank god I have a fearless husband manned with huge shoes to destroy them.

I know that that’s not a very Yay Nature! thing, but I have this understanding with creepy critters. In your environment, I’ll leave you alone. My house, however, does not welcome anything between 5-7 legged critters. Spiders I can handle, because they eat things I hate. And they are master weavers. Bugs though? No way. You know, I thought about posting a picture of an earwig just now, for those of you who don’t have them, and I just couldn’t do it. No way I’m letting one on to my blog! UGH.

They are truly my most hated critter. Unfortunately, I live in an area where they prosper. HATE. Ugh.

So, back to happy things: This weekend has been productive. I did some cleaning at The Big House (the family home), did some banking, cleaning and, completely unexpected: Bought my first vehicle.

My last car had been a gift. When my father died, my Mum gave me his ’96 Volvo so that I could get back and forth to work, and to her place to get her to her many doctor’s appointments. Unfortunately, as you might remember me talking about, I crashed it about 7 months ago:

The car that saved my life.

I’ve only owned one other car before that, and it was extremely brief. And wasn’t really mine. My Dad bought a Volvo and was going to sell it to me. I took it on a few road trips  and then decided that I didn’t want to keep it. In fact, even before we left I decided I didn’t want to drive it, so my best friend, Isaac, drove it on our road trip out East.

Isaac, Me and The Car

My favourite picture of the trip

My first car

It was a great car, but I was having major stress issues dealing with it being a standard. You see, I never really learned to drive a manual car properly, and it was just too much for me to drive for 22 hours straight. So, I gave it back to my Dad when we got back from our Summer travels.

I’ve never actually purchased a car, had it put into my name and owned it, all on my own. Every since the crash, I’ve been needing a vehicle to get around. My Mum’s van has been useful the last few weeks, but we’re sending it back to the dealer soon and I don’t want a minivan. So, Pat and I started our searching and very randomly came across a 2000 Subaru Outback with a bunch of scratches and almost no rust. It’s in great condition and the scratches make me less worried about keeping it pristine. So, allow me to introduce my new baby, Betty Joan:

Meet the lovely lady Betty Joan

Her name is both a nod to Mad Men, as well as a reference to her license plate. I obviously can’t tell you much about it, but it does include the letters B and J. She’s a great car that will definitely serve our family as it grows. We aren’t planning on having kids right away, but certainly within the next five years. We wanted a vehicle that could handle all of our stuff (including our 85lbs dog) and any potential babies. I think she’s just great :)

In other news, I wanted to share some of my wedding crafts. Now that the wedding is over, I feel that I can finally share some of the things I made for it.

Heriloom Wedding Garter

My Garter

Pattern: Knitted Lace Wedding Garter

Yarn: Artyarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter

Ravelry Project Page

This garter was actually a really fun quick knit. Because of the yarn I chose, I had to change the pattern quite a bit. It still ended up HUGE, but absolutely gorgeous. The yarn was just the most beautiful stuff I’ve ever knit with, though not the easiest to work with. The glitter separated from the yarn, and didn’t have the same stretch. Winding it was NOT fun. In the end, I only wore the garter for a little while, because it was just too big and too warm for me to wear at the end of June. It’s definitely going into my cedar chest for my kids though.

All knitted

Jam Wedding Favours

Jam Favours

I decided quite early on that I wanted to make jam for our favours. It suited our rustic and DIY theme. This was especially true once we decided on mason jars as the centerpieces. For the recipe, I used the one on the quick set packages. I found it too sweet for my taste, but it was also my first time using Quick Set (with sugar already included) as opposed to pectin. The jam was straight up strawberry. We made 85 small jars (I think they were 1/2 cup?).

How to make your own easy peasy jam:

1. Boil your jars and lids for a good 10 minutes at a rolling boil. This makes sure you get all the nasty bacteria out. Remember, when removing them from the water to use sterilized tools, and NEVER touch the inside, the mouth or the bottom of the lids with your bare hands.

Sterilized Jars

If you have a pressure cooker, I’d definitely recommend using that to sterilize instead. But, boiling works fine so long as you’re careful and quick.

2. Cut up your fruit. In our case, a BUNCH of strawberries. We cut them pretty chunky, because I find it easier to mash bigger pieces. Depends on the consistency you like.

LOTS of strawberries

3. In our case, we just threw all the strawberry bits into a pot with some lemon juice and boiled them. Once they started to boil, we added the quickset. The key here is stirring. Keep on stirring and mashing up the big pieces.

Me, stirring away

4. Once the jam has boiled for some time (I think it was about 10 minutes, but I’d have to check), you remove it from the heat and start skimming the cloudy stuff off the top. Personally, I put the skimmed bits in to a bowl to eat with fresh bread or shortbread cookies.

