A Photo A Week Challenge: Laughter

This is my granddaughter excited to see her new baby brother for the first time. He was born in April, 2020 when siblings were not permitted to visit new arrivals in the hospital, so big sister had to wait until he came home…

A Photo A Week Challenge
meeting baby brother!

This is (still) one of my favourite pictures of this granddaughter!

Polkadots and Moonbeams, Unique Baby Gifts

Check out this impressive website, owned by my cousin Julie in Missouri, for the unique treasures offered at Polkadots and Moonbeams. These personalized baby gifts are perfect for showers, birthdays, Christmas, baptisms, or your own nursery.

Unique Gifts for New Beginnings

These beautiful works of art are hand crafted in home based studios, each one made to order, never mass produced. Custom designs are created with the details (colours, names etc) that you specify upon ordering. Orders are received in Rolla Missouri, items are crafted by individual, independent artisans throughout the USA, then shipped to your door. The concept itself is unique and very creative!

Currently, the only items available for international shipping (outside USA) are the silver pacifier clips, but Julie is working on changing that. So, be sure to check back often to see her progress! Because these unique items are made and shipped by different individuals, items ordered together may ship separately.  Please see individual product page for availability times. Your purchases can be delivered directly to your recipient too. If you wish to order several items to be shipped to different recipients, order each item separately.

If you cannot decide which item is perfect for the baby you are shopping for, Polkadots & Moonbeams gift cards are available. They have no extra processing fees and are delivered by email with instructions on how to redeem them.

Let Polkadots & Moonbeams help you celebrate the new beginnings in your life with a unique, customized, hand-crafted gift! Check out the website for further details on all the gift options and company policies.

Cheater Quilt DIY

cheater quilt

One of the DIY projects I worked on for Christmas gifts included what I call a cheater quilt. I call it that because it takes a lot less time and fabric than a real, patchwork quilt.  I have made several of the latter over the years so I know the difference.

Everything you Need for a Cheater Quilt

  • a panel (precut piece with a cute pattern on it) of fabric.  Choose the pattern wisely, based on how much quilting you want to do or have time for.  (Busy/complicated patterns will take much longer than simple ones)
  • a piece of complementary fabric for the backing, the same size as the panel.  Most of these panels have a row of colored dots along the edge showing the colors used in the pattern.  Use these dots to choose a coordinating or complementary fabric for the backing.
  • a piece of batting, also same size as the panel
  • some large safety pins
  • a good pair of sewing scissors
  • contrasting or complementary thread (I used white all over, but you can mix it up!)

Simple Steps

  • iron both the panel and backing
  • lie the panel on the floor or a table, with the good side facing up
  • place the piece of batting on top
  • place the backing fabric on top of those two pieces, with good side facing down
  • you now have a “sandwich” with three layers
  • sew three edges (2 long and 1 short if quilt is rectangular) together, using 1/2 inch seam allowance
  • snip corners of seam allowances so seams will lie flat.
  • turn the quilt right side out, so both fabrics show their right side and batting is the middle layer.
  • hand stitch last side.
  • evenly distribute safety pins throughout quilt top, pinning all three layers together.  This prevents the layers from shifting while you are quilting.  I choose spots at the edge of the various design patterns in the fabric panel as those spots will be sewn over.  (otherwise you may end up with holes in your fabric where no pattern in)
  • sew around the design patterns in the fabric panel to achieve a quilted look.  Try to stay on the lines for a tidy look.  This is referred to as “stitch in the ditch.”
  • ensure quilting is evenly spaced over the quilt to avoid bunching of batting when completed.  In my panel I stitched around the large patterns, around the edging and around the floral pattern in the corners etc.
  • remove the safety pins.  If you have placed them on the edges of the pattern as suggested, remove them as you quilt.

The Finished Product

The finished project, a DIY cheater quilt, can be hung on the wall (add tabs to the top) or used as a baby blanket for the crib or stroller.  These make great, personal gifts for the mother-to-be on your gift list.  Choose fabrics to complement their nursery décor as I did here with a baby jungle and pink/green color scheme.  You can see I forgot to iron my panel and backing before I started; oops.  I hung the finished quilt in a steamy bathroom to remove the wrinkles instead.  It is not advisable to iron a finished quilt as a hot iron will flatten the puffiness.

cheater quilt
finished cheater quilt

Breastfeeding or Bottle-Feeding, Which is Best?

Is breastfeeding better or easier than bottle-feeding your baby?  Over the years I don’t think it has ever been disputed that breastfeeding is far healthier, but bottles are certainly very convenient, especially for fathers wanting (or needing) to feed their babies.

Advantages for Breastfed Babies

The health advantages of breast milk include:

  • contains antibodies that fight viruses and bacteria
  • contains all the essential minerals and vitamins needed in the first 6 months
  • lowers the risk of asthma and allergies in children
  • lowers the chance of diarrhea and ear infections
  • breastfeeding helps moms get back to pre-pregnancy weight faster

The History of Breastfeeding

When my mother was feeding me and my siblings, (in the late 50’s and early 60’s) breastfeeding was not as popular as it is today.  Why that was I am not sure.  Moms were still predominantly “stay at home” and breastfeeding was (and still is) certainly the more economical way to go.  Maybe because of the larger families and the time commitment involved in breastfeeding.  It would be hard to concentrate on breastfeeding with a few other munchkins running around.  I have heard too that breastfeeding was considered to be an uncultured or low-class practice, an opinion that started in the early 20th century and extended almost to the 21st century.

When I was feeding my own babies (in the 90’s) breastfeeding was the thing to do.  I found it very convenient and relaxing, with no complications.  No sterilizing bottles and no filling bottles in the middle of the night.  I do know several women that had difficulties though, with low milk production or trouble with babies latching on properly.  I always said that was the advantage I had in having large babies; (my first was 10 pounds!) they had no trouble latching on and draining me every feeding.

Today, there appears to be mixed feelings about breastfeeding.  It has been making a comeback due to the increased interest in pursuing healthy, more natural lifestyles.   However, although no one can really dispute the health advantages, some modern women still feel tied down and men feel left out when choosing to breastfeed their babies.

The smart choice (in my opinion) is to do both.  Reap the health benefits for mom and baby, but make it more convenient.  Modern technology has produced very efficient (although the electric ones are costly) breast pumps and bottles with colic reducing nipples shaped like breast nipples so the baby does not get confused with different sucking procedures going back and forth.

I have seen my daughter-in-law pump two 5 ounce bottles in ten minutes, something that would have taken me hours to do by hand years ago.  Below are a few of the newest products out there for breastfeeding moms on the go; they are all greatly admired by this grandma.

The bottom line? The decision to breastfeed or bottle-feed is a personal one, best left to the mother to make.