Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My arm hurts...

But for a really good reason! I got a call yesterday afternoon that there was a cancellation or something at the tattoo shop and on I went! We did "Phase 1" yesterday - just mom's portrait on my arm and the next part will be adding angel wings behind her and probably something underneath. I have to figure out what I want it to say. I don't really want to put "mom" or "mother" but it can't be long and needs to be simple... decisions, decisions...

I got there at about 3pm, by 4pm he started working on getting the image the size he wanted, then tracing it out, and a little after 5pm he started tattooing. We didn't finish 'til 9:30pm! It was a LONG afternoon! There were a couple breaks in there of course but he probably worked on me for 3 1/2 - 4 hours and man my arm was feeling it that last hour before he finished. It was pretty tender by then. I am really happy with it and don't think the picture does it justice - her eyes are really stunning in person. Of course I took the picture last night when I got home, so it's still very fresh, red, puffy and darker than it will look when it's healed. This is the photo we used and the tattoo:


I am really happy with it. He was very thorough and really took his time and I think he did a great job. I can't wait to get to go back and see what he has in mind for the background! I had a lot of "I miss my mommy" moments though yesterday throughout the afternoon with lots of time to think about her... I am glad I get to go see my brother and sister and her family in just another week and get to share this with them. I hope they like it at least almost as much as I do... :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Marietta Square Farmers Market - March 17th!

Another absolutely gorgeous day for a Farmer's Market visit! I remembered my camera this time so I got lots of good pictures! :)



 There are horse drawn carriage rides around the Square!


 Kent stopping to pet puppies and let Brutus sniff them and check them out too.


 Enjoying a pastry from Hoboken Bread & Bagel Co.

Next we headed over to My Dad & Me Family Farm for our weekly milk pick up!

Kent had to stop to pet Zippy (and all the other farm critters)!

You can see the Jersey milk cows in their pasture.

Kent stopped to visit and pet some of the bunnies who were out enjoying some fresh air and green grass.

 He found a 3-leaf clover on his sandals when we got back in the car which I know is not special like a 4-leaf but was still fitting for St. Patrick's Day. 

 Fresh raw milk and pastured eggs from My Dad & Me.
Handmade soap from The Herb Garden (Kent had fun picking out his favorites! Tomato, Peppermint and Lemon-Lime) and really delicious smoked Trout from Diana's Specialties.

 Some all natural flavored butter from Butter Sensations, really delicious jam from Emily G's and some applewood smoked bacon from Pine Street Market (they are there cooking bacon for everyone to smell, how you can you NOT take a pack home??!).

 And I had to get another bag of the Bikini Bars from Fat Lady Baker (because I ate them in about 1 day last week when we brought a bag home) and we also got some fresh made hummus, olive tapenade and pita bread from Blu Greek Taverna! Yumm!! A great way to start the weekend for sure!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Can't Believe It's Not Split Pea Soup!

This is what I've been sort of living on the past few days since I've been on primarily liquids/soft foods I can swallow and not chew. This is my "Green Smoothie", a very simple and easy recipe that the VitaMix blends beautifully! It, however, looks like split pea soup to me. It is a nice thick consistency, very creamy and I love the flavor! I have played around with how much spinach I add and I can add almost a cup (I have fresh frozen spinach leaves I've been using) and still think it tastes really good. (I even gave some to my son - who hates spinach - and he thought it was good!)

The amount of frozen fruit is what gives it the thicker consistency, so I just add pineapple chunks until I get it to the texture I want.




Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed if desired
1/2 - 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 small banana
1/2 - 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks

Directions
Add ingredients to blender in order listed, blend thoroughly and enjoy!

Makes 1 large cup.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

That's One Way to Loose a Few Pounds...

