Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review: Hattie Ever After

Hattie Ever AfterHattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was happy to spend more time with Hattie and follow her to San Francisco as she pursues her dream of being a reporter and learns more about her mysterious Uncle Charlie. A very satisfying conclusion to the story begun in the Newbery Honor-winning Hattie Big Sky.

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I was provided a review copy by the publisher through NetGalley.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: Almost Home

Almost HomeAlmost Home by Joan Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joan Bauer has done it again. She creates absolutely wonderful characters, plunks them down in difficult (and realistic) situations, and lets them shine. There is lots of hard stuff here, but so much hope too. If you have a middle-grader who is always wanting to read things you consider "too old" for her, direct her to Bauer's work. She has the ability to create PG-rated stories set in an R-rated world. Oh, and make you laugh, cry, and cheer, too -- sometimes all on the same page!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Woolzies Dryer Balls

When I first started cloth diapering, I had to quit using dryer sheets.  Apparently they can leave residue on your diapers -- and toxic chemicals to boot.  I tried plastic dryer balls as an alternative.  While they do shorten drying time and reduce static, they are LOUD and apparently can damage the sensors in the dryer.  Next I turned to wool dryer balls, which I found on etsy, but unfortunately they shed and I got little bits of fuzz on all my diapers' velcro.  So I went back to the noisy plastic dryer balls. Then I heard about Woolzies.  They are handmade in Nepal from New Zealand wool, and they promise to reduce drying time by up to 25% and soften your laundry safely.  They also promise not t shed, so they are even safe for people with wool allergies!  I had actually put them in my cart at but before I purchased them, the Woolzies company put out a call for bloggers to review here I am.

While I did receive a 6-pack of Woolzies for free, my review is 100% honest.  And here it is:

My Woolzies came in the mail on the very day that I was playing laundry catch-up, so it was perfect timing to try them out.  I had regular laundry as well as diaper laundry to try them on.  The Woolzies are white and are larger than the wool balls I had bought from an etsy seller; they are even bigger than tennis balls.  They are so quiet; I can't hear them bouncing around in the dryer like I could with my plastic dryer balls -- even my husband commented on being glad NOT to hear them!  So far, no shedding.  I think they reduce drying time and static just as well as the plastic ones. 

What if you don't use cloth diapers?  Are Woolzies worth it?  They cost around $30 for 6, and they are supposed to last for at least one year or 500 loads.  I can't even remember how much I used to spend on dryer sheets, but I imagine it's comparable.  Of course, they are environmentally friendly, and they won't get any toxic chemicals on your laundry.  I would definitely recommend them to anyone who does laundry!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cloth Diaper Review: The bumGenius Freetime

So I have tried a bazillion cloth diapers.  (Okay, maybe not quite that many, but I'd say at least 20 different brands/types.)  And I have a new favorite: the bumGenius Freetime.

The Freetime is a very unique All-in-One.  (An AIO means NO stuffing, which I have really come to appreciate now that I have two in cloth and am doing diaper laundry every day to day and a half.)  Pockets made up most of my stash before Ben was born, but I've been branching out and I now have to say that, though I love the ability to customize (i.e. stuff and overstuff many different things into) pocket diapers, AIOs are sooo much easier. 

The Freetime has two microfiber flaps topped with a stay-dry fabric.  You can customize the absorbency of the flaps by folding them in different combinations or you can just leave them as is.  And with the Freetime, all I have to do to make it an overnight diaper is layer a couple of Hemp Babies doublers under each of the flaps. So easy!  Another bonus: the drying time is much faster than most AIOs I've tried.

So if you're in the market to try one of the easiest cloth diapers out there, check out the bumGenius.  And, for two more weeks, there is a buy 5 get 1 free sale, which makes them a little over $15 apiece - a very decent price on a great diaper!  My favorite place to buy online (fast, free shipping) is Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique, or you can always shop local at The Little Seedling in Ann Arbor.