Pre-pregnancy when I wandered the aisles at Target or Babies R Us I would get completely overwhelmed by all of the gadgets and products for baby.  Mostly what went through my mind was, “What in the world is that for?” or “Why would anyone need that?”.  Thankfully I’ve learned to filter through a lot of the unnecessary items by watching my more experienced mommy friends and through some trial and error of my own.

I’ve come across two items that I can’t live without when it comes to leaving the house with baby.

1. Munchkin Powdered Formula Dispenser

My friend Simone had one of these and told me I just had to get one.  “Pish posh”, I thought.  I just filled a Tupperware with formula and put in a scoop. That worked for about a week…

When you have a baby that is cranky and in need of a bottle STAT, you don’t want to fiddle with a scoop.  This is especially true if you are traveling or only have one hand free. (You learn to do a lot of things one handed when you have a baby, trust).  Pre-measured formula for 3 feedings is ready to go in this dispenser!

2. Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser

When I first saw this I thought, “I have one of these for my dog”.  Then I thought, “That is GENIUS!”  I’ll admit, I have gotten even more forgetful since I have had a baby.  I hated being caught out and about without a plastic bag to dispose of dirty diapers.  This solves that issue, and it is one of my favorite gadgets.  The bag dispenser hangs right on your diaper bag with a roll of scented (yes, scented) bags in which to put the yucky diapers.  Genius, right?!

These are two things I am definitely packing as we get ready to take off on our first airplane trip with little A.

*Baby Bottle Plane found on Curiobot.com

We are going to be getting on an airplane with our 5 month old for the very first time this weekend.  A short and simple direct jaunt on the friendly skies?  No, that would be easy!  Our first trip will be to the glorious Mid-West!  Columbus, Ohio to be exact.   This will include 7 1/2 hours of travel time which includes an hour and a half layover.  I admit, I am anxious.

I am anxious that we are going to be those parents.  You know,  the ones that everyone glares daggers at while their poor baby illicits blood curdling screams.  All the while the parents  smile helplessly bouncing the infant on their lap whispering, “She is never like this I swear…”.

I am determined to be well organized and start packing in advance…bottles, formula, car seat (we check that at the gate, right?), Snap & Go attachment (where do we put that? check that at the gate too?), diapers, wipes…and all of our stuff too.   Yet I know in the end I will have no control to how Little A reacts to the cabin pressure or the experience.  Fingers crossed that all will be calm in the friendly skies.

Mommy Savings Tip:

I love diapers.com for many reasons.  The top 2  are low prices on diapers & wipes, and the fact that they are usually on your doorstep the very next day!  I love going out with my baby, but if I can save a trip I’ll do it!

Did you know that you can use manufacturers coupons on diapers.com?  I found this out as a fluke while navigating around their website one day.  You simply send your information along with the coupons and they add the discount to your account for the next delivery.  Click here for directions on how to save MORE on baby essentials with your coupons at diapers.com.

Do you have any suggestions on how to save more $$ on baby essentials?  Comment and let me know!

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I had mentioned in my previous post that I  joined a local CSA.  On my first visit I picked up Chandler strawberries and rhubarb along with some other beautiful produce.   The strawberries were  luscious, bright red  and so sweet!  I had to stop myself from eating them all before getting a chance to make Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.

I’ve made jams before, with and without the aid of adding pectin.  Although you must let the jam cook for longer, I prefer the method without pectin.  The following recipe makes a small amount of jam (maybe 2 cups), but I am sure you can double or triple the recipe.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

recipe adapted from Recession Depression Therapy

Ingredients:

2 cups Strawberries, hulled and chopped into quarters

1 cup rhubarb, finely diced (about 2 stalks)

2 cups of sugar

Instructions:

1. Mash strawberries and dice rhubarb.

I used a potato masher for the strawberries to release the juices. Cut rhubarb into a small dice.  The rhubarb will dissolve when boiled, so you won’t find any chunks in the end product.

2. Mix strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar in a medium saucepan.

To avoid a sticky mess, it’s best to use a saucepan a little bit bigger than you think you may need.

3. Cook to a rolling boil, stirring frequently.

Watch your temperature to make sure the mixture does not boil over or burn at the bottom.

4. Once you achieve a rolling boil, reduce temperature to keep the mixture at a slow boil.

Cook for approximately 40 minutes, scraping the sides and checking that the bottom is not sticking as it thickens.

5. Check for sheeting

When the jam thickens and  pulls together, remove from heat.

