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Tippee Sippees

No, I'm not babbling baby talk. Tommee Tippee, the most popular brand of infant and toddler feeding products in Great Britian is now available here. I received only a Tommee Tippee Explora trainer cup to review, so I can't vouch for the rest of their extensive line of BPA and phthalate-free bottles, cups (available in five different stages), bibs, and tableware. My 3-year-old Jake is past sippy cups but he quickly volunteered to try this one. I love certain details like the rubberized bottom and stouter shape that keep it from too easily toppling over. It also has an attached lid that flips back and rests in a groove—ingenious! Can't tell you how many plastic spout covers I've lost, sometimes resorting to wrapping a bare spout in tin foil. The soft spout on this cup has a special valve designed by a physicist(!) so that "almost no force is required to drink" yet remains leak-proof. I observed Jake's cheeks to see if he was sucking any less (couldn't tell) but I agree the cup seems completely leak and spill-proof with not one drip escaping even when Jake shook it violently over his head.

A recurrent gripe I've had with toddler cups and bottles is that every crevice has to be meticulously scrubbed or else mildew sneaks in. So a concern I had with the Tommee Tippee cup is that the spout inside the lid is so narrow that I can't see into it or clean it out with a brush (see photo right). A dishwasher might clean it thoroughly but I'm part of the minority who handwashes everything. It makes me nervous to think that mildew is sprouting in areas I can't see so I'm hesitant to use it at all. Another more nitpicky gripe is that the lid doesn't always screw on so the spout is centered. The spout may end up over the handle, so you have to keep placing the lid on at different angles to get it centered...a time-consuming annoyance. 


Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Translation: Happy Chinese New Year! It's the Year of the Tiger, a symbol of bravery. Even if you can't make it to Chinatown for an authentic celebratory feast, you can try this easy delicious Asian-inspired recipe by Melanie that your kids can help assemble. After testing it out, I'd call it Happy Salad! The flavors were like a sunny day—clean, bright, crisp. I never realized that Napa cabbage makes a perfect salad base. The sesame oil and spices affirm the Asian essence. (Note that I didn't have soy sauce or bok choy handy so my photo above isn't as colorful as Melanie's original recipe!) It's a lovely complement to any dinner; or add a cup of sliced chicken, shrimp, or cannellini beans to transform it into a refreshing lunch. Click here for the recipe!


Show the Love

Happy Valentine's Day!Looking for an alternative to chocolate this Valentine's Day? Ok, you're probably not, but I'll still mention a delicious option available at Acorn's Bakery in Needham. There's some irony in going to Acorn's on the sweetest day of the year, as this popular little bakery is infamous for not showing the love. The owners have been dubbed the "Cake Nazis" for their lack of social skills, scaring off more than a few customers. But if you can look past their sour faces, you'll see a cozy eatery that offers a truly impressive array of scrumptious, beautifully made paninis, quiches, soups, breads, and pastries of every kind—all made on the premises (the owners are busy cooking at 5:00 am). Note that on a recent visit, I was greeted by new counter help who were refreshingly helpful and...smiling! A longtime favorite of mine is their fruit cake. Everything about it seems light. A layer of colorful fresh fruit sits on a light cream that is also spread between layers of light spongy cake. It's minimally sweet; in fact the fruit tastes sweeter than the cake. It reminds me of the fruit-topped cakes my family would buy in Chinatown. Celebratory meals would be heavy in volume and fat, so the dessert, if any, had to be very light: orange slices or delicate pieces of cake. Try this lovely cake for Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, or any holiday. Here are more images to salivate over: