2 sisters 2 cities

October 25, 2010

Great Fall Dinner Idea: Chicken Chili

Photo courtesy of lucianvenutian via the Creative Commons license

Just wanted to share a recipe that I have recently fallen in love with.  In October’s Martha Stewart Living Magazine, a chicken chili recipe by Lucinda Scala Quinn was published.  I can confirm that it’s delicious after making it two times already!  It can be found on this link on the Martha Stewart website.  The recipe also recommends using any leftover to make nachos the next day.  I have not yet tried this, but I imagine that would be very tasty as well.

A few tips- don’t broil the onion and garlic cloves.  Once charred, I found it very difficult to chop and mince them.  Also, this recipe is extremely spicy (but in a flavorful way).  If you are not a fan of spiciness, I recommend cutting down on the jalapeno, chili powder, or chipotle chiles in adobe sauce.  I cut the amount of chili powder down to 3 tablespoons (the recipe recommends 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons).  Top with the corn-muffin croutons, cheddar cheese, and sour cream/plain greek yogurt.

-m

October 20, 2010

How to Make a Diaper Cake for a Baby Shower

My little sister and I made a cake out of diapers for M’s baby shower.   My mom had the idea after seeing it at another baby shower.   She bought us all the supplies and we made it the night before M’s shower after looking at pictures of diaper cakes on-line.

Supplies (aka cake ingredients):

– about 100 diapers (we used the brands and size M asked for her on registry so she can actually use the diapers when baby is born)
– wooden skewer
– curling ribbon, string or rubber bands
– pretty ribbon (like thick pink or blue ribbon)
– large tray or cake plate (we used a large catering plastic plate)
– tape
– scissors
– small baby gifts/supplies- like a bottle, pacifiers, teething toys, rattles, and whatever you would like to anchor on your cake

Start by rolling the diapers up, with the print to the inside (so you only see white)  and tie with the curling ribbon.   We found it easy to cut a bunch of curling ribbon to the right size in the beginning and then start rolling and tying the diapers up.

Keep tying the diapers until you can form about 12-15 together and to start the base. Tie curling ribbon around the 12-15 to hold them all together.  Next, start building around the bundle you have made until you have a base that fits your plate (or to whatever size you prefer).  Then, tie a larger curling ribbon around the outside to keep the whole base together.

Next, we started on the middle layer just like we did the first layer, except making it about a row smaller to create a layered look to your cake.   When placing the second layer on the cake, we used a couple pieces of tape and then stuck a wooden skewer through the middle to hold it (we made sure not to pierce the diapers because we didn’t want to ruin them!)

Then, we made the top of the cake the same way,  just smaller then the middle layer and we placed a bottle in the center filled with light blue M&Ms. You can use your own creativity here!  We decided we wanted  a smoother frosting look to our cake so we tied another layer of flat unrolled diapers around the outside and tied them there with the curling ribbon. Next, we put light blue and baby ribbon around the curling ribbon to cover it up and make it look like stripes on frosting. Finally, we tucked and tied the toys and other gifts around the cake.  Feel free to look at my pictures to get ideas!

Enjoy!

-K

October 10, 2010

Boston Baby Shower

Last weekend, my husband’s aunt T, and my two friends B & L hosted a baby shower for me at the Longwharf Marriott in Boston.  I had such a great time and wanted to share a few pictures of the great party they organized.  The brunch itself was delicious and our waiter did an excellent job.

On each of the tables, they had Boston-based baby books (try saying that 10 times fast) and had left out sharpies for everyone to leave a note in them.  The centerpieces were beautiful hydrangea arrangements in mason jars with really cute ribbon.  For the favor, they made a donation for Toys for Tots and attached a small Sesame Street ornament to the note card at each table setting.

Husband M is really into planes (so we spend a lot of time watching them take off from the airport at Castle Island on our walks).  How cute is this cake from Concord Teacakes?  It was a vanilla cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting.  I love the baby looking out the airplane window!

