Our Fall Wreath

I took a long overdue trip to Michael's last week and bought supplies to create our fall wreath for the front door.  I think it would have been even better if I had used the burlap ribbon with the black writing as the center bow... but I'm still really happy with how it looks.

I used the Ashland Wreath Form with Ties from Michaels $6.99.   The assembly only took about 30 minutes.  This wreath form really was a breeze to work with.  I also bought the burlap ribbon, 2 rolls, at $6.99 a piece at Michaels.  This was a lot more than I was thinking I would spend but I was in need of a crafty outlet and splurged.  I used most of the natural burlap roll and have half a roll of the black writing variety after I finished.  I ended up buying cheaper wreath forms and burlap on amazon the next day for another wreath project I have in the works.  I'll post more about that later.

I've been on blog hiatus for quite some time but have some fun projects and ideas I hope I get to share with you all this fall!

Building My Own Raised Garden Beds

As I planned my garden for this year I couldn't help but think about my garden spot and the eternal weediness I have to deal with.  I decided that raised beds (will hopefully) help to keep the crab grass from inching into my goodies.  

I used this tutorial for the Ultimate Raised Bed (found on Pinterest).  The one change I would like to call out is that the pre-drilled hole suggestion was a bit small and I stripped quite a few screws figuring that out.  If you plan to use this guide, plan on pre-drilling both pieces of lumber with a larger bit.  I also found that if purchasing lumber from The Home Depot, that they will make all the simple straight cuts for you.  That was a nice surprise and a welcomed simplification!  

Here are the two raised beds I built before I lining them with newspaper and filling them with topsoil from the field.  The goal of the newspaper layer is to keep the weeds from below at bay.  I will update with veggie garden pics sometime soon! 

Tumbler Quilt for Hayley

I am so proud of my first quilt!  The tumbler design is so pretty for my little girl.  The colors match her complexion and personality perfectly.  This is something she can keep forever, and even when I'm gone some day, she can wrap herself in it and remember how much I love her.

To get the tumbler shape I cut 4.5" strips of fabric with my rotary cutter and used an isosceles triangle ruler I purchased at Joann Fabrics to progress down the strip and cut out each tumbler (bad description, I know).  While I was laying out the pieces I thought it might be neat to piece in an "H" for Hayley.  I really like the way it turned out!  

I used super soft "bumpy" fuzzy baby fabric for the back side in an off white from Joann Fabrics, "Warm and Natural" Cotton Batting from Joann Fabrics, extra sturdy fine quilting thread in an off white color from a little quilt shop in Hutchinson, MN, and high quality quilting fabric for the front in corals and greens from the same quilt shop.  While shopping for fabric I knew that I wanted a bright coral color and then chose fabrics that I thought would go well together. 

I used a walking foot since there were 3 layers.  I didn't have any bunching and will definitely use the walking foot for future multi-layered projects.  

The final dimensions of this quilt are about 50" x 70" which was what I was going for.  It was surprising how much shrink there was once all the rows came together.  I learned a lot!  My next quilt will probably be easier.  

She loves it!

Now that Hayley has a quilt I feel like Phil and I need one, too.  I even signed myself up for a beginners quilting class that starts in October.  It was worth all the time spent to give my girl such a special present.  Happy 6 month birthday, Hay-bay!  Love it!

Getting Organized; Pull-out Cabinet Drawer

With all the new things that come with baby, organized storage is more important than ever. Hayley's room is in pretty good shape, but prior to my organization projects, the rest of the house needed some TLC after a few months of neglect. 

I just wanted to share this really nifty pull out drawer that I installed in my bathroom.  I used to lose products way back in this cabinet but now I can see all my products and keep them organized.  

I am really happy with the product.  It is very sturdy and was easy to install.  I just needed to pre-drill 4 holes and install the drawer using a few nuts, washers, and bolts.  I opted to use my own hardware even though this piece came with screws.  The washer/bolt combo is just so much stronger.  If you're interested in purchasing the drawer follow this link. It would be great for any room.  

Adding the "Pin-it" Widget and Button to Your Blog

I figured I better share this link to the "Pin-it" widget and button generator for blogging. It was very helpful for me!

Here is the link:
Pin Widget/Button

For the Widget - I used the "roll your own" option on my "Very Pinteresting" page and created a link to a new pin board, labelled "Blogger", for my blog specifically (which I will pin to and add interest to as time goes on).

Regarding the "pin-it" button - It would be nice if you didn't have to edit the HTML for every post, but it's simple enough.  I will just have to go back through my older posts and add the pin-it button text.

