Monday, April 30, 2012

A Bee-utiful Way to Spend an Evening: My First Beekeeping Experience

Since I mentioned my joint beekeeping endeavor with my parents a few times on here, I thought I would share how our hive installation went!

After reviewing the notes from my beekeeping classes, reading the installation part of Keeping Bees a few times, and watching a bunch of YouTube bee installation videos (this one was the most helpful, in my opinion), my husband and I were ready to suit up and put our six-pounds of Italian honeybees into their hives.

Working with thousands of buzzing bees was quite the experience, definitely unlike anything I've ever done before. I actually documented the whole experience on my personal blog, but here are some tidbits.

"That's a lot of bees. If you look at the picture above (click on it to see better), you can see how I've got bees just hanging out on me. At point, my dad said, "You've got bees all over your pants!" (I'd worn black pants. I know. Smart. But if you watch the videos, lots of the bee experts just wear regular clothes and don't even wear gloves, so...yeah...I'm getting some light colored pants). Sure enough, I looked down and saw like ten bees (at least) on each of my legs. Of course, my first instinct was to start running around like a crazy person to get them off, but instead I made myself brush them off calmly. The weirdest was when they would buzz around my head. I had to remind myself not to swat them. A few landed right on the veil, right in front of my eyes and nose. Again, it was pretty strange to just let them buzz in my face like that. I just kept chiding them, saying "It's okay. I'm on your side, girls!"  (FYI: most bees you encounter are girls. They're the worker bees. The boy bees -- called drones -- don't even have a stinger.) I'm happy to report that neither one of us were stung (apparently, Italian bees are the most docile). Part of me wants to get stung so I can stop worrying about that first sting, you know?"

 And some thoughts about being a new beekeeper (a new-bee? ha ha).
"It's weird to feel this sense of, that's not the right word...I guess responsibility for thousands of insects. In fact, I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and asked Kevin, in a half-awake stupor, if we'd put the queen's box in the right direction (we did). We're going back up to my parents' house today for my brother's birthday (happy birthday, Matt!) and I'm excited to check on them. I still feel a little nervous about the inspections (it's one thing to install them at their most docile, another to open up a busy hive that they'll want to protect), but I'm mostly just excited about it all. And the honey! I know it's only our first season and we'll probably not get as much, but it's going to be so cool to use honey from our hives and think of the small part we played in getting it."
To read my bee installation post in its entirety, check it out here.

Since I'm mentioning all of this on this blog, the question must be asked: Is beekeeping frugal? Only time will tell. There are definitely some start-up costs to this new endeavor. But honey at the store isn't cheap.  I imagine the honey we harvest will eventually make the hives pay for themselves. It all depends on how much honey we get. I'll keep you posted. Plus, from what I've heard, store-bought honey has nothing on the honey from your own hives. I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How I Reuse Dryer Lint for Camping, Emergency Preparedness, and Beekeeping

Yep, you read that right -- I reuse dryer lint.

It may be the most random reuse I've written about yet. It seems weird and even a little gross, I know. (I wonder what it is about dryer lint that's kind of gross. I mean, it's just little bits of our clothes, right?)  But don't worry, this reuse is nothing really outlandish, I promise. (Speaking of weird reuses, I couldn't help but think of this book, especially since there is a bit of cat hair in the dryer lint pictured above...)

As you probably know, dryer lint is really flammable, hence the need for regular cleaning of the lint catcher and dryer exhaust vent. Why not use that flammability to your advantage and make a fire-starter?

I first learned about this from a woman at church, who was teaching a class about emergency preparedness (it was the same class where we learned to make these emergency heaters). Too bad she moved out of our neighborhood -- she had so many useful ideas. Anyway, she showed us how to make fire-starters with dryer lint, a cardboard egg carton, and some melted wax.

