Friday, April 29, 2011

3.5 years and counting... :)

2007 was a big turning point in my life. Along with the heartbreaking diagnosis of PCOS, I was in school full-time trying to get my Associate's degree and married to an lazy, emotionally abusive husband - we'll call him... Meanie. I was expected to get a full-time job, go to school full-time, take care of his child and keep the house spotless while he sat around and watched tv. For months I put up with it because I loved his son. Then his son's mother called Child Protective Services on us because she hated that Munchkin started calling me Mom before her. CPS determined that we could not have Munchkin back until we took parenting classes, which Meanie refused to take (Now I'm glad I didn't have a child with him). Had I received a little help cleaning from Meanie, or if he had potty-trained the dog like he promised, that wouldn't have happened.

In late June, I met Razure (not real name...). He was a great friend, and hated seeing the way I was treated. He quickly became one of my best friends. When I was having problems with Meanie, I could talk to him about it all. He was in a relationship as well, so I never expected anything to happen between us. I was happy keeping it as friends, for a while. As things became worse with Meanie, Razure and I became closer. He witnessed the abuse I dealt with from Meanie, and was there the day I kicked Meanie out. Once Meanie was out of my life, Razure let his true feelings for me show. I'll admit, I had increasingly grown interested in him since a couple of weeks before I kicked Meanie out, but I never would allow myself to cheat on Meanie. For a short period of time, I was afraid that I was pregnant and it was Meanie's child. Razure even told me that he would claim to be the father and help me take care of the baby so I didn't have to deal with Meanie again. (I ended up not being preggo) The only problem then became how do I get Razure to myself? He had a girlfriend, but they were having problems (obviously because he was cheating on her with me and she knew it) Finally, after breaking up with her, dating me for a week and then going back to her (of course still cheating on her with me), he finally ended their relationship for good on Oct 28. We were hanging out when he broke up with her, but told me that we couldn't make our relationship official until the next day. I understood and agreed, because I didn't want our anniversary to be the same day he broke up with her. So 10 minutes later, once midnight had passed, we were officially together. He moved in with me 2 days later and we've been inseparable ever since.

Now some people would tell me I'm crazy for putting up with this wishy-washy "I'm with you, no, wait... I'm with her" crap. I even told myself I was crazy. But I couldn't shake my feelings for him. I tried, oh how I tried. Deep down, I just knew that I wouldn't be able to forget, and I had to have him for myself. I was a bitch about it, too. I realize that I hurt her, but I did what I had to do to get him. I knew after talking to him for hours every night for at least a month, they didn't have the same values. He wanted to be a dad, and her parents were raising her child because she didn't want her. There's no way that would have ever lasted.

Anyways, I wrote that exceptionally shortened version of how Razure and I got together for one reason. 3 and a half years ago today, we were officially a couple. In the beginning I wondered if he would cheat on me with another girl. "Once a cheater, always a cheater", right? My friends and his friends were secretly curious as well. Then one by one, we all realized that this wasn't just another temporary relationship. This was the real deal. Til death do us part, real. He wants to be the father of my children, even though he knows he can't be biologically related. He treats me like a queen, and never uses it against me like Meanie did. He goes to all of my doctors' appointments. He drives me to work and back every day since I lost my driver's license a year ago. He supports me in any endeavor I attempt. He makes sure I take all of my pills, because I tend to forget. He knows, sometimes even before I do, when I'm sad. He's my best friend, and I'm so glad to have him in my life.

I love you, Hubs, and I'm so glad to have spent the last 3.5 years with you. Here's to the next 3.5 years, and many, many more!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Thursday! Time for What's Your Song Link Up!

There are several reasons that I am happy it's Thursday. For one, when I get off work, I get to go home, hang out with the hubby, and watch The Big Bang Theory. When that show first came out, I decided I wasn't going to watch it. Never seemed to appeal to me. Then, one Thursday a few months ago, we had nothing else to do and decided to watch it. O.M.G. We fell in love. Now Hubs has gone and tried to find every season, so we can watch it from the beginning. I personally love Sheldon. I don't know why, but I'm drawn to self-centered, neurotic people.

But anyways, back to the other reasons why I love Thursday.
- It's almost the weekend!
- It's What's Your Song Link Up!

I just got into this Link Up thing last week through a friend's blog. I had so much fun that I decided to keep going. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (Apr 24-30), here's one of the frew songs I have heard that talks specifically about infertility. No Less Than a Woman by Lady Saw.



If you want to join us, head over to Goodnight Moon's blog and link up! Link: Goodnight Moon

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Infertility Myth: It isn’t your baby.

