EasterEggsIt's been a few days- long story short baby has been fussy, Little P had his first ambulance ride (he's fine!), and I've just been flat out exhausted!   But finally, on this rather gray Easter Sunday, it's early afternoon- baskets have been opened, brunch eaten, dinner prepped and cooking, and I'm sitting with my afternoon cup of joe feverishly trying to get this post in before Little R wakes up!

Happyness in a cup!
Happyness in a cup!

I have to admit that, with a new baby in the house, and with the events of this past week, Easter will be slightly anticlimactic this year.  Since we endeavor to be practical about things (emphasis on endeavor), we really try not to overdo the holiday drama.

easter-bunny-2Little P is almost 2 and has yet to see Santa let alone the Easter Bunny.  As the hubs puts it- don't we find it a little weird that we spend all this effort teaching our kids not to talk to strangers only to sit them in the laps of strangers for a photo op?  Don't get me wrong- we aren't paranoid- honestly the cost/time/effort involved in wrangling Little P to go anywhere does not mesh with the insane line we'd have to stand in at the mall!  The DC metro is overcrowded - and we have better (and funner) things to do with our time.  To add to things it is rainy today so no Easter Egg hunt for us- and since Little R hasn't had his vaccinations- no Easter mass either.  I think the Church and the man upstairs will forgive us 🙂 Our hearts are in the right place!

imageThat being said, I've had the bulk of the Easter shopping done for months. As soon as the Easter stuff debuted at the Dollar Tree, I bought and hid things in the closet. Picked up a little bit of candy this week and I had baskets done for under $15. (By the way, I was at this part when Little R decided to stir and I am now attempting to bounce his bouncy with one hand and blog with the other!)

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Aren't these the coolest little eggs for little boys!?  (Well actually Little boy and Daddy- because I couldn't resist getting a basketball basket for Husband.  I mean it is March Madness after all!)  I filled them with Starburst jelly beans and Reese's Pieces eggs.

And I couldn't resist the puppets for $1 each.  H and Little P will have a blast with them and the animal capsules that hatch bugs and animals in water.

imageThe budget buster, however, was the Walmart trip to get candy- because the marketing geniuses at Walmart put all the fun summer accoutrements right next to the Easter aisles.  That's where I found this awesome blue adirondack chair ($5)!  And then on my way around the corner I spotted the football rabbit ($10) and couldn't resist because it fit so well in to my sports theme.  So Little P ended up with an extra $15 worth of stuff.

It was totally worth it however, because he was thrilled with his bunny and his chair!

The finished product!
The finished product!

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Here we are in the chair, very happy.....

 

 

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And later decorating said chair with awesome stickers, because every situation calls for boat and helicopter stickers!

It is my hope that everyone takes the time today to enjoy their loved ones and reflect on their blessings!  Happy Easter (and Merry Happyness) to all!

spilled-milk...unless of course it's four ounces of pumped breast milk.  It was bound to happen eventually- in my effort to multitask and carry as many empty bottles, burp cloths and other paraphernalia out of the bedroom in one trip after finally getting Little R down for a nap.  Dropping a whole fresh bottle of liquid gold gracefully in to (yes that's correct inside) a pillow stuffed sham on the floor (since just prior I had stripped the sheets to wash them and put the pillows at the side of the bed) was inevitable I suppose.  But really?  Why did it have to be the milk I just pumped and needed to bottle for our afternoon errands?  Why couldn't it have been the glass of water I was reaching for to pile into my arms and take downstairs to the dishwasher?

Thus far the morning had been going smoothly- I had even managed to carve out time to pretty myself for a change with my ten minute hair/makeup routine and felt great because I was in my pre-pregnancy no 2 Lucky jeans 🙂  I was riding high until the great spill!

1_Udder with milking clawsIt's different when you breastfeed and pump, and even harder when you are pumping more than nursing (thank you very much mother nature for blessing me with an overactive letdown reflex!)- I spend a good part of my day feeling like a dairy cow.

I feel like you produced it and work  twice as hard for it- and now all of my toil and effort is going through the delicate cycle.  This must be what farmers feel like when their crops give in to the drought, or when a dairy cow kicks over the bucket of freshly expressed goods.  I knew it would happen eventually, and it was Murphy's law that it would happen at an inopportune time.

Happyness Tip:  Slow down in the morning!  Sometimes multitasking increases clumsiness.  Oh well, at least I'll keep producing the stuff!

Merry Happyness everybody!

~M

Milk-bottles

Part of my attempt to better organize our life and get control of our ever growing grocery bill involved meal planning and a master grocery list.  I took a lot of hints from IHeart Organizing and Blissful and Domestic - although I only wish I could be as frugal as Danielle.  Anyway- now I use my crock pot at least three times a week- it is by far the easiest way to get a healthy meal in to my family's bellies, with minimum effort on my part!

A note about my recipes- I almost never follow a recipe I find 100%, remember when I said I'm constantly editing and augmenting?  Well I'd say I'm pretty much incapable of leaving a recipe as is.  And keeping track of what I do to it is a new concept to me.  So I will attempt here to give you the recipe I used today- although it may not be the same one I use a month from now!  Oh well- Happyness is as Happyness does!

