Thursday, December 29, 2016

Kids Ugly Holiday Sweater

Unfortunately, I've been knocked down by the winter bug, during winter break! #awesome 
Anyway, I couldn't let Chanukah pass without sharing this, just in case any of you have a last minute party and want to dress up your littles.  

I promise, this was the easiest DIY project I have ever done!  And not only is it easy, it can be completely customized to your liking: t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, sweater, any holiday, any saying, any picture, any colors: the possibilities are endless and it's all totally up to you!

My kids had Chanukah dress up day at their school and of course, I was just a little too last minute to find something coordinated, because, who doesn't send their three to school matching? So, DIY it was!

I found long sleeve shirts on Amazon, that wasn't without a challenge, but all was well in the end.  
I used Avery iron on transfer printable paper.  Just my personal opinion here-I don't love this product.  I've used it a few times in the past and am never pleased with it's durability. However, I haven't seen any other printable iron on paper, so when you want a cheap and easy customized shirt, it gets the job done.  Just don't be planning on your DIY shirt to be sticking around for years to come.  
I bought the iron on letters and puffy paint at JoAnn Fabric.   Tip: Look online for the products you want and you can search by store to be sure a local store has the products in stock when you go.  

Wash and iron the shirts, and then you're ready to go.  

For the iron on letters, you cut them out.  Now, only the actual letter has glue, so you don't have to cut out the letter exactly, however, spacing will get harder if you leave too much plastic surrounding the letter. 

 I was somewhat confused because the plastic is what actually gets the heat directly and I was afraid it would melt! So I tested a small piece on the inside of one of the shirts and happily discovered it definitely does not melt.  Just lay the letters right side up, and iron away.  The directions are pretty self explanatory, just lay out in the order you want, and iron for about 12 seconds on the actual letters, and then flip the shirt over and iron the back side for another 10 seconds.  

Let it cool before peeling the plastic away.  

For your transfer, you can either use a pre-designed template, or you can create your own.  You can do this through the Avery website, or I did mine on google docs.  The only confusing part, on either site, is that the image has to be reversed in order to be ironed on the correct way.  A lot of printers have this option of flipping the image, but mine did not.  I found this tutorial which explains simply how to flip the image in google docs.  It worked like a charm, and that's a lot coming from me! 

Unlike the iron on letters, because the entire sheet is an iron on, you have to cut this out as close to your image as possible or you'll have some white overhang and it just looks tacky.  Unfortunately I only discovered this after the first transfer.  Good thing I had plenty of puffy paint!

 Make sure to iron this on for a decent amount of time-I did it just like the iron on letters, but went over the front one more time.  You must cool completely or the transfer will break apart. 

Once it all cools, design with puffy paint.  

I just put these shirts through the wash and discovered that puffy paint doesn't stay on the iron on transfer, rather it only sticks to the fabric, so keep that in mind when decorating! 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Monday Munchies...

It's Chanukah time!!!
The first night was Saturday, so of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try out this fabulous  donut in a bag recipe!
This was the video that was going around on Facebook

I wanted to give this a shot, because what better way to usher in the holiday than with fresh, homemade donuts?  I'm so glad I tried it; although I will admit, I was skeptical.  What's awesome about this recipe is not only is it easy-think minimal steps, but the cleanup is seriously, like none other!

1 packet dry yeast
3 cups flour 
1 egg
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 cup warm water (try to think warm, too hot water will kill the yeast-err on the side of caution)
11/2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon brand (I used 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla instead)
zest of one lemon
2 cups strawberry jelly (make sure there aren't chunks of strawberries, maybe jam?)

Add the yeast, warm water, sugar, brandy/vanilla, lemon zest, oil, egg and flour into the gallon sized ziplock bag.  Close the bag and mix well with your hands for a few minutes. 

Let the dough rise in a bowl of very warm water for an hour. 

After an hour, the dough will have risen, and you should roll it out on a floured surface.  

