Saturday, August 16, 2014

The next phase of life.

This poor little neglected blog! I can't believe it still gets views, so thanks for stopping by! I thought it was high time I gave an update on what's been going on. Here we are in 2014 and I started January off strong with a few food posts but then dropped off the planet when life kicked into high gear. So what's been going on?? Let's recap!

In late January we were in full swing of wedding planning and had just a few months left before the big day, so what did we decide to do? Start house hunting! Because that makes a ton of sense... but we were tired of renting and ready to make the next move and so it began. Luckily it didn't take us long to find the perfect place for us and in mid March we signed the papers and got to moving. The same weekend that my amazing bridal party threw me a bridal shower!!


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After the move and the shower it was weeks of unpacking and organizing and settling in. We love our home. But just as soon as we moved in it seems like it was time for the big day!! We had the most amazing wedding day. The weather was beautiful, the people were awesome, the love was everywhere. It was just incredible. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful people.



We took just a few days off around the wedding festivities because we were planning to take our annual trip to the Cape later in the summer. After buying a house and throwing a wedding, a lavish honeymoon wasn't exactly in the budget, but we prefer to be closer to home and spending time with friends anyway so Dennis Port was the best option.

The rest of the spring was filled with fun weekends, another friend's wedding, many visits with friends and family. Then in June, well... this happened

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YES!!! Finally!!!! After a year and half of a long road of trying, we are PREGNANT!!! I am 13w3d today and officially into the second trimester!! I'm feeling great, the first trimester was actually pretty easy for me. I haven't been sick really, just bloated, TIRED and oh my goodness the mood swings. I cry. A lot. 

The doctor has been amazing about frequent visits, blood work and early ultrasounds so that we can be sure this pregnancy is progressing well and so far we've been perfectly on target. The top picture was from 7 weeks, baby was measuring 2 days ahead of schedule and had a healthy heartbeat of 170 beats per minute. The second one is from 10 weeks, the picture is not very good quality because it wasn't a formal ultrasound. The doctor has an old machine that she uses to do a quick peek during the routine monthly visit. I also borrowed a doppler so that I can hear that little heartbeat thumping away any time I want and it's been such a great thing to have. I am very lucky to be feeling so good throughout this pregnancy but sometimes it gets a little unsettling and I worry that nothing is happening in there. A quick listen on the doppler puts my mind at ease. 

I had my latest monthly check in on Thursday and the nurse practitioner took a listen to the heartbeat and said it sounds perfect, no irregularities. We are not opting for any testing to check for markers of genetic issues or downs so these little check ins are all we have until the anatomy scan. I'll be just under 19 weeks when we have that ultrasound and I cannot wait!!! I'm counting the days. 

So yeah, a lot has happened this year and we are so happy with how everything has worked out. We are so very lucky to be so blessed. I'm also surrounded by close friends that are also expecting and that has been so much fun! My cousin who's 9 months younger than me and more like a sister to me is expecting her second child. We have gone through so many milestones together and to be going through this with her is just incredible. Oh yeah, I'm due mid February! Can't wait!!! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Gluten Free Chicken Stir Fry

I'm LOVING the Barilla Gluten Free pasta. It is so freaking good. I tried a new recipe last night so I could have some more of it. Next time I think I'm buying spaghetti. I haven't had spaghetti and meatballs in AGES. It's time. Last night's dish was a Pinterest find, as usual. It was called Chicken Yakisoba, but I just am calling it stir fry. Do you like to see the Pinterest image compared to the real life results? I do, so I'm going to keep writing my posts that way.

Here is the Pinterest image (click the photo to go to the original image/website):

 

And here is mine:

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Pardon the terrible iPhone pic in my dimly lit kitchen. I tried to salvage it but I don't have Photoshop anymore and am using Aviary in Flickr for now. I used whatever vegetables I had in the fridge - a green pepper that was on it's last leg, yellow onion, garlic. I used ground ginger because I had no fresh on hand. It came out pretty good. I have yet to replicate the true flavor of Chinese food at home but I'm working on it. I had sesame oil on hand but it is so strong and the last time I used it I put way too much in and it ruined the dish. I decided not to risk it this time. I did however add red pepper flakes and it added a nice kick. Bill hates spicy food but he was having leftover chicken tacos so I went for it. I do not have Sriracha but I've wanted to try it.

