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Posts Tagged ‘Recommendation’

Cloth diapers: better, cheaper, and a bit more work

07 Feb

Diapers and dinosaur modelIf you have a baby in need of diapers, you might be surprised at how easy cloth diapering can be. I have been using cloth diapers on my daughter for five months and have only good things to report. In my experience, cloth diapers have been better than disposable diapers on nearly all levels. I’ll admit that disposable diapers are simpler and more convenient than their reusable counterparts, but they also seem to have more leaks and blow-outs, too, which is far from convenient. Just as important to me: I’m on track to save hundreds of dollars on diapers this year alone because washing diapers is cheaper than buying disposable ones.

There are lots of brands out there and a lot of choices to make. I’ll explain how I chose these diapers and how to use, wash, and maintain them.

What kind of diapers to get: The diapers shown here are the bumGenius “Cloth Diaper 4.0 One-Size” model. This style of diaper comes in two parts: a sturdy shell with elastic and fasteners to hold it on, and a removable microfiber pad that fits inside to absorb any liquid and keep the shell leak-free. Two-part reusable diapers are common these days, but there are also all-in-one diapers that let you skip the step of stuffing the pad into the shell before you use it. I prefer the two-part variety because I can dry the shell and the pad separately. Line-drying the shells makes their elastic and quick-drying capabilities last longer, while the pads will dry quickly in any dryer with no ill consequences. The pocket style also lets me stuff in an extra pad when desired, such as for overnight or traveling.

Diapers on drying rack Diapers and inserts Pile of diapers

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Mustache decals can dress up any mirror

31 Mar

Dinosaur in mustache mirrorThe sterling examples set by Mr. Boh, Mr Pringle, and Uncle Pennybags all indicate that a well-groomed mustache is a great mark of authority. At the same time, the time-honored art of drawing a devilish mustache on a someone’s portrait or photograph. What’s not to like?

Give yourself a smile every day with this assortment of mustache decals, suitable for not only windows and the like but especially for mirrors (in person, the illusion is most effective when you close one eye). People of all ages are amused by looking in a mustache mirror, almost as much as they are by funhouse mirrors that make you look fat or tall. Try on a new face! See if you like it.

I bought this pack from Archie McPhee, a great resource for ridiculous, useless amusements. Since it contains 11 different mustaches, there were more than enough for every mirror in the house (or a truly obscene number on just one mirror, I suppose). I decided to accommodate the very tall and very small people of the world by putting mustaches at various heights on one fairly large mirror. Even after that, I was left with so many that I’ve been giving them away. I’m told they also make fantastic eyebrows.

Mustache decals packageMustache mirror

 
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Sugar cane: worth the extra cost (and calories)

17 Mar

Real sugar Coke and tonic waterThe debate over corn syrup and cane sugar is a remarkable case of mercantile debates playing out through public policy. Coca-Cola used to be made with real cane sugar, but now it is made with America’s favorite product, corn syrup. Have you had real sugar lately? Just as a real Coke tastes better than a Diet Coke, a Coke made with real sugar tastes better than a typical, corn-syrup Coke. Sugar tastes delicious. Unfortunately for the thrill-seekers out there, cane sugar has been largely dismissed due to the low price of a native agricultural product.

I don’t want to encourage the consumption of empty calories. Then again, soda isn’t healthy to begin with. I believe that sugary sodas have helped make America fatter. I also would assume that the artificial sweeteners in sugar-free, “diet” drinks may have unexpected (if still unknown) long-term health effects. Therefore, the only safe route is to have nothing.

Good luck with that.

Let’s ignore the agricultural politics behind corn syrup’s low price and go straight to flavor. If you love a delicious beverage, you owe it to yourself to try sodas made with cane sugar. They taste better than the corn-syrup alternative. Drink them in moderation, of course, but if you’re going to drink the calories, you might as well have something delicious rather than merely good. Specialty brands like Jones Soda, Izze, and the recent Pepsi Throwbacks have demonstrated the growing market for premium, sugary beverages.

