Baby Carrier Part 1: Moby Wrap

Many people, including many strangers, ask me about my baby carriers. If they’re comfortable, if I like them, are they too hot to use in the summer, etc. So I thought I’d share my experience here.

Babywearing is such an essential parenting tool, I’m not sure how some parents do without it. They must have more patience than I do because the typical parenting tools that people use instead of babywearing (mainly strollers when out and baby swings when at home) I find annoying and made my life more complicated.

One of the major reasons babywearing is great at home, is because the baby is used to being close to mommy, well in mommy’s tummy, and since the baby is still developing a sense of who they are in relation to their surroundings, it can be terrifying for them to suddenly not be close to mommy for much of the day after birth. Babywearing helps to slowly ease them as they come to learn in the coming months, that just because their food source may walk outside the room, or even just be a few feet away, it will come back and they will not starve to death. So I think from the baby’s perspective, babywearing probably means “comfort and food stay close by and I am not abandoned.”  From Mommy’s perspective babywearing means, “my baby cries less, therefore I feel less stressed, therefore I can accomplish more tasks around the house I need to, without having to hear the baby cry every time I step away.”

When you become a parent you obviously have to change your lifestyle to accomodate a new person with needs, but babywearing helps to transition you from your old lifestyle of being able to freely walk anywhere without feeling like you’re pushing a shopping cart, and being able to accomplish tasks around your house. You don’t have to just sit around all day and feed the baby. If you want to go to the kitchen and get something to eat, you take the baby with you. You wanna go for a walk outside without having to deal with confusing buckles and pillows and adjusting seat inclines? If you’re babywearing, chances are the baby is already strapped to you, so you just walk outside, it’s that easy. You wanna actually make it through the time it takes to cook dinner without the baby screaming his head off that he wants his dinner now and doesn’t care that you want to cook yours too? Stick the baby in the wrap and nurse while you stand at the stove and keep cooking. Here is an article on why babywearing is more convenient for parents and babies.

There are many ways to carry a baby in a wrap. The most traditional front carry is pictured at the top with the baby facing you, with legs out, being supported by two straps from the wrap that are spread across baby’s legs from knee to knee to give a nice supportive seat.

It’s important that baby’s knees are always at or above his bum in a baby carrier or else the baby’s not supported well and it’s bad for hip and back development. More information about how to properly support baby in a carrier is here. Some of the more famous carriers in mainstream baby stores don’t adequately support the baby. When I see parent’s carrying their babies with them, I feel sad for the baby. The baby looks uncomfortable, their back looks arched and they are getting a wedgy from the seat in the carrier, but until I learned a little more about babywearing, I didn’t know any different, and I would’ve carried my baby the same way because that’s what I had seen other people do.

Another way to carry the baby is forward facing, but make sure you have the knees up, and don’t put the baby in this position for very long, just a few minutes so they can enjoy the view a little more:

This picture reminds me that we were at an outdoor museum with  a watchtower. I wanted to climb to the top, so I just did. Other parents had to get their baby out of the stroller and carefully carry them up, or just stay down with the stroller. Babywearing made this much easier.

Here’s another forward facing position with baby’s legs in (sitting Indian style). Again don’t leave baby in this position for long, just so they can enjoy the sites for a little bit. After a few minutes you want to turn baby around again so that he’s properly supported and can easily fall asleep again if he wants.

Here we are on his first flight! Babywearing made that soooooo much easier for boarding, maneuvering through the airport and getting off, I just moved like I would normally with my carry-on on my back and baby on the front. In fact, the first flight left late, making it really close for getting to our connecting flight. We rushed through the airport as best we could and when we got to the gate they said, “Oh you made it. You’re the last ones to board.” Then they saw on the computer or something when our previous flight landed and said, “Wow you made great timing! 12 minutes… with a baby… a sleeping baby no less.” Having a stroller or carseat with us would’ve made that impossible.

Another great thing about having a wrap on the plane is Mommy getting sleep. During take off and landing they don’t let you have the baby in the wrap cause it’s not safe, they said. I still don’t really understand why, but I complied. But since we didn’t have a bassinet or anything to put him in, during the main part of the flight, I had him in the wrap securely so that I knew he wouldn’t fall off my lap, so I was able to completely relax and fall asleep without having to worry at all about the baby.

