Thursday, June 26, 2014

Backyard Chicken Keeping

In case you haven't noticed, I don't have any real theme for this blog. Yet. I'm still throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I mainly throw the stuff that bounces around in my head all day and must. get. out. All five of you out there reading this know what I'm talking about. {hi, honey!}

So today, I'm going in a completely different direction and talking about backyard chickens. And why you need them. Because chickens are awesome. 

1. They Poop Gold
Okay, not really. Think of it as garden gold. I've tried for years to compost. Yeah. Not happening. I always end up with something akin to sludge. I know I need to turn it more, aerate it, yada yada yada. But quite frankly, ain't nobody got time for that. Or the money for one of those fancy composters. Chickens are extremely efficient composters. Scraps in, fertilizer out. It's quite a lucrative arrangement. For both parties. I still have a compost pile, but it only gets what the chickens can't or won't eat (and that's a short list, lemme tell you). 

2. Fresh Eggs
If you weren't sold at fresh poop, how about fresh eggs? Have you had a fresh egg recently? A real, honest to goodness, just pooped out of the hen egg? No? You're missing out. Life is not the same after you've had a fresh egg. Those pale, runny imposters at the grocery store are not fresh. I promise you that. Eggs from a backyard hen are amazing. The yolks are vibrant, almost neon, and the whites are thick and strong. They are even better for you

3. Free Entertainment 
You think I'm kidding? I'm not. Chickens are hilarious. At least for people with no cable or satellite. Ahem. I stand around and watch their antics with a goofy grin that only another chicken owner can understand. It won't be long before you are dubbed the "crazy chicken _____" anyway, so you might as well enjoy them!

4. Simple to House
You don't need a fancy, Pinterest worthy coop to house them in (But a girl can dream!). Just something that keeps the foxes out and the chickens in. I speak from experience. Keep an eye out for an old rabbit hutches, dog boxes and dog pens. They can all be modified to create a cozy home for your ladies and are often set on the curb when no longer "needed"...if you know what I mean.

5. Roosters are Optional
Speaking of don't need a rooster. Nope. Not unless you want chicks. Which you don't. If you want to stay sane that is. Roosters aren't always aggressive and mean, but they are always loud and obnoxious. Skip the rooster. Because roosters don't crow when you think they should. And it's not just once at the crack of dawn. Oh no, it's all. day. long. 

One warning, chickens are addictive. They are also the gateway drug to self sufficiency. Because once you have raised your own food you just want more. Before you know it you will be dreaming up a way to hide a Jersey cow from you HOA. Which isn't possible by the way. So stick to the chickens. For now at least. 

This post is linked up at The Homestead Barn Hop.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Heavy Dooty Cloth Wipes by Diaper Dawgs

Diaper Dawgs is in the business of creating poop protection products. It began with one mom, Aisha, knowing that there had to be a better way to deal with the poop. She has since created three fabulous products to help cloth diapering parents better handle the "crappy" moments they face. Heavy Dooty cloth wipes are one of those products!

The wipes arrived with a hilarious brochure explaining the idea behind the wipes and a note from Aisha! Talk about personal service!

The first thing I noticed about the wipes is how soft they are! So, so soft and squishy. Love. But they weren't designed for me to have a snuggle fest with. They were designed to protect my hands from the blowouts I am charged with cleaning up. What makes these wipes different is that they sport a pocket to slide your hand into! Brilliant!

I found that the wipes performed their "task" beautifully! A mess that would normally require four cloth wipes only required TWO Heavy Dooty wipes! This is thanks to the overall larger size of the wipe (8" x 6") and the fact that the wipe can easily be turned inside out to wipe some more!

The wipes are made from 70% viscose bamboo, 28% organic cotton and 2% polyester. 100% polyester thread is used to surge the edges. This fabric combination is super soft and just the right thickness. The wipes absorb liquid quickly and I didn't have issues with them repelling the wipe solution like I have with other wipes.

An added bonus to all of the above is that all of the wipes are sewn by a small network of SAHM's! I don't know about you, but I love it when I can support a fellow SAHM! 

I loved the Heavy Dooty wipes and I'm guessing you will too! They can be purchased in packs of six directly from Diaper Dawgs for $9.95. While you're at it be sure to snag the original Diaper Dawgs product, Diaper Dawgs!  AND for the entire month of June you will receive free shipping on US orders (contiguous) with the code JUNE SHIP FREE!

Disclaimer: I received product from Diaper Dawgs for my honest review. Post sponsored by Diaper Dawgs. I did not receive any other compensation for this post. 

Seasons of Life

Yesterday, my little brother left for 12 weeks of US Army boot camp. 

I'm still sitting here today wondering how that is even possible. It seems like just yesterday he was the baby that I loved to tickle until he couldn't breathe. The baby who hammed it up for the camera from the time he was 6 months old. The baby that I loved to "mother". And before long, he was the little boy that loved fish and frogs and Pop-Pop's truck. We soon fought, argued, and generally annoyed each other endlessly. But somewhere along the way something changed. And we became friends. 

Funny how that happens. 

Now he's the young man that everyone loves to be around. The young man with a drive and determination most people can only wish for. The young man with a sense of duty and honor that can only be admired. 

We will miss him for this season. But we are so proud of the man he has become. 

Love you little bro. 

John 15:13 

Earth Mama Angel Baby Review and Giveaway

Thanks for stopping by the Third Time's a Charm event hosted by First Time Mom and Zephyr Hill! We've come together as veteran moms who have been there and done that to bring you what we feel are some of the best maternity and baby products out there. Each participating blog has a maternity and/or baby themed prize that's at least worth $25. Hop around from blog to blog by using the linky in this post and see what must-have maternity and baby product each blogger thinks you should have! Don't forget to enter to win the grand prize...there are two prize packages - a Maternity Package and a Baby Package. The event runs from June 23rd until midnight on July 7th. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a Birth & Baby Travel Kit for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Here at Home Sweet Homemade one lucky mama will receive a Birth and Baby Travel Kit from Earth Mama Angel Baby! This is the perfect kit to pack in your hospital bag or gift to a soon-to-be mom. The following items are included in the kit:

For Mama
Mama Bottom Butter (1 fl oz)
Natural Nipple Butter (1 fl oz)
New Mama Bottom Spray (1 fl oz)
Organic Monthly Comfort Tea (4 tea bags)
Organic Milkmaid Tea (4 tea bags)

For Baby
Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash (1.67 fl oz)
Angel Baby Lotion (2 fl oz)
Angel Baby Oil (1 fl oz)
Angel Baby Bottom Balm (4 sample packs)

Earth Mama Angel Baby consistently produces toxin free products that perform beautifully! They believe in providing safe, herbal alternatives for pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and babies of all ages. So many personal care products on the market are full of dangerous ingredients. It is so refreshing to find a company developing products that I feel comfortable using on my baby and myself! 

Earth Mama Angel Baby sent me a Birth and Baby Travel Kit for review purposes. I kit arrived just in time since we were about to leave on vacation. And just as the name suggests, this kit is ideal for traveling! I loved having my favorite EMAB product in a perfectly portable size! 

Angel Baby Body Wash
The Angel Baby Body Wash was my introduction to EMAB. I ordered it before my baby was born and packed it in my hospital bag to use for her first bath. Hospitals almost always use Johnson & Johnson products and I didn't want her first bath to be a toxic experience. The nurse who bathed her gave me a funny look when I asked her to use it instead of the J&J, but by the end of the bath she loved it!

I am still using the original 5.3 fl oz bottle five months later. I usually only need three pumps of soap (it's a foaming dispenser) per bath, a little goes a long way! The scent is amazing (Orange Vanilla) and pairs perfectly with the next item I tried, Angel Baby Lotion. 

Angel Baby Lotion
This might be my favorite EMAB product to date. I absolutely love it! The scent is amazing, but not over powering. It rubs in beautifully and doesn't leave a greasy feeling. It is actually the first lotion I have felt comfortable using on my baby! So many lotions are loaded with toxic preservatives and chemicals. Not this lotion! It is free of artificial preservatives, dyes and fragrances and of course, zero toxins. And it's not just for baby either! Mama loves it too! 

Monthly Comfort Tea
This tea is specially formulated to help support postpartum women and during that "special" time of the month. It is made with 100% organic and non-GMO ingredients. The fragrance of cinnamon fills your kitchen when you brew a cup of this tea! It reminded me of a spice cookie. I added a touch of honey for my sore throat but I will probably drink it plain in the future. It's that good!

Mama Products
If you're way past Mama Bottom Spray and Natural Nipple cream in your motherhood journey, don't worry. I am five months postpartum and found lots of creative ways to use the mama products! The Natural Nipple cream is perfect for any chapped skin. I used the Mama Bottom Balm on my sore nose after a long week of battling allergies. It was very soothing and the peppermint scent was perfect for helping to open up my stuffy airways. I'm holding onto the New Mama Bottom Spray for any sunburn we might encounter this summer.