5. Once all skimmed, ladle the jam into your prepared jars. Get the lids on quick, as it’s the heat of the jam which will pull the lid down into a seal.

For storage: If you plan on using the jam right away, keep it in your fridge once cooled (Hot glass + cold fridge = bad news!). Otherwise, you can store it in a cool dark place for about 3 months. Longer if you freeze it instead (which is what we do. We’ve used jam YEARS later, if its been frozen). When labeling, make sure to include the date made.

Some great labelling pages: Eat Drink Chic

What I did:

-Printed one set of labels on Staples Brand labels (Ours read Strawberry Jam. Handmade with Love. Heather and Pat, 26-06-19).  Those went right on the jars.

-Printed another set that read “Spread the Love! Heather and Pat, 26-06-10”. These went on plain white tags, also bought at Staples. We then used some of my scrap yarn to attach those to the lid. We were lucky that our jar lids were so pretty, so I didn’t feel the need to add fabric, though you can. Just be aware that this has to happen as you’re closing the lids as it goes between the middle lid and the outer ring. Be careful that you’re spooning the jam in cleanly, otherwise you’ll get jam all over your fabric.

Hope you enjoyed!! I’ll be posting more of my crafts over the coming weeks.

Settling in

It’s funny how now that I’m working, I find I have more time to post regularly.  It’s been so strange lately, working a full time job again, while getting the last bit of wedding stuff done, while working on estate stuff and getting the house clean. 

 Most of the wedding stuff is going well. Just a few things here and there that need to be done. Namely, meeting with vendors and getting forgotten supplies. Pat and I managed to win a huge discount on getting our wedding filmed. WOO! The company is First Kiss Films, and they are amazing! Go team!  So, we should get a really pretty mini-film of the wedding. Exciting, right?

 

Bridget from FKF

We’ve booked Mum’s burial. I’m a bit nervous about it. I know I’m in this weird place where I want to find this feeling of closure, but at the same time I’m terrified of accepting Mum’s death and moving on. I’m especially concerned about the sale of the house. Even with her gone, we’re still there a lot and it’s still a home to me. T’s going to be such a loss for that to be gone.  It deserves a new family full of love. It was such a great house for us. It deserves better than what we can offer it.

Me, in front of the Orleans house on my 17th birthday

Work is strange, but still great. I think everyone else seems to think that someone else is giving me work, and so I spend most of the day begging for things to do or familiarizing myself with the filing system. For the first time in a long time, or perhaps even ever, I feel happy with where I’m working. There’s no great fight with myself in the morning to come in. Sure, I still get nervous, but it’s not that deep dread I’m used to with work. It’s a really great relief. Today I spent three hours with my supervisor and had a great time of it. We chatted and really seemed to get along. Funny how when you need something, the universe provides.  :)

 I’ve been wondering recently what I’m going to do with myself after the wedding to pass my time and to fill my mind with. I’ve been thinking about getting back into yoga and maybe taking a few online paganism courses. Ellen Dugan has a few, and I’ve heard about some others too. Unfortunately, money is still going to be tight, even with the new job, as we just discovered we have a leak of some sort in the basement. We have to have someone come in and look at it soon and then, after all of that work, we’ll have to repaint. Again. UGH.  On top of that, I need to get myself a car by July, because that’s when we turn in Mum’s van. It’s an hour and a half to bus to work, versus the 20 minutes to drive. A no brainer for sure. I may have found one that could be the winner. It’s a fully loaded 2000 Jetta sedan that has had a lot of work put into it, and only two previous drivers. I’m really excited about owning my own vehicle. This will be the first time I’ve ever purchased a car. Milestone time!

The car I'm lusting after

Meanwhile, it’s my birthday on Saturday and people keep asking me what I want. It’s strange, but for the first year ever, I honestly don’t know. There’s no book series I’m dying for, no movies I need to own. The only thing I’m dying to get is a new phone. I’ve been catching up on the iPhone 4G news all day. It looks amazing. WANT.

iPhone <3

Unfortunately, living in Canada, they aren’t going to be available until July sometime L I hope pre-orders start soon, because I want one as soon as they become available. It’s incredible to believe that I’ll be 27 by this time next week. Where does the time go? I remember my 17th birthday like it was only a couple of years ago, rather than a decade.

 So, with that I should get back to work. I encourage you to go check out this post at Walking the Hedge. It’s a great post and definitely gets you thinking about fate, luck and personal responsibility.

