Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mom's Graduation

Last night I got home (after a rough, stressful airport experience, including having my bag delivered at one in the morning) from a little weekend trip to Ohio for my mom's graduation from Wright State University. So proud of her! She has worked very hard to earn her Bachelor's Degree and I'm so glad I was able to make the trip to see her hard work and effort rewarded.

You're awesome, mom!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Charleston Farmers Market

Last summer one of my favorite things to do was stop by the Lexington Farmers Market on Wednesday mornings. Well, as much as I love and miss Virginia and the Lexington area, I'm sorry to say that the Charleston Farmers Market has them beat!

A couple weeks ago we thought we' head down to the peninsula to check out the market on the first day of the season--we had no idea what we were in for! There were fantastic vendors with great produce, a homemade soda stand (we tried the grapefruit + elderberry), lots of homemade pickles and salsas, musicians playing, bouncy castles and pony rides for the kids, and delish food stands for lunch. It was like a little mini festival!

That pink castle-esque building in the background used to be the old Citadel but is now an Embassy Suites!
 Gyros--be still, my heart!
 And a meal isn't complete without a Nutella and toasted coconut crepe for dessert!
 Oh, annnnd we also pigged out on some sweet and salty kettle corn
love that Charleston architecture

We walked away with full bellies and a full bag of tomatoes for homemade pasta sauce, corn, peppers,  a great cacao nib steak rub, and some beautiful beets (which neither of us had ever tried) which we used to make beet and goat cheese paninis later that week. A simple shopping trip for vegetables turned out to be one of the best dates Joey and I have had. I suppose this southern city is growing on me ;)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Poor Poppy Plant

Guys, I have unfortunate news.

Well, last week Joey and I came home from church to find that the poor thing had been destroyed...by none other than our mischievous Marley.

Two days later, she also ate my strawberry plant. 
The little jerk.

So much for finally feeling successful at growing something!
She didn't rip up the roots of either plant so there's hope that they'll grow back, but since we just got orders to go to Connecticut in June for about two months (which means a little post anniversary detour to Washington DC on the way!), I'm not sure if plant growing will be a successful project this summer. But hey! We're going to Connecticut! So excited. Besides getting to visit DC again (including a mandatory lunch at Cava and Georgetown Cupcake), we'll also get to do day trips to Boston and New York. I'm sold!

In other news, tomorrow morning I'm headed to Ohio for my mom's graduation from Wright State University, and I couldn't be more excited for or proud of her for all of her hard work! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Join the Movement

I am a whole-hearted supporter of being more open about infertility and am excited about the relatively new national awareness week for it. There's this vibe out there that women and men struggling with infertility should be ashamed or embarrassed, or that their trial is not as important as others and therefore shouldn't be talked about. I also think that there is a hesitation to talk about it, like there's this taboo undercurrent because you can't talk about infertility without talking about how babies are made in the first place--shoot, I didn't want to tell our parents for a while because I didn't want them to have to think about their babies...well, you know.

But ya know what?
There's nothing wrong with experiencing infertility or talking about infertility.

Blogging about our own story has been difficult. Its difficult to put yourself out there and be so open about something so personal, and for us, has very sacred and spiritual elements. Its difficult to receive nasty feedback on rare occasions. Its difficult to accept that some people we care about think we are wasting our time or making ourselves upset for no reason. Its difficult to acknowledge my short comings as I try to come to terms with what's actually happening.

But its also been very rewarding. It feels great to see some of our friends open up to us and share their similar struggles, admitting that they too were afraid to talk about it, but that our openness has helped them to talk about it more or seek the help they need. It feels great when others reach out to us and explain that reading this blog has helped them more fully understand infertility and how they can better interact with and support their friends or family members who also are dealing with infertility. It feels great to become a little bit kinder towards myself, to appreciate that I'm only human, that infertility doesn't make me broken or a freak, and that its ok to not walk around with a smile every waking moment.

Talking about infertility---whether through an intimate conversation, blogging, support groups, or posting on social media---is hard sometimes, but its important, and can make a world of difference to others and to yourself.

I've been thinking lately that I don't know how this is all going to end, what will happen if we do eventually conceive, and how and when we will share that. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what to do. I don't have a plan, because none of this was part of my plan. The open-ended-ness is in a way a reflection of the experience itself---there is no neatly packaged ending in sight. 

But for now, I'm grateful for the opportunity to, like many others, be a voice and share my own experience with infertility. In my own small way I am contributing to the movement to be more open, compassionate, and educated. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Recipe: Berry Sweet Rolls

A week and a half ago, Joey and I got cozy for the weekend to watch General Conference, one of our favorite events of the year. And, like many of our LDS friends, I made sweet rolls and cinnamon rolls to munch on all weekend! The first batch I made were a cinnamon orange roll (ten times better than the fake stuff in the pop can!), but the berry sweet rolls were hands down our favorite. 