365 tonic water detailMexican Coke detail

Here are my top recommendations:

  • Tonic Water: Whole Foods’ 365 Tonic Water is the most widely-available tonic water that uses real sugar. Highly recommended for gin and tonics, which are raised to a new level compared to the usual stuff. This will make any tonic-based cocktail better. Even if you don’t normally drink tonic water, buy a six-pack and put in the back of your liquor cabinet as a foolproof bubbly mixer.
  • Coca-Cola: The real Coke is available in many parts of the U.S. at Passover (look for yellow caps marking them as Kosher) and is also available imported from Mexico (check Costco or any local Hispanic store). This makes a much better Coke-based drink than the more pedestrian types of Coke. Recommended for rum and Cokes especially. You also get to enjoy the bottles.
 

Must-Have: Industrial Sharpies and Metallic Sharpies

11 Mar

Sharpie selectionI have a long-held faith in the classic, black-capped Sharpie permanent marker. When I was a child, they were the darkest, heaviest, and more reliable pens in the house and were therefore much coveted for labeling toys and clothes as well as making semi-permanent tattoos when you’re bored. Sharpie has become synonymous with “”permanent marker” in my mind, making it a name brand I actually believe in for once. I make many compromises and buy many generic brands in pursuit of thriftiness, but I do not skimp on my Sharpies. Accept no substitute.

In my pursuit of Sharpie perfection, I have found two specialty Sharpies that are extremely worthwhile. Between these two markers, you can write on almost any object of any color and leave an unmistakable impression. These are unusual enough that you won’t always find them at all-purpose retailers like Target, but you can find them at Staples or any other major office supply store.

Sharpie comparison on white paper♦ Industrial Sharpies: Easily spotted by the beefy red letters on the barrel, the Industrial Sharpie boasts “super permanent ink” and the ability to withstand steam and chemical exposure. I don’t get to test all of those properties very often, but I will say that it is the blackest marker I have ever used. Compare the blackness and consistency of the lines from the Industrial Sharpie to those made by the standard model. Industrial Sharpie ink also remains darker for a longer period than normal Sharpie ink, which slowly bleaches to a a dark gray.

Sharpie comparison on navy blue paperMetallic Sharpies: In an off-putting start, the Metallic Sharpie includes the warning to “Store Tip Down” (presumably the lack of a clip on the cap is meant to remind us of this requirement). That makes it hard to find the marker if you store it in a mug or pencil cup. Regardless, this marker shows up bright and clear on all colors, making it invaluable for labeling dark or transparent surfaces like glass or the black plastic found on so many consumer electronic devices. The shiny silver ink is highly reflective, making it easy to locate with a flashlight or lamp. The ability to write over any color lets you turn any piece of scrap paper into an extremely visible note.

 

Use name tags to label just about anything

22 Feb

Name tag labelsLong ago, I bought some name tags for a Halloween costume. Of course, I only needed one, so I had dozens of them lying around, begging for a new use. Since then, I have used name tags to label everything imaginable around the house. When I ran out, I actually bought more name tags rather than some other kind of label because I liked them so much. You might have already noticed them on the bottles of vanilla extract I made for the holidays.

Labels make any long-term storage project more effective. My brewing equipment lives in specific boxes, and I store the ingredients inside in airtight containers. Without labels, I would have a lot more trouble taking inventory and selecting ingredients.

The more you use them, the more they help you, too. Using a standard style of label such as a name tag makes it easy for the eye to identify the labels. Using labels consistently means no more forgotten, anonymous leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

To state the obvious: you don’t have to use name tags. Any adhesive label will do, making folders, bins, boxes, and other storage compartments easier to find when you need them. However, name tags can be preferable to blank labels because they add a bit of personality to a practical function. They also have some specific side benefits:

  • Canister with two labelsRemovable, most of the time.
  • Easy to see, easy to read
  • At only two per sheet, these printable labels give you sharp-looking results without making additional wasted labels
  • Same size as Altoids tins (great for storing nails, screws, washers, and other miscellaneous hardware)
  • Absurd humor from personifying everything (“Hello, my name is Vanilla Extract” usually gets a chuckle)