red monster

Vanilla Syrup and April Giveaway

I was going to continue our laundry discussion, and then present April’s giveaway. But the vanilla beans I ordered through a co-op arrived in the mail and made me change my mind. I have never used actual vanilla beans before. They are about $3 each at the store! Through the co-op, beans were seventy cents apiece. I can work with that!

This morning, Addy and I made vanilla syrup and I couldn’t wait to share the recipe! I intend to add the syrup to my coffee. I used the instructions from Bartending Basics. They use a ratio, which means you can make a little or a lot very easily. Even more easily if you have a kitchen scale that measures in grams. If you think kitchen scales and metric units sound difficult and scary, you need to read Ratio.

The following is the ratio from the Bartending Basics link above put to use. This amount resulted in about five cups of vanilla syrup.

Vanilla Syrup Recipe

  • 500 g water (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 1000 g sugar (about 4 3/4 cups)

Boil the water, but don’t leave it boiling. The evaporation will skew your ratio. Split the vanilla beans and scrape them out. Add the beans and scrapings as soon as the water is boiling. Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. It takes some stirring to dissolve all that sugar. The mixture will look cloudy and be grainy at first. Keep stirring until it turns clear. Mixture will be tinted from the color of the vanilla. Allow to cool. Strain the mixture through a clean towel or cheesecloth.

I haven’t yet added the finished syrup to anything. But I did take a taste. And it was fantastic. I thought I loved the vanilla syrup you buy in the coffee aisle at the grocery. Now that I’ve made my own syrup, I realize that the store bought version has a distinct chemical flavor compared to the purity of what just came off the stove. I can’t wait to put this stuff in everything!

I wish I could put some vanilla syrup up for the giveaway this month! Unfortunately, current postal regulations prohibits mailing liquid. So I’ll stick to the original giveaway plan for April. A hemp flat! The flat is about 12″ x 12″. Perfect as a doubler in an overnight diaper or a trifolded insert for any pocket diaper.  To enter, simply answer today’s question.

What is something of which you will only accept the homemade version?

Recently Finished and March Winner

I’m sure you are all waiting on tenterhooks to know who won March’s prize! The winner was Sarah. She is just getting back into cloth after a long hiatus, so I’m sure the wipes will come in handy.

The sewing room has been a busy place! I haven’t shown off any finished objects lately. I have several finished diapers, some ring slings, and a wool cover to show you.

Above are four pocket diapers. Elephants is at the top. Clockwise from there is Butterflies on Peach, Ocean, and Celery. Elephants and Celery got some fun mix & match snaps. I love using snaps as accents.

These six diapers are all newborn covers. They are going to good friends who are expecting their first in just a few weeks! Top left is Grape (with accent snaps), below that is Cows Afield, then Chocolate. Top right is Daisies on Lime, below that is Ocean, and finally Red & Grey Dots. Don’t you love the Red & Grey Dots? So classy! That one has alternating red, grey, and black snaps with black gussets. Daisies on Lime is super-cute too, especially with the bright green, blue, and white snaps. The gussets are blue to bring out the color in the center of the daisies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a wool cover in red & grey plaid. I’ve made three wool covers now, each one constructed a little differently. I think this is my favorite so far. The difference in each was in the way I added the gussets to the legs. The function doesn’t seem to be affected, but this has the most handsome results so far. Or maybe I’ll think of a new way to do it between now and the next cover. That often happens!

Ring slings! I love these for babywearing. I always keep one in the car. It is so quick and easy to get a baby in there. My little monster is about 22 pounds now, a little heavy for a long ride in a ring sling, but very comfortable for me to wear her for 15-20 minutes still. Both of these ring slings are 100% linen. Nice versatile fabric that breathes well in hot weather and is still cozy in the cold.

The sling on the left is in Cilantro — a lovely, earthy green. The sling on the right is in Lime. I didn’t intend to make both slings green! Apparently when I was choosing fabric, I was anticipating spring subconsciously.

Both of these slings can be found in the Monster Pants Etsy shop soon. All of the diapers were custom orders, and so none of those exact ones can be found anywhere but on the monsters to whom they now belong! But you can always put in a custom order for your little monster should you see something too cute to pass up.

Picture overload today! And I only showed you the Monster Pants related sewing. Not pictured are armbands, bridal gowns, prom dresses, and upholstery. All of which are far less adorable, I assure you.

Do you wear your baby? What is your favorite carrier?

What’s for Dinner? Slow Cooker Chili & March Giveaway

I frequently ask what’s for dinner on the Monster Pants Facebook page. I love hearing what other people are doing in their kitchens. Here is what is happening in my kitchen, with the recipe, in case it needs to happen in your kitchen someday too.

Slow Cooker Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef (optional)
  • 2 (15-oz) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed or 2 cups dry kidney beans, soaked and cooked
  • 4 (14.5-oz) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a medium skillet, cook the beef until no longer pink. Drain. Add to the slow cooker.

Puree two of the cans of stewed tomatoes in a blender. Puree all 4 cans for a less chunky chili, or none of them for a very chunky chili.

Place kidney beans, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, red wine vinegar, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce in the slow cooker. Mix.

Cook on low for about 8 hours, or on high for about 6 hours. Serve with sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Variations:

  • Add a can (or about a cup dry, soaked, and cooked) white beans.
  • Add 2 cups water to the slow cooker. About 30 minutes before serving, add 2 cups of raw macaroni.
  • Add 1/2 – 1 cup red wine to complement the red wine vinegar and add a deeper flavor to the finished chili.
  • Chili is a canvas for endless variety. Experiment!

