homegrown mama

Posts Tagged ‘baby’

::Let them eat cake!::

In food, look what I can do! on 20112011-11-25T05:54:13+00:0030 9/11 at 05:54

She answered: chocolate. 

A military wife who’s relatively new to the base recently had her first daughter, Amelia. Wanting to celebrate the birth of this precious child, the fantastic Liz (a mutual friend) decided to throw Sherry (mommy) and Amelia a shower. I was responsible for the cake, among a few other small items. Liz asked Sherry what kind of cake she preferred. She answered: chocolate. She’s my kinda gal.

I have always loved baking but never as an art, just as a hungry girl with a sweet tooth. And let’s face it: cakes are intimidating these days. If it doesn’t have fondant, require cutting and reshaping, or feature moving parts, it comes across as rather juvenile, I find. With Cake Boss, Food Network Challenge, and Ace of Cakes on tv, it’s no wonder the art of cake-making has taken baking to a new, and seemingly unattainable, level.

However, I was armed and ready. I have an already well-loved recipe from Real Simple magazine (fave!) in my collection that provided a deliciously moist chocolate cake. The article is called The Only Cake Story You’ll Ever Need and it’s seriously a no-fail cake-making tutorial. Then, I came across this awesome filling/frosting option from Sweet Paul magazine for Chocolate Layer Cake with Salty Caramel Filling. Who could say no to that?! So I made Real Simple‘s chocolate cake recipe, and added Sweet Paul‘s salted caramel and chocolate ganache andta-da!—chocolate goodness on a plate.

And then! I was pinning one night (you know…as we do) and came across this tutorial for making chocolate leaves. Beautiful! And so sweet. So I asked Safeway’s floral department to box up some leaf discards for me and hubby brought them home so I could make the chocolate leaves. Note: make sure the leaves are considered NON-toxic. All I knew were rose leaves were good to use, and I forgot to ask what the other leaves were, so I had to throw most of them out. I followed the tutorial but ended up cracking about 4 of the leaves when trying to peel them off, leaving me with less than I wanted. But c’est la vie.

Close-up of the chocolate leaves

Full-sized cake.

I sprinkled more sea salt on top of the ganache, and surrounded the base of the cake with homemade chocolate salted caramels. Whoa baby, this was RICH! Also, the recipe for the ganache made WAY too much. Granted, I only put caramel between the cake layers and left the ganache for the outside. But even if I had added ganache between the layers, there still would have been too much. Half this recipe is more than enough!

The beautiful Sherry and her adorable Amelia!


::I’m pregnant – what now? pt. 6::

In baby gear, pregnancy on 20112011-10-23T09:30:36+00:0031 9/11 at 09:30

How do I get baby from A to B? (Transportation)

Holy crap, does this part ever take some thinking! I spent SO LONG researching strollers alone that I thought my brain just might explode! Here’s a tip: decide on your stroller first, because only certain car seats adapt to certain strollers (with a “travel system”). If you don’t live in a climate where weather (read: SNOW) is a contributing factor, your best bet is a stroller/car seat package, which guarantees compatibility. Of course, where you intend to take your stroller (mall? mountain trails? sidewalks?) also plays a part in deciding which one to buy. Let the games begin!

Car seat & stroller: We love our BOB Revolution stroller, which accommodates a handful of car seats (we used the Graco SnugRide). We also enjoyed the double version when O was an infant, but only for a short time, as H insists on walking now.

Mommy Hook: I LOVE this product. It hooks onto your stroller to allow you more bag storage when shopping. It also is a great little handle for toddlers to hold onto when walking alongside the stroller. Just be wary of loading it with too much weight, as a small child/infant in the stroller does NOT balance a 15 lb. bag of groceries hanging from the handle of a stroller!

Seat belt strap covers: so the straps don’t burn baby’s neck every time you tighten/loosen them. These are great inventions and so simple. If you can sew, you could easily customize a pair for your babe. It’s basically a potholder pattern with hook & loop tape strips! But here’s a great little tutorial for ya.

