Tag Archives: kids

29 Weeks and counting

Baby #3 is on it’s way in just 10-11 short weeks! The months have flown by and I realized this week that while I help my customers prepare for baby’s arrival creating diaper bags and accessories, I am seriously lacking in the “being prepared” department. My youngest just turned 5 years old so you could say we are starting over with #3. We have a few items left over from my boys infancy days, but really when it comes down to it, we have nothing prepared for the next ones arrival.

Stella Large www.marandalee.etsy.com

Stella Large http://www.marandalee.etsy.com

I’ve perused the recommended gear lists in magazines and have taken note of the new gear on the shelves at the stores and we have a lot of preparing ahead. Maybe you’re also preparing for baby’s arrival-congratulations!  So here’s a short list I’ve compiled of things to have in your diaper bag.

1. Diapers – um, that may seem obvious but I remember a few too many times reaching into the bag to find I had NO diapers left!

2. Wipes-lots of wipes for newborns (and then maybe another box of wipes in the car too)

3. Butt cream- because a rash will start when you least expect it, seemingly in minutes

4. Burp clothes – 2-3 as you will find they get soiled quickly

5. Plastic bag or wet bag to put soiled burp clothes (and after diaper blow-out clothing)

6. Change of clothes-onsie, pants, socks, booties (maybe another set for backup also in the car)

7. Nursing cover or blanket

8. Changing pad- keep your precious perfection off the dirty floors or public changing tables-yuck

9. Rattle/toy

10. Pacifier or two in a Paci Pouch-the ones I make clip to the bag for convenience

11. Anti-bacterial wipes/gel

12. Camera- to record all those adorable little smiles and special moments with grandma/pa

13. Chocolate-not for baby, for you, when you need treat or two for yourself

14. A clean shirt for you!

Oh yes, there is more, so much more that will be packed into that diaper bag, but these are the first few that come to mind. 🙂

What is a “must have” that you carry in your diaper bag?


Leaf Garland Tutorial

About 10 years ago we planted our first Virginia Creeper vine at our previous home. Known for being a fast growing and hardy plant (likely to survived our snowy winters) my husband selected it mostly for its vivid fall color change. We loved it and it grew several feet in the first year!

So when we moved to our new home 6 years ago, we agreed on side of the house needed a good climbing vine to give our “cape-cod, Victorian cottage in the mountains” a little romance. I stopped by the local nursery and selected several vines. Upon my return home, I excitedly planted them and when my hubby returned home was informed that they were NOT what he wanted. They were not Virginia Creepers (I think they were English something or others which in my mind some how correlated with Virginia-yup that is how my brain works-eek!)

So we agreed to see if the new vines survived. I suspect he poured salt on them or something because not one of those vines survived the winter leaving us with no vines the next spring. The new homeowners of our old home agreed we could stop in and take a few slips to replant.  We have successfully transplanted the Virginia Creeper vines which are now thoroughly taking over the one side of the house giving it a charming feel that all “cape-cod Victorian cottages in the mountain” should have. And now that we are into fall, the foliage is changing from green to yellow to red…just beautiful. The hubs was right again! (don’t tell him I said that).

So today my boys ran into the house with handfuls of large red and yellow leaves. They wanted to do something with them. Still in a fog of sickness, I just couldn’t get into any king of major art project. So we made leaf garland….here’s how you can make your own!

Time: 10 minutes-maybe
Yarn (I think jute string would have been better but was too sick to go rummaging for it!)

1. Cut approximately 3-4′ of string/yarn

2. Begin making a knot (my husband, the master knots-man would know the name of this knot, half-hitch maybe?)

3. Slip stem of leave into open knot.

4. Tighten string around stem.  Repeat a few inches down the string. I would make the knot and then the boys slide the stem in place and tighten the string themselves. They really like doing things for themselves!

5. Continue until you have made a garland to your desired length.

Lasagna from Leftovers

As the mother of 2 growing boys and a husband with a “hollow-leg” (ie: he eats insane amounts of food without gaining an ounce) I usually error on the side of preparing too much food most of the time. Rarely do we have a large portion of leftovers. We typically have “Buffet Night” once a week where we clean out all the leftovers from the fridge. On this rare occasion, I had a lot of meatloaf left over as I made a 2 pound loaf. Before you roll your eyes over meatloaf, this isn’t your typical dry loaf of ground meat, but rather quite moist, filled with bell peppers and topped with a balsamic glaze, mmm, my mouth waters at the thought it is so delicious.

Yes I could have re-served the meatloaf in its original loaf-of-meat form, but thought it was destined for something greater.  I found some lasagna noodles in the back of the pantry and then remembered I had frozen some leftover marinara sauce from a previous meal or two.  Voila!  Leftover Lasagna!

What you need:
Leftover Meatloaf (approx 1 pound -half of a 2 pound loaf)
Leftover marinara/meat sauce from spaghetti night (i freeze my remaining sauce for future use-if you don’t then no need to thaw it, right?)

Note: I made this amidst the zucchini harvest so I also sautéed chopped zucchini with mushrooms and minced garlic and added to the meat layer.  So there are some veggies in here too 🙂

Mozzarella cheese (approximately 1 1/2 pounds shredded)

1. Boil lasagna noodles
2. Chop up meat loaf
3.Thaw marinara sauce (note: I had a batch with meat and a batch without meat and I used both)
4. Pour a little sauce at bottom of a 13×9 baking pan, layer cooked lasagna noodles on top
5. Then layer meatloaf, veggies,  sauce, mozzarella cheese, noodles, sauce
6. Bake covered 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until heated through.
7. Uncover and sprinkle top with cheese about 5 minutes before taking out of the oven.