Using a glass cup, or mug, cut out circles in the desired size.  

Once it's done, cover it up with a towel, and let rise for another thirty minutes.  

Using a deep dish pan, as opposed to the pot I always used to use, fill with oil, about two inches and boil.  If you have a thermometer, boil to 350, but if you don't have a thermometer, use the old water trick: when you splash water into the oil, it should sizzle-then you know it's ready.  

Drop five dough circles into the oil, and let fry for about one minute on each side.  Use a slotted spoon to cool on a cookie sheet covered with paper towel for extra oil absorbing.  If you want filled donuts, it's easier to buy a tip or a tool so you can fill with the jam, or custard, or cream. 

I'm thinking about trying this caramel again and hoping for better results since I have the proper tip. 
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or maybe some toppings-get creative!

I'm itching to make a donut bar like last year! Thankfully I have plans with friends to make some donuts!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hanukah Garland

If you've been around for awhile you know that I have a thing about decorating for Hanukah.  Growing up in a public school, with mostly non-Jews, I often felt left out.  My kids attend a Jewish school, so they squeal with delight when they see a Christmas tree!  So, fine, I'll admit it-the decorations are solely for my enjoyment.  
In fact, when I completed this project, Hannah walked out of the bedroom and gasped, "it looks like Christmas!" 
Ok, so maybe I need to reevaluate!  

Anyway, a couple months ago, Land of Nod sent out their Holiday magazine, and on the half page spread of Hanukah themed decorations, I saw a dreidle garland.  I can't find it on their website now, but I knew it wouldn't be hard to make, so I headed to JoAnn's website.  It all came together when I saw the white pom pom string, and I knew I would alternate that between my tri-colored garland.  

Felt colors of choice-I used dark blue, light blue and white  
Yarn/String-you need something to attach and hang the dreidles from
Scissors-fabric scissors are a must!!!
Hot glue
Tape/Hook-however you choose to hang the garland

I chose to make my garland with only dreidles using this image. 

 I then copied it into google docs and sized it, and then printed.  However, you could add in a Star of David, or a menorah, hearts maybe-totally up to you!  

I then cut it out and traced it onto the felt. 

 I just guessed, and started by making nine of each color.  

Again, you can make more or less depending on how full you want your garland to be.  

I then measured the pom pom garland as a way to measure my string, and then cut accordingly.  

I laid the three garlands on top of each other-leave room so you can work on each string comfortably.  Doing this makes sure the dreidles are in line with each other.  

Gluing got a little tricky and stumped me for a minute. At first, I thought I would just glue it from the top, but then I realized that wouldn't give it much support, and I would end up with a lot of glue on my carpet.  

So I flipped the dreidles upside down and wrong side facing up and glued along the top of the square. 

 Then I did zig zag glue as a way to add some extra support. 

Let it dry and hang-voila!

It adds such a beautiful backdrop! I might even consider adding more next year. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Munchies...

Mondays always seem to fly by! I think I have plenty of time to write my post, and then bam, it's 10pm and I'm so tempted to let another Monday Munchies pass me by! But, I've been pretty intentional about documenting my cooking and baking so I can share it with you all here! 

Dinner is always a big dilemma here, and I never know what my kids will agree to eat.  So I was rather surprised when Moshe asked me to make, "that thing we ate with jelly when Bubby and Zayde were here." I had no idea what he was talking about, but when he said we added jelly and sugar, I couldn't stop laughing:
Matzoh Brei! 
OY-he has obviously not lived through enough Passovers to know that we should limit matzoh eating for that one time of year! I don't know anyone who would request a matzoh dinner during the year! Even better-my kids have requested it as their lunch for school!  

1 box of the plan matzoh of your choice 
Toppings:sugar, jelly, cinnamon 

Run the matzoh sheets under water just to wet it, then break into pieces and place in the skillet-think mouth size!  