Here is my version of this recipe:

Gluten Free Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients

4 oz dry GF Pasta of choice, I used Barilla, try it!!
2 Boneless Chicken Breasts cut into small strips
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, minced

1/4 cup GF Soy Sauce (San-J Tamari)
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce (French's)
2 Tbs Ketchup
1 Tbs Sugar
Ground Ginger
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions


Put the water on to boil for the pasta first. Depending on what type of GF pasta you're using, it might take the longest to cook. Barilla only takes 7 minutes so I put the water on to boil, and dropped the pasta in right before I put the chicken in the pan.

Before you start cooking the chicken, mix up the sauce in a bowl, slice the chicken, chop the vegetables. This dish comes together quickly so you want to have everything prepped and ready to go.

When everything is set, heat some oil of your choice in a large skillet or sautee pan over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the chicken and just barely cook through. If you cut the chicken thin enough, this happens quickly.

Add the peppers and onions and cook for just a couple minutes, then add the garlic and stir to combine. Pour in the sauce and stir, cooking for a few minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Stir to combine, and viola, ready to serve!

I had the leftovers for lunch today and it was still delicious. Next time I'd be brave and add a tiny bit of sesame oil and add more vegetables. I'd also use long noodles instead of elbows but that's all I had in the kitchen. Traditional rice noodles would be great as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winning at Pinterest. If by winning, I mean losing.

I looooove Pinterest. Who doesn't love beautiful photos promising delicious recipes and stylish fashions and a gorgeous home? Not to mention the perfect rustic wedding, am I right? I have tons of boards, mostly of recipes that I want to try. Many of them are gluten and dairy filled recipes that I need to convert, but I have plenty of GF/DF/Paleo etc recipes pinned and ready to go. I've been trying to change up our repertoire at home so I've been turning to the boards for inspiration. Here are a couple of recipes I've tried this week:

1. Mock Alfredo Sauce

The beautiful Pinterest image...

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And mine...

Wow what a major fail this was. The picture on pinterest makes it look so Alfredo like. Creamy and delicious. Well let me tell you, pureed cauliflower tastes like... pureed cauliflower. The texture was way too thick to pass for a creamy sauce no matter how many times I turned the food processor on full blast. Maybe one of those super powerful blenders would work better. I ended up adding some curry powder and other random spices to try to give it some more flavor. It didn't help. I do think this recipe could be tweaked to come out better, use milk instead of water, more butter, more seasoning. I moved it to my "Needs Tweaking" board.

2. M&M Peanut Butter Bars



Oh Pinterest, how you lure me in...

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The gluten free/dairy free result...

I was so excited to try these M&M Peanut Butter Bars. But since I don't eat dairy, M&Ms were out (dark M&Ms have dairy too!) so I used dairy free chocolate chips instead. I used GF Bisquick for the baking mix. One other thing to note is that I used farm fresh eggs that are a bit smaller than store bought "large" eggs. These came out so DRY. Oh I was so disappointed. They tasted like peanut butter flavored dirt. That picture looks so moist and delicious. Again, I think some tweaking would help. Maybe another egg, and take them out of the oven earlier. I ended up throwing these out. Bummer.

Don't worry, I have plenty more recipes to share with you!! With any luck, maybe I'll find a good one.

On a perfectly picturesque rustic wedding related note, I'm getting married in 100 DAYS!! I'm at a loss for what I want to do for centerpieces. I really want to do something original.. I was going to do lanterns. Meh. Over done? Probably. I just don't know. Whatever it is, it needs to be cheap!! Off to the dollar store and Christmas Tree Shops!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Barilla Gluten Free Pasta, YES!!

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Which one is gluten free?? Bill got it wrong, read on to find out if you did too!

I had no idea that Barilla even had a gluten free pasta in the works. I was checking out at the grocery store the other day, when a coupon printed for $1 off any box of Barilla Gluten Free pasta. I was like... whaaaaaat? The following week while shopping for the week, I actually stopped in the pasta aisle to take a look and there it was. Boxes and boxes of the stuff. Different shapes and everything. Only $1.99 per box and I had that $1 off coupon. I couldn't decide between elbows, penne, rotini or spaghetti. I'm partial to elbows, so I grabbed a box. It even looks like normal pasta through the little window on the front. It would be easy to confuse the boxes if you weren't paying attention!

Bill bought me an electric pressure cooker for Christmas and I've been loving it. It's so fast! I am a big fan of this sausage, tomatoes, peppers and onions recipe that I found online (I'll do another post about that later) and I wanted to try it over this pasta. It even cooks just like regular pasta, 7 minutes and it's done! I was thrilled with this pasta. It looks and tastes just like the real thing. It doesn't have that thing about it. I don't know how to describe that thing.. but Tinkyada has it. Don't get me wrong, Tinkyada has been my go to for years and I still have some in the cabinet, but it's obviously gluten free. This Barilla pasta is just awesome. And cheap! And easy! I don't eat a lot of pasta because I just haven't been a huge fan of the gluten free versions. Plus we try not to eat too much of the stuff anyway. But I do crave a nice pasta dish every once in awhile and I'm so happy to have this. One thing I did notice is that it does break down easily, but that's to be expected. The texture and flavor otherwise make up for it.

I hope they come out with lasagna noodles soon!!

As far as everything else goes, things are going well. I've recently been inspired to start blogging again. Maybe it's the freshness of the new year. And who knows how long it will last, but I need some kind of hobby. We only have 3.5 months left until the wedding, so that's exciting! Maybe I'll do some wedding posts. I haven't had much to say about it but now that we're getting down to the details I'll have more to share. I hope I still have some readers left!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chapter 6

I have started writing this post so many times. I am having a hard time putting my thoughts into words. There is just so much I want to say but I don't want to write a novel in a blog post. I like to tell a story with my writing and this story is so long. It starts over five years ago when this blog was born.

I have known all along that autoimmunity isn't something to mess with. That's why I've been writing this blog, to document my path to healing. Somewhere along the lines, the path took a sharp turn in the wrong direction. I just stopped trying. I got incredibly lazy. I caved into cravings. I ate whatever I wanted. It was a slow slide to hell. I gained so much weight. I weigh more today than I ever have. I never exercise anymore.

Why???? I wish I could answer that.

This spring I started trying again. I started working out in the mornings before work, I cut out the gluten and diary again. We were trying to get pregnant and I knew that I was in no shape for that. I struggled with that. Knowing that there was a big potential that I'd have trouble because of my health. I pushed through, making small strides each day. Five months into trying and I started to get discouraged. I started to think that maybe we should just wait until after the wedding next April. It would give me more time to get healthy. I had been spotting for a few days so I thought for sure we were out for the month. Memorial Day weekend I told B that I wanted to put it on hold. At least for now.

Three days later...

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We were shocked. He was so excited. I was terrified.  I wanted so badly to be happy, but I couldn't shake this terrible feeling that this was just not going to work out. It seems like as soon as I found out, the symptoms started. Nausea, cramping/pulling in the lower abdomen, fatigue, breast tenderness. I felt pregnant. It was crazy but I loved it. It was the spotting that kept me on edge. The slightest change in it and I'd panic. Surely this was it. It was over. But then it wasn't.

At my first appointment with the OB/GYN I found myself feeling so insecure. The staff at the office kept congratulating me and my reaction was to be angry at them. How could they be so positive and excited for me when this surely wasn't even going to happen? These feelings surprised me. Why couldn't I be happy about this? B was making lists of names, I wasn't even thinking about it. I felt physically pregnant, but I didn't feel any kind of connection to it. Should you that early? I don't even know.

Based on the spotting, the nurse practitioner ordered blood work to check my HCG level. At 6 weeks the level was 1993 and then 2710. Low, and slow rising. Not a good sign. But I was within the normal range and it was rising so we held on to that. That week I had my first breakdown. Sobbing to B because I just knew something was wrong. He convinced me that I was being emotional from the hormones and I'd be fine.