Sweet but not deathly sweet, they were a nice change from the standard cinnamon. And despite the fact that my yeast ended up being a dud and therefore the dough didn't rise as much as hoped for, the rolls still turned out soft, spongy, and fluffy. One of my favorite parts was the pie-like filling---that ooey gooeyness was too undeniably tempting, as evidenced by our uncontrollable indulgence in these sweet rolls. I'm too embarrassed to even say how many were consumed between the two of us...

So after a little encouragement from some envious friends, here is the recipe I used, with a couple of my changes.

Berry Sweet Rolls
Adapted from Food & Wine

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 10-ounces frozen berries (still frozen). I used a mixed berry combo and pulsed them in the food processor for a few seconds to break down the strawberries and blackberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan or the microwave until its lukewarm (about 95-100 degrees). Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing mixer and stir in the sugar and yeast. Let this mixture sit until it starts to bubble, about 5 minutes. Add the softened butter, eggs, and salt. Mix until combined as much as possible---It might not be a totally smooth mixture so it will look weird.
  • Switch the attachment on the mixer to the dough hook. Slowly add the flour in increments and beat at medium speed until a soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Continue to beat the dough at medium-high speed for about 10 minutes more, until its soft and stretchy. 
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands 2 or 3 times. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours. I usually place dough in a warm oven, safe from drafts and cold air.
  • Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend up the short sides. Butter the paper and sides of the pan. You don't have to use parchment, it just makes clean up easier. If you don't, still make sure to grease your pan. Again, return the dough to a floured surface and roll into an 10x24 inch rectangle, trying to maintain an even thickness.
  • In another bowl, toss the frozen berries with the sugar and cornstarch. Spread the berry filling evenly over the dough. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 24-inch-long roll. Cut the roll into roughly 1.5 inch slices, creating about 16 rolls. Place in the baking dish cut side up. Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place until they are puffy and have filled the baking pan, about 1-2 hours. The berries will start to ooze and gorgeous pink juice will start to fill the bottom the pan--this is ok!
  • Preheat the oven to 400°. Cover the rolls with tin foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and, depending on how golden they are, bake another 5 minutes or so uncovered, until they are golden and the berries are bubbling. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar with the milk until the glaze is thick and spreadable. Drizzle or spread over the sweet rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

**I actually prepared these the night before---after slicing the rolls and placing them in the pan, I covered the dish and placed it in the fridge. The next morning, I simply removed the pan of sweet rolls from the fridge, allowed them to sit on the counter at room temperature for about an hour (maybe an hour and a half), and then baked and finished with the glaze as normal. With the rolls being made the night before, we were able to enjoy a relaxing morning, and all we had to do was pop them in the oven---making for virtually instant gratification!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marley & Remy Help With the Grocery Bags

The following photos and video are about two months old (at least!), but I've been forgetting to share what these two cooky animals got themselves in to! 

Usually I have reusable shopping bags for when I go grocery shopping, but on those days when I forget to grab them from the car as I head in to the store, Marley and Remy get to enjoy those rustling, billowy bags and the endless ways to wrap themselves up in them.
Don't worry, we don't let them suffocate!

You can still see how small Remy was at the time--still hadn't turned fully red and her snout hadn't "popped out" yet! But now she is unmistakably a wiener dog. Sure do love them both!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Newest Accessory

Its been about a month since I left my job and I've had so much more time to work on projects and to-do's that I've been pushing to the ends of my lists for months, and one of those projects was whipping up a new wallet!

While I loved my first Vera Bradley wallet (thanks, Mom!), it was getting pretty grungy and a tad worse for the wear. Plus, I wanted something a little bigger that I could stick a little journal, iPhone, lipstick, etc in, so I could have everything in one place.

Ok ok, I get that it sounds like I just need a purse. 
But here's the thing: I hate purses. I never really used one until my senior year of high school, and even then I usually just took my wallet and phone out and left the rest behind. Even in college, the only time I distinctly remember using one was when I went to Italy for two weeks and needed a purse to carry everything I'd need each day while we were out and about. And even then I just borrowed the purse from my roommate. 

I mean I like purses (I've actually been eyeing a couple Kate Spade bags lately...), but I hate having to use one, lugging it around and never using half the things in it. Instead, I just like to have a little clutch wallet that I can stick a few necessities in, wrap around my wrist, and go!

So having a little wristlet/clutch/wallet/whatever-you-call-it works perfect for me. 
I reused the hardware from the Vera Bradley wallet, added some slots for IDs and cards, and made it a little larger so I can stick my moleskine "life book"in it---so now I always have my journal, calendar, menu plans, grocery lists, and anything else I could ever need right with me---and still with my hands free from carrying it all!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Things Are Moving Along.


The past few days I've been having a bit of a hard time drafting posts and thinking of things to write about, so please forgive me if this isn't the most well put together post, but I thought I'd share a little update and some thoughts.

Last night I took my ninth and final shot for this cycle. In total there were eight Follistim shots, and the ninth was the "trigger" Ovidrel. 