I debated blogging about this, but am sure I will want to look back someday and reminisce oh so fondly about the pain I am currently in, self-imposed I am constantly reminding myself! I have thought about getting a tongue piercing for years... not sure why I just didn't do it a long time ago, but I didn't, and ever since I entered the world of surrogacy in early 2006 it's not been an option because of testing and transfer timelines (you have to have at least 12 months from any piercing and tattoo prior to a cycle with most clinics, some will allow a waiver I believe, but those are the guidelines so I always played it safe). I have also been in an office environment since we moved to Georgia in 2003 and that has contributed as well. I didn't want to look unprofessional (although I have just now learned about the pretty much invisible covers you can get for your barbell so no one will see it which is very cool!) I think many will probably think I'm too old to have just gotten one, but oh well, you don't get body art or jewelry for someone else, you do it for yourself. My husband has always told me to just do it if I wanted to and so I finally did.

I've been going back and forth to the tattoo shop the past couple weeks trying to connect with an artist who I click with and who would take on a memorial tattoo project I've had in mind for my mom for the past couple years, and while I was there yesterday to meet with someone I went ahead and had them do the piercing. It wasn't too bad the first day, definitely sore and swollen but the swelling is worse today and for the most part I feel ok, but haven't felt so hot a few times. I am limiting my talking as much as possible and really have to stick with a soft/liquid diet. I have tried to eat "real" food a couple times and it doesn't usually go that well. I made a big batch of pudding and jello tonight that will be on the menu pretty much all day tomorrow I think. I have also created a quick and easy smoothie that tastes good and goes down easy that I've already had for lunch and dinner today and will probably have again a time or two tomorrow. 1 cup of milk, about 1/4 cup frozen strawberries, 1 small banana, a handful of spinach leaves, and a big handful of frozen pineapple chunks. I figure at least I'm getting some veggies in since I'm not going to be having a salad or steamed broccoli in the next couple days! I did consider pureeing some carrots though - I might if I get desperate for something different before this swelling goes down and I can go back to "normal" eating. Lots and lots of ice water all day and I am making sure to keep my mouth clean with mouthwash and good rinsing after eating. Hopefully it will start healing up in the next couple days and my mouth will return to normal again!

In any event, being on a primarily liquid diet is more than likely going to result in me loosing at least a couple pounds this week - so that's one way to kickstart my post-delivery weight loss! I have been able to start working out again too this week, very slowly, but have walked twice on the treadmill the last couple days - a mile each day in 30 minutes - without pain so that is progress for me since last week when I walked a mile in an hour my abdomen hurt for a day or two afterwards. I think healing is going well and I will keep easing back into a normal routine as long as I feel ok doing it.

I did make progress with the tattoo project today - met with someone who has some good ideas and will help work something up for me. I have to take a few more pictures back to him probably tomorrow so he can draw something up. I'm excited to see what he comes up with and hope he'll be able to fit me in soon so I can get the work done. I can't wait! :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Farm Kind of Day!

We had a great morning! We started with the Marietta Square Farmer's Market. It was a beautiful morning and I am kicking myself for forgetting to bring my camera to take some great pictures of all the stands featuring locally grown produce, local meats, baked goods, soaps, etc. There were so many good things to see!

A few of the things we ended up bringing home:
Fat Lady - Bikini Bars
Big Daddy Biscuits - You Had Me At Bacon – Turkey Bacon Bites
Pure Bliss Organics - Naughty But Nice Bar, Appleachia Energy Bites

Happy Hogs - 1/2 slab of ribs

First we stopped at the Big Daddy Biscuit booth (which I had read about this morning when I visited the Facebook page for the Farmer's Market and saw a link to a Kickstarter Project for Big Daddy Biscuits which I was happy to support! I hope they get the funds they need to grow their business! We got to meet and pet the mascot, Daddy, who was very sweet and laid back and just enjoying the sunshine.

