Friday, May 30, 2014

They say it happens in threes...

Tragedy.
Gut-wrenching loss. 
Someone I grew up with.


She leaves behind a daughter, a husband and  stepchildren. 
I am just heartbroken.

She was not someone I was close to.
Just someone I shared many years with in school.
We never stayed in contact, yet I would check in on her via Facebook and admire her perseverance and grace.
How she handled the challenges she was dealt with such beauty.  

The Facebook messages, and the close to 400 people who are members of a special group, are a true testament to who Miranda really was. 

This is a message from her stepson
  
Miranda,

I loved you to the farthest extent that I could give, even though it was in the 8 months that I knew you, I loved you from the moment that you walked into those doors and was so excited that you joined our family. You made my dad the happiest man in the world and you were the most caring person I've ever met, I'll love you for all eternity. You'll make the greatest angel up in heaven. R.I.P you will be missed

Her stepdaughter 


Dearest Miranda,
You will make a gorgeous angel. You have left such an influence in my life. I am going to have a hard time healing from the loss of your bright contagious smile that you always shared and your tender golden heart. I love you 

Sometimes, there are no answers and no words. 
Just tears. 


From a high school acquaintance
Just take a moment to reflect on the incredible impact this one person has had on all of our lives through the years. Not just best friends but classmates, strangers, acquaintances.. everyone she touched. This angel earned her wings years ago, and the world would be a much better place if we treated each other with the kindness and love she showed all of us. She's hanging out with God now, and how totally cool is that.
 And that, is totally true.
May all of Miranda's family and friends find comfort and peace as they travel this unknown path.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What (was) Inside my Pump Bag



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I've always been one of those overly prepared type of people.
People know they can count on me to the most random of things in my bag.
Heck, it's practically a suitcase what I carry around with me.
More on that later...

So it's no surprise my pump bag would be filled with goodies. 





What's inside my pump bag



The obvious here is the pump itself.  I have used the Medela Pump In-Style Advanced and the Medela Pump In-Style Hands Free. Both have pros and cons, but overall, I prefer the Pump In-Style Advanced. 

I make sure to have enough of the pumping parts for both sides, for every pumping session I will do that day.  That way, I don't have to worry about spending time washing the parts, or even finding a way to accomplish that.  I frequently would pump in my car, or in the bathroom, or in an office or classroom, so a sink was not always readily available. 

I would have never survived pumping without the hands free pumping bra.  Make sure to go down a size to give you proper support so you can really be hands free!  This has allowed me to do some serious multitasking.  Like eating lunch while pumping, making phone calls or doing computer work.  It's a little bit awkward at first when people hear about it, but totally worth it.  Although I have one tip-because it zips in front and then falls off in the back, I've forgotten about it by the time I've completed getting dressed.  I've wandered around school with it hanging out of my top, and even dropped it in mud puddles while getting out of my car!

Once I got comfortable with nursing and pumping, I became very anti-covering up while nursing. It just made for an uncomfortable baby, which then made for a very uncomfortable mommy.  Pumping isn't as bad as actual breastfeeding, but it makes it challenging to see what is going on and adjust accordingly.  But, because I don't have my own office, or even a private place to pump, a cover-up  was a total necessity.  Good thing too, can't tell you the number of times male co workers have walked in on me, or students for that matter.  It makes for a much more embarrassing experience for them than me.

Even though I pump into the bottles and carry the tops for them, I kept the milk freezing baggies with me because there have been a couple times I forgot the lids at home.  I would have either needed to find a refrigerator to store it in, or dump it.  Thankfully I just put it into the bag and that could go into the icepack container.

Of course you always need the lansinoh nipple cream and hand sanitizer.  Always a good idea!

And last but not least, what's not shown is: my adapter to allow for non-battery pumping, which is great because this thing sucks battery life!  And my costco size container of batteries!

Am I missing anything? 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Home of the Free

Land of the free, home of the brave...
What better recipe to share than the one and only World Peace Cookie?
An oldie but a true goodie...in fact I have students and co-workers begging me for these on the daily.
 