Here we are exploring a European city on one of our layovers:

Here we are visiting my grandmother in a nursing home. It was important to us that our baby meet his grandmother even if he won’t remember later. But he was at the crawling stage at this point. If I had just carried him in my arms, he would’ve wanted to get down to crawl all over the not so clean floor. If I had used a stroller that would’ve been a pain to maneuver around other people’s wheelchairs and getting in and out of the main door with the alarm, it just would’ve been a pain. This way he got to meet his grandmother and be kept away from germs.

Here we are exploring another European city, in the very cold winter. It was so much easier to just put normal clothes on him, stick him in the wrap, and wear a loose jacket that zipped around both of us to keep him warm, rather than trying to bundle him up in a crazy huge outfit with a million blankets in a stroller. I would be concerned my baby couldn’t breath in that kind of set up.

The great thing about cities is public transport, which means no carseats! Carseats are annoying, but necessary for your baby’s safety. When using trains and buses it’s so much easier to just walk on with your baby than deal with getting a stroller over the steps and into the door, or being forced to use the elevators, which are slow as molasses. Plus if you’re baby happens to need to nurse while you’re waiting for your train or bus, you just nurse your baby in the wrap. That way if your train comes and baby isn’t done nursing yet, you don’t have to sit there and wait for the next one, you just walk on like everyone else.

This picture below is just for fun. My husband took it cause he thought it looked funny, like a baby wrap tornado. We were at home about to go out and I was trying to get ready, but he needed to nurse, so I nursed him in the wrap and he fell asleep, but I needed to change my clothes. So I gently unwrapped him and laid him down on the floor, with the wrap draped next to him as it fell when I unwrapped it, while I went and changed my clothes.

Just to prove I’m not completely anti-stroller. We do own one and use it sometimes. Here he’s enjoying the stone wall that was at his level. He likes stones and gravel a lot.

Here we are (in the picture below) at a park that had nicely paved trails so we decided to use the stroller instead of the carrier when we got out of the car. But as you can see in the picture, we still wanted to venture off the trail and go in the grass, which is not stroller friendly. Most of the time that we use a stroller, which isn’t often to begin with, I end up wishing I just brought the carrier. But I still do think strollers serve some purpose: walking on nice paved areas, such as paved trails in a park or sidewalks around a neighborhood. That’s it. Anywhere else, you’ll inevitably end up needing to use stairs or walk through a narrow space, such as in a store or cafe, or will be running over people’s toes, such as in a crowd at a fair, that the stroller will just get on your nerves. And the truth is, when I look at other parents using strollers, a lot of times they look uncomfortable, annoyed and anxious to get home. I don’t see that same look with parents that are wearing their babies. And often times the strangers I mentioned earlier who ask me about my carriers are moms who look tired and frustrated and have an enormous stroller with them and tons of stuff all over it, and their babies look bored.

Why do you like babywearing? Give me your thoughts. You’re also welcome to tell me why you like strollers if you do.

Note: a Moby wrap can only be used for front or hip carries, because a baby will fall out of a back carry. Next time I’ll show you a different carrier I have for back carries with an older baby.

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Multi-Purpose Game Board

Here’s a game board my husband designed to be used with multiple chess and checkers-style games. He also designed and made some of the playing pieces himself. It was fun to make, here’s how I did it:

1. All the fabric cut into squares and laid out by color:

2. Each square placed where it needs to be, so I don’t get mixed up while sewing:

3. I worked on it in sets of nine:

4. First sewing 3 rows together and ironing the seams in opposite directions:

5. Then sewing the 3 rows together:

6. Checking to make sure the pieces fit. (this post explains why, as this is the second time I tried making this board). YAY! Successful measuring this time!:

7. Here it is, with each set of nine sewn together, a border, and a few extra markings to indicate play areas for various games:

8. My husband said the board should be stiff enough to play on without pieces falling everywhere, but pliable enough to roll up for travel, so I used iron-on interfacing. Here I’m testing the stiffness of it with some scrap fabric:

9. Testing the rollability:

10. Here’s what it’s like without interfacing:

11. Finished, front view:

12. Finished, back view:

Here are some of the games that can be played on it, with links of game rules:

1) Arimaa:

2) Chinese chess 象棋 (xiàng qí, elephant game):

3. Japanese chess 将棋 (shō gi, general’s chess):

4. kamisado. For this one he glued little circles of the fabric that I used to make the board onto the pieces, so that the colors would perfectly match:

5. Djambi:

6. Animal chess 鬥獸棋 (dòu shòu qí, fighting beasts game):

There are many more options for games on this board. These are just a few. Obviously, you can also play western chess and checkers on this board, but those aren’t picture worthy.