Guinness Stew!  Yummy!
Guinness Stew! Yummy!

So, here we go!  Today was a snowy day- and by the afternoon it was gray and rainy, so an Irish Guinness Stew seemed like the perfect meal.  This is by far one of the Hub's favorite meals!  He gets excited whenever Guinness ends up on the grocery list, both because it ends up in the stew and because he gets a cold one with the stew.  As he puts it- what could be better than meat and beer?  I prefer to do this stew with lamb, but unless its super on sale or a special occasion, then lamb is not usually in our grocery budget- so bargain stew beef it is

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First cut three potatoes in to 1 inch cubes and toss 'em in.  Then throw in a handful of carrots, half a chopped onion, and 3 minced cloves of garlic.  Smother in seasonings of your choice (see what I mean?).  Sometimes I just use salt and pepper, some thyme and maybe even a little cayenne.  This time however, I was feeling lazy so I used about a tablespoon of the Grillmates hamburger spice that I had (I looove all the Grillmates blends the Montreal steak one is good for this too).  Add in a tablespoon of Worcester sauce.  Now throw in the beef- about 1.5 pounds.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
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Next we add in a small carton of beef broth.  I use College Inn bold stock- I'm just not a fan of that other stuff everyone uses.  Throw in the whole 14 oz.

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And now the good stuff- pop open a whole bottle of Guinness and pour in about 3/4 of the bottle (because the rest is for you to toast yourself on your Happyness!)  I like the stout best, but all we had was the extra stout.  It ends up being a bit bolder, but still fantastically good!

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Here is the part where I open the pantry and freezer and see what else I can toss in.  I decide on this can of corn.  I drain out about half the water and toss in the crock pot.  You could really do this with frozen peas (H would have a coronary), or canned green beans or whatever speaks to your culinary Happyness at the moment!  Cook on low for 8 hours.  In the last hour whisk together 3/4 cup of half and half (or whole milk or heavy cream) and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, stir in and let cook the last hour.   Tonight I served it up with buttered cornbread.

Notes:  If I had time, or felt like it, I would sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper, dredge in flour and then brown it in olive oil first.  If I go this route then I saute the onions and garlic in the pan and then add the beef, brown for a minute or two, then add the Guinness until it cooks down a bit before adding it all to the crockpot.  Today- as you may know- I was sleep deprived- so I didn't feel like putting in that much effort.

You could substitute turnips for the potatoes, or rice, or skip them and serve the stew over mashed potatoes (I like to do this when I make it with lamb).

Lastly- I'll post a more "formal" looking recipe later-  right now it's 10:30 and I need some quiet time with the Hubs 🙂  Happyness and love to all!  ~M

3

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"Show, please!"

It's 5 am on H's first day back to work after Little R was born (he's 4 weeks old now).  And evidently everyone in the house some how knew it was that day!  Now, you know your house is full (and you have more than one child under 3) when your "no screen time" rules slowly morph in to "some screen time" and then in to "oh my, dear God, please be quiet while I'm trying to get the baby back to sleep at 5 am and your Daddy is in the shower!"  Fortunately, H and I have had good communication about the TV and we agree on what shows/channels are okay and not.  Little P is currently very in to Curious George and the Dinosaur Train on PBS Kids.  We have a handful of others shows on Disney Jr. that we are okay with too:  Chuggington, Higglytown Heroes, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and one of my all time favorites Winnie the Pooh.  Our criteria is nothing fancy- no cheese, no violence, and no stupid humor- basically they need to teach practical lessons, and encourage Little P to explore and engage.  We spend time talking to him about what is happening while he watches.   I love the fact that Dinosaur Train has an "adoptive family" set up, since we are such a unique clan.

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Sweet Li'l R!

Anyway, I digress, so it's 5 am and Little P is engaged in 101 Dalmations because it is the only thing on that early that I find acceptable (the more you get to know me the more you'll see that I prefer the classics for a myriad of reasons- mainly that things were simpler back then and we didn't have kids with all sorts of issues back then either).  He is watching and narrating as we go along- "He fall down!" and "Digger fast- digger right there!"  So much for trying to get him to be quiet!  Nevertheless, by 6:00 we had a happily fed and sleeping Little R!  By 7:30 I had convinced the Hubs to take Little P to daycare on his way to work- just in time for Little R to wake up for more food!

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THIS is how I make it through the day!!!

How do I get through it?  Why my best friend COFFEE of course!  Sorry Husband, but in our house the first thing that gets our love and affection in the morning is my KitchenAid coffee maker!  Fortunately this morning I had been up pumping at 4:30, just prior to the 5:00 am wake up call and when I was storing the milk downstairs I made sure to turn on the coffee and preemptively warm up Little P's milk.

Happyness tip:  I do believe the preemptive strike will be the key to our sanity in the future-  trying our best to stay one step ahead, even at 5 am, and even when we spend most of our time feeling like we are barely keeping up!

Pinned ImageGood Eats! / Best pancakes ever.....all because we were out of milk! I added 1/4 cup of sugar and an extra 1/4 cup of half and half. They are light and airy and filled with flavor. The cornmeal is a nice add on. Don't skip the sifting! It's totally worth it. I don't think I'm ever using bisquick for pancakes again!.