Blueberries for (Everyone But) Sal

I heard a rumor recently - or really, I read a bunch of reviews, blog posts, and other various online recommendations - that declared that Cider Hill Farm had the best cider donuts in the realm. While it isn't even close to apple season yet, cider donuts don't require fresh apples, and coupled with the idea of picking our own blueberries (which ARE in season), we decided we needed to check it out for ourselves. 

It's 20 minutes from us, and so once we'd gotten ourselves ready for the day, we hopped in the car this morning and headed over. I would never have guessed there were several farms up there, since the exit ramp specifically says "Beaches," but turns out there were several, many of which had their own farm stands, complete with the requisite wickedly expensive farm to table eggs, fruit, veggies, etc. We passed them all, naturally. Farm-Mecca was still beckoning. 

We arrived! It was...warm, but not so toasty that we feared melting. Upon picking up two empty picking buckets, we were directed to the blueberry bushes on the right. And so we started over, but not before saying hello to the resident chickens and goats. Elise made a new friend. 

8189ED1B-52BF-40BD-83A5-05846DA75DBA.JPG

As a side note: I'm quite in love with her little curls on the back of her head. I hope they stay forever.

Once Elise had had enough of the animals, we continued on to the blueberry section. Fortunately for our sweat glands, the blueberries were close to the entrance. However, the farm also has strawberries and raspberries available for picking at the moment. Later in the summer, we'll also be able to find peaches, apples, and pumpkins, and I'm already really looking forward to going back. Maybe for each of those things, in fact...

Anyway! I'm distracting myself. We were there today for blueberries!

9CA93F08-2E11-49F5-9EFE-02A35CF8AF34.JPG

We picked and picked until we filled our two small containers to bring home. The berries were plentiful and the company was the best I could have asked for. Elise had a ball, and got the hang of picking the berries off the bushes and dropping them into the containers pretty fast. Fortunately, she's not all that into eating fresh fruit, so we didn't have to worry about her eating more than we took home. In regular life, this fact is rather more unfortunate than fortunate, but I prefer to look on the bright side whenever possible.

1B0D7C23-6D18-4C59-BE24-7A074BEA2749.JPG

By the end, we were very satisfied with our haul and had more than enough for at least one batch of blueberry muffins (come on over tomorrow afternoon if you want one hot out of the oven!), and Elise looked like she had been ready for a nap half an hour ago. This is the most enthusiastic picture I got with her. 

4329869E-70D7-4BAA-B8F9-E9966A656604.JPG

I promise that she actually did have fun. Evidently she just had more fun when she was with Chaz than with me. 

797886F1-F01D-4803-9F93-67A6CE6C1A00.JPG

We ended our trip with a family selfie (because #millenials) and a quick jaunt through their farm stand/store, because we could not leave without a donut. That was half the point of going, remember? And OH MAN. They lived up to their reputation. RUN THERE NOW. You need these donuts in your life. 

6397C9A5-7A8D-48A8-B3B4-6A9F6857C31E.JPG

The farm shop had a ton of cute wares that I wish we'd had more time to investigate, but with the napping hour having approached, knocked, waved, and played Ding Dong Ditch an hour prior, we kept the perusing to a skim rather than a dive. But we'll be back! They won't be able to keep us away! If I weren't already pumped about fall, this trip would have tipped the scale in that direction all by itself.

Too soon? 

657E75EB-181A-4655-911E-7BCE6CF2EC97.JPG

A Love Note to Clogs

Dear Clogs,

Some people say you are clunky and ugly. Others say you are only good for work. But I am here to tell you that I think you are beautiful and one of the greatest things to ever grace the world with your presence.

Your comfort level is unparalleled. Your convenience cannot be matched. Your cuteness factor is debatable to some, but to me, you are the loveliest. I will adore you forever and I will not be ashamed. Although I may choose to not wear you to work for fear of being shunned by more fashionable personages than I. 

 Clogs being splendid on a Thanksgiving walk in the woods in 2015.

Clogs being splendid on a Thanksgiving walk in the woods in 2015.

You have served me so well through the tumult of 4th grade, the academic rigors of college, the snowy winters of New England, several garage construction projects, and many a voyage through airport security. 

20151030_084404620_iOS.jpg

And let's not forget the late pregnancy and early postpartum days. So comfortable! So convenient! So easy! So little bending over!

20151212_220640423_iOS.jpg

Heels, wedges, boots, booties, sneakers, flats, sandals, and heck, espadrilles all have their places, but I challenge anyone to find a more functional, comfortable, and, if your taste even remotely correlates with mine, dare I suggest...cute shoe than clogs. Paired with the right clothes, I say they are adorable. I'm not sure my pictures actually do that, but I loved them nonetheless. 

And, dear clogs, I have my eye on a few more pairs of you for future purchases. Just look at these! Clogs WITH HEELS:

  Lotta from Stockholm  knows what's up.

Lotta from Stockholm knows what's up.

