Apr 182012
 

Q: I’m considering using cloth diapers mainly to save money. I have never used them before or even changed a baby that did. So I’m just wondering what you recommend as far as where I should purchase everything and the vinyl covers verses cloth velcro ones. Also are the all in one diapers better than using a cloth diaper and a cover. I’ve looked on baby best buy, and diapers.com. I just don’t want to buy the wrong thing or get something I won’t like.

A: Well, everyone’s needs and preferences are different. Personally, I preferred to use standard prefolds with diaper covers, and my favorite covers were, hands down, Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, with snap closures.


I found that this diaper/cover combination was the easiest to launder, because I never had to worry about velcro catching on and damaging diapers or covers while in the wash. Also, for just a pee-pee diaper, I could air-dry and rotate covers, without washing them every time, which helped reduce the size of the laundry mountain. I bought my prefolds from an Amish grocery store (and sold many of them to a reader when I no longer needed them for DJ), but there are many places to buy quality prefolds, including Amazon, which offers a starter pack of covers and prefolds, and I know that many people like to buy from Green Mountain. Also, I did have some all-in-ones that I liked a lot, and for anyone interested in cloth diapering, I currently have some high-quality, Imse Vimse all-in-one diapers for sale. They’re very clean (like new, in fact) and though they retail for more than $25 each, I’ll give anyone who is interested a very good deal. I also have some fitted, velcro diapers, and some snap covers for sale. DJ is approaching potty training-age, so I’m thinning out my supply. Email me for pictures and more information. Also, you can find more information about cloth diapering here.

Q: I was doing a little browsing at the Goodwill store, and saw that they had two breadmakers for sale.  I know nothing about them, but I don’t really feel like I could go wrong by getting one for $4.99!  Any advice on how to know in the store if one is worth getting?  And, of course, there are no instructions or recipes or anything.  A preferred place to look online?

A: I agree – you can’t go wrong at that price, and I think that most bread machines end up at consignment and thrift stores because they’re never used – not because there’s anything wrong with them. Which reminds me of a funny exchange I had with my stepson. He came over one afternoon, and I had both of my bread machines going. He said, “Wow….I think you’re the only person I know who actually uses their bread machine.”

I like to comparison-shop on Amazon because I can read other people’s reviews of products, but if you want my personal recommendation, I would watch for a Sunbeam machine. You may remember that I bought this one brand-new (for $2.00!) at a garage sale last summer, and I’ve just loved it.


It’s light years ahead of my 10-year-old, workhorse Breadman machine (though I do like that one, too). But remember, I don’t bake my bread in the machine, so I can’t really rate it in that capacity. For more information about my breadmaking habits, please see A Few Pointers for Perfect Yeast Bread.

Q: Can you tell me what kind of cord caddy you use and where did you purchase it from?

It’s just a little handheld caddy that I bought at Wal-Mart, and the cord came with it.


It’s great because it’s lightweight, and easy for me to carry around, and also it fits perfectly in this over-the-door utility rack, which I keep on the back of the hall closet door, where I store my vacuum.

Q: I have no cooking skills whatsoever. I grew up in a dysfunctional home and my mother never showed me how and I was so wanting to get away from it all that it was never a priority. Well now I find myself with a child of my own who has just turned 11months and I know that I will need to begin cooking meals or her. (I prepare my own baby food.) And I know how important family meals are. But I have no idea about anything. I feel completely overwhelmed and guilty because I just don’t know how to provide a meal for my family.

A: But you asked for help, and that’s a good first step! Also, you’re not alone – there are many young women out there who’ve never learned even the basics of cooking. You might find some helpful suggestions in this post, and this one.  Also, I can recommend a great book for cooking beginners, which you can buy very inexpensively on Amazon (used ones are only a penny, plus shipping!). It’s called Betty Crocker’s Cooking Basics – Learning to Cook With Confidence. I’ve always believed that if you can read and follow directions, you can cook, and it does involve a bit of experimenting, and trial and error, but you just need to find a recipe that sounds good to you, and try. Remember, there’s a whole community of readers here – many who are experienced cooks – who can, and will help you if you get stuck. Including me. Even if you’re right in the middle of a recipe, and you need help, feel free to post questions on the WWYH Facebook wall any time. You’re sure to get an answer 🙂