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 total tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 
1/4 cup sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
5 oz bittersweet chocolate-chopped or chips
Combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda-sift. If you've noticed, I try to cut out unnecessary steps-and sifting is one of them.  I mixed the dry ingredients with a fork and tried to rid the mix of any lumps and bumps. 
 Beat the butter.
 Add in the sugars, salt and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes
Slowly add in the dry ingredients-mix as minimal as possible.  You will work with the dough by hand, so it's ok if the flour is not mixed in perfectly.  Plus, the less the dough is handled, the better.  
Mix the chocolate chips-just until blended
Place the dough on a workable surface and roll into a 1 1/2 in in diameter log and wrap in cellophane.
 The directions say to refrigerate for 3 hours, however-I don't usually have time to do that, especially not today when I made this on a whim.  So I wrapped it and froze it.  
It was frozen within an hour and a half.  
Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 1/2 inch pieces.  
The dough does not have to defrost before baking, just bake for one minute longer-325 for 12 minutes, so if frozen, 13 minutes in this case.
The cookies do not look done-not at all, but once they cool, they will stay together and they will be amazing!    
The dough can remain in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for 3 months.
I can tell you without a doubt-these cookies will definitely bring about peace-maybe not world peace, but my house was peaceful while we enjoyed these delightful cookies! 
 

Thank you to all  who have served and sacrificed for our country.
Home of the free 
Because of the brave 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Munchies...

My newest recipe is a total winner.
First of all, it only uses  one dish, so yay for less dishes to clean!
Second, there's about 0 prep-another win.
And it takes about 25 minutes to prepare.


How scrumptious does this look?  
The blackberry glaze is stellar. 

When I saw this  I knew I had to make it.
So my first go at it was for a co-worker who had recently been hospitalized.  
She said she wasn't much of a salmon eater, but this recipe has caused her to cross over to the dark side!  
She even wants me to teach her how to cook!

Seriously, I cannot emphasize enough how easy and amazing this recipe is.  

ONE POT BLACKBERRY GLAZED SALMON AND ASPARAGUS
20 minutes total time
Serves four
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 pound thin asparagus spears, thick end removed
4 6-ounce skinless salmon pieces
1/4 cup blackberry jam or preserves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon each smoked paprika and cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Bring the broth to a simmer in a large skillet – I used a 12 inch skillet. As soon as the broth begins to simmer, place the asparagus in the pan. Lay the salmon fillets on top of the asparagus and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes, until liquid has almost completely evaporated.

While the dish is simmering, stir together the remaining ingredients. Remove skillet from heat. Spoon the blackberry mixture on to the salmon. Place skillet about 6 inches under the broiler for 2 minutes or so, until blackberry glaze starts to bubble.

Serve immediately.

I have only one tweak.  I didn't use chicken stock to boil the asparagus in.  
My first go around was because my co-worker needs a low sodium diet, so I left it out.  But then I discovered that the glaze makes a little bit extra, plus it runs off, so I figured the flavor from the glaze is enough.  

I cannot wait to make this again!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tales from Breastfeeding #3

This post, and the posts that follow on this topic have been a long time coming.

I wouldn't describe myself as preachy or judgmental, rather passionate.
I just want to help others when it comes to information I'm knowledgeable about. 
For instance, when I walk into Buy Buy Baby, I usually end up giving my two cents, aka assvice, to people hemming and hawing over strollers and car seats, or wondering which breast pump makes sense.  
I also will point out tried and true products.

So, when it came to breastfeeding I was really gung ho. 
I was given this book as as gift by my cousin who is a lactation consultant.  

  

This is the updated version and can be purchased on Amazon. 

Although I didn't get through it all by the time I gave birth to Moshe, I took in every detail.  
This book explains the whole physiology behind breastfeeding and how it's a lot more than just feed your baby every 2-3 hours.  

Anyway, I'll provide my top tips and info in another post but for now the point is, I kinda considered myself an expert.
I nursed Moshe until 13 months when we planned fertility treatments.
I nursed Dovy until he was 23 months, and I only stopped because I was due with Hannah a month later.

