Halloween Cupcakes, Take 2

October 31, 2011

I’ve only baked a handful of times this year since I’ve been preoccupied with other things (you know, my son, my husband, my wreck of a house, etc). The large blocks of free time that are required for baking are hard to come by these days! But I had the itch to bake and I had a relatively free weekend ahead of me AND Halloween was on the other side of that weekend which meant it was the perfect opportunity to make some Halloween cupcakes and pawn them off on my coworkers!

I made Halloween cupcakes before and these are similar, decoration-wise. But this time I wanted to try out a new yellow cupcake recipe. I looked at this handy comparison of 3 different yellow cake recipes from The Way The Cookie Crumbles, and decided to try Martha Stewart’s Yellow Butter Cake. I was hoping for a cupcake that had a bit of a dome to it because I need that sort of cupcake for an upcoming project, but it didn’t work out with this recipe. It’s a good cake, but it made flat cupcakes. Oh well, the search for a well-domed cupcake continues.

I used this vanilla buttercream recipe that has now become my favorite, and I mixed up several different colors in order to make jack-o-lanterns, vampires, a plain black for behind the spider webs, and the eyeballs. The eyeballs were an afterthought – I had some leftover batter so I made a few mini cupcakes and eyeballs seemed like a good choice for those. The spider webs are made of white chocolate. I forgot what a pain in the butt those were to make!! The white chocolate has to be exactly the right amount of melted for piping and I could barely complete one web before having to re-melt the chocolate.

Baby Registry Advice

October 25, 2011

When we were about to start our registry, I looked online for a checklist. I found one on the Babies R Us website, but it was honestly ridiculous. It was SO long and certainly not all of those things are “must haves”. Dryer sheets? You’re not even supposed to use those for drying baby clothes, why are those on the list? 5 different kinds of strollers? No.

Target had a more reasonable list (but still had a few odd ball things – puppets??). I printed that out and used it along with recommendations from friends to figure out what we really needed. For this, I’m going to use a list from Baby Center, plus I’ll add a few things that I’ve commonly seen. I’ll go down that list and let you know what we registered for and what has been the most useful for us. Everyone’s opinion on what you’re going to get the most use out of is going to vary, so my opinion here is just one of many. I hope it helps someone! (Click on the images for a link to the item.)

I put a star_gold_256 by the items we used most often or are particularly pleased with.

(Please excuse the formatting. I’ll spare you a long rant on the subject, but just know that it makes my eye twitch.)


When I first published this I had a 4 month old. Now I have a 4 month old AND a 2.5 year old. Slightly more experience has led me to update this post 🙂


We did not register for any clothing. People can’t resist buying baby clothes, so we figured we’d see what we had after our baby showers and we’d fill in the gaps.

One piece outfits (5 to 7)

  • You’ll need more than 5 to 7 onesies. We had about 5 newborn sized onesies and 15-20 0-3 month onesies.

Shirts (5 to 7)

  • We did not have any shirts when Caelan was a newborn. Leah only had a couple. I personally find them annoying on small babies because they ride up constantly on babies who are always held or laying on the floor. Caelan wore shirts more once he was walking (10 months old).

Leggings or pull-on pants (5 to 7)

  • Caelan didn’t start wearing pants until he was about 3 months old but Leah wore them earlier. About 8 pairs is good.

Outer layers, sweaters, jackets

  • Not needed at first for either of my kids since they were born in the Summer. However, a fleece hoodie was all they needed in the Winter when they were still in the infant car seat. Large puffy winter coats aren’t safe to be worn in the car seat, so a warm hoodie, a blanket, and a hat was all they needed.


  • Caelan and Leah wore cotton beanie hats in the Fall and a fleece hats in the Winter. They did not need hats indoors, even when they were newborns.

Socks and booties

  • A 6 pack of socks is fine to start with.

Mittens and snowsuit

  • Mittens are not really practical for an infant, but Leah did wear them. Neither of my kids had snowsuits as infants.

Pajamas/sleepers (5 to 7)

  • We didn’t use these when Caelan was a newborn because it was summer so a onesie and a swaddle was enough. Once we started using sleepers, 5-7 sounds about right. A mix of cotton and fleece is good.