I knew almost as soon as we started our relationship that Hubs was the man I wanted to father my children. I was fully prepared and overly excited to have what we affectionately refer to as our 'demon spawn'. We had some suspicion that Hubs might need a little help increasing his count, but we weren't ready to hear the actual results of the semen analysis. We even had the test done twice, just to be sure. We were expecting to see a count of low millions, not 0. Nada. Big fat goose egg. After doing more research into azoospermia, and filling his mother with enough alcohol to get a real story about his younger years, it finally hit us. This was likely something we wouldn't be able to fix. We were devastated  It became clear that Hubs would not father my children - at least in the biological sense.

It took months before I was comfortable enough with the idea of sperm donation to discuss it with him. I was freaking out. How could I ever feel comfortable cheating on my husband to have a baby? How do I explain to our child that Daddy isn't really Daddy? What about medical issues down the line? How do I keep a proper relationship with a donor to keep updated on medical history as our child grows? How is Hubs going to feel, knowing that he isn't biologically related to our child? Is he going to get mad or fed up one day and just yell, "Well you know what? I'm not your father!"? These were all legitmate, scary questions.

I finally sat down with Hubs and brought up the subject. I expressed my concerns, and then he did what he always does. He made me feel better. He looked me right in the eye and said "Honey, it doesn't matter to me if we are related or not. I'll be there from day 1, loving that baby with all my heart. I don't care if that baby is black, brown or purple - it will be my child, and I will be the best dad I can be."

That really gave me hope - but still left some questions unanswered. First, where on Earth were we going to find a donor? After looking at the costs of finding one from a cryobank, along with the costs of the IUI necessary to use it, I got really worried again. Then I found this great site, http://freespermdonorregistry.com/. I registered several months ago, so I could explore the site and see if I could really trust it. I have read some great things from couples who have used it, as well as happy donors, excited to advertise their success. Hubs and I decided that we wanted to try and find a friend we trusted to donate first, but this is our backup plan.

I know that this problem is still years away, but how do we explain this unusual situation to our child? Dawn Davenport, from Creating a Family, must have been reading my mind. Just a few days ago she posted a link to a series of books designed just for this purpose. The "Before You Were Born" series was written by a registered nurse that works in an IVF clinic, and has gone through IVF herself. I read the sample book online, and felt so much better afterwards. I will definitely be buying the "The Story of Donor Insemination" and reading it to our child as they grow up. Here's a link to the book list: Before You Were Born

So this myth is busted. While the child may not be Hubs  biologically, he/she will definitely be Hubs' child in heart and love. And really - what better way to be related?

For more information about infertility, please visit RESOLVE's website: http://www.resolve.org/infertility101
For the background of National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW): http://www.resolve.org/takecharge

Photo Challenge Days 12-14

Day 12 - A picture of something you love
It's hard to just choose one thing, because I love some many things. So I narrowed it down to flowers. I LOVE flowers. There's just something about them that can always make me feel better, even on the worst of days. Here are some of my favorites :)

Orange Calla Lilies
Daffodils of all sorts
Tiger Lilies
Stargazer Lilies
Gerbera Daisies
Parrot Tulips



Day 13 - A picture of your favorite band or artist
It's still really funny to me that this is my favorite band, but I love Korn. When I was younger and not allowed to listen to heavy metal, I would get mad at some of the girls in our church congregation for calling me Corn. I even wrote their parents a letter detailing why it was so offensive to me. It included a note about this band, and how I didn't want to be affiliated with them in any way. Well, that obviously has all changed. I was excited to finally get to see them in concert last year, and will likely go several more times.


Day 14 - A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without
I know you were expecting my husband, and I agree. I can't imagine my life without Hubs. For the last 3.5 years, he has been my rock. Whenever I needed to cry, his shoulder was available. In some situations, he'd even cry with me. I've been married once before, but I never felt the love from my first husband as I do with Hubs  It's such a pure, forever kind of love :)

Just a little down this evening...

I am feeling the aftermath of tax season, and so is my body. I am self-employed, so taxes are killer. Unlike most people I know, I didn't get to celebrate a tax refund. Instead, I had to write a fairly large check two weeks ago. To overcome this major dent in our pocketbook, we had to make a few changes. First, we knew that we could not afford to go to the grocery store until my next paycheck in the middle of May. That meant we were stuck eating whatever I could scrounge up around the house. I'm well stocked with meats and canned veggies, but veggies are just so much more enjoyable when they are fresh. So because I can't get to the store to get fresh veggies, my diet is suffering. Thankfully I only gained 0.2 pounds at my Weight Watchers meeting tonight. I probably would have cried if it was more. We also did a lot of yard work to get our garden and patio competition worthy. Our apartment complex had that Earth Day contest, and we won! Thank goodness, because we needed the discounted rent. My already problem-rittled back took a beating, though. I went to the chiropractor Monday morning for an adjustment, but that didn't relieve any pain. I talked to my dad today and he suggested to try IcyHot patches to make the pain tolerable, so I don't have to miss work again, like I did today.