This week, I have been sorting out all the wonderful gifts we received.  Baby’s nursery is almost finished and I am feeling pretty prepared.  Check out the cool diaper cake on the right-hand side that sister K and sister M2 made for me.

Almost time for baby’s arrival- I will try to post final nursery pictures soon!

-m

October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

It is officially fall!  I have made one of my favorite fall desserts… Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.   Everyone is always asking me for my recipe,  so here it is!  I have changed it over the years to make the best pumpkin cookies ever!

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

3. In an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and beat just until blended.

4. Mix in the dry ingredients.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips.

6. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.

7. Bake the cookies for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!!!!  Happy Fall!

Sister K

October 6, 2010

Baby Shower Maternity Dress Rental

Filed under: M's post — Tags: , , , , — 2sisters2cities @ 12:49 pm

This past weekend, my husband’s aunt and two of my friends threw me a great baby shower.  I’ll do another post soon with all the details and some pictures, but I just wanted to do a quick post on what I wore to the occasion.  At this point in my pregnancy (35 weeks), I am pretty much sick of all my maternity clothes, yet I am past the point where I really want to buy anymore.  I found a great website that rents out special occasion maternity dresses- RentMaternityWear.com.

I rented the Wrap Jersery “Eva” dress by Christian Siriano (my favorite Project Runway designer ever!):

Photo from http://www.rentmaternitywear.com

The dress arrived via FedEx on a Thursday and I had until the following Thursday to return it.  It also came with two sizes of the dress so I could try both on to see which one fit better at no extra cost.  The dress itself retails for about $75 and the cost of the one-week rental was about $43 ($35 rental + $8 in shipping costs).   The package comes with a pre-paid for shipping label and bag.  You just pop the dresses in the bag and drop them off at a USPS location or mailbox before the rental period ends.

Renting a dress probably doesn’t make sense if you need a piece you are going to wear many times throughout your pregnancy.  However, in this case, I thought it was worth it to wear something new and I’m unlikely to have an event to wear it again in the next 5 weeks or so.

As friend B called it, it’s Netflix for maternity dresses!

-m

September 13, 2010

Getting Ready for Baby Lists

As the big day approaches, I have been starting to get ready for the baby’s arrival.  I’ve had a few lists passed on to me of things that other moms have written up of items they found to be useful.

Design MomPreparing for Baby

BabbleBaby Registry Guide

Liz’s Baby Basics

FOR MOM

  • Maternity Jeans – spend some money on these – you will live in them over the weekend
  • Maternity Pants – Gap made some really cute ones
  • Maternity Tops/Sweaters – don’t even need to buy them – just buy larger sizes at inexpensive stores like H&M, Limited, Gap
  • Nursing tank tops
    • The absolute best are Gilligan & O”Malley (Target carries them).  I swear by these.  They look just like a regular tank(black, white, pink or gray) and you can wear them under a cardigan. I wore these every single day while on maternity leave. Much easier than a nursing bra.  Never even bought a nursing bra.
  • BellaBand
    • This is a band that can extend the life of your pants.  You can wear pants unbuttoned and put band over to create seamless line.  Also great for when shirts/sweaters become too short b/c you just see the band which looks like a t-shirt underneath the shirt.
  • Disposable Lansonihl nursing pads
  • Lansonohl breast cream (purple tube for breasts)
  • Email list – put together mass email list for baby’s arrival announcement
  • Birth Announcements
    • Print labels before baby is born and select announcement so ready to go (I didn’t send mine out until baby was 6 months – wish I had done sooner)
    • Tinyprints.com – great selection of announcements
  • Monogrammed thank you cards – If you are really organized and know the baby’s name, you can order personalized thank you cards in advance b/c you will need them as soon as baby is born.  TinyPrints and PeekabooPumpkin have good selections.
  • Breast Pump ( Medela Pump in Style – borrow one if you can b/c you may not take to it)

