Thursday, December 27, 2012

Due date day: A Reminder of my Blessings

Today was my due date.

I am not to the point where I have let it go. Instead, I'm trying to remind myself of my blessings. I will remember my blessings and strive to remember them better. For I am blessed, in so many ways.

I am blessed with my son, who is a wonderfully unique little boy who made me a mommy and who makes me strive to be a better person every day.

I am blessed with The Husband, who loves me for who I am, quirks and all. I am blessed with My Mom, who I would be lost without and who has always, always been there for me.

I am blessed for all my family and friends, each and every one who loves and cares for me.

I am blessed with and by a God who while I'm still trying to understand, already understands me.

I am blessed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Quick and simple...

Merry Christmas!

I'd love to post more but believe it or not, I managed to catch the flu this weekend and am living on toast and gaterade as I type. While it has certaintly hampered this holiday, it still has been a fantastic one.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Secondary Infertility

One year of trying.

One chemical pregnancy.

BBT charts that span a year and tell the story of irregular cycles, short lutuel phases and no ovulation some months.

Sperm analysis completed; perfect numbers.

One formal exam and very basic blood work for me; all fine.

One round of clomid down, a second going.

No baby.

It all comes down to it.

It's offical.

I can't deny the label anymore.

Secondary infertility


I honestly thought that before I got to my due date, December 27, the due date I should have had with the pregnancy I lost before it even really began, that I would at least be comforted by being pregnant again. I had no idea that I would be here. Nearing my due date with no baby being born and no baby on the way.

I never imagined that over the last three months that I would research everything from diets, vitamins, clomid, IUI, IVF and fostering to adopt. I'd like to tell you that I am a positive person and believe with all my might that I will still get pregnant. That next month I will be puking my guts out and glowing green due to pregnancy. That I will be able to look back at this post and say, I'm so glad to have come this far. I'm so blessed to be pregnant.

But I can't. Part of me does believe it, because I'm not willing to give it up yet, but parts of me are trying to cope with other thoughts. Thoughts of how my family might be completed other ways and accepting at the same time that it may already be complete; I just don't know it yet.

I never knew I'd feel so many different emotions. Saddness. Pain. Anger. Jealousy. Homicidal rage. I never knew that out of all of my emotions, the largest one I would feel due to secondary infertility was guilt.

I feel guilty. l feel selfish. I already have one child, can't I just be happy that I have been blessed with one child? Don't I know there are other people who don't even have one child? Don't I know that one year of trying for a baby is nothing, nothing, some couples go years, years, trying for just one baby. Don't I know that there are people who would give everthing in the world to have even one child. To have one healthy child who lived, who was born, who smiles and laughs.

But why can't I be sad that I'm having problems having another child? What makes me such a bad person to feel pain and sorrow about not having another baby? Why does it make me selfish to want so badly to give my son a sibling? Why can't I be sad about not getting pregnant while at the same time feeling grateful for my son?

But it's not the same. It's not perceived the same way. Primary infertility is sad. It makes friends and family uncomfortably sorry for you but everyone is rooting for you to have a baby. Secondary infertility? It makes your friends and family think that your overreacting; you had a baby before, you'll have one again, just "stop trying so hard" and "relax, God has a plan for you".

I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to curl up in my bed. I want to break something. I want to stop taking my temperature every morning. I want to stop peeing on OPKs. I want to stop examing myself. I want to look forward to making love to my husband without the counting of what cycle day I'm on going through my head.

I want a baby.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

MIA again

Surprise!

No, no I'm sure you're not that I went missing. Why? No good reason, just busy with life, another round of clomid and the holidays.

Tomorrow is A.'s birthday and while we won't be doing anything besides going out for dinner, his family birthday party will be this weekend, I'm so excited to celebrate his birthday.

These four years have not been easy at times. We, as a family, have struggled through colic, poor feeding and weight gain, acid reflux, SPD and everything that entails, speech delay, poor motor control planning, temper tantrums and tears. There has also been happiness, smiles and love.