It's like this revolving cycle - My back is in severe pain, so I miss work. When I miss work, I can't afford the trip to the doctor to get another pain med prescription. When I don't have pain relievers, my back is in severe pain. Sucks, right? And then, I keep hoping that losing a lot of weight will reduce the strain on my back. Problem there is: I tried to exercise, just some simple yoga, and could only last 8 minutes before I was in desperate need of a chair. Ugh.

Just needed to rant. I'm tired of all these problems getting in the way of the progress we need to start TTCing with a donor. Thanks for listening :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Just a few Infertility Myths

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Sometimes it still amazes me that with as widespread a problem this is, so many people are still oblivious to the truths about infertility. Although I am going to write a few more posts this week going into more detail about them (and hopefully even get my hubby to guest write for me!), I wanted to address just a few that have been bugging me as of late.

When someone tells you they are having difficulty getting pregnant, what are the first few comments that pop into your head?
"Just relax, it'll happen."
"You're too young to have kids. Enjoy your life while you can."
"You want kids? You can have mine!"
"If God wants you to have children, you will."

There are plenty more, but if I discuss every single comment, this post will take forever.

"Just relax, it'll happen." - No, it won't happen if I relax. My husband does not produce sperm, so relaxing and just enjoying sex WILL NOT get us pregnant.

"You're too young to have kids. Enjoy your life while you can." - I've wanted to be a mom since I was 5 years old. After 18 long years of watching my friends get knocked up and be unable to support their children, I'm tired of waiting. I don't have the same desires as other young 20-somethings. I want to be a mom, and my husband wants to be a dad. Battling infertility is a very long, arduous process, and if we don't start now, we could run out of time.

"You want kids? You can have mine!" - This hurts us more than you can imagine. We would take your kids in a heartbeat. Why? Because we want to have children. I would cherish every moment spent with those children as if they were my own. But when you offer, you propose it as a joke. This is not a laughing matter to us.

"If God wants you to have children, you will." - Let's say I did believe in 'God': If 'God' really did want us to have children, we wouldn't be fighting infertility. My husband would have sperm, and I wouldn't have PCOS.

Ok, I've done enough ranting for now.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Photo Challenge 9 - 11

Day 09 - A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most
       My Dad. We may have our issues, but in the end he always helps me, even if it's not the way I want it :)


Day 10 - A picture of you and your family
       At the wedding :)


Day 11 - A picture of something you hate
       Ugh. Onions. I hate them in every form they exist.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Earth Day, so eat your heart out, neighbors!

A little over a week ago, we came home to a note a flyer on our door from the resident office at out apartment complex. It was an entry form for their Earth Day contest. The winner is chosen based on how pretty and clean the patio is. First place wins $300 off May's rent. Well, after the damage the IRS did to my checkbook, I could really use the discounted rent this month. So I got to work making my already pretty garden even prettier. The contest is this afternoon, and I can't wait to find out the results. Although I'm obviously partial, I do believe that my yard is the prettiest. Here are some pics. Let me know what you think! (You can click on the picture to make it bigger)






Thursday, April 21, 2011

Circle+Bloom and PCOS for Fertility

I used to believe that the only way to control a disease as overwhelming as PCOS was with prescription medications. I have since found that I was way off base. I have had so much more success controlling my symptoms with all-natural herbs and supplements that I'm now always looking for other holistic ways to assist in this journey towards becoming a mother. I recently heard about Circle+Bloom from Natural-Fertility-Info.com, and ventured over to the website. Although I'm really interested in all-natural (and even some superstitious) approaches to getting pregnant, I was hesitant about getting interested in this type of program. Then I read the testimonials.

“Your PCOS for Fertility Program worked!!!! I finally ovulated! You have no idea how happy I am! Thank you all so much! I am telling everyone I know. This is the best money I’ve ever spent!” Liz, via email

“I decided to get the PCOS for fertility program to try to calm down and let things take its course. I used it for that cycle and it helped immensely. I felt so calm and relaxed during this cycle that I was OK with whatever happened that month. Well, that month was the month I got pregnant!! I found out October 21, 2010 that I was pregnant and the only thing that we did differently that month was this program. Thank you Circle and Bloom.” Danielle, via email

“I have been using the program for PCOS and really feel like it is helping me through the visualization exercises. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for a year now, and I have been diagnosed with PCOS. I’ve been feeling better with the PCOS program…thank you so much!” Neha, via email


Hubs and I decided that we were going to try getting pregnant via a sperm donor first, since it is by far the cheapest method to attempt. With all the stress I deal with on a daily basis with work, school, and family, I know that I need something to ease the stress and increase our chances at conception. So I've decided that this is the PCOS for Fertility program I want to try. This program is not only supposed to assist with increasing fertility, but it's also supposed to help relieve some PCOS symptoms.

