Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Journey to Motherhood: I'm NOT cold!!

I am happy to report that right now I am NOT cold, nor have I been all morning. This may seem unimportant to some of you, but it is very noteworthy to me. See, I am always cold, always, always, always. Temperature actually played a role in my decision to move to Florida, I wanted to be warm.

But I was still cold. I often wear Mark's wool Florida. We keep our house at 76-78 degrees during the day...and I wear a jacket. I am always cold.

Except for today. Today I went jogging and it felt nice out. I was asked about the outside temp and said "pleasant". Others said it was cold. Hmmm. I dressed in crop pants and a sleeveless blouse and headed to Walmart. Everyone else was in jeans and coats. Hmmm. I went to Publix (where I am always the very coldest) and felt fine. Hmmm. Called my mom, sure she would back me up on it being a nice fall day. Nope, she said it was chilly when they went running. That's weird. Now I am working at my desk, with NO jacket.


One of my complaints to the acupuncturist was that I am always cold. She said that fits my diagnosis and that my blood was probably not flowing well. Five days on herbs and the biggest difference I have noticed....


baby steps to success!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Journey to Motherhood: Acupuncture, First Treatment

Friday was my first acupuncture treatment. I had NO idea what to expect. I did learn (at an earlier appointment) that I have an Qi deficiency, a Yang deficiency, and Blood Stasis. These are the problems that will be treated.

It turned out to be one of the most relaxing 25 minutes I have had in a long time. I laid on the table and the doctor put about 10-12 needles in, mostly in the abdominal area but also my legs, hands, feet, and head. (I did have to slip out of my jeans, but if I had worn shorts I could have stayed completely clothed). The needles were sealed in packages that were not opened until I was ready for them and disposed of when the treatment was over. She put a heat lamp over my tummy, turned the lights down, turned on some nice music, and left.

I actually fell asleep I was so relaxed.

As for results...I was on the third day of my period and in horrible pain when I went in (basically had been living on Motrin for the last 48 hours). I didn't want to take pain killers before I had needles poked in me for the first time (thought that would maybe be a bad idea), so I planned on taking Motrin when I left. Except that when I awoke from that nice nap the cramps were gone. Completely. And haven't returned!!! For 2 days! Talk about immediate results!

I was giving herbs mixed just for me. Surprised when I found out it was only $30. for a 2 week supply. It was like reverse sticker shock after the cost of fertility meds.

So far, this has been a great experience. I am very excited for the long term results.

My Journey to Motherhood: Where I am going

So when we left off...I was feeling like we were becoming the living definition of insanity (you know? where you keep doing the same thing, expecting different results?). Maybe not quite, because we did keep tweaking things but it just wasn't enough.

I started really digging into the PCOS diagnosis. What could I do differently to make this better? Anything at all was fair game. Part of the reason for this was that PCOS patients should "over respond" to fertility meds and I was clearly "under responding" (as in, there were not a lot of follicles growing each month). So I wasn't even a normal PCOS patient.

Several months ago I saw a book called "The Infertility Cure" which is based on eastern medicine. It recommends acupuncture, herbs, diet and lifestyle changes to achieve pregnancy. I also met a girl who had ovulated on her own (with no fertility meds) for the first time in years after a few months of acupuncture.

The idea of acupuncture was starting to grow. Maybe it would be better to treat the whole body and get well...rather than keep adding drugs and hoping for the best each month?

So I met with an acupuncturist and she was very encouraging about my possibilities with acupuncture. She can help me get back to normal, where my body produces it's own hormones. That sure sounds better to us.

For now, we are going to leave the RE behind and try this new path. We don't know exactly what it will look like, but we feel better about it. At least it is, today, a less stressful path. And that alone is a good feeling!!

Many people have asked me about this plan and want to know how it works for us so I am going to use this blog to keep everyone up to date on the treatments and how acupuncture is working for me.

Peeling Apples

I really like apple crisp, probably my very favorite non-chocolate dessert (I think, at least for right now). But I don't like peels on the apples so I must peel all the apples before making this super yummy dessert.

But I don't like to peel apples :(

It's really hard work...until today!

I was watching Good Eats on the Food Network last week and Alton Brown was making apple pie. He said using a peeler was the way to go for small amouts of apples. Of course, I only use mine for potatoes...had never even thought to use it for apples.