I will be honest and say, A. is not the child I expected to get. I will be honest and say being his mom some days is harder than I expected it to be. I will be honest and say that I can't imagine life without him. I can't imagine A. any other way then what he is, which is himself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Asthma attacks: a way to start a day

I'm home today and skipping work because aparently my lungs suck at their job too. If you haven't ever had one, count yourself lucky, because they hurt. My chest burns, it hurts to breathe in and out and you feel like you can't get enough air in no matter how deeply you try to breathe. The key is not to panic, which is a mighty hard thing to do, or else it makes the attack worse.

So as you might guess, waking up to an asthma attack at 5AM isn't the greatest wake up alarm. My head is still woozy and my chest still slightly burns. I have an appointment this afternoon because during my attack I remembered I didn't have a valid prescription anymore for my inhalers, because I never made my follow up visit... opps. Thankfully A. uses the same rescue inhaler so I bummed it off of his (the only time ever that I share meds, promise!).

 But it could be worse, I have a very, very mild form of asthma and honestly this is the first attack I've had in over six months. I'm considered to have well managed asthma. Even so, I'm taking the day easy. A. and I ate bagels on the couch and are now just relaxing in our jammies.

Hopefully I'll have something more exciting than an asthma attack to talk about later in the week.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hanukkah 2012: Kids activities

So I recently posted about a latke round up which is good because it's now less than two weeks away. It's very easy to find recipes for fried food, a simple google search late at night will leave you hungry! Finding kids activities for Hannukah is just a smidgin harder but here are some ideas I hope to try with A. this year or in the future.

Hanukah countdown calender
So, yes, this is essentially an advent calender, just for Hannukah. I don't care, it's adorable. Children need a visual, concrete idea, to help with holidays. A. has his own menorah, actually two, and he likes counting the candles, but I like the idea of this streamer one. It's cute, it's simple and I like it. The only thing I would do different though is to use more durable supplies like ribbon and felt, so it could be used each year.

Felt Driedel Garland
I have an excess of felt right now from working on A.'s fabric Torah quiet book, so this looks like an excellent idea! I think sewing them could be a better bonding method but I like that this version is a no-sew one.

How freakin adorable is this? I think it would work on a platter that you could serve latkes on each year.

Pipe cleaner Star of Davids
I think making a bunch of these and hanging them from the windows with yarn would be cute. We have an electric menorah we put in the window already but these would be a good addition.

Recycled driedel "paper dolls"
I like that you make little people out of each driedel with whatever craft supplies you have on hand.

Hopefully with our full schedule we can try at least one of these out!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Clomid round 1: a bust?

Well... this first round of clomid seems to have been a bust. Normally, as if infertility can be normal, when you take clomid it should make you ovulate 5 to 9 days after your last dose. You can confirm this by your BBT charts, OPK sticks and other things I'm just going to gloss over.

So what happened to me between that time period? Nothing. I apparently don't like to play by the rules. My ovaries clearly think they are too cool. Nope. Nothing yet. Oh well... maybe this one will end up being a cycle I naturally ovulate anyways and it will still be a good cycle.

Plus through my endless Google searching I have read ovulation can show up later too while on clomid. But that's part of my problem, if it shows up, it's very late with a short luteal phase... so having ovulation late while taking clomid to me, means it didn't work and I enjoyed hot flashes, headaches, back aches and constantly blood noses just for shits and grins.

In the mean time however, I will remind myself that there are perks to not being pregnant. Just to name a few:
  • Drinking: once I know for sure, I will enjoy some peach schnapps
  • Peeing: as in, I don't have the urge to pee every 15 minutes, I can still hold it
  • Food: I can still eat any food I want without it making me want to hurl
  • Bedtime: I can stay awake past 7:30
  • Sushi: if I wanted to stray from my veggie ones for fish I still can
  • Caffene: I can drink as much as I can stand
  • Extreme sports: not that I'm gonna go sky diving really, but I like to know I could
  • Bitchiness: I can be one just to be one
Yay for me :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What am I thankful for this year?

There are many things to be thankful for this year. It goes without saying that friends, family, jobs, housing, food and love are among them. But what am I truly thankful for right now? Why Elmo and Youtube of course that allows A. to just watch one minute of Elmo versus watching a whole DVD.

Yes, even a little or maybe it's big by now, Elmo scandal, can't wreck that I'm thankful for the following teeth brushing song. A. loves this song so much he dances to it every time he plays the DVD Nana picked up for him (for free from Sam's Club, yay for free!). He can now even say the word teeth due to singing the song daily!