Here's the benefits from Circle+Bloom's website:

Benefits Include:

- Use advanced visualizations to use brain-body therapy to help address the symptoms of PCOS
- Visualize balancing your reproductive hormones to potentially improve fertility each and every day
- Focus on minimizing insulin in the blood stream that could be contributing to your PCOS
- Help to increase cellular response to insulin that could be contributing to your PCOS
- Feel in greater control of your body, levels of health and well-being

Sound too good to be true? PCOS has no effective treatment?
The power of the brain is still not fully understood at the scientific level…but what we do know is that it has a direct correlation to the health of our body. Our emotions, how we feel, our thoughts and stress all impact our health and our immune system. People who are happy tend to live longer. Our emotions become physical packets of information and literally change our cells. (Pert Ph.D., Molecules of Emotion). Bernie Siegel, M.D. reports on thousands of cases of cancer survivors who use the power of visualization to reduce and remove the cancer tumors from their bodies.


There's a money-back guarantee, so I don't see the harm in trying it out. In fact, it could end up being one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Once I can afford to get it (dang IRS and their self-employment taxes), I'll post updates about how it's working for me.

What's Your Song... Link Up

I think this is more the song of my life at the moment, but it seemed like the song I needed to share first on this Link Up journey. As we battle with infertility, we look for support anywhere we can. Websites, blogs and support groups are easier to find, but songs aren't. There are thousands of love songs, but only a few infertility songs. It's hard to talk about and hard to sing about, but I thank Kellie Coffey every day for doing exactly that. Here's I Would Die For That by Kellie Coffey.


 
Make sure to share your song of the week by linking up at Goodnight Moon:

Photo Challenge Days 6-8

Day 06 - A picture of a person you'd love to trade places with for a day
I'd love to trade places with my hubby (partially so I can sit at home all day and do nothing lol). I want to feel how it feels for him to love me, and I['d like for him to feel how I feel about him :)

My silly hubby :)

Day 07 - A picture of your most treasured item
Although this isn't a picture of my photo album, my most treasured item is my photo album. I can replace pretty much everything else in my house if it burned down, but photos aren't as easy to save. (I do have back ups on computers, but if I lose the compute, I lose the pics...)


Day 08 - A picture that makes you laugh
Sometimes, after a long day at work, constant phone calls from other people asking me for help, and knowing that there's a list of things to do at home that's 50 miles long, I just want to scream this from the rooftop! This kitty just makes me feel better :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

What's for Dinner? April 18-22, 2011

Last week I focused on replacing carbs like rice and pasta with veggies. It went so well that we will be replacing rice and pasta with grated cauliflower and spaghetti squash in prety much every application we can.

This week I wanted to focus on trying healthier grains in my attempt to go gluten-free, particulary Quinoa. Central Market has bulk whole quinoa for very cheap. It doesn't weigh much, so a pound goes SO FAR! I also purchased a package of ground quinoa flour. If I like the flour, I will probably start grinding my own to make it cheaper.

Monday: Taco Salad (again!)
Hubs loved this recipe, so I'm doing it again. Of course, I'll still be using cauliflower instead of rice. I used orange cauliflower last week, and it looked like spanish rice. Very cool :)

Recipe can be found in last week's menu plan: April 11-15 2011 Menu Plan

Tuesday: Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
After reading the reviews on this recipe, I can't wait to try this. I will be canned corn instead of frozen, and will be adding a little more cayenne for some extra heat. I will also be eliminating the onion, because I don't like them.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions
1.Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
2.Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
3.Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

This recipe comes courtesy of PCOS Diva and AllRecipes.

Wednesday: Raspberry Balsamic Chicken and Sour Cream Fudge Cupcakes
I really want to bake this week, and I think this is the perfect day to do it. Can't wait to try the cupcakes!

Raspberry Balsamic Chicken
I'm not a fan of anything related to an onion, so I will be skipping the shallots in this dish.
Ingredients
3/4 cup seedless all-fruit raspberry jam
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 4- to 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenders removed (see Tip)
2 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots, (2-3 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

Directions
1. Combine jam and vinegar in a small pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the jam is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in salt and pepper and let cool slightly. Reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce. Place chicken breasts and the rest of the sauce in a large sealable plastic bag. Seal and shake gently to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard marinade). Add the chicken to the pan and cook until just beginning to brown, 2 minutes on each side. Add the reserved raspberry sauce; stir to melt the jam and coat the chicken. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center, 6 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Courtesy of PCOS Diva and FitnessMagazine

Sour Cream Fudge Cupcakes

Ingredients
¼ cup butter (or margarine)
½ cup water
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 ¼ cup quinoa flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
2 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup sour cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 375˚. Place butter and water in saucepan. Bring to boil, remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Sift together the sugar, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, egg yolks, vanilla, and sour cream and blend well. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter. Spoon into muffin tin lined with paper cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Makes 12 cupcakes
Courtesy of Quinoa Corp.

Thursday: Veggie Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries
I'm going easy today, with burgers and fries. No special cooking - just heat and eat. I picked up some Bruschetta Tomato Basil Parmesan Veggie Patties made by Boca Burger. Check your vegetarian/organic frozen section of your grocery store for these. I'm going to top them with more veggies and serve with sweet potato fries. I picked those up from the frozen section of my grocery store.

Friday: Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf
I'm going to round out this week with more quinoa. I love a good meatloaf, and I like the sound of this recipe :) (Again, I will be removing the onions)

Ingredients
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 (20 ounce) package ground turkey
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon water

Directions
1.Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2.Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3.Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.
4.Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. The mixture will be very moist. Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. Combine the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, and 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the top of the meatloaf.
5.Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Courtesy of AllRecipes

Photo Challenge Day 2-5 :)

Ok, so I kind of ignored the photo challenge this weekend. When we weren't running around the world, I was trying to finish up taxes. So here's the catch-up post for days 2 through 5!

Day 02 - A picture of you and the person you have been closest with the longest
       - My mom and I, out for our favorite thing: Margaritas!



Day 03 - A picture of the cast from your favorite show
        -House: Although I have many other favorite shows, I had to eventually choose House as #1.


Day 04 - A picture of somewhere you've been to
       - Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR: We went to a B&B in Murfreesboro for our Honeymoon. It was an awesome weekend, and very relaxing.


Day 05 - A picture of your favorite super hero
     -Songbird: She's the bad girl gone good, much like me. I would love to have the ability to fly and use sound to do amazing things.

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday! This past weekend was pretty eventful. We headed to Scarborough Faire Saturday morning. Every year they have a Royal Ale Festival, and I'm always up for trying new beers. The last time we went they had this amazing banana beer. I was hoping they would have it again, but no such luck :( We did get to try some good brews, though. None I'd buy regularly, but it was still fun to try!

We bought lots of new stuff. Most isn't really useful, but who says you always have to buy useful items? By far the most meaningful thing we purchased this weekend is our new Baby Fund jar. You know those silly little jars that say 'Ashes of Ex-Husbands' or 'Boob Job Fund'? Well there was a shop that had a ton of beautifully created jars like these. Hubs was the first to see the 'Baby Fund' jar. We knew when we saw it that it was not going home with anyone but us. I'll post pictures later. I also bought a parasol painted with cherry blossoms. I should have bought it earlier in the day - I probably wouldn't be so red right now if I did. I made a wax-chip candle, just like we did the first time we went together :) We also bought a bathing frog painting for the bathroom, Hear/See/Speak/Do No Evil pewter monkeys, a fairy and lily candle snuffer, a hand-crafted frog, and a pendragon decorative knife to add to the hubby's arsenal.

Sunday spelled tragedy in our household. Mary, our almost 4 year old Dwarf Robo Hamster, died in her sleep. Hubs was very broken up about it. We buried her in the garden and will be getting a memorial stone to put on top. We went out to pick up a mini-fridge for my mom, and spent a few hours driving the backroads, looking at what has happened to the places my family has lived over the years. We then decided that we needed to go to the pet store. I told Hubs that he could pick out another hamster to replace Mary. I don't think he could have made a better choice when he picked Geronimo - a FAT black bear hamster that snores when she sleeps. I also got a black bear hamster, still to be named. She's only half the size of Geronimo. I haven't been able to determine what I want to name her, so I'll gladly take suggestions.
Geronimo is the fat one on the left :)
As for last week's meal plan - It was swell! The grated cauliflower was a fantastic substitute for rice, and the spaghetti squash was so much better than regular pasta! I am going to continue using these substitutes quite frequently. This week I have decided to explore new grains, particularly Quinoa. I have whole quinoa and quinoa flour and I plan to use both. Check out this week's menu plan for the details!

Have a great week!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 1


So, ten facts about me. Let's see....

Fact 1: The only Christian in me is my maiden name. I, along with my wonderful hubby, are practicing Pagans.

Fact 2: I've had to pull out my ID to prove that I am younger than people think.

