. Sunday, March 11, 2018 .

Last year our goal was to get settled into our new home and decorate the interior. While we aren't completely done with this, some rooms still need lots of wall art, for the most part we have the furniture and rooms how we want them. This year our goal is to focus on the exterior of our home. This includes painting our house and making a garden! I'm so excited for both and especially for making a food and flower garden. We have a very large backyard and one side of the house gets full sun so much that the grass is always baked there, so that is where we are going to put both gardens.

In anticipation for garden season, we've been planning our gardens by sketching a plan, measuring, and grouping flowers and plants where we plan on placing them in the garden. We are going to pull out all of the grass in that area, make paths and plant, plant, plant! We still will have grass in our backyard in a different area. Thomas is going to make raised beds for the food and herb gardens. We would love to have a brick or stone path that curves through the flower garden with a few benches so we can sit and enjoy the warm rays and the gorgeous blooms through the seasons!

We've bought lots of seeds. I actually started germinating old seeds from our garden from six years ago. We went big on our garden in 2012 in Utah. We actually had 19 cherry tomato plants! We went too big on that garden and it was hard to harvest and maintain, so this year we are making a realistic food and herb garden and are scaling back. We plan to plant probably no more than four of each type of food plant and herbs. I would love for some of the seeds to sprout and I'm interested to see what will happen. Maybe they won't sprout or maybe they will? I'll keep you guys posted! Yesterday I started all of our food seeds as well as some flower seeds from the new seeds we just purchased.

I thrifted this wonderful book, Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials, and it is so great to refer to perennials and all of their specific requirements. The book shows you how to plant a garden full of perennials and I will use it as a reference for creating and maintaining our flower garden.

Ever since I was a little girl I remember visiting the garden center with my mom and sister and imagining my home someday as an adult being landscaped beautifully with flower borders everywhere. The day has come and I've stocked up on both perennial and annual flowers to create our flower garden.

I was able to find bulbs at Big Lots and even Dollar Tree! We got seeds from various places and I think most of them we will just start outdoors after the last frost in early May.


For Valentine's Day I wanted gardening supplies, so Thomas got me this beautiful gardening set with the gardening apron and shovel. I can't wait to use these this season! He also got me this beautiful plant mister for misting our indoor plants.

This is what we are planning to plant in our flower garden:

Shasta Daisy
Sweet William
Painted Daisy
Asiastic Lily
African Daisy

Last summer we got a beautiful rose bush that we planted in the ground that has the prettiest small pink roses. I want to get a few more rose bushes to make a small rose garden area and we need to get some bushes to add depth to our flower garden so that it isn't just a field of flowers.

I look forward to sharing photos once we get going with planting our garden this Spring!

How about you, are you planning a garden this year?!


. Thursday, March 1, 2018 .

I've always wanted a library in our home and thanks to my wonderful husband we now have a library in our living room! My husband built us three gorgeous pine bookshelves from scratch. These bookshelves were a labor of love and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. This room is my favorite room in the whole house! It is the first room in our home off the front entry way when you walk in. The large window floods the room with light and it is filled with plants. It is just a cheery comfortable room to spend time in and the bookshelves look as is they were meant to be in this room. I love to sit on the couch and read with a cup of tea. I also love to play with Mila on the floor and read to her in the arm chair.

The bookshelves are so functional and provide tons of storage for books and other things including baskets for Mila's toys. I wasn't sure what to put on the top of the bookshelves but I have lots of vases that I needed to find somewhere in our home to store, and I liked how they look on top of the bookshelves. I can't wait till spring and summer to fill them with cut flowers!

It took about six months for these bookshelves to be built. Before then, this room was a mess with books stacked on the floor, which wasn't good Feng Shui, haha. With all of the house projects we've worked on and busy weekends away with family last year, it just took awhile for my husband to build them. My husband used a router and miter saw. He used dovetails for the whole thing but when he created one side it basically made it unstable so he did end up putting screws in the bookshelves. I like how the screws look and give the bookshelves a nice accent that mimics the wood knots. It was worth the wait for these beautiful bookshelves that add ambience to the room! I love that they are made of pine wood which brings a nice earthy natural element to the room. They are not stained but are finished with Formbys low gloss tung oil finish.

Since our daughter is a toddler, we had to make sure these bookshelves would be safe for her. So my husband had the great idea to mount them to the wall. He used an L bracket and found where the studs were on the wall and drilled the bracket into the studs. By doing this the bookshelves are very secure against the wall and won't move at all, making them completely safe and kid friendly!

What do you think of our bookshelves?! I love them and am so thankful we have these in our home! I'm so proud of Thomas for making these for us, he did an amazing job, especially since he created these in his head and built them from their raw materials! Overall these bookshelves cost $350 for three custom handmade bookshelves, which is a little over $100 per bookshelf. This is way more affordable than buying bookshelves from a retail store. It is special that my husband made these for us and they are one of a kind, no one else in the world has these same bookshelves. :) I see these bookshelves being handed down for generations to come!

What about you do you have bookshelves in your home? What about a little library? I'd love to see your photos!



. Wednesday, February 21, 2018 .

We have been cloth diapering Mila since she was two months old and have really enjoyed the cloth diaper journey! Cloth diapering has many benefits, the cloth diapers come in cute prints, patterns and colors, they are environmentally friendly and cost effective. While the initial investment of cloth diapers isn't cheap, you are getting a great value in the long term and will save hundreds if not thousands a year over buying disposable diapers. You also prevent the use of toxic chemicals being near your baby and you save thousands of diapers ending up in landfills. It is a very green practice to cloth diaper!

While I know cloth diapering isn't for everyone, to each their own. Whatever works for you as a mama is what is best. We cloth diaper 90% of the time and the other 10% of the time we use environmentally friendly disposables, because realistically cloth diapering isn't practical when traveling.

My goal is to be as natural and eco-friendly as possible. I heard about cloth diapering years before I became pregnant. Cloth diapering isn't what it used to be. Now days they sell modern cloth diapers that are called pocket diapers. These diapers have an outer liner and a pocket that you put a piece of cloth inside that absorbs the liquid, which is called an insert. These diapers also have snaps that grow with your child. As they grow you snap them to fit your baby's current size. This is the type of cloth diapering I wanted to try and have used for almost a year now.

In the beginning I did research to figure out how to cloth diaper. Through the trial and error of cloth diapering the past year, I thought I would share what I learned and what has worked for us!


1. CHOOSE CLOTH DIAPERS TO BUY - We use pocket cloth diapers which I highly recommend

Left stack of pocket diapers were handmade by my cousin Leanne, the right stack of cloth diapers are Mama Koala brand.

First you want to try to find the best type of cloth diapers to use. We chose pocket diapers and honestly this is what I would recommend. They are very easy to use and do a great job as diapers. Pocket cloth diapers are awesome because they grow with your child. They have various levels of snaps that you fit your child at various ages from newborn to toddler. Pocket diapers come in many brands. We bought all of ours on Amazon and the brands we have are Mama Koala, Fuzzi Bunz and BumGenius. My cousin also generously gave us her diaper stash that she sewed for her daughter (Thank you Leanne!). She created her diapers in really cute prints and they are just like the ones we bought!

Mama Koala Cloth Diapers

All of the cloth diapers pictured in the photo below are Mama Koala brand which is my favorite. I love their cloth diapers! They hold up well, are very cute and affordable! A six pack of diapers is around $40 on Amazon Prime, so each diaper is about $7. That is a great price considering you will be using these diapers over and over. The top left blue and white floral one is my favorite! This brand has such colorful, fun and cute diapers that hold up well. I love all of their feminine patterns. Some of the ones below we got in this six pack set. We have a great stash of cloth diapers but if we ever need more I really want these adorable Tie Dye cloth diapers by Mama Koala! As well as their Poppy Love, Secret Garden and their Fairy Magic sets! You are bound to find a cute set for your little one with this brand!