6. Skim any foam on the top of the jam mixture.

The result:  Jam bursting with sweet berry goodness, with a little twist of tartness from the rhubarb.  Scrumptious on my morning toast!

I make small batches and fresh jam does not last long around here, so I store it in a resealable container.  When I get a bit more ambitious I may start canning!

Sometimes I’m a little slow to jump on ideas I think are fantastic.  I’m not exactly sure why that is…  I like to do my research, mull things over again and again, weigh my options, comparison shop…and then where does that leave me?  Months down the line without pulling the trigger.  Thus is the story of my idea to join a CSA Farm, Community Sponsored Agriculture.

I was first inspired by our friends, John & Liz who told us all about the amazing fruits and veggies they had delivered weekly from a local organic farm.  I had never heard of a CSA, but thought that getting organic  produce direct from the grower sounded great!  I’ve long been a fan of shopping at Farmers Markets to support local farmers and find flavorful, in season produce, and this way I go direct to the farm!  I did  research online at localharvest.org to find out if there were any CSA’s in Orange County, found a farm I was interested in and then… sat on my hands.

Then I read my friend Sarah’s blog OC2Seattle. ( If you haven’t read it – it’s a must she is very witty and loves food as much as I do.)  Sarah had all of these great things to say about how the produce was so much more flavorful than conventionally grown produce you find in supermarkets.  It is true… those tomatoes from Pavilions taste like paper compared to the succulent heirloom varieties you find at your farmers market…and still I waited.

I’m not sure what happened on Saturday, maybe it was the beautiful warm day, extra time on my hands, or the need to get out of my rut, but I decided I would take little A on a drive to San Juan Capistrano to visit South Coast Farms.  I wanted to check out the merchandise before I committed to the rest of the seasons bushels of produce.

Sometimes organic produce can look a little sad…but I was delighted to see vibrant red Chandler strawberries, lush green chard, a few varieties of apples and more.

Succulent Organic Strawberries

It was all so beautiful!  I was inspired – I had to join!  I purchased 3 pints of strawberries, 2 or 3 cucumbers, 3 stalks of rhubarb, and a huge bunch of red swiss chard.  The bill came out to about $20 which isn’t cheap…but the strawberries are some of the best I have ever tasted, they lack that mealy white core and are juicy all the way through.

I’ve chosen to pick up my bushel direct from the farm because it was so refreshing to get out of Newport Beach.  I’m slated to pick up my 1st allotment next week.  Maybe this experience will get me to waste less time before saying yes…

Little A smells delicious after using this shampoo.  It was great to use when I was 1st getting comfortable bathing her.  I felt like I was all thumbs with her squirming around – so it was nice to have something that was self-foaming!

Originally submitted at Diapers.com

Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns – 5.07 fl oz

Extremely mild and does not sting the eyes, Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns is specially formulated to prevent and treat cradle cap. This innovative formula gently cleanses scalp while respecting its fragile balance. The mild exfoliating action of AHA’s helps soften and rinse away cradle cap flakes. Its anionic surfactants help eliminate the excess sebum which favorizes the appearance of cradle cap while totally respecting the hydrolipidic film of the newborn’s scalp. Convenient pump packaging dispenses a self-foaming shampoo.

Makes baby smell heavenly!

By Blissfulmommy from Newport Beach, CA on 4/28/2010
5out of 5

Pros: Gentle, Pleasant Smell, Makes bathtime easier, Effective

Best Uses: Daily Bathing, Sensitive Skin, Infants

Describe Yourself: First Time Parent

I love the way my baby smells after using this product. Because the shampoo foams when it comes out of the nozzle, it makes for easy application – no need to lather when you have a squirming newborn which is a huge plus in my book. Rinses easily.

(legalese)

I always look at reviews for products on websites, somehow I don’t find myself writing them very often.  I’ll write reviews on Yelp, but somehow just don’t write product reviews.  Now that I have little A, and find myself giving advice to friends on products for babies I figured that now was a good time to start.  Here is my 1st product review for a product called Dapple.

Originally submitted at Diapers.com

Dapple Dish Liquid  – 17 oz.

Dapple® Dish Liquid features award-winning green technology to target milk residue and baking soda to combat odor.

Features:
-Rinses fast
-Rinses fast
-Natural-based ingredients
-Pht…

Love this product!

By Blissfulmommy from Newport Beach, CA on 4/28/2010
5out of 5

Pros: Efficient, Easy to Use, Powerful

Best Uses: Cleaning

Describe Yourself: Meticulous Cleaner

Rinses easily & quickly – does not leave residue. The product has a pleasant smell. Perfect if you don’t want to have dish soap bubbles lingering in your baby bottles or in baby’s mouth.