So enjoy this teeth brushing song and thank me later when it randomly pops into your head today during your Thanksgiving meal. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

IEP time

We had A.'s IEP yesterday. It went really great. You know, as great that a meeting about your child and their special needs can go.

He still has a considerable delay in his speech. Whereas before they indicated how many months, 18 months on his last IEP, they didn't indicate this time. I wasn't sure if that was because it increased or stayed the same, I didn't even remember to ask.

Instead, the meeting focused on a new set of services A. now qualifies for: OT servies. He receives them already in his classroom but not one-on-one servies. Well now, he qualifies for services all by himself. Yay!

You see, I have been gently nagging mentioning his sensory issues with his new teacher since the 2nd day of school. I adore, puffy heart adore, his teacher this year. She is the perfect kind of special needs teacher. Young. Fun. Loving. Perfect. And she agreed to pass her concern along to the OT, who did a formal OT evaulation.

The final conclusion based on observations, formal testing and charts, A. has poor motor planning. Was I suprised? No, no, not at all. Poor motor planning is common with children with speech apraxia as well as children with SPD.

It's bitter sweet though, to be right. To know that certain things just seem off. As his mom, I'm happy he is getting more services that he does really need. I'm just sad that he needs them at all.

But saddness aside, that's a parent's job, to be your child's best advocate, to get them anything and everything that can help them be the best person they can be. And I know, he will be. A. will be an awesome, highly functioning, caring, quirky, Star Wars loving human being by the time he grows up.

He is already off to a great start :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Clomid: Packs a punch, to the head

I finally have gotten to the point where I started taking my first round of 50mg clomid. Yay for short 58 day cycles with help from Provera!

I knew that clomid came with side effects, all medication does. Some common side effects include mood swings, hot flashes, nausea and vomiting, bloating and oh, yeah, headaches. I had read to take it at night to lessen the side effects but aparently while my brain read that my body could have cared less. Nope, woke up Friday morning with the worst headache. It eventually went away around about an hour before work was done, so that was nice.

It's not that I'm complaining, that much. I have smiled my way through things much worse than headaches during and for pregnancies. No, this just serves as a reminder to myself that it's all worth it.


Because we make adorable babies :) Look how tiny and adorable A. was? Can't wait to make him a sibling!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jewish Quiet Book: Cover and Back Cover

I talked about quiet book basics, planning and supplies and now I'm ready to show off the cover and back of A.'s fabric quiet book.

I brought him to the fabric store and we picked out the cover fabric together. Originally I was thinking a blue cover, as the colors of Israel are blue and white, but I just couldn't find anything that I loved. Then A. said he wanted a pink cover. I said okay and brought him near the pinks and oranges and they had this rainbow fabric in the quilting section. I adored it! It is a bit busy I suppose, but I loved it and A. agreed he liked all the colors on it.

I ended up using felt letters with sticking backing. I found them at Michael's, though I'm sure you could find them other places. They were $4 or $5 bucks for a pack of them but very worth it because cutting out letters is a PITA. I did end up sewing over the letters for stability as I worried that over time they might fall off, even with the sticky backing.

I ended up binding the pages with bias tape. I originally was going to bind it using the pillow case method (sew the wrong sides together, flip out and use the invisible stitch) but I loved the idea of bias tape. I also know that sewing bias tape like I did is not how it's actually used, I know, but I was actually using it simply as a pop of color on the edges. I also figured that if in the future I needed to repair a page, it will be easier to just seam rip out the bias tape then if I sewed or fused the book pages together.
 
Why did I start with the cover and back? They are the simplest! I am by no means a sewer. I fumble my way through sewing so I will not be including how I actually sewed the book, just the layouts and the templates.

If you need some basic brush ups on sewing I highly recommend the following tutorials:
I made each layout and template 7"x9". I figured this would be a good size for A.'s hands. Not huge but not too small that cutting out pieces would be too much of a pain. That being said, I wouldn't make my book any smaller and if A. was younger, I would have made it bigger so the final pieces are larger so there are fewer or no choking hazards.

