The Danish Challenge: Prelude

 

IMG_4961A few years ago, I was in a book club and one of the books we read was The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.  Weiner travels the world to 10 different countries in search of the happiest places in the world. He seeks out a Dutch professor, Ruut Veenhoven, who runs the World Database of Happiness (WDH) in Rotterdam to examine his research. As I was going through the book this evening, I stopped at a few pages I had earmarked. One of these contained the findings that Weiner noted from Rotterdam (with the thoughts I had as I was reading): 

“Extroverts are happier than introverts (well at least they look it); optimists are happier than pessimists (duh); married people are happier than single people (well, that’s just great for me); though people with children are no happier than childless couples (? Maybe that’s due to a lack of sleep?); republicans are happier than democrats (ok one in my favor); people who attend religious services are happier than those who do not (amen!); people with college degrees are happier than those without (so my piece of paper includes happiness? Awesome!), though people with advanced degrees are less happy than those with just a BA (MAcc and CPA- nevermind I retract my previous statement); people with an active sex life are happier than those without (no comment); women and men are equally happy; though women have a wider emotional range (see, it’s not just me, this is fact people!); having an affair will make you happy but will not compensate for the massive loss of happiness that you will incur when your spouse finds out and leaves you (thanks Hollywood for proving this one); people are least happy when commuting to work (reason #1 for why I live 5 miles from work 🙌); busy people are happier than those with too little to do (ha! Maybe that’s because we are too busy to realize we could be relaxing on a beach with a book and fruity drink); wealthy people are happier than poor ones, but only slightly (thanks for the added clarification).

One of Wiener’s last comments in the book are “Our happiness is completely and utterly intertwined with other people: family and friends and neighbors and the woman you hardly notice who cleans your office. Happiness is not a noun or a verb. It’s a conjunction. Connective tissue.”  <– sometimes the happiest person I see all day is that lady who takes my office trash!  True Story.

I found this book intriguing yet obvious, funny yet insightful and now I want to travel.

IMG_4820Fast forward to this past weekend and I started a new book called The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Russell is witty. I found myself laughing even in the intro and I wanted to read more. (Which is something I rarely say!) Russell shares  the journey of moving her life from London to Denmark because her husband (referred to as Lego Man) landed a job with Legoland and she spends one year committed to living a Danishly- I don’t quite know what that means yet, but I’m soon to find out!

So what does The Geography of Bliss and The Year of Living Danishly have in common? I thought you’d never ask! According to the WDH, Denmark is ranked #1 among 155 nations as having the highest level of “inequality adjusted happiest” which “is measured as a linear combination of the mean and the standard deviation of the distribution of happiness in a nation.” Essentially if everyone in the country was completely happy, the country could score 100. Denmark ranks #1. Take away the technical, mathematical calculation, and I’m pretty sure we can summarize it as the Danes are pretty happy.

Russell knew this as well and set out on a journey to uncover why the Danes are so happy and how she might in turn, become happier by living Danishly. What’s their secret and how happy do they consider themselves??

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Since I really have enjoy this book so far, and have an interest in Danish living, I’m going to embark on my own journey – to learn why and how Denmark is so happy and see if I can incorporate Danish living in the US.

I’m going to call this The Denmark Challenge. Each month I will read and study a new chapter in this book, learn and adapt. The book is broken into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year. I’ll share what I’ve learned and how I’m “living Danishly in America” My hope is that I leave this challenge with much more knowledge of Denmark (not going to lie- I wasn’t even exactly sure where it was on the map) and a full embrace of happiness, which might be the Danish way of happiness, but only time will tell.

I’ll leave each post with a few Facts About Denmark and Living Danishly that I’ve gathered so far in the book and other research. I hope you take this journey with me to “Living Danishly.”

IMG_4736Facts About Denmark

  1. Legoland is in Denmark (some of the hotel rooms are themed and built legos – oh to be child-like again – that must be the key to happiness?!)
  2. Denmark has 5.6 million people
  3. Denmark is a progressive society
  4. Danes tend to look a lot alike- tall blondes (great, just great – dying my hair will not, I repeat, will not make me happy – no year-long test needed for that one) 

Living Danishly

  1. Christian Bjornskov is Denmark’s happiness economist- look him up later
  2. “mere penge, mere problemer.” translate 
  3. They are happy because their high expectations are realistic
  4. More than 70% of Danes believe most people can be trusted – wow. Just wow.

