Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Swaddle Blankets {Happiness pictures}

My baby LOVES the swaddle blankets - he pulls it all up around his face and nuzzles in when he goes to sleep.  His whole body relaxes noticeably when he gets his hands on his favorite blanket.  I always like to have a few 'favorite' blankets... for those moments when 'there is absolutely.no.way. that I am putting this nasty thing into your bed.'
In fact I have found on our family trips or camping trips, it is best to have one blanket designated for the crib and a separate one assigned to the more dirty duties - beach afternoons, holding spots on the bleachers in Williamsport, etc.
BUT.... those brand name blankets are very expensive at 4/$50 - they are super nice, but to stock up it is a little expensive.  Believing I could make a set, I did a bit of searching and found this fabric from fabric.com.  Initially, some of the fabric was really coarse feeling, with each washing they become more and more cuddly perfect.
 I pre-washed all of the fabric before attempting to sew these blankets.  I cut out a square of fabric that was as wide as the width of the fabric.  As suggested in several of the on-line posts about sewing with cotton gauze/muslin, I did not pin the edges, but slowly rolled them over and sewed the hems in place.
 I love that the end product is a perfect square - exactly what I need to swaddle my babies.  This particular set was given as a baby shower gift.

Happy Photos for my past week or so:
Day 14: Who does not enjoy to swing?  Even I took a ride on this day!

Day 16: He was explaining to me what smiling and crying meant at the same time 'Happy-Sad"

Day 17: I will stay warm this winter

Day 18: Throwing sand/rocks in the lake.  What a perfect way to pass some time.

Day 19 - biggest boy giving the other a ride into town 
Day 21: Saying good-bye to our friend, in a very great party!

Day 22: We celebrated our 14 year anniversary.  And took an overnighter in Minneapolis

Day 23: I filled my cart and emptied my wallet at IKEA.

Day 24: My almost 5 year old can ride a bike... He was taught by his much younger cousin...

Day 25: The 3rd one from the left side is mine - the others are his birthday buddies.

Day 26: Mostly was a sewing mess... oh well, Life will continue.

Day 27: They thought it was kind of funny that he is taller than his auntie.

Remember friends, it is a choice - choose to find happiness in the little things!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Curling Ribbon

I hosted a baby shower last week, and rather than buy a traditional corsage for the mamma -to-be, I embellished a small wrist rattle.
The only curling ribbon in my house was red or green - not what I wanted for a baby shower.  But... I did have a plethora of very skinny satin ribbon that was perfect.  The problem was... how to get perfect spiral curls.
Instead of looking around online (which I am sure you can find somewhere out there), I called my mom because I knew she had done something like this before - back in her hair bow making stage of life.  I was even a luck recipient of a spirally curled pom-pom for the top of my ever present ponytail!
I had a 1/4" wooden dowel that I was going to use, but after talking to my mom, she suggested a metal knitting needle.  I happen to have a few of those laying around my supplies (although they have been hibernating lately).
I tried different methods of wrapping - most ribbons were neatly wrapped on top itself in a sort of layered/concentric fashion.  The last 2 lengths I wrapped in a spiral.  There was not much of a difference in how they turned out - the spirally wrapped ones, maybe had a more uniform curl than the layered ones.
There were 10 lengths of ribbon 8" long each.  After I wrapped them on the needle I needed to secure them somehow - I did not want stick residue on them, and I was afraid that tape would do that after baking in the oven.  I ended up using small metal pins with out plastic heads.
The top 2 unfurled ribbons in this picture were spirally wrapped on the needle.
The next 2 were wrapped onto of themselves - you can see the larger curl on the pink ribbon.

  • Preheat to 250 degrees.  
  • Wrap ribbon around a metal knitting needle (I used size 10) - or other metal cylinder, secure with small metal pins.
  • Place knitting needle with the wrapped ribbon directly on the middle oven rack
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the needle and set on counter to cool completely.  This is important, for the curls to stay tight leave them wrapped on the needle until they have cooled off completely - about 1 hour.
  • Carefully pull ribbon off needle
  • Add to your project - you can shape and fix ribbon curls as needed.

