Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday: Perfect 4 Ingredient Autumn Wassail

For me, there is something about a chilled glass of apple cider that makes me feel like autumn is coming- and once autumn arrives, in it's blustery chill, nothing warms me like a mug of warm wassail. This is a very simple, fail proof recipe I've been using for years. Truly a basic, and one you can easily make adjustments.

*apple juice
*orange juice
*all spice
*nutmeg (optional)

I almost hate to give instructions; it's so simple!


Combine 1 part orange juice with 1 part apple juice over medium heat in a saucepan. Add 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of all spice per 4 cups of beverage. (i.e., 2 cups of orange juice, 2 cups of apple juice, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of all spice) If you are a nutmeg fan, sprinkle a dash in to taste. Simply heat to a slow boil, remove from heat, and enjoy your mulled autumn wassail with a good book and bowl of popcorn in front of the fire. You can also serve it with cinnamon sticks, just for a little added fun.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday: How to Fly with a Baby

Don't panic.

I know that the thought of flying with little ones, especially a baby, can bring terrible fear to the heart of a young mother. Believe me: I've known it. When my daughter was about five months old, I took her on her second flight, this time sans my husband. We had two connections and to make everything lovely and complicated, at that time, I was feeding my baby pumped breastmilk, meaning I had to find a time and place every few hours to pump while juggling my baby in public. Fairly nightmarish, I will concede.

BUT! Let's not lose hope. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you fly without cause for concern when you're toting an infant along with you.

1: What to expect from the airlines

*You will still have to go through security. Many airlines have a special, expedited lane for mothers with children. Be sure to ask- it can save hours.

*You are allowed to bring a stroller and a car seat (both will be checked as you get onto the airplane itself, meaning you can take it all the way to the door of the plane) at no extra charge. They are not counted as extra baggage. If you have an extra seat on the airplane for your baby, you will take your car seat on board and sit your baby in their car seat and buckle them in for departure and landing.

*You will have to carry your baby, sans blanket, through a metal detector. Your stroller, car seat, luggage, shoes, belt, etc., will all have to go through the scanning machine, while you, barefoot, take your baby through.

*You are allowed to bring breastmilk/water for formula/already mixed bottles through security in spite of liquid restrictions. Additionally, you can bring an ice pack for your infants milk/formula. Often, TSA employees will want to scan your breastmilk/formula/bottles to make sure they are what you say they are- when they do, you can request them to change their gloves and put the milk/bottles on a clean towel, so as not to spread bacteria on them.

*On your boarding pass, it will need to say "infant in arms" if you have not purchased an extra seat and ticket for your little one. If your boarding pass doesn't have that printed, you can speak to any airline employee and they will direct you where you need to go to get it changed.

*Check with your flight before getting on. After making it through security and to your departure gate, go speak to one of the employees that is at the desk by your departure gate. Let them know that you have an infant with you and, if the flight is not full, they will often give you a seat next to an unoccupied one, so you have somewhere to seat your baby. If the flight is full, request an aisle seat, and one towards the back. You will likely be getting up to change diapers and soothe your infant. An aisle seat makes that easy. A seat in the back, near the engines, can be both calming, due to the sound from the engines, as well as muffle any crying your little one may go through. Not to mention, you'll be near the bathrooms. I guarantee you'll be heading there with baby often!

*You will be boarded first. Those with special needs, including flying with children, are seated first, giving you extra time to get settled in.

2: What to Bring

*Regularly stocked diaper bag (milk, treats, burp cloths, diapers, wipes) PLUS

-2 changes of clothes for little one
-1 change of clothes for you (just a plain shirt and leggings could be a lifesaver)
-Hand sanitizer
-Sanitizing wipes (for wiping down counters in public restrooms, etc)
-Changing mat (you WILL want to bring your own changing mat for the rest rooms on the plane)
-Extra binkies
-Baby aspirin (you don't want to be caught with an infant getting a fever and no way to relieve their temperature)

3: What you Need to Know

*Some people may be annoyed to see a baby one flight. Most, however, are extra friendly and over the top helpful. Most are parents and grandparents and know the potential trauma of flying with a little child. You can expect many friendly smiles, offers for help, and understanding looks. Far more rarely will you catch an annoyed face.

*You want your child sucking on something during takeoff and landing. The change in air pressure for your baby can be painful and lead to hours of unhappy crying. To avoid this, either be feeding your baby during takeoff/landing, or have a binkie for them to suck on. The sucking can help them to pop their ears.

*It's going to take time. Although airlines in general do quite a bit to make traveling with an infant less taxing, it takes time to get seated, go through security, and deal with any unexpected blow outs. Plan ahead and arrive with lots of time to waste at the airport.

*You will probably not be sitting by a window, watching the clouds go by, thinking deep thoughts. I do enjoy flying, quite a bit, but flying with an infant is a different matter altogether. Your time, thoughts, and efforts will all go to calming your child, holding your child, rocking them, feeding them, changing them, etc. While bringing a good book or Kindle might come in handy, it is far more likely that your every moment on the airplane will be devoted to your little one.

*Don't sweat it! It's a few hours, one day at worst, but it won't destroy your life. Be prepared, take a deep breath, and look forward to arriving wherever it is you get to travel!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday: DIY Turtle Pinata

For my baby's first birthday party, we ended up having a turtle themed party. Why? Because..... I'm not entirely sure. Probably for my husband, actually, who has a turtle. Anyhow, I ended up having to make all sorts of turtle themed decor and food, including an amazing turtle shaped cake (and when I say amazing, I do mean edible and kinda-looks-like-a-turtle). But my pièce de résistance? This turtle pinata. It is...

*simple to make
*kinda-looks-like a turtle

If you feel the urge to follow me in my footsteps, here is what I did.

*one newspaper's worth of newspaper
*green craft paint/ paintbrush
*green construction paper
*duct tape

Step 1
Mix flour and water together in a bowl until it is about the consistency of thin pancake batter. Cut strips of newspaper about one inch wide. Blow up a balloon (not too full, or you'll end up with it popping before the pinata is done).

Step 2
Dip the strips of newspaper into your flour/water mix (glue) and pull the strip through your fingers to remove excess glue, so there is just a thin layer on both sides of the newspaper. Layer this onto the balloon, one strip at a time, until the balloon is mostly covered. As this is a turtle, the bottom third of the balloon doesn't need to be covered.

Step 3
Allow the covered balloon to dry completely (best when by a fan for 1-2 hours), then repeat the layering process. Continue this until you have 4-5 layers on your pinata.

Step 4
Now, you get to pop your balloon! Using a serrated blade, cut off any extra paper-mache that compromises your turtle-shape. (It's pretty difficult to get a perfect shape without needing to cut off extra, so don't be afraid to brandish that blade.)

Step 5
Paint your shell green. Next, cut out a basic head, tail, and foot shape from green construction paper. Bend the shapes at the edge at a 90 degree angle, then stick to the pinata using duct tape.

Step 6
Fill your pinata with candy, then use strips of duct tape to secure all that sweet candy inside of your pinata. Naturally, some tape will show on the bottom sides after you're done. Brush some green paint over the duct tape and no-one needs to know.

Step 7
Here's your final step. Poke two small holes right next to each other on the top of the pinata with a knife. Use the hook of the hanger to go in and then out of these two holes and voila! You have something to hang the pinata with.

Is it the most life-like turtle pinata you will ever see? Probably not. But, I thought I'd share the idea and hopefully give you a hand up when you are making your own pinatas. They do, after all, make a party a PARTY!

What a cute little buddy.... too bad he had to die