Pinterest for Home Organization Ideas

bynature.ca on Pinterest

Through Pinterest, I find so many inspiring ideas. One of the themes on which I see a big variety of people pinning is home organization. Most of us can appreciate a way to use our space more efficiently, and what better way to convey those ideas than visually?

The idea of gathering inspirations isn’t new, of course. When I was an art major in college, I spent a lot of time going through magazines, tearing out images, and filing them in a picture morgue. It was a kind of low-tech pin board. Difficult to share, though, except on the occasional vision board for a few fellow students.

Pinterest, on the other hand, is public. All pins and boards are available for anyone on the internet to see. I think that bigger pool than, for example, Facebook is a big part of the reason Pinterest works so well when we want to gather ideas on a theme.

One can get lost in the good ideas, though, so I want to help you focus to get started. Look around your house for the trouble spots. What isn’t working very well? What have you gotten in the habit of walking around? Which room do you wish you could just have a fairy godmother fix up? Start there, and don’t get lost in the visual fantasy that Pinterest can be. Search Pinterest by room until you start to find the pinners whose ideas match yours.

I have gathered a few of the boards I find inspiring to help you start.


Pantry

In the pantry, you will find that sorting by size can help. I see a lot of ideas for drawers and doors that would not have occurred to me without Pinterest. For a quick start to your organizing, use the back of cabinet doors by painting with chalkboard paint, adding corkboard, or attaching shallow baskets.


Kids room

With your children’s spaces, it’s important not to let efficiency get in the way of fun. Kids need to see the stuff to remember it is there.


Garage

In the garage, use the ceiling and the walls. If possible, make it all modular so you can adjust as your needs change.


Sewing room

We use our sewing rooms or craft studios both to store a bunch of stuff and to work. The room needs to do double duty with smart storage and inspirational display, plus the kind of space that you need depends on the kind of work that you do.

Be sure to follow bynature.ca on Pinterest for ideas about home organization.

Important Early Days of Breastfeeding

Baby breastfeeding

The first few weeks of breastfeeding are crucial in establishing the breastfeeding relationship. Your baby needs to learn to suck, and you need to build your milk supply. Those first important days give your baby immunity and you hormones that help your uterus contract and help you feel more nurturing toward your baby. Breastfeeding helps you both as you get to know one another.


Skin to Skin

Place your baby naked against your bare chest as soon as possible after birth. Be sure that you give your baby a chance to breastfeed before sleeping because those first few hours help you both do what your bodies are made to do. If the baby is just very sleepy, wake him within a couple of hours to initiate breastfeeding.


Colostrum

The first few days after your baby is born you will produce colostrum rather than milk. Colostrum is thicker, less fatty, and more nutrient dense than milk will be. The volume of colostrum is quite low, which gives your baby a chance to learn how to feed before the gush of breastmilk arrives. Colostrum also gives your baby antibodies and other immune factors.


Milk Coming In

You will notice a difference when your breasts become firmer and heavier after a few days. This is your milk coming in. It is important to feed your baby every 2-3 hours, or as often as your baby asks to be fed, to stimulate your supply.

How does your baby ask to be fed? You will see your baby rooting—turning toward your breast with mouth open. If you pet your baby’s cheek with your finger, you may notice that she turns toward your finger. Your baby might just be restless or pull hand to mouth. After a short time together, you will begin to recognize your baby’s own cues for hunger.


One Breast at a Time

Let your baby finish feeding at one breast before you offer the second. Don’t watch the clock. Your baby’s cues can tell you whether he is still hungry after finishing the first breast. Whichever side you started on this feeding, start on the other side next feeding.


Diapers

Don’t expect too many wet or dirty diapers at first. Until your milk is fully in, your baby may only have one dirty diaper and one wet diaper a day, increasing each day until you are changing a dozen wet diapers a day. Some babies have dirty diapers with every feeding, while others might go a day or even several days between dirty diapers. Don’t worry that something is wrong if your baby is not in distress. Just learn your baby’s rhythms.


Pacifiers

Babies suck not just to eat but to soothe. Some mothers use pacifiers or dummies to help satisfy that need, though a pacifier isn’t necessary if the mother is willing and able to nurse even when a baby seeks comfort.