Mix 3 eggs and about 3/4-1 cup of milk-I don't like my matzoh brei overly eggy, so I use less eggs, you could definitely use more and that will create more "filler" with the matzoh.  

Pour the liquid into the skillet, and heat.  When you notice it's starting to cook, turn.  Once you notice the egg mixture is cooked-you're free to remove from the heat and eat.  If you like your matzoh crispier, continue cooking for longer. 

*I linked to a real recipe-it happens to have a much higher egg content than I make mine with, but after all, it's all about experience and figuring out which texture you like best! 

Top your matzoh brei with some sprinkled cinnamon, sugar and jelly flavor of your choice!

Ironically, a matzoh brei stand opened up in NYC!  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Consult...

AKA-this shit just got real. 

Let's talk about the differences between a frozen embryo transfer (FET) and invitro fertilization (IVF).  Invitro fertilization is the process of taking drugs to stimulation the production of several eggs.  Then, through a surgery, those eggs are retrieved (the retrieval) and then fertilized in a petri dish.  Sometimes people opt to fertilize through a process known as intra-cytoplasmic sperm ingection (ICSI) which is where the sperm is injected into the egg.  Others, opt for natural fertilization just by placing the egg and the sperm in a petri dish and letting nature take it's course. Anywho, that's how embryos are created-and then the transfer takes place, which is when the embryo is placed back into it's natural habitat-the uterus. 

In my case, I have only done one IVF cycle, back in December of 2008. Some details are fuzzy, but I do remember my husband's surprise birthday party being during the two week wait, where I ended up getting pregnant with Moshe.  Since then, I've undergone four FETs.  Because the embryos are already created, it's a much easier, less involved process. All you have to physically accomplish is a good looking uterine lining.  For me, that hasn't been much of a problem; we did have some concern this last transfer, but it all worked out and things looked great at transfer time.  

Now, we're looking to stimulate egg production, retrieve as many as we can, and harvest some embryos!  This is where things can get complicated-it's up to Dr. B to create a protocol for me that he believes will lead to the best egg production.  I kid you not when I say, he closed his eyes, tapped his fingers, "I am thinking of a protocol for it!" 

I am waiting for a final protocol, with a calendar with all the dates included, and then I will share a timeline with you.  For now, I had my baseline on Tuesday of this week, levels look good-still very suppressed from the last rounds of medication, but I am on birth control until December 30th.  

Things to do
1. Schedule an endometrial biopsy 
2. Dr.H has to have a semen analysis 
3.  Dr. H has to have blood work     
4.  Medication has to be ordered
5.  Dr.H has to start taking his antioxidants 
6. Discuss results of my thyroid panel with Dr. B 

One of the biggest positives about going to a small, "mom and pop" doctor, is the individual care you receive.  He did my ultrasound, which revealed a wonky period due to my estrogen still being high from the injections, as well as some present follicles on my ovaries due to my PCOS.  We discussed that I'll be THIRTY in a few months, and "you're different now."  I prefer to think of myself as fine wine...

DIY Birthday card, wine glass, sown red buttons, "like a fine wine you only get better with age"

We also discussed a touchy subject-my weight.  I'll get into that on another post-but since April I've gained 20lbs, and it's best for the hormones to work when I'm at my ideal weight. While he's not forcing me to hold off on the cycle until I lose all the weight, he does want me to focus on losing what I can in the meantime.  I'm finding it much easier said than done since I seem to be a raging hormonal bitch these days who wants to eat anything in sight.  Just today he called me and we ended up discussing my thyroid.    My thyroid stimulating hormone came in on the higher end of normal-meaning I'm not officially, but I'm close to having hypothyroidism, so I start my low dose synthroid tomorrow morning.  He also said it will help my weight loss-here's to hoping, because I'm not so sure my thighs will ever divorce at this rate!  You can read more about hypothyroidism HEREHERE and HERE 