Fuzzi Bunz Cloth Diapers

Fuzzi Bunz is another brand we use. Their cloth diapers are for 10-40 lbs, so you can't begin using these till your baby is about 3 months. These diapers are actually my husband's favorite out of all of ours because you don't have to snap them up or down, you just snap them on each side and they are more simple than the others ones. They do a good job holding up. I actually ordered these online from Costco.com! They came in a set of eight with inserts included for around $80. They no longer have them available but you can still find them on Amazon. Here is the Paisley diaper, White diaper and Pink diaper pictured below. The Paisley one is my favorite!



BumGenius is another cloth diaper brand we use. We have four diapers of the BumGenius brand, they definitely seem to be high quality and are the priciest of all of ours, but probably the highest quality. One thing I noticed is that these diapers aren't as long as the others. Right now we have all of the snaps off from bottom to top. BumGenius cloth diapers are Made in the USA, which is awesome! If you can afford it these diapers are great and even better that they are made here in America. This brand comes in more colors than patterns, but for those of you who want solid colored cloth diapers, BumGenius has a lot of colors to choose from!

The photos shown below are BumGenius 4.0 pocket cloth diapers but they have a newer version of the same colors in Twilight (light blue), Countess (pink), Mirror (teal) and we also have the Jelly (purple) cloth diaper. There mountain pocket cloth diapers is so cute, and so are there flower cloth diaper! They do sell some cloth diapers in patterns.

How many cloth diapers should you buy?

In the early days baby is changed often, around 8-12 times a day. So you definitely need at least 24 diapers. When you don't have a lot of diapers you are going to have to wash daily or every other day.

We have 36 cloth diapers which I think is the perfect amount. Since there are so many cute cloth diapers out there though, I wouldn't mind having more. :)

Try to aim to have as many cloth diapers as you can, 36 is a great amount. This way you always have a drawer full of cloth diapers or at least a basket of clean ones, ready to be put together and stored to be used when needed.

Important information about cloth diapering

When cloth diapering it is important to know that they need to be changed about every two hours. They aren't like disposables that can go a little longer before they need to be changed.

Also know that it may take trial and error to figure out how to use cloth diapers.

For the longest time Mila would leak onto her pants for months and we weren't sure why. We were constantly changing her into new bottoms. We didn't know if her cloth diapers were on too loose or if the inserts were absorbing enough. We tested the inserts and they were absorbing correctly and we were fitting the diapers right so they weren't too loose or too tight.

Then at night we decided to put two inserts in the pocket diaper and she didn't leak from them. We called these 'double diapers.' Then months later, we decided to just put Mila in these 'double diapers,' the cloth diapers with two inserts, at all times and it worked to solve her from leaking. We think Mila was just a heavy wetter. Using two inserts in the cloth diaper does make it a bit thicker but it really isn't a big deal with her cloths. She still can wear her outfits and clothes as normal.

I recommend using two inserts in your pocket diapers and if they are not getting wet within the two hours to just use one insert. At night though, I recommend two inserts, so that baby stays drier.

Here is a great resource for troubleshooting your cloth diapers.


Which type of insert is best?

Out of all of them I haven't noticed a certain type doing a better or worse job at absorbing the liquid. I honestly think they all do a good job but I prefer natural materials over synthetic and they are better for the environment, so if you are wanting to buy more I say go with the cotton and hemp ones such as these. All of the pocket diapers we purchased came with inserts for each diaper and my cousin had made some for the diapers she made and gave to us. In total we have fifty inserts.

Here are photos of different inserts. From left to right 100% cotton handmade insert, Fuzzi Bunz 50% cotton 50% hemp insert,  a 100% organic cotton insert and Mama Koala inserts are made of 80% polyester, 20% Nylon.



I have a system setup so that I have two large wicker laundry baskets with cotton liners. I use one of them to put the dirty diapers in. In doing so I take out the inserts from the liners and put them all in the basket. When it comes time to wash them I empty the entire bag into the washing machine.

Then, I have a second basket with the cotton liner ready to use so that when the other diapers are washing I have somewhere to put the current dirty ones. I love how this system works and highly recommend it! Also, sometimes it does smell but for the most part I wash them frequently enough so that it isn't an issue. I love how these wicker baskets hold up and bring a natural element to Mila's room.

The left basket is ready to be filled with dirty diapers when I take the right bag down to the laundry room to be washed
On a side note:
We use Water Wipes and love them! They are 99% water with fruit extract. I do think they are a bit wet though, so most of the time before I use them,  I squeeze the excess water out into Mila's laundry basket that is near by and then I use them.

In our cloth diapering routine we have made sure since day 1 to pat dry Mila after wiping her with the Water Wipes. This has allowed her to rarely get a diaper rash and keeps her dry after having the wet wipe on her.

We use organic cotton cloths after the water wipes. I was originally purchased the organic cloths to be used for handmade cloth wipes but it was easier for us to just use Water wipes and to then use the cloths to pat our baby dry and to prevent diaper rashes. I love the cloths because they come in all the colors of the rainbow, are pretty and are quality.

I made my own Calendula salve for diaper rashes that works awesome but we also purchased Badgers Baby Balm which works excellent as well.


Figure out how often your will wash the diapers

I wash Mila's cloth diapers every other day to every two days. You don't want to cloth diapers to sit for more than three days.

When baby is breastfed the poop is water soluble, but if your baby is formula fed and when baby gets older and their poops are solid you are going to want a sprayer because you do not want to wash dirty cloth diapers that are full of solids. We use this sprayer. You hook it up to your toilet and use it to spray off the solids. It is nice though when your baby has solids that you can just roll off the diaper into the toilet, then you don't even need to use the sprayer, but it definitely comes in handy for messy diapers.

The washing cycle

When it came to figuring out how I was going to wash and dry our cloth diapers I found a great resource on Fluff Love University. Every time you wash your cloth diapers you are going to have two cycles, a preliminary wash to remove the surface soil and then a heavy duty wash that gets the diapers clean. Every washing machine is also different, so they have a great washing machine index that will tell you how to wash the cloth diapers based on your washing machine.

We have the HE Maytag Bravos washing machine so my washing routine goes like this:

I wash the cloth diapers and inserts in two cycles. First the diapers are washed on normal in warm water with laundry detergent that goes to level one. Then once this cycle is over I do a second cycle of washing on Power Wash with hot water and I fill the detergent up to level two. On both cycles I have the soil level knob turned to extra heavy.


What laundry detergent should you use?

Now you are going to want to find a laundry detergent to wash your cloth diapers. I aim to have clean and eco-friendly products that are free of toxic chemicals and synthetic ingredients. Fluff Love University also has a Detergent Index that will show you various brands, how effective they are and how much to use in each wash. I use Planet 2X Ultra Laundry detergent  it is a plant based detergent. It is rated 'A' at the Environmental Working Groups website, with 'A' being the least toxic and' F' being the most toxic.

They come in a four pack on Amazon Prime and last a few months. Honestly I really like the laundry detergent and I really love that the detergent isn't full of harmful ingredients.

The drying cycle

We have the Maytag Bravos XL dryer and when I dry the inserts I use the Sanitize cycle, which is a very high heat cycle that kills any bacteria. If the inserts still feel wet, which depends on the load size, I put an extra time for them to dry on the timed dry cycle.

I do not dry the pocket cloth diapers in the dryer. You can, but I found that the snaps weren't working as well after I did some loads of them in the dryer. So instead I hang dry the cloth diapers on a bamboo drying rack in the laundry room.

We use this bamboo drying rack. We initially bought a cheaper drying rack that broke when our cats knocked it over. I love the bamboo drying rack that we have. It is high quality and does a wonderful job holding and drying all of our cloth diapers. It should take four hours or so for the diapers to completely dry.