One of the most common questions we get at bynature.ca about breastfeeding is about why pacifiers are trouble in the first few weeks. The problems come if a very young baby uses a pacifier before learning how to suck at the breast, causing nipple confusion; if a pacifier is used when the baby is hungry, leaving the baby hungry and not gaining weight when she should be; or if a baby sucking at a pacifier means less stimulation for the mother to establish milk supply, leaving the mother without enough milk to satisfy the baby’s hunger.

Of course, using a pacifier is always up to each family, but your breastfeeding relationship will be stronger if you wait 6-8 weeks to start.

In the first hours, days, and weeks after your baby is born, focusing on breastfeeding is the most important thing you can do for your baby and for yourself.

Image © Dmitry Panchenko | Dreamstime.com

How Is Your Garden Growing?

Child picking berries in the garden

Is your garden not really what you expected this year? A bit neglected? Don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes (well, a lot of the time) ambition runs ahead of capacity. It’s great to have that big, beautiful goal of a sustainable life to keep you inspired, but you don’t reach your goal in one season. Each of us needs to take our own eco baby steps.

I asked a few of my friends, including our own Nature Mom, how their gardens have been growing this year. Everyone I asked is a bit like me: juggling work, kids, volunteering, and a yard full of good intentions. No one was eager to answer me because no one managed to plant the garden they intended this year. Me? I have persistent herbs, berries, and grapes. I have bed after bed of flowers that my mother planted at least 10 years ago. They all grow no matter what I do, and I love them for it. When my friends and neighbors offer me peppers and tomatoes from their gardens, I make sure they go away with hands full of mint and fennel. It’s not much, but it is what my juggling allows. And, it’s wonderful!

Did you have big plans for your garden this year that didn’t quite work out? Don’t worry about it. Love what you have and figure out how to take the few hours next year to take another eco baby step toward the garden that you aspire to have.

Don’t let slip your mind that one step to improve your garden next year, though. Write it out in a bright color and put it next to you desk or on your refrigerator. Put it where you and others will see it. Commit to that one step, whether it’s replacing a dying vine or digging a new bed for tomatoes. Then, let that one step be a source of motivation to you. You can do it.

Image © Tiziano Casalta | Dreamstime.com

Surround Yourself for Breastfeeding Success

Woman breastfeeding while man is hugging her

Breastfeeding. It’s what breasts are for. Just knowing that basic fact doesn’t guarantee you will know what to do when it comes time to feed your baby, though. You need familiarity, experience (not necessarily your own but also experience that others share with you), and support.


You Need Familiarity

Before you will even choose to breastfeed, you need a general awareness of what that means. If you haven’t been around breastfeeding before, you might not even know what you want and need to know. It’s difficult to articulate specific questions until you have a basic familiarity with breastfeeding.

For me, seeing an older cousin breastfeed her babies just fixed that image of motherhood for me as a teenager. I understood how breastfeeding worked before I even knew what questions to ask.

Once I anticipated having children, I had questions like, “How am I going to do this without flashing my breasts at the world?” Seeing mothers in my circle of friends easily lift their shirts and continue their conversations while feeding babies helped me understand that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be the focus of all attention.

Once I was pregnant, I had plenty of questions along the lines of “Now what do I do?” Taking a class through my healthcare provider and practicing with a teddy bear helped me understand how to encourage a baby to suck and how to make sure the baby latches on widely enough. The one point I remember really clearly from that class was to rub or tap a just-born baby on the chin to show them what to do. I used that when my daughter was minutes old. I remember this because I found myself saying, “How do I make her suck?” but I remembered that one little point from my class, and it worked. Simple.

When I was pregnant with my second child, seeing a photo of a tandem nursing mother was a revelation to me—answering questions I didn’t realize I had. Stack them up! I learned to hold my toddler on my lap while I held my newborn on my toddler’s lap.

In each of these situations, I didn’t really know what my questions were or even that I had questions, but being in situations where breastfeeding was around me gave me enough awareness that became conscious of my own questions. Ideally, just being around breastfeeding creates this kind of familiarity because you learn so much from non-verbal communication and your own observation. If you don’t have that option, there are still many ways to gain that familiarity. Many women have learned that basics of breastfeeding from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, the La Leche League’s breastfeeding guide.