Each photo is a jpeg format so if you're interested in using these for your own personal use, just right click and save it to your computer. Then add it into a Word document and stretch the graphic to whatever size you want your quiet book to be. Keep in mind that you want your template larger than the finished pieces will be to accommodate trimming and finishing edges!

Also, if you are going to be using a bonding material like Pellon Wonder Under you will need to reverse your templates for those pieces. This step is very important! This is thankfully very easy in Word by using the rotate horizontally tool.

So the cover layout and the template for this one is the one and the same. It is a jpeg format so if you're interested in using it for your own personal use, just right click and save it to your computer. Then add it into a Word document and stretch the graphic to whatever size you want your quiet book to be.


Up next, the inside pages!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hanukkah 2012: Latke round up

I know I said I was going to follow a schedule... and maybe I will again after the holidays, but for the next little bit, what with the holidays and all, I'm just going to post randomly.
 
So I know that Thanksgiving hasn't even come or gone yet, but I'm not in charge this year so I'm already planning Hannukah. As you may know, Hanukkah is the celebration of lights and lasts for 8 days. It is actually a minor holiday in the overall picture of things but who doesn't love a holiday filled with candle lighting, fried foods and gambling?

This year, Hannukah starts on December 8 and lasts until the 16th. From the end of Hannukah this then gives me 3 days until A.'s birthday, 9 days till Christmas and 13 days till our five year wedding anniversary. Clearly we don't believe in spacing holiday or life events outs.

We are still figuring out how we celebrate Hannukah. It sounds silly. I mean, we light candles and say blessings, but what we do each of the 8 days, I'm still working on. So far what we have done in the past is, the first day we light candles and eat latkes for sure. The nights between, just light candles. And the last day we light candles and make jelly doughnuts called sufganiyot or ponchkes in Yiddish (my Catholic friends also use these to celebrate Fat Tuesday, yum!).

So with so many ideas to choose from, I thought I would round up some savory and sweet latke ideas to try this year. I don't know how many will actually be made or how they will turn out, but I can't wait to fry up some next month!
 
Potato latkes
I figured we should start with the basics. I love this website, Smitten Kitchen, and you'll see a few of her recipes show up on this round-up. She has fantastic recipes and her overview on latkes is a great place to start when making them!
 
 
Cheesy Sweet Potatoe Pancakes
I didn't use to like sweet potatoes but now I can't get enough of them! Just the idea of sweet potatoes fried up sounds so yummy I'm glad I don't have in the house!

Apple Latkes
So these are obvouisly on the sweet side of latkes, but the idea is fantastic. I think out of all of the latkes, A. would like these the best.
 
Butternut squash potato cakes
The boys really like butternut squash, I'm getting use to it. This might be a good way to ease into butternut squash.
 
So I think these look amazing and would probably fantastic with cheese sauce on top. I'm not sure anyone else would eat them, but perhaps I could make just one or two for myself to try out.

Cheese Latkes
I honestly had never even thought of this version. However, The Shiksa in the Kitchen explains exactly why these cheese latkes fit. I think I will personally skip the story for now for A. but they do sound yummy!
 
Mashed Potatoe Pancakes
My Mom reckonized these right away and said she grew up eating these. Essentially, instead of grating the potato like you do for latkes, you instead just used mashed up potatoes. I wonder if they could still be counted as latkes? Either way, they look yummy!

Zucchini fritters
I personally like zucchini but my father-in-law hates, hates, it and and I'm sure only myself, My Mom and my mother-in-law might try these. Everyone else would find a way to have no room left on their plates for these!

I am not a huge fan of carrots but even this one looks tasty! The carrot adds a nice color to it as well.

They all look so yummy, can't wait to start making some of these!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yay for me

I've been busy lately.

What with? Oh, you know, provera, 50mg of clomid, semen analysis. You know, every day kind of stuff.

But serouisly, I had my appointment with my OB and she took a look at my charts and agreed that it's time to add in meds to TTC. My labs had already come back fine from just a little bit ago and essentially, I'm just not ovulating on any kind of regular basis. Yay for me!

It's weird to feel both excited and sad that we've found ourselfs here, needing tests and medication to have a baby. Sad my ovaries hate me. Excited to start on meds I'm super hopefull will help. I honestly never thought we would be here. But who does? But it is what it is.