JJ Cole BundleMe: there are winter and summer versions, and of course other brands, too. But they are so convenient and prevent you from having to bundle up your baby everytime you go out.

Baby Bjorn (make sure it has the lumbar support on the lower back) or Ergo Baby baby carrier. I also bought a CuddlyWrap on Craigslist, but both kids hated being put into it and I hated that the huge ends of the fabric dragged on the ground as you wrapped it. It’s fine for being at home, but trying to work with it in a dirty parking lot was out of the question for me.

Well, that’s it! I mean, I could go on FOREVER about baby stuff. But this six-part series is really a decent place to start for a list of necessities. Having a baby is so much fun, and choosing your baby’s gear can be a super fun way to make your husband feel more involved in your pregnancy.

* * *

Part 5: How to get baby from A to B (Transportation)

Part 4: What about the obvious stuff? 

Part 3: What do I need for a newborn?

Part 2: I’m a new mom – what do I need?

Part 1: Get yourself connected

::I’m pregnant – what now? pt. 5::

In baby gear, pregnancy on 20112011-10-21T09:30:11+00:0031 9/11 at 09:30

How to keep your baby from getting bored

Many of these are big-ticket items. The best idea is to register for them and have your baby shower host (or mother/mother-in-law) kindly suggest to your friends, family and shower guests that not only are gift cards to your chosen baby shop appreciated, but it would also be a good idea for people to go together on big gifts. The office where I worked while I was pregnant with H kindly pooled their resources to buy me our high chair, and put the rest on a gift card for me to spend as needed. It was much appreciated! Another idea is to look on Craigslist or Kijiji for these things. Better yet: buy or borrow from friends with kids.

Jolly jumper: this thing is straight up awesome. Even folks who live in an open concept home can now buy a stand for their Jolly Jumper, which makes it portable, too. Both my kids loved this item, although beware of a younger sibling being tortured. Case in point: when hubby was a babe (youngest of 3), his parents had it set up on the hall closet doorway (the only doorway around). As he bounced, middle sis grabbed him by the Jolly Jumper belt, pulled him out and away from the closet and let go. Just as he swung to the back of the closet, she attempted to slam the closet door! As you can imagine, baby hubby ricocheted off the rear of the closet and right back into the door. OUCH! Lesson learned: supervision required.

Activity mat: there are a ton of styles to choose from. I bought mine for $15 from the Cloverdale Swap Meet. This is an expensive item, for some reason.

soft play mats for hardwood/laminate floors. When babies first learn to sit alone, their heads are usually hard to hold up with their little necks. These mats prevent big head bonks on the hard floor.

Bumbo chair & tray: many parents use this in lieu of a high chair until 6 or 7 mos old! Best to buy 2nd hand, for about $45.

High chair: I loved the Fisher-Price Space Saver but found it frustrating once baby started feeding herself and food was always finding its way beneath the cushion. I was constantly washing it. I now prefer the booster-style chairs, which are so much easier to clean and also more portable.

Vibrating bouncy chair: so great for newborns! I don’t know why I never had one of these for H, but O loved his.

portable playpen: perfect for a diaper change station for newborns (it has a suspended platform option), and a sleeping option when visiting friends and relatives. We’ve also carted this to the beach for the afternoon! The perfect, sand-free haven for your little one.

Swing: so many options, I’ll just leave it to you to research

Exersacuer: ditto here!

Sophie the Giraffe: put it on your registry and someone will buy it for you. I don’t know why babies love her so much, but ours has almost no spots left, she’s THAT well-loved!

Up next: part 6 – How do I get baby from A to B? (Transportation)

::I’m pregnant – what now? pt. 4::

In baby gear, pregnancy on 20112011-10-19T19:21:04+00:0031 9/11 at 19:21

What about the obvious stuff?

