Saturday, March 31, 2012

Caprese salad on a stick

Okay so I've been slacking again. I at least have a good reason why this time. It's the end of the month. I'm not sure what your work schedule looks like but for me, the last week of each month blows. Blows hard. The last week all of my client's freak out and start calling with every emergency one can and couldn't even begin, to imagine. Anywho, moving on.

I meant to post this reciepe for caprese salad along with the last one from book club. It's a quick, easy to assemble salad on a stick and I'm pretty sure with it on the stick, there's less calories. That's probably not 100% factual, just so you know. The original idea came from Terri's Table I just swapped out the basil leave for small spinach leaves and instead of balsamic dressing, served poppy seed and cranberry walnut vinaigrette dressing on the side.

Caprese Salad on a stick
Very quick and simple appetizer. I prepped these the night before and they held up great for the next night and even into the second day.

grape tomatoes
fresh mozzarella 
baby spinach leaves
bamboo tooth picks (I found mine at Target)

 Assemble them in the order that you desire, I prefer cheese on the bottom because I like cheese more than tomato.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pineapple Salsa

The other night I hosted book club. I love book club. Not because of the books. I honestly didn't even read this month's book club, Cutting for Stone, I just couldn't get past the second chapter though it was agreed on at book club that it picks up around page 200. No, the reason why I love book club is the girls. I have known them all forever or you know, since elementary, middle and high school.

Book club is also about food. And wine. Always the wine. So with the hot weather and white wine to plan around, I figured I should stick with light and fresh foods. One of the appetizers I settled on was a pineapple salsa served with tortilla chips. It was light and refreshing and all the girls loved it. I adapted it from My Little Celebration by changing the ratios of the ingredients, switching out the parsley for cilantro and omitting the jalapeno because simply, I don't like jalapenos.

The picture is all weird and honestly I was already through my first glass of wine when I snapped this and that's all I had left, a cup or so, the day after, it's that good. In fact, I've made it already a second time and have ingredients on this weeks grocery list to make it a third time.

Pineapple Salsa
I made this salsa the night before and like most foods, tasted so much better than when I first made it. If you have time, let it sit at least for a few hours just watch the acid levels as they can go all nutso if you add too much tomato or lemon. If it gets too acidic dump some of the juice out and add a bit of sugar to it.

1 whole cored fresh pineapple plus the juice
3 small, on the vine tomatoes
1/4 of a large red onion
1 handful of cilantro
1/2 small lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Chop all ingredients into whatever size you like, mix together and serve!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I can't do it - Why I need Lexapro

I wrote the other day about my struggle with coming to terms with TTC while being on an anti-depressant, in my case, Lexapro. I wasn't sure when I wrote that post if I wanted to keep taking Lexapro or not. I continued to read and study many different journals and studies, ones from the manufacturer itself and from outside research.

During this time I dropped down from a 20 mg dose to a 10mg dose as my OB wanted me to try the smallest dose again and see if I could handle it. Her thoughts on the subject of anti-depressants and pregnancy are that if they are needed, which in my case they are, then using the smallest dose that is effective, is fine. The practice as a whole feels that for individuals who have mental health issues, major ones and not ones where simply thinking happy thoughts can get your through, kind of mental health issues, medication is appropriate. She explained that in this situation, the pros, a mentally healthy mom, outweighs the possible side effects of the medication and the cons of having a mom who can't function day-to-day.

Knowing that I do trust my OB and her practice, I figured that this made logical sense. In the warnings from the manufacturer itself it seemed to indicated that the dose of 12.2 mg of Lexapro a day had the least if not the no-effect dose, when found in the animal trials. I felt hesitant to half my Lexapro but I knew I had to try.

One week into the lower dose I began feeling jittery. As in, twitchy and easily annoyed. I was constantly moving some part of my body, usually my toes at the least, and blinking a lot. My breathing issues came back. It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have anxiety how your anxiety can become so out of check that it affects your breathing. I feel out of breath all the time and find myself yawning to get more air in because I feel like my chest is going to explode. It makes my eyes water and burn and I have to close my eyes to collect myself. It's as if it's a mental asthma attack (I do have actual asthma as well, but I can tell the difference between these attacks). I lived like that for the two and a half years after A. was born until I began taking the Lexapro last summer. It came back almost immediately and in full force.

