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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A little Leidi Bird told me...

This blog post is WAY overdue and I have been meaning to do it since I got my diaper bag back in August.  Yes, I got my diaper bag when Levi was already 4 months old!  Not by choice, but because I couldn't find one I liked!!!  The ones at the baby stores just didn't seem right.  So, all summer long I just used a beach bag.  It worked fine, but I knew it would be a little strange to use it through the winter!

Finally, I was on Facebook and noticed something from a friend I hadn't noticed before.  I clicked on her website, to find out that she had her own company--Leidi Bird Designs.  She happens to make beautiful handmade bags.  So I checked out her site for a bit and stumbled upon the fact that she also makes nursing covers, burp cloths, and yes, DIAPER BAGS! 

So I looked at the diaper bag in various views and I knew it would be amazing.  So I ordered a custom bag.  I got to pick out my material and leather colors and everything.

Her bags are really well-made. And you have to know, she is a mother of two, so she designed an amazing diaper bag!!! This bag provides 10 pockets, including two outside bottle pockets and a special waterproof wipes pocket under the flap for easy access anytime. The Daisy Days Diaper Bag has two side stroller straps which hook and lock around your strollers handles (I use this feature daily on my walks)...See more of the description here:

So, if you are in the market for a diaper bag or tote, eyeglass case, nursing cover, burp cloths and a number of other amazing handmade beauties, check out Rebekah's store and awesome blog. You won't be disappointed!

Oh, and I couldn't help myself and I also ordered a nursing cover with matching burp cloths because they were in a special deal.  They were really adorable and would make a really great gift to a new mom or for a baby shower! Everything is handmade and unique, plus you would be supporting another woman/mom in her awesome business.

Hope you love Rebekah's site as much as I do!

In health and wellness,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Another recall? Maybe we should recall our food safety policies...

For those of you who feed your baby Similac formula, please check into whether your current stash is part of the recall: My thoughts go out to you as you must be upset and frustrated with this terrible issue.

Also, interestingly, I saw this article that a friend posted on her Facebook page and thought it was interesting...  Personally, I think everyone has got to do what they gotta do.  I happen to share my experiences with breastfeeding because that is where I am at right now.  I was in the opposite situation 7 years ago with my first son, where breastfeeding was impossible while I was finishing school.  If his formula was recalled I would be really upset and scared.

However, I do have to say, that some of the comments and the general feel of the article REALLY bothered me.  For me, I think it brings to light the fact that moms on both sides feel responsible or guilty about doing the right thing all the time and end up judging one other, but the responsibility of the companies of these recalls is ignored.  The feeling you get in this culture is all about personal responsibility and the companies don't have to be held responsible.  Like the egg recall--they say consumers should fully cook their eggs.  What happened to days where you could lick the cookie batter and eat your eggs over easy and not be scared that you would get sick or die?

Similar to other debates where people judge each other--like to go organic or not.  Maybe the FDA should be holding these companies to a MUCH higher standard than they are currently practicing.  Why should moms have to choose between organic and paying extra or non organic and be scared they are compromising the health of their families? Maybe companies shouldn't be allowed to spray any of our food with dangerous chemicals.  Maybe factory farming should be examined because it has dangerous side effects and compromises the safety of our food system (in the case where the runoff from a meat farm was infecting spinach and tomatoes).  Maybe we should examine our food policies and practices so that it works better for safety of the people as well as the health of the plant.

Food safety in this country (in my opinion) is TERRIFYING!  Even for pet food! I don't go to the farms to buy directly because I want to feel superior to anyone. I do it because it is fresher and safer than going to the grocery store.  Similarly, I don't breastfeed my baby to feel better than anyone else, I do it because I want to and I feel it is the best choice for my baby.  I write about breastfeeding to offer support to women who want to make the same choice.  Not to feel better than anyone else, but to help other women feel supported and have all the information. 

So, whether you breastfeed or not, isn't really the issue here.  I think the real issue is that we should be able to safely purchase something at the store and not have to pray that it won't be tainted or make our families ill. And, if a company sells a product that makes people ill, they should have bigger consequences.