I highly recommend giving Earth Mama Angel Baby products a spin! I haven't tried anything yet that I wouldn't buy again or recommend to others! Connect with them on Facebook or visit their website. Be sure to enter below for a chance to win your own kit at well! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway First Time Mom, Zephyr Hill and participating Third Time's a Charm bloggers are not responsible for fulfilling prizes. Prize fulfillment is the sponsor's responsibility and obligation.

Weekly Meal Plan - June 23rd Edition

The word of the week is frugal! It's the end of the month and I have $20 plus a handful of change left in our grocery budget. That will buy fresh produce, milk and lentils. The rest of this weeks menu will come from what I have on hand already. It's time to get creative!

Monday - Quiche and Tossed Salad
Tuesday - Baked Lentils and Cheese
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Crockpot Lentil Burrito Bowls
Sunday - Leftovers

{my raspberry bushes are finally producing!}

Breakfast is almost always oatmeal, eggs and/or smoothies. One day this week I will make Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal to use up some apples that are languishing in the crisper. Saturday I plan on making a Dutch Baby Pancake, which will use a few more of those apples! 

What's your go to meal when things are tight? Do share! I love frugal recipes! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Nicki's Diapers Giveaway

Welcome to the 3rd annual Summer Cloth Diaper Giveaway Hop hosted by Heather from Mommy's Favorite Things and Mama's Baby Cupcakes. This hop is focused on items you'd want/need for everything cloth diaper related! After visiting my giveaway, make sure you use the linky below to take a look at the other 20+ blogs and see what they have to offer for you and your little one! Each blog has a minimum prize package of $25 per winner. 

Be sure to enter the Grand Prize as well where one lucky US winner will receive the $375 prize. With great sponsors like EweBGreen, Tidy Tots, Tiny Tush, and Smarti Pants this package offers a little something for everyone or a great package for someone wanting to start cloth. 

Nicki's Diapers is generously offering FOUR newborn diapers here at Home Sweet Homemade as part of the #summercloth giveaway hop! The winner will receive two Nicki's All-in-One Newborn Diapers and two Imagine Fitted Newborn Diapers in the winners choice of in stock colors/prints ($40+ value). I absolutely LOVED my Newborn Imagine Fitted Diapers! They were my nighttime solution and I always reached for them first. If you have a newborn or one on the way, fitted and AIO diapers are your friend! They are very easy to use options and do a great job of containing that glorious newborn poo.

You can enter below to win in the #summercloth giveaway below or visit Nicki's Diapers and place an order today!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I simply love Nicki's Diapers and wanted to share the love with you. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: Mommy's Favorite Things, Mama's Baby Cupcakes and the Summer Cloth Diaper participating bloggers are not responsible for a sponsor who does not fulfill their prize.

Monday, June 9, 2014

RECARO Giveaway

Welcome to the "RECARO Performance Ride Giveaway Event" sponsored by Mommy's Favorite Things. This event is from 6/9-6/23. 

RECARO has a wonderful convertible seat, the Performance Ride. Rear facing from 5-40 pounds and forward facing from 20-65 pounds means this seat will last for most of your child's car seat needs. 

RECARO has over 100 years of history designing seats for the world's most prestigious automobiles, airlines, and race cars. RECARO is German engineered, and an international leader in seating safety, design, comfort and style. RECARO is the pioneer of child seat side impact technology, going beyond any side impact requirements as tested with the ADAC European standard. For your peace of mind - every seat is built with RECARO's superior side impact protection technology.

You can check out the review of the Performance Ride on Mommy's Favorite Things here

One winner will get the chance to win a Performance Ride in the Marine color shown above!!
You can also connect with RECARO on Facebook and Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Mommy's Favorite Things and the participating bloggers are not responsible for a sponsor who does not fulfill a prize. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Buttons Cloth Diaper Review and Giveaway

Cloth diapers are cute, reusable and can really help you save money. The Cuckoo for Cloth giveaway hop was started so you can enter to win some great cloth diaper prizes AND learn about some of the brands that your friends in the cloth diapering world are crazy about. Your hosts, the Zephyr Hill Blog and Irresistibly Green, and all the participating bloggers and retailers, wish you the best of luck with all the giveaways and a successful cloth diapering experience!
Besides all the giveaways listed below, be sure to enter to win the Grand Prize which is valued at over $175. It includes 3 Incredibum Bamboo AI2 diapers, 3 Diaper Safari pocket diapers, Grandma El's rash cream, a Wolbybug wet bag, a set of 3 Planet Wise snack bags, EcoSprout diaper liners, an EcoSprout Coconut Stick, and a pair of (gender-neutral) bumGenius BabyLegs!

