Archives for March 2014

Sponsored Post: UncommonGoods

I love buying gifts for the people in my life. Unfortunately, I’m saddled with people that are really hard to buy for. They either (a) already seem to have everything, (b) have a habit of just going out and buying the things that they want for themselves when Christmas or birthday time rolls around instead of making a list for me or (c) have been in my life for so long that I feel like I have gotten them everything I won’t mention any names. These people know who they are and how much they annoy me.

Fortunately, the Brooklyn-based company UncommonGoods has saved me from resorting to the impersonal gift card more than a few times. With creatively designed housewares, jewelry, art and gift items at affordable prices, there is truly something for everyone. Even better, in my opinion, is the company’s commitment to making a positive impact on the world by providing a platform to tell the stories of talented artists and designers, focusing on products that are environmentally friendly and supporting a variety of non-profit organizations.

Recently, UncommonGoods invited me to review a few items in a post. I basically wanted all of the things, but chose just two.

First up was the Cusipro Mini Ice Cream Sandwich Press. You might remember that I tried to make ice cream sandwiches from scratch a couple of years ago, and it was a hot mess. This handy gadget made the process a heck of a lot easier.

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The kit includes three molds

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Cut out a cookie for the base

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Scoop some ice cream into the mold

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Cut out another cookie for the top

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Pop the finished product out of the mold

It took a few tries for me to get the scooping technique down, but the press was pretty easy to use overall and the mini sandwiches were super cute. I kept it pretty simple, and used store-bought ice cream and Pillsbury cookie dough, but if you have more time, you could definitely be fancy and make your own sandwich fixings. These would be a fun dessert for a summer barbecue or kid’s birthday party.

Next was the Diana Camera, a plastic-bodied camera that uses 120 format film. It was first made in the 1960s at a small firm in Hong Kong, but failed in the market and was discontinued in the 1970s. This, of course boosted its status to collector’s item and it was re-issued several years ago.

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Because of its construction, light leaks, film advance issues and other problems are sometimes associated with the camera. But, these flaws lend themselves to a variety of artistic effects in photographs. Unlike a digital camera, where you can instantly see your photo on the screen, you don’t know what you are going to get until you get your film developed. This is all part of the fun–and frustration–I suppose.

I was disappointed that I only got one semi-decent photograph from the two rolls of film I shot. Although the guy at the photo lab seemed to think that maybe something was wrong with the camera itself, I’m thinking that there must have been some degree of user error at play, since I had never used this kind of camera before. I want to continue playing around with it, to see if I can improve my skills. Although I don’t think it will replace my digital camera for day-to-day projects, I could see using it for a more artistic project (like some cool food photos for the blog!).

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This is Rittenhouse Square. Seriously.

In spite of the fact that winter seems to be hanging on until the very end, spring, and all of its holidays and special occasions are just around the corner. You are sure to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list–and maybe even a few things for yourself–at UncommonGoods

Disclosure: I received the two items discussed in this post for free from UncommonGoods in exchange for writing a review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Little B: Six Months

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It’s getting harder and harder to keep her still for these photo shoots!

So, I blinked, and all of a sudden Little B is six months old.

The past month has been one of the best so far. It is so much fun to watch her learn new things and notice different aspects of her personality developing.

Still, there are times when I feel so sad that she is moving full speed ahead to becoming her own little person. I secretly (well, not so secretly anymore, I guess) love that she’s been a bit clingy with me these days, because I know that there will come I time when all she wants to do is get the heck away from me.

I am doing the best I can to take in everything about her and remember all of the details from this time in our lives. But, seriously, can someone come up with a way to bottle this stuff up so that we can save it for later.

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Valentine’s Day Photo Shoot

Anyway, enough about me.  Let’s talk about the B. Or, Tigger, as I have taken to calling her, since she loves to bounce! We thought about buying her a jumperoo, but she is perfectly content to bounce her bottom around while sitting on laps or to jump up and down when we hold her under her arms and let her stand on the floor. Are you guys familiar with the Geico commercial, where the pig is listening to club music and thinks that the baseline sounds like “boots and pants?” Last week, we discovered that this refrain makes her particularly bouncy (if you watched that video, I wish you the best of luck in getting “boots and pants” out of your head).

We spend a lot of time playing on the floor lately, particularly since Little B is now able to sit upright for extended periods of time. She is rarely happy laying down these days, and she will reach for our hands to pull herself up if we lay her back. Her balance is pretty good, but we have had a few spills. No matter how many blankets or foam mats we put on the floor, she always seems to find that one bit of uncovered hardwood to topple onto (I’ve lost count as to how many times I have consulted Dr. Google about these kinds of incidents).

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Baths are one of her favorite things lately. So is soap.

B has always been pretty nosy, but lately she seems even more curious about what the people around her are doing. We spend a lot of time letting her watch us, while we provide a running commentary about what we are doing. From the mundane tasks, like getting her bottles ready in the morning, to the more fun activities, like learning how to put her stack rings on the peg, she always seems totally engaged. She’s starting to imitate the sounds we make at her and I think she may even be starting understand waving. We wave bye-bye to her when we leave for work every morning and she’ll lift up her hand, open and close her fingers, smile at us. I love to watch her learn new things and make connections about how things work.

As the months go by, more of her personality shines through. Generally, she is very sweet natured, but she definitely wants what she wants, when she wants it (who do you think she takes after?). She laughs easily, particularly at Tracy (the dog doesn’t even have to do anything. Just the sight of her alone is enough.), Chester’s goofy facial expressions and my high pitched voice and silly, made-up songs. She isn’t a fan of strangers at the moment, but continues to be very affectionate with us. It makes my day when I come home from work and stretches out her arms to let me know that she wants me to pick her up.

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Told you that she is a bit of a diva.

During the past month, we continued introducing solid foods. Of course, she is still at the stage where more of it ends up in her hair, on her face and hands, and splattered on the high chair tray, but we are getting a kick out of the crazy facial expressions that she makes when she tries something new. She was indifferent to the oatmeal, loved the bananas, apples and sweet potatoes acted like we were trying to murder her with green beans. So far, she is just eating one solid meal in the evening and we have been making all of the purees ourselves. I hope we can keep up with that when she starts eating more.

On the sleep front, our troubles seem to be lessening. I attribute this turn of events to the fact that I did the one thing that I said I would never do: I let her cry it out.

You might recall that I was trying to go the “no tears” route after we moved her to her crib at the end of December. But, after nearly two months, progress seemed to reach a standstill, mostly because the night-wakings were still pretty frequent and it was taking more and more time each night to get her back to sleep during them. I tried to be patient and kept telling myself she would sleep on her own “when she was ready,” but I could not stop envisioning all kinds of worst case scenarios, involving none of us sleeping through the night until she was a teenager.

I reached my breaking point after one rough night a couple of weeks ago. Chester and I had gone out for dinner, and she was particularly clingy with me when we got home. I had a heck of a time putting her down to sleep in her crib. Whenever I managed to sneak away, she was up again within 30 minutes. I gave up around 2 a.m. and just brought her into our room, thinking that the next night, when we would be back to our regular routine, would set her straight.

Well, the next night was even worse. After several trips upstairs within the space of an hour, I put her down in her crib and let her cry. For the next fifteen minutes, I went to check on her periodically until she fell asleep.

I would not have been comfortable letting her cry it out after we had just moved her to her crib around four months. But, as she approached six months, I knew that she knew how to self-soothe and that my going into her room in the middle of the night was just something we were both relying on out of habit. In spite of these rational thoughts, those 15 minutes felt like an eternity and I felt like the worst mother ever. But, I was encouraged by the fact that she ended up sleeping straight through to 5:30 a.m. The next two nights, she cried for about five minutes each. By the fourth night, she was out in less than five minutes. And, that’s pretty much the way it’s been ever since. There are still times when she wakes up in the middle of the night, but she can fall back to sleep on her own almost immediately. I know that there are probably still some sleep regressions ahead of us, but I think we are on the right track at this point, particularly because all of us have been sleeping a bit better these last few weeks.

The older Little B gets, the more I fall in love with her. The more she is able to do, the more I get excited for all the experiences that I want to share with her as she grows up. I can’t wait to see what the second half of the year has in store for us!