In health and wellness,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello Sunshine Soup and Baby Solids

Ahhh...September is so nice in New England.  Hello sunny skies and days that are a little breezy, goodbye August heat and humidity.  So what have I been up to? 

There are T-16 days until baby Levi turns 6 months!  While I am excited for him to turn 6 months and start eating solids, I am a little sad that it is going by so fast! As the date approaches, I am starting to do a little research on solid foods.  I have been a little tempted to start early, but I am holding steadfast to the recommendation to exclusively breastfeed for his first 6 months. 

So why should you wait?  Firstly, your milk is the best thing to fill up baby's little tummy.  When you fill him or her up with other things, you are missing the opportunity for your little one to be eating the perfect food.  Secondly, waiting helps the baby avoid digestive problems and potential for allergies.  Just because your baby may appear ready for food, their little digestive systems may not be as ready as you think! 

Here is a helpful article from that helps you learn how to tell whether your baby is ready for solids:

On a side note, the website is FANTASTIC!!!  I highly recommend looking through it before you start solids and throughout your baby's introduction to solids.  There are recipes for baby food (which is so simple to make and outlined so easily on the website).  Also, there is even instructions on how to make your baby homemade cereals, which are WAY more nutritious and healthful for your baby!

Here is a recipe for a little fall soup, that I whipped up last week.  It is a perfect recipe for fall, but also an easy recipe to whip up while introducing solids.  Simply keep some sunshine squash aside from the rest of the soup, add some water, puree, and freeze the leftovers into ice cube trays. When you serve the baby, stir in a little breastmilk or formula to thin it out.

Sunshine Squash and Corn Soup

Sunshine Squash (or other winter squash)
1/2 large onion
2 ears of corn on the cob
Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Couple leaves of fresh sage or 1 tsp dried sage

  1. Cut the sunshine squash and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Place face down in a baking dish, add a bit of water into the bottom and bake at 400 for 40-45 min, until fork slides in easily.
  3. Meanwhile, saute the onions in a little bit of olive oil until soft. 
  4. Once it is cooked, scoop out the squash from the skin and put some of it into a food processor.
  5. Add the onions to the processor and a bit of the vegetable stock. 
  6. Puree. Add a little more vegetable stock until it is a nice smooth consistency that you like.  Add more or less if you like thicker/thinner.  If you have too much squash to fit in one batch, then do this step in multiple batches.
  7. Place the smooth squash mixture into a sauce pan.
  8. Cut the corn off the cob (I place it in a bowl and cut downwards). 
  9. Add the corn to the squash mixture in the sauce pan.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the sage to taste.
  11. Simmer on a medium low heat until the corn is cooked (about 5-10 minutes). If needed, you can add more vegetable stock.
Hope you enjoy this nice soup that brings us nicely into autumn days! You could even add a grain to the soup like wild rice or barley to make it a bit heartier!

In health and wellness,
Nicole Harter

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Preserving Summer's Bounty

I do not know if you have had the opportunity to read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, but it is a good one.  It is a memoir about her family's experiment with eating only locally grown foods for an entire year.  Basically she talks about the benefits to the environment, local economy, and your health to eat locally produced food year round.  So how do you eat local vegetables year round in temperate climates such as Massachusetts for example?  Good question!  Barbara Kingsolver helps you discover some of the answers in her book. 

I read the book last summer and it has made a lasting impact on how I view the summer's bountiful harvest and decided that this year I will not squander it!!!  So this year I have preserved the following locally grown treats to last me into the fall/winter months: 

In my freezer: 
This year:  blueberries, green peppers, corn from the cob, tomato sauce, basil pesto, and green beans
Last year:  blueberries, cranberries, green peppers and basil pesto

In my pantry:
This year:  blueberry jam, tomato sauce, salsa, quartered tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and soon to be grape jelly, dried garlic
Last year:  Grape jelly and dried garlic

In my refrigerator:  I made pickles this year!  They only last 2 months, but it helped me utilize those cucumbers for a longer part of the summer!

Now, it is important to note that I do not have that much compared to the quantity that Barbara Kingsolver has in her book. I also do not have a lot compared to the amazing men/women who have been doing this for years. I also cannot live off of just this food for the whole winter (and it really isn't the point).  The point is that I am starting small and learning new things each year. Each year I intend to do a little bit more and learn something else that is new so I can build my winter stash.  This year, if you noticed, I did more than last year.  I did a little bit each month in the early summer, and in August I did some each week! 