(legalese)

I came across this post I had been writing just 2 days before giving birth to our little one (1 day before checking in to the hospital) and just had to laugh…

“Our baby is a week past her due date.  My ankles are cankles,  ( a lovely calve ankle hybrid where one cannot discern where the ankle ends and the calve begins), I have pregnancy carpal tunnel, and my patience is wearing thin.  I have been getting text messages daily asking me where the baby is…I could probably formulate some perfectly inappropriate answers.”

Little A was worth the 9+ months wait, but in the last month I was definitely over being pregnant – and it didn’t help that she was a week late.  I have a feeling she would have hung around in the womb longer if labor hadn’t been induced.

So much has happened in the last months and I’ve been itching to get back to writing again.  Stay posted – three months of writing backlog are going to be unleashed!!

When we began to spread the word that we were expecting, my husband received the obligatory “Daddy Books” the likes of which are half read and gathering dust.  Much like Katherine Heigl’s character in Knocked Up, I had a mini melt down (or 2) when I felt like D was not being fully invested and reading those damn books.  I really wanted him to read those books because I was avidly reading about baby products, what to to expect during pregnancy, and what to do when you bring home baby.  I felt like the pressure was on for me to know EVERYTHING, and wanted him to share the burden.  When I asked D why he didn’t seem to like the books they were deemed uninformative and slightly lame.  I was really looking for some resource to better instruct hubby on what to do and how to handle me!

I found some sage advice for D in a very unlikely place.  Once pharmaceutical companies add your name to the soon to be parent marketing list,  you begin to receive all kinds of things in the mail.  Diaper samples, coupons etc.  A few weeks ago I received some formula samples in the mail from Similac (Abbott Labs).  Inside the box on a small fold out piece of paper I found the best advice for Dads to live by during delivery!

Here is what it said:

How To Be a Hero During Delivery*:  Having a baby is a memory you’ll both share for the rest of your lives.  Here’s how to make sure she doesn’t remember it for the wrong reasons.

  • No wincing.  She feels vulnerable enough during delivery and doesn’t need you reacting like you’re watching a horror movie.  Remember, it’s a beautiful miracle.
  • It’s not a roast. If she’s feeling awkward, she might poke fun at herself.  Don’t take this as an opportunity to craft your own zingers.  Tell her she looks beautiful and stick to it.
  • Never say, “It’s not that bad”. Some “clever” dads think that understating her discomfort will lessen the pain of delivery.  Ditch the Psych 101 tactics.  She needs empathy, not therapy.
  • Swallow your pride. She might yell at you. She might insult you.  Hey, she’s scared. She’s in pain. And she trusts you enough to vent.  So take it like a man, big guy.
  • Careful with the camera. If she wants you to document the delivery, great.  But leave the commentary and creative camera angles to Spielberg.  You’re making a baby movie, not an action movie.

I think I may plasticize this little card and tuck it into my hospital bag!

(*taken from Similac “The StrongDads Hospital Checklist”)

I meant to publish this a few weeks back, but the holidays got the best of me.

My husband had a “milestone birthday” this year and to celebrate it I suggested a weekend centered around one of his favorite pastimes – golf.  Seeing that I would be in my final trimester of pregnancy during this time I suggested going to Palm Desert for his birthday (an hour & a half drive) and inviting family & friends to play some golf and enjoy the desert.

We decided to do something we had never done before – we rented a house via the website VRBO.com.  VRBO is short for Vacation Rental By Owner.  I had suggested the website to a friend who subsequently  rented a house in Carmel for our wedding via the website, and the experience had been a huge success…so I figured, why not?!

The house we rented in La Quinta was amazing! Located right on a driving range of a PGA West course it was every golf aficionado’s dream.  The added benefit for those not golfng (like yours truly) were that the pool and kitchen were an entertainers dream.  I would definitely rent this particular property again and use VRBO.

There were some pros and cons to renting a vacation house:

Pros:

  • Privacy
  • A central place for all of your guests to congregate
  • No need to go out for meals or entertainment
  • Great if you have small children
  • Some properties allow pets without extra charge (no boarding fees = savings!)

Cons:

  • Putting a deposit down far in advance
  • Final payment due 45  days before arrival
  • You never know what small appliances will be there or what the condition of linens, kitchen items etc. are before you get there (we were pleasantly surprised!)
  • You take a leap of faith relying only on pictures and reviews before signing on the dotted line

We have often talked about buying a vacation house, but this is such a great option and we can head to a different locale every time!

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