To make the fire-starters, fill an egg carton with dryer lint, really packing the lint into each egg compartment.  Next, melt some wax. When we made these, we melted down nearly used-up candles in an old stockpot (all those scented candles created a pretty interesting combination) and also used some new, unscented wax from a craft store (nothing fancy, of course. It's for coating dryer lint, after all). Pour the wax all over the lint in each compartment, making sure the lint gets covered completely. The wax will soak through to the cardboard bottoms, so put something underneath it. Let the wax cool and harden. When you're ready to use one, simply tear off one of the egg compartments.

Here's the reason behind these fire-starters: they hold a flame while you're adding fuel to a fire. Often when building a fire, you'll go through a bunch of matches lighting and relighting the kindling in your fire as you wait to for the actual firewood to catch the flame. A gust of wind will often put out a fledgling flame, or too much firewood will smother it, or something like that. That's where the fire-starters come into play.

These fire-starters, once lit, will burn for several minutes, keeping your flame going strong until the fire starts burning the firewood. Using these dryer lint starters make building a good fire easier and less wasteful, making it great for camping and backpacking. In an emergency situation I imagine they would be not only good for the aforementioned reasons, but also as a way to conserve matches.

But what about beekeeping?

This Saturday we're getting two packages of bees for the hives we just purchased! It's a joint venture with my parents since we split the start-up costs and hives will be in their yard. In preparation for the installing of the packages and future inspections, Kevin and I decided to practice lighting and using the smoker beforehand. (PS -- Pay no attention to my horrible looking picnic table. It's getting a paint job soon!)

We decided to try one of the fire-starters in it. As intended, the fire-starter held the flame right away. We added some dry leaves, too, but not much.

It worked so well! Not only did it produce a bunch of smoke, but it was the cool, white smoke that is ideal for beekeeping, too. Using the lint starter alone might not give enough smoke depending on how long your inspection lasts, but it definitely seemed to work better than using paper or dry grass/leaves. When we use it our smoker, we'll probably use the fire-starter and then some fuel like burlap or green weeds. When I took my beekeeping class, the instructor said, half-jokingly, that lighting your smoker and getting it going can take longer than the inspection itself. With the lint starters, we had our smoker going full-force in less than a minute!

So, yeah, even dryer lint has a reuse. Keep an empty egg carton in your laundry room. Who knows? You might be glad you saved the stuff someday.

{This post is linked to Homestead Barn Hop and Your Green Resource}

Monday, April 23, 2012

Meatless Monday: Broccoli Calzones

It's been a while since I've done a Meatless Monday post. It's not because I ran out of recipes. The real reason is that, as silly as it sounds, I can never get good photos around dinnertime in the winter months. The days are just too short for natural light photography in the evening then. So, with the warmer weather, longer days, and the loveliness that is spring (my lilacs are starting to bloom!) comes the return of the Meatless Monday posts.

I thought a great way to bring it back would be with an old stand-by from our vegetarian days: broccoli calzones. I used to make these a lot, but I sort of stopped when my first child was nursing -- something about broccoli in my diet made him really gassy. So I just shelved the recipe and forgot about it. A couple weeks ago, I rediscovered it as I was organizing my recipes into a new binder. Soon after I found it, I made a batch of these for dinner and everyone in the family loved them. The old stand-by is definitely back in our dinner rotation!

The recipe for these calzones is adapted from yet another torn-out page of a magazine, this time from Everyday Food, probably from a 2004 or 2005 issue. I wish I could be more specific, but I can't tell from the ripped out pages. That's how I did things before Pinterest -- tore pages from magazines and stuck them in binders.

Anyway, on to the recipe!

Broccoli Calzones {Adapted from Everyday Food magazine}
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 package (around 10 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. of pizza dough (You can use any recipe or the store-bought dough, but the recipe I use for dough is beyond easy and fast. More on that later.)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Prepared pasta sauce (For serving. Not required, but definitely recommended.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

When I made these calzones years ago, I always used store-bought pizza dough because I didn't want to take the time to make it myself.  Now I make my own dough whenever pizza dough is called for in a recipe. The recipe I use is simple and so fast -- click here for the details and recipe.  I just made one batch of my homemade dough and that was all that I needed for this recipe.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it gets soft, just a few minutes. Add the broccoli, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally for about five minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl to cool.