I'll work on some interesting posts for next week, this week I've got some crazy side effects from the provera like feeling like someone beat me with a baseball bat on my lower back. Yay again for me :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Quiet Book Basics: Planning and Supplies

I mentioned that I was starting a new DIY project, a Jewish Quiet Book for A. It certainly isn't because I don't already have a million half finished projects. I just have craft ADD and can't stick with one for long.

Anywho, I said I would bring you along for the fun so this is where it starts. Before you start buying up supplies for your quiet book, which is very, very tempting, have a plan first! Some questions to consider about your quiet book are:
  • how many pages?
    • this will probably be cut in half as you go along, don't feel bad
  • what is the theme or goal of your quiet book?
    • mine is obviously religious in theme but there are millions ideas to go off of
  • what age are you looking at?
    • this will affect how heavy duty your book is and finishing touches like if there are buttons or snaps
  • what do you already own that you can use? what can you borrow?
    • I have over the years collected a myriad of felt, ribbon, buttons, etc
    • I own a sewing machine I can kinda use but my mom is a great resource
    • My mom has a machine that can do button holes and surging
Once you have answers to these questions you want to start sketching out ideas for each page. I can't draw on paper to save my life but I've always been partial to computer layouts since high school. So I decided to design mine on the computer using combinations of free clip art and the free photo shop like program Gimp.

I'm use to using Photoshop but I can't find my disc for it all of a sudden. It was old, way old, from 2001 old. Even with my Photoshop being that old, Gimp still does not have all the bells and whistles. It looks similar in the interface and has the same kind of learning curve Photoshop does. But it's free. Actually free. Not, download it and you have 20 days before they charge your credit card, kind of free. No, just free. And for that reason, it's the perfect software.

Once you have your book all planned out you can finally go shopping! This was honestly one of the best parts of this project. I of course first went through all of my sewing and craft stuff and gathered it all in one place. Then with my ideas, layouts and coupons (serouisly, why is crafting stuff so expensive?!) in hand I headed to the local craft places like Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Joann's and a local fabric store with My Mom. Some supplies I ended up needing for the quiet book were:
  • fabrics (pre-wash and dry on low all fabrics before cutting out pieces)
    • fabric for the cover - any fabric works
    • muslin fabric - each pages base was made out of this
    • felt - for details; I used the most of felt
    • fat quarters - when you need a pop of color or pattern
  • thread
    • regular old thread, various colors to match fabrics
    • embroidery thread, various colors to match fabric
  • Pellon - turns any fabric into self sticking fabric
    • this stuff is amazing! I wish I would have known about it before when I was making stuff for the classrooms I was in!
  • extras
    • buttons
    • snaps
    • velcro - the clear backed sticky kind is your friend
    • ribbon
  • misc sewing items
    • fabric scissors
    • seam ripper
    • cloth pen
    • sewing machine
I will be sharing over the next few weeks months all of my layouts and templates I made for A.'s Jewish Quiet Book. I will also show you page by page how it's coming. Hopefully A. likes his book at the end!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Star Wars Nursery

I will be honest, before I met The Husband and had A. I never once had any intention of ever having a Star Wars nursery. No. Not even once. Even having My Dad as a Star Trek, computer programing, sci-fi geek, not one thought. But slowly, I gave into the idea when A.'s room turned over into Star Wars from outer space robots.

If we were to have another little boy, A. and the new baby would eventually share a room. And while any future boy is of course able to make up his own mind about Star Wars, liking it while living in our house appears to be the best choice.

I think that a Star Wars nursery can go right if you remember not to have it every where in the room. I feel like we've found a good balance already in A.'s room and really I would just be adding a crib with sheets to his room. I would end up buying a second crib to match A.'s so that the beds would match. I am one of those weirdo's who actually liked their convertable cribs.

Anywho, I wanted to make up a board, pretending I was starting from scratch. Isn't that crib fantastic? It cost more than our first bed, box spring and frame put together. That's a snazzy crib.
star wars nursery
 
2) Star Wars knitted lightsaber rattle - $25
3) Ikea knappa light - $25
4) Darth Vader pillow - $20
5) Babyletto Hudson 3 in 1 crib in grey - $400
6) A long time ago in a galazy far far away crib mobile - $36
7) Star Wars cotton crib/toddler sheet - $35
8) Red herringbone rug - $89 for a 5x7
9) Star Wars Remote Controlled Lightsaber Room Light - $30
10) Lexington green rocking chair - $130

Monday, October 8, 2012

Today blew

Short and to the point today.