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Zebra Pants

So, these pants were a Goodwill find a few years ago, but they didn’t really work as pants, but the fabric is really nice, so I wanted to make something with them. After sitting on my sewing shelf for a couple of years, I finally made something with them. A purse for my sister:

Even though it’s a zebra fabric, it’s still kinda subdued on the outside, so I needed to make it more loud on the inside, with pockets of course:

Here’s my sister modeling the purse I made for her. And yes, she is an A+ Aunt.

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Homemade Peanut Butter

This is so easy, so cheap and tastes SOOO much better than store bought.

First take a bunch of raw peanuts (~ 2 cups) and place them on a baking sheet. Throw them in a preheated 350 degree oven:

Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, and they should look like this:

Place a handful in a cloth napkin or towel:

Gather it and scrunch it up to break up all the papery skins:

Then pour the contents of the napkin into a colander:

and sift out the skins:

then it will look like this:

and you’ve gotten rid of most of the papery skins that will make your peanut butter bitter:

next put through your grinder attachment, or you could put in a food processor and grind till really small:

ground roasted peanuts:

next add a little bit of oil, I added canola, but you could use peanut oil if you have it:

and stir until incorporated:

oops I forgot to add some salt, you could also add sugar or honey or molasses if you want, but I don’t like my peanut butter sweet:

store in a glass jar:

As you can see I made this a LONG time ago and took pictures, but since I’m just now drafting the post, I can’t remember how long it lasted in the fridge, but I would assume at least 2 weeks. Feel free to correct  me if I’m wrong.

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Rice Pudding

This is loosely based on a recipe from Secrets of Colombian Cooking by Patricia McCausland-Gallo.

So I had way too much milk in the fridge and it was starting to go bad, so I tried to use it up by making this.

Here’s how I made it, but I would recommend a few changes for next time:

Soak in fridge for 2 hours: 6 cups 2% milk, 1 1/2 cups rice.
Put rice and soaking milk in large pot, add 3 more cups milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks and 6 cloves, put on medium heat and slowly heat to a simmer (about 30 min).
Lower heat to low and simmer, covered, for 60-70 min stirring every 10 minutes.
After about 20 minutes it looked like it was loosing too much liquid and I wanted it to cook longer so I added 2 cups of water.
After about 70 minutes I added 1 3/4 cups sugar and chopped pitted dates and chopped prunes.

Oh I also removed the cloves and cinnamon sticks before adding the chopped fruit.

The result was a little too creamy and a little too sweet. And you couldn’t taste the cloves and cinnamon enough. So next time I think I would just stick with 6 cups of milk, and instead add 5 cups of water, or maybe soak the rice in 6 cups of water and then later add 5 cups of milk after simmering for awhile. Cinnamon and cloves seem to seep their flavor out more in water than in milk. Also the chopped dates didn’t work in it very well, the texture is strange, but prunes or raisins are good.

A few days later I blended a little of it with some plain milk and ice cubes to make an horchata (Mexican cinnamon rice drink), but the texture made it come out more like an eggnog. Anyway, it was really good.

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Steel Cut Oatmeal

Steel cut oatmeal is so yummy. Much better than using rolled oats. It is even good reheated the next day. Here’s one way to make it so you have a big batch that you can reheat in small amounts for several days. I also recently heard of a way of soaking the grains overnight and then quickly cooking in the morning. I’ll try that some other time, but this way works really well.

Pictures above with steps below according to the pictures.