Next, you want to divide your pizza dough into equal pieces and then stretch them (and roll them out, if necessary) into ovals. I divided this batch into four pieces and then stretched and rolled them out into 6"x8" ovals which made some pretty big calzones (one is big enough to feed a hungry adult; half was enough for me). You can make these calzones as big or small as you want to fit your family's needs and appetites. You could use the 6"x8" dimensions as a starting point and experiment from the there. It's pretty versatile.

Once the broccoli mixture has cooled a bit, stir the three cheeses into the mix. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

On each round, scoop the filling on one half of the oval and spread it a little. The amount to put on each oval varies depending on how big you have made your ovals. For these calzones, I did about a 1/2 cup of filling on each oval.

Take the side without the filling and fold it over. Pinch the edges together to seal the calzone shut. Cut a slit or two on top of each calzone and transfer the calzones to a lined baking sheet.

Bake them for about 25 minutes until they are golden-brown.

Serve with a side of pasta sauce for dipping. Both of my boys skipped the forks and ate their calzone halves out of their hands. Or you can do what I do and smother the whole top of it with the spaghetti sauce. So filling and so delicious (plus it's a good serving of broccoli) -- you won't even miss the meat in this meal!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our New (and Healthier) Waffle Recipe

So I just splurged on got a new waffle iron (it's a Calphalon one -- fancy!) since my other one finally bit the dust. We had a good run, that old waffle iron and I, ever since I got it for Christmas during my freshman year of college back in 2000. (Yikes. Has it really been twelve years since then?). I made lots of waffles with it -- first for roommates, then for my husband, and then for my two kids. Farewell, trusty Sunbeam waffle maker. You served me well.

In any case, I'm loving my new waffle iron and I really like the recipe I've been using with it lately. Don't get me wrong, I still love my go-to recipe for buttermilk waffles, but I thought that a more health-conscious recipe might be better for weekday mornings. You know, one that doesn't have an entire stick of butter in it. Mmmmm....butter...

The recipe is adapted from a torn-out page from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine.  I wasn't sure what month or issue to reference since I clipped it years ago, but I was able to find a link to the recipe on the magazine's site. Have to give credit where it's deserved, after all. So, here it is, the latest recipe in our breakfast repertoire:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, separated
2 cups milk (I've  used1% and 2% with equally good results. The other day I added a little leftover buttermilk from my homemade butter. Yum!)
3 Tbsp. canola oil (I often use melted coconut oil instead.)
3 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce

In a large bowl, mix the flours, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, milk, oil, and applesauce. Mix into dry ingredients until just moistened.

Next, beat the eggs whites until stiff peaks form. In other words, here is your morning arm workout! 

It takes a little while to get those eggs stiff enough. You want to be able to lift a dollop of the whites out of the bowl and have it stick out at the end of the whisk, as pictured above. I've also used my KitchenAid for this step with the whisk attachment.

I always get a little nervous imparting kitchen terminology to you, so I consulted my cooking textbook, Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking...

Yep. Stiff peaks achieved. I have not led you astray.

Fold the egg whites into the batter. The egg whites give the batter a nice airy texture, so don't stir too much.

Bake the waffles in a preheated waffle iron and follow the instructions in the owner's manual for the amount to pour and for the cooking duration. Cook them until they are golden brown.

Ahhhh...homemade waffles, complete with real maple syrup and butter. And they're healthy! But will the kids go for them?

Here's your proof. Both of my boys gobble them up!

Extra bonus?

They freeze just as well as my other waffle recipe. Just pop a couple frozen waffles in the toaster and they're ready to go for breakfast!