  • We started with a box of Pampers Swaddlers Newborn size with Caelan and he was in those for 6 weeks. Leah wore NB diapers for about 3 days before we put her in size 1’s. She was only 8-ish lbs at the time, so depending on your baby’s shape, they may or may not fit in NB diapers. I’d get some NB and some 1’s to start. I wouldn’t stock up on any brand or size because it’s hard to know what will work until your baby is here.


  • We use Pampers Sensitive, but there are plenty of options. I buy wipes (and diapers) in bulk.

Wipes Warmer

  • Definitely not a necessity. I wouldn’t have purchased one on my own but we received one as a gift for Caelan and we did use it. We threw it away when the bottom kind of melted (!) and we did not get one for Leah.

Diaper rash cream

  • We registered for A&D ointment. We use it mostly preventatively at bedtime. For an actual diaper rash, the purple Desitin has worked best for us.

Diaper Bag

  • I had the Skip Hop Dash Deluxe with Caelan and I loved it. When Leah came along I got a bigger Skip Hop (Duo Double). Bill got a Diaper Dude but we almost never use it. He carried my diaper bag a lot which is why when I got my Duo Double, I just got a plain black one and skipped the flowers.

Diaper Pail and Liners

  • We registered for the Diaper Genie Elite II and refill liners. Sure, you can probably get away with just a regular trash can and trash bags, but we like the Genie and it does contain the smells.


Baby Carrier

  • We did NOT register for one of these because one friend lent us a ring sling and another friend lent us a Baby Bjorn. I like the Bjorn, but if I was going to register for one, I’d go for one of the Ergo’s. (EDIT: I got an Ergo when Leah was a few months old. Definitely my favorite carrier! I’m not big on baby wearing, but with 2 kids, it sometimes made a lot of sense.)

Stroller & Car Seat

  • We chose the Chicco Keyfit 30 for our infant car seat because it came highly recommended and we (slightly) preferred it to the Graco Snugride when we compared the two in the store. It’s super easy to snap in and out of the base and to adjust the straps. The only cons are that it gets a little warm and it’s heavy (but most infant seats get heavy as your kid gets heavy!). About car seat height and weight limits…In all likelihood, your child will outgrow the height LONG before the weight so don’t give the weight limit much consideration. (Caelan is STILL under the weight limit at age 2 1/2 though we moved him out of the seat when he was 8 months old.)
  • We opted to go with a travel system (Cortina – stroller + car seat). A lot of people don’t like travel systems because they’re big and bulky, but we found the stroller very easy to maneuver when we “test drove” it in the store. We also liked the idea of getting 1 stroller that we could use with the infant seat when Caelan was little and without the infant seat later on. That’s all good in theory but the thing is that we didn’t like using the stroller later on because it was so big. We picked up The First Years Jet umbrella stroller when Caelan was about a year old and that is what we use for him now. In retrospect, we should have done what everyone told us to do and get a Snap-N-Go stroller frame for the infant seat and then a mid-weight umbrella stroller for later.

Convertible Car Seat

  • We did NOT register for a convertible car seat. Honestly, I didn’t feel like researching it at the time and we didn’t need it until Caelan was about 8 months old, so we skipped it on the registry. But, for the record, we have Britax Marathons for him and they are great.

Car Mirror, Sun Shade

  • We did NOT register for a mirror or a shade. But I did go out and purchase this mirror and I love it. I love being able to see him while I’m driving.

I bought film to put on my windows for the sun but I never put it on.

Play Yard

  • We got the Graco Pack N Play Crawford. I agonized over this selection and you know what? We have barely used it in our house. We primarily use it for travel and when Caelan stays at his grandparents’ house. It’s definitely a “must have” but the canopy and changing table features aren’t very useful. A basic PNP would be just fine.

Stroller Sack

  • We did NOT register for this.


Nursing/feeding pillow

  • star_gold_256  The Boppy is the most popular choice for this and we definitely registered for one, plus 2 covers. It’s great to have, not just for feeding, but for laying the baby on or helping him sit.