 

PS – After writing this, I now have Bob Marley’s “Everything’s gonna be alright” in my head… okay – not sure what Denmark and Bob Marley have in common but these are nice tunes to jam to as I’m getting ready for bed.

god nat [gohNAT] (good night)

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a view of Nyhavn Copenhagen, Denmark

It’s a Pawty – A Dog’s Birthday Party

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What happens when you love your dogs and you love entertaining?  Chances are, you’ve thought about having a dog birthday party, right?  This year, Emmie turned 2 and now that she has her very own fenced in backyard, a party was a must!  Inspired by Pinterest (the easiest place for inspirations!), Emmie’s “all things dog” theme was created! Since the idea was to keep the dogs outside, the party began at 9AM <— yes, a party starting at 9AM!

Dog-birthday-party-theme-cake-bone-ideasDog Bone Shaped Cake:

Who knew a little geometry would come in handy while baking a cake!!  One of my favorite types of cake (from a box) is funfetti. Hands down. Something about the vanilla cake and sprinkles combo makes a great taste and reminds me of when I was a kid. I didn’t go fancy on this one at all. Simple cake mix and frosting, follow the instructions and bake. Once the 1 rectangular cake pan and the 3 circle cake pans were done, the fun began to create this dog bone shaped cake. You will cut out 1/4 of each of the circles so you can use the 3 1/4 pieces to make the 4th part of the bone. 🙂 A birthday wasn’t complete without us singing, yes singing, to Emmie and then indulging in a cake (and mimosas!).

Dog-birthday-party-mimosas-parfait-themeBest in Show Bubbly:

A make-your-own-mimosas bar. Need I say more?! I usually buy Andre Brut for my mimosa champagne but I recently learned about freixenet – a few dollars more, but so worth it. Maybe not for the masses when you can buy Andre, but definitely a must for a small gathering.

Pupcakes Dog-birthday-party-pupcakes-peanut-butter-apples

These peanut butter apple cupcakes were made specifically with dogs in mind.  They were a huge it hit!  You can find the recipe for pupcakes here.  The frosting is made of  greek yogurt and peanut butter and topped with homemade dog biscuits (recipe). These were a HUGE hit!

Doggie Bag: treats-to-go

Who doesn’t love going to a party and taking something home?  Well when you go to my dog’s party, you will end up taking home a doggie bag of treats for your fur baby! These are the same treats that I topped the pupcakes with and the recipe is here.  Made of oatmeal, carrots, and cheese, these things are healthy and the dogs ate them up!

Dog-birthday-party-biscuits-cheese-carrots-oats

Snacks

I made “fetch sticks” out of overnight French toast and strawberries on a kebab stick.  Topped with maple syrup and powdered sugar, these were so yummy.  I made pigs dogs-in-a-blanket from crescent rolls and mini sausage links.  I had extra rolls so I filled these with nutella and they were actually pretty good!  To make the snack spread somewhat healthy, a parfait bar was a must!

Dog-birthday-party-theme-fetch-sticks-ideas

Emmie’s party was such a great success but the afternoon was even better!  As soon as I was done cleaning everything up outside, the thunderstorms came down hard (talk about perfect timing!)!  The dogs slept for hours and I even fit a little nap in the day. 🙂

Happy 2nd birthday, Emmie!

Dog-birthday-party-theme-ideas

 

Lactation cookies: q & a

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Lately, I’ve been super busy making lactation cookies. I know, sounds weird, private, disgusting, awkward whatever, but lactation cookies are full of “milk-making” ingredients that can help new moms! <— even weirder than the name, I know. 

I’ve been selling lactation cookies primarily through swip-swap sites in the local area and to friends of friends. I’ve gotten a ton of the same questions she here’s a little Q & A section of the questions moms have asked and the answers I’ve found.

Will these really help?

