My Life in France

A photograph from our 2002 trip to France

I’ve been reading Julia Child’s My Life in France. Its timing was perfect because I’ve really been longing for another trip to Paris. It has been 7 years since we were there last. Way too long.

I can’t say I’ve been a huge fan of Julia Child. She seemed to be on TV a lot when I was a kid, and I didn’t have the appreciation for cooking and food that I do now.  Plus there was something about her voice and mannerism. My mom, a very good cook and who has worked in restaurants most of her life, would turn on Julia’s cooking shows sometimes and I’d sit and watch with her.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the book. Some of it is rather dry, just day to day events, but there are wonderful descriptions of the people and places she experienced during her time in Paris and then Marseille. And the food! It is so clear how passionate she was about French cooking – the countless hours she would put in to making a recipe perfect, because, in this, she was a true perfectionist. Her enthusiasm is inspiring, and makes me think that a delicious souffle or buerre blanc might be in our future.

Naturally, next on my reading list will be Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (unless I see the movie first), about how author Julie Powell spent a year cooking each one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking and then blogging about it. I’m also now curious about “Mastering the art…” as is everyone else. Apparently the cookbook will make its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. I find it a shame that Julia Child isn’t alive to see this, but that just seems to be the way of things.


Vulli Sophie Giraffe Teether – Ooo la la!

Photo above from here.

We bought a Vulli Sophie Giraffe Teether from a local toy shop yesterday. I’ve wanted to get Chloe one for a while. I know it doesn’t seem particularly fancy or engaging, but there is a certain je ne sais quoi about this little French toy.

I saw it first on DeliciousBaby. I must have been blog-surfing when I found Debbie’s excellent advice on traveling with infants, plus kid-friendly city guides to destinations around the US, Canada and Europe. Instantly I imagined Chloe and I in Paris, her dressed Madeline-style and us sitting at a cafe, eating chocolate croissants and taking in the atmosphere of a very-much-hoped-for-someday mother-daughter experience.

My attention finally returned to the computer  and I found her list of recommended baby travel toys, including Sophie, “the most popular baby toy in France”. After that, I would see Sophie again and again, on sites like Land of Nod, Diapers.com and Amazon, where it is ranked as their #1 selling baby toy.

At almost 9 months, Chloe still has no teeth. We also have two flights scheduled to visit each set of grandparents within the next couple months. And I kept thinking about that little teether. Now we have one.

So what is all the fuss about?

Sophie has been in production since 1961, “born” in France on May 25th, St. Sophie’s day. She is made from 100% all natural rubber (BPA and Phthalates free), derived from the sap of the Hevea tree. She smells like rubber, too, but not unpleasantly so. She stands about 5 inches tall and squeaks when you squeeze her. Her body feels soft and yielding, yet firm, like skin. She is slightly cool, but not cold like hard plastic. Her spots, painted with food grade paint, are attractive to baby, and I think her various parts – ears, horns, legs, mouth, etc, provide just the right amount of stimulation for the mouth and gums. She is also very easy to grasp, even for little ones.

So, am I silly to spend so much for a little rubber toy? Probably. But Chloe likes it, and that is good enough for me. 🙂


Baby Carrier Recommendation – Beco vs. Ergo

During our recent trip we decided to leave the stroller at home, making our Beco baby carrier a constant companion. Carriers are an indispensable parenting tool, keeping baby safe and close while conveniently allowing the hands free to do other things.

Before our daughter was born, my husband found a local store that carried both Moby Wraps and Ergo Carriers, so that we could try them out. This is where we were introduced to the Beco. I was hesitant at first, because A) I had never heard of the Beco, B) it was more expensive, and C) I already felt sold on the Ergo from all the good things my friends had to say. However, the sales lady was very knowledgeable, and clearly stated the differences so that we could decide for ourselves. In the end, we decided on both a Moby (which I also highly recommend) and a Beco (which David preferred over the Ergo).

Since I don’t own an Ergo, I can’t speak from experience of having both, but they have a very good reputation. However, there are several features which set the Beco apart. The feature my husband liked best (besides the fact that the Beco fit us both equally well) was that the Beco sits baby in a pouch, so that even if the waist belt somehow came undone, the baby would not fall through. This makes transferring the baby from person to person, which I have done, very easy. On the Ergo, a person to person transfer is impossible without taking the baby out completely and then re-settling her into the carrier. The Ergo’s waist belt forms the pouch, so the baby is only secure if the waist belt is fastened.

The initial cost of a Beco is more than the initial cost of an Ergo, however the Beco comes with the infant insert, and the Ergo’s must be purchased separately for an extra $25-$38. The Beco insert attaches to a large velcro strip on the inside of the pouch creating a raised seat, suitable for newborns and infants. The Ergo insert looks like a small, thick quilt, in which you wrap the baby (much like a hot dog bun) before inserting her into the carrier. Both carriers come with an adjustable hood. The Beco hood is removable and tucks into the front of the waistbelt. Tthe Ergo’s is permanently attached and tucks into the front pouch.

Another appealing feature of the Beco is it’s thinner profile and the multiple available patterns. I am stopped surprisingly often by curious and admiring mothers and grandmothers asking what brand it is. We have the River print (shown above). The one feature that the Ergo has that I’d love on the Beco is a zipper pocket.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion, there is no way of knowing which bag is right for you and your baby until you try them on yourself. We purchased ours before the baby came, so we wouldn’t have to bother with it afterward. Honestly, I highly recommend either one, especially if you’re into attachment parenting or just want the convenience of a safe and alternative mode of transportation, other than a stroller.

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Crazy for Craft Books

I have recently gone crazy for craft books from our local library. So many good ideas, and inspiring photos, and (thankfully!) step-by-step instructions! Sadly, my library doesn’t have many of the titles I would love to check out (Sew Easy Bags, Amy Butler’s In Stitches, Sublime Stitching, Make Your Own Contemporary Quilts, The Apron Book, Sock and Glove, etc), so I may spend some time filling out request forms, or possibly buying them myself.

I know, I know, please spare me the lecture on how other people can’t borrow these books if I have so many at home. I get it enough from my husband. Recently, right before our weekly visit, he even asked if I was ready to return the library. What can I say? Aren’t libraries for lending (thank goodness!)? And where else can I indulge both my love of books and love of crafts without spending a penny (except in fines…oops)!

Here are the one’s I’ve borrowed most recently (not mentioning the ones queued up on my inter-library request list!):

sew subversive
Sew Subversive
This one has been most informative, especially the intro chapters
You + Your Machine and Gearing Up for Your First Sewing Project.

complete idiot's guide to sewing
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sewing

stitch 'n bitch
Stitch ‘N Bitch – The Knitter’s Handbook
This book was recommended by Rachel, a very nice “crafty” person
I met at Border’s when I bought Lotta Jansdotter Simple Sewing.

sew easy
Sew Easy

99 ways t-shirt book
99 ways to cut, sew, trim, & tie your T-shirt

I wanna make my own clothes
I wanna make by own clothes

sew teen
Sew Teen
I am far from being a teen, but I loved the cute tops and easy
instructions in this book. I want to make the “baby doll tunic”
the girl on the left is wearing! Cute!

All images from amazon.com.

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