Breastfeeding accessories (lanolin, breast pads, etc)

  • I did NOT register for these things, but I purchased them myself and ended up barely using them with Caelan, but more often with Leah.

Breast Pump

  • I did NOT register for a pump because I did not plan on pumping, but if you DO plan on pumping, definitely register for one. If you plan to pump regularly (like at work) get a double electric. I had a manual (Ameda) and it was fine for once a day pumping but would have been terrible for anything more than that.

Breast Pump accessories (milk storage bags, etc)

  • I used Lansinoh milk storage bags. I did not register for them though.

Burp cloths (6-12)

  • Gerber prefold cloth diapers are the best for this. The cutesy ones aren’t as absorbent. We registered for 2 6-packs (6 ply, not 3 ply!).

Bottles (4-12)

  • After hearing many recommendations for Born Free and Dr. Browns, I registered for both. Both of these bottles have 7 parts (if you count the lid). That is A LOT of parts to wash every freaking day. I really don’t like the Dr. Browns bottles at all. They leak, and they are skinny so they are harder to wash, and I am always spilling powdered formula when filling them. We used them for awhile because I was too cheap to buy more Born Free bottles. Which brings me to the downside to the Born Free bottles – they are expensive. We only registered for a couple of the small ones (5oz) in the beginning to make sure Caelan liked them (some kids are picky) so once we knew he did, I had to buy more. However, they have a wide neck, which I love. Bottom line: register for 2 different kinds in case your kid is picky. Don’t stock up because you don’t know what’s going to end up working.

Extra Nipples

  • Skip registering for this until you know which bottle/nipple works for you and your kid.

Bottle brushes (2)

  • We registered for the Munchkin one. One should be sufficient, though you’ll need to replace it eventually.


  • There’s not really a need to register for this. If you sign up with the formula companies, they’ll give you samples (as will the hospital and the pediatrician, if you ask) and that will be enough to get you started (if you’re formula feeding of course).

Bottle drying rack

  • We registered for The First Years Spin Store Dry Rack Organizer. It’s always in use.

Dishwasher baskets

  • We registered for this 2-pack from Munchkin. Essential if you want to put bottle parts in the dishwasher.

Bottle warmer

  • We did NOT register for one of these, nor did we have one with Caelan. He would take his bottles at room temperature and we didn’t make up and refrigerate bottles ahead of time, so we had no need for a warmer. Until Leah. Miss Picky needs her bottles warm so I picked up this Munchkin High Speed Bottle Warmer and it does the job. I like it because it’s small and takes up very little space. It does leak a little.


High Chair

  • We registered for the Fisher-Price Space Saver high chair. It straps to a regular chair so it takes up less space (but it does take up a kitchen chair). It also converts to a booster seat (a feature we never used). This was one of the few things we registered for that we wouldn’t need for months.

Bowls, spoons, sippy cups

  • We did NOT register for these. You won’t need them until 4 months, at the earliest.

Bibs (3 to 5)

  • star_gold_2563 to 5 is a HUGE under estimate! We had about 25-30 (EACH for Caelan and Leah) and we’re constantly running out. I registered for this set of 10 from BRU and I love them. I later went out and bought another 10 pack. Most of the bibs that come with the clothing sets are cute but worthless. For Leah, I also got a set of these with a waterproof liner. Very cool.

Splat Mat

  • We did NOT register for this but we got this one when we were still feeding Caelan in our carpeted dining room. We no longer use it since we all eat in the (tiled) kitchen now.

Baby food maker

  • We did NOT register for this as I do not plan to make homemade baby food. However, if you do want to make it from scratch, I’ve heard an immersion blender is all you need.


Pacifiers (2 to 4)

  • We registered for Avent pacifiers, but I later bought Nuk ones and we like those better. It’s a matter of your baby’s preference really!

Bouncy Seat

  • star_gold_256 We use this thing daily. We mostly keep it in the kitchen so Caelan (and later Leah) can hang out while I’m cooking or doing dishes.