We also discussed PGD/PGS-and I confirmed that we will not be testing the embryos this cycle. The main reason is that it costs about $5,000 and while I believe in committing to the procedure because why not since you're already going through so much-I can't emotionally walk away from a cycle, and because of that, I have to say no to testing the embryos since we can't afford it right now.  On the other hand, being that I'm 29, it's not recommended for my age anyway, so even though I'm almost 30, I still have something working in my favor.  He also confirmed for me today that my AMH came back around 4, where they like to see about 2. He said to anticipate 12 eggs at retrieval. We then discussed how many to transfer and while he thinks 1 and I think 2-I said we'll just wait and see what we end up by transfer day. In 2008, I had six top quality embryos-I don't want to be unrealistically optimistic and think I'll have the same response this time. So, I'm being cautiously optimistic and I'm just hoping for two top quality embryos to transfer.
That's it.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday Munchies...

Today I want to share with you a new cookie I came across, just in time for the holidays!  I made these a few times in the past few weeks and it's funny, I'm a chocolate girl-I want chocolate in all my desserts. But, people couldn't get enough of these ginger cookies!  They're just the right amount of spice to give you that kick, but so soft and chewy, like nothing you've ever had before.  And, it speaks volumes that I don't actually have any pictures! Of the three separate times I've baked and packaged them up, no pics! I'll use a stock picture instead!

Image result for ginger cookies

Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat your oven to 350, and let the margarine become room temperature. If you don't have time for that, just rub the stick of margarine between your hands for 30 seconds and that should do.

Cream the margarine and sugar, then add the egg. Add in the water and molasses.  I have never bought molasses before, and thankfully it was easy to find in my local grocery store. There are light and dark versions-I randomly picked up this one.  Add in the dry ingredients-it was recommended to sift, but I didn't because #lazy.

According the recipe, refrigeration time is not needed, but the dough seemed too soft to work with, so I put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Then, I rolled it into balls (walnut size is suggested) and then rolled it into a bowl with white sugar, then placed it on a greased cookie sheet.  Assuming you don't use a disposable cookie sheet, maybe don't grease, as per the recipe. Just now I'm discovering I mistakenly greased, it turned out fine, so use your discretion.

Baking time was said to be 8-10 minutes, however the cookies from my first batch came out too soft and many fell apart when I was transferring them. The second time, I baked them for 13 minutes and the end result was still soft and chewy, but not as delicate-which is a must when transportation is required.  

For those of you that enjoy, or like me-require baking in steps, the dough did fine in the refrigerator and the rule of thumb is cookie dough lasts for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.  

These would make the best holiday gift! I noticed Target had some beautiful Christmas ceramic dishes; what a nice, thoughtful, homemade holiday gift this could be!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday Munchies...

One of the reasons I love this series I do is because it's a no-fuss way for me to keep track of my recipes. It's especially helpful as I share many special recipes from friends and family, like today.  

Today's recipe is one of our traditional thanksgiving foods.  I'm not sure how the recipe came about, but I know the first time I had it, I was hooked, and then insisted it be on the table at my Bubby's every time we visited.  Nowadays, I only think about it for Thanksgiving menu planning, but my kids enjoyed it so much I'm thinking it'll stick around and make it's way back to our table plenty of times in the upcoming months.  

What's great about this recipe is it's simple, easy, fast, and yet not over caloric, sweet and tangy and the perfect contrast to that spicy flavor that we all know oh too well during the holiday time. This would be the perfect appetizer served in a nice bowl with a sprig of mint, or in an individual pie shell as a dessert with a dollop of ice cream on top. For me, I'll take it as a sweet and tangy side.

Strawberry Rhubarb 
1 package of frozen strawberries 
1 package of frozen rhubarb 
1 package of strawberry jello (can also sub diet jello)
1 cup water

Combine all the ingredients into a pot and boil, then cool.  The jello won't set until it's been in the fridge, so don't be skeptical if at first, even once cooled, it doesn't look like a jello consistency-that will come!  

If you change up the jello flavor, I'd be curious to hear what you think!   

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