1) Boil 5 cups water

2) Melt 1 Tbl butter

3) Add 1 cup steel cut oat groats and toast for 1-2 min until golden (4) and has a butterscotch aroma. Add the boiling water carefully, it will splatter, simmer for 30 min.

5) Ingredients with possible toppings: steel cut oats, brown sugar, butter, salt, pear, craisins, dried cherries.

6) fry up an egg to eat while you wait if you’re hungry like I was.

7) halfway through simmering, stir occassionally.

8)done simmering, after about 30 minutes.

9) add in little bit of brown sugar and craisins. mix it up and let is sit for a bit to cool off and rehydrate craisins a bit. serve.

10) leftovers next day: add some milk in a pot, heat on low for about 5 minutes. Just as good as previous day, but a little creamier because of the milk I also tried one time reheating it with coconut milk and homemade peanut butter (recipe coming soon) and it was SOOOOOO good.


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My First Green Smoothie

I’ve been wanting to eat more vegetables, especially greens, because they’re so healthy and taste really good and are really cheap, but they always go bad before I can cook them all. I heard about green smoothies through my Mom, who heard about it when a Mom shared her experience with drinking green smoothies at a MOPS meeting.

I looked at green smoothie blogs to get a better idea about how to make them, because my first reaction was, “eww greens in a smoothie?!” So I copied down some recipes from some blogs and I went to the store and bought the produce to try a few.

I started with romaine lettuce because I know it’s kinda mild in taste and I wanted to kind of ease my pallet into drinking green smoothies, also I needed to buy other salad ingredients anyway.

I’ve also heard a lot of good things about juicing, but something in me screams “that’s not healthy,” so I prefer to go with the smoothies. I think eating whole foods whenever possible is best. Juicing might be very hydrating and good on an occasional basis, but what about all the healthy benefits from the fiber that’s getting thrown away after juicing. I think God created us to eat and enjoy the whole fruit or vegetable. Whenever scientists have wanted to extract the perfect nutrients to consume in the form of pill or powdered formula, they have always come up short. Sooner or later studies show why some other nutrient or aspect of a food is needed for the body. I’m not phrasing this very well, but you can read more about it in The Omnivore’s Dilemma if you want. Anyway, all that to say, green smoothies are just whole foods in pureed form.

Normally making breakfast either takes a long time (like for waffles or hot cereal) or I just eat something quick like pb/j or cold cereal, but none of the above leave me satisfied for very long. I get really hungry again, within a few minutes. But this morning, my stomach felt good, not overstuffed, but not hungry either. I also felt full of energy for several hours, where as I just want to take a nap with any of the other breakfast options. Now to be fair the “full of energy” feeling may also have a lot to do with the fact that I got a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep (not woken up to feed baby) for the first time since my baby was born. Sleep is an amazing thing, and I have definitely missed it this past year.

Anyway, my 1 year old also really liked the smoothie. I gave him only a little bit to try and he downed it. And it’s not like he was totally ravenous because he had just eaten an arrowroot cookie (which is VERY sweet), a whole banana, and some blueberries. My husband liked it too, and he wasn’t really sold on the green smoothies idea when I first mentioned it to him.

I’m definitely gonna try more green smoothies. They’re cheap and delicious, and it took about 3-5min to make and 3-5 min to clean up. You can’t beat that with any quick recipe. Plus my baby is still not able to chew greens very well, but he’s at the age where he doesn’t really like to be spoon fed any more, although he will tolerate it. So it’s much easier if I can give him his greens pureed and let him drink them himself with his sippy cup and straw.

Ok, enough babbling, here’s the recipe, adapted from the recipe from the MOPS talk:

1 cup water

1 banana

1/4 head of romaine lettuce

1/2 cup blueberries

Measure water in the blender. Place banana in a few chunks. Next take the washed romaine leaves and rip them into small pieces with your hands, or roughly chop, and place on top of the bananas. Next add the blueberries.

Adding the ingredients this way made them fall down to the blades on their own (without me having to push them down with a spoon) and get chopped as evenly and as small as was possible with my blender. Hardcore green smoothie people have really powerful blenders, so they can stick a whole leaf of a green in and a whole half an apple and it’ll get thoroughly pulverized, but my blender is just a normal one, so I need to help it out a little. That’s why you see some little specks of blueberry skins, but it didn’t bother me at all. The banana gives it that smoothie texture and the blueberries and bananas together made it sweet. I could taste the romaine just a little, but it wasn’t overly bitter like I expected. It was good.