We peeked in a few more booths before stopping at the Fat Lady stand - LOTS of yummy baked goods and things to taste test. The bars were fantastic so we had to bring home a bag of those. I'm hoping to vacuum seal at least one of them to send to Kenneth in a goodie box! I also got the organic goodies from Pure Bliss to send to Kenneth too - they are full of good, natural ingredients and I hope he'll enjoy them and a little "local" taste of home! :)

Our freezer is empty of meats, I usually keep it pretty well stocked but we've gone through pretty much all the meat so I knew I wanted to check out one of the local farmer's and bring home a meat of some sort (we have our first meat CSA pick up in a couple days so we just need to get through until the 15th). We stopped in at Happy Hogs and Kent picked ribs to bring home! They're in the refrigerator to thaw now so we can enjoy them tomorrow hopefully. They look fantastic and I loved being able to see the pictures provided at the booth of the pigs foraging around, enjoying grass and fresh air.

We also stopped at a booth that was selling goat cheeses and had eggs. Kent petted the baby goat they had brought along (who kept trying to eat his fingers and was absolutely adorable) which I drooled over goat cheese and picked a dozen eggs to bring home.

Kent picked out a blueberry muffin from Hoboken Bread & Bagel Co. and then we headed on to our 11:30 scheduled first visit at My Dad & Me Family Farm! It was great to meet Susan and get an overview on how they do things and then get a little tour around. I could have stayed there all day, and I think Kent could have too. He was on animal overload! He had lots of dogs and kitties to pet, and we got to walk through the chicken coup and see the rabbit pens (with lots of cute baby bunnies too!) and the turkeys were there as well. We got to see the pigs and a couple calves, and the milk cows in their pasture. There was a bunch of fruits and vegetables growing, strawberries out front, lettuce in beds in the back, etc... I can't wait 'til they're ready for purchase and eating! :D They have a back porch with a deep freezer for pork and beef they sell, a couple fridges that hold the raw milk in 1/2 gallon jars, raw milk cheeses, homemade granola bars, eggs and fresh herbs as well. I went ahead and got our first 1/2 gallon of raw milk along with a granola bar and paid a deposit for 4 of their broiler birds which are on pre-order now and will be available for pick up in May! I am interested to see what Kent thinks of raw milk - I used to drink it all the time when we lived in Pennsylvania on a Dairy Farm and I remember it tasting very rich, and creamy and VERY unlike what we're used to getting from the grocery store! I hope he will enjoy it and we'll make the switch over to farm fresh eggs and milk from here on out. So thankful to have found so many great local resources for good, local, fresh, organic, humanely raised food.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I woke up and thought I might bake some scones today, and searched through my allrecipes.com folder to see what I'd stashed away. The ones that looked good were the cinnamon sugar ones which made me think about coffee cake. That sounded even better! So I searched and found a recipe that looked like it might turn out the way I hoped and set to work. I love good coffee cake, but haven't really found any recipes that have turned out great at home so I never really know what to expect when I try a new one. This is something we make maybe once or twice a year at the most, so I always hope it will be great but have generally been mildly disappointed or fallen back on the Bisquick version, which isn't fantastic but at least I know what to expect and I do like the texture of that one.

I posted the recipe as it is originally written below, but my tweaks are as follows: I halved the recipe and baked in a 2-quart square casserole dish. I used brown sugar and added 1 TBS melted butter for the cinnamon/walnut mixture. I only used 1/2 cup o f chopped walnuts. I used light sour cream and replaced the white sugar with Stevia. I only layered twice instead of 3 times, and baked for 45 minutes. Since it was in a baking dish I didn't remove it from the pan to cool. Other than that I followed the recipe and instructions below!

The result was really delicious. I absolutely loved the way this came out. Very tender, moist and the topping was the perfect crunchy blend of cinnamon and nuts. Yumm!!

Cinnamon Coffee Cake I By: Kelsey

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease one 10 inch tube pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter or margarine and 2 cups of the sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs one at time beating mixture well after each egg.
  3. Combine flour with baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add alternately with sour cream to egg mixture. Beating just enough after each addition to keep batter smooth.
  4. Combine walnuts, cinnamon, and remaining 3/4 cup of sugar.
  5. Spoon 1/3 of the batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with 1/3 of the walnut mixture. Repeat layers two more times.
  6. Bake in pre-heated oven for 70 minutes or until center is done. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove pan and let cake continue cooling on a wire rack.               