From the get go I attended a breastfeeding support group at the local hospital I delivered the boys at when I was free from obligations.  
When I would ask questions, eventually the lactation consultant would look at me and say, "Aaryn, you could teach this class.  You know exactly what to do."  

I was pretty quick to jump to conclusions when people would willy nilly pronounce they didn't produce enough milk to feed their baby.
I would start spewing information I had read in this book long ago.

Well, breastfeeding my third go around failed-miserably.  

This baby was my first real maternity leave.  
6 weeks-which is not even close to being long enough, but it was the only option.
For 6 weeks I was home with Hannah.  Nursing was going swell.
I was a little behind with pumping, but, the most important thing to know about breastfeeding is that it's all about supply and demand.  You demand it, your body should supply it.
So I wasn't too worried-I would pump in the car thanks to this mommy's helper.

  

This hands free pumping bra is an absolute life saver!  
Being a mommy is all about multitasking.
 I would pump twice at work, and that should be fine for the relatively short time I was away.  
But I never produced what I produced with the boys.  
A couple weeks in, I had gone through my freezer stash and it was a daily struggle to pump just enough for the next day.  Heck I lost all hope for extra.  Eventually, I even stopped putting it into bags in the freezer, admitting I was never going to have a stash this time.  

Pretty soon even my pumping sessions from work weren't enough.  
Now, another basic breastfeeding/pumping fact is that nothing is better than an actual baby nursing.
The baby is able to empty the breast better than the pump.  
Therefore, what I was pumping at work didn't necessarily mean that was all I was producing, it just meant I wasn't able to get as much out with the pump. 
So at first, I admitted Hannah would need some formula while I was away at work. 
I would exclusively nurse her when I was home and on the weekends because I figured she'd be more effective at emptying the breast and she'd therefore get what she needed.

I didn't go down without a fight.

I met with the lactation consultant and we discussed a few things.  
It was a reality check.
I have three kids, work full time, run a house and have a pretty absent husband.
It's possible I'm just mentally/emotionally unable to handle this challenge.  
It's funny-this is like that saying what you eat in private, you wear in public.
I can try to convince myself, or others of anything-but the fact that my body wouldn't produce the milk needed-even though I was demanding it, speaks for itself.  
Maybe that was the culprit.  

But there's one more option.  
According to my lactation consultant the number one cause of decreased milk supply is bed rest.  Now, I know I wasn't on bed rest but the point is that your body reacts to the challenges it faces.  
I had a rather traumatic and eventful pregnancy.
I underwent stressful IVIG treatments weekly.
As an aside, I also realized there's no info on the effects of IVIG on breastfeeding that I've seen. 
Bottom line, it is what it is.

I started taking blessed thistle and feneugreek-3 pills of each, 3 times a day. 
That's a total of 18 pills a day.
 I also added in Mothers Milk tea twice a day. 
As well as increasing my liquids to a goal of 100 oz a day.  
Basically, you should always have to pee.  

I'll be honest-this was a hard regimen to keep up because I hate taking pills.
I tend to gag, and taking six at a time just wasn't working.  

Eventually, exclusively nursing her stopped working because my baby girl loves to eat! 
I was having to offer her a bottle of formula after every nursing session.  

Two kids ago, I would have been beating myself up for having to give her formula. 
The third kid has caused me to relax and enjoy the ride.  

So you know what I did?
I put on a dress and left my pump at home.  
Truthfully, I never felt freer.

Would I have chosen it to work out this way?
Heck no!
I want the calorie burn of nursing. I want to eat those extra Weight Watcher points!
But in the end, all of my pumping sessions during the day would result with a total of 3 oz. 
About half a feed's worth.
It just became so glaringly obvious that the effort was just not worth it anymore.  

For now, Hannah loves her bottle.
And I love wearing dresses. 

   

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Munchies...

One day it will be back on Monday-that is when I don't fall asleep at 9pm.

I want to showcase the recipes I contributed to our mothers day brunch.  


Cake:
3 c. flour
1/4 tsp.salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

Topping:
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Mix everything together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.

Glaze:
2 c. powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla


While warm drizzle the glaze over the cake. 

I'll be honest with you-not impressed.  
What I did like was that because it's made from scratch-it's all ingredients you most likely have in the house.  
However-my topping sunk to the bottom.  Now it could be because my butter ended up melted and the topping became to liquidy.  
It also took a lot more time to bake-about double, but the pan that was on the bottom rack (even though I was rotating it) the edges started to burn. 
The glaze made a little too much; I halved it the second time and I think that was enough-just a light glaze. 

Surprisingly, this got rave reviews so I might make it again because of that and it's convenience.

Another recipe I made was similar to this fritata (I can't find the original one) however, this was a hit and I was surprised!  Eggs always surprise me-I'm hesitant to make them, but they're just so delicious and my kids absolutely love them.
Dovy has eaten this every morning for breakfast. 

http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/03/recipe-for-spinach-and-mozzarella-egg.html

 Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake
(Makes 6 servings; recipe created by Kalyn.)

Ingredients:
5 oz. organic fresh spinach (4 cups packed)
1-2 tsp. olive oil (depending on your pan)
1 1/2 cups low-fat mozzarella (I used a low-fat mozzarella blend from Costco with 6 grams of fat in 1/4 cup.)
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
8 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. Spike seasoning (or use any all purpose seasoning mix that's good with eggs)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Spray an 8 1/2 inch by 12 inch glass or crockery casserole dish with olive oil or nonstick spray.  

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add spinach all at once, and stir just until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.  Transfer spinach to the casserole dish, spreading it around so all the bottom of the dish is covered.  Layer the grated cheese and sliced onions on top of the spinach.

Beat the eggs with Spike Seasoning (or other seasoning mix) and salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  (I use only a tiny pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.)  Pour the egg mixture over the spinach/cheese combination, and then use a fork to gently "stir" so the eggs, spinach, and cheese are evenly combined.

Bake about 35 minutes or until the mixture is completely set and starting to lightly brown.  Let cool about 5 minutes before cutting.  (The egg bake will settle down some as it cools.)  Serve hot.  This is good with light sour cream.  I also like a little Green Tabasco Sauce sprinkled on the top.

This can be cut into individual servings to keep in the fridge and microwaved for a quick breakfast during the week.  Don't microwave longer than 1-2 minutes or the eggs can get slightly rubbery.


What's so great about this is you can vary the veggies you add based on your preference.  
I added red pepper, yellow pepper and spinach and some cheese. 
And who knew eggs fluffed up when they were cooked? 

Do you have any favorite egg recipes?  
 I'm so excited-I just ordered these egg cups from Amazon, and they're on major discount too!

 Egg Cups Set 4 PC Poached Hard Boiled Breakfast White Save Kitchen Hot Food New

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Another blow...

This has been a rough day all around.
Work was off.
Friends were struggling.

I thought my second post of the day was going to be to showcase the One Room Challenge-which is still unfinished by the way.
Unfortunately, that's not the case.
I popped into one of my frequently visited blogs, this one
I figured things weren't good, Mary had been absent for awhile.  

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I'm so saddened for the Fish family.  
Mary has written about the idea of living without her Super Teddy Fish; I can't imagine what she's going through now. 

There are no words, just tears.

The love of the on-line community

People often scoff when I tell them I blog.  
They think it's silly.
My blogging addiction is even thought of as an annoying habit.  
But if you're reading this, you obviously "get it." 
Those that laugh, they don't know.
They don't know that these people we call friends-the one we've actually never met, and perhaps never exchanged more than a couple blog comments-mean the world to us.  Can pull us through some heavy stuff. 
Sometimes, they're the only ones that understand.  

The on-line community is such a blessing.  
I have seen awareness raised for numerous causes, auctions held for those struggling, and just support in the most difficult of times.
When one is struggling, the entire on-line community feels the pain. 
Because we're all in this together.  

Unfortunately, today is one of those days. 
Where the on-line community has to rally and support one of our own.  

Jacqui of BABY BOY BAKERY tragically lost her son last Friday night. 
Her three and a half year old son, that adorable little boy with a head full of red curls, ran after his frisbee into the street and was hit by a truck.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  


Jacqui and her husband will never get to see Ryan grow up.
Never see what would become of his precious life. 
Thinking of the stillness in their life is heartbreaking.  

A request has gone out that in order to make sure Ryan's legacy lives on, post a picture from Jacqui's instagram account and tag it #redballoonsforryan  

Follow REDBALLOONSFORRYAN on Instagram as there will be an auction on Sunday to raise needed funds for the family. 

As hard as these pills are to swallow, I appreciate the reminder of what is truly important in life.


http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/be/64/31/be64312f5319cd0eb231bbea57a376d2.jpg

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Monday Munchies...

Scratch that, make it Tuesday.

After staying up until 4:30 in the morning Sunday, and then 1:45am Monday, I called it a night at 8:00 pm. 
Thankfully, now that Hannah sleeps all night in her crib, I can count on uninterrupted sleep.
Glorious, glorious sleep...

I wanted to show you a twist on a classic.
Cake.
You know you love yourself some cake-I know I do.  
In fact, I had some yesterday and was rather annoyed when I went to do the calorie count/factor it into my daily Weight Watcher points.
No bueno...BUT I'm all for splurging once in a while.  
Like weekly.
But in all seriousness, when it comes to weight loss, you have to find something for yourself that will make the diet lifestyle bearable.  

For me, I splurge on fancy bars- protein bars, KIND bars-any specialty bar that fits into the profile of what I'm wanting.
I'll splurge on low point options-such as a chia seed pouch I found.  

But I also modify the staples in my life.
Munchkins instead of donuts, you know what I mean?  I just can't live without my donuts...

So, I needed to find an alternative to cake.
One of my c-workers had a birthday, and she's also on weight watchers.
A huge challenge in weight loss is when others feel the need to push something on you.
In this case, it was her birthday and of course other people have their own expectations of what your life should be.
I didn't want to be responsible for knowingly derailing her diet.
So I made her a cake of fruit.  And whipped cream.
I was skeptical, but in the end it was a total hit and I will definitely make this again.
A modification on the classic.

Take a look.


All I could find on Pinterest when I browsed were pictures-with no explanation.
So let me explain.

You need fruits of similar diameters-so I used a mini watermelon, a cantaloup, and a honeydew.  
Cut each fruit into a 1-2 inch slice.
Can anyone help me with the mathematical terms here? I failed math once...
Because the watermelon does not have a group of seeds in the middle, you need it to be on the top and the bottom.
The middle layers are honeydew and cantaloup.

Begin by removing the rind from all the fruits.
The bottom layer is watermelon, topped with whipped cream.
Top with either honeydew or cantaloup.  
Repeat whipped cream and then top with fruit.
Fill in the hole left from scooping out the seeds with whipped cream-then cover the entire fruit with whipped cream, creating another complete layer of whipped cream.
Top with final layer-watermelon.
Cover the entire "cake" with whipped cream.
 You can decorate the cake however you would like.
I chose to do strawberries and blueberries.

Viola, finished.
It did not take nearly as long as I thought it would.
 However, the cake does not travel well-lesson learned.
Prepare on the spot.
It was still delicious, refreshing and appreciated! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

One Room Challenge, Week 5

Ok, so I've clearly missed most of this challenge.  
 But, that's ok since I was updating a rather small area of my house.

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 Click on the picture to be linked back to the host along with all of us who are playing along!

After some amazing ideas popping into my head, as they tend to do, I've decided to leave my bathroom decorating for the next One Room Challenge.  
It will be great!  Can't wait!!!

But, until then, my hallway decorating will have to do.  

So, without further ado...





It's a very simple, small space.  It needs to be kept simple.
Clutter free, because as you can see, it has become a dumping ground-and trust me, these pictures show it in a good state!

I will be keeping the desk, just updating it a little for my kids.
When you live in a small space, it's all about utilizing the small spaces for whatever it is that you're missing.
For instance, you'll see I'm going to add a little play area, and utilize the desk with the wall for more storage.  

I'm looking forward to next week's reveal! 
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