This is  a favorite in my house, especially served with warm corn bread or crusty French bread.

It’s March! Time to give away a little something. Throughout February, a free Sherpa wipe was included in your orders. To conclude the Sherpa wipe freebies, the winner of this month’s blog giveaway will receive a 6-pack of Sherpa wipes! To enter, simply answer the question below in the comments of this post. The drawing for the winner will take place March 13, one week from today.

Are you a by-the-recipe cook, a by-the-seat-of-your-pants cook, a by-the-box cook, or no cook at all?

New All-in-2 Diapers and Sherpa Wipes, Plus February’s Special Offer

Monster Pants has two new products lined up for you! All-in-2 diapers can be ordered from their product page here. Sherpa wipes can be found under Diaper Accessories over here.

What’s the scoop on AI2′s? The most common praise I hear for AI2 diapers is that they reduce laundry since it is only the insert going in the diaper pail at each change. AI2′s also reduce wear and tear on your PUL covers since they aren’t being washed as frequently as a pocket or all-in-one. The PUL shell operates essentially like a PUL cover, except that it is fully lined with suedecloth to be soft all over. Though you could certainly use an AI2 shell with a fitted diaper, flat, or prefold. Just because there is a snap for inserts doesn’t mean you have to use it! The inserts in Monster Pants AI2′s snap in the front. I have found this helps keep the insert in place better than a snap in the back of the diaper. The inserts are a long snake of your choice between cotton, bamboo, or hemp. Snap the insert in, fold it on itself, and snap the diaper on your monster before he runs away for that much-sought-after naked time!

The other new product is Sherpa wipes. I love these. I only have a dozen made for my own stash and it is not enough. Making myself another dozen is on my list of things to do. But I have to make a few for customers first! The wipes are double-sided. Sherpa fleece is plush and  grabby. Great for cleaning up messes. I found myself looking forward to a dirty diaper today so I could use one of the new wipes. That is worth repeating: These wipes made me look forward to changing a dirty diaper. The other side is a hemp and bamboo blend jersey knit. Soft and pliable like your favorite T-shirt. Perfect for finishing up that wipe job and for drying the diaper area before putting on a fresh diaper. Want to try them? Get one free wipe in all February orders over $10!

Finally, let’s wrap up February’s blog giveaway. Mira is the winner of the AI2 snap-in insert! Congrats, Mira! Happy diapering with your new insert!

Which new item is most appealing to you and why: AI2 diapers or the new wipes?

February GIVEAWAY!! – Finished Objects

Oh how I love a freshly finished stack of diapers! Or circle of diapers. Just as lovely to my eyes. This circle of diapers is what I’ve been sewing up all week. There are five newborn diaper covers, one medium pocket diaper, and one one-size all-in-two (AI2).

Those newborn diapers are so sweet and tiny! I love sewing up the little ones. They are part of two separate orders. One order is for a little boy due to be born in about a week. The other order is for a little girl due in about 10 weeks. These are a bit of an experiment. They have more snaps than non-experiments will have. Maybe. Unless the separate rise snaps and umbilical snaps prove necessary. I have three mamas testing the newborn covers, since they have previously only been used on my baby. I’d like to have a few more opinions! The dinos, teal ooga boogas, and robot/navy halfsies are all newborn covers.

The pocket diaper is the black and white safari. I just love that print! There is something elegant about the black and white. It isn’t often that I see a diaper I would call elegant! With black leg gussets and alternating black and white snaps, the finished diaper quite snazzy.

The solid blue diaper is one of the new AI2 diapers. I am excited to have these as part of the Monster Pants line up! We are listing those in our shop page here soon. If you can’t wait, they are now here on Etsy.

I have also made some new inserts to go with the AI2 diapers. They are 24 inches long, intended to be folded in half in the diaper, with a snap on one end. An insert made from three layers of organic bamboo fleece is the prize for February’s giveaway. Each month, the first blog post of the month will feature a small giveaway. To enter the February drawing, just leave a comment on this post that answers the question at the end. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator. Be sure to leave your email. It will not be visible in your comment but will allow me to contact you to claim your prize!

You’ve seen what I made this week.

What did you make this week? (It doesn’t have to be sewing or even crafty!)

Welcome!

Welcome! I am delighted to have you. My name is Melissa. My daughter is 15-month-
old Addy. She is the original monster behind Monster Pants. I have been a seamstress for
almost 10 years. Sewing my own diapers was an obvious choice when I found out I was
expecting. I loved making diapers so much that after making my own stash(es), I started
Monster Pants.

Monster Pants isn’t just a way for me to work while staying home with my sweet little
monster. It is my creative outlet, my way of relaxing, of enjoying my craft. I just adore
making such functional items.

I also love being mommy. And so the blog portion of Monster Pants will be broader than
strictly diapering in order to incorporate other aspects of being a crafty mom. Particularly
adventures in cooking, tutorials, non-diaper projects, parenting, and more.

A regular feature of the blog will be the monthly freebie. I will always ask a question
at the end of a post. On the first post of the month, leave a comment that answers the
question to enter to win the freebie. All that fun will start in February. Meanwhile, we’ll
practice with this question.

I used to think cloth diapering was gross. “Poop in your washer!? The same washer in
which you wash your regular clothes and dishtowels!? Eww!” And then my brother-
and sister-in-law had a baby. They use disposables. One day they were talking about
blowouts that happened in the car seat. And the swing. And the bouncy seat. I realized
that having a baby meant poop would be in the washer one way or another. And so my
road to cloth diapering was paved.

How did you get started down the road to cloth?