I have nothing to add about a house besides that in mine A. was sick last night. Strip down the sheets and give him a shower in the middle of the night, sick.

Oh and I finally threw in the towel and called my OB and confessed that while this is only the 10th month trying and only one chemical pregnancy, I want an appointment to start with some basic tests. I am sick of cycles that are 28 days one month and 55 the next. I am sick of not seeing a temperature shift until day 18 or as long out as day 34, if I see one at all. I am sick of spotting and an 10-11 day luteal phase. I know I'm just at the begining but I am already tired.

So today blew. I'll be happier on Wednesday. Promise.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bath time shaving cream paints

I try and do activities with A. but simple ones. Anything overally involved or too many steps, hes not interested. So when I saw the idea of rainbow shaving cream bath paint idea I knew that it was one to try.

What you need
cheap shaving cream
baby soap
1 -2 drops each of food coloring
container for the paints
paint brush (optional unless your kid won't finger paint like mine)


A. really loved mixing up the paints and seeing what color they would end up being. The green ended up staining A.'s skin just slightly so I had to scrub his skin, so watch out for that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee

I haven't always loved coffee. In fact I didn't start drinking coffee until the 2nd to last semester of school and right before I got pregnant with A. I know, awesome timing. But now I have an addiction to it. I should note that however, I love the idea of coffee in the sense that I'm not ever drinking black coffee. No, I prefer mine with flavors and whip cream.

I also am a sucker for seasonal flavors, including pumpkin spiced lattes from Starbucks and Frozen apple cider from Biggsby. I've already had one of each and can't wait to have more before they are gone.

So when I saw this Pumpkin Spice Latte by averie cooks, I knew I had to give it a try. Thankfully I had everything but the pumpkin already in my cupboards. I ended up using it more as a template.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee
So obviously this isn't a latte, those have steamed milk and espresso, well the real ones do. I found the pumpkin spice add in to be yummy and think it would go great with hot chocolate and milk. In fact, I made A. pumpkin spiced milk. I ended up using 2 tablespoons for a 8 oz glass of milk. I ended up using 6 tablespoons for 2 cups of coffee. It was spiced but not over kill but know that I like spicy pumpkin pie so you may want to cut back the pumpkin pie spice. This makes a boat load of pumpkin spice mixture. I have way more then enough for a week's worth of coffee.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp brown sugar

Directions
Mix all ingredients together.

Add to your favorite coffee.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jewish Quiet Book

The last week or so has been busy with the Jewish high holy days. We celebrated Rosh Hashanah with a nice dinner and eating apples with caramel. Today is Yom Kippur and A. and I are on our way to temple to celebrate this morning.

It is my first time going to Yom Kippur services and I know what to expect but A. doesn't. I have a bunch of things packed for him but on my quest to find activities, I came across the idea of quiet books. The idea is they are soft activity books that could potentially keep your child entertained long enough to be quiet. Have you seen them around?


I adore this Bible Quiet Book by Laura's Thoughts. The detail and attention is amazing. I love her Jonah and the whale one!


This Quiet Book by Strawberry Ruckus has the cutest 7 days of creation I have seen! I love the idea of flaps. A. still loves board books with flaps and doors.

I love the idea and I love the idea of A. having one for Temple. This of course, is not a simple craft. It is an involved one that will take time. I'll probably get it done in time for A.'s kids to play with it. But I wanna take the plunge anyways. I use to love making felt story boards for the classrooms I was in back when I was in college and this is only slightly more involved than those.

Plus, if I start right now, maybe I can get it done in time for Hanukkah. Which Hannukkah? I don't know but let's aim for 2012 which gives me until December 8th this year if I want to give it to him the first night.

I plan on posting how it's going as I go along. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baked Egg Cups

I'm still not a morning person so when I saw another way to cook eggs in the morning with even less prep than my Spinach, Tomato and Feta Egg Bake I was super excited to give it a try. It is essentially how I make eggs in my muffin tins but in souffle cups it looks fancier.