Play mat/gym

  • We did NOT register for this, but we probably should have. We picked this one up a few weeks after Caelan was born and he enjoys it. The mirror is great because we can remove it and use it somewhere else (he LOVES the mirror).


  • We got a travel swing to save space (and money). Caelan didn’t like it at first and barely spent anytime in there. Then when he was 3 months old he started refusing to sleep in the crib so he slept in the swing for a month or more. Life saver. Leah is also a fan of this swing.

Doorway jumper and/or Activity Center

    • We did NOT register for this, though many people do. I just didn’t want to have to store it for months and months before he was old enough for it. When Caelan was 4 months old we got a Jumperoo (the FP Rainforest one based on the staggering number of good reviews). When Caelan outgrew his bouncy seat, we needed a place to park him for entertainment!

Books and Toys

  • We did NOT register for any books or toys for kind of the same reason we didn’t register for clothes. People like to pick out books and toys for gifts so we just didn’t bother registering for any.


Wearable blankets (2 or 3)

  • More commonly known as Sleep Sacks. We did NOT register for any of these, though we received 1 as a gift. Since Caelan was born in the summer and was swaddled when he was tiny, we didn’t have any use for these until he was about 4 months old and it started getting cooler. At that point I went out and bought a couple. Halo and SummerInfant both make them and both brands are good.

Swaddling blankets (3)

  • People swear by these aden + anais swaddling blankets. I personally didn’t like them for swaddling because they were too huge (even folded). But they are still good blankets because they’re nice and thin and they’re a little stretchy.
  • star_gold_256  We used these Summer Infant SwaddleMe’s constantly until Caelan was 3 months old. We actually registered for 2 in different patterns (rather than this 3 pack). But I ended up going out and getting a 3rd one. Even if you can wrap a perfect swaddle, this is so much easier on you and much harder for them to bust out of. With Leah, she outgrew these pretty quickly and we used a Halo Swaddle Sack with her. It’s a combination of a sleep sack and a swaddle and it was great.

Receiving blankets

  • We received one 4-pack of Carter’s receiving blankets. They’re too small for swaddling so we didn’t really use them much but it’s nice to have extra blankets around (for stuffing in the car seat, etc).

White-noise machine

  • We did NOT register for this, but we received the Sleep Sheep as a gift. It plays 4 different soothing sounds and we use it nightly.
  • Not exactly white-noise, but the Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Soothe & Glow Seahorse (or just “the Seahorse”) is pretty awesome. It’s pretty much like the glow worms of yore only better. Even Bill and I liked falling asleep to the Seahorse when Caelan was tiny. Caelan still uses his.

Night light

  • We did NOT register for a night light because I couldn’t find one I liked at the time. I bought one later.

Crib sheets (3 to 5)

  • We registered for 3 of these (and we got one with our bedding set for a total of 4). 3 would be enough though.

Waterproof mattress pad (2)

  • We registered for 2 of these. They fit well.


Baby bathtub

  • We registered for The First Years Sure Comfort Newborn-to-Toddler Tub from Target. It comes with a sling to use for those first few sponge baths when baby can’t be submerged in the water yet.

Hooded bath towels (2)

  • We registered for 2 of these, but one more might be nice.

Wash cloths (5 to 7)

  • We did register for wash cloths and we received some as gifts so we have about a dozen (which is probably too many unless you’re a laundry slacker like me).

Baby shampoo or body wash

  • I originally registered for a gift set, but I’m glad I changed my mind and just registered for this. I like it because it’s a foaming pump. We also use Aveeno Baby Wash.


Changing table or pad

  • We had limited space in the nursery, so we opted to put a changing pad on top of the dresser. It works out perfectly. We keep diapers, wipes, etc in the dresser.
  • We registered for and received 3 of these Carter’s changing pad covers in various colors. They are super soft.

Crib and crib mattress

  • We did NOT register for a crib or mattress – we purchased them ourselves. We went with the Graco Lauren crib. It was highly rated as a good, affordable option. We weren’t interested in spending a fortune on a pricey crib that Caelan would just chew on or color on with markers so this was a good choice for us. It does convert to a toddler bed, and then to a full bed. We never used the conversion feature, but most cribs are convertible these days. As it turned out, Caelan never did do any damage to the crib and it was pretty pristine when we gave it to Leah.