Peeled the apples in less than half the time!! YAY!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Journey to Motherhood: Where I have been

*Disclaimer: I am going to start blogging my infertility journey on this blog along with all the other things I post about. These posts will mention, not in great detail - but some details, female reproductive issues. If these types of things are not what you want to read feel free to skip any post labeled "My Journey to Motherhood".

Where I have been...oh, my...where to start.... The very beginning is a long time ago, but the best place to begin.

Warning: This post probably will not be short.

I was first diagnosed with endometriosis (endo) when I was 19 after months and months of illness. My first laparoscopic (lap) surgery to laser the endo was in January of 2003 just a couple months before I turned 20. After the surgery I had monthly Lupron shots for six months to ensure I didn't have menstrual cycle in hopes the endo would go away. This was my first foray into high powered hormone therapy. Shortly thereafter I went on continous birth control (BCP) to keep the endo at bay. This is a common treatment for women not seeking to get pregnant but can really mess with the body's ability to regulate hormones later.

Fast forward a few years to 2008. I married Mark in May and we wanted to start family building right away. Figuring that it wouldn't be easy given my past, I tossed the BCP so we could get started on the journey...and what a journey it has been.

Our first infertility (IF) consult was in November of 2008. This was at the 6 month mark of trying...when anyone should seek help if they are actively trying to get pregnant but haven't yet (do NOT believe people that say it should be a year...the extra 6 months do not generally make a difference). This appointment was with my regular OB/GYN. I had 3 periods in this 6 months and things were NOT going well.

That appointment was the first time poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) was mentioned, but I was told it "mild". Clomid was prescribed (along with provera to start my period) and off we went. And nothing happened...for 4 months, still not having periods on time, still no baby.

So in May 2009, we did what my friend Julie refers to as "get thee to an RE". An RE is a Reproductive Endocrinologist or fertility specialist. In meeting with the RE and many test later it was determined we had female factor IF only and the diagnosis was "annovulation" (in normal people speak...ovulation isn't occuring correction). In my case, NOT at all, without fertility drugs. I also had another endo lap and to make sure my tubes were clear...endo was lasered and no other problems found. Back to Clomid. No dice.

In November 2009 we decided to bump it up a notch and try injectible fertility medication. Time out for facts: This involves nightly subcutaneous shots of highly purified follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) along with transvaginal ultrasound (yes, you read correctly) and blood hormone monitoring (these u/s occur 4-5 times in two weeks). Followed by a "trigger" shot of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to induce the follicles to ovulate. And then the part which won't be talked about here because this is a family blog;) It also involves somewhere around $1000-$1200 a month to be paid to the doctor and pharmacy. The basic idea is to flood the body (in a highly controlled manner, of course) with the hormones it doesn't have in hopes that it will do what it is supposed to do. Very inexact science, but its the best they have right now, so we don't knock it too much.

The first round of this therapy was "text book perfect" except for one baby. So we tried again because these things can take time. Second round...great follicles, great lining, great...never mind. And two weeks later...double lines on a home pregnancy test (HPT or pee stick)!!!!! Whoo-hoo. The journey is over!

NOT yet :(

My first betaHCG (blood pregnancy test) was 40. Low, but early. Test again in a few days. Now 70, officially not good. Then 67, there will be no baby. I can't even begin to describe in words how I felt right then, only those that have been there can "get it".

Because we were planning a "vacation of a lifetime" for May, I went on BCP to "hopefully" keep my body from getting all out of whack again. Except that I bled really badly on the pills (for anyone reading this that has such an experience, I can not stress enough the importance of demanding an ultrasound to see what is going on in there). When I went off the pills, no period.

That was because a super giant cyst had been forming on my right ovary. As in 84mm (about the size of a softball) and it was messing up all my hormone levels. It was removed via lap in June 2010. Good news...again, everything else looks fine.

At the same time, my ovaries were drilled to allow my body to ovulate on its own easier or at least be able to go back to oral meds (like Clomid). That procedure was pretty much a bust. We did three rounds of oral meds: 1-Clomid, thin lining; 2-Femara, horrid depression and low progesterone; 3-Femara, same results.

Back to injectibles. And here I should interject that we have never lived closer than 2 hours to the RE and this was a crazy amount of driving to the doctor we were doing. If this doesn't work we are switching to a closer doctor.

It didn't work. In fact, it was the WORST treatment experience yet. So many things didn't go right and my body didn't respond well at all. The final kick was super low progesterone (which has probably always been a problem but wasn't being addressed).

