Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Marsha's Kitchen" Cookbook

This little lady is a spoon rest from my childhood. Her photo, plus lots of stories and recipes, are in "Marsha's Kitchen."
My brother and I wrote and published this cookbook a few years back.

It is filled with family recipes and stories. All proceeds have been (and continue to be) donated to the Leukemia Society in honor of our mother Marsha.

Hope you enjoy!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pattern Review: Javajem Wristlet

What a great pattern/ tutorial! I found this wristlet tutorial and found it easy to follow and clear. Plus, I love my new wristlet!

Pros of the tutorial:
1. She has a lot of photos of every step and a lot of clear directions.
2. She even gives tips like when to open and close the zipper to make it easier to sew.
3. She makes the zipper sandwich that I struggled with on the box bag (see earlier post) an easy task, with all of the photos making it very clear what goes where.

1. Her cutting list at the top could have been separated by material and listed more clearly-- BUT having the photo there made this ok to manage.
2. Also, there were a LOT of directions. I was tempted to do each step then read the next one but each step had multiple photos so, if you do this, make sure to read through to the next step before doing it so you don't miss anything.

What I would do differently next time:
1. I would use a more plain fabric as the lining.
2. I would have used a more plain fabric for the top of the front and the back. This would make the bottom front *pop* more, and that would be cool.
3. I would have made more precise cuts. I ended up with the back side being longer than the front. I would think that the front would have ended up longer (because it had the zipper, less seam allowances, on that side). So I think this excess was user error on my part, and I didn't do a great job cutting.
4. I finished my seams on the inside with a wide zig zag and would do a close and wide zig zag next time (or serge, for those of you with a serger).
5. I may make it larger.
6. I skipped the interfacing and would skip it again.

I am excited to use this and think it is just the right size for my phone, camera, credit cards, keys, and a snack. Let me know how it goes for you if you use it!

Note: Here is another wristlet tutorial . I didn't use it because the other seemed easier to follow. I like this enough that I don't think I am going to try the other one.

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Pattern Review: Toddler Backpack

I thought it was time to make the little guy a bag so he could carry around his cell phone and a book and his keys (yes, he has our castaways of all these objects that he loves-- and he loves my purses and putting things in and out of them). So I found a free pattern online and went to work.

I modified the pattern to skip the interfacing but fully lined it with fleece. I also lined the straps. The pattern was easy to follow and straightforward. If I make it again, I will do the straps a bit longer, or make them adjustable somehow. I may also add velcro or a snap over the opening, but it is a nice idea that he will be able to get items in and out without my help. I saw this tutorial linked to somewhere else and she had added a loop at the top to hang it from a coat hook, and I liked that modification.

The problem with it is that he doesn't really like it. It was a lot of effort to get it on him, and he looked at himself in the mirror in it a few times, then ignored it for a few minutes-- then wanted it off.
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Essential" New Baby Gear

When I was pregnant, we got so much advice about what to buy and what to get. You'd think you couldn't have a baby without spending a ton of money or having generous friends and an extended network of people who'd given birth before you (thanks, again, to our extended network, by the way!).

I was given spreadsheets that other women had put together, as well as any pregnancy magazine or book is full of lists and lists. I suppose it is part of trying to fulfill the nesting instinct.

So-- my list is here for those of you who have a washing machine and aren't afraid to use it and who are going to do EC (hey, try it, you may like it. Worst case is you get peed on and pooped on, but these sound a lot worse than they are because baby pee is sterile and breastfed baby poop looks like mustard and smells like popcorn. PLUS-- spit-up is a lot grosser than both and you can't avoid that one no matter if you go totally alternative here or stick to mainstream disposable diapering techniques). This list is also if you breastfeed, co-sleep, and want to do baby-led weaning when the baby hits that 6-month mark and you need to feed the baby solid foods.

First week:

  1. Car seat ~ even if you plan to have a home birth, you may need to transfer to the hospital-- and they won't let you out and into a car without one of these installed. There are two types for infants-- one snaps in and out (or buckles, if you don't buy the base), and the other is fixed. Both sit backwards and preferably in the middle seat until the little one hits 20 pounds (but check your state DMV for the law at the time-- some are saying 1 to 2 years now). The benefit of the snapping one is that you can leave the sleeping infant in the car seat when you aren't in the car. This is also a negative, since the baby is in the car seat instead of being carried around and close to his mama or papa. If you choose to do this, they make strollers you can snap it right into. If I would do it again, I would only use a fixed one so I wouldn't be tempted to leave the infant in the car seat any longer than a ride takes, lest he miss out on sling time.
  2. a Sling ~ or two or three. Everyone seems to be more comfortable in different styles and some babies like some and some mamas like some and some daddies like some other ones. For us - before our guy hit 10 pounds, a classic sling worked for us. We used the Infantino Sling Rider since it had a pocket.  This is no longer for sale.  Something like this is similar- although make sure to get your (new, larger) size.
  3. My Brest Friend ~  This nursing pillow was AWESOME. I felt so awkward with a little scrawny 6 lb 10 oz baby and clipping this on really made me feel like I could nurse him. It has a little bump for newborn head support and goes all the way around so you can experiment with different positions.
  4. Straws. Yes, straws. I was so thirsty and nursing all the time (for 40 minutes on and an hour and 20 minutes off, around the clock), and got really thirsty. It was hard to manouver to drink water without straws.
  5. A support team to make you food and bring it to you... cut into bite sized pieces.
  6. A tray or side table next to your nursing chairs... for the phone, water glass with straw, plate with bite-sized pieces of food on it, a book or magazine, and your cloth diaper stash.
  7. Three dozen flat-fold cloth diapers. These can be squares of flannel or birdseye. They will go on top of a piddle pad (on top of the breastfeeding pillow) and you will be changing them out each time they get soiled, as you cue the baby. You can also use these to wipe up spit-up.
  8. Three to ten Piddle Pads~ These are waterproof and will keep your house and selves from being totally soaked. 
  9. A changing table is nice, and having a few covers is nice... helps take care of the back.
  10. Clothes for the baby are nice, like kimono shirts so you don't need to go over the head. This depends on the season. Note I said shirts, not onesies.  Onesies require a lot of snapping.
  11. The Miracle Blanket for swaddling. This was a miracle-- really. Read The Happiest Baby on the Block for how to use it. 
  12. Baby nail clippers. It is amazing how fast baby nails grow. They are sharp, too.