For the crib mattress, we got the highly rated Colgate Classica III which I ordered from Amazon. It is dual-sided, with an extra-firm (concrete slab) for infancy, and a slightly softer side for toddlerhood. In retrospect, we probably could have gone with a less expensive option, and the dual-sided feature isn’t really worth it since we only used the rock hard infant side for 3 months with Caelan (though we are still using it with Leah at 5 months). However, it is a foam mattress (rather than spring) and super light and easy to pull out of the crib for sheet changes.

Bassinet or cradle

    • This was a last minute second-hand purchase for us. I wasn’t sure we needed a bassinet because I didn’t anticipate spending a lot of time in our bedroom, but Caelan lived in that thing for the first 5 weeks and we stayed in the bedroom pretty much 24/7. It was an older version of this Kolcraft Cuddle ‘n Care Rocking Bassinet and it fit perfectly in our room. We sold it after Caelan was done with it. For Leah, we got the Graco Travel Lite crib to use in our room for her. I had hoped she’d be able to use it for travel until 6 months or so, but we’ll see. It’s really small.

Glider or rocker

  • My parents had my great grandmother’s rocking chair repaired, refinished, and reupholstered for us to have. A rocker or glider is essential – we spend many hours rocking children to sleep!


  • We did NOT register for a mobile, but it’s a good thing to register for. This one is a little bit of overkill, but Caelan loved it. He used the light projection part until he was over 2 years old. Now Leah has it in her room.

Closet organization/Baskets/Hangers

  • We did register for plastic hangers, but I bought baskets myself. Obviously you may need different organizational things depending on your closet.


  • We did NOT register for this. I bought a plastic laundry basket for his closet.


Safety gates

  • We did NOT register for these since we would not use them until he was older.

Outlet covers, Cupboard and door latches, Toilet seat locks

  • We did NOT register for these. Seriously, who wants to buy someone toilet seat locks??

Baby monitor

  • We opted to get an audio-only monitor and this one – Sony Baby Call – was at the top of the list. I personally think that video monitors and especially motion detectors are overkill for infants, but I know some parents feel better having them. Audio has been perfectly fine for us. We opted to get one with 2 receivers and that was very convenient until we lost the power cord for one of the receivers and now I realize that just one receiver is fine. We also have the Summer Infant Baby Touch video monitor. We bought it when Caelan was around 18 months old.


First aid kit

  • We did NOT register for a first aid kit, but I did purchase a few things to have on hand such as: infant Tylenol (generic), Mylicon gas drops, saline spray, small bandaids.

Bulb syringe

  • We did NOT register for one of these because we knew we’d get one at the hospital and we were told those are the best. You definitely need one though.

Teething toys

  • star_gold_256 After hearing such great things about Sophie, we did register for her. Yes, it’s expensive for what is essentially a squeak toy but it’s totally worth it. We received a 2nd one as a gift too and we stashed that one away in case something tragic happened to the first one. We ended up giving the duplicate to Leah.

Digital thermometer

  • We registered for this Vicks rectal thermometer. It’s easy to use and seems accurate. I also bought a regular digital thermometer, but I found that taking his temp under his arm wasn’t that accurate. I read that ear thermometers aren’t very accurate either for small babies, though our pediatrician uses them. Later, when Caelan was older, we purchased the Braun Thermoscan ear thermometer and I love it.

Baby nail scissors or clippers, Soft-bristled baby brush

  • We registered for this Safety 1st grooming kit from Target. Unlike a lot of the other grooming kits I saw, this one didn’t come with a lot of unnecessary things like an aspirator (we were getting one from the hospital), medicine droppers (medicines come with their own droppers), or a thermometer (we got one separately). I used the nail files when I was too chicken to clip his nails. The nail clippers are great (once I started using them). The brush is good too.

Baby-friendly laundry detergent

  • We did NOT register for laundry detergent. This seems like something you can buy yourself! That said, we didn’t buy a baby-specific detergent, just a regular one that was of the “free and clear” variety.