I know, from many years of drugs and many different types of drugs, that it's simply withdrawal. I figured I should try to hold out and try for one more week on the 10mg dosage. I've went off drugs before, the first two weeks are hell. What did I have to loose?

Everything. Heading into the second week I began feeling annoyed, with everyone and every thing. I was prone to yelling faster and louder. About anything and everything. I snapped at everyone. Textures and sounds were more abrasive and I found my lack of interest in myself, A. or The Husband at an all time low. I couldn't stand to have The Husband hug me and I was easily bothered if A. kept touching me when I requested he stop (it's part of his sensory issues, he has always needed extra body contact and often leans, presses and rubs up against people). I even kicked the dog off the couch because I couldn't stand him being up against my legs like normal.

So at the begining of the third week I gave up. I couldn't even make it three weeks on the lower dose. I started taking 20mgs again. Upping yourself isn't a picnic either though. The first two or three days back on the higher dose I was extremely sleepy and had dull throbbing headaches. But after being back on my regular dose for a week, I feel better. Not like before, but better.

I tried. I really did. I simply can't drop my dose that low, not right now. So now I'm feeling mentally stable again and my breathing eposides are tappering down but I'm also back to square one with what to do. I have an upcoming appointment with my OB where obvouisly, I'll discuss it again and make her reassure me again that anti-depressants are fine for me in my situation. But for right this minute I guess it doesn't even matter if I take them as I'm not pregnant this month. I'm going to instead just focus on finishing my year long probation at work and enjoy the family I already have.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Weekend Trip to Chicago

So now that it's almost this weekend I thought I'd talk about last weekend. I'm not sure where you were on St. Patrick's Day but we were in Chicago enjoying the sights. We had a blast despite the freakishly hot weather for March.

We started by taking the train from Indiana. It was the first time I, A. or The Husband had ever taken it. Normally we just drive but the In-Laws and A.'s Auntie thought it would be fun.

It was. A. had a blast looking at everything through the windows. He pointed out "tees" or trees as other's might know them as.

Once we took the hour and a half train into Chicago we ended up with the other, what seemed like million, people down town Chicago. We just missed the beginning of the dying of the Chicago River but seeing it in person was certainly a sight!

As dumb as it sounds, I and The Husband, um, forgot to wear green and I dressed A. in blue. Blue. We kinda stuck out. But at least his hat was green. You can see him just barely above the crowd.

After a lunch stop we ended up at The Lego Store. I had been telling A. for a week about how we were headed to the Lego Store and each time he clapped his hands. He was not disappointed. Excuse the funky face, I caught him mid jumping.

There are displays right at eye-level to look at. A. had to inspect each one.

He found everything interesting until he found the Lego Star Destroyer, the $399 one. A. wanted it so bad.

He even did the, I'm just going to sit here looking adorable, thing.

But thankfully we were able to distract him with Lego Star Wars alarm clocks. I had seen these and pinned them a while ago but hadn't seen them in person.

We told A. he had to pick between Yoda, Boba Fett, Darth Vader and a Storm Tropper.

A. took it very serious and looked at each one.

But finally decided on Boba Fett. I love that he loves it so much and while I could have found it on-line, I love knowing that we bought it as a family on our trip.

After the Lego Store we headed to the parade. A. had a good time looking at all of the people.

We had two or so hours to kill before the next train so The Husband and I visited Urban Outfitter, Anthropologie and stopped to get some iced coffee while the In-Laws and A.'s Auntie sat with him in the park. They were all kinda tired but we were in Chicago, we had energy and money to burn.
Eventually we got back on the train and headed home. A. was so tired he feel asleep minutes after we got into the car. I hope we can do it again next year!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy sew DIY roman shades

When we moved into our house our dining room had these beauties on the windows.

Well actually, in all honesty, those drapes are the ones from the living room because that is a picture of the living room, but they are the same drapes. They must have cost a fortune when they were made. Professionally made. In the 50's. They are pleated drapes with a silkish liner. But they just aren't my style. I still have them all, they are waiting in the, I won't actually ever drop these off at the Goodwill, pile, that lives in my basement.

I took them off the windows sometime this summer and just never did anything since. And it's not as if we live in the country so we can strut around our house without being seen, oh no, our neighbors live 15 feet away. We can wave at each other from our dinning room tables. But that is the kind of commitment I take to DIY projects around the house. So I finally decided to fix this issue with DIY roman shades.