Q: A lot of my bills – most actually, are emailed to me, and direct debited from our bank account. Whilst I always check the amount on the email, and make sure it matches the amount that comes out a week later, and query any incorrect charges, that is pretty much the extent of my bill paying system. Should I be printing out the emails and filing them ? Or when my partner and I finally get around to putting his name on my utility accounts and opening a joint email account for them, should I just designate a folder in the account to bills and store them electronically. I feel a bit like I have no control over my bills (even though I don’t anyway !!) by not physically having them or actually ‘paying’ them or having them stored in a place I could easily refer to (This account is a disgrace to mankind, I’ve had this email account since I started high school, and don’t think I have ever deleted an email yet !!) But I also wonder if printing them out would just make more mess for me to try to organise ? I’m also starting to feel like I’m not happy with direct debiting bills. We have been billed incorrectly a few times, and when I have queried this, the bill has been corrected, but the incorrect amount still comes out, then a credit is issued on our next bill, and it really feels like I have no idea where our money is going.

A: I can tell you that I have no bills direct-debited, for the very reasons you’ve mentioned. Though the idea of direct-debit is good – it’s intended for convenience and less paperwork, which should (but doesn’t always) help with organization – we’ve had horrific experiences with it in the past, and my personal opinion is that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Some people really like it, but as you’ve mentioned, you give up a great measure of control over your finances. You don’t have the opportunity to examine bills for accuracy before they’re paid, and those payments come out of your account whether you have adequate funds available or not, so you risk overdraft charges. Also, I think that out-of-sight/out-of-mind isn’t the best philosophy when it comes to financial management. When you don’t have to participate in the tangible, physical act of paying your bills, it’s easy to just forget about them, and you’re more likely to fall into the habit of accepting whatever you’re being charged, instead of questioning, comparing, and seeking out ways to save.

Q: How in the world do you create a schedule? A well balanced, meeting everyone’s needs, and accomplishing all that is on your to do list??? I got nothing. At this point, I have no schedule. My husband is away on business every other week so it’s just my 5 month old daughter and I for a week at a time. I want to get us both into a wholesome, healthy routine. However, my daughter has recently been waking up every hour during the course of the night which means that I sleep in as long as she does, or, as early as she does. Which, is probably problem numero uno. No set start up time. I literally feel like a zombie. Which I know is just exacerbating the problem. I’m discovering that if left to my own devices, I’m really unmotivated and lazy. I’d like to change this. I want to be productive. I just don’t know how or where to start.

and

I feel so chaotic and I need some ideas on how to create a cohesive schedule. These last 6 months have been hard and I have to say if it wasn’t for God I would honestly have lost my mind. I tell myself every day “God would not give me more then I can handle, so get a handle on it!” and “this too shall pass.” I’m hoping you being a christian and a mother of 3, if you would pray for me and give me some advice/ideas.

and

We recently just moved at the end of August to a bigger home and I am totally overwhelmed. With 2 small children (3yr old and 7 month) it seems impossible to get anything done. I’ve been striving to stick to a schedule but having a hard time making a dent in organizing things let alone do the day-to-day chores. I have a pretty needy 7 month old who seems to fuss and cry every time I put her down or stop paying attention to her. Makes things even harder. I relate to you a lot because my husband is self employed real estate professional. He works long hours and I manage the house. But lately I feel like it is too much. I’m frustrated and exhausted. How do you do it Heather? I wish I could be more like you. When asked about women you aspire to be like, you are top on my list. But I don’t want to just say it, I want to do it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

and

I’m trying to incorporate a household guide and I feel so overwhelmed. I am a stay at home mom to 3 kids under 5. I carpool twice a week with my husband (we share a car). He commutes 55 miles one way to work (that’s about 1 1/2-2 hours in Atlanta traffic). In addition to the daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tasks, I also try to run my own e-boutique I started a year ago, sell kids clothes on Ebay (for extra income), grocery shopping (including making lists, menu planning, and couponing), keeping track of and paying ALL the bills, and taking care of the kids. In the fall I’ll add taking the oldest to and from Pre-K and dance classes. HELP!! On most days I can hardly find the time to even do the daily tasks let alone everything else on my To Do list. Any words of advice would be much appreciated!

