Top 10 Books for Babies and Toddlers

We have been reading to baby Kurt since he was one day old. It may have meant nothing to him at first, but going on 14 months, he’s finally starting to understand. He’s been able to sit patiently listening since he was just a few months old.

When he is fussy or I need to keep him occupied (in the car, on a plane, when he’s sick), a book is the best way to do it.

Here are our top 10 favorite books for babies – and toddlers too!

(In no particular order…)

1) First 100 Words by Roger Priddy

first 100 words baby book

A sweet milestone that happened in the last few weeks was that Kurt now points to the cat in First 100 Words and say, “Ga Ga” (his word for Cat). The other 99 words are equally useful – including colors, bedtime words, eating words, and more.

2) Tails by Matthew Van Fleet

tails book matthew van fleet

Tails is a fantastic book, though Kurt has by now destroyed a lot of the fun functionality (sliding tabs and cool tails). Perhaps wait until baby is old enough to not destroy books (or keep a better eye on baby while he’s “reading” than I usually do!).

3) I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak

i love you through and through book

Just a very sweet baby book. Especially good to hug and cuddle while reading it.

4) Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton

pajama time by sandra boynton

Pajama Time can be used as a bedtime ritual. It’s also a rhyming book. We love it.

5) Trucks by Katie Cox

trucks book katie cox easy to turn page

The pages of Trucks are easy to turn because they have tabs on them. A super simple book (just words for the different kinds of trucks) but colorful and Kurt likes flipping through.

6) The Little Green Island with a Little Red House by Sharon Lovejoy

little green island with a little red house

This book may be for a slightly older child, but Kurt loves listening to us read even if he doesn’t understand it all. The Little Green Island is full of interesting color words like chartreuse and crimson. I think this one will be a keeper for many years to come.

7) Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss

mr brown can moo can you

A Dr. Seuss classic. Perfect for babes learning new sounds.

8) Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

pat the bunny

Another classic… but be careful because babies tend to destroy books that are not board books. I love this edition because Kurt can touch “daddy’s scratchy face” and put his finger through “mummy’s ring”.

9) Where Is Baby’s Belly Button by Karen Katz

where is baby's belly button

Great for teaching baby “where” things are. Belly buttons, hands, feet – it’s a lift the flap book. (Again, be careful for baby’s grabbing hands.)

10) Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers

everywhere babies

Everywhere Babies is probably the most recent book we’ve added to our collection and it’s fast become a new favorite. So sweet – and I love how it shows both bottle-fed and breastfed babies.

What are your top books for babies and toddlers?

Of Boobs and Bosses: Crosspost from YouBeauty

I wrote an article the other day which was published on the site I run, YouBeauty.com. Thought you guys might enjoy. I have so little time to update here, but wanted to share.

My first foray back to the office after giving birth came just nine days after my son was born. I was still on maternity leave, technically. But I needed to be present for something that couldn’t wait. I hadn’t had the time or energy to figure out how to use the complicated breastfeeding pump I’d ordered on Amazon, so I dragged my bleary-eyed husband and newborn son along with me while I met with the executive team to discuss a coming merger. My husband and son hung out in my office while I went off to a conference room 50 feet away.

As I sat in the meeting, I surreptitiously checked my cell phone. Frantic texts started coming: “he’s hungry,” “now he’s crying,” “you have to come now.” My breasts were already starting to leak; after 10 minutes, I muttered a quick excuse and ran down the hall to feed him. But of course by then…

[Continue Reading…]

Peacefood Cafe Review (NYC)

I have a few dishes to review from Peacefood Cafe on the upper west side. Bobby and I have been here a few times and we always enjoy it. This time was for a late lunch (almost dinnertime).

I like to get the roasted vegetable dish. You get to pick 4 veggies, so I got kabocha (duh), cauliflower, summer squash, and Brussels sprouts. I spray it with Bragg’s liquid aminos. Peacefood is generous with their oil for roasting, but it makes the dish even better. Topped with sprouts.

Bobby got a kabocha sandwich with jicama sticks on the side.

And we shared this vegan potato salad.

All lip-smackingly good. I want to go back again soon to Peacefood. I think baby K will enjoy trying some vegan dishes.

Angelica’s Kitchen Review (Vegan, NYC)

Angelica’s Kitchen

A while ago I met up with one of my best friends for a delicious vegan dinner at Angelica’s Kitchen on the lower east side.