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Christmas Part 3: Hacky sack

Crocheting 3-dimensional objects is really fun. I made this hacky sack for my niece for Christmas this past year. I used orange size 10 crochet thread and cut up strips of an old pair of sweat pants for the stuffing. I could’ve used dried beans, but then it would’ve been more possible to hit and hurt somebody with it. Since my niece was soon to get a baby sister, I knew hard objects to throw would probably not be a good idea. Also I didn’t really have any dried beans at the time and it was an impulsive craft project, so I used what I had (that’s the real reason, shh).  And I know I shouldn’t be talking about Christmas right now, but I drafted this post before my baby was born 3 months ago and this is all I have time to post right now (as I sit here typing one-handed while nursing my baby).

Hacky sack: steps in pictures below.

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Christmas Part 2: Doilies/Crochet Tutorial

One of the Christmas presents I made this year was doilies. Can you believe it? I couldn’t, but somehow I did end up making doilies and I gave them to my mother in law. She likes them, so that’s good. A successful experiment resulted in good gifts. What more could I ask for?

So how did I end up making doilies? Well…..I had heard about crochet thread and when I found it in the craft store, I wanted to try making something with it. I didn’t know what it could be used for, but I just thought it might be cool to make something with such thin yarn, after having done a lot of projects, in the past, with mostly thick yarn.  So I chose 2 colors I really like: orange and blue. Below are some pictures that show the progression of how I started experimenting to make a spiral shape. If you’re new to crochet, let me encourage you to try it. It’s fairly easy because there’s only one thing you need to know: grab yarn with hook and pull through loop. That’s it. Other than that you can experiment as much as you want with how to elaborate on that, such as first wrapping the yarn around the hook, then inserting into the loop and pulling through, or putting the hook into the same loop multiple times to pull yarn through, or skipping loops. There are endless possibilities. When I want to start a new project, I make a chain and then experiment with different kinds of stitches for a few rows and then look and see what happened. If I like it, I keep going. If I don’t, I just cut it off and start over, no big deal.

Pictures from left to right, top to bottom:

1. The spools of thread I chose and the smallest crochet hook I have.

2. Getting started: tie the crochet thread to the hook with a double knot.

3. My way of holding the yarn. (I’m sure there are other ways) The yarn attached to the spool goes around your index finger, under the next two fingers, and then over the pinky. This allows you to control the tension in the yarn that you’re feeding into the project. The other loose end of yarn you hold between your thumb and two middle fingers. Hold the hook with your other hand however feels comfortable.

4. Start grabbing the yarn (attached to the spool) with your hook and pull through. Do this several times. You get a chain.

5. I formed the chain into a circle by inserting the hook into the first chain stitch I made and then pulling the yarn through both loops. I then made 2 chain stitches to give some height to the next row.

6. I’m demonstrating a simple stitch. I think it’s called single stitch, but I’m not entirely sure. (I know how to do several stitches, but don’t know what they’re officially called.) First insert the hook into the chain loop next to the hook, then pull yarn through once. You now have 2 loops on the hook. Now pull the yarn through both of those loops and start over with next chain loop in the row. Exception: to give this circle a different look, I put the hook through the center hole of the entire chain, rather than in each chain loop to begin the stitches.

7-12 are under the picture.

7. After completing one row.

8. After the second row, it started to take a 3D shape so I knew I had to add stitches each row in order to make it stay flat.

9. Demonstrating different stitch. Maybe it’s called double or half double? Wrap yarn around hook once and then insert into next chain loop. Pull yarn through once. You now have 3 loops on the hook. Pull yarn through first 2 loops. You now have 2 loops on hook again. Pull yarn through these last 2 loops and then start process over with next chain loop. I think I also experimented with pulling yarn through only the first of 3 loops on this stitch, and then pulling through the last 3 to end the stitch. Don’t know what that would be called.

I feel like this is really hard to explain, that’s why I took a bunch of pictures, hopefully they’re clear enough.