At 7 weeks I had my first ultrasound. The tech had a terrible bedside manor. You could just tell that she didn't have much faith in this pregnancy either. When she finally showed me what she was seeing, it was just an empty sac with a small yolk sac. What you'd expect to see in a pregnancy of roughly 5.5 weeks. I was devastated. B didn't understand what was wrong. He saw a healthy 5.5 week pregnancy. I saw an unhealthy 7 week pregnancy. I knew my dates weren't off. I feel it when I ovulate, my boobs get sore, my body changes. I knew exactly when it had happened. But I let myself believe that I could've been wrong.

The HCG level came back at 7,000. Normal for 5.5 weeks. It could go one of two ways at this point. I tried to hold onto what little hope I had left, but the spotting had changed again. It was red and heavier and I could see tiny bits of tissue. But other women had experienced the same thing and had healthy pregnancies. I clung to this. Another ultrasound was scheduled for 10 days later. I should be 8 weeks 5 days by then. Or would it be 7 weeks? I didn't know what to tell people when they asked me how far along I was.

By the weekend I was starting to relax again and was hoping beyond all hope that I would be one of those miracle women that have healthy babies after complicated first trimesters. Deep down I knew I wouldn't be. Saturday I felt great. The spotting was almost gone and I had energy. We spent the day with friends and family being excited for the baby.

Sunday I woke up to spotting again. I shrugged it off. It wasn't out of the ordinary at this point.
By late morning I was feeling a dull ache in my lower abdomen. I ignored it.
We had been talking about seeing the doctor earlier than Friday because we had so many concerns but since I'd had such a good day on Saturday we decided to leave it.
Just before bed I went up to use the bathroom. As soon as I sat down, I passed a huge blood clot. I knew immediately what was happening. I went back downstairs and told B it was starting. He nodded. We both were resigned to this by now.

The worst of it lasted about an hour. It wasn't terribly painful, just uncomfortable. Gross, really. Eventually I was able to lay down and finally around 2am I fell asleep.

This week has been a roller coaster of emotions. The first day I was relatively calm. Denial? Probably. But I had already cried so much in the weeks and days leading up to the actual miscarriage that I didn't have anything left. We took the dog to the park, watched movies, relaxed. The second day I woke up in pain. More clots passed. The nurse practitioner had warned me about this. I went back to bed, rolled into B, and just cried. He had to go to work so I stayed home alone. I spent most of the morning in tears. By the afternoon I was ready to face it head on. I felt like I had been robbed and I was determined to not let this happen again. What had gone wrong? Why did this happen to me? Why must I always have to go through things the hard way, hadn't I already dealt with enough struggle and heartache in my life? Couldn't just this one thing be easy for me? So many questions we ask when things don't work out the way we hoped.

I'm not blaming myself for this. Miscarriages happen all the time. It's so much more common than I realized. People just don't like to talk about it that much. Understandable. It sucks. However, I can't help but wonder what if I'd been taking care of myself like I know I should be? I've suspected some thyroid issues for a while not but didn't bother making the doctor's appointment to get it checked out. I suspected low progesterone when I was spotting so much right from the beginning but I was too nervous to mention it to the doctor. Another potential complication, ignored. Well, let me tell you, it's a big wake up call. I've essentially wasted 5 years of my life when I could've been building up my health but instead I let it get worse.

I will not waste another day.

I have an appointment with my primary care physician at the end of the month and I will ask her to do every single test known to woman that could be related to fertility. I'm doing my homework, just like I did before the Crohn's diagnosis. I will walk into that office armed and ready. She won't see me coming, but I promise you this, she won't forget me. I'm back in self advocate mode. I will not rest until my health is under control and I'm confident enough to start trying again. I have a little angel in heaven now to watch over me and keep me on track.

The weekend that would've been the start of my 40 weeks was my brother's wedding. While we were getting ready, my sister took out her jewelry and asked me what she should wear. There was a ring with small purple stones in the box that matched our bridesmaids dresses. I asked her if I could wear it and she just gave it to me. I'm not sure if they are real amethyst but they are close enough for me. I was due in February. I have worn this ring every day since she gave it to me and only noticed the significance just the other day. It gives me strength.

Ever since I was little, my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother would sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow with me. They say that a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison. When a pregnancy loss has happened, the storm is supposed to be over and as we continue to cope with the loss, eventually something colorful and bright will emerge from the storm clouds. They call this the rainbow baby. I can't wait for mine.


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