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Spring is here-ish and I am excited to get back on the composting bandwagon. Ever since we moved it’s been a struggle with so much going on (have you seen our home renovation in progress?). To help get me back into the swing of things I’m sharing the basics along with some tips to get started.

Why Bother Composting?

Composting is a wonderfully simple way to reduce household waste while adding valuable nutrients to your lawn, gardens, or even potted plants. Compost can come from a variety of sources and is often a mixture of organic materials from your lawn, garden, and your kitchen.

Best of all, it’s basically free. Sure you can splurge for a nice commercially available composter, but that’s not a requirement. Some people (with space to spare) choose to simply use a pile, and that works too.

Prep Work

First you’ll need to decide what method will work best for you. If you have the space for a pile, get to piling! However, if you’re like most of us you don’t have the space or desire for an open compost pile. You’ll need to purchase a composter.

Composters come in a few forms but most take up approximately 2-2.5 square feet. We had two Soilsaver bins at our last home and recently purchased one for our new home. They have a small footprint, are easy to put together, and sturdy. One compost bin is more than our family of 5 can fill in a year (and that includes adding a good bit of yard waste).

If Space is an Issue

Or if you simply want faster results, consider investing in an indoor composter. In general, composting appliances heat food scraps, mixes, and oxygenates them to help break down food quickly before odors have a chance to develop. Depending on the model, you can expect up to 1.5 gallons or ready-to-use compost every two weeks.

A less expensive indoor option is worm composting. It requires less time than outdoor bins, but there are a few extra rules as to what can be composted. You can learn more about his option from this great article on vermicomposting.

Getting Started

Thankfully, composting is pretty straightforward but these tips should cover the basics. Use your discretion and do as much, or as little, as you are comfortable with.

Have a Handy Quick-Reference List

This printable list is a great guide for what to put in your composter and what to avoid when you are just starting.

Avoid Meat & Dairy

It’s often a good idea to avoid meats and limit dairy, as they develop a strong odor and can attract pests. If you happen to have an electric indoor composter you can be much more flexible (see above).

Add Yard Waste

Adding yard waste is a great way to add both green and brown (dry) items to your compost. Be sure to keep your compost’s purpose in mind. If you plan to use your compost in a garden you’ll want to shy away from adding weeds – especially those that may have gone to seed.

Turn Your Compost

If you are using a traditional composter you will want to “turn” your compost from time to time. This can be optional, but your compost will decompose much faster. During warm months, we like to turn our compost about once a month with a shovel or pitch fork. Turning can also be accomplished by purchasing a ‘rotating composter’ or ‘compost tumbler’. Keep in mind that compost weight can add up, making such devices harder to turn.

Keep Your Bin Close, But Not Too Close

We like to keep our bin about 20-30 feet from our back door. It’s close enough to be convenient, but not so close that we have to worry about lingering odors or kids going out of sight for too long (this is a great chore for kids!). This is, of course, personal preference but something to consider.

Composting can make a big impact on the amount of waste that leaves your home. In addition to feeling better about reducing your carbon footprint, you can use the compost to grow healthier gardens, flowers, and lawns.

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The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.


 

family-fun-and-educational-opportunities-with-minecraftWhile screen time can be a challenge for parents in this day and age, there are ways to use it to your advantage and the advantage of your children. One of those opportunities comes in the still wildly popular game, Minecraft.

If you are unfamiliar, Minecraft is a fun game about placing blocks (sort of like traditonal building blocks, but interactive and digital) and going on adventures. Players can explore randomly generated worlds and amazing tutorial & sample themed worlds (seriously, have a look at them!). Best of all game play is easily tailored to any level of skill; build amazing things from the most modest of homes to the grandest of castles.

Run a quick search on Pinterest and you’ll find a slew of articles with tips on how to use Minecraft for educational purposes – both academically and for life in general (I even have a free birthday printable I made a while back!).

In my own experience, I’ve seen my children create imaginative and expansive communities with detailed storylines and fairly complex economies through systems of trade — both with themselves through “stores” and through trading the goods (that they’ve grown, mined, or hunted) with the game’s villagers. They learn that work is required to gain the items that they desire, and it’s no small task. It takes time, a great deal of patience, and even collaboration for them to mine the supplies they need to create the items they want to thrive in the game. I’ve even seen their math skills strengthened simply by playing.

Updates Provide New Opportunities

The game is always evolving with fairly regular updates, giving new items and experiences to look forward to and learn from. Minecraft has two main game modes: Creative,which allows for unlimited resources, and Survival, for more challenging play that depends on mining and crafting to build, create, and defend. My children love Creative, while I find myself drawn to the challenge of Survival mode. Oh yes, I play with the kids! I find that it’s a fun way to engage with them in their world and just ‘be’ with them for a bit. The game is extremely family-friendly, though I won’t deny that it might take a little time to get the hang of it for those of us who may be out of practice.

Creativity Beyond the Game

One of the best things about the game is how it engages my children positively beyond screens as well. The toys and collectibles make great gifts for anyone already into the game and allows kids to take the worlds and stories they’ve created out of the screen and to more tangible play, which meets other needs for them creatively and developmentally.

While I don’t always love plastic toys, I do make exceptions when they provide quality play – and it’s a major bonus when they can be handed down when they are done. We have several sets of the Lego Minecraft sets and have begun to collect the Minecraft mini figures, and thankfully you can get a storage case to keep them organized — which may just be under our tree this year.