FOR BABY

  • Swaddles (Kiddopotamus Velcro or any brand) – we used for first 3 months
  • Basic white tees (get the ones that have side snaps rather than ones that have to be pulled over head)
  • Basic onesies
  • Sleep Sacks or gowns – great for newborns b/c much easier to change diaper in middle of night
  • Zipper Footy PJs – once a bit older, I recommend PJs with zipper b/c easier than buttoned pjs to change in middle of night
  • Bibs (velcro on the side of neck is best b/c doesn’t chafe back of babies neck when being bed in cradle position)
  • Cheap burp clothes
    • I preferred the inexpensive ones b/c they were softer.  The cuter ones with patterns were too stiff to wipe babies mouth, so never used them.
  • Bottles (BornFree)
  • Nipples (Level 1 to start….at 3 months go to level 2 and at 6 months go to level 3)
  • Formula (Enfamil is good, so is Nestle Good Start or Similac)
  • Powdered formula containers (3 of them snap together and you can premeasure formula so all you need to do is pour into bottle of water – great for middle of the night!)
  • Pacifiers (try a few different brands to see what fits baby’s face)
  • Diapers (Pamper’s Swaddlers)– Size: Newborn
  • Wipes (Pamper’s Sensitive)
  • Travel size wipes for diaper bag
  • Thermometer (traditional is better – ear is not accurate read for babies)
  • Grooming kit (just basic with curved scissors, hair brush, toothbrush)
  • Changing pad (to put on table – all brands are the same)
  • Changing pad cover
  • PeeWee’s Disposable Multi-Use changing pads
    • These are essential.  If the baby goes to the bathroom while being changed, you don’t need to wash changing pad cover – just throw away disposable pads. I use these every day.
  • Sassy Diaper Bags – blue scented bags to throw dirty diapers in
    • We do not have a diaper genie and don’t even need one with these bags.  We never smell anything once diaper is in these disposable bags.
  • Dishwasher caddy (to put bottle parts in for washing)
  • Mustela Shampoo, Lotion, Bath Gel
  • Baby Tylenol/ Motrin
  • Saline nose drops (for when stuffed up/has cold)
  • Diaper ointment (A&D, Balmex, Mustela – any are fine)
  • Small/ soft washclothes ( not full size b/c too big for newborns)
  • Hooded towel for after bath

FOR BABY’S ROOM/ FURNITURE

  • Bambi Baby (www.bambibaby.com 877-882-2624)
    • I bought my baby furniture here and they will beat ANY price you find.  They beat Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us, and other smaller local stores in price by a few hundred dollars.  And their customer service is fantastic.  You deal with the same person every time you call.
  • Glider – Microfiber Upholstered Glider (color: Sage) $379
    • We tried every chair and this one is SO comfortable!  The sage color goes really well in a boy’s or girl’s room and the chair is very comfortable for a man or woman.  Highly recommend.  Carried at Babies R Us…and I think Buy Buy Baby
  • Foot Stool – I found this to be very comfortable when feeding.  I still use it.
  • Co-Sleeper/Moses basket/bassinet
    • I loved the co-sleeper – nice to have baby right next to bed for first month or so before you move them into crib
  • Matress – any brand that meets regulations is fine (some people prefer Organic)
  • Waterproof mattress pad covers (for under crib sheet)
  • Mattress pad sheets
  • Crib Set
  • Hangers
  • Clothes Hamper (I like Kids Line Folding Hamper)
  • Trashcan (If you do not do Diaper Genie, which is not necessary, recommend just buying a SimpleHuman can that you can open with foot.  If using blue diaper bags, won’t smell in room at all.)
  • Baby Monitor (Fisher Price) – don’t need if live in an apartment
  • Nightlight

BABY ACCESSORIES/ TOYS

  • Stroller and car seat

o      Graco Snap & Go is great – definitely the easiest for city living

o      I’d recommend getting car seat for up to 30lbs so that you don’t need to trade up to larger size so quickly