I got the “Pantry Plate” with 5 items – Marinated Hiziki & Arame Salad, Garlic Lemon Marinated Kale, bean and butternut squash salad, some kind of cabbage, and a sprout and bean salad (I think). Next time I think I will try their macro plate.

Fantastic company, fantastic meal.

Beet Greens Goma-ae {Recipe}

Here’s another recipe I made a little while ago.

You don’t have to toss your beet greens in the trash – they can be cooked just like any other green. Dark leafy greens are yummy and of course good for you.

Goma-ae is a Japanese dish. Goma = sesame seed. Traditionally this is served with spinach, but I thought that beet greens would be a good seasonal variation on the standard recipe.

Beet Greens Goma-ae

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups of beet greens (including stems)
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground toasted black sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Steam the beet greens for 3 minutes.
  2. Mix the soy sauce and sugar at the bottom of a large serving bowl.
  3. Dry the greens and chop them into small pieces. Add them to the soy sauce mix.
  4. Mix in the ground sesame seeds.
  5. Eat!

Inspiration from {HERE}.

Have you had goma-ae?

What’s your favorite dark leafy green?

Roasted Beets {Recipe}

This is a super simple recipe for roasted beets. This is the technique I use for almost all roasted veggies. Sesame oil is always optional but can be added for some extra depth. It really gives a nice smoky flavor if you use toasted sesame oil.

Simple Roasted Veggies: Beets

Ingredients

  • 4 large beets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • salt & pepper (1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste?)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil OR a handfull of fresh basil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Mix together the olive oil, (optional) sesame oil, salt and pepper, and sesame seeds.
  3. Chop the beets in approximately 1-inch cubes and toss them in the olive oil mixture.
  4. Bake on an oiled baking sheet (I like to use foil for easy cleanup) for 35 minutes or until tender.
  5. Sprinkle with basil; serve.

Inspiration found {HERE}.

Do you like beets?

I always have. Growing up we would have pickled beets often (one of my Grammie’s recipes). I didn’t have roasted beets until I was probably in my 20s but I loved them at first bite.

Roasted Sesame Eggplant {Recipe}

I made this a few weeks ago, but it was very delicious and it’s worthy of a post. Farmers’ markets have started to have some really delicious eggplant. It’s a summer / early fall vegetable.

Roasted Sesame Eggplant

Ingredients

  • Eggplant
  • Sesame Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Ground black sesame or regular sesame (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the eggplants in half, and then in 2-3 inch pieces.
  3. Place the eggplants facing up on a greased baking tin. Drizzle with sesame oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sesame (optional).
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes. They should be starting to get a little bit mushy so they will be really flavorful.

Inspiration for this recipe came from {HERE}.

Great served as a side or for snacking.

MilkIN Cookies! {Recipe} (AKA Lactation Cookies – with Vegan Option)

I made these lactation cookies to promote milk production for breastfeeding. They’re yummy! My supply is actually an oversupply. I ate these in the days leading up to giving birth as well as after Kurt was born. Perhaps they had something to do with the abundance of milk I came into.

milkin lacation cookies vegan

I came up with the recipe based on a few that I looked at online. It seems like the key ingredients for milk production are probably:

  • Brewer’s yeast (can not use any other kind of yeast – not nutritional yeast or other)
  • Ground flaxseed (also helpful for treating PCOS)
  • Oats and wheat germ (fiber is supposed to be good for milk supply)
  • Organic Butter (healthy animal fat)

It’s very easy to veganize this recipe; instructions for both regular and vegan are below.

Ingredients (with vegan option)

  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup (whole wheat) flour
  • 3 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons brewer’s yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (ceylon) cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup organic butter (room temperature) – vegan option: 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 (organic) egg – vegan option: additional 1T flaxseed and 1.5T water (add this to the above ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1.5 cups whole oats (ideally not quick oats)
  • cooking spray / greased pan
  • Optional: 1/2 cup raisins
  • Optional: 1/2 shredded coconut
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • Optional: 1/2 cup nuts
  • Optional: Any other of your favorite cookie add-ins!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In one bowl, mix together: flaxseed and water. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, mix together: butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. (If making the vegan version, omit the egg at this point and add coconut oil instead of butter.)
  4. In another bowl, mix together: flour, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Add the oats and any add-ins to the dry ingredients.
  6. Add the flaxseed mix to the wet ingredients and mix.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. IF dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time and mix.
  8. Shape into cookies and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 12-14 minutes.

