Baby & Toddler · Books · Holidays · kid-friendly · minted · Tips and Tricks

Our Easter Menu + Baby Easter Gift Ideas!

It’s Easter (and Passover) Week, and even though the weather won’t cooperate, we are still going to assume it’s Spring and will celebrate this quintessentially Spring holiday accordingly! Mark, as always, has to work on Easter, so once again I’m preparing a pared-down menu with help from family for a nice, low-key day. Here’s what we are making! Photos of babies in bonnets to follow shortly.

20140423-174207.jpg

One year ago. How time flies! My lil’ bunny!

Our Easter Menu

  • Glazed Ham
  • Warm buttered rolls
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cold Potato Salad
  • Applesauce
  • Honey Mustard
  • Cheesecake, Coffee & Tea

This year Easter is so early that I really refused to buy any kind of special dress, not knowing whether she’d even be able to wear it (or fit into it, since she just finished a growth spurt from 12-18 month clothes into 18-24 and even 2T). Last year, though, her Nani in Florida had sent her this gorgeous dress that we paired with a darling white Easter bonnet with patent leather crib shoes for church:

IMG_1714

IMG_1715

Where does the time even go!!!

I think Georgia is still a little bit young to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt or Easter-themed toys, but that won’t stop us from trying. I’m cajoling my brother into hiding eggs and I am fairly certain her Grammie will be showing up with some presents for our bunny!

If you need Easter gift inspiration, beyond candy, you’ve come to the right place.

the classic

something different

Hide & Squeak Eggs, $10.80 on amazon

something huggable

skip hop “hug & hide” lamb, $18, Amazon

a nightlight

$10.95, Land of Nod

a lovey

angel baby blankie, $13, amazon

a push toy

$19, amazon

a party in a box

easter egg hunt kit, $18, Land of Nod

treat bags

personalizable! pottery barn, on sale from $9.99 to $30
personalizable, via pottery barn, on sale from $9.99

munchies

a bit of seasonal decor

frameable bunny art from $22 via minted.com (in five colors)

Last but not least, one Easter craft idea for the family and three fun recipes:

Italian Easter Bread

Rice Krispy Treat Eggs

Easter Egg cake

neon dipped eggs by Joy Cho/Oh Joy! via Merrimentevents.com

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Baby & Toddler · Christmas · Holidays

What I Got for Christmas

Happy 2015! I hope you had as wonderful a holiday and New Year as we did. Mark, Georgia and I were all home on a “staycation” from Christmas Eve until yesterday, and it was awesome! We relaxed, hosted Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our house, visited with one of my best friends from New York, and had a family reunion of sorts this past weekend. We even hit a New Year’s Eve party like grownups (thanks, Grammie, for babysitting at our house overnight!) Georgia loved the concept of tearing wrapping paper off gifts, and “helped” everyone with theirs all day long.

What we cooked

  • Lasagna
  • Spiral Ham with applesauce
  • Scalloped Potatoes (recipe coming soon!)
  • Cranberry Bread
  • Broccoli Casserole
  • Tossed Salad
  • Buttered Corn
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Salted Caramel Cupcakes

And, Mark made his famous sausage crescent rolls, which are a tasty and crowd-pleasing appetizer — he’ll be guest blogging here about the recipe just in time for your Superbowl parties!!

IMG_7527

I think this was the first time since we were married that Mark and I both didn’t have to work during the week between Christmas and the New Year. With Georgia’s daycare closed for the duration, we really had a lot of family time together, which was so amazing. Even though going back to work was crazy after almost two weeks off, it was well worth it to snuggle with my baby in the “big people bed” every morning, lounge around the house, and do brunch with friends at a few of our favorite places, like Cabot’s in Newton, In a Pickle in Waltham, and Pignone’s Cafe in Stoneham. We already knew Georgia liked pancakes and fruit, but this week we discovered that she LOVES nutella, grilled cheese and milkshakes…I mean, who doesn’t?

As for gifts? We made out pretty good. I walked away with lots of new clothes from Mark, and I got him some new LuLu gear, plus these headphones and this scale that he’s been eyeing to go along with his FitBit for ages. I also received these three books on food that I am beyond excited about:

omnivore’s dilemma, michael pollan // super natural every day, heidi swanson // plenty more, yotam ottolenghi

I am particularly excited to try Heidi Swanson’s Yogurt Biscuits and Millet Muffins, which are supposed to be healthy and appealing for lovers of corn bread (ahem, Mark and Baby G!) You may know Heidi as the founder of 101 cookbooks. I just love how simple and adaptable her recipes are; they are approachable, comforting and easy, which is a great balance to Plenty More, which highlights some more exotic and innovative ways to use unusual vegetables. If you don’t know Yotam’s story, read about the Israeli chef in this fascinating New Yorker piece from 2012; to get to know Heidi Swanson, visit her website and see a sampler of recipes from her book here.

And what did Georgia get? Well, LOTS. She (and, somewhat annoyingly, Tasha) is thrilled with her Anywhere Chair, which Mark has been waiting to get her since pretty much the day I found out I was pregnant. She also loved the Little People farm set that she got for Christmas, and the play stroller my mother-in-law got her, complete with a vintage Cabbage Patch doll! She also got lots of books and outfits and a special bracelet from my mom.

IMG_7486

IMG_7474

I have to say, I thought that last year was overwhelming with a newborn who was in the midst of her four-month sleep regression leading up to Christmas, but that couldn’t hold a candle to trying to juggle a toddler with cooking and cleaning for a holiday. Thank goodness for a pared-down menu, family who brought plenty of dishes so I didn’t have to do it all, and not having to work the next day. Georgia was so excited by all her visitors that she couldn’t fall asleep Christmas night, which is completely unlike her, and she woke up at 1 a.m. hysterical again. The next day we felt like a wreck and didn’t even get dressed until 3 in the afternoon. To think we don’t even have a child old enough to believe in Santa yet — we are doomed next year!

I definitely fantasized about taking a cruise or otherwise abandoning all the chaos in the future. 

Shopping the after-Christmas sales.
Shopping the after-Christmas sales.

Speaking of bad baby sleep, if your little one started going to bed late and sleeping in because the whole house was on vacay like Georgia did, check out this great site for getting back on track. I’m definitely reading it, because I had to get Georgia up at 8 a.m. today in order to make it to daycare on time, and for the past three days I’ve had to wake her at 9 a.m. (!!!) It’s too cute, because every time I walk in, she goes “uh oh!” as if to say “oops mom, slept late again!”

I hope you had a great holiday, and I’ll be sharing by recipe for Scalloped Potatoes soon, as well as Mark’s guest post for sausage crescent rolls. Stay warm in this deep freeze we’ve landed in!

Holidays · News

Halloween Pics & Food News

Well. Georgia loved Halloween! Her whole family came over except for my in-laws, who were out of town, and we took her out for trick-or-treating for the second time in her life. The first time, she slept through it in daddy’s arms! This time, she was walking on her own, and she loved meeting all our neighbors! We’ve gone from having zero kids in the neighborhood to families with young children in every other house in the space of three years, which is awesome. I loved seeing all the costumes, the decorated houses, and chatting with some of our older neighbors who we don’t get to see very often. All in all, a feel-good Friday night, and we even navigated Daylight Saving Time unscathed.

Georgia also helped me decorate the house before our visitors arrived! We kept it simple by ordering pizza and wings for the whole crew. Her monogrammed “winged bat” treat bag is from Pottery Barn Kids, and her ladybug costume is Carter’s from Macy’s in Boston.

You better believe I stocked up on clearance candy this weekend for my office!

So what else is new?

Well, I was extremely excited to read about a new Swedish study that shows (in mainstream medicine, anyway) what homeopaths and complementary & alternative health practitioners — not to mention the rest of the world — have known for years: that milk is really not that good for you.

It’s no secret that sales of cow’s milk alternatives like rice, soy, almond, coconut and hemp milk have taken off in recent years, and with good reason: many boast impressive health claims and taste great too. Apparently, the dairy industry has taken notice, and is launching a major ad campaign to reinforce the notion that milk “does a body good.” Of course, it’s easy for me to say avoid milk, because I straight-up hate the taste of it and always have, and I’m lactose intolerant like 80% of humanity. So I understand that true milk lovers will have a harder time accepting that a big industry has lied to them their whole lives, and that milk contributes to higher mortality among populations that drink it most — and that bone health is excellent in populations that don’t drink it at all.

That said, you DO have to do your research when it comes to milk substitutes. It’s not as simple as chugging a bunch of soy or almond milk, and none of those options should be given to babies or toddlers outside a doctor’s supervision. Time ran a decent comparison of some popular non-dairy drinks earlier this year, and Self has a good slideshow that takes you through the options for replacing conventional cow’s milk, including organic milk, which is what we give Georgia every day.

Speaking of dairy alternatives, check out this amazing-looking Vegan Strawberry Orange Julius (whose flavors I’ve celebrated before!)

What else caught my eye lately:

Apparently you should always preheat your baking sheet

Did you know you can still use ingredients that have “gone bad?”

The stark differences between what the rich & poor feed their babies

Even more reasons to love eggs (except when you’re newly pregnant)

A list of the top nutritional powerhouse fruits & veggies you should be eating

This genius idea for remaking school fundraisers that rely on junk food

And, OK, fine ~ I’ll share a couple vegan recipes. This comes from Chloe Coscarelli’s new book on Italian vegan cooking (it IS possible and it’s not very hard). I love how accessible and filling her recipes are. You don’t feel you’re making a sacrifice.

Chloe’s Bow ties in garlic cream sauce and vegan lasagna

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Oh, and if you haven’t already, get out there and vote!

 

Baby & Toddler · Holidays · Pregnancy

Eco-friendly baby gifts

Sending a care package a new mom’s way, or putting together a gift for a new arrival this holiday season? Here are my fave picks for the eco-conscious, non-toxic and environmentally friendly baby and mama. These are all companies and products we use and love for our family. But first, Georgia’s first visit to Santa!

Now on to the gift ideas you came here for.

Under the Nile

underthenile.com

This company makes one of Georgia’s favorite loveys, the pink baby buddy. All of their products are organic, from apparel to toys, and they also use PVC-free dyes. None of their products include flame retardants, Formaldehyde or other chemical fabric finishings.

Baby Soy

babysoyusa.com

We love their kimono style outfits. This green clothing line is made from sustainable and organic soybean fiber, making them soft on baby and low impact on the planet. The kimono line is their signature, and makes for cozy sleepwear with easy diaper access and convenient fold-over sleeve mittens to prevent overnight face scratches from flailing little hands. We also love their soft, knotted hats, especially for sleep.

Georgia has this in purple with pink trim.
Georgia has this in purple with pink trim.

NaturePedic

NaturePedic.com

This is where we got Georgia’s mattress (and mattress pad). It is certified organic and Greenguard certified (meaning it’s been tested for chemical emissions) and free of allergens. It meets all crib regulations, also fits a toddler bed, and is made in the USA. Best of all, it’s comfortable and firm and she loves sleeping on it. A mattress and mattress pad weren’t things I was willing to compromise on, since she spends more than half her living hours breathing them in.

LifeFactory

lifefactory.com

Creators of shatterproof glass baby bottles with colorful silicone sleeves, LifeFactory designs their products to grow with your child, so you can add a sippy cup top for toddlers and eventually a regular flat cap. There are tons of colors to choose from.

51id7swdsrl-_sx522_

The Honest Company

honest.com

I love, love, LOVE their products. I started out using their laundry detergent because I’m sensitive to fragrances and other ingredients in commercial soap, and now that I’ve had a baby I use nothing else. We tried and loved their diapers & wipes, and now I purchase my household cleaning products from them, too. That way, I don’t have to worry about fumes or residue affecting Georgia (or me, as a breastfeeding mom) when I clean our counters, toilets and windows. In fact, their stain remover is so amazing that I was able to get a HUGE smear of black ink — from a dropped mascara wand — out of our white nursery carpet(!) Find their “welcome baby” gift package here. I also use their antibacterial hand gel at Georgia’s changing table and in my diaper bag, and at bath time their baby wash and body oil is all we use. I even use those two products on my own body so that I don’t put any toxic chemicals near her little mouth while nursing!

Honest makes a badass diaper cake with 92 newborn diapers and essential baby products in the center. What a shower gift!
The Honest Company makes a badass diaper cake with 92 newborn diapers and essential baby products tucked in the center. What a shower gift!

Anna Naturals Tea

drinkmamatea.com

Teas that are usually recommended for nursing moms are, in a word, nasty. Not these. With organic blends for preconception, childbirth recovery, nursing and weaning, there’s an option for every stage of pre- and postpartum life.

MightyNest.com

mightynest.com

The “mindful gifts” offered at this site are free of lead paint,  heavy metals, and Formaldehyde, and are hand-picked for any age range you’re looking to buy for. Parents of school-aged children can even donate a portion of their purchase to their own district’s classrooms.

Sophie the Giraffe

Georgia can’t get enough of this teether. She loved cuddling and nuzzling it before she was teething, and now it provides a safe, soothing surface to gnaw on when her gums are sore. Free of phthalates and BPA, Sophie features natural rubber and food-based paint that naturally wears away over time. Each one is hand-painted so they are all unique! Available at most baby stores, including Babies R’ Us and on Amazon.

Babies love to chew on her feet, nose, mouth, ears…

Aden + Anais

adenandanais.com

Their organic crib sheets, changing pad covers and easy swaddlers have a trusted place in our nursery. They are available at Babies R’ Us and Amazon. Read more about why I like them in this post about newborn essentials.

California Baby

californiababy.com

We use their calming natural and organic products, especially the diaper rash cream, on G before she does her overnights. It prevents rash from wetness when she’s sleeping the longest. It has a lovely peppermint scent that really is soothing. All their products are certified organic, made in the US, allergen tested and free of peanuts, soy and dairy, with no animal testing. You can find their products at Target or Amazon.

Angel Dear blankies

angeldear.net

Georgia has two of these: an elephant and a bear, both pink. (See her cuddling one of them in this post). This San Francisco-based company is committed to organic fibers and their products are luxuriously soft to the touch. I wish I had gotten G a curved pillow to match her blankies, because I think it would have come in so handy with tummy time!

Georgia loves cuddling this elephant blanket.

A Mighty Girl

amightygirl.com

This awesome site, dedicated to matching parents with empowering, educational and fun toys for girls, has lots to choose from — but I particularly think it’s cool that they have an entire guide to children’s books about the environment. Check it out.

Baby Gap Organics

We have a new baby coming into our extended family this year right after Christmas, and I’m loving some of Baby Gap’s organic cotton gift sets for the little guy or gal (it’s going to be a surprise). This collection takes gender-neutral baby clothing beyond the realm of green and yellow, which is one reason I love it!

I also love this handmade plush toy from ABCHome, and I really want this frame from Pottery Barn Kids to commemorate G’s first year. It’s so beautiful.

What are your favorite products and brands? Did I miss any?

***

I am not affiliated with or endorsed by any of these companies. In some cases, clicking specific product links will earn me a small commission. I never recommend any brand or item I don’t believe in and personally use.