A sicky Sunday

Pardon me…I have a tendency to ramble when sick. I woke up this morning with a bad sore throat and chest congestion. I think my constant running around has finally caught up with me. It has been a very busy week. Tuesday, I picked up my sister from the airport, did some groceries with her and then relaxed at the family home in the east end of town. Wednesday, my brother and I went to the lawyers to sign some documents to do with the estate, and then Tracy and I were off to Kemptville for my next hair trial. Luckily, this one went really well. It’s not quite perfect, but with a few tweeks, I think I’ll be 100% pleased. I finally have a hair stylist for the wedding, so that’s a massive weight off of my shoulders. My new inspirational pic:

Emmy Rossum <3

After my successful hair trial, we made our way to Merrickville to check out the construction that’s going on right outside my venue. We discovered it should be done by the end of June, so fingers and toes crossed that it’s done a bit early. We also investigated the nearby ruins to see if they are what we wanted for portraits the morning of the wedding. Here’s a picture done by Barb Cameron, an Ottawa photographer, of a wedding she covered in Merrickville:

Beautiful, right? Hopefully we’ll have some good weather for photos, because I definitely want to get down there for a few.

Gorgeous!

And lucky for us, they are only about a 5 minute walk from the venue :D. After wandering all over town, we popped into the lovely little icecream shop on St. Lawrence (a couple of buildings down from the Baldachin) and had the very best icecream I’ve ever had. Yes, seriously. I had Carnival Popcorn and Dandelion. The popcorn one tasted exactly like caramel kettlecorn, and the dandelion one was light, herby and citrusy. Absolutely perfect.

Yum! A small peek at my hair. T and I eating ice cream in the van

Wednesday night I went home, as I had an interview on Thursday morning. The interview was for a clerical position with the Canadian Cancer Foundation. It was a totally random posting I came across one day and applied to on a whim. The interview went so well, they want me to start next week. :D I’m going to ask to have them push it back, to give me more time with Tracy and to finish wedding prep. Plus, as it turns out, I’ve managed to get sick. Fun times :P

So, I’m finally employed! Woo! I honestly feel like it’s a gift from Mum. It just feels like her, ya know? The pay is exactly what I was looking for, with great hours and a job I do really well. I’m excited :) Oh, and it’s a 20 minute drive from  home! Now, I just need to get a car!

Friday, after my computer test with them, Pat and I went to get our marriage license! Woo! Which means we can now meet with the Officiant and get this show on the road. After that, we did some running around and went out to celebrate my new found job.  After a yummy dinner we watched Valentine’s Day, which was ok. Anne Hathaway stole the show for me. Her accents were hilarious.

Yesterday, I drove out to Orleans (I’ve been using the family van), and took Tracy out for shopping. Picked up a cute dress for my Bridal shower, dropped it off at the tailor’s (curse my itty bitty shoulders), had lunch with my old friend Tyler and bought my wedding perfume.

It’s been such a search for me, trying to find a Big Girl’s Perfume. For the last 5 years or so I’ve been using the amazing scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. It was an obsession really. My collection is HUGE and eventually, I had to stop visiting the site because I had way more scents than I could possibly ever wear and was spending way too much money on them.

This was from 4 years ago. The collection is actually much bigger than this now

While I absolutely adore my BPALs, I wanted a spritzable Real Perfume for the wedding. Something sophisticated, that I could wear for special events after the wedding, like our anniversary, etc… Tracy and I visited a million perfume counters before we both agreed that one was the right one for me and the wedding. We both agreed on:

Dolce & Gabbana L'eau The One

It’s so light, fresh and pretty. Not at all what I thought I’d want. Amusingly, it is very similar to a blend created for me at a Dancing with the Elements workshop I attended a couple of years ago. There was an aromatherapy component to the event, and each person had a blend created especially for them. The one made for me had basil, lavender and something sort of fruity.

After our running around, we returned back to the house in orleans for a BBQ with Pat. I had picked up some great Angus sirloin, which we marinaded for about 45 minutes. Together with fries and salad, we had a great dinner. We enjoyed a dessert of Drumsticks and then made our way out to see the new Robin Hood movie.

I had heard some mixed reviews, but I have to say: We loved it. Seriously. I want to own it. I was especially impressed with Alan from Great Big Sea who really brought the Merry men together in a really believable way. Also, Friar Tuck, with his bees, was such a pleasant surprise for me. <3  Cate Blanchett is probably my favourite Marion to date.

After that, Pat and I returned home and went to bed. This morning I woke up with a very sore throat and congested chest. I’ve been using Oil of Oregano, hoping that it will kill off whatever has moved in to the back of my throat. I have a very busy week ahead, so I really need to get better ASAP. Any home remedies that you recommend?

This week holds: A couple of appointments throughout the week, my BFFs coming to town (S is in Calgary. Her Oma is quite sick, L lives in Montreal) for the Shower, which is this coming weekend. Eek! Tracy and I need to get as much wedding stuff done as we can before I start work the following week.

So,  in the mean time. Lots of rest and knitting.