I have made both the vegan and regular versions multiple times and they both turn out well.

My add-ins were shredded coconut and raisins.

These can be shared with family members! Husbands and grandmas love them too. I had mine for breakfast, as a snack, and for dessert.

Let me know if you try them and if they work for you.

What are your tips to boost milk supply?

Baby Registry Must-Haves {Part 1}

If you can believe it, my sweet baby boy Kurt turned 3 months old (13 weeks) last Friday!

kurt

We are pretty sure he is over 20 pounds. What a bruiser. And yes, he does always have that smile on his face. He is honestly the perfect baby – never cries and always makes me laugh.

There are a lot of items that people will tell you that you have to have for a baby. Well, turns out – you don’t actually need much. Here are the items from our registry (or that we just bought ourselves) that we actually use.

1) Arm’s Reach Cosleeper: Arm’s Reach Concepts Mini Convertible Arc Co-Sleeper Bedside Bassinet, Cocoa/Natural

cosleeper

 

NOTE: We are not actually using the cosleeper (though we do own it) because we co-sleep (he’s in our bed). HOWEVER, if you are nervous about traditional co-sleeping (aka bed-sharing), this is a great alternative. Baby is right next to you, within “arm’s reach”, and it is easy to pick him up to rock or nurse. I still recommend this; if we weren’t bed-sharing we would be using it. If there is interest maybe I will do a bed-sharing/co-sleeping post.

**Update at 7 months: You can use the cosleeper as a playpen (it’s convertible). This is how we are using it now because Kurt outgrew it for sleeping in. He is 25 pounds at 7 months.**

2) NO CLOTHING – people will buy you clothes anyway. You don’t need to put this on your registry unless you want something very specific.

3) Seventh Generation Baby Wipes. These are great. I haven’t tried any other ones, but these have done the job well so far. Great that they are environmentally friendly.

wipes

4) BumGenius Cloth Diapers. These are awesome! They are AIO (All-In-One) cloth diapers. This means that there is just one piece, unlike the cloth diapers that have a cloth diaper + a diaper cover. It also means they are dad-friendly. They are super absorbent. We like to use them overnight. We only have three of them – the black one below (“Albert”), a blue, and an orange. Kurt is wearing the Albert in the picture at the top of this post. (At $20 each these get expensive – I’ll have another post on our cloth diapering routine with a few other options.)

bumgenius

5) Pampers Swaddlers – with color-changing wetness indicator. When we aren’t in the mood for cloth, these are the disposables we turn to. I’ll admit that I tried the more “natural” brands and they just don’t hold up to Pampers. The wetness indicator line is so helpful. It’s yellow when you put the diaper on, then turns to blue when he’s wet.

pampers

6) BelleFit Postpartum Girdle. I actually only ended up using this for about two weeks after Kurt was born, but I did like it while I used it. I was back down below my pre-pregnancy weight 6 days after the birth, shockingly, but my stomach was still poochy. This really made me feel more supported.

girdle

This was me 3 days postpartum using the girdle:

3 days

And then 5 days later, at one week+1day postpartum (with girdle):

one week

7) Everything California Baby. I love the shampoo & body wash, the diaper rash cream, and the massage oil.

8) Stroller: we got the BOB Revolution SE Single Stroller in Navy. This is a running stroller. It’s the hummer of strollers and it’s great for navigating city curbs. It’s a little bit big for everyday use, but I don’t use it everyday anyway (I’m more of a sling person).