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Irish Brown Soda Bread

YUMMY!! I am totally lovin' this recipe. I had tried a couple other soda bread recipes from AllRecipes and was really disappointed because they weren't anywhere CLOSE to what I was looking for. This one was!! It's not identical to my brother's recipe, but it is SUPER close, moist and dense with a wonderful hearty flavor. Would be fantastic with a hunk of cheese or a nice stew, and is great with some real butter. My son loved this bread too. I halved the recipe and made one large loaf, rounded and baked in a pie plate. I baked for 30 minutes at the recommended temperature then turned the heat off and let it sit in the oven another 10 minutes (it was already nicely browned, but I wanted to make sure the middle cooked through too). Seems to have worked perfectly! The bread is just fantastic, and easy to throw together.

Irish Brown Soda Bread By: Andrea Doyle
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, white flour, rolled oats, baking soda and salt. Gently mix in the buttermilk until a soft dough is formed. Knead very lightly. Divide dough into 4 pieces; form into rounded flat loaves. Mark each loaf with an 'X' and place on prepared baking sheets.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes.               

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com awhile back and it sounded good so I decided this would be dinner tonight, along with a loaf of Irish Brown Soda Bread (yum!!)

I am posting the recipe as it's originally written, but my tweaks are as follows: I followed the recipe as written and let it cook 3 hours on high then 3 hours on low in the crock pot. I checked it and found the taste bland, it wasn't thick enough and there wasn't enough liquid. I tweaked by fixing a packet of brown gravy on the stove and adding that, along with a dash of thyme, rosemary, garlic powder and several shakes of seasoned salt. For personal preference, I added about 1 cup of fresh grean beans and a can of mushrooms too. With the changes it is very yummy and the right consistency I was looking for. The meat cooked up nice and tender (I used pre-cut stew meat).

Slow Cooker Beef Stew I By: BUCHKO

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 3 potatoes, diced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
Directions
  1. Place meat in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt, and pepper; pour over meat, and stir to coat meat with flour mixture. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, and celery.
  2. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on High setting for 4 to 6 hours.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Post Partum Check Up!

I am officially "all clear" from the OB and released back out into the wild. :) She asked me if I planned to do this again and I said if I got the ok from her I would probably consider it in a year or so but don't have set plans to do another surrogacy at this time. She checked me out and said "You're all clear honey bunny!" :) It was a quick appointment but everything looked good and I'm healing well. I meant to ask her about excercise but guess I'll just ease into it as I've been planning to and stop when it hurts. I still get tugging/burning sensations on one side internally from the c-section and my energy levels aren't all the way back to normal yet, but overall I'm feeling really good and in some ways its kind of nice to have had the experience of going through a c-section. I've had 3 completely different types of deliveries now and those personal experiences have taught me a lot about what I am capable of, what my body is capable of, how I react, how I heal, etc. I don't regret a single one of them and wouldn't change them at all. Each of my deliveries has been unique and special in their own ways.

I don't have a follow up appointment until September for my annual check up, which seems like forever from now after the past couple months of TONS of doctor and hospital visits!

I found out baby A went home yesterday and so with that I feel a huge sense of relief and peace as well. I feel like my role is "complete" now and I am thankful the girls are home with their parents and hopefully they can have their happily ever after as a family. I wish them all the best!

I am still pumping for probably one more week, and I have my placement testing for college coming up on Thursday. Kent has Friday off from school and sometime by this weekend I want to get to the tattoo shop again and talk to a different artist. I didn't like the guy I went out on Sunday and met with so I need to keep looking.

We've been making plans for our upcoming Washington visit at the end of the month and its going to be a wonderful, busy and family packed week and I'm VERY excited and very much looking forward to it. I have a goal in my head to be back into pre-pregnancy clothes by then and hope I can do it! If not, oh well, I'll go shopping right before and have some new clothes. :) About two more months until Kenneth gets to come home for his visit too - each day we get a little closer and I cannot WAIT until its time for his visit - we miss him so much!!