  • Rain cover for stroller (any brand is fine)
  • Head positioner – put in stroller/car seat so head doesn’t bobble all around
  • Bundle Me – will need lightweight and fleece one for winter
  • Sun Shade for stroller – This is a must.  Protect-A-Bub Single Canapy is good and works on any stroller.
  • Stroller Caddy (recommend Joovy Cool Essentials on amazon.com)
    • This fits across handle bars of jogger strollers and is the best. You can put your wallet, phone, blackberry, keys, etc in it.  I wish I had bought this sooner b/c I hated having to put all this stuff in the carrying area below the baby.
  • Toy bar that attaches to stroller bar (for jog type stollers)
    • Kids love this – will play with it and kick at it as you walk
    • Recommend anything like Sunshine Kids AG Twirly Whirly or Whoozit Activity Spiral
  • Once you graduate from Snap & Go (which can be used up until 9-10 months depending on size of baby), recommend Phil & Ted’s if looking to do long walks or MacLaren for around town
  • Britax Car Seat – highly recommend for when baby is 1 year old
  • Bouncy Chair that vibrates (highly recommend Fisher Price Rainforest )
  • Swing ( never used one, but people swear by the Fisher Price Papasan)
  • Baby Bumbo chair (don’t need for first couple months)

o      Great for before they can sit up on own b/c gives them different vantage point – also great to use when feeding little babies before they graduate to high chair)

o      I got a different brand than Bumbo that I really liked – had a tray that attached with a toy that babies love

  • Activity Saucer
    • Highly recommend Evenflo 3-in-1 ExerSaucer Triple Fun
    • This is for babies about 4 months up – they LOVE it
  • Mobile for crib

o      Highly recommend Tiny Love Symphony or Delux Symphony in Motion

  • Boppy Pillow – for breastfeeding
  • Activity mat with overhanging toys (Recommend Gymini 3D or Baby Einstein- all babies love that at some point during first 6 months)
  • Pack and play and sheets for it (any Graco is fine – no need for most expensive….but it is nice to have the changing table)
  • Baby Einstein DVDS
    • These are priceless!  Babies love these from 2 months on.  You can buy entire boxset of 24 DVDs online for $95….or individually for $20/each
  • Bathtub
    • Any of the newborn ones are fine (I liked one that fit over kitchen sink)
    • The BEST one to buy once baby outgrows first tub (around 4-5 months) is the Primo Eurobath – it’s the only one to buy!
  • Leap Frog Learn & Groove Musical Table – this is for when they begin pulling themselves up on things…this is fantastic – hours and hours and hours of fun for baby
  • Highchair (Peg Perego Highchair is the Mercedes of highchairs – it’s a must)

THINGS WE DIDN’T LOVE OR NEED

  • Baby Bjorn – people swear by it, but we thought it was difficult to use
  • Bottle Warmer – baby doesn’t know difference and if you always do room temp, they will be fine with it.
  • Jumper for door way (I never used this – thought it was hard to put baby in/out)

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

  • What to Expect in the First Year (great)
  • Baby 411 (this is a MUST for every mom!  Includes answers at a glance to every question you will have in the first year.)
  • Baby Wise, The Baby Whisperer or other sleep book

Jill’s Baby Registry List

Bathtub and accessories:

Bottles, etc:

Crib and bedroom:

Stroller, car seat, play, travel, etc:

Stuff:

  • Pampers swadlers (Diapers.com)
  • Pampers sensitive wipes – get refills and one box of Huggies sensitive wipes (Huggies has a better box but Pampers makes better wipes) (Diapers.com)
  • Grooming kit http://www.buybuybaby.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=15131730&
  • Dreft (Diapers.com) and Shout gel (to clean stains)
  • A&D (day time ointment), Balmex (night time ointment), Aquaphor (Diapers.com)
  • Alcohol and baby q-tips (to clean around umbilical cord)
  • Cotton pads to clean for the first few weeks before you start using wipes
  • Saline nasal spray (to use with nasal aspirator – they usually give you the nasal aspirator at the hospital)
  • Thermometer
  • Cloth diapers to use as burp clothes, and pee diapers (cover boys while you change them because they pee upward).  http://www.buybuybaby.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=15010193&.  You will get nice burp clothes as gifts but can register or buy some as well http://www.buybuybaby.com/searchSKU.asp?order_num=-1&SSTR=burp+cloths&go=1&
  • Musela products (register or get at Diapers.com)

o      Derma cleansing body and hair http://www.buybuybaby.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=15097752&

o      Body lotion http://www.buybuybaby.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=15034700&

Mom readers, what baby items did you find to be incredibly useful (or useless)?

-m

September 12, 2010

Last 5 Books I have read

Filed under: M's post — Tags: , , , — 2sisters2cities @ 2:17 pm

I’ve gotten the chance to read these books this summer:

1. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley- I figured since I have some free time now, I should start reading up on how to get babies to sleep through the night.  I figured when I am actually starting to have this issue, I will have the least time to read this book!  It definitely had some good tips, but I will probably need to re-read through the book again once baby arrives!

2. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp- Once again, I read this one to be proactive for baby’s arrival.  This book goes over the 5 s’s to soothe an infant…swaddle, swing, side/stomach, shoosh and sucking.  Husband M and I took a Newborn Essentials class at Isis Parenting the other night.  After reading this book, I felt I did not really learn much from this class as I had already learned it in the book.  Fortunately, it was not a total bust going to class because Husband M said he actually did learn a great deal.  We’ll see how we do with the tips from the book in a couple months once baby is here!

3. The Happiness Project, Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin- This book is not necessarily for people who are unhappy, just people looking to add more happiness to their life (and who wouldn’t want that?)  The author spends an entire year with different resolutions for each month to try to bring more happiness into each day.  It’s a nice thing to think about doing on a daily basis and she has lots of different ideas on things you can try.  She admits that not all things she does is for everyone…it’s more important to decide for yourself what are some things you can add to your life that  actually make you happy.

4. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson- Thanks to cousin K, she rescued me from being 400th in my library queue for this book and brought her copy out to Nantucket for me.  It was a great book to read on the beach all week.  You definitely need to read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo first to understand a lot of the background.

5. Twelve Rooms with a View by Theresa Rebeck- The premise of this book is that 3 sisters find out that they have inherited a multi-million dollar property on Central Park after their reclusive, alcoholic mother passes away.  However, the estate gets challenged by their mother’s step sons and the building co-op board.  The sisters battle it out with their new enemies, and also learn a great deal about their mother’s secret life she lead.

-m

August 29, 2010

Jalapeno Poppers

Filed under: K's post, K's Recipes, K's sides — Tags: , , — 2sisters2cities @ 6:52 pm

I have been on a Jalapeno Popper kick lately.  Although they are soooo delicious store bought they aren’t as healthy as I would like.  Therefore I set off to find a healthier version of them.   In one of my health magazines I found a recipe for them for 144 calories for 2.  The are called Gooey Jalapeno Poppers and they are from the cookbook “Now Eat This!” by Rocco DiSpirito.   They are made with reduced-fat whipped cream cheese and 75% fat free cheese.   I have already made them twice since I have found the recipe and they are awesome! Enjoy!

-K


August 21, 2010

Nantucket Birthday Clam Chowder

The day before we left for our 10 day vacation in Nantucket, Husband M had his 30th birthday.  Since we were pretty busy packing and tying up loose ends before we left, we were only able to have a small celebration.  I made one of his favorite easy summer recipes…Martha Stewart Everyday’s Grilled Steak with tomatoes and scallions and a brownie from the farmer’s market.  His Aunt T had thrown him a big birthday party in Maine the weekend prior and I also had plans for a lobster bake while we in Nantucket.  His work also threw him a afternoon party with freshly baked cookies, so all in all, he had 4 birthday parties this year.