BOB

9) Car SeatBritax B-Safe Infant Car Seat in Black (if you have a BOB or another big stroller, don’t forget the adapter: BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter for Britax). We love the car seat – it was fairly easy to install and Kurt enjoys his time in it. He always falls asleep when we’re driving.

car seat

10) Diaper PailDiaper Genie Essentials Diaper Disposal Pail (for the pampers) – and don’t forget the refills (Playtex Diaper Genie Refill).

diaper genie

11) Bottles: We have the Comotomo Baby Bottle, Green, 5 Ounce, 2-Count. These bottles are fantastic. Kurt has not had any kind of nipple confusion and I started using them early, around 2 weeks. The Comotomo bottles are shaped like the breast and work really well. I work full time so I have to pump and either Bobby or our sitter gives him breastmilk from these bottles. (We tried several other bottles including the Lansinoh Momma and the Adiri, which are also supposedly more like a breast – Kurt liked the Comotomo the best.)

comotomo

12) Breast Pump: I have 3 pumps! I have 2 of the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote (double electric) and just one manual pump: Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump. I use the double electric at home in the morning before I go to work and then I have one at the office to use during the day. The manual one is for when I travel or any other random time – it’s super portable and works great.

medela pump in stylemedela harmony

If you do end up getting either of the Medela pumps, I would highly recommend using their “Pump & Save Breastmilk Bags” – the bag hooks right onto the pump (in place of the bottle) which makes storing/freezing/transport a snap. The bag in the picture above (with the Harmony manual pump) is the Pump N Save bag. My only caveat is this: make sure that the zip top is closed securely. I haven’t had any issues but reviewers said that if you don’t close it carefully it’ll leak.

13) Stylish Diaper BagSkip Hop Studio Diaper Bag, Black Dot (I have it in Pewter Dot but I can’t find that color anymore). This has lots of pockets and is cute. It goes with any outfit. Lots of room for diapers, outfits, creams, wallet, phone, etc…

diaper bag

14) High Chairphil&teds Lobster Highchair in Red. We only just started using this recently and Kurt loves it. It lets me have 2 hands free while eating but Kurt can still hang out with us at dinnertime. Very functional. It can attach to any kind of dining room table.

lobster chair

15) Storq leggings. This is not actually something for baby, but something for pregnant and post-partum momma. These are the absolute best leggings I found (and I tried a lot). Storq also has fantastic tank tops. It may be a little pricey for such simple clothing but it is worth it. I got the size 2 (Medium) in leggings and a tank, both black.

That is all I have for now… there is lots more to come!

What are your baby essentials?

All I want for Christmas is…

This is my wish list, but maybe some of you guys will also enjoy these things. Husbands, take note… :)

I saw this bag on A Cup of Jo (click through for a 25% coupon through December; $120 regular price). This bag is called The Catalina and it’s made by a company called Lo & Sons (family owned and run I believe).

catalina

(Source)

I am leaning towards the dark grey one but they also have a light grey, a yellow/green, and a purple/grey (“thistle”).

Anyone who has known me for more than an hour knows that I love hoodies. I will wear dress pants or a dress/skirt and “ruin” the outfit with one of my favorite comfy grey hoodies. This is the latest hoodie that I’ve been eyeing:

and-then-i-woke-up-hoodie

(Source)

It might be a mens but I don’t care! Grey hoodies for the win. Two of my current faves (that I already own) are…

1) Spiritual Gangster (yup it’s also a mens):

hoodie-back-spiritual-gangster hoodie-front-spiritual-ganster

(Source)

2) And a sweatshirt from Mantralogy (a record label) with a huge Ananda on the back:

ananda-hoodie

(Source)

But anyway, back to that wish list.

I am terrified of getting bunions though I think it might be too late. In any case, for those of us who wear (uncomfortable and/or cute) shoes too often, I found this simple sock solution made by Happy Feet:

happy-feet

(Source)

These socks supposedly realign your toes to make up for the scrunching that happens all day long when you wear your shoes. Good reviews on Amazon.

And lastly, I want something comfy. Don’t we all this time of year?

I’ve been staring at these Madewell lounging leggings for a while…

madewell-leggings

(Source)

But I can’t really bring myself to spend $60 on pajama pants.

So I tried to find some alternatives. Uniqlo has one that is similar and that I was able to find on my lunch break (I got the last pair):

uniqlo-leggings

(Source)

They’re called Women’s Lounge Bottoms (Rib) in Flower Print ($12.90).

While I was there I grabbed a pair of Women’s Drape Bottoms ($14.90) because why not – they looked comfy!

uniqlo-drape

(Source)

Another good holiday gift idea is a restaurant gift card… I’ve been meaning to try this kind of interesting place in Brooklyn: Eat (in Greenpoint). They serve local organic food. They also have “silent dinners” occasionally where you eat a 4-course meal in silence. Sounds very zen.

What do you want this holiday season? Or if you already celebrated, what did you get?

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