Enjoying a stack of waffles is a great way to start the day -- especially if they're healthy ones.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

{Linked to Your Green Resource}

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Chicken Tractor That Kevin Built

Boy, did I marry a good sport or what?

My husband, Kevin, has always been supportive (albeit a tad skeptical at times but always supportive) of all my frugal/homemaking/homesteading endeavors, but when I mentioned a couple years ago that I think it'd be so nice to have our own little flock of backyard chickens, he put on the brakes.  For a period of his childhood, his family had several chickens. Turns out, he kind of told himself at the time that when he grew up, he would never get chickens. To him, they were messy and not worth the trouble. I can just see in my mind's eye my husband as a cute, spunky kid, cleaning up chicken poop and making a secret vow that things would be different when he was grown-up, feeling some sort of justice in that knowledge. I think it's kind of a cute thought. That thought also makes me feel a little guilty since I talked him into breaking that vow.  

But don't worry -- we made a deal. If he built our chicken tractor (basically a mobile house and run), I would do all the chicken chores (which is cool with me -- that was my plan all along). Oh, and I have to play an entire video game by myself (my husband just happens to be a video game artist by day and a video game enthusiast 24/7). It's probably going to be Portal 2 or one of the Uncharted games. 

Anyway, our little chicks have turned into awkward teenagers and it's about time for them to upgrade to their bigger home outside. The chicken tractor turned out marvelously, so I thought I'd share how it went.

We looked at a bunch of different ideas for a chicken coop online and decided that we wanted to go with a mobile coop and run instead of a permanent coop. We looked at various designs and plans, even some prefabricated coops and runs, but we just kept coming back to the chicken tractor (complete with detailed building plans) in Ashley English's Keeping Chickens

So one weeknight Kevin and the boys headed to the Home Depot with the supply list, and the building began the following Saturday. The supply list is great because it tells you, down the last little washer and screw, exactly what you need and what it is used for in the project. We found everything at our local hardware stores (Kevin went to Home Depot one day, I went to Lowe's another to pick up a few more items).  

I'm no builder. I mean, I feel proud when I put something from IKEA together. So, glancing at the plans didn't really mean much to me. However, as Kevin read and worked through the instructions, he kept commenting on how they were easy to follow.  Our son, Max, was also inspired by the plans and made his own set to follow.

Here are a few snapshots of the building process, spread over a couple Saturdays...

This is the interior of the hen house, complete with a perch for roosting and a nesting box. Also, that's me making a cameo in the top-right corner, working on the mini-greenhouses I mentioned a couple posts ago (I SO hope they work...).

Almost finished -- just needs some paint and roofing.

Kevin decided on spray paint for this project -- and in my favorite color, no less!  A couple days later, he did the roof with some leftover shingles we had (that we bought a few years ago after a wind storm ripped a few of ours off).


It was ready for the chickens!

We put the girls in their new place and almost immediately they started looking around and scratching in the grass.

And the pecking order squabbles began shortly thereafter. So silly.

I couldn't be more pleased with the way the chicken tractor turned out. The plans alone are worth buying the book for, especially since some plans for similar tractors cost more than the whole book! (That said, the book is totally worth getting whether you make the tractor or not --  it's such a wonderful guide.) I love the mobile housing for our little flock because the chickens will also fertilize the lawn.  It's been a lot of fun watching them busily scratch and search through the grass already and I think they're going to be a great addition to our backyard! Now we just have to wait a few months to start collecting those eggs.

Looks like I've got some video gaming to do now.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

- This post is linked up with Homestead Barn Hop. Check it out -- lots of great ideas!--

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Adventures in Cloth Diapering: The Diapers My Baby Wears

My sweet baby turned one year old a little over a week ago.  When we first brought him home, we had a pretty ample supply of disposable diapers given to us by the hospital. After about a week, they ran out and we switched to cloth diapers. So, it's safe to say, that my husband and I have been cloth diapering our baby for a year now. Believe it or not, I prefer cloth to disposables.  Really. Our little guy's diapers rarely leak (no "pooplosions"), he hardly ever gets diaper rash, and I LOVE not buying diapers.