For the Nantucket lobster bake, we ordered pre-cooked lobsters and steamers from Sayle’s fish market.  Our little cottage did not have air-conditiong and the day of the party happened to the hottest day we were in Nantucket.  Thank goodness we bought pre-cooked lobsters…I can’t imagine how much hotter the place would have been if I had been cooking lobsters for hours.  They did a great job packing them and they stayed warm for quite awhile.

For a starter, I decided to make a batch of clam chowder.  We were having 10 people over in all and this recipe I put together made well over this amount (if served as an appetizer).  I used Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything No-Holds-Barred Clam Chowder recipe as the base and tweaked it based on a few other recipes I have made in the past.

Nantucket Birthday Clam Chowder

Serves 10+ as an appetizer

Ingredients:
-1/2 pound applewood smoked bacon (or similar high quality), chopped
-2 cups minced onions
-5 cups peeled and chopped baking potatoe
-4 tablespoons flour (I used wheat)
-2 teaspoons dried thyme
-7 five-ounce cans of clams
-4  eight-ounce bottles of clam juice
-S&P
-2 cups milk
-2 cups heavy cream
-2 tablespoons butter
-fresh chopped parsley
-oyster crackers

Directions:
Fry the bacon in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp.  Remove the bacon with a with slotted spoon and put aside.  Cook the onion and potatoes in the bacon fat until the onion softens and is translucent (10-15 minutes).  While they are cooking, drain the canned clams and reserve the drained clam juice.  Add the flour and thyme to the onion and potatoes, and combine.  Add the 4 bottles of clam juice and the reserved clam juice from the cans.  Cook until the potatoes are tender (an additional 10-15 minutes).  At this point, I turned off the heat and put the lid on the pot to keep it warm until the guests arrived.

About 5 minutes before I was ready to serve the chowder, I added the salt, pepper, milk, and cream (put the milk and cream out for about 20-30 minutes to get to room temperature so it does not curdle when you add it).  Add the drained clams and bring to a low simmer.  Add the butter on top of the chowder- the clams will be finished cooking once the butter melts.  I served the chowder with the chopped parsley and oyster crackers on the side.

-m

August 19, 2010

Back from ACK

Filed under: M's post, Vacation — Tags: , , — 2sisters2cities @ 2:50 pm

Photo courtesy of Kayak the Rockies via Creative Commons license

We apologize for the lack of posts lately, but Sister K and I have been spending the past few weeks getting ready for vacation, going on vacation, and recovering from vacation.  We spent last week soaking up the sun in Nantucket.

Husband M & I rented a small cottage in Madaket and invited Sister K and the other Sister M to come visit us for part of the week.  We had a great time of hitting up the beaches, going on walks, eating great meals, and napping!  I tried to cook a lot of the meals at our cottage, but we did get a chance to try out or revisit a number of restaurants in downtown Nantucket:

Brant Point Grill at The White Elephant
Black Eyed Susan’s
Cinco
Slip 14
Straight Wharf

I would have to say our best meals were at Black Eyed Susan’s and Straight Wharf.  To get into Black Eyed Susan’s however, you need to wait in a line starting at 5 to put your name on the reservation list for a 7:30 or 9:15 seating.  They also are BYOB, cash only, and do not have a/c.  We joked with our fellow line-mates that we were going to open Sunflower Sally’s across the street where there is plenty of booze, takes all credit cards, and the a/c is pumping 24/7!  Despite all the effort to get into the restaurant, it was well worth it!

Husband M had to briefly take a conference call and need Internet access for a few hours one day…he greatly appreciated the free wi-fi and cold beers at the Brant Point Grill bar area that day.

This weekend, I plan to spend some time catching up around the house (we’ve been traveling the past 3 weekends) and will be posting my special Nantucket birthday clam chowder recipe (especially for Aunt N!)  Check back soon!

-m

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