Apparently making eggs this way makes them eggs en cocotte. I don't know how to say that so instead, I am just calling them baked egg cups. I used souffle cups and put 3 eggs in each one because I only own 4 of them and had a dozen eggs to use up by today and didn't want to do this more than once. It makes more than enough eggs to share between two people.

They reheat just fine but don't do it on high power. The Husband did this and the egg whites exploded apparently out of the cup. I don't know how he managed it, but he did. So just wanted to throw that out there.

Baked Egg Cups
The consistency and taste was exactly like hard boiled eggs without the peeling afterwards! You can make the yolks runnier if you want by decreasing the time.

Ingredients
olive oil spray

tablespoon of milk; one for each souffle cup
12 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Fill a 8x12 baking pan half way with water. The original directions said to put a towel down so the souffle cups don't move around but I skipped this step and was fine.

Spray your souffle cups with olive oil spray. Place in the baking pan.

Put a tablespoon of milk into each souffle cup. Crack three eggs per cup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Your eggs are done when they are firm but jiggly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Last year I talked about the best day ever. Well now, Wednesday was the best day ever. My Mom celebrated one more birthday.

Mom came over and played with A. for a while. He's at this stage where he doesn't want to smile or when he does, it looks forced. So usually we have to have him act silly so he looks natural.
We had My Brother, Sister-in-Law, Aunt and Mom over to celebrate. We munched on a taco bar and celebrated with birthday cake. While last year's mint chocolate bundt cake was great, I wanted to make a brand new cake for Mom. I used the chocolate cake recipe from Lulu the Baker's The Best Chocolate Cake Ever and the peppermint buttercream frosting from Bakingdom.

Mint Chocolate Layer Cake
I made this cake the night before and it was extremely moist. I had intended to originally split each cake but it was too moist and crumbly. I made the buttercream the day of and assembled the cake. I decreased the sugar amount just slightly on the frosting and found it to be perfect, though honestly, it tasted better the second day versus the first day. Also, do NOT overbeat it or your frosting will start to seperate. While it tastes okay, it's no longer pretty or spreadable and you'll want to start over because fixing it doesn't seem to work. Just saying.

Ingredients for cake
non-stick spray with flour

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
 
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of strong coffee, room temperature

1/2 cup Andes Creme de Mint baking chips


Ingredients for frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Food coloring (optional - I ended up using only 1 drop)



Directions for cake
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8" rounds with the spray with the flour in it (just buy some, it's not that expensive and so much easier).

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking power and salt together.

Combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. The batter will be very runny. Pour the liquid mixture into dry ingredients slowly until smooth.

Bake each cake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool before attempting to flip the cakes out.


Directions for frosting
Beat your butter for about 30 seconds.

Beat in the sugar and salt until combined.

Add the heavy cream and whisk on high for 3 to 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Stir in the peppermint and food coloring.


Directions for assembling cake
I follow these directions from The Kitchen every time I make a layered cake.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Follow up: DIY Yarn Wrapped Letter J

So I wrote some time ago about a craft/DIY I did. Where I wrapped yarn around a J and called it good. At the time I was pleased with my results and didn't bother to explain the process. Sorry folks, I'm lazy. Well fast forward to now and my J looks like this now.

Shit. It looks like shit now.

It's hard to tell in the pictures but the curve on the outsides of the J is all jacked up and now I'm pissy about it. So I decided to start again. And document a better way how to do a wrap a letter J in yarn.

Obviously while I'm doing a J, this approach would probably work for letters you want to cover in yarn that have curves like B, C, D, G, O, P, Q, R, U and any other letter that depending on your font, would have curves.

What you need
yarn

cardboard or wooden letter
hot glue sticks and gun
ribbon*

Time Commitment
Half an hour, if you you do it during your toddles nap time and your cat is asleep

My Cost Break Down
$2.49 - cardboard letter; mine was from Meijer but I've seen them at Michael's
$0.30 - cheap yarn, I used barely any at all of the $2.99 yarn I bought
$0.00 - *ribbon - I took the picture with the original ribbon but used purple in the end
$0.00 - hot glue sticks and gun, already on hand, but tiny ones run for around $6.99
My Total cost = $3.00ish dollars

The first step in covering a letter J is accepting that this letter is a pain in the ass to cover because of all the curves and straight across lines noted above. Also accept that the first layer or two will look yucky but keep going, it will come out okay at the end.