There are some everyday-type items all new parents should have for their house/nursery/baby. Here they are!

Baby monitor: Something simple like this dual receiver monitor works great. I originally wanted an Angelcare monitor (the kind that sounds an alarm as soon as your baby skips a breath). They were discontinued at the time I registered, and I’m kind of thankful, although they are back in production now. I’ve heard from friends that the alarm sounded falsely more than anything.

Disposable diapers: President’s Choice brand are fine and worked well for both my kids. But I do tend to lean toward Pampers (seems to catch the poop best). But if you are thinking of cloth diapering…

Cloth diapersComfy Rumps, which are from the Lower Mainland! I ordered the starter pack and haven’t looked back. Honestly, it sounds like a lot of work, but it saves SO MUCH money. Plus, they’re super cute, and cheaper than any other cloth diaper on the market. However, many moms I know swear by FuzziBunz, gDiapers, and Little Tree Hugger (also a Canadian brand).

dishwasher baskets: great if you’re bottle feeding, and once baby starts drinking from sippy cups (as young as 4 months)

bottle sterilizer: use this instead of boiling bottle nipples all the time. Man, I despise boiling nipples. (Does that sound weird to anyone else…?)

Bink Link pacifier clip. So cute. Yes, you could get the cheap ones from Walmart. But why not make a statement?

Diaper Genie and refills: Ok, this contraption is supposed to cut down on diaper stench. We have the older model, which is less “fancy.” As Kevin at Dadcentric says, “You literally stuff a crappy nappy into it, which is lined with diaper shrink wrap, rotate the top and repeat. You do this until you can stuff the container no more, a limitation that depends completely on one’s upper-body strength, aversion to handling Dirty Diaper Sausage and competence at resetting the shrink wrap cartridge.” The bonus of this older model is its ability to create a dirty diaper sausage, always a fun item to try to stuff into your garbage can! But seriously, even though some parents dislike the product itself, I find it extremely convenient to have in baby’s room. And I do NOT find the smell offensive, since you twist off each nappy and only smell the scented liners when opening the lid. That said, any sort of lined, odour-masking diaper pail for the nursery will do.

Low-wattage lamp for baby’s room (7 watts): I didn’t learn this until I had baby O, but to save him from “really” waking up during midnight feeds, I put a 7 watt bulb in his lamp so that if he needed a diaper change, I could see what I was doing, but the dim light would let him stay drowsy. Eventually, I decided not to change his diaper at all if he hadn’t pooped and he began sleeping through the night much sooner (bonus tip for you moms).

Diaper cream (in our house, we call it “butt sauce”): hands down, Penaten and Sudocrem work the best (both available at Walmart/Superstore). But if you are using cloth diapers, or prefer a more “all-natural” approach, I LOVE Grandma El’s ointment. Wait for it to come available on hippobargains.com or babysteals.com, though. It’s pricey. Anything by Arbonne is also great, if you know a consultant.

Wipes: the best wipes for your money are definitely the Kirkland brand from Costco. Unscented and not too fluffy. We love them and go through them like crazy, especially with a sticky toddler, too.

Robeez: the BEST slippers for babies. Kids wear these into toddlerhood and they’re the best for keeping on socks (also a Vancouver company). Easy to buy 2nd hand at the swap meet, and readily available on the deal websites for half price. Sign up on the Robeez website for their sale emails, too.

*I left out an item on the previous post: Infant Vicks Vapor Rub (called BabyRub) is a great thing to have when baby is stuffy or has a cold. It’s not as potent as the adult kind: it’s non-medicated and contains aloe vera, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender. Perfect for helping baby sleep and breathe at the same time.

Up next: part 5 – How to keep your baby from getting bored

::I’m pregnant – what now? pt. 3::

In baby gear, pregnancy on 20112011-10-17T01:04:13+00:0031 9/11 at 01:04

What do I need for a newborn?