Whenever I tell people I cloth diaper my baby, I first get the inevitable look of bewilderment and/or disgust, then I get asked what kind of diapers. Most people have the same idea of cloth diapers I did before I looked into it -- their point of reference is the old-fashioned cloth diapers (big and flat, that needed to be folded like origami), safety pins, and plastic covers. That's how my mom diapered me and my brothers in the 1980s and I figured it hadn't changed since then.  Wrong. Cloth diapering has come a long way and there are lots of options out there.

In this post, I'm going to share what diapers my baby wears, along with the pros and cons of each type. There are so many different brands and types of diapers out there, so this list is by no means comprehensive. I haven't tried every brand or kind of diaper on my baby. Also, no one is paying me to say nice things about the diapers they make (not that I would be opposed to anyone sending me free diapers to review...).  All of this is purely my opinion and experience, so take it for what it's worth!

Diaper #1 - Bummis Easy Fit Pocket Diaper

The Bummis Easy Fit diapers (along with the Bummis Tini Fit) were the first cloth diapers I purchased. I'd read a lot of reviews of them and thought they'd be the best for us. It seemed like an easier transition from the familiar disposables.

  • These diapers fit your baby the entire time he or she is in diapers, thanks to the rows of snaps that let you adjust the size. My baby wore these diapers as a newborn and he wears the same ones now.
  • Well-made, high quality materials. The insert is made of a bamboo rayon fabric and polyester microfibre, making it really absorbent. Made in the UK. 
  • The insert is attached to the diaper, making it really convenient (no need to find accompanying inserts like with other pocket diapers). When I'm packing my diaper bag before going out, my first choice of diapers to pack are the Bummis because I know I've got everything I need.
  • They go on quickly, just as fast as a disposable diaper would. 
  • These diapers are easy to wash. The insert comes out by itself in the washing machine. If the diaper is wet, you can toss it right into your pail; if it's poopy, just rinse it off and put it in the pail. No fishing out icky liners like with regular pocket diapers.
  • They have a trimmer fit than most cloth diapers. Still bulkier than disposables, not too much.
  • In my opinion, these are the best diapers for reluctant spouses and babysitting grandparents because they're easy to use and, of all the ones we own, they are the most similar to disposables. 
  • It doesn't really matter that much in terms of performance, but I like the looks of these diapers best. I also prefer the Velcro tabs to snap enclosures (the Velcro has held up beautifully after a ton of washings). And I really like the colors the diapers come in, too.
  • At $25 each, they're a pricey choice. I bought ours for less (around $16-18 each) through an online baby shop -- I'd give you the link to it, but the reason I got the diapers so discounted was that she was closing her shop. Do a little searching and you may find a good deal. 
  • I hate to say it since they're the most expensive, but of all the pocket diapers we've used on Jonah, these have leaked the most. As I was writing this post, I asked my husband which diapers he preferred and he said that the Bummis at the bottom of his list, saying that they are "leaky, leaky, leaky".  They haven't leaked when the diaper is poopy, but they definitely have when the baby's diaper was wet. I think this may have had something to do with the way the diaper's leg openings fit around his extra-chubby legs in his pre-solid food days (when he was in the 80th percentile for his weight). He has since slimmed out a little since he started solids (as is expected, though he is still a beautifully chubby little guy) and they've seemed to leak less often. 
  • (UPDATE: About two years into our cloth diapering experience, these ones started to show their wear the most, especially the elastic around the leg openings. The fabric also started to wear away to the point of leaving holes, again mostly around the leg openings. For how much these cost, I was pretty disappointed.)
Diaper #2 -- GoGreen Pocket Diaper "Champ 2.0"

After I'd ordered a few of the Bummis, I discovered GoGreen Pocket Diapers. I was relieved to see that I could find pocket diapers that were a lot less expensive than the others (like Bummis and other brands) were.  GoGreen sells a couple different types of pocket diapers and the ones we use the most are their Champ 2.0 pocket diapers.