Last winter with the little that I did do, it felt amazing when I pulled the veggies out of the freezer or opened a new jar of jelly that I had made out of the grapes from my yard.  I felt more connected to the food I was eating and the earth that I was protecting, if even in a very small way. 

So have you ever preserved anything to last from the summer and into the winter?  If not, then why not try it?  It only takes a little effort to grab a few extra peppers or ears of corn at the farmer's market or farm stand and cut them up and put them in your freezer.  Start small and see how it goes, you just may get hooked on local foods!

Resources for preserving foods:
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
USDA guidelines for preserving foods
Tangerini's newsletter (my CSA farm) with preserving tips

In health and wellness,

Nicole Harter

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Summer Fun Favorites!

Hi again! 

I feel as though I haven't written a post in a while.  I had an amazing vacation in Portland, Oregon to thank for that as well as a seven-year old boy to entertain all summer.  We had a blast!  So, I thought I would list some of the fun/healthy things we did that highlighted this summer!

Fun Farm Afternoon:  Another family and ours met up for the afternoon and decided to head to Tangerini's Farm.  We got some veggies, let the kids run around the hay maze, let them feed the animals, and had some icecream. We had a beautiful afternoon soaking up some fresh air and vitamin D.  The best past of bringing the kids to the farm is that they are exposed to where their food comes from (not just the grocery store) and show them that they have local food available to them as well!

Lake days:  I brought the kids down to some lakes early in the summer, including Wallum Lake in Douglas and Mendon Town Beach in Mendon.  I packed up some of our own snacks like fruit, nuts, air-popped popcorn, carrot sticks, and homemade sandwiches so I could skip the unhealthy snack bars and icecream truck.  We laid out the blanket in a nice shady spot and let my older son run around to his heart's content.

CSA Pick-up Days:  I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), where I give a farm money to be a member, and then every week I arrive with my bags to pick up this week's bounty.  I belong to Tangerini's Farm, which has been great.  Last year I did Heirloom Harvest which was also wonderful (but too far away with the baby).  Each week my mother and I loaded the kids in the car and picked up our goodies.  The great part is that each week there is "U-pick" items as well.  My son loves to pick veggies and then is more inclined to try them out when they are on his plate later!  For more information about finding a local CSA near you check out  If the CSA isn't for you, they will also tell you how to find local farmers markets as well!

Jammin:  So one morning I woke up and I called my mom from bed and the conversation went kind of like this-- "Hey mom, want to go buy 5 lbs of blueberries and make jam?"  "Sure honey, I will be over in a little bit".  And instead of buying just 5 lbs, we went with 10.  That afternoon we made a ton of jam to last us the winter.  We plan to pick the concord grapes growing in my yard to make grape jelly next week because the grapes are almost there.   Next year we plan to do strawberries as well!

Grill nights with friends/family:  This summer, instead of going out to eat with friends/family, we decided to have them over!  We made simple meals that were local and seasonal and avoided going out for meals that were more expensive, higher in salt and fat, and made from less-than-ideal ingredients!  Examples include:
  • Grampie meal:  Grilled whole chicken, grilled baked potatoes with onion, salad, and sauteed greens.
  • Dad meal:  Steamed mussels in a tomato wine sauce with fresh salad.
  • Friend meal:  Steamed lobsters and steamers, grilled baked potatoes and grilled summer squashes, with a salad.
Picnic in the back yard:  My husband worked from home one day so we decided to have a picnic in the backyard with both kids.  My older son Sam played on his play structure and swing set and baby Levi laid on the blanket.  We soaked up some sun and fresh air and ate a nice little picnic lunch.

I hope you had a happy/healthy summer that include a lot of good memories!  Having a good time and staying healthy can be synonymous if you keep it light, fun and simple!  Although I do have to say, that as much fun as I had this summer, I would say that I am enjoying having Sam back to school to get back into a routine. I do plan on posting more often now that Sam is back in school too!

Enjoy the remainder of the summer! 

In health and wellness,
Nicole Harter