Or these, also from Lotta from Stockholm:

If they weren't out of my price range (I mean really...all of these are a little beyond the average price range, but humor me), I'd be all over these Sven clogs with a braided strap...

Braided Clogs.jpg

Not only because I like them myself, but also because they also have KID'S CLOGS. I can imagine almost nothing better. 

And so, dearest, loveliest clogs, I want to thank you for your many years of service. Thank you for filling an important gap in my wardrobe, for lasting forever, for your amazing durability, and most importantly, your encouragement for me to stand by my somewhat questionable shoe taste. I hope you become a trend nationwide so that I no longer have to justify my opinion to anyone who doubts your superpowers.

Love always,

A Clog Aficionado 

A 6-Month Report on Favorite Baby Products

When Elise was two months old, I made a list of my favorite baby products so far. I still stand by my list! But it was great for a newborn, and now we have a 6-month old (almost 7, actually!), and the list has changed a tad as a result. Thus, here is my list of current favorite baby products for a 0.5 year old kiddo.

1) Fleece booties: Winter in New England is cold. When cold, humans, babies included, need foot coverings. And babies in particular need ones that aren't easy to take off. These fit the bill, and they look so cozy that I wish they had them in my size. Elise wears them practically every day, and now that she's pulling herself up to a stand on the regular, we added some with grippers to her Christmas list. Be gone, cold feet! Only warm ones for us!

2) Wearable blankets: I don't know if this can count as an official "product" since I made it myself, but a rolling baby (or if I'm honest, a stomach-sleeping baby) made swaddles a thing of the past and we moved on to sleep sacks. There are some great ones out there (Halo! Aden + Anais! Hanna Andersson! Carter's!), but I wanted an especially warm one since we let our house get pretty cool at night, and I wanted one that wouldn't break the bank. Ahem: I'm looking at YOU, Anthropologie. And so I crafted one, lining it with both batting and flannel, with a cotton exterior. We use them every night and they successfully fend off the cold. 

20171125_130513992_iOS.jpg

Given enough time and a bit more practice, I might consider selling them on Etsy, but we've got a way to go before we get there. And rest assured...mine will not be $90.

3) Nuk Pacifiers: After a solid five months of refusing any and all pacifiers, Elise finally decided these were ok. I should put a disclaimer here in case anyone is taking my highly subjective word as law. Just because my baby ended up taking these doesn't mean another baby will. But they're going on my favorites list anyway, because they were hugely helpful in getting Elise to go to sleep more easily at night, at least until she discovered her thumb. 

4) Columbia Snowsuit: As previously stated, it's cold in the winter, and thus going outside requires some gear. This snowsuit keeps Elise nice and toasty, so her first snow experience was a great one. We got ours at the end of winter last year (before she was born!), so it was on super sale. I highly recommend going that route if you're particularly adept at forecasting clothes sizes. 

5) AngelCare Movement Monitor: This one is decidedly an investment, but for me it was 100% worth it. SIDS is a terrifying thing, and like a stereotypical first time parent, for the first few months I checked on Elise's breathing multiple times every evening and then every time I woke up at night while she was still asleep. After I started having nightmares about waking up and finding her not breathing, I knew I had to do something. This monitor entirely took away the nightly anxiety for me, and while I might be able to equally attribute that to a rather fantastic reduction in postpartum hormones, I love the peace of mind that it provides. It works even with my little non-wiggly stomach sleeper, so I'd say it's pretty effective. It also helped me feel a LOT more confident about putting Elise in her own room, which has been hugely beneficial for getting consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep for all three of us. 

6) Baby Boden tights: There's clearly a theme going on here. Yet another thing that keeps a baby warm...these tights are so great. They're thick and wonderful and they, like many other things, periodically go on sale. We have two pairs and they are on regular rotation multiple times per week. I'm hoping they grow with her so that they last forever. Most Boden stuff is out of our regular price range, but these are very, very much worth a little extra.

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 8.51.57 PM.png

Here are the tights (in the cream color, obviously) in the wild. 

Exhibit A: 

20171123_191251641_iOS.jpg

Exhibit B: 

20171128_162538359_iOS.jpg

7) A cardboard box: This one isn't linkable since it is what it is. Elise loves sitting in an empty diapers box, and it's great because she's delightfully stationary. I recommend a box to everyone. And look! She's so pleased!

20171215_000317462_iOS.jpg

So there you have my current list. Honorable mentions go to the Bumbo Multi Seat, an Ergo baby carrier, the BundleMe carseat cover, and this extraordinarily baby-entertaining musical octopus toy, as they are used on the daily. Oh, and Elise's own thumb. Her discovery of her thumb as a self-soothing device was a sleeping game changer, but it's not exactly something that's available on the market. And of course, what would a baby product recommendation post BE without yet another nod toward the Solly Baby Wrap. I will proclaim my love for it for all eternity. Anything you think I missed? Tell me your top picks!