On to a new doctor and he also suggests injectible meds, but with progesterone. AND he believes the PCOS (remember from the 4th paragraph?) should be addressed with Metformin. Huh, this is new. We are now tired of doing this same thing and expecting different results, have spent upwards of $8,000 on the process and have no baby.

So we want a "break" from all this medicine. And this is where we turned to somethinge new...which, sorry it took me this long to get to it, is why I am now documenting the journey. I want to share this new plan.

Except that I am worn out from reliving all that as I wrote it, and that was the short version! Next time, I will share "Where we are going". Thanks for sticking around, feel free to leave comments and if they are questions I will do my best to answer them!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Creme Pies

WARNING: These cookies are addictive!

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago and knew I HAD to make these. I think one of the reasons I love this time of year is that pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors!

I made a few modifications to the recipe as I went along so my changes are in brackets.

•1 cup Brown Sugar
•1 cup Sugar
•1 cup Vegetable Oil
•1 can Pumpkin (15 Oz.)
•2 whole Eggs
•1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
•3 cups All-purpose Flour
•1 teaspoon Baking Soda
•1 teaspoon Baking Powder
[I just added up all of the amounts for Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves and put in that much Pumpkin Pie Spice]
•1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
•1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
•½ teaspoons Salt
•½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
•¼ teaspoons Ground Cloves

•1 package Cream Cheese Softened (8 Oz.)
•1 stick Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
•1 package Powdered Sugar (16 Oz.)
•3 drops Vanilla Extract
•2 dashes Cinnamon [about 1/2 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of cinnamon]

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pumpkin Creme Pies: Beat together brown sugar, sugar, oil and pumpkin. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.

Using a pastry bag with a round tip, or a big zip top plastic bag with one corner snipped, squeeze out concentric circles of batter, starting from the middle and working outward until the circles are about 2 inches in diameter. [I made them a little smaller to make them easier to eat]

Transfer each square to a baking sheet. Bake for 11 minutes, or until firm, and cool on a rack.

Cream Cheese Filling: Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Frost flat side of half the pies and top with another piece.

Enjoy right away, or chill overnight. These keep very nicely in the fridge for at least a few days.

And in the end you get....

So Yummy!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Easy Fajitas for Two

The end of the month and the end of the grocery money has challenged me to make some creative dinners this week. It has actually been kind of fun! Here is a "must do again" dinner recipe I made up as I went...

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast portions (cut into strips)
1 T oil
1/2 onion
1/2 green pepper
1 clove garlic
splash of water

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Slice onion, pepper, and mince garlic, add to skillet. Stir for a few minutes until tender crisp. Remove from skillet. Put chicken in skillet and cook until no longer pink in the middle. Add salt, pepper, and cumin after the first minute or so.

Once the chicken is cooked through, add the veggies back in. Splash in some water to deglaze the pan. Cook until mixed together, add more seasoning if needed.

Microwave tortillas for 15-20 seconds.

Spoon chicken mixture into tortillas and eat!!

We will be having this simple meal again very soon!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I am the Face

October is National Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss month. There are an estimated 2000 women a day who lose their baby in one of these ways. About one in four women in America will experience pregnancy/infant loss.

Most of them suffer in silence and don't know the resources available to them. For many, this will be one of the most trumatic experiences of their life. I AM THE FACE is a campaign to raise awareness of these women and provide support and resources.

Please visit to learn more.

Please help because I AM THE FACE.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Serving tray - updated for the season

I have been eyeballing a cute little dish at Marshalls for at least a few months. I think every Marshalls in Orlando had a least one. It was cute. Really cute. But it wasn't the right color....

Don't get me wrong, I love is an accent in a few rooms here, but this just wasn't the right red. To me it just screamed "Valentine!"

The other day, Mom and I were shopping together and she said "why don't you get this and change the ribbon?" I really should have thought of that earlier.

Today I made a quick trip to find some ribbon (which I got for $1). And came home did a bunch of other things like work and baking...then I got out the ribbon and the dish.

In less than 10 minutes (which included taking pictures and washing the dish), I had this pretty dish sitting on my counter...

I am so excited to take my new dessert in this cute fall dish to our church dinner (if it turns out, I will show you pictures).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I broke my blog :(

Sorry everyone :(

I broke my blog! (and my phone, and my computer...but those are not relevent to you right now)

It looks funny. I am sorry. I will fix it as soon as I can.