A: Questions along these lines are the ones I receive most often, and they’re the ones that really tug at my heartstrings. I understand so well what you all are going through. Believe me, I know. And the fact of the matter is that motherhood is hard. It’s hard if you stay home, and it’s hard if you work outside the home. It’s exhausting, overwhelming, and demanding, and it’s also funny, rewarding, and sometimes heartbreaking. In and of itself, it’s a full-time job, and a large part of the problem is that it’s our nature, as women, to multi-task. All of the questions above have one major thing in common – they’re all written by women who either do too much, or expect that they should be able to do more – when what they’re already doing is enough.

The tagline of this blog is, “Living a joyful, simple, more meaningful life.” It isn’t, “Living the most frugal, most organized, most perfect life.” Perfect, in my opinion, is a dirty word. I don’t want you to strive for perfection, or even something close to that. If you’re a new at-home mom, or if you’re just feeling tired and overwhelmed, I’m not going to encourage you to bake bread, or start up a home business, or organize your closets to within an inch of their lives. I’m going to encourage you to just be. Just be there, in the moment with your children, because they won’t be babies for long. When you plan your schedule, consider the season of life you’re in, and when you’re happiest and most productive (see A Daily Schedule for Stay-at-Home Moms for a sample schedule). Plan your wake-up and bed times accordingly, and schedule your necessary work at a time when you have the most energy. Notice that I said necessary work. You don’t have to get everything on your to-do list done, and ideally, you should trim as much from it as you possibly can.

I think it’s very sweet, and I’m very flattered when readers say that they want to emulate me, but ladies, this is my 10th year of parenting, and I still don’t have it together. On my blog, you only see the parts I choose to show you. You don’t see me slam stuff around, and yell “KNOCK IT OFF!” at my kids 45 times a day. You don’t see the days when my house is such an unbelievable pigsty that you can’t walk through any room without tripping over something. You aren’t here when I go into my husband’s office and wail, “I can’t take it anymore!” and then burst into tears. Every single one of us has bad days, but the good part is, sometimes we have really great, hilarious days too, and they make it all worthwhile.

So, do not….I repeat…DO NOT pay any attention to a friend’s schedule, or a Mommy blogger’s schedule, or someone’s schedule on Pinterest.  Those people have crappy days too, and they are not you. YOU are you, and you are awesome. You probably just need a nap.

Q: I’ve been thinking for awhile about writing my own personal blog about my weight-loss journey. I was wondering if you could give me some tips and advice for starting my own blog? Are there any online classes or books you can read that you would recommend to help me in this process?

A: This is the second most common type of question I receive – I actually wrote a post on this subject called 12 Tips for New Bloggers. I know there are books available, such as Blogging For Dummies, and probably classes too, but here’s my take on blogging (since you asked). Blogging is just writing….and either you’re good at it or you aren’t. You just have to try, and see what happens. The best blogs become popular, and stay popular, because readers like the writer’s voice. Gimmicks, giveaways, contests, product reviews….that kind of thing will only take you so far.  Also, you can be extremely knowledgeable in a certain subject area, and have a lot of information to offer, but if you’re boring, or come across like a stuck-up know-it-all, eventually readers are going to go elsewhere.

Many people want to get into blogging because they have visions of abandoning their day jobs and sitting around all day in their PJs, writing down their every thought and observation (which, I’m here to tell you, aren’t all gems) and raking in the cash for it. This is an unrealistic expectation. 90% of the blogs out there aren’t making any money at all, and 95% of them will eventually fail (more than half of the bloggers who started when I did, in 2008, aren’t blogging anymore). I think a blog can only be successful if the author is committed to it (post regularly, people!), is passionate about the subject matter, and is a good writer. If you’re not a good writer, you won’t have any measure of lasting success, but please don’t steal someone else’s writing or ideas to try and achieve it. Not only is stealing unscrupulous and wrong, but you’ll only be a cheap imitation of the original.