You Need Experience

There are right and wrong ways to breastfeed, and there is plenty of variation in both. You adjust as you go. You gain experience. You learn the beautiful relief of a cold cabbage leaf in your bra—and if you have never needed or felt this relief, you can’t imagine how great it feels. But, who first knew to put a cabbage leaf in her bra? That’s experience.

You need experience, but it doesn’t have to be your own experience. If you have experienced breastfeeding mothers around you, you can draw on their knowledge. If you don’t have friends and family who can share experience, you can talk to a La Leche League Leader, your midwife or doula, or a breastfeeding consultant. You can pick up a book and accumulate knowledge others have shared over time. Often I turned to Dr. Sear’s Baby Book for quick advice.


You Need Support

Beyond just someone to give you advice, you need a supportive environment. To start, you need to avoid being around people who question breastfeeding in general or you in particular. Sure, you could just stay quiet and feed your baby in private. That’s not ideal, though.

Just the absence of criticism isn’t enough. You need to be around a husband or partner who will say, “Let me get you a glass of water while you are nursing” or “If you pump some milk, I will watch the baby while you take a nap.” I cannot overstate the benefit of having a partner who looks out for you and understands what you need physically in order to breastfeed successfully but also what you need as a person to be whole. Breastfeeding mothers can certainly go it alone, but life is much richer surrounded by people who value and support the breastfeeding relationship.

If you are preparing to breastfeed for the first time or anticipating breastfeeding in the future, set yourself up for success by making breastfeeding part of the fabric of your life, by seeking out those who are willing to share their experience, and by surrounding yourself with those who will support you and your baby during this time.

Image © Nadezhda1906 | Dreamstime.com

Everything Is a Smoothie

Dark, berry smoothie

It has been so hot this summer that everything we drink, even water, we buzz with ice in our super duper VitaMix. We’ve been far more experimental, especially with bases. We don’t just reach for cow’s milk or even almond milk, we use apple juice, grape juice, lemonade, or anything liquid in the refrigerator. The key ingredient is ICE.

I have found that my kids are less hungry when it is terribly hot. They drink plenty of water during the day, but it’s difficult to get enough nutritious food into them. Before they reach for chips or crackers for an afternoon snack, I offer smoothies. This is part of our afternoon routine.

Our basic smoothie is the same as my mother made for me since she started doing yoga in the early 1970s: banana, milk, pumpkin pie spices, and ice. Since half of the family can’t drink cow’s milk, we use almond or soy milk. This is easy and always tasty.

Our newest favorite is strawberry lemonade. We like sour drinks, so the strawberries alone make it sweet enough for us, but you could add grapes, honey, or some other sweetener. We buzz the ice, water, and lemon first then add the fresh strawberries toward the end so the strawberries stay a little bit chunky. The ice clumps together if you don’t add any fruit at all. Think of it as a good excuse to add a few nutritious ingredients.


More smoothie lessons learned

  • Avoid broccoli and watermelon. Broccoli makes the drink taste bitter, and watermelon ruins everything—or so my kids have said. I think watermelon is one of those tastes that just doesn’t fit with others so well. After seeing sad, melting glasses of watermelon smoothie go undrunk, I believe them.
  • Add herbs and spices. Cinnamon, cardamon, allspice, and other warm spices go very well with banana smoothies. Fresh mint leaves go well with a light, not too sweet flavors like cucumber, yogurt, and green apple. I love pulling herbs directly from my garden and using them.
  • Freeze the fruit first. Berries work especially well frozen, but I have had no luck at all with frozen bananas. If the fruit is frozen already, you need less ice to make the drink cold. A drink made with frozen fruit is thicker and heavier. It depends what you want. Sometimes light is more refreshing.
  • Add black strap molasses if you want a little bit of sweetness with a punch of nutrition. Molasses is left after most of the sugar is extracted from sugar cane. The sweetness comes from the sugar that is left, but the you are also left with higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals.
  • Disguise the vegetables. Though my kids don’t object to vegetables the way some do, they don’t love vegetable juice. A little bit of avocado or carrot is easy to add to a smoothie without the result of turned-up noses, but a lot can mean that kids are less eager to drink. Just choose your vegetables carefully.

Image © Isabel Poulin | Dreamstime.com