  • The price. At $15.95, the Champ diapers cost a whole ten dollars less than the Bummis. That's a great deal for pocket diapers (though the Champ diapers aren't the cheapest ones GoGreen offers. More on that later.).
  • Like I mentioned before, my little guy wore these as a newborn and he wears the same ones now. Once you buy them, you don't need to worry about getting bigger sizes.
  • The four rows of snaps make the Champ diapers extra adjustable. The Bummis only have three snaps, which made them a little harder to use on a newborn. Jonah was able to wear the Champ diapers when he was only a few weeks old. It was bulky, but it worked!
  • You can get one of these on baby super-quick, too.
  • Though the insert isn't attached like the Bummis insert is, the inserts in these diapers snap in. When you wash the diapers, the insert stays (most of the time) snapped but it also agitates itself out of the pocket. With these diapers, there's no need to fish out the insert before putting it into the diaper pail or washing machine. As you can probably tell, not having to get the insert out of a pocket diaper is a big plus for me!
  • I love the double-gussets at the leg openings. This keeps everything inside the diaper better, especially important when you're dealing with runny breastfed/bottle-fed baby poo. We've had some wet leaks but no poop leakage. Adding an extra insert fixed the wet leaks right away.
  • There are two openings openings which not only allow the inserts to come out on their own in the wash, but it also makes stuffing the diapers easier and quicker. No worries about bunching and twisting of the the liner. Also, the dual openings make it easier to add additional liners, like the hemp/cotton ones I use for the baby at night sometimes.
  • Again, not that it really matters, but there are a lot of fun prints and colors available with GoGreen diapers. You can go as plain or wild as you want with them. (Max calls Jonah's star-print diapers the "Captain America diapers".)
  • Great customer service. When one of my diapers arrived with a broken snap, they replaced it really quickly. Also, they have a flat $5 shipping fee on all US orders.
  • These are the only diapers my baby wears at night because they work the best with the hemp insert. For more info on how I diaper my baby at night, check out this post.
  • I'm not completely nuts that they're 100% polyester. The fleece material on the inside does wick away the moisture away from my baby really well, but I'd rather have natural fibers instead of synthetic ones against his skin. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning.
  • Since they're polyester, they seem more prone to ammonia build-up than cotton diapers which makes them smell a little, even after they're washed. GoGreen has started to offer a new product for stripping the diapers, but I haven't tried it.
  • I prefer the Velcro enclosures on the Bummis over the snap enclosures on the GoGreen diapers, especially when the baby being changed is feeling extra grouchy and/or wiggly.
Diaper #3 -- GoGreen Pocket Diaper "Solid Silky"

I bought three of GoGreen's regular pocket diaper when I was getting the Champ diapers because they were on sale for $7 each. I figured they were worth a try.

  • Like with the Champ diapers, the price! GoGreen's regular pocket diapers are very affordable, running at $9.99 each (plus, the flat $5 shipping rate on all US orders.).  
  • Since the inside is made of fleece, they keep baby's skin dry and comfortable. Like the Champ diapers, both the inside and outside of the diaper has held up well after many, many washings.
  • Fishing out the inserts in poopy diapers. It doesn't really bug me to pull out the insert out of the pocket when the diaper is wet, but when you have a really poopy diaper to take care of, pulling out the insert is pretty gross.
  • Again, I'm not a huge fan of synthetic materials; I prefer natural fibers against his skin. And, as I said before, the polyester seems more prone to ammonia build-up.
  • Only one row of snaps across the top makes it seem a little less secure than the two rows that the Champ offers.
  • The inserts do have a tendency to bunch and twist since there's nothing keeping them in place except the pocket itself.
  • It takes a little longer to stuff the inserts in the pocket diapers than with the Bummis and Champ diapers, but not long enough to be a huge deal.
Diaper #4 - Green Mountain Diapers Cloth-eez Prefolds

When I first talked to my husband about using cloth diapers for our baby, he agreed to it on the condition that we wouldn't use "those flat diapers".  And I agreed. Prefolds seemed like they would be a big hassle.  Then I started ordering the pocket diapers and realized that it would cost a lot to exclusively use pocket diapers. 

