Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happiness and Tater Bakers

Just had a sweet potato biscuit for breakfast, yum!  I popped it in the toaster oven, split it, and put a little butter on it- delish!  It pairs splendidly with coffee. 

No baking today, unfortunately.  I ran out of ingredients and have a lot of things I need to get done before going back to work tomorrow (I love my 3-day off stretches, but I tend to relax the first two days and wait until the third day to get anything done).  But in keeping with my resolution that I would write, I'm writing. 

I'm reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for my upcoming book club.  It's really gotten me thinking about starting my own happiness project.  Not that I'm UNHAPPY, but she makes a lot of good points about doing the little things that will make you just that much happier.  I still have a few chapters left in the book, so my project isn't officially starting yet, but I definitely foresee it happening soon.  Now, Gretchen Rubin does go a little bit overboard for my tastes...she did all sorts of research, makes herself do things to be "happy" that really seem to make her UNHAPPY.  That doesn't make sense to me.  Sometimes there is delayed gratification, where something will make you happy later on, but not now.  I get that, but why do something that you think should make you happy, but actually doesn't?  Oh well, I guess the point of the project is to find out what will and won't make her happier.  That's half the challenge, right?

Although my project hasn't started yet, I've found myself actually practicing some of the things Gretchen Rubin talks about in her book.  Like, first and foremost, "Act the way you want to feel."  It's amazing how happy you can actually make yourself by just acting happy.  Just slapping a smile on my face when I'm not in the best of moods tends to make me feel better.  Half the time I don't even realize it's happening.  All of a sudden, I'm not in such a bad mood. 

Another thing Gretchen talks about is "reframing." Reframing is taking something you HATE doing and telling yourself you love doing it.  For me, exercising.  I am NOT a morning person and I cannot function before my coffee.  But when I got up this morning and took the dog out, I realized that, although cloudy and humid from a recent rain, the weather was surprisingly nice and cool.  So I went inside, put on my coffee, and went for a walk.  I hate exercising with a passion (especially when I'm tired and even more so before I've had coffee), but I always feel better when I do it.  So I told myself "I love exercising!  I love the fresh air!  I love that my body allows me to exercise!  I love that I have two feet and am able to walk!"  A few minutes into my walk, I felt much better about it, and now I'm much more awake.  Let's see how this "reframing" thing works for me when I'm trying to cleaning the bathroom later...

She has a few other tips that have kind of stuck with me, but I will write about those in another post.  If you'd like to check out Gretchen Rubin's book or blog, here's a link to her site.  She does have some useful tips on there, just to help you along should you decide to start a happiness project. 
On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to tell you guys about Tater Bakers.  This isn't something I'm selling or an infomercial or anything like that!  I fell in love with this thing, so just wanted to share it! 

When I was in Illinois a couple of weeks ago, I stayed with my Aunt S- and she taught me to sew.  This was a project she was working on, and she's made a TON.  So I helped her make a few (I designed and ran the embroidery machine, but I paid attention to how she put them together).

What on EARTH is a Tater Baker, you ask?  It's a fabric bag in which you put a potato (or sweet potato or corn on the cob), and pop it in the microwave for 8 minutes, and TA-DA!  You have the perfect baked potato.  Now, personally, I cannot stand baked potatoes.  But I adore sweet potatoes, so this is perfect.  The potato comes out perfectly soft all the way through, and easily separates from the skin.  I haven't tried corn yet, but I will let you know how it turns out.

So- to make the Tater Baker...
1. Choose any fabric you like.  Cut two equal pieces (approx 12" x 23").  Cut a piece of quilt batting with the same dimensions.
2. On one piece of fabric, use an embroidery machine to embroider "Tater Baker."  (The only person I know who has an embroidery machine is my Aunt S- so if you don't have one, you can skip this step, or use iron-on letters).  Cut out potato shapes from brown fabric, and use iron-on paper to iron onto your piece of fabric.  Applique around the potato and make little "eyes" on the potato with brown thread (this is all totally optional, but makes the Tater Baker cute). 
3. Place the quilt batting between the two pieces of fabric.  Turn in raw edges of your fabric and sew around all 4 sides.  You now have a rectangle.
4.  Lay the rectangle in front of you so the embroidery is facing you, but is upside down.  Fold the top down approx 3" making a flap. Fold the bottom part up to meet the top of your flap.
5.  Sew up the sides, all the way to the top.  Turn inside out, and you have a Tater Baker! 

***Please note, I am NOT  a sewing expert, by any means.  This was me watching my Aunt S- make her Tater Bakers, and me interpreting in my simple way.***

The fun thing about these is you can make them with any print or color fabric and embroider and decorate with anything you like.  I picked the cow-print with red embroidery because it matches my black and red kitchen.  I've tried this thing out and I LOVE it for my sweet potatoes.  In fact, I used it last night when I made my Sweet Potato Biscuits and it made everything simple. 
Time for me to start cleaning, getting my laundry done, etc. Hopefully telling myself that I LOVE cleaning my house will help.

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