Fact 3: I started a support group for women with PCOS in my area.

Fact 4: I have been married twice.

Fact 5: I believe that something will happen on Dec 21, 2012 - but I doubt that it will literally be the end of the world.

Fact 6: I love gardening, even though I am really good at killing plants unintentionally.

Fact 7: I have 3 children - Squeaks, Pete and MJ. Squeaks is a Green Cheek Conure, Pete is a Parakeet, and MJ is a Dwarf Robo Hamster. (4 if you count my husband :P)

Fact 8: My hubby and I were married on Halloween. There were two reasons for this. It's our favorite holiday, and I never wanted my hubby to have the ability to forget our anniversary :)

Fact 9: I do not believe in fate, destiny, or the assumption that everyone has a set purpose in life.

Fact 10: When we finally do have children, I will not raise them in the city. If everything goes my way, I won't raise them in the U.S., either.

Photo Challenge

I'm following along with Christina and her blog, Mrs. O's Life, and I'm giving into the photo challenge :) Hopefully I'll remember to do them daily!

Here's the schedule:
Day 01 - A picture of yourself with ten facts about you
Day 02 - A picture of you and the person you have been closest with the longest
Day 03 - A picture of the cast from your favorite show
Day 04 - A picture of somewhere you've been too
Day 05 - A picture of your favorite super hero
Day 06 - A picture of a person you'd love to trade places with for a day
Day 07 - A picture of your most treasured item
Day 08 - A picture that makes you laugh
Day 09 - A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most
Day 10 - A picture of you and you're family
Day 11 - A picture of something you hate
Day 12 - A picture of something you love
Day 13 - A picture of your favorite band or artist
Day 14 - A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without
Day 15 - A picture of something you want to do before you die
Day 16 - A picture of someone who inspires you
Day 17 - A picture of someone who has made a huge impact on your life recently
Day 18 - A picture of your biggest insecurity
Day 19 - A picture and a letter.
Day 20 - A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel
Day 21 - A picture of something you wish you could forget
Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at
Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book
Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change
Day 25 - A picture of your day
Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you
Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member
Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of
Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile
Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Random survey #1

Usually I don't know what to blog about. Sometimes there's something really bugging me, or something I am really excited about, that I want to share. Other days, I have nothing. So I decided that to google search 'Random Surveys for Bloggers'. Most of the surveys we are forwarded from friends are extremely personal, with details that you typically wouldn't want to share with people you don't know. As I value my safety, I didn't want to do any of those. Here's one I found that allos me to share random information about myself with you, but not the point that you could become a stalker and find where I live.

50 Random Questions

1. What is your best friend's Mom's name? Gayla

2. Where is the weirdest place you have a mole? Actually, I don't have any moles. I have a birthmark and freckles, but no moles.

3. Who was the hottest teacher you ever had? I believe his name was Dalrymple. I know for sure, though, that he was my high school sophomore English teacher.

4. Have you ever made out in a movie theater? Never during the movie. But those opening commericials, yeah.

5. What body part do you wash first? My hair. It takes the longest, with conditioner and all that...

6. Do you hover over the toilet in public bathrooms? No. If the toilet requires hovering, I'll find another toilet.

7. What's the strangest talent you have? I'm sure my husband would say it's anything I can do with my 'monkey toes'.

8. Do you have an innie or an outtie? Innie.

9. What's your favorite flavored Pringles? BBQ.

10. Have you ever been tied up? Do you want to be? I don't think that this is a good topic for this blog.

11. What was the last thing you ever got grounded for? The last time I can remember was for getting in-school suspension for smoking cigarettes on school property. But that was the middle of freshman year, so there might have been more. Ok, it's more likely that there was more after that.

12. Do you parallel park or drive around the block? I do when necessary.

13. Have you ever had two dates in one night? Nope.

14. How many times have you been cussed out? I really don't remember. It's happened a few times, but probably more behind my back than to my face.

15. Which shoe do you put on first? Usually the left.

17. Have you ever been to a gay bar? Yep. There's this bar hop that goes on in Oak Lawn that results in dirt cheap drinks. Like $2 wells. I can get drunk on $10 with cranberry and vodkas.

18. Girls-- are being forced to grow up at much younger ages. I wish sex and popularity wasn't such a driving force in public school.

19. Is there one thing all of your love interests have had in common? Yep. Me. hahaha couldn't help myself with that one.

20. Did you French kiss before you were 16? Yes.

21. Have you ever been cow-tipping or snipe-hunting? No.

22. Who is the last person you usually think about before you fall asleep? Usually the cute guy in bed next to me :)

23. Have you ever had a poem or a song written about you? Yep :)

24. If you had to choose to not ever wash your bed sheets again or not wash your bath towel ever again, which would you rather not wash? The bath towel. They are cheaper to replace.