Minecraft Minifigs with Case Best Buy 

Time is running down the wire for gifts this year, so if you’re looking for a last minute idea that will be sure to land you a hug or two, Best Buy offers a wide range of Minecraft products that you can go pick up right now. From the game itself (there is even an Xbox One S console bundle that is currently on sale!) to the companion toys and collectibles mentioned above. Several are even in the stocking stuffer range – which I still need to run out to get, because procrastination. If you’ve been on the fence (I was there once, too) you might just want to give this one a try. My once anti-device self is not sorry that she did!Minecraft Xbox One S Best Buy

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New diaper prints are always a lot of fun, but I can tell you that being a part of the creation process adds a whole other layer to it all. Will people like it? Hate it? You cross your fingers and hope it does well with all you have and then release it – because that stuff will drive you crazy!

I was flying into Las Vegas for the first day of the ABC Kids Expo (check out this great post from DDL about all of the new stuff) when the collection was announced in the Thirsties Groupies Facebook group. I braced myself for the worse (I have seen some mighty harsh comments over the years about new cloth diaper releases!) but each new comment seemed to show more excitement than the last and something amazing was happening — people were sharing their stories of how one of the prints spoke to a time or memory in their life. I could never have expected such an amazing response. Even recalling reading the comments now has my eyes a bit misty. This collection has been in the works for so long and I’m so excited to see it heading out into the world and I cannot wait to see photos of little ones wearing these new prints!

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Introducing… Adventure Trail, Happy Camper, Midnight Blue, Mountain Bike, and Birdie

The Outdoor Adventure Collection is available now in Duo Wrap, Pocket, Newborn All in One,  One Size All in One, Natural Newborn All in One, and the Natural One Size All in One, Wet Bags & Pail Liner (Midnight Blue only) — and you could win the whole collection in Duo Wraps. Actually, two of you can! This giveaway is so big that I’ve teamed up with Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry to make it happen!

To enter:

  1. Share a photo of your favorite outdoor adventures on Instagram (tag #thirstiesbaby) or in the new Thirsties Facebook group!
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    You’ll earn bonus points for incorporating Thirsties and the woodland theme into your photo!
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  2. Be sure to enter on the form below as well.

1 Random winner will be pulled from Rafflecopter form below, and a Winner will be chosen via vote (from the Thirsties Team & blogger hosts) based on our favorite photo entries!

This giveaway is US & Canada Only, and if you just can’t wait to get your hands on these prints you can buy them now at ThirstiesBaby.com or your favorite cloth diaper retailer!

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Almond Chia Steel-Cut Oatmeal Bowls - A simple, healthy, and beautiful breakfast that is ready in two minutes, flat.Breakfast has never been my strong suit. I’m happy to make it but somehow, after a cup of coffee, I’m just never really in the mood for it in the mornings. While, I’m not all that old… yet… something about having children makes me think a bit more about taking care of myself — and the least I can do is try to start my day with something more substantial than a cup of coffee.

I’ve always been a fan of oatmeal, but traditional packets (even organic brands) are often loaded with sugar, which is not really something I consider to be a good start to my day. I’ve also tried making overnight oats, which I do enjoy, but having to prepare meals ahead is also a shortcoming of mine. When I had the chance to try Pacific Foods ready to eat steel-cut oats I was pretty excited. Pacific is a brand that I am familiar with, purchase, and trust.

Their steel-cut oatmeal is certified organic and comes in unsweatened, lightly sweetened, Maple & Brown Sugar, Apple & Cinnamon, and my favorite — Flax & Chia Power. Steel-cut oats are a recent favorite of mine. They add a little extra texture to oatmeal, which some may find quite welcome. (Rolled and instant oats are sometimes a bit too mushy for my tastes.)

Each flavor contains at least 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 25 grams of whole grains (though some contain more!). Not only are they ready to eat in about two minutes, but they are low in sugar. I can enjoy the oatmeal as-is, or spruce them up with a handful of fruit and a sprinkling of nuts or seeds.

If you’ve been on Instagram or Pinterest, you’ve likely seen smoothie bowls, which are so beautiful. I love eating pretty foods but I’ve yet to hop on the smoothie craze, so… in lieu of that, I’ve started to beatify the foods I love to eat.

I make lunch each day for my kids, so I’m always chopping up fruits in the morning. With these oatmeal bowls I can easily set a little aside for myself, get them kids the bus, and then toss it my oatmeal bowl together. It’s no time at all, but it certainly brings a bit of light to my day and helps me not crash and burn because I skipped feeding myself.

I hope that you enjoy this ridiculously simple recipe as much as I do – though, to be honest, it’s so easy that I’m not sure it even qualifies as a recipe, but I do hope that it encourages you to treat yourself a bit. We deserve it!

Almond Chia Steel-Cut Oatmeal Bowls
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Ingredients
  1. 8 oz Steel Cut Oatmeal (cooked) (I used Pacific's Ready-to-Eat Steel-Cut Oatmeal in Flax & Chia Power)
  2. Splash of Organic Milk (Almond, Hemp, Dairy, etc. - Optional)
  3. 2 Strawberries (sliced)
  4. 1 tbs Sliced Almonds
  5. 1 tsp Chia Seeds
Instructions
  1. Heat precooked oats for 1-2 minutes and stir in a splash of milk to get the consistency you prefer and then create a bit of art.
  2. You can pile the toppings on or take your time to create something that brings you joy.
Notes
  1. I used strawberries, chia, and almond slices in my bowl, but you can get creative with any number of ingredients. I love to use a little drizzle of maple syrup with blueberries and pumpkin seeds too, but there are so many fun combinations.
The Eco-Friendly Family http://theecofriendlyfamily.com/

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