One Month

I was hoping that when this weekend came along, that I’d be too busy to notice. It’s sort of a double whammy, really. Not only is it a month since my mother died, but it’s also Mother’s Day. How’s that for timing? The whole world is telling me to rush out to Hallmark and buy cards, picture frames and flowers for the best friend that I lost a month ago.

Now that I’ve been back to the house, I think I’m finally starting grieve. It’s hard. This stuff has no manual. Our society, for some strange reason, is pretty quiet about how to deal with death. My family doesn’t really do somber well. And I mean, I wear black sometimes, but with two cats and a dog, it’s not really practical. So far, it’s been about remembering. Telling stories.

I want to share one with you, if that’s ok.

Two summers ago, I went over to my parents’ house on a mission. We went out and bought a bunch of fresh berries and picked some rhubarb from her garden. She was set on teaching me to make my own jam. You see, growing up, I used to visit her parents in Regina, Sask. My grandfather loved to garden and so, his entire backyard was a veggie and fruit garden. We used to pick the raspberries and saskatoons for grandma to make jam with. Jam has such a warm family feel for me. And it’s definitely a Mann thing (my mother’s family).

So, Mum invited me over and we went to. She had already done a batch of blueberry jam, if I remember correctly. So, first we sterilized all of the jars.

Going through the jars, getting them ready for ze jam

We then got all of the rest of our tools ready to go

All set for jammy jam

I measured the sugar, as Mum wanted me to do as much myself as I could.

Measuring the sugar and checking with the instructions

Note that I don’t have my engagement ring. This is about 6 months before Pat proposed. Dad was still alive at this point. It’s amazing how much has changed since then.

Me, sassing the camera

Next, Mum and I took turns stirring the fruit, sugar and gelatin mix. Eventually, I started smushing things too, so that it wasn’t too lumpy.

Mum stirring

The mixture

Me, stirring

Much like with baking, I kept having to sample the product. You know, to make sure it wasn’t poison

YUM

And by the end of that hot afternoon, we had jam. Lots of super tasty jam.

Jam <3

I look back on that day fondly. It was hot, it was fun. It was pure Mum time. She was so pleased to teach me. I was so proud of the jam I made. I even brought some in to work.

This is how I want to think about Mum. I don’t want to cry at every ad on television.

Tomorrow, I’m going to my first wedding dress fitting. My girls can’t come with (Wedding, out of town and across the country), so I’ve invited my new family. Pat’s two sisters and sister-in-law have all agreed to go on a bit of a road trip with me, to support me and encourage me through this event that will most definitely be hard. I have to try to move forward. To love and live. I have to try to celebrate. I’m excited and nervous for it. It’s been about 5 months since I’ve last seen the dress. Hopefully, it’s as beautiful as I remember.

Today, as a Beltane gift to myself, I ordered Stephanie’s special edition of her beautiful tarot deck, Shadowscape. It’s been making quite the buzz online since it’s release. Part of the SE is that you get to put in a keyword and she will do a custom card related to it. I thought about it for a while and decided on “Growth”. Cliched, perhaps. I could have gone with healing, or grief…but I think Growth is exactly what I’m striving for. Healing is such a part of growth, and in the end, I want to move forward. I want to better myself. I want to learn so much. The future is so wide open to me now that I am no longer a caregiver. I have to find myself again. For the same reason, and maybe even as inspiration to walk forward with a bit of a lighter heart, I chose to get the Fool card as my print.

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's Fool Card from her Shadowscape deck

The Fool

Stephanie describes the card here. This. This is so what I need in my life right now. Is that silly?

On a lighter note, a couple of shout outs:

Firstly, thank you very much to Juniper over at Walking the Hedge for the link. I appreciate it! You are one of my favourite reads and I’m spoiled that you’re local. I apologize to any of my new readers for the heavy content. I promise it won’t always be like this.

Secondly, I think, as another treat to myself, I’m going to get myself some of this. My friend, Amber, over at Swamp Herbal Pixie does incredible things with honey and wax. A year or two ago I ordered her Vanilla bean Chamomile Honey, Bunny Honey and Chai Honey. MAN, that stuff is beyond good. Bunny Honey is my all time favourite. And yes, the name suits. :D The Vanilla Bean Chamomile is INCREDIBLE in tea. It’s so smooth and soothing. Love it. The Chai Honey is luscious. The spicing is great and, as you can imagine, is perfection in a chai tea.  I am also hoping to try her Sister Health honey. I have had some issues over the last couple of years with uncomfortable moon times, so all the help I can get, especially in the form of delicious honey, is welcome.

And now, I think I’m going to go read and relax with some ginger and mint tea before bed. It’s an early morning before the mini road trip. I promise to take lots of pictures. Oh, next up I plan on talking more about going through Ellen Dugan’s books and my plans for a new tattoo. <3