10. Demonstrating 3 loops on chain as described in #9.

11. By having rows of different stitches, the height of the rows are different. I though this gave it a nice effect.

12. So I kept going alternating the different stitch types to give different heights to the rows. The safety pin I put there to mark where I began the row. Do you see the holes in each row on the right side? That’s because I was attempting to add stitches by adding a few simple chains at the beginning of each row to add height. This is what you have to do when you start a new row in square or rectangle form. But I realized for spiral form, all you need to do is increase stitches by putting 2 or 3 stitches into the same loop. So I employed this method the next time I made a spiral.

I experimented with different techniques and shapes and ended up with the 5 pieces pictured below.

Failure # 1: I tried making certain shapes in the row, by skipping loops and then putting multiple stitches in the same loop. But it made the rows pull too much so I ended up with a triangle shape. Then I tried redeeming this shape by making into a Christmas tree with ornaments, but the orange didn’t match at all and it was just hideous at the end, so I gave up and started over.

Failure #2: I tried making a diamond shape, but it didn’t really work, than someone suggested I add a circular piece on to make it look like a Christmas stocking, but it just buckled funny and didn’t really look right.

The spiral rug, circular and square ones I did end up giving to my mother in law. I realized after I made these that they were basically doilies, but I still kinda like them. At least they’re not off-white.

Below is a picture of a possible use for them.

Next time I’ll show what I made with the orange thread. What things have you made by crocheting?

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Two Butternut Squash Recipes

I love butternut squash! It’s so creamy and orange, which is one of my favorite colors. I got two large butternut squashes from a friend’s garden and was so excited to use them. So of course when I was given the task to bring the pumpkin pie for this past Thanksgiving, I wanted to investigate using the butternut squash instead. I came across this recipe on Farmer’s Daughter, and made it. I followed the advice of someone in the comments section and roasted the squashes whole for the first 15 minutes and then took them out, cut them in half and scooped out the seeds. Then I put them back in the oven, cut side down, for the remainder of the hour. That made it so much easier to cut.

After I took them out of the oven, I let them cool a little while and then scooped out the flesh and pureed it in the food processor. Look at how beautiful and orange it is (top left pic)! It made about 6 cups of puree. So I used 2 cups right away and made 2 pies for Thanksgiving. They were soooooo good. I love pumpkin pie, but I don’t think I could ever go back now. Butternut squash pie is so much better.

If you like pumpkin pie and didn’t make any pie for pi day yet (pi day was just a few days ago), I suggest you go over the Farmer’s Daughter and check out her recipe and make it. You won’t regret it. The one thing I changed was I used half brown sugar and half white sugar, instead of all white sugar. That’s why you see the little brown specks. My brown sugar didn’t get completely broken up when I mixed it in. Oh, I think I also might’ve omitted the 2 Tbsp water, but I can’t remember. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat more liquidy texture when it first comes out of the oven. It will set and taste better after sitting in the fridge overnight. Also we tried a piece while it was still hot (because I can’t not try things right out of the oven, even if I’m bringing it to someone else’s house) and I thought it was WAY too sweet. But then after it sat in the fridge and we ate it the next day, it was perfect. I also think this pie needs no whipped cream on top.


The other recipe, unfortunately, I never got a picture of. But trust that it looks and tastes really good. I used the rest of the squash puree to make two loaves of bread. This recipe is loosely based off of a pumpkin bread recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, but I changed it a lot.

Butternut Squash Bread
makes 1 loaf

1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with oil.

2. Whisk together in a medium sized bowl:
2 cups flour (I had to use half bread flour cause I ran out of all purpose, worked fine)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 cup pecan meal (finely ground pecans)

3. Whisk together in a large bowl:
2 eggs
2 cups pureed butternut squash
1 cup sugar
1 Tbl grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla

4. Fold the wet and dry together, and then fold in:
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup dried currants

5. Put in the loaf pan and bake until golden brown and a skewer in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs (about 1 hour). Let the bread cool in the pan about 10-15  min then let it cool outside the pan on a wire rack. Tastes good hot right out of the pan or cooled to room temperature. Good topped with butter, but even better topped with peanut butter.

Posted in Breads, Desserts | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments