Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Minimalists Bare Basics for a baby.

I am working on a slow process of minimizing our house. With 6 people thrashing around the house, I find that we have little room to move and stay organized with the amount of "things" we "need" to have.

I have had 4 babies. And I know how tempting it is to get all kinds of gear for your baby, and I have succumbed to the hype more than I like to admit. If I could do it right the first time around this is what I would limit it to.
We started fresh with baby #4. I wanted to keep it simple, but quickly found that I want a bit out of my plan. 
I should have wrote myself this outline prior to getting ready for baby.
So instead, I am writing up an outline, for those who want to start simple and get the rest as they need.

If I could do it all over again these are my essential bare basics that I would need to get through the first several weeks/months.

1. Clothes: 
You will need a variety of bodysuits/gowns/footed playsuits, caps, mittens, booties or socks to keep little feet warm. We ended up not using baby mittens, as our bodysuits and gowns had fold over cuffs.

2. A safe place to lay baby down; 
a crib, playpen, even a box or laundry basket with a fitted mat placed inside. 
Some people opt for a bouncer or reclined seat to keep baby safe while in the living areas (I eventually got an infant seat that transitioned into a toddler rocking chair. I prefer to buy items that will be used for long periods of time, rather than a few months)

3. Something to take baby with you. 
A stroller, baby carrier and/or a car seat. Depending on your living and traveling situations you may only need 1 or 2 of these things.
I did use all 3, but that was my preference. Living in a rural area, a car seat is a must, I used a carrier and stroller for walks and when shopping.

4. 5 or so large baby blankets blankets to swaddle. 
I liked the 42" square gauze style. The Smaller receiving blankets were outgrown quickly. Get the larger size for longer life. My son still snuggles them at 20 months.

5. A pillow for breastfeeding is helpful at first, but does it really need to be a special nursing pillow? No!

6. Feeding a newborn. 
breast fed and stayed home to no bottles or pumping was necessary. 
You may need formula and bottles if you are not breastfeeding. 
You will need a  pump if you breastfeed and plan to go back to work.

7. Baby essentials:
Diapers and wipes (whether cloth or store bought), a diaper cream (my babies tend to rash, no matter how often or quickly I changed them)
Believe me you will need to change the baby a lot! 
i also likes to have a gentle baby wash, baby thermometer, baby nail clippers (some moms bite the nails off, but I can not bite nails, if gives me the willies) and aspirator on hand. 
But really less is more.

8. Diaper bag.
You can get away with a standard tote, if you are not picky,
My nemesis...Diaper bags will be the death of me. They are my biggest weakness. I have an obsession with finding the perfectly functioning bag. I go through several withe every baby. 
i had a great one with number 2 & 3. Huge, but it needed to be with 2 in diapers, it had loads of pockets. I was able to stay Very organized. I got rid of it, thinking we were done. Unfortunately, it is no longer made. :(

9. The rest. 
Most of your needs can be found around the house!
Standard washcloths or hand towels work for bathing, burping, washing gums and teeth, your standard towels will be fine for baby as well. Lay a hand towel in your sink or tub with a little water for a bathing mat.
A comfortable chair to nurse or rock in is nice. I use an old rocking recliner, the steak and creak seem to soothe baby to sleep on fussy nights.
Pillows for proving baby up when learning to sit up.

There is definitely a lot out there that I find ridiculous, such as wipe warmers. If wipes are cold, ball them up in your hand for a few seconds, it does the trick.

Remember: You can always get some thing as you feel you need it. Walkers, highchairs...

My must have, when coming home from the hospital.
1. Infant carseat.
2. Newborn clothing essentials. Also prepare for seasonal needs.
3. Large gauze receiving blankets.
4. Diaper bag or tote.
5. Baby bed/place to sleep.
6. Diapering essentials. Diapers & wipes.
7. Aspirator, nails clippers.
8. Stroller. I have a travel system/larger stroller. After 18m I switched to a mountain buggy nano for compact storage. 4 kids in the car, limits space for a large stroller.
9. Carrier. I liked the baby ktan.

What I got later on. Get second hand to save money.
1. Highchair. I opted for a clamp on seat for our table.
2. Infant to toddler seat. Found a deal on a brand new one & paid $10 with using reward dollars.
3. Walker. We got a good deal basic walker for around $25, the. Later sold it for $20
4. Push walking toy for assistance when learning to walk on their own. We got a push wagon, as it grows with baby for playing. Splurged on this, using the $20 from the walker and then some. But we have been using it for last 8 months and still going strong with daily use.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cathedral Ceiling turned Bedroom.

As I stated before our house is always under construction. I mean always. Sometimes it's little things, other times it's bigger. Well here is a BIG project. We actually finished it a few months ago, but I haven't taken to the time to look at the photos.

We had an open floor plan with cathedral living room, to an open loft in the main part of our house.
We closed in the loft leaving a hall/catwalk for a nursery in 2014. Baby number 4.

We then promised number 3 she would have her own room. And how we decided to do this was be closing in the cathedral ceiling. Well, at least most of it.

Please forgive the mess yo see while we live through the demolition and construction.
The tearing out of the loft railings(I never liked them anyways)

Framed floor system and sheeted new ceiling!
Walls frames for new room.

The walls have been sheeted.

And yes, that is a little built in playhouse! 
There a few small touches that have not been finished but she is moved it. Closet shelving was completed and the ceiling fan installed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Struggling with Dry Skin, Keritosis Pilaris, and Stretch Marks. How Plexus Body Cream Helped!

BUnfortunately I have not taken before pictures. I wish I had.

I have been struggling with keratosis pilaris(KP) on my arms and legs for most of my teen and adult life. Along with dry itchy skin, 
As a teen, my Doctor instructed me to use a lotion on my arms to help with KP.. and it would help, a little. But I never found something that helped enough. 
When wearing short sleeves I would constantly be asked if I had a rash or something on my upper arms. I got to the point where I live in long sleeves and cardigans most of the year to cover my symptoms.
For those of you who don't know what KP is... It's also called chicken pumps or chicken skin. Tiny red bumps commonly found on the back of your upper arms, but can also plague your legs & lower arms, and other parts of your body. Mine was most sever on my upper arms and legs. Although I did have mild problems all over.

Now, I have been using Plexus Slim  for a year now. And although, I am not 100% consistant, I try my best to take it as regularly as I can.
I purchased the Plexus Cream several month back. And it has set on my shelf staring me in the face for quite some time. I guess I was shocked by its small size vs. cost. For some reason, I put off using it.

I have tried most every lotion and cream out there. Some very expensive, some thick & sticky. 
I have also used Coconut oil and many other natural oils and creams.
Most recently I have been using Cetaphil cream and seemed to be ok. Although, I still has some KP symptoms.

Last week, I FINALLY decided to try out Plexus Cream, since I have been staring at it for so long. 
May as well not let it go to waste!

I could not believe the improvement after one week. I was completely impressed. My KP on my arms is barely noticeable. So, about half way through the week, I just started slathering it ALL over my body.
May as well!
I have stretch marks from my chest to my upper thighs(4 pregnancies can do that to you), and KP on my thighs & calves. I have extras dry skin on my heels and hands. And a wart on my pointer finger that has tripled in size after many treatments to get rid of it. It can't hurt right.. 

Within this week:
1. The KP on my arms is barely noticeable.
2. My wart on my finger has reduced in size by half! I don't know if it is a coincidence or a direct result. But it's true. 
3. I am by far, less itchy overall. I am flaky and dry all winter thanks to have a woodstove for heat and the dry winter air.

This is today, February 2, 2016:

I wish I had taken pictures for comparison, but if you don't believe me. Talk to my mom about how bad my arms. I am sure she can confirm my KP.
I can not wait to see what my results are for after a month!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's funny what starts you remembering.

Talking of Easter last night, I started reminiscing of my childhood Easters at my grandparents.
The carrot salad Grandma Duffy always made, and even though I never ate it, it seems it should be present with the easter dinner spread.

Then I started recalling other things that remind me or come to mind when I think of my Grandma Duffy. The Johnny Carson show, weeping willows, ribbon candy, maple syrup, satin nightgowns, making beds(which I can't do without hospital corners; the way she taught me), perfectly decorated Christmas trees, Bing Crosby...