Disclaimer: Yes I know this is not real lasagna, it is not authentic and it is lacking the appropriate cheese blend, the third layer of noodles and missing the ricotta, BUT the boys loved it and it was a great way to create something new from dinner leftovers. 🙂

I love you more than…tea

There are several children’s books with the theme of “I love you more than_________” fill in the blank. I love you more than the stars shine. Or I love you higher than the tallest mountain. I love you more than ___________fill in the rest with something extreme, big, or that you relish more than anything in the world. In our family that would be chocolate. My boys inherited their excessive delight in all things chocolate from a long line of choco-holics, their dad and both grandmothers to name a few.  Therefore they often tell me “mommy, i love you more than chocolate.” aahhh.

Oh, did you notice that my name was left out of the choco-holics list. Well that would be that my fondness for sweets lies more with fruity chewy candies than with chocolate…did I just here some gasps from readers that I dare hold fruity candies above the greatest of all sweetness, chocolate. Yes, i bow my head and admit that while I do enjoy a piece of chocolate or a sampling of chocolate desserts, it is not my be-all, end-all desserts.  So I tell my boys, I love you more than fruity chewy candy and they know I mean I love them a whole heck of a lot!

that’s the wrapper of the tea i am sipping as i type this

However, maybe I should say I love them more than …. tea?  A dear friend visited with her daughter the other day and we sat on the deck sampling some fresh zucchini bread and sipping hot tea. I think she was taken back by my selection of teas (see photo-there some teas missing in this shot) upon opening the cupboard. I admitted to drinking at least 2-3 cups of tea each night to which she was a bit surprised.  That evening as I sipped my cup of tea, both boys age 3 and 5 requested their own cup. I was truly touched and took a mental snapshot of the three of us cradling our individual cups of blueberry tea as we sat at the table and nibbled on something (what we nibbled I can’t remember-drats “mom brain” strikes again).

Among many things I’ve inherited from my “Bappa”  (grandmother), her calves, athleticism, word morphism (using words that are similar to the word you should use but in turn change the meaning of the sentence resulting in hilarity) I also acquired her English thirst for black tea with a spot of cream and sugar and often find mid afternoon a perfect time to sip a cup or two.  Maybe I shall put on a large brimmed hat and where lace gloves next time. Yes that would be much more English of me.

I raise my dainty little tea-cup and saucer to the man (or maybe it was a woman) who first thought of drying plants and steeping them in water to concoct a delectably soothing drink, tea.

Yes boys, I think I do love you more than tea, more than zingers, Earl Grey, Constant Comment, Darjeeling, Lipton, Green, Chai or any other kind of tea.  Yes, mommy loves you a whole whole lot!

Chocolate Birthday Wishes

It just isn’t a birthday without some form of cake…my boys know this as a golden rule. So when it was daddy’s birthday and I was sick they tried hard to understand why there was no cake. Sorry guys. Not wanting to disappoint anyone, least of all my kids, the next day, I dragged my sick little self to the kitchen and with the help of my super “maker” we prepared cupcakes (no not from scratch) but they turned out delicious none the less. It’s a fun activity to do withyour kids since cupcakes are hard to mess up.


Box of cake mix
Chocolate Chips (optional:other things to jazz it up: marshmellows, coconut, marichino cherries, nuts or all the above)
Frosting (from a can for this one)
Frosting applicator
A dash of patience and a heaping spoonful of fun!

1. Follow cake mix directions adding oil, water and eggs. Mix. Pour batter into cupcake pan with liners in place. Fill each no more than 1/2 full. For this we used chocolate cake mix and then sprinkled chocolate chips on top of the batter before baking.

Note: If you run out of liners as we did, you can cut 5″x5″ squares of parchment paper (the kind intended for baking). Place the parchment squares in the cupcake pan and add the batter.  These parchment cupcakes give a gourmet spin on a very simple dessert.

2. Bake as directed. Be sure to thoroughly clean all items that came into contact with the batter, preferably with your tongue! Mom taught me this little cleaning trick and I’m passing it on to the boys.

When done, remove from oven, let cool completely. Okay who am I kidding, you’ll need to cut into one hot delicious cupcake and eat it right away to make sure they are not aweful 🙂 Mom taught me that baking secret too.

3. Once cupcakes are cool, frost to your hearts content. I used a Wilton Cupcake decorator tube with interchangable decorating tips. Super easy to fill and clean up. Reausable too!

I added a simple little swirl top of frosting and then my little “maker” went to town dousing the tops of the cupcakes with sugary sprinkles.  He later made sure to point out to each of us that he “sprinkled that one” as we each devoured our chocolately goodness and thanked daddy for being born!  Happy birthday love of my life….I love you more than chocolate!

Cool Playdough

With my oldest son off to kindergarten I have more hours alone with my little man who is 3.  I admit it would be easy to get lots more work done with only one in tow, I am trying to be more present with him and enjoy our solo time together…like the early days with my first son.

Today we created play dough!  Here’s an easy and fun recipe I found at http://www.playdoughrecipe.com/


  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • Food coloring


  • Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a pan.
  • Mix the water with the food coloring.
  • Add the water/color-mix to the other ingredients, stir well.  (it will be really runny…that’s where the next step comes in)
  • Cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, while constantly stirring.
  • When the mixture becomes “doughy”, remove from heat and start kneading. (the dough will be hot, so mind your hands)
  • When desired texture is achieved, the play dough is finished, enjoy!

When all done we put the playdough in a ziplock bag, pressed out all the air and stored it for later use…maybe when big bro comes home?