The biggest issue with wrapping letters with curves is that the first layer or so wants to keep slipping around the curves. This is annoying. The first time I just tapped it as I went but as I have now learned, tape + hot three season porch = bad idea. The tape started letting go and with it the tension I needed to keep my curves looking nice.

Solution? Hot glue. You can use it two different ways, both to bond as well as to create a gripping solution. First we'll use it as a gripping solution. Start by putting a thin zig zag, weavy layer on all of the places indicated in orangish-yellow above. You're trying to add texture here, not smoothness, so it's fine if your hot glue pattern isn't perfect. Let dry.

I didn't try this approach but I wonder if you could use rubber bands wrapped around the curves too for gripping? Maybe? I don't know, I don't own any rubber bands so I didn't try this. Someone let me know!

Start by wrapping your yarn over the top part of the hook. Start at the inside and wrap down. The first few wraps will go vertical but then begin wrapping around the curve. You may need to tack the yarn in place with some more hot glue.

After about four or five initial vertical wraps, you need to start wrapping the top of the hook and the outside bottom curve at the same time. This serves to cover both while securing them in place. Wrap vertically down from the top of the hook in the front and loop back around the back.

Now just keep going back and forth wrapping vertically and lopping around the curve. It will look messy.

Keep going back and forth between wrapping around the curve and wrapping the top of the J until it looks as jacked up as mine. Remember, this is just the first layer of yarn. Don't get hung up on your yarn looking pretty just yet but do watch that your thickness is fairly even. I still had to secure the very top strands of yarn at the top, even with wrapping it and having texture underneath, I still needed hot glue in each corner to keep it from slipping off.

Now we need to start wrapping the outside curve. Start from the bottom of the curve and wrap up the J. The best way to keep the yarn from slipping is to wrap at the bottom, then the top and then the middle. Keep going with filling in the gaps on the curve.

Now wrap the easiest part of the J, the straight part. Just wrap around it smoothing out that first layer you did on the curved parts. I don't know how many layers I used, I just kept wrapping until the top layer was how I wanted it to look.

Now comes the top of the J. I don't know if this would be easier or harder it it didn't have the line across the top of the J, but mine did. If your J doesn't, well your on your own from here.

If your J looks like mine, keep following along. The top of the J was honestly the biggest pain out of the whole letter and where I used the most hot glue. I also took the most pictures during this part to try and help explain what I was doing. I'm sure there's a better way but here's my way.

I started by wrapping the two pieces on the outside like above.


Then taking the piece of yarn from the front of the letter, I looped it behind and pulled it forward so it crossed on a diagonal.

So when I pulled the yarn tight, it looked like this. Side note, yes my nail polish is all chipped to hell. I considered taking it off but was too lazy.

Then I wrapped it around the back again, going in the opposite direction with the same kind of loop. This made an X on the front with my yarn.

I kept going back and forth in this X pattern until the top of my J was covered in yarn. The front ended up looking like this.

And the top of the J ended up looking like this.

Now that the top was covered I focused on covering the front. I was able to get this much yarn on before I had to bust out the hot glue gun.

I pretty much added a small layer of hot glue where ever I was going to put the yarn next. The last few wraps of yarn are fairly covered in hot glue. Be careful not to glue your fingers to the yarn. Not that that happened or anything.

Finish wrapping your letter in yarn and secure the back side with more hot glue. Now if you plan on just placing it somewhere, you're all done! If you plan on hanging it up like I am, then take a strand of yarn, tie it around the front so that it doesn't stand out and make a loop for your ribbon to go through.



Ta-da. And now you have very own DIY yarn wrapped letter J you did all by yourself! I'm sure someone else has a much easier way to wrap curved letters in yarn, but this is how my brain works.

*** Update 8/2013: And can we talk about how my brain doesn't work. This has been up for almost a year, BACKWARDS. My J was backwards in that last picture. Wow. I fixed it in real life but never fixed the picture. Oops. So not gonna lie, just went in and flipped the picture in photobucket. I promise I know how to write my J's!