A Newbie's Report on Favorite Baby Products

At two months on the job, you could hardly call me an "expert" at anything baby-related. I mean, with literally any other job, I'd still be in the training phase, so take this whole post with a hundred grains of salt. BUT. I do have a number of favorite baby products, some of which were absolute lifesavers in the first two months, and some of which I just really like and was glad to have on hand. And so in an effort to both list these things for myself because...who knows if/when I'll need a list of the things that helped me most in the newest of newborn months...and to list them in case anyone else is a first time mom in need of a minimalist's list of things to put on a registry, HERE GOES.

1) Solly Baby Wrap: This is hands down my most used, most favorite, and most baby-approved piece of gear. I started using it the day after Elise came home from the hospital and have used it almost every day since. She loves it, and if she's fussy it almost instantly calms her down. It can be used with a newborn without any fancy inserts, and it's soft, cozy, and lightweight, which is great for the summer months. I have the Charcoal Swiss Dot patterned one, but I've been drooling over the Fig and Fern colors as well. I totally need more than one, right? I mean, the thing has to be washed SOMETIME, and what on earth will I do while it's being washed? 

Kidding. Sorta. I'm sorely tempted.

 My mom, me, and Elise, who's taking one of many wrap naps. Day 9.

My mom, me, and Elise, who's taking one of many wrap naps. Day 9.

2) Dockatot: This was something I didn't know I needed until Chaz's cousin (hi, Kristine!) let us borrow it. We didn't choose the co-sleeping life; the co-sleeping life chose us. In fact, if you'd asked me prior to Elise's arrival if I supported the idea, I probably would have laughed and declared that OUR baby was going to sleep in HER OWN BED, because I said so. Funny how things change once the kid actually arrives on the scene. After several very sleepless nights that resulted in me giving in to Elise sleeping in my arms in bed, we pulled out the Dockatot and have never looked back. Elise slept a thousand times better, which meant we were sleeping a thousand times better, and so better times were had by all. The only downside is that Elise is pretty tall, so she's going to outgrow it fast. We will use it to the hilt until that day arrives. Here's a photo of Elise in the Dockatot getting ready for bed:

3) Hanna Andersson (Non-Footie) Pajamas: Ok, these don't have to be Hanna Andersson. Hanna Andersson items are far too expensive for my liking, but we have an outlet nearby and I never buy anything full price, so I waited until they had a sale. Thus, Elise has a pair of (outlet) Hanna Andersson jammies, and they are theeeeee best. At first I wasn't a fan of the fact that they didn't have feet, but as my tall and lanky baby grew three inches in two months, I quickly realized that not having feet meant that she'll be able to wear them for much longer than her other already-too-short pajamas. If her feet are cold...I just put some socks on her and call it a night. Bonus: who can resist a baby in stripes?

 Snoozing baby bean.

Snoozing baby bean.

4) Little Unicorn Hooded Towel: We have a couple of hooded towels, and this one is by far the best. It's thick and warm, and it's got a pretty pattern to boot. Elise doesn't always love bath time, but she does love being wrapped up, and while very biased, we think she's adorable when sporting a towel. 

 Snuggled up after her first bath at home.

Snuggled up after her first bath at home.

5) Little Unicorn Muslin Swaddle Blankets: Same company again. These swaddle blankets are great. We use them all the time, whether it's for wrapping Elise up to get her to sleep, tucking her in her car seat, or draping over her while nursing. They wash and dry well (no fading!), and just get softer over time.

 Coming home from the hospital!

Coming home from the hospital!

6) Gerber Cloth Diapers (for use as burp cloths): While we use disposable diapers for actual diapering, these make the best burp cloths. They're fairly inexpensive and we don't care if they get spit up or any other inescapable body fluids on them, because they just go straight into the wash. We started with one pack, and then quickly realized we used them for everything, so we went to Amazon and ordered two more packs ASAP. 

7) Gap Nursing Nightgown: This is both a maternity nightgown and a nursing nightgown, which means I've gotten a ton of use out of it. Gap almost always has sales as well, so I'd never recommend buying it at full price, but if/when it does go on sale, it's a good thing to have. While pregnant it was also one of the few things that made me feel like I looked nice (even if it was pajamas), which is a valuable thing when feeling like a beached whale!

8) OxiClean: Count this one in the "lifesaver" category. Babies = stains, so a stain remover was absolutely necessary. We've used it on Elise's pajamas, sheets, my clothes, and (happily only once...so far) carpet. We have both the powder version and the liquid version, and we use both on the regular. 

I should probably round out this list and add two more things to get to 10, but these are definitely the things that I've loved and/or used the best/most frequently and I don't want to add things that we haven't used as much. I also skipped the obvious things like a car seat, diapers, and wipes, because those are a given. In all honesty, the only items you really NEED for a baby are diapers, wipes, a car seat, a place for him or her to sleep, and a way to keep him or her clean, warm, and clothed, but these are the things that have really helped with making life more comfortable for both Elise and us during her first several weeks. I think this list is also bound to change as she gets older, so I'll probably revisit it down the line and come up with the 6 month or year version to see what's different.

And if none of this applies to you at all...well, at least you got to see a couple pictures of a cute baby?