So I decided to just look into prefolds. I came to the conclusion that they wouldn't be so bad and told my husband that if he really didn't want to deal with them, I would put them on the baby during the day while he was at work. Just a week or so into cloth diapering, my husband and I both decided that we liked the prefolds better than all the pocket diapers. Who knew? It came as a complete surprise that we preferred the Cloth-eez prefolds sold by Green Mountain Diapers (along with the Thirsties covers and a Snappi) over everything else!

  • The PRICE! Even though $10 is a great deal for a single pocket diaper, you get way more for your money with prefolds.  The prefolds' (depending on whether you get regular or organic cotton and what size you get) price range is $2-4 per diaper. You do have to buy a few covers in addition to the diapers  (the Thirsties covers are awesome -- they run at about $10.00 each) which adds to the cost, but you only need a few covers. If you bought a dozen newborn Cloth-eez diapers and four Thirsties covers, your total cost would still be just less than $70 (plus shipping). Wow. 
  • All of our pocket diapers have leaked a little from time to time (mostly just wetness around the leg openings). The prefold-cover combo has NEVER leaked. Seriously, never. Granted, this is due to the   Thirsties covers (they have gussets by the leg openings that catch everything so well) more than the prefolds themselves. 
  • Prefolds are so much easier to rinse than the pocket diapers. It's harder and takes longer (even with the help of my handy diaper sprayer) to get the pocket diapers poop-free because of the nooks and crannies. The flat prefolds rinse off faster and easier.
  • I love that they're 100% cotton. Not only is it better against baby's skin, but they don't get as smelly or need to be stripped as soon as the polyester ones need to.
  • Even though you do have to buy bigger sizes of diapers and covers as baby grows, I don't mind because I like how they fit at each stage. He wore the one-size-fits-all pocket diapers when he was only a few weeks old, but they were pretty bulky on his little newborn frame. The newborn prefolds fit perfectly (and they looked super cute on his little body!).
  • Once you're completely done with cloth diapering, you can reuse the diapers for household chores.
  • Unlike the pocket diapers we bought that fit from birth to potty training, you do have to buy bigger sized diapers and covers as baby grows. So far, we've bought the orange-edged newborn size, the yellow small size, and the brown large size. We've been using the brown-edged large ones for most of the time. This isn't a huge con, in my opinion -- I think it actually spreads out the cloth diaper start-up cost better. 
  • Once babies realize they can roll, wiggle, and crawl away, diaper changing can be a struggle, no matter what you use. I've gotten pretty fast at getting those prefolds on my baby, but if he's super-wiggly or fussy, having to get the diaper on him, along with the Snappi (you can forgo the Snappi, but I like how it keeps things together) and the cover, can get tricky.
  • They're not the best diapers for taking on the go. When I have to change the baby at one of those restroom changing tables that folds away from the wall, I want to get him on and off as fast as I can. That's a situation where I prefer the pocket diapers. Pocket diapers are ready-to-go and easy grab from my bottomless diaper bag
  • I don't use prefolds at night. I use the Diaper Champ diapers at night exclusively. 
  • Prefolds aren't really the best diapers to leave with a babysitter or grandparent that isn't used to them. There is a bit of a learning curve to using them -- not much of one, but there still is one. Pocket diapers resemble the familiar disposable diaper more.

Whew! That's a lot of diaper info. Again, the list isn't comprehensive. There are a lot of different kinds of diapers and brands on the market. If you cloth diaper, I would love to hear what has worked best on your baby.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

{This post is linked up with Your Green Resource. Check it out -- lots of great ideas!}
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