To attach the newly curled ribbons to the rattle toy, I stuck a safety pin through the wrist band of the toy and then added the ribbons to the right side of the toy.  Once all 10 ribbons were added, I put the pin back through the wrist band and closed it.
The pin in the top of this picture has the curled ribbon fastened to the toy.
The lower pin was what I used to pin it to the guest of honor.
I was pleased with the result - a beautiful corsage for the shower that was not too big and bulky.  Then once the little honey arrives, it can be used as a toy.

Remember: Happiness is a Choice!


Link up to some of these parties.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Menu on Monday {Crock Pot: Beef Bourguignon}

Everything in my house runs more smoothly when the 'what's for dinner?' question is answered before lunch time.  That means that meal planning should just be a given, however it is one of the first things that slips in this house when life gets a bit crazy.  It makes absolutely no sense that this should happen, because I KNOW that it not only helps my sanity, but also our budget. 
By creating a meal plan, I shop from a list and generally for 5 or 6 meals in one shot.  The largest struggle for me is coming up with a varied menu that will please the largest number of people in my house.  
I have a few picky eaters...  The eldest will. not. mix corn in with anything - he likes corn and eats it, but only after he has eaten everything else.  He also does not like stuffing (neither does the second child) or cheese except on pizza because apparently it belongs in pizza.  But he is not even my worst - I have a couple kids who do not generally like ground beef - meat balls, meat loaf, spaghetti, but will eat hamburgers and tacos - go figure. Another one who does not eat potatoes or ketchup.  
And salads.... lets just say that goes over best if I clean a bowl of lettuce and keep all the veggies separate so that each person can add only the things that they like to eat.
I know that consistency is key in raising a family, but who does not have days where they feel like they are on top of things and ready for the battles that matter - like food into their little bodies.  And other days when whatever is easiest is what happens.  Poor kids are really subjected to the ever changing hormones in their mammas, good thing they are pretty resilient and forgiving! 
To sum it up - no casseroles, no spaghetti, minimal soups.  But occasionally I sneak these things into my meals because most of us will eat them.
I grocery shopped on Friday for meals for the next week.  I have a general meal plan sketched out, but we have already eaten Monday's meal on Sunday, so obviously I am not very great at sticking to my menu.  It will all be ok because I have the needed ingredients for the following meals in my house:

My Monday Sunday meal was Crock Pot Beef Bourguignon adapted from this delicious recipe from Aggie's Kitchen.  I used the wine one time while I was cooking, but did not care for the taste.  Here is my changes - and larger quantities:

5 pounds sirloin tip roast
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
 beef broth
1/4 c tomato paste
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tablespoon dried marjoram leaves
1 small bag of baby carrots
1 bag fresh pearl onions

I just put all of this into my crockpot (sometimes I will brown the roast, but often times I just dump and go about my day) and cook it on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.  I boiled some red skin potatoes to serve the meat and veggies over - it was delicious.  Ten of us (2 adults, 1 teenager, 6 kids, and 1 baby) ate until we were full, and I have enough left overs to make a stew later this week - just boil more potatoes and mix it all up for an easy meal.

Remember Happiness is a Choice!  Have a great day.

Linked to some of these parties.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happiness Update

I am 13 days into the 100 days of Happiness Challenge.  It was interesting to me that roughly 2 days after my previous post, this post by Becoming Minimalist was in my news feed on Facebook.  I love the list that is given for helping to find happiness - especially the one about holding back a complaint.  At times just biting our tongue and not saying something is the best option in moving forward.  I am not advocating internalizing all of our feelings, but minor complaints are so much better when they are not verbalized.  I so love the Becoming Minimalist site for the straightforward perspective they give on what life is truly about - NOT THINGS!