Cupcakes for everyone!

Have you ever had this conversation with yourself?

"Hmm, there is a cake mix in the pantry."

"Yes, but you don't need cake right now."

"I KNOW, but that doesn't stop me from WANTING cake right now."

"Well, yes, but are you going to eat the ENTIRE cake?"

"Umm, I could make cupcakes, you know, for portion control!"

"You will STILL have the same amount of cake even if it is cupcakes."

"But I WANT cupcakes and obviously if I can have this long of a conversation with myself about the cupcakes I am crazy and NEED the cupcakes!!"

I really have had that exact conversation (and be glad you missed the one about ice cream from Tuesday night!).

Here is the PERFECT solution! Did you know you can freeze cupcake batter???? I had no idea until I read it on the Homebased Mom. So I am giving you all the link directly for how to freeze cupcake batter HERE.

Because how awesome would it be to be able to tell myself I will eat one cupcake (give one to Mark because I do know how to share) and then freeze the rest for some other day???? I WIN and me in the future wins too by getting fresh from the oven cupcakes on some other night as well.

I think I am going to go make some cupcakes now...and my first freezing attempt will be to freeze the batter in the little cups so that I can easily make them up for a quick treat on another day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pesky Cords

This has been the view behind my desk since we moved. Which means it is also the view that greets me each time I walk from my kitchen to my office. Ugg. It looks messy! But I need each and every one of those little cords to make everything on the top of the desk turn on.

I was trying to find a solution to this problem. A cheap solution. I had read about cord covers, even bought some...but I don't need these cords to necessarily be covered, just hidden from view. What to do? What to do?


So, taped all of the cords to the back of the desk or to the floor under the rug. And it looks more like this:

So much better. Much less messy.

And soon (very soon) I will be aquiring a small shelf to hide the pile of cords and power supplies and routers next to the desk. Baby steps and all...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Yummy Pork Dinner

Tonight we are having a delightfully yummy pork tenderloin dinner. It is super easy to just put together a marinade early in the day, put in the pork, and have a tasty dinner to grill at the end of the day.

Serves 6 to 8.

2 pork tenderloins (12-16 oz. each)

1 can (6-oz.) pineapple juice (3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups peeled & cubed fresh pineapple (1-inch pieces)
6 to 8 wooden or metal skewers

Cooking Directions
Place pork tenderloins in resealable plastic bag; set aside.

In small bowl, combine marinade ingredients; pour over pork. Seal bag; refrigerate for at least 1 hour to marinate, or up to 24 hours to enhance flavor.

Preheat grill to medium-hot.

When ready to grill, remove pork from marinade and place on grill. Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes per side or until the internal temperature of pork is 160 degrees F.

Meanwhile, place the pineapple chunks on the skewer; place on grill during the last 6 minutes of grilling time, turning after 3 minutes.

To serve, slice pork into 1/2-inch slices (medallions) and serve with grilled pineapple.

We skipped the pineapple for tonight, but served with baked potatoes, it is amazing!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Strudel Coffee Cake

It is no secret that I LOVE chocolate and cookies of almost all kinds. But even I sometimes need something different. So lately I have had a coffee cake craving. This week I had a little afternoon tea party and decided to make a coffee cake.

I found a recipe on the internet and followed it perfectly. We will leave off here with it was a total disaster. I won't even link to it, it was BAD.

So, I looked at a few other recipes and created my own...and it was yummy!!! (And it looked pretty...bonus)

April's Very Own Coffee Cake

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix sugar, shortening, egg, vanilla, and milk. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well and set aside. Mix together the brown sugar, flour, melted butter, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour 1/2 batter into a greased 8x8 inch square pan, then half the brown sugar mix. Pour in remaining batter and top with remaining sugar mixture. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until done in the middle.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Holiday Basket: Valentine Edition

I love holiday decorating. I always have. I am sure I always will. We had an awesome fireplace mantle in our living room in the Rodda house back in Spokane. Mom and I would decorate it for every holiday we could think of. One of my favorite pieces was "the basket"....which was redecorated or filled for each holiday.

Well, I don't have a mantle...or a fireplace because, well, I live in Florida now :)

But I do have a basket!!! I decided last fall to create a basket for each holiday. The way this works is that I have one basket and fill it for each holiday, then after the given holiday is over I take everything out and put it in a ziplock bag. Then the next holiday goes in and over and over it goes. Next year, all I have to do for each holiday is take the goodies from their baggies, place, and fluff, and done!