Home Sweet Homemade has teamed up with Buttons Cloth Diapers for a review and giveaway! They are generously offering two daytime inserts and two diaper covers in the winners choice of colors! 

Review of Buttons Diapers 

I first heard about Buttons Cloth Diapers when I was researching cloth diapers before my daughter was born. I had just purchased some other All-in-Two (AI2) diapers and was terribly disappointed that I hadn't heard about Buttons just a little sooner. Buttons Cloth Diapers were designed by a husband and wife team who believe cloth diapers should be easy to use and affordable for everyone. After using them, I would have to say they have done just that! 

When my package arrived, the first thing I noticed was the adorable presentation! I love it when a company goes out of its way to make your experience with them memorable! Buttons sent me a diaper cover in the new Charming print, a daytime insert and a nighttime doubler to review. 

The Cover

The cover is made with two layers of waterproof PUL and is very stretchy and soft. It has double leg gussets that do a great job at containing messes! The wipe clean interior makes this cover a very economical choice because it can be used multiple times before washing. Since I only had one daytime insert, I tested this cover with flats and prefolds as well. I absolutely loved how well it covered a bulky prefold fasted with a Snappi! Usually I have to fold and shove prefolds back into the diaper cover around the legs, but because the Buttons cover is so stretchy it contained the prefold beautifully with very little folding. 

The Buttons cover is a one size cover designed to fit babies from 9-35lbs. It fit my 16lb 4 month old beautifully on the second row of snaps or the medium setting. The covers cost $11 for solid colors and $12.50 for the prints that Buttons just released. 

The Daytime Insert

The daytime insert is four layers of microfiber with a fleece lining on top. I used this insert during the day for up to three hours at a time with no problems. It is amazingly absorbent and oh-so-soft! Partnered with the cover, I found this to be a very trim cloth diapering option. The inserts are available in two sizes, small and large. Small inserts fit babies from 9-20 lbs and the large inserts fit from 20-35lbs. The inserts are $3.50 a piece, regardless of size. 

The Nighttime Doubler

Wow. Now THIS is a doubler! I was a bit nervous about changing up my nighttime routine, but when I saw this doubler all of my worries vanished! The doubler is made with 6 layers of seriously absorbent microfiber. It is meant to be used with a daytime insert snapped on top so that no microfiber touches the baby directly. I found that combo to be too bulky for my baby so I stuffed a pocket diaper with the doubler and hoped for the best. Nine hours later I was pleasently surprised to find no leaks! Way to go Buttons! The doublers are $5.00 each and are also available in both small and large. 

The Buttons system is one that I can wholeheartedly endorse! It is an affordable and easy to use option that would be perfect for veteran cloth diapering parents or those just getting started. You can buy the diapers individually or in a pack. I love the Deluxe Pack that Buttons offers. For $215.00 you can have everything you need to start cloth diapering your baby! That is incredible! 

You can enter to win below or visit Buttons Diapers and start your cloth diapering journey today! 

Disclaimer: Buttons Cloth Diapers provided me with a diaper and inserts for the purpose of review and my honest opinion. I did not receive any other compensation for this post. Sponsored by Buttons Cloth Diapers. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 2, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan - June 1st Edition

Our strawberries are in full swing right now and we have been harvesting between one and two quarts a day! There is no way we can consume that many berries before they go bad so I have started to freeze them. If you have never frozen strawberries before I encourage you to give it a try! It is so easy and usually much cheaper!

Just wash and cap your berries and place them on a cookie sheet or other large tray (cover it with wax paper so it's easier to remove the berries once frozen). Freeze overnight or until the strawberries are frozen solid. Remove the berries from the cookie sheet and place them in freezer bags. That's it! You're done! Strawberries for smoothies, yogurt or whatever your little heart desires! 

{Ready to go in the freezer}

{Frozen and ready for storage}


Here's what we will be eating after we stuff ourselves with strawberries...

Week of June 1st
Sunday - Graduation Party
Tuesday - Frittata
Saturday - leftovers

In case you haven't noticed by now, I have a thing for southwest food. In other words, I love it! Not many weeks go by without it showing up on the menu. It's usually a pretty frugal option thanks to the beans and rice. win. 

What's on your menu this week? Trying anything new?