Happyfull, that peaceful place between wanting more and having too much.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Arriving late to this party...

I recently stumbled upon a very inspiring blog...The Anderson Crew.  Ever hear of it?!?  You gotta check it out...http://andersonfamilycrew.blogspot.com/.  On it, Emily (the mom and blogger), came up with this wonderful idea/motivational tool/challenge to get all of us moms to take more photos of ourselves.  I've got a button link on the right...

Here's her idea (cut and pasted from her blog):

embrace the camera.

do you have pictures of yourself, with your little people?
in this day and age of the "momarazzi", many of us are always behind the lens...rather in front of it.
some of you feel much more comfy behind the lens, and i get that.
look, you think i want pictures of myself in the same velour jogging suit for the 3rd day in a row {i slept in that jogging suit each night too---i know, gross, right?}
well, i don't really want those pictures...but my kids do---or, at least they will one day.
how many of you LOVE looking at pictures of your parents, when they were young{er}?
i'm raising my hand!
sadly, i don't have a lot of pictures with me and my mom from when i was younger.
i am off to change this for my kids.
i want them to have an abundance of pictures...to remind them of these days that we spent at home together.
the days may seem to drag...but honestly, the years fly.
is my son really about to graduate...from kindergarten?
wasn't it yesterday that i was wiping his diapered bottom?  and now i am wiping his pee up from all around the toilet. embrace the pee.
and embrace the camera.

She(Emily) has challenged all of us bloggers to start taking more photos of ourselves (even when we're feeling/looking gross) and posting them on our blogs under guise "embrace the camera"...and link it up with her.

She started this whole phenom back in May so I'm a little late (hence the late to the party title of this post) but I'm just gonna jump in anyway.

So here goes nothing...Embrace the Camera, Day 1 - August 29, 2011

Shore, Soleil and me at the Minnesota State Fair today.  It was our annual trip with my dad.  
Wonderful, delicious, fun.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Deeply happy...like to the core

My body is back home but my heart is still at the cabin.  
It was a simple, yet magical vacation for all of us.  We had a very, very happy week.
I kept saying to Corey, don't you just feel happy breathing in the air here?!  And it was true, a deep breath of air made every ounce of me feel alive...and happy.
The kids and I drank in every moment with Corey.  Having him all to ourselves for an entire week was the best present of all.  It felt so good and secure to be all together.
Enjoying the kids...I mean really enjoying them and being fully present and active with them, reminded me of just how amazing and special they each are.  
I think I fell in love all over again with them both.
Tomorrow I'll be back to projects and to-do lists and errands and laundry...but for the rest of today I hope to remain blissed out and happy down to my core.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We're off!

The blog might go quiet for a while.  We're heading up north to a rented cabin for week.  This is our second annual cabin vacation.  The kids and I (and maybe Corey, too) look forward to it all year.  
This was us on our way to the cabin in 2010.  I promise we're packing lighter this year.

I'm trying to talk Corey into "unplugging" while we're gone...I should probably do the same.  
See you in a week!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Across the Sea Quilt Along...the fabric

I signed up for my first ever quilt along, it's called the Across the Sea Modern Quilt Along (there is a button on the right hand side of my blog that will give you more details if you're interested).  
Some of my favorite bloggers are hosting...
With their guidance I'll be making this (front view):
(back view):
Corey's colleague's wife is having their third baby girl in September...I'm going to be making it for her.
This is the fabric that I've chosen to use: 
It's the Cape Ann collection from Oliver + S for Moda

The little sketchy flat drawings of Oliver + S patterns are my favorite.
It's an eight week quilt along, starting next week and ending the week of October 3rd.  
Stay tuned for my progress!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Here's to you, my sweet girl...

Today I am thankful for my daughter's love of reading.  Like many of Soleil's developmental milestones, she didn't start reading when everyone thought that she should.  And, of course, that led Corey and I to worry  her entire kindergarten year.  She just didn't seem to be getting it.  And she didn't care, which made us even more crazy.
Then, nearly overnight, sometime during her first grade year it all started to click...and she started.  
And then she didn't stop.  Today she would rather read than do anything else.  First it was the Rainbow Faries, then it was The Babysitter's Club, and now she is on to the Nancy Drew series.  She can read two a day.  I've stalked every Goodwill, Savers, and Salvation Army within miles looking for these books for her.
And I've loved every minute of it.


I love everything Etsy.  I love the idea of buying something that someone has made with their own two hands...with their own heart.  I love supporting someone's passion.  And being someone that makes things, I really respect the courage that it takes to put your ideas out there.  It can be a scary thing.

Anyway, this summer I treated myself to a new necklace.  I wanted something simple and beautiful that I could wear everyday.  I knew I wanted it to be silver...and have an organic feel about it.

Drum roll please...