There are tons, tons, of blog posts and tutorials on how to make no-sew DIY roman shades using cheapo ugly mini blinds. A quick search yields this one, or this one, this one which is using the exact same fabric I am and this final one. All are great tutorials, with the last one being my personal favorite. Most are no-sew DIYs but if you have a machine and can sew in a straight line, you can sew this project. If you don't have a machine, I would just use the iron fusing stuff. You can find the iron fusing stuff in the sewing isle and it should come rolled up and look almost like tape.

So why am I blogging about it? Well, because even using all of these as references, I still had some "huh?" moments, so I thought I'd take pictures of those moments.

What you need
iron + ironing board
butter knife
straight edges
sewing machine
fabric - enough to cover each window
cheapy mini blinds - one for each window
fabric glue or tacky glue
cheapy kids paint brush you don't mind trashing
* hot glue gun - I tried to use this to attach the fabric to the mini blind bar but it didn't work so even though it's in my picture and I kinda used it, it's not part of the final project

Time Commitment
2 -3 hours per window - I guess, I made one roman shade over three weeks working on it for 5-10 minutes at a time, clearly, I wanted to pace myself

My Cost Break Down
Fabric - 2, 70" table cloths for 70% off which made them $5.38 each
23" Mini blinds - $2.49 each
Tacky glue - $2.49
All other supplies - on hand, so $0 for this project
final cost - $20.72 divided by 3 windows = $6.91 which isn't so shabby

The first step is to iron your fabric if it's all wrinkly. Trust me, don't be lazy and skip this part. You'll be angry at yourself later if you don't get the deep wrinkles out now so take a good 20 minutes and just do it. Pass the time by watching an episode of Iron Man, the animated one where Tony Stark is a teenager and the plot line completely abandons the comic strip. Or you know, whatever you watch in your house, probably something educational.

Once you have it ironed, lay your fabric out. Because I was working with a circle I just folded it in half. I then found the center of my pattern, in this case it was a triangle which is what the pencil is pointing to. My window length is 42" so I knew I wanted the fabric a bit longer and decided on 44". I then measured 22" on either side of the triangle and marked those. Note that if you actually sew or know where your sewing stuff is you would use a fabric ruler. I don't sew despite owning a sewing machine and lose everything, so I used The Husband's tape measure instead. 

I then repeated the process going in the opposite direction for width. In my case the window width is 23" so I made it 24" across. I should have done 25" to give myself some more room in the next step. Then because I'm a visual person I grabbed the nearest straight edges I could find which included a light saber, Nerf sword, mini blind boxes and level, and made a border so I could see what my panel would look like. Once the pattern looked even I went and marked all the lines and cut the fabric out. Not since 6th grade wood shop where I rocked at being one of two girls, have I needed a T square so bad.

Once my panel was cut out I folded over and lightly pressed a 1/2" crease on all sides with the iron. If you decided to skip sewing this project, which I almost considered and used the iron webbing stuff, I would still recommend pressing down your edges with an iron so that you don't have to use pins.

If you're using a sewing machine, quick zip around all four edges. If you're using the iron webbing stuff, then use that here. No matter how you do it, in the end you should end up with a rectangle of fabric.

Now comes one of the parts that I couldn't figure out. I couldn't figure out which string I was suppose to snip. Call me slow and cheap but I wanted to be sure I wasn't wrecking my $2.50 mini blind. I started by extending the mini blind all the way and laid it out on the table. I found that if I laid the mini blinds out and had all the slats flat against the table, it made it much clearer which cord I wanted to get rid of. See how in this picture the top string that is being held by the scissors has all those little strings that head vertically down? That's the cord you want to cut. The cord that is looping through the slats, that is not the cord you want to cut! Note, that I didn't actually cut that string like I'm showing with the scissors, I just wanted to make it clear what string is the one we want to get rid of.

Now the fun part. Snip every single vertical string. When you're done it should look like this.

Once you have all of the vertical strings strings you should be able to slide all of the slats together and at this point it becomes super clear what string you need, the one that the slats are still going through.

Next you want to pop off the cap on the bottom of the blind. I used a butter knife and attempted not to stab myself with it. Once you pop it off you will have the main string, the one we want to keep, that has a knot in it. Cut the string with the knot on it as close to the knot as possible. Cut the string that loops around the bottom piece and snip it off at the top. By this point you should be able to remove the bottom track and slide off your slats. Be a kill joy and recycle them before your son and Husband figure out they can be used as weapons, weapons that sting and leave marks.