25. Have you ever found anything in your parents' bedroom that was questionable? I was one of those good children that didn't go sneaking around in their room.

26. What was your childhood nickname? Well, this will tell you how much I was loved: Thunder-thighs, Thunder-buns, Court

27. When is the last time you played the air guitar? The last time a really good song came on the radio - one truly deserving of air guitar.

28. Have you ever peeked in the opposite sexes locker room? Not intentionally.

29. What's the weirdest thing you have done while driving? Put my bra back on. Let's not go into the details.

30. Have you ever bitten your toenails? That would require being able to get my toes to my mouth. And I still wouldn't do it. Ugh.

31. How do you eat your cookie? I bite a piece off, chew, swallow, and repeat.

32. When working out at the gym, do you wear a belt? No.

33. Name something you do when you're alone that you wouldn't do in front of others. Pop pimples.

36. How many drinks does it take before you get drunk? Depends on what I'm drinking.

37. Have you ever sniffed an animal's butt? Eww. No.

38. How often do you clean out your ears? Pretty much anytime I am in my bathroom.

39. Do you scrunch or fold your toilet paper? Fold

40. About how many times a day do you pick a wedgie? I'm not about to start counting to answer this question.

41. Do you have any strange phobias? Not necessarily strange. I am deathly scared of clowns, large crowds and never being a mother.

42. Have you ever stuck a foreign object up your nose? Yes. We were all toddlers at one point in our lives.

43. What is the stupidest thing you've ever done at a bar? Nothing that I can think of. I don't go to bars that often.

44. Have you ever been dared to do something you totally regretted? No.

45. Have you ever called your love interest by an ex's name? Not intentionally. But when you are acting just like an ex, sometimes you'll get called by the ex's name.

46. Have you caught a guy/girl farting while on a date? Yes, but it's a bodily function that I understand can be difficult, if not impossible, to hold until you can reach a safe location.

47. Have you ever played naked Twister? No.

48. Have you ever been drunk at work? That would be irresponsible.

49. Have you ever found your date's/lover's brother or sister more attractive? No.

50. Do you want to bring sexy back? I still have yet to truly understand what Justin Timberlake meant by that song.

Questions came from Uniquely Normal

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What's For Dinner? April 11-15, 2011

My online meal planner will briefly highlight breakfast and lunch, but will detail dinner. I typically do not vary my breakfast and lunch. I like to get as much sleep as I can, so I usually grab a yogurt for breakfast and some sandwich meat and veggies for lunch. Sometimes I will grab leftover dinner for lunch, when I have some leftover :)

Monday: Curried Chicken with Mango Rice
I found some beautiful mangoes at the grocery store today. They are my favorite fruit! I found this recipe and I can't wait to try it.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup uncooked cauliflower rice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 cup diced mango

Directions
Combine curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Rub mixture into chicken breasts. Saute in a few tablespoons of chicken broth, white wine and olive oil.
In a large, non-stick skillet, combine the rest of the chicken broth, water, and wine with rice. Stir in brown sugar, dried parsley, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in mango. Arrange chicken pieces on top of rice, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes. The sauce way not thicken completely, because cauliflower rice does not absorb much liquid.
(Modified from a recipe on AllRecipes.com)

Tuesday: Roasted Garlic Marinated Skirt Steak and Steamed Asparagus
This is a very bright dish that's super easy to prepare, and manly enough that the hubby doesn't feel weird eating it lol :)

Ingredients
1 cup roasted garlic vinegarette
1-2 pounds skirt steak
1-2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon rosemary (optional)

Directions
Marinate the skirt steak in a bowl or ziploc bag with the vinegarette for at least 30 minutes (overnight preferred). Grill the steak or cook in a large skillet over high heat. Steam the asparagus with lemon juice and rosemary.

Wednesday: Taco Salad
When I was younger, my grandmother would make lots of taco meat and then serve it to us in a bowl of rice, topped with tomatoes. I LOVED IT. I still do – but PCOS has effectively stopped that love affair… Until now!
I will be replacing traditional rice with grated cauliflower! The directions are at the end of the blog.

Ingredients
2-3 cups grated, cooked cauliflower
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 romaine heart, chopped – roughly 2 cups (you can use any other lettuce you would like)
Any other taco toppings you choose

Directions
Brown 1 pound of ground turkey with your favorite taco seasoning. I love the Taco Soup seasoning from Homemade Gourmet (link: HMG) Add a heaping ladle-full of cauliflower rice into a bowl. Add a spoonful of cooked turkey. Top with your choice of toppings. If you are like me, mix it all up so you get a little of everything in each bite, then dig in! You can add cheese and sour cream as well - just watch the fat content!

