Our Baby Class

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Crunchy Baby Essentials

When I was pregnant, I had a lot of people telling me about the things that I *had* to have. In reality, we found that favorite things vary from family to family and baby to baby. Abby loved her swing and hated pacifiers. Other babies might be the opposite. But for us, here is our list:

 1. Cloth Diapers

For our seven pound, fourteen ounce daughter, we loved using Fuzzibunz Elite One-Size Pocket Diapers. We bought a dozen to start, along with a dozen BumGenius and a couple oddballs.  The Fuzzibunz fit her the best as a newborn.

 We also found that prefold diapers and covers worked really well for her. We used Snappis as an alternative to pinning. They were quick and easy!

Here, Abby models a diaper cover over a prefold.

 2. Cloth Wipes From the beginning, we've used a combination of cloth and disposable wipes. Our cloth wipes are actually the super cheap baby wash cloths. We received bunches as gifts in addition to a few extras that we purchased.

3. Baby Carrier We started taking Abby places right away and the stroller was a pain. There are also many proven benefits to baby wearing, to be addressed in a future post. We loved two carriers from the beginning:

 The Moby: The Moby had a bit of a learning curve but was super snuggly once we got it all figured out. By Thanksgiving, I was able to wear her while I put things on the table.

 The Beco Gemini: I bought this one on multiple recommendations. It fit both me and DH very well, it was quick, it was easy, and super comfortable and supportive. I've heard from many people that the Baby Bjorn, much more well-known, isn't as comfortable. It also has a pretty low weight limit. The Gemini can be used from birth to toddlerhood. It's also great for newborns, even without an added insert. It can also be used for hip and back carries, once the baby has good head support.
Here is Abby at three weeks old, at her first Renaissance Festival.  It's very rugged, hilly, and crowded. Not very stroller friendly. But that didn't stop us!

4. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets

There are many brands of cloth diapers and baby carriers that are equally awesome. However, I haven't found any other brand of cotton muslin swaddle blankets that I love as much as these. Abby was an early September baby, so flannel receiving blankets were too warm. They also weren't big enough to swaddle her easily. These generously sized blankets were big enough to really tuck in all the ends when we swaddled her, but we didn't have to worry about overheating. They were thin enough to use for car seat covers and nursing covers. We folded them over for burp cloths when we found that anything marketed as a burp cloth didn't give us anywhere near enough coverage. I've given quite a few of these as shower gifts since Abby was born and I rave about them to anyone who asks about baby gear.

Other Things We Loved
We bought a personalized wooden teething ring on Etsy.  It was easy for Abby to grip and she loved gnawing on it.  Give it a rub with food safe oil to keep it moisturized. Three month old Abby was a big fan!

Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether is the toy that parents love and hate. It has an annoying squeak but babies love chewing on the natural rubber.

I couldn't have lived without our swing.  It gave me a chance to eat a hot meal with two hands at the same time as my husband. But some babies hate them. I recommend trying to get one for free or borrowing one and seeing how it works out.

Other Notes

  • There are lots of great cloth diaper brands out there and pockets and prefolds aren't the only option.  The fitted diapers in the shop right now are one-size, but might be a little bulky on some newborns.  Whatever you choose, keep in mind that newborn babies can go through a dozen diapers a day.  We recommend 2-3 dozen diapers, depending on how often you want to do laundry. We recommend the same number of wipes, if you will use cloth wipes exclusively.  Cloth wipes are also handy for spit up and any other number of messes.  
  • For baby carriers, Boba and Ergo are also good brands for newborns.  More on baby carriers in an upcoming baby wearing post.
  • If you are interested in buying any of the products I've mentioned, click through the links and product photos.
  • Putting up all these squishy newborn photos made me feel really nostalgic. Abby will be eleven months old next week and rarely stays still for photos anymore.  

What are your recommendations for someone making a baby registry?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Meatless Monday (on Wednesday): Black Bean and Avocado Quinoa Salad

I'm a little behind with this week's Meatless Monday post, but I have bonuses for you to make up for it.

I forgot to plan ahead on Monday. I had a 4:30 doctor's appointment, and then we had to stop by the walk-in clinic for Abby (she's fine). It was almost six by the time we left the medical center.  Nap time had gotten in the way of our planned trip to the grocery store.  Then I remembered this recipe: Amazing Tomato Basil Pasta.  It's amazing because everything is cooked in one pot and it only takes fifteen minutes. We had all the ingredients except for Parmesan, so we substituted goat cheese.  We were too hungry for pictures.

I did promise you a bonus.  Earlier on Monday, I'd checked out a book called One-Dish Vegetarian Meals.  I figured this would make DH happy because he is the one who usually does the dishes.  Tuesday night, I made the Black Bean and Avocado Rice* Salad.  DH, a devoted carnivore, gave the dish a rave review.  Today, he informed me that it also made excellent leftovers for his lunch.