Doing the injections wasn't too bad overall (except a lot of bloating, a lot of cramps, and a lot of tiredness), but some days it was hard. At 6:45 every night I'd sit down on the bed and start preparing the pen and getting things ready for Joey to help me, and I'd kind of lose my breath, I guess still shocked that this is all actually happening still. I'd lay down and hug a pillow tightly while Joey gave me the injection. Sometimes the shots hurt and would sting for fifteen or so minutes afterwards. Sometimes I'd cry. Sometimes I'd think about those to whom pregnancy came so quickly or easily, while I laid there on the bed as my husband injected chemicals into my body for just the smallest hope of increasing my chances from 4% to 10%--still half that of the average woman. How different this experience of creating our family could've been. 

Joey and I have been marking the injection sites in order to keep track and make sure that we alternate sides and locations. As I stared at the nine little black dots this morning in the mirror, I thought about how I've had so much emphasis on my stomach, and yet for completely different reasons. I checked it daily to watch for any signs of infection at the injection site. I kept track as the number of little black dots grew. I turned to the side and could see how unbelievably bloated the medications made me, but remembered there's nothing in there. 

I still have more medications to take over the next couple weeks while we essentially wait to see if anything worked, but at least I'm done with the shots and I'm done with going to the fertility clinic twice a week for ultrasounds and blood tests, thank goodness. 

I don't mean to weird anyone out, and forgive me for my horribly untoned midsection. But this is part of my experience and I want to document it as much as everything else, so if/when the day comes when this is all over, I'll remember just what I did and what we did to have our dream family. 


I've spend the last several minutes trying to write about a moment from the weekend that I just loved, but I just can't quite seem to get it out. And I think that might be because its something I just need to keep special for me. But, I guess what I will say is that I'm so grateful for the gospel and the opportunity to have a completely uplifting weekend and hear just what I need to hear. In general, I feel like I can do this. Sure, its hard sometimes, but I know I can do this. And what's more, I know that I have a Heavenly Father who knows what is happening right now and is taking care of me. I don't know what's going to happen or why, but I know He's helping me. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Recipe: Gluten Free Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Hello and Happy April!

So, Joey and I are still doing our gluten and dairy free diet as much as we can. Sometimes there are those days that are just the worst and by the end of it I can't even think about cooking dinner, so we get a pizza or something. But in general, we're sticking to it and can really tell how different our bodies feel.

Still, this doesn't mean that we don't miss old favorites from time to time---pasta, bagels, mac & cheese, muffins....mmmm....

Sure, there are lots of gluten free recipes out there for some of those old favorites, but most of the time they are full of crazy or hard-to-find ingredients like xantham gum (which I'm not too keen on using), psyllium husk powder, potato starch, guar gum, millet flour, garbanzo-fava flour, and a host of other gums, flours, starches, and seeds. And I read recipes with these ingredients and I think, It isn’t worth the time and money to find these items just to make a faux pasta that only makes me bitter about how unlike the original it is. 

However, when I came across this recipe for blueberry muffins made with almond flour (and that’s it!), I thought, Hey! All of these ingredients are things I already have! This could work!

Though I was still a little nervous about how they would turn out, I was so pleasantly surprised with a product that, if I didn’t know any better, was just like any normal “glutenized” muffin. The almond flour gives a slight nutty flavor, but the taste and texture was wonderful and the muffin totally held together. The chia seeds also add a little texture but I don’t think it takes away from the deliciousness. However you can totally leave them out if you choose. I also loved that they weren’t too sweet--the honey provided just the perfect amount.

I made a couple changes, including adding some mini dark chocolate chips (which it turns out, dark chocolate is paleo friendly!), however if you left them out this muffin would be completely gluten and dairy free. I substituted strawberries for blueberries because I already had some strawberries I had sliced and frozen, but I really think you could toss in whatever you would like to make your own custom muffin.

Gluten Free Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Amy Layne

2 Cups Almond Flour*
2 Eggs
2 Egg Whites
1/4 Cup Honey (you could also use agave)
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Dash of Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (or Other Healthy Oil)
About 1 Tbsp (or two!) chia seeds (optional)**
1 Cup Sliced Strawberries
A Handful of Chocolate Chips (just add what you like!)

*I used almond meal from Trader Joe’s. Most sources will tell you that almond flour is different from meal and that you can’t substitute meal for flour because the product won’t hold together, but my muffins held together just fine. I'd assume that almond flour would produce a finer texture in the product.

**I found chia seeds at Trader Joe’s and the bulk bins at Whole Foods. Chia seeds are a great source of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, are easier to digest than flax seeds (with much less effort to eat them!), and make you feel fuller because they absorb 10-12 times their weight in liquid. Remind me to share my chia seed pudding recipe later, too!

Make It
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
- Place all ingredients except chia seeds, strawberries, and chocolate chips into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Once completely combined, mix in the chia seeds (this is how I did it; I suppose you could blend them with the other ingredients too), then fold in the chocolate chips and strawberries.
- Evenly scoop batter into a greased (or lined) muffin tin.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

Let me know what tasty and tempting muffins you come up with!

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