 Put the cloth diapers together

Once the inserts are dry and so are the pocket cloth diapers, I throw them all in a laundry basket and put them together in Mila's room as she is playing. Once they are put together I fill her drawer with the diapers so they are ready when she needs them.

That's it! Congrats for wanting to cloth diaper! Your pocket book thanks you and so does the environment! Thanks for reading - I hope this post was helpful in teaching you how to cloth diaper!

If you found this post helpful, please share it with others to help them along on their cloth diaper journey!


. Thursday, February 15, 2018 .

A few days before Mila turned 13 months I took her last photo session of her at 12 months old. These are the final photos of her first year's monthly development photo shoots sitting on the blue chair with her little fox stuffed animal. Our little girl has grown up so fast! She is no longer a baby but is now officially our toddler.

While I tear up seeing these photos of our daughter now 13 months old, I'm also so excited to see her grow and develop each day and for all the exciting things that are yet to come. It has been an amazing first 12 months of Mila's life! Our daughter is so sweet, smart, silly and fun. She makes our lives so much brighter and fulfilling and I love waking up each day to see our little girl's sweet smile and am excited for what the day will bring for us. She truly is our pride and joy and my love for her exponentially grows. :)

Mila had her first haircut at the end of January. We want her hair to grow out but we needed to have her bangs trimmed because they were getting really long and in the way. We got the package where they take a photo of her and save some of her hair. She did so good! When she first sat in the chair she wanted out but we were right near by and they distracted her with a toy and even had shows on the screens so we allowed her to watch something while the lady cut her bangs. Then she was fine and did a great job! Her hair is curly just like her mommy and daddy's. It looks so cute and I honestly think its getting lighter in color.

  • At 12 months Mila loves walking and exploring. When we go to stores she loves grabbing things and putting them other places, just like she does at home. She love rearranging!
  • She loves apples more than any food, and says 'app' for apple and has said 'apple' once. 
  • She still says mama and dadda but does a wonderful job saying things that sound what the phrase is like 'I love you.' 
  • She loves to repeat phrases from her favorite books like 'pop,pop,pop' from the book Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You
  • When she doesn't want something, such as when she is done eating yogurt, she will shake her head no and say 'neh' for no.
  • She can move down from the bed and chairs on her own and expertly climb up and down the stairs.
  • Mila loves dancing to music, especially country, it is pretty adorable how she loves music!
  • She loves moving things across the floor like the kitchen chairs and her ottoman in her room.
  • A cute thing that didn't start till she was 12 months is her carrying her dolls. She holds them and will put them in the doll's stroller. She just loves them! We were at the thrift store and they had a cute doll and I wasn't sure if I should get it for her, but she squealed when she saw it and carried it the whole time we were shopping. 
  • She also has gotten really good about petting and hugging our cats. Mila is so loving! 
  • She loves taking baths and will say 'ba' every time I tell her its bath time and she gets excited.
  • She is social, when we are out and about she loves seeing other kids and when we go to the public library she likes to interact with the other children.
  • When she sees photos of animals she can make the sounds when I ask her and she always roars when she sees a photo of a lion or tiger.
  • She has 10 teeth now! She was getting picky about eating for a few weeks, but has been pretty good about eating her food lately. She will always eat apples and Chiptole though, haha.
  • I still nurse Mila but I think she wants to nurse less during the day and is starting to wean.
  • She still won't wear bows, she will take them off as soon as she sees me put them in her hair or discovers it on her head, though she was too distracted by her daddy being silly for her to notice in the photos below.


Mila's Outfit
Dress, similar - This is the dress she wore at her First Birthday party with family. Its from Old Navy and it was pretty plain, so I sewed on the ribbon near the bodice and made a matching bow. I love this dress and really love all of Old Navy dresses. They seriously go from dresses to tunics and get alot of use, while also being really cute!
Shoes - (Old Navy, no longer available)