Grandpa Duffy; The Price is Right, clipping coupons, slow drives to the dump, warm cheap beer in cans (Keystone, Milwaukee's Best and Genesee beer), laying on his big belly, talking about the weather, 

Things that I associate with my MorMor; aprons, wildflowers, picnics, walk through the woods/field, skin so soft, the fuzzy warm Christmas, Friday bus rides, 

Poppy Kelly; Pipe Tobacco, Double Mint Gum, the green house, hen houses, barns, Sunday drives in the back of his mint green Crown Victoria, rocking by the cook stove, fresh snow on "Christmas" trees, looking at the clouds, mint ...

These are just a few that come to mind, but there are so many more small things in life that bring each one of them to mind during my daily routines. It's funny how memories are triggered; A smell, something visual, a taste... The mention of angel food cake instantly brings to mind Grandma Duffy.

The mind is a funny thing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Will our house ever be completed?

Our house is about 10 years old. We built it in a hurry. So we took the word of the architect and kitchen designer and didn't think much of it.

This was my first house, we rented 2 places, for a short time. After an exhausting house hunt, to find something in our price range, we decided building was the best option for us.
But this was our first home. And I didn't have a clue.
Thîngs were missing in our plans (not nearly enough closets).

We were able to build on an affordable budget, because my husband built it.
We moved in before the kitchen and bedrooms were usable. and we slowly completed things as we needed them, and as we could afford to.
We slept in the living room at first; my husband, myself and our 2yo Daughter.
This is what it looked like shortly after we had moved in.

(Summer 2005?)

Since then, things have changed A LOT. And it is still changing.
For one, we added 3 more kids to the house, for a total of 4!

A porch was added. Later a portion was framed in for a mudroom (The far left of the porch in the photo below). This is just the outside. I can't even begin to list what has changed on the inside.

(Summer 2014)

We have plans to wrap the porch along the right side of the house, and have started an addition on the back for a larger kitchen including a walk in pantry! This will include a relocation of the laundry room, adding a half bath, and replacing the stand up shower with a tub/shower.
One bathtub is just not getting the job done.

But right now, we have a major interior re-construction/changes in the works, within the existing structure..
We had a cathedral Ceiling with an open loft over the living room portion of the house when you first walked into the front door.
The loft was closed up to a make a nursery last winter, for our newest family addition. Now we have taken the cathedral ceiling and framed a floor and walls for our daughters bedroom. This will give each child their own room. 
The 2 older kids bedrooms will remain downstairs and the 2 younger kids will be upstairs with Mom and Dad.

Now most of you must think, this must cost a fortune. 
Generally, yes it would. But it is pretty affordable for us. All we need to come up with is the materials. and some we reuse leftovers from my husbands past jobs, so we save a little out of pocket money there.
Our biggest savings, my husband does it all... Plumbing, electrical, framing, sheetrock, trim.... all of it. On occasion, he will call in a friend (or wife, or son, or daughter) to give him a hand. But most of it, he does himself. Pretty amazing!

I honestly think he enjoys it. And I enjoy throwing ideas out at him, some he thinks are crazy. Like a playhouse built into our daughters bedroom. I will be posting more on this another time.

We live in a never ending construction zone. If ever we run out of things to do... I am sure we will go crazy with the lack of air compressors, nail guns, construction debris, dust (Okay, I could definitely live without the dust)...

Under Cooked Hard Boiled Eggs- Quick Fix!

So has this ever happened to you?

You think you made hard boiled eggs. You peel them in hopes to make egg salad or deviled eggs, and the yoke is almost completely cooked, but not quite hard enough. It still has that rich dark yellow color, instead of a light soft yellow color of a perfectly hard boiled egg.
It just won't do.

This happened today. I boiled 13 eggs,p. Thinking I would get a headstart for coloring eggs later this week. A few were cracked, so I figured no biggy, I'll make egg salad for my lunch. Go to separate the yolk from the white, and was like "Hey now! That's not completely cooked! ... Dang!"

Now what? 
Well, I figured I didn't have a lot to loose, so I decided to experiment.

Trial 1:
Put it back in boiling water. Thought it over, and decided not to try this. If the white was intact, trying to reboil may work, but I had already broke the whites right off.

Trial 2:
Put the egg in the microwave.
I tried this with one, I hadn't yet removed the yolk from, but the white was broke open to view the undercooked yolk. I started in short bursts, 15 seconds, and then pop! The white exploded everywhere. 
But viola the yolk cooked! I discarded the white from that egg, since it was slightly browned and rubbery.

Trial 3:
Put the yolk in the microwave, wrapped up in a paper towel. (Next time I will put in a microwave safe bowl and cover with a paper towel.)
I decided short bursts were best so I started with 10 seconds. The yolk popped. But everything seemed ok, so I tried another 10 seconds. And another pop. Yolk looked good to me! Just enough to mash it up into the right consistency.
You. May have to adjust the amount of time you burst your yolks, depending on how undercooked the yolk is, and your the strength of your microwave.
If you are able to mash a little them you can try reheating in bursts to bring them to the perfect texture. 
But this worked for me.

(Forgive my lighting, I should have turned on the bright ones)

My egg salad consists of;

Hard boiled egg yolks mashed
Hard boiled egg whites mashed
Mayonnaise (I use olive oil mayo)
Green sweet relish
Sweet and spicy mustard (I am currently in love with Inglehoffer sweet hot mustard)
Salt (I don't use salt, but for those who do)

With mashed yolks add, mayonnaise, green relish, sweet n spicy mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
Add mashed egg whites to the mixture.
Plop on bread and eat.

So, my lunch was not a loss! Yay! 
Boy I am hungry!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter can be a disaster.

Every year, I dread the holidays more and more! 
My husband is usually excited and anxious for the holidays at first, but as the day looms closer, he usually gets agitated and short wishing it to be over.. And in turn I wish the same, just to get life back to normal.
Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas are by far the most stressful. The tug a war between our families...where to have our holiday dinner? Who do we celebrate with? Who will have their feelings hurt? I tried to implement an alternating dinner, one year easter with the inlaws, then next year with my mom. Christmas is a mess all around, we are running from house to house from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day. A whirl wind of cranky kids and turning me into cranky mom. 
I love the holidays, I just don't love the tug a war. 

Now to focus on the holiday at hand! 
Easter Sunday is coming!
I have less than week to get it figured out. And I have a plan!
(Now, Last Easter was a tough one for me. I was returning home from the hospital with my 2 day old number 4. I was an emotional mess I was not home to prepare the Easter fun for my older kids. I do believe I cried most of the day. I want to redeem myself!)

Lately, my 2 middles have been fighting non stop. Everything is a competition, and argument, and a fight. (Which included biting, punching, and kicking).
That being said, with 4 kids (aged  almost 1 though 12 years old) I am rethinking the egg hunt this year. 
I want to make it as fair as possible, to minimize the possibility of a fight. 
With only a week to get my butt ready, I decided maybe a color coded egg hunt, was in order. 
That is if I can get to the store to buy new eggs. (I have been reusing eggs for 12 years. We must have 300, but they are crazy and unmatching...some printed and designs and animal, monsters). I don't have a lot plain/matching in 4 colors, unless we make it a very small egg hunt.

The plan: 
Place an instruction card in each basket with their assigned hunt color. This way I can level up the 12 year olds hiding spots, to make it more difficult for her, and leave the babies eggs at ground level, so he can find them easy enough. Also hope to use a larger "golden egg" with a super prize in it. One for each.
Sounds simple enough!

Why did I put this planning off until now? Well, we have been doing some renovating and our house is in a state of (a post for another time, when it is completed)

Let me know: 
What do you do to keep easter stress free for your siblings? 
Any ideas to share?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Striped Bulky Slouch Hat Crochet Pattern by Yarn Me Silly

Bulky Slouch Hat
This hat will be available for PDF download from my Ravelry Shop!

Feel free to use this pattern for selling your hats! But please credit my ravelry shop if you are planning to sell the finished product.
Yarn me Silly on Ravelry.