1-6 months:

  1. Another sling that we loved was the Moby until about 6 months. I used to tuck his head on one side and he'd sleep in it for hours. I'd put it on in the morning over my nursing tank top and put my jacket on and off over it all day long.  
  2. Nursing tank tops. The Bravado is great because it is a real bra inside. Tanks are better than bras because you can put another shirt over it and nurse while lifting the other shirt or going in from the neckline and not show your belly.
  3. Nursing pads. These are for leaking milk. This is an example of cloth pads but Wazoodle sells pre-cut blanks so you could make your own in advance. You could also cut circles using a cup as a pattern. I had about 6 pairs and it was plenty. My favorites were the thinner ones so they wouldn't show through my clothing. I bet that 4 layers of flannel would do the trick, or two layers of flannel with Zorb on the inside. I was grateful when I could stop wearing these when my baby was about 9 months old. Other mamas stopped long before, and some mama friends still wear them (16-month old babies).
  4. Training pants. We needed about 25-30 for going out. You could always tuck a diaper into the waistband of a pair of split-crotch pants, too, and skip these.
  5. Split-crotch pants for home -- depending on the weather (you could go bottomless if it is summer). I'd say 5 pairs of fleece or wool ones if it's not summer.
  6. T-shirts or long-sleeve t-shirts, about 15 of them. You can take all the hand-me-down onesies and sleepers you get and cut them off and hem them into t-shirts. If you skip this, you will give the baby fewer potty-tunities and have more misses. Maybe skip one or two for special events and when you want to hide your EC-ing habits/ not talk about for once.
  7. At night, we used a fleece blanket over the baby, who slept on a diaper we could change out for misses-- on a piddle pad. In the winter, baby was dressed in split-crotch pants and a long-sleeve t-shirt. In the summer, baby was dressed in a t-shirt or naked.
  8. Potty Stool ~ if your toilet at home is round, you will need somewhere to sit when the baby is held in the "in-arms" position. This Ikea stool can later be a side table (actually, ours was wood but the same sort of stool. They also sell them at Target). If your toilet is oval, you are all set, since you can set the baby between your legs and there is room for both of you to sit at the same time. The good news here is that most public toilets are oval, making them easy to use for pottying.
  9. A few toys! Favorites were a few books and this family tree. We got a kick out of the Bumbo seat  with a tray, but not everyone does.

6 mo - 1 year:

  1. The sling we started using was the Ergo. It can be worn on the front or back, and baby can easily nurse in it. The sleeping hood makes sleeping (and nursing) more private. This is a great carrier. If I'd do it again, I would NEVER wash mine. The padded waist has gotten really worn and is less supportive than it could be.
  2. The baby is getting bigger and heavier so a potty seat reducer is helpful. We like the Baby Bjorn Seat Reducer but you will be using this for a long time so you could try one of those family seats. We also tried the one made by Bumbo and HATED it.
  3. Bathroom toys ~ how else to keep baby occupied but with the hands full-- favorites include lotion bottles and rolls of toilet paper, bath toys, and books, especially touch and feel and lift the flap books.
  4. Food starts! Read Baby-Led Weaning and:
  5. Get a good high chair or two. We originally used the Bumbo Seat and its tray (with those ever-so-useful flat diapers under as a drop cloth), then soon realized that a freestanding high chair was essential. We lucked into one with a huge tray and a molded-in cup and food dividers and it has been wonderful for helping to contain the mess. It is a Graco Infant to Youth high chair and I did a Google search for it and didn't find it. We found it at a garage sale. The second high chair is to keep in the car and use when going to friends', or for them to use when coming over.
  6. Baby-sized cutlery is nice... like a mini-fork and mini-spoon. The kiddies also like sippy cups. There are a LOT of baby food accessories out there and plain old plastic baggies work just fine, especially since you aren't pureeing any food.
  7. Split-crotch pants for home, and lots of slightly absorbent pants (like sweat pants) for going out. We liked using pants that obviously change color when wet so we could change them quickly for misses when out and about.
  8. Shirts ~ see above.
  9. Toys are nice, too, like lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel books, and blocks, and stackers, pots and pans, salad spinners, plastic cups, and the like (and adult ones, not just kiddie sized ones).
Extras that are nice at any age:

  1. Cloth swim diaper. Most public pools require them. All you need is a waterproof diaper cover, since they just hold in poop, not pee.
  2. Bigger pieces of flannel and fleece as receiving blankets of different sizes.
  3. A set of 10-20 little white towels like the ones to use at the gym or they also sell them at automotive stores. These can be used for spills that need absorbency-- plus you can always bleach white.
Good luck! Comments appreciated! Pin It


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