I've included this lovely picture to illustrate how the button looks (see top left corner of photo as you hover).  I saved the html code in a hidden page for future use.

Happy blogging out there!

My Experience with Breast Feeding, a Fussy Baby, and Elimination Diet

I thought I better share my and my husband's experience with Hayley so far so that if there are other parents scouring the web for an answer (like we did) that we may be some help.

Hayley was a fussy lady from day 1.  Being new parents, my husband and I were told by our doctor and friends that she was colicky, that she was born with a firey attitude, that she would grow out of it, that there was nothing we can do for a colicky baby but wait for her to grow out of it.  Turns out waiting wasn't all we could do.  I'll cover that later when I talk about my elimination diet.

Hayley looking quite angelic

Chapter 1 of Nursing Issues
My nursing experience...
Some mothers will tell you that nursing was their favorite activity with their baby.  That they felt so close to their little one while nursing.  etc etc.  While that's wonderful... I did not have that experience.  I struggled during the first two weeks after birth with nursing Hayley.  She was born jaundiced and we were told to feed her every 2 hours to clear the bilirubens from her body.  She was also a very slow eater. I would nurse for an hour, she would fuss for 30 minutes before falling asleep, and then I would have 30 minutes before I would have to do it all over again.  Day and night.  At Hayley's 2 week appointment the doctor said she had reached her birth weight, but for her height, she would like to see her put on more lbs and eat even more than she was currently.  I left the appointment feeling like a failure.  All I had done (like literally all I had done) for the past 2 weeks was nurse her and she still wasn't getting what she needed to thrive.  I didn't feel connected with her while nursing. My nipples were chapped, I was exhausted, frustrated, and feeling defeated.  I choked back tears the whole ride home.  

My husband and I talked it through and decided we would both be more comfortable with pumping and bottle feeding.  Since I have been exclusively pumping for 12 weeks I can share the pros and cons of this method.

  1. Biggest pro undoubtedly is knowing how much milk baby is getting
  2. Daddy can help with feeding
  3. You can begin storing extra milk as soon as it comes in
  4. Hayley loves the speed of the bottle
  1. Being attached to your pump - it goes where you go
  2. Extra cleaning of bottles and pump accessories 
  3. Less rest because of the extra cleaning
  4. Finding a cold-enough-place to store milk while you are away from home
I've been exclusively pumping for 12 of Hayley's 14 weeks of life.  Hayley eats about 32 oz a day (4 oz a feeding) and I make over 50 oz daily allowing me to bank some and send some fresh to granny day care.  I feel that this was the best option for a baby like Hayley.  With my next pregnancy (whenever that is) I will try to naturally nurse but would not hesitate to pump exclusively again.  I feel very happy to feed my baby breast milk.  In no way do I knock mothers that choose to formula feed ( all mothers do the best they can). I just personally felt that my milk was what I wanted most for Hayley which is why I go through the process of pumping, bottling, and all that comes with it.

8/1/14 Update:
Hayley will be 5 months old tomorrow and I am still exclusively pumping.  Since I have returned to work I do feel like my supply has decreased (fewer pumps per day than before I went back) but I still make enough for her daily needs.  I pump 4-5 times a day.  Once right when I wake up (I'm no longer pumping at night for sanity sake), then again around 10, 2, 6, and before bed around 10:30 or 11.  Sometimes I will miss one in the afternoon on busy days.  I make 32-40 oz per day depending on my fluid intake.  Some days are better than others for whatever reason.  I am not banking much anymore as Hayley's appetite has increased.  She drinks 4-6 oz every 2-4 hours, except during the night, when she will wake once or not at all.  So, if I average feeding her 5 oz, 6 times a day, I need about 30 oz per day. Average breast fed babies take 25 oz per day - see link to breast feeding USA.  

Chapter 2 of Nursing Issues
As my husband and I look back, we think that Hayley was fussy up until the week I started eliminating foods from my diet.  Don't get me wrong... she had her moments.  Big smiles, coos, singing, wiggles... but more often than not, we were trying to console her constant crying. Crying can be translated as the most terrifying glass shattering scream you've ever heard. Things really started to get bad when she began refusing bottles.  She would arch her back from the sight of her bottle alone (yes, little babies can develop negative associations).  We searched the web for answers and found a few blogs that mentioned reflux and how a prescription cleared things up.  At our 4 week appointment our doctor prescribed Prilosec 2.5 ml daily.  This seemed to help things for a couple of days and then things took another nose dive.  

This sight was all too common

Hayley wasn't eating while conscious at all.  She was SO fussy. I found that I could feed her after she fell asleep (we found out later this is called "dream feeding").  I was a mess.  All I could think about was Hayley and if she was eating enough.  I wondered what was wrong with her, what was wrong with me and my milk, I was worried that I would lose my mind from lack of sleep, I wondered what I would do when it was time to go back to work, and every thought a worried mother might think.  After reading a couple of blogs I started to wonder if Hayley had some sensitivity to the foods I was eating.  I was willing to do anything for her to stop her suffering.  

I decided to cut dairy, eggs, chocolate, caffeine, overly citrusy fruits, and alcohol from my diet (these are common foods for sensitivities - check la leche for a full list).  This has been a real challenge but SO SO SO worth it.  Just to keep things on a time line - I started the diet when Hayley was 8 weeks (6 weeks ago).  Within days Hayley was and has been a new baby.  She is smiles all day long and is much more calm.  Her sleep, while still leaving much to be desired, has also improved.  She is in the 90th+ percentile for height and weight.  Mommy is proud.  8/1/14 Update:  At Hayley's 4 month appointment she was 15lbs 3 oz and 26 in. long.  She is a very tall baby.  If I had to guess, I would say she has put on at least 1.5 lbs this past month (she is now 5 mo old).  She is such a long girl and is starting to feel heavy.  She has the cutest little rolls and double chin.  I just want to smooch her soft little cheeks!

I have tried reintroducing chocolate and dairy.  Both which have proven to be foods that aggravate Hayley's sensitivities.  Next I will try eggs.  I could sure use a cup of coffee, too!

8/1/14 Update: I am still eliminating the same foods.  I thought about adding eggs back but figure with solids being introduced a month from now, I might as well leave things as they are.  It's not easy but I have found some great foods and recipes that accommodate my needs.  I eat a lot of meat and veggies.  Asain foods generally don't have dairy so they are a great option (some do contain egg, though).  My favorite quick meals are big salads, spring rolls & frozen Asian dumplings with peanut sauce.  When I have time to cook the dairy free options are endless and there are countless substitutions to replace eggs and dairy in baking recipes.  I really like Ener-G egg replacement powder for baking.  Caffeinated coffee has been sorely missed but Donut Shop Decaf for the Keurig at least tastes like the real thing and is a nice treat every now and then.  Oh, and the best ice cream I have found is Soy Creamy from Trader Joe's.  A little melted cookie butter over top, YUM.  I actually crave it... it's that good.  

It's worth mentioning that Hayley is a spirited child.  We think she is an adult stuck in a baby's body.  She is always on a mission to do the next thing and is happiest on her feet.  She is always moving, looking, and learning.  Definitely not a laid back baby even now while her tummy is feeling better.  

My tummy feels better, thanks Mom!

To conclude, I urge parents experiencing similar issues to consider an elimination diet.  It has changed our world for the better.  If I would have known better I would have started to eliminate foods earlier.  Hayley is healthy, happy, and thriving and I love seeing the smiles on her face.   I look at my food limitations as a new culinary challenge and have found that substitutions go a long way. Also, a positive attitude helps.  Oh, but nothing can replace chocolate, ha.  I look forward to sharing some of my new non-dairy, non everything else recipes here on my blog.

If you're a mommy or daddy finding this post, feeling like we were feeling, keep your chin up.  Do what you can. Give it to God. It will all work out :)

Also, if you have anything negative to say about what we've gone through, about what is working for us, or about Hayley's intake... save it!  She is healthy, happy, and gaining.  That's all a mommy can ask for.  

Dairy & Egg Free Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

I have been on an elimination diet for a few weeks now and have found that it can be difficult to find ready made food that suits my no dairy, no eggs, no chocolate, no caffiene, and no alcohol diet.  My daughter's tummy trouble is more important to me than indulging in things that upset her (she is exlusively breast fed) so I have been experimenting with new vegan products and substitutions.  This almond poppy seed muffin recipe was one of my favorites and actually turned out wonderfully with the changed ingredients.

This is not a vegan recipe - just dairy & egg free.  It is adapted from the original found here Better Than Otis Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup virgin coconut oil
  • 2 T corn starch + 6 T water (egg substitution)
  • 1 tablespoon good quality almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • Sliced almonds
  • Pam or other cooking spray

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, coconut oil, and sugar 
  3. Add the cornstarch + water, almond and vanilla extract, and almond milk and beat until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat just until combined, being careful not to over-beat. Lumps of flour will remain and that's okay.
  5. Add the poppy seeds and stir gently until combined.
  6. Generously spray then fill 6 jumbo muffin tins almost full
  7. Sprinkle with a few sliced almonds.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean but moist. Be careful not to overbake and do not open the oven too early.

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