Yes, they can! Lactation cookies are made with a few key ingredients that help the lactation process. With drinking plenty of water (and then some more), having proper nutrition and healthy habits as well as trying to rest as much as possible, these delicious, nutritious cookies can definitely help increase supply!  The four “perk ’em up” ingredients are:

Oats– full of fiber, calcium and iron, two essential nutrients for nursing mothers

Flaxseed– fiber, omega-3 fatty acids: improves milk quality, brain function and helps regulate hormones

Brewer’s yeast– iron, proteins, vitamin B, selenium and chirmium (which can also aid in lowering blood sugar levels and cholesterol) Not only is brewer’s yeast helpful at boosting milk supply, but it can also help fight that early mom fatigue.

Barley malt– organic sprouted barley in the form of a syrup is used to replace a portion of the sugar in the cookies and mimics the lactigenic effect of malt.

Lactation-cookie-ingredients

Can I eat them before the baby comes?

Yes, but it’s not going to help with post pardum milk production. Prolactin, the hormone that produces milk increases throughout pregnancy but  the body doesn’t react to it until the placenta is delivered, mainly due to the hormone progesterone in the placenta. If you have a history of low milk supply, get some frozen cookies to accompany you on you first few weeks home. Or bring a batch to a friend when meeting their new baby!

However, I must disclose that I am a HUGE proponent of seeing what your body can do all on it’s on.  I mean you just birthed a tiny human, right!?  I believe that our bodies can do some incredible things all on its own.  As much as I would like every mom to buy cookies, I would like even more for every mom to be able to produce tons of milk all on their own.  Since life happens, we go back to work, we stress out, eat second or third to our kids and sleep less than we should, sometimes a little assistance is needed.  This is where I LOVE helping new and veteran mommies increase their milk supply and provide for their babies with cookies!

 How many should I eat?

No two people are the same so this is a loaded question but in general, the common thread I’ve read among other blogs and articles recommend what’s below. I’ve also had feedback from customers this worked for them!

days 1-2: 4 cookies

days 3-4: 2-3 cookies

1 cookie a day for the rest of the week. Repeat cycle next week or when supply goes low again.
Do you have other flavors?

Yes! Check out the main page for all the current flavors. I’m always open for customization.
Do you have dairy or gluten free?

The oatmeal-raisin-coconut can be dairy free every easily with no loss of milk making ingredients. For gluten-free, please contact me about options. My kitchen is NOT gluten free for someone with celic disease but I can make cookies whose ingredients do not contain gluten in nature.
Can I freeze lactation cookies?

Yes! This is the best part! I do the work, get the ingredients, mix the magic and portion out the cookies. All you have to do is preheat the oven and you will have freshly baked homemade cookies in about 10 minutes or less!
Where can I buy them?

Right here! (Sort of) all you have to do is email me your order and we will coordinate a pickup/delivery. Email cassiemsmith@gmail.com or leave a comment below!
I’m not due for awhile but would LOVE to but would love to buy some, can I pre-order?

Yes! You have a due date so schedule a delivery now for a later date. See below for how to order.
What’s the process for ordering?

  1. Go to the Little Miss Moo section and pick the type of cookies you want
  2. Email me at cassiemsmith@gmail.com your order; you will get one dozen baked and one dozen frozen so you can bake fresh later! (Or both frozen, your choice) It’s $15 for each type (each 2dz set)
  3. Do you want pick up (from Stonehurt Plantation pool on 210) or delivery (I can meet you or deliver directly – $5 starting charge, depending on distance)?
  4. When do you want them?  I can deliver before 8am or after 8pm M-F, weekends are pretty open.
  5. Get them and enjoy!

Where can I find more info on lactation, lactation cookies, etc?

Below are a few links to articles and blogs that I’ve found super helpful!

Foods that Help Increase Breastmilk – http://www.babycenter.in/a1049926/foods-that-help-increase-breastmilk

Breastfeeding Basics – http://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/increasing-your-milk-supply

Dr Momma and Lactation Cookies – http://www.drmomma.org/2010/08/lactation-cookies-recipe-increasing.html

Breastfeeding Made Simple and other great books – http://www.breastfeedingmadesimple.com/index.html

The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk – http://makingmoremilk.com/

Still have questions?  Leave me a comment below and I’ll add it to the Q&A!

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