Stock a beginner’s spice rack
My daughter is moving into a new home, and she wants me to help her buy spices to stock her pantry. Which spices would you start with? — Linda, New York
I’d buy spice blends that can cover meats, poultry and vegetables, as well as spices for sweet and savory dishes. I suggest buying staples such as oregano, cinnamon, garlic and onion powder, basil, thyme, rosemary, chili powder, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, paprika, cumin, ginger, cloves, allspice, celery and parsley. She can add her own baking ingredients (salt, pepper, baking soda, vanilla, etc.) and expand her spices from there.
What are your thoughts on potty training early to save on diapers? I’ve been reading about elimination communication and wondered what you think about it. — Diana D., Wisconsin
Dear Diana D.:
After changing diapers for 12 years straight, I feel qualified to give this slippery slope of a question a whirl. I think most parents look for cues and signals to anticipate their child’s potty needs, even without totally embracing the natural infant hygiene method. Personally, I was not in any rush to have my kids use the potty; my kids were definitely wearing diapers at older ages than many other kids. I have to admit, there were a few times when I saw very young children without diapers and thought it was pretty impressive, but it was important to me that I wait until I felt that each of my kids was ready.
Each parent makes his or her own decision on how to approach potty training. If someone wants to use the elimination communication method, I say good for them. I can see the appeal and benefits. I see it as a natural approach that is a good match for some families. It would not have been a good match for my family, as it simply wouldn’t have been practical or convenient for my busy schedule. (Of course, even as I say that, I feel the common pang of guilt shared by many parents, as if my busy life meant I wasn’t properly focused on my children. Ha!)
I often needed to use diapers as a backup for situations, so it would have been a bit frustrating to try the natural infant hygiene method. For example, I could not rely on a caregiver or expect them to follow through on the elimination communication method when I was working or unavailable. (Did I just feel another guilty pang for working? Ha!) But I don’t mean to imply that a working mom or dad couldn’t still use the method successfully.
Before I dig a deeper hole, to answer your question: The elimination communication method’s purpose is not to save money on diapers; that just happens to be a bonus. I would not go into it with frugality as your motivation.
We just returned from a great vacation at a resort in Stowe, Vt., that had the best sheets I had ever slept on. After our first night, our group met for breakfast and everyone was raving about the sheets! The label on the sheets said Comphy, and I discovered on the Internet that the company produces high-quality microfiber bedding but does not sell to the public. The Comphy website said the public must buy their sheets through authorized dealers, which are the hotels. Have you ever used microfiber sheets? What do you think of them? Where did you buy them? If I could find a set that was like the hotel sheets, I would go to bed happy every night! — Diana, Iowa
I have used microfiber sheets, pillowcases and comforters. They are nice to sleep on. You can find various brands of microfiber sheets anywhere that sells linens, such as Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Wal-Mart, Costco, QVC, Sears, etc. As for the Comphy brand, you can buy their sheets for your home. I called their customer service line and a representative recommended buying from this online retailer: stopdropandrelax.com.