Thursday: MUshroom Spaghetti (Squash!)
I've been dying to try spaghetti squash as a substitute for spaghetti. So tonight I'm going to try a basic spaghetti with some extra veggies!

Ingredients
2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
1 can spaghetti sauce, or homemade - I like Homemade Gourmet's Spaghetti Sauce (link: HMG)
1 small package white mushrooms, sliced (or any other type of mushroom you like!)

Directions
In a large pot, heat spaghetti sauce on low heat. Add sliced mushrooms and spaghetti squash, and heat through. Dish out and top with parmesan cheese!

Friday: Spaghetti Pie
This recipe combines pizza, lasagna and pie. I can't help myself, I have to try it.

Ingredients
6 ounces spaghetti squash, cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 cup Skim Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 cup pasta sauce
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions
Toss spaghetti squash with olive oil in large bowl. Stir in eggs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Pour spaghetti mixture into greased 10-inch pie plate; form into a crust.
Spoon ricotta cheese over spaghetti crust. Top with pasta sauce. Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven 25 minutes. Top with Mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cool 10 minutes before cutting.
(Modified from a Sargento recipe. Spaghetti Pie)


Cauliflower Rice
The texture of grated cauliflower is very similar to rice and has a very light flavor. Simply shred a head of cauliflower in a food processor or grate it with a cheese grater. This will keep, uncooked, for a few days in the refridgerator. You can use it uncooked or cooked. To cook, pop the amount you need in the microwave, covered, for a few minutes to steam. DO NOT ADD WATER! You don’t need it! Just nuke it until nice and fluffy.

Spaghetti Squash
My plan is to slowcook my spaghetti squash all day on Thursday, and use the leftovers for Friday's dinner.
Buying & Storing
When buying spaghetti squash, look for hard fruit that is heavy for its size, about eight to nine inches in length and four to five inches in diameter and with a pale even color. Avoid any squash with soft spots and green color is a sign of immaturity. The average four-pound spaghetti squash will yield about five cups.

Spaghetti Squash can be stored at room temperature for about a month. After cutting, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Spaghetti squash also freezes well. Pack cooked squash into freezer bags, seal, label and freeze. Partially thaw before re-using, then steam until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.

How To Cook Spaghetti Squash
Bake It -- Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer and place in baking dish. Cook squash in preheated 375F oven approximately 1 hour or until flesh is tender.

Boil It -- Heat a pot of water large enough to hold the whole squash. When the water is boiling, drop in the squash and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on its size. When a fork goes easily into the flesh, the squash is done.

Microwave It -- Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place squash cut sides up in a microwave dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size of squash. Add more cooking time if necessary. Let stand covered, for 5 minutes. With fork "comb" out the strands.

Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot - Choose a smaller spaghetti squash (unless you have an extra large slow cooker) so that it will fit. Add 2 cups of water to slow cooker. Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer, add to Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.
Once the squash is cooked, let it cool for 10 to 20 minutes so it will be easier to handle, before cutting in half (if it wasn't already) and removing the seeds. Save the seeds for roasting - just like pumpkin seeds! Pull a fork lengthwise through the flesh to separate it into long strands. You can do these steps ahead of time, then prepare spaghetti squash recipes whenever the mood strikes.
(courtesy of FabulousFoods.com)

Our escapades with Tommi!

Last Saturday we went to get Tommi for the weekend. Our first stop was meeting my mom at the Super H Mart in Carrollton. It's a huge Korean market with all sorts of shops. Not to mention, sushi! Actually, that's the whole reason we went there :)


    


Mom and I headed off to an earring making class at a bead shop and the boys headed to the mall. Mom and I made 3 different pairs of earrings, and it really reignited my interest in jewelry making. I will be starting a store soon with PCOS earrings and bracelets :)


    



    


After the class, I used my class discount to buy the beads to make a new frog necklace. I have the perfect shirt to wear it with!




Mom left and we headed to the train station to go to the Deep Ellum Arts Festival! We walked a total of 1.3 miles while at the Arts Festival. It was great exercise, and we got to see some really interesting art! I did purchase a piece - a photo of the photo is below :) Oh, and Hubs decided he was going to wear his 'I wear Teal for my Wife' shirt... I feel so loved @/----



    


We headed over to Lizard Lounge afterwards to go see DJ Irene. Sadly we had to leave before she came on, but it was definitely fun hanging out in our VIP wingback seats, on the upper balcony, watching and laughing at the people on the dance floor below.




We saw a car in flames on the freeway as we rode the train back to the car before we headed home for the night. It was very fun day :)