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  13 Responses to “Your Email Questions Answered – Part Two”

  1. I am sorry that you have people stealing your work! That is terrible!

  2. All of these answers have been so helpful. I was especially touched by your response to the reader who needed help learning to prepare meals for her family.  One of my pet peeves is the way women treat motherhood like it is some kind of competition.  What you wrote, in my opinion, is exactly the encouraging, understanding, and generous tone we ladies should have with one another.

    Regarding the thieves, we always called copycat manufacturers “me too” companies. It’s annoying and expensive to combat, but your tag line shout-out was a great start — go get ’em!

  3. Another great post Heather!  I so relate to the “no cooking skills” part 🙁 and I too plan to get that cookbook…I have it on my wishlist at Amazon 🙂  LOVE the note to the plagiarizers at the end 🙂  Janel

  4. on cloth diapers — I’ve blogged a fair bit about how I’ve done it (cloth for 11 months and counting! http://youngernews.blogspot.com) and allaboutclothdiapers.com has been a huge help.

    Thanks for taking time to answer these questions.

  5. I used to have all my bill auto-debited and emailed.  We then had a serious change in pay schedule and they just seemed to “lump up” at bad times.  Now the bills are mailed to me and I schedule an electronic check, so that I can space them out to suit me.  I also have a calendar above the computer and pencil them in.  I auto deposit a set amount every week into another checking account for bills like insurance, heat which is propane and pellets, and house taxes.  That way they are absolutely set aside and out of mind.  Its helped me get away from the cash short weeks.

  6. Thanks for answering my question! 🙂 Your writing is a great inspiration!

  7. I loved this post, Heather. To the woman who is anxious about learning how to cook, I say YOU CAN DO IT! and when you are learning to cook, often the hardest part is figuring out what the food is supposed to look like at various stages, and even what it is supposed to smell and feel like. I’m an experienced cook, but I could never figure out how to make Indian vegetarian food to my liking and to my husband’s liking, and we were wondering what we were doing wrong. I found a bunch of YouTube videos on how to make Indian vegetarian dishes, taught by an awesome Indian woman (Manjula’s Kitchen, for any reader who wants to know!) and it was so calming and interesting to learn how to make this kind of food from an experienced person. And now my Indian vegetarian food tastes SO much better and I know what it should look like at various stages. So, I would say, ask a friend to come over and teach you how to make a few dishes so that you can see what to do, and it will be fun and lessen your anxiety, and if you can’t do that, find a “cooking friend” on YouTube whose style you like, and watch some videos to take the mystery out of it! Cooking is fun, and you will feel a lot healthier (and therefore less stressed out, in general) once you get started. I’m rooting for you!
    http://bronwenreads.wordpress.com

  8. My question made it into your post !! I feel honored, thankyou Heather !! And “Claybustinprincess” for your input on it to 🙂
    Love this blog so much, what a helpful, caring environment for us all !!

  9. I never thought as “perfect” being a dirty word, but I totally agree. I gave up on perfect and settled for a happy, somewhat clean, some of the time home. If that makes since.
     My Sunday School teacher this past Sunday was just talking about this. Our homes’ do not have to be perfect; if you are hosting a party, it’s not about you or your home but should be about good fellowship.

    I can’t believe someone is stealing your material. Shame on them! That’s just terrible.

  10. I’m interested in your ims vimse AIO; I will email you as well. hopefully, they are still available!

  11. I’m interested in your ims vimse AIO; I will email you as well. hopefully, they are still available!

  12. I miss you on FB, Heather, but the consolation is that we’re getting to read so many new blog posts. Posts like THIS are why I love your blog. You’re awesome and you’re real — and you don’t compete with other women, you encourage them. Thank you for wonderfully dense (with information) articles like this…it’s why WWYH has been my favorite blog since 2010!

    • I miss you too, Shelly, SO MUCH! I was just thinking about you this morning, in fact, and wondering how little Ison is doing. He is the most adorable little guy. Send me an email if you have a spare moment!

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