Day 5: Fairy lights on my trailer.
I will be honest.... I am enjoying this project.  There was one night as I was heading to my bed in my camper last night that I almost panicked that I did not take a picture.  It was not because I did not have moments of happiness through the day, but that I just had not grabbed my phone and photographed them.  Thus the photos of my fairy lights on my camper, and they do make me happy.  My dearest made some comment about rednecks and Christmas while I was putting them up.  :)

But in almost 2 weeks, I have only scrambled 1 time, and I think that was pretty great.  I realize that it is so often the little things in my life that makes me happy - getting out for a run, visiting family, christmas lights on my awning, cousins celebrating birthdays, my right to vote, Lake Superior...
Day 6: Sample ballots at my polling location.
And really most of these things have one thing in common - they cost absolutely nothing!  I did not even think about that until I wrote this post.  Of course our camping trip cost us some money - for the site, the camper, the supplies, but the actual cousin time is not a paid for activity.  There is so much focus in our generation on creating magic for our families that we miss the happiness that can be found in the enjoyment of life's small moments.
Day 10: Our final evening at the campground - {that guy makes me happy, too!}
Sitting by the shores of this absolutely stunning lake reminds me of why I put up with our nonexistent spring weather.  The fresh clear water is not easily matched anywhere else.
Day 12: Towels ready for the next beach day. {And yes - I always roll my beach towels like this!}
I am a transplant to this area.  I could mope and groan about being 500+ miles from my childhood home and parents, however, I have chosen to embrace the life we have here.  The small town is a great place to raise a family - and although there is times I crave the anonymity of a large city (grocery shopping can be an all day affair if you let it), I enjoy the community and atmosphere of the small town.
Day 13: Baby rolls fresh from the bath.
 And then of course it comes back to the fact that where my family is - my heart will also be.  This baby is our largest so far, but at baby boy #6, he needs all the advantages he can get if he ever starts to try keeping up with his brothers.

Oh the happiness I even feel in my heart as I blog about these photos reminds me again that my life is pretty terrific ...8 babies who love me, and I get to be a mom to ...a husband who completes my missing pieces and smoothes out my rough edges ...extended family who loves me for me ...in-laws I feel grateful for giving me my best friend ...a home in a location with positives that far outweigh the negatives ...our health - mine, my children, my husband, our parents, my grand parents.  I really am so lucky.

Again my friends... Happiness is a choice.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Happiness is a Choice

My cousin shared a link on Facebook earlier this week that I really felt a great urge to participate.  It was the 100 Happy Days Challenge.  I love the concept of tracking the things in my life that make me happy. 
Day 1: Good morning calls for the baby girl.

It also got me thinking about the concept of happy...
  • ... it is a choice - I truly believe that in order to find and feel happy a person has to decide that it is a priority for them personally.  
  • ... I find happiness in my kids, friends and extended family, and I am sure that my photo journal will show that to be true.  However, it is not on them that I depend to provide my happiness.  I choose to feel their happiness deep inside of myself.
  • ... happy people ALWAYS try to find the silver lining.  A lost friend is someone you may 'find' again one day... a rainy day means the much needed inside jobs can be tackled... a family heartache means chances to appreciate the ones that matter... an illness means that we can take a much needed rest... {but I believe that this desire to find that silver lining is a learned behavior that must be cultivated in each person - it is always easy to find negatives and reasons why we should be upset or frustrated.  Challenge yourself to find a reason to be happy}
  • ... happiness can manifest itself in many ways in an individual.  It does not mean that a person must walk around giggling at all times - it seems that there is a scale of happiness... Giddy being on one end and contentment being on the other.
  • ... I can think of times when giddiness takes over and made me feel like a young child again.
  • ... and of the other side of that where utter contentment made my heart want to burst with happiness.
  • ... In this discussion, it seems that the contented type of happiness would be a more mature and grown up feeling.  But I truly believe that we all need both ends of the happiness spectrum in our lives.
Of course there are more ways to describe a happy feeling, and I have done no research on this matter, so these are just my own thoughts on the subject.  As I said above I have been thinking about this concept for a couple of days, but had nothing concrete written prior to sitting down at my computer tonight.

Day 2: Water fights in the front yard on a hot day.

I will be sharing my pictures on Instagram under the public hashtag #100happydays and #amyishappy, but I will also upload photos here in my attempt to start to actually keep regular posts on this blog.

If you feel the need, please join me via the link above on this journey for the next 100 days.

Day 2 (bonus): Evening sunset at the state park with part of the family.
Happiness is a choice.

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