I am now up to Valentine's Day in the year of the basket.

This was a bit more tricky, because there really isn't a type of greenery associated with Valentine's Day and what is a basket without greenery? Nope, wouldn't work. Enter the generic vine! I will probably use the leafyness in this basket for the next few holidays as well.

I may even try to come up with a non-holiday basket for the in-between times of the year...I would need a coffee theme...and there are not exactly coffee flowers at Michaels....hmmm.

Next up...St. Patrick's Day! I am already collecting for that one!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bennett Chili

Our menu for this month had chili planned for a dinner. Mostly because it actually felt winterish here for a few weeks during which time I made the menu. The problem was, I didn't have a good chili recipe. I have tried a few here and there...including a white chili...but nothing really stuck with me.

So, I decided to see what would happen if I just put a bunch of chili-like ingredients we had about into a pot and cooked them up. Success! Husband said it was the best chili he ever ate!

Here is the recipe, which I wrote as I went, so it isn't super exact on measurements (think Rachel Ray)...

1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 bottles of water (yes, this is lazy, but it was sitting right there!)
1/2 pound sage flavored sausage, browned
1/2 pound ground turkey meant, browned
2 chipotle peppers with a teaspoon of adobo sauce (these are HOT, adjust as needed)
2 cans kidney beans in red sauce
2 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 jar medium salsa
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of salt
tiny dash of chili powder

Boil onions in water while browning meat. Add meat to onions and water. Add everything else. Turn down to a simmer. Go vacuum the house. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Eat!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

This recipe is one of the most requested around the Bennett household. It is a modified version of the recipe by the same name in the Nestle Tollhouse Best Loved Recipes book.

2 cups (12 ounces) mini chocolate chips
Premade Oreo crust. To me this is easier than making a cheesecake crust (and I don't own a spring form pan so it gets me around that issue as well).

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Sprinkle chocolate chips in the bottom of the crust, enough to cover with an even layer.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large mixer bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs and flour. Gradually beat in evaporated milk and sour cream. Pour over crust ( fill to close to the top, there will be left over filling). Sprinkle with more chocolate chips, enough to cover all the filling.

Bake for 25 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for additional 30 minutes or until edge is set by center still moves slightly. Place in refrigerator immediately; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Grocery Store Savings

I am so excited about my most recent trip to Publix! I am trying to be more aware of how much we are spending on food, where the best place is to get certain items, and weekly sales. This will be more important when we have more mouths to feed, but I figure now is a good time to get in the habit!

So, that trip to the store...first, I bought most of my groceries at Super Wal-mart, but I prefer to buy meat from Publix. Also, Publix always has buy one, get one sales that can make it "cheaper than Wal-mart" (it's a Mexico joke).

I bought:
Dessert shells
Ice cream
Sweet tea
Shoulder roast
Deli ham
Boneless pork chops
Green beans - 4 pack of cans
Corn - 4 pack of cans

I spent: $26.54

I saved: $15.97 (38%)

Everything was on sale! And I am going to be sure to look at the sales again tomorrow!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Meal Plan

I generally plan out our meals a few weeks ahead to save time in thinking about what to make and trips to the grocery store. My cousin Misty posted her menu plan for January, which has inspired me to do the same.

Jan 4th - Turkey noodle soup
Jan 5th - Sweet and sour chicken
Jan 6th - Grilled chicken on salad with fixin's
Jan 7th - Burbon salmon, sweet potatoes, green beans
Jan 8th - Stuffed turkey burgers, chips, salad
Jan 9th - April's kitchen is closed for Saturday night!!
Jan 10th - Steak, baked potatoes, salad
Jan 11th - Grilled chicken on salad with fixin's
Jan 12th - Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes
Jan 13th - April's kitchen is closed because the cook is out of town
Jan 14th - Chili
Jan 15th - Tacos
Jan 16th - April's kitchen is closed for Saturday night!!

Breakfast is generally cereal or bagels and fruit or yogurt.

Lunch will mostly be PB&J and Slimfast (because Mark is at school over lunch most days) or frozen pizza or something equally quick.

And that makes grocery shopping so much easier. Today I did my major shopping of all pantry items and meat. Now all I will need to run into the store for is milk and produce (oh, oh, oh, I found a new fruit stand today with awesome prices and it is super close to the house!).