I stumbled upon the Etsy store Burnish, and I fell in love

The simple beauty of the silver tree branch is nothing I ever would have thought of...but has made me very, very happy.  In fact, I think I've worn it every day since it arrived in the mail.

I keep thinking that one day I'll grow sick of it...but that hasn't happened yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This summer we went paperless.  Without paper napkins and paper toweling, that is.  

It has been difficult annoying at times...using cloth napkins while eating popcorn on the couch feels a little Little House on the Prairie-ish, but it's been a good change for us.  And it just feels good to use less.

Today Shore and I scored a cool basket for our cloth napkins at the Goodwill.  

And on our way into the garage we stopped at the mailbox and found a surprise present from a friend (oh my gosh, I get so excited when I get something unexpected)!!  This darling purse-sized notebook was sent to me by a friend and fellow blogger.  In her enclosed note she mentioned that I should use it to write down ideas for my blog.  Isn't that sweet?!?  It made my day.  Thank you HT!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My favorite part of the day...

Is after dinner, when we all take a walk together.  We have to soak in these beautiful Minnesota evenings while we have them.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to school clothes...for me!

I've been sick this week.  Sinus/headcold sick.  I really haven't left the house.  However, during spurts of cold medicine induced mind racing, I managed to turn out three new skirts for myself.  
I started with this pattern...Simplicity 3796, view E.  I made it exactly as they directed.  And I didn't like it.  It was too big all around and the drawstring was bulky.  So I altered the pattern by taking it all in, putting elastic in only the back, making a flat front waistband, eliminating the fly, and shortening it an inch.

And the result?  An easy to wear pull on skirt.  Perfect for volunteering at the kids' school this fall

I love having pockets in everything.  One of my favorite details on this skirt are the patch pockets with contrast edging (bias tape).

I kind of regret not matching up all of the patterns and there is a little nubbin of an anchor right in the crotch area of the green skirt that is going to drive me crazy.  But, like Corey said, I really had no business cutting real fabric this week.
RIP, the little zebra print skirt that was buried in the garbage can in an "I can't breathe" fit of hysteria.
These three were the lucky ones.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Here's to you, my sweet girl...

Today I am grateful for my daughter's love of creepy crawly things...bugs, worms, critters of all sizes and shapes.  

She isn't afraid to touch anything and will be happy to "snap" anything that needs killing.  Often times she's the one riding in on a white horse to save her brother from ants, beetles, bees, and the like.

Soleil...she's cool like that.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CAN along...Day 2

Are you ready to get started?!?  Are you excited?  Hope so, cuz this is going to be fun.

1.  The first thing that you have to do is sanitize your jars and lid rings.  When you buy new canning jars there will be jars, lids, and lid rings (also known as screw bands) inside the box.  The flat lids do not need to be sanitized, but everything else does.  I put it all into my dishwasher and press "sanitize," but you can also boil them.  

It's best to can when the jars are still warm so try to sanitize right before canning.

2.  Fill your large water bath canner with water and put the canning rack in the bottom.  The canning rack keeps the jars off the bottom of the pot which I guess is important for even heating.  If you don't have a canning rack you can twist tie some lid rings together and use them in the bottom of the canner.  

Put the cover on, turn up the heat and let the water come to a boil...this takes a while.

While the water is heating, let's move on to the fun stuff...
3.  Wash all of your tomatoes.  In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onions, crushed red pepper, and garlic; toss gently to combine.  Set aside.

Take note of how beautiful your concoction is looking...

4.  In a large stainless-steel, enamel, or non-stick heavy saucepan, combine vinegar, the water, sugar, salt, rosemary, black peppercorns, pink peppercorns, white peppercorns, and bay leaves.  Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves; reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes, stirring often.  Remove and discard bay leaves.

5.  Pack your tomato mixture into warm, sterilized jars

When packing the jars be sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace (at about the bottom of the jar's threads, or is it treads...you know what I mean). 

6.  Ladle in the hot vinegar mixture.  Make sure that the 1/2 inch headspace remains after the liquid is added.  I also tried my best to evenly distribute the peppercorns and rosemary.

7.  Wipe all of the jar rims before putting on the lids.  It's very important that the rims are clean in order for the lids to seal.  
Put the flat lids and lid rings on all of the jars.  Tighten the rings until they are secure, but not tight.

By now your water canner should be boiling...
7.  Using your canning tongs, lower your jars into the water canner one at a time.  The canning rack will help to keep the jars upright and separated.  You want the water to cover the tops of all of the jars.

Once all of your jars are in the canner (I could fit 6 in at a time), put the lid on the canner.  Now some people say to wait until the canner is boiling again before starting your timer, but I always start the timer right after putting on the lid.  However you choose, process the jars for 10 minutes.

Sometime you'll hear the jar seals pop while they are in the canner, other times they won't pop until you take them out.  Don't stress over the popping.

8.  When the processing time is up, use your tongs to lift each jar out of the canner.  Cool on a wire rack.  Once cool, secure screw on the lid rings and wipe off jars with a damp towel.

After all your jars have cooled, test the tops to make sure they all sealed.  You shouldn't be able to push the lids up and down, they should be flat.  If any of yours didn't seal you can either reprocess them in the water canner or what I do is put them right into my refrigerator and declare those the ones to eat right away.

That's it, you did it!  You are now a CANner.  
Embrace this new identity of yours.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

CAN along...you CAN do it!

In honor of my cherry and pear shaped tomatoes ripening, let's do a Can-Along!  

We'll be canning Pickled Pear Tomatoes with Rosemary.  The recipe comes from this wonderful magazine that I picked up at Sam's Club this spring...it's a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication, called Canning.  The magazine is pricey...$9.99, but I think it's worth every penny.  All of my canning this year has come from recipes inside this magazine and my tummy has loved every one of them.

Today we'll focus on gathering all of our materials/supplies/ingredients.

Things that make canning easier and more fun:
1.  A large stainless-steel, enamel, or non-stick heavy saucepan (not photographed)
2.  A large water-bath canner (the black thing in the above photo)
3.  A canning rack to go inside of your canner to hold the jars up off the bottom of the canner (the silvery/whitish thing in the photo)
4.  A large mouth canning funnel (the green thing in the photo)
5.  Canning tongs for grabbing your jars out of the boiling hot water (the silver/green thing in the photo)

Now of course you could order all of these things from a fancy online canning supply company but I've found all of my supplies at either Fleet Farm, Walmart, or Cub Foods.  I actually call Fleet Farm "my canning headquarters" because it truly has the best selection and lowest prices.

For our recipe I would recommend using Wide Mouth Half Pint Jars.  And since I don't ever go to all the trouble to can just one recipe, we'll be doubling the recipe and needing at least 14 jars.  If you're gonna do it, you might as well DO IT, am I right?

And onto the recipe, here's what you'll need:

10 cups yellow and/or red pear shaped or round cherry tomatoes
2 cups thinly slivered sweet onions
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
12 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 1/2 cups white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons pickling salt (this can be found near the canning jars in your local grocery store)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole pick peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
2 bay leaves.

Get all your gear together and meet back here tomorrow to get started!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Can't stop canning...

I've told myself to stop, that it's time to move on to something else...maybe to one of the four (gasp) Craigs list furniture projects in the garage?!?  But the bounty of beautiful summertime fruits and vegetables continue to seduce me.

So far I've canned the following:
Pickled Sweet Onions
Jalapeno Cranberry Jam
Bread and Butter Pickles
Corn Salsa
Carrot Cake Jam*

*This jam is so delicious I've dreamed of sticking my entire face in a big ol' bowl of it.

If anyone is interested in the recipes that I used, let me know...I'd be happy to share!

What have you canned this year?  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Here's to you, my sweet girl...

Soleil, my firstborn...the one that changed my world forever by making me a mom.  She turned our lives upside down even before she arrived.  And once she was born, she began writing a whole new manual on this  parenting thing.

She has never followed the charts, timetables, or plans. And after eight years, I'm still trying to figure out how to be the momma that she needs.

Soleil has always needed more.  More affection, more energy, more patience, more understanding...more of everything.  Sometimes Often giving that "more" exhausts me and can even cause me to feel resentment.  I get frustrated that after dedicating my entire being to her for eight years we still have so many issues.  How could my constant love and patient mothering not have worked?!  Why wasn't I able to fix this?  Wasn't I good enough?  How did I get here?!

There are many, many things about parenting a child with extra needs that is unfair.  It's unfair to her, to me, to our family...it adds so much stress and constant worrying.  It makes me mad and very, very sad.

Last night as I walked our dog Toni I thought about Soleil and how easy it is for me to think of things that are hard or challenging about being her mom.  The list of things that I'd love to change about her and our family's situation is a mile long.

In the thick of the day-to-day it's easy to get lost and forget the larger, complete picture. The whole child.  The sum of all her parts...good, bad, and ugly.  I need to remind myself more often of all that I love about my daughter, all that she's taught me, and all of the beauty and happiness that she has brought to our family.  Because there is lots of that, too.

So I decided that Thursdays are going to be my day to reflect on and be thankful for Soleil.  I'm going to push myself to list one thing every week that is positive.  My hope is that by articulating the good, I'll have more strength to handle the not so good...and I'll be able to remain in that "remember the larger picture" state of mind a little longer.

So today I am thankful for Soleil's infectious, glorious laugh.   And the twinkle in her eyes that comes with it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting out there...

We've lived in our home for four years.  It kind of creeped up on us...we still feel new to the neighborhood. 

And last night was our first ever National Night Out Block Party!

We all had a nice time...even Corey.

We met a lot of new people...and loads of elementary school aged kids.

Unfortunately, I can't remember a single name.