-No-scratch mitts: I got over my fear of nail clippers really quickly when baby O (#2) came along. But with H (#1), her nails were like claws and I was terrified I’d snip off the tips of her tiny fingers. In reality, clipping a newborn’s fingernails while they sleep is quite easy. Practise makes perfect.

Kiddopotamus Swaddle or Woombie: if you plan on swaddling. I did because H would wake herself up by getting startled in her sleep and smacking herself in the face. AND/OR

-Sleep sack: for you non-swaddlers whose kids are not born in the summer. Winners has great selections of organic cotton or fleece.

Bath sling: I always found the actual baby tubs frustrating. How do you empty the soapy water to rinse baby while he’s still in it?

Grooming & health care kit: usually includes aforementioned baby nail clippers, digital thermometer, brush, comb, medicine spoon, snot sucker, etc.

Vitamin D drops: any brand is fine, including store brands

Tempra (baby Tylenol) drops, dye-free

Ibuprofen (baby Advil) drops

Camilia: homeopathic remedy for teething and general irritability. Available in Superstore’s health aisle, or Walmart’s pharmacy

Coryzalia: homeopathic remedy for cold symptoms. You can’t give anything else to kids under 2 with a cold

Muslin swaddling blankets (perfect for swaddling while out of the house, because they’re so big, and for wrapping baby/keeping her warm but not hot)

Burp cloths: ok, not a necessity. But I make these form flannelette and Warm N’ Natural quilt batting and they are super absorbent and soft. Perfect for saving visitors’ clothes if they offer to burp baby after a feed

Up next: part 4 – What about the obvious stuff?

::I’m pregnant – what now? pt. 1::

In baby gear, pregnancy on 20112011-10-12T15:41:11+00:0031 9/11 at 15:41

(Did I trick you? Good. Because I’m most definitely NOT pregnant!)


Congratulations! You’re pregnant for the first time and everything about babies and parenting is so new to you. Eventually, you’ll get online or drag take your hubby to Sears, Babies “R” Us, or any other baby gear store, to start a registry for your baby needs. But where to start?!

Other than the wedding industry, I am fairly certain the baby industry is booming with all sorts of ingenious products and services…that you just don’t need. One new nana-to-be recently asked me to send a list of baby items and products to her that she could pass on to her son and daughter-in-law, who are pregnant with baby #1. They are totally overwhelmed with the products out there, and they have no idea which ones are actually useful.

“No problem,” I said, and began to write. But as the list grew, I knew I had some valuable information, all neatly packaged in a useful shopping list format! So I’ll share it here, in a series called, “…what now?”

There’s so much good stuff I had to categorize it, and I included the links where applicable so you can investigate, compare prices, add things to your registry and familiarize yourself with the products. Please note, I am not being paid to link to Babies “R” Us specifically. But the gal who originally asked for this list is planning to register there, I believe, and I wanted to make this as painless for her as possible.

Get yourself connected

First, sign up for the following daily/weekly emails from these baby bargain websites. They’re like Winners for baby gear: overstocked or discontinued items sent to these companies to sell off at MAJOR discounts. But they are done in daily or weekly intervals. I buy a ton of stuff for the kids from them!




Craigslist is a fantastic resource for big ticket items too (nursery furniture, strollers, baby carriers, etc), as well as lots of pre-loved baby clothes. And Motherofadeal.com sends a weekly email newsletter with online and in-store deals from all sorts of baby- and kid-related companies.

Also, if you’re from Metro Vancouver, Kidsvancouver.com features the list of monthly swap meets around the Lower Mainland. There’s one in Cloverdale on the 2nd Saturday of every month. If you can hit it every month before the baby comes, you’ll find some GREAT stuff on the cheap, using this list as a “shopping list,” of sorts.

Are there any sites and resources I’m missing here for good kid gear at discounted prices?

Up next: part 2 – I’m a new mom – what do I need?

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