*We switched out the rice for quinoa. Quinoa has more protein, and we already had some. It keeps very well in the fridge.

Black Bean and Avocado Quinoa Salad
Adapted from One-Dish Vegetarian Meals by Robin Robertson


  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin oil
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups quinoa, cooked and chilled
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 four-ounce can mild green chiles, drained
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1. Whisk together the lime zest and juice, vinegar, orange juice, garlic, brown sugar, chili powder, and cayenne.  Slowly drizzle in the oil, constantly whisking, until smooth. Set aside. 
2. Toss the avocados in the lemon juice.
3. Combine rice, beans, onion, and chiles.  Gently fold in the avocados. 
4. Add the dressing and stir gently.  Top with cherry tomatoes and serve. 

We left out the cayenne because Abby and I don't love spicy things. We also had a partial can of green chiles left from another recipe, so we used less than the recipe calls for.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Meatless Monday: Ratatouille

If you hang around the foodie/food activist region of the blogosphere, you may have heard of Meatless Mondays.  Meatless Mondays promote giving up meat for at least one meal per week.  Why? It takes more energy and resources to raise animals for meat than it does to raise plants.  Giving up meat, even just for one meal a week, is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint.  It can also be friendlier for your wallet.

I frequently cook and order vegetarian meals, even though I am not a vegetarian. I unapologetically adore bacon.  The perfect steak or burger can transport me into foodie bliss.  However, a friend once told me that he had a theory: in general, vegetarian food tastes better so that vegetarians don't miss meat too much.  It's an interesting theory, and I have often found it true.  In fact, in a recent conversation, I learned from DH that he hadn't even noticed how rarely I cook meat. I think it's because I have found so many delicious vegetarian recipes that don't scream MEAT SUBSTITUTE.  This is one of those meals.

Ratatouille, made famous by the Disney movie of the same name, is a French peasant dish from Provence.  No spoilers, but the scenes where the chef prepares ratatouille and serves it to an impossible to please critic are my favorite scenes in the movie.  In the movie, the ratatouille is a work of art. In my own kitchen, it's somewhat less elegant.  However, it is so delicious that my carnivore dad requested in even when chemotherapy made food less appealing, and my carnivore husband scraped his bowl clean last night.

Ratatouille--Based on Julia Child's recipe

This dish features summer vegetables, and the fresher the better. If possible, get them at a farmers market. Not only will they be flavorful and fresh, you will be supporting small farms and local economies!

3 medium eggplants, sliced 1/8" thick
4 zucchinis, sliced, sliced 1/8" thick
Olive oil
2 bell peppers, julienned (any two colors)
1 onion, sliced 1/8" rings
4 tomatoes, cubed, with seeds and juices reserved
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper

1. Toss the zucchini and eggplant with 1 teaspoon of salt. Let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse, drain, and pat dry.  (Last night, I forgot to rinse them but we didn't notice any problem). This is a good time to chop the rest of the veggies and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat and lightly fry the zucchini and eggplant for one to two minutes on each side.  They should be just turning brown.  Take the zucchini and eggplant out and put in a bowl on the side.
3. Lower the heat to medium and in the same pan, saute the bell peppers and onion until tender but not browned, 6-8 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.
5. Add the tomatoes, reserved seeds and juices, herbes de provence, thyme, and sugar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then cover.  Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stir, then raise the heat and boil for 3-5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove half of the mixture to a bowl.
6. Spread the remaning tomato mixture across the bottom of the skillet.  Layer half of the zucchini and eggplant slices across the top (in a circular pattern if you're feeling fancy). Add the rest of the tomato mixture and the parsley, then layer the remaining zucchini and eggplant in the same fashion as before.
7. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Uncover and baste with remaining juices. Cook for another 15 minutes.
8. Using the back of a spoon, create two indentations in the mixture. Crack an egg into each well. (DH suggested doing this with four eggs instead of two).
9. Cover the pan and put the whole shebang into the oven for six to eight minutes. You want the egg whites to be cooked but the yolks to still be a bit runny.
10. Serve in a shallow bowl.  Crusty bread and a green salad make great accompaniments. Even better, serve with a glass of wine.

(Next time, hopefully I'll remember to take a picture!)

Note: I based this recipe on one that I found on a blog and printed out. Unfortunately, I didn't write down which blog. If you've seen a similar recipe around, let me know so I can give proper credit! Also, if you're in a hurry, you can truncate some of the cooking times. I cut out the second cook time in step 7 because DH is not a fan of soft veggies.  The longer cooking time does allow flavors to meld together.