When you've cut the right strings your mini blind should look like this. Also, tip of the day, don't leave it out even with the strings wrapped around, or your cats might chew on it while you take a break and you will have to start again. Not that that happened or anything.

Then lay out your fabric and figure out how many folds you want. I thought five folds would look nice, so I measured every seven inches and marked off the fabric. When I laid all the strips out I got what looked like that above. Kinda uneven. It's because I probably can't measure and my fabric is not a true rectangle.

So instead I just looked at it long wise, which is the way it will hang, and eye-balled it to look more straight. It's probably not straight but to my eyes, it looked better than before. Use your best judgement when it comes to your own panel.

Then once I had all of my strips where I wanted them I started gluing. You want your glue to go on the side that curves outward. I found that if you squeeze the glue onto the strip directly and then smear it with a brush it worked better than putting it on a paper plate, then the brush and then the strip. Skip the plate. The most important part however to take away from this photo is that you want to leave a gap of glue where the string will go though. You don't want to glue over that or getting the string through will be a pain in the tuchas.

Then in order to keep my strips where I had wanted them, I used a straight edge and glued the strips down right up against them. I let the strips glue over night though they seemed dry within a few hours.

Once you have your strips glued and set, you want to glue your fabric to the mini blind track (the glue will go on the side the pencil is sitting on). Now maybe it's just my blinds but they go into the bracket like this, with that front plate (on the left side of the picture) to secure them in the bracket. Obvouisly you don't want to glue past where it goes into the brackets or else when you pull on the string it will make the blind fall out. I marked a line, which is what the pencil tip is pointing to and then smeared glue all over the track.

Now some of the other directions were glueing the track so that little piece where normally that stick goes, is the side that was being glued. But then it sticks out all weird. Yuck. So I glued it the opposite way. In full disclosure, pulling the string when they are completed requires me to pull in the opposite direction, so I had to think how to do the window. Annoying thinking aside, I still like it better this way.

While the glue was drying I had The Husband install the brackets. I could have done it but I like watching him be handy around the house.

After the glue had dried I threaded the string through the strips. You want the string to go this way through the strips. On some of the strips, even though I didn't think I glued near the opening, I still had to gently peel back the fabric to get the string though.

Once everything is threaded through make your knots and put the pegs back into the bottom track. The hardest part is making sure your knots are even. You want to make sure that you leave enough fabric at the bottom so that you can glue it to the bottom track, I would guess mine was about 1/2 an inch.

Glue your fabric to the bottom track like this.

Now slide the top track into your mounted brackets. See why you don't want to glue past that line? Now slide in the little stopping piece and smooth out your fabric. You could always glue the fabric to the stopping piece but I found my fabric layed down nicely over top of it.

Stand back and admire your project. This is with the shade down all the way.

This is with the shade up half way. I did find that I had to help it at times to fold correctly but then again, I have to do that with the bamboo ones we have in the living room and those are obvouisly manufactored ones. And yes, that is quit serouisly my neighbors house. I wasn't joking about being able to wave to them.

One down, two more to go!

PSA: Get your colon checked!

Just a quick update... My Dad found out late this afternoon that it is not cancer!!! It was a mass that was about to turn into cancer but the doctor says had my dad caught it just in time.

So my PSA of the day, go get a super uncomfortable, don't even want to think about it, certaintly don't want to talk about it, colonoscopy. Get one at 50 if you have no family history and at 40 if you do. And yes, that is by far the least gross picture I could find of a colon; don't go google searching organs aparently, yuck. Yay, happy 40th birthday present to me in many years :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

The C Word

This is My Dad. This was the first time he got to hold A., it was shortly after he was born. A. is his first and right now, only grandbaby. You don't know it from the picture but My Dad hasn't always been the smiling type. He was all smiles that day.

Why am I showing you a picture of My Dad? Because tonight My Dad told me that he could have colon cancer. I hate that C word; cancer. We have to wait till Wednesday to find out for sure.

The Husband, who is always the strong one out of us two, tried to reassure me that the doctors said it could be that or it could be something else entirely, they can't be sure. My Dad could be fine. Yup. That's true. But for this moment in time I don't know that, so I'm just going to look at that picture and remember how proud he looked. I'd rather think about that right now.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lazy weekend and a craigslist find

When it comes to the weekend we tend to be lazy people. What kind of lazy? The, let's sleep in and wear pj's all weekend, lazy. We watch too many movies and eat casually throughout the day, usually forgoing the table and snacking on the couch.

Honestly, I like it this way. I know that as A. gets older he will start having activities and sleep overs and all that kind of kid stuff so for right now when he's little still, relaxing at home sounds good to me. That's not to say we don't do things, we just don't normally make a big deal out of making firm plans.

This Friday though I made us all truck half an hour to the country to pick up a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe, you know the one, with red and yellow and slightly freakish huge eyes. I don't understand why they decided to put eyes on the newer ones but whatever. A. adores that red and yellow car. They have some at school in the physical therapy room and I'm told he always heads straight to them. The cars are normally $55 brand new and from reviews, a pain in the ass to put together, so when I saw one that was gently used for only $25, I knew we had to go snatch it up. As advertised, it was gently used with the standard amount of wear and tear for a plastic outside toy, just mildly dirty. We let A. play with it that night but then told him we would have to wash it.

Fast forward to Sunday morning where I have to figure out an activity for the morning. You see, The Husband came up with the brilliant idea once we both had weekends off for the first time ever in seven years of being together, that we switch who gets to sleep in. Saturday mornings I get to sleep in and then Sunday's it's his turn.  I love Saturday mornings because I get to snooze as long as I want and I love Sunday mornings because A. and I get to hang out just the two of us. So when Sunday rolled around I decided to get us dressed and go outside and wash the car.

A. has been working really, really hard to combine words into sentances. Once I told him that we were gonna take the car outside and wash it he started jumping up and down yelling, "Wash wash car!" and "Red car! Red car!". Then we filled a bucket with hot soapy water and dragged everything outside.

When I told him that he needed to help me he complained that it was too cold outside and that he wouldn't help. I told him it was 50+ degrees out and for Michigan, that might as well be summer weather.

He finally agreed and said "oookay mom" and picked up the wash cloth. I was actually surprised as A. dislikes getting dirty but apparently, if it's for his car, he'll get over it.

A. helped wash the car and I finished up with washing it, rinsing and then drying it off. A. was so excited by this time he was jumping up and down. I asked if he wanted to take a walk and he screamed "Yeah!!!" at me.

When he finally got in his car he was so excited. I mean look at that face. Totally worth $25 bucks and a drive to the country.

We then took a walk around our block. Overall, a great Sunday morning with A. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Our First Purim

Last night we celebrated Purim by heading out to Temple. Overall we had a great time with just a few hiccups due to A.'s age, attention span, sensory issues and overall the fun involved with family events.

We started by doing a scavenger hunt around the Temple. It gave clues that involved both the story and places around Temple. At the end A. got a prize, a wooden Haman clacker. A. did really well until a lot of kids got there that were dressed up and started yelling and running around. Oh and Rabbi was dressed up as a clown. A. was not down with the that and gripped tightly to my hand for the next hour. I should add that I didn't dress A. up, I was supposed to have but I wasn't in the mood to wrestle with him. Maybe next year.

Then we ate dinner. Well actually first we waited. Waiting is one of the hardest things for A. or you know, any child, but he did really well. He found it funny to swing his clacker around near my face and see me flinch. After dinner it started getting really loud and A. refused to go play with the other kids up on the bema. We tried to coax him up there but he clung to his seat. He instead spent his time pointing out colors, pointing out the bug on the top of the 50 foot high ceiling and inspecting the painted dots on his clacker. The older couple at the table smiled and commented on how good he was at details and how quiet he was. Yup.

Then we headed into the sanctuary for songs and the retelling of the story. We let A. pick the seats and he picked in the back. He liked the songs and clapped along. Around the beginning of song four he began to cover his ears and shake his head no. By the end of it he began fussing and I had to carry him out into the hallway.

A. and I then listened to the rest of the story in the hallway. Every time everyone would boo and make noise when Haman's name was said, A. would run over to the door and peek in. But we stayed out in the hallway till the end. After the story we went to get hamantaschen, which I finally learned is pronounced as ha-min-tosh-in. Yay for me, one more Hebrew word down!

A. threw a fit because he wanted to pick his own hamantaschen but then wouldn't go near the other kids. We ended the night with The Husband taking a kicking and screaming, made the Rabbi seriously go and investigate what sounded like someone dying in the sanctuary, A. out while I grabbed a napkin of them and dashed out.

Happy Purim everyone!