"In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured!"
~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Petty Woes of a Pregnant First-timer

I announced my pregnancy a couple of posts back, but obviously a ton of people missed it and there have been several surprised friends on facebook since then. So in case anyone reading this right now is someone who didn't hear it word-of-mouth, missed my official announcement, or hasn't heard from facebook yet, I am having a baby!

Obviously, it's a great wonderful happy joyous miraculous thing! Me and my Trevor are going to be parents, and we are now finally starting to grow our little family :) The gift of life is an incredible thing!

I know several people who have had a few kids (or a lot) and say they love being pregnant. It's so fun, they love having this cute belly for people to rub and poke, they love feeling their baby move inside of them, they love how protective their husband gets, maternity clothes are super comfy, they love constantly thinking about the new little life growing inside of them and having the privilege and blessing to be a part of that process, etc. It sounds like super cute happy fun thing to be pregnant!

Maybe you're one of those people, but it is not so for me. Not one bit.

** I want to point something out before I go on though. I also have several friends who are struggling with repeated miscarriages, infertility, and the death or potentially approaching death of an infant. These wonderful women and their husbands are fighting through heartache and desperately desire this opportunity that has been handed to me so simply and easily without any thought on my part. Despite any of my complaints, I know I am blessed, and I do not mean to mock the pain of anyone in any of these situations, or any similar situation. I admire you all for your faith and perseverance, and I am referring to my complaints as "petty woes" because I know they pale dramatically in comparison to the major emotional, financial, physical, and other challenges that you are your husbands are facing. **

So...there's a teeny tiny little human inside of me. And for most of the time that it's been in me, it has been smaller than a bean or a raspberry. I actually didn't even have any clue that it was in there for a looong time! And then I woke up one day with a 7-week-old baby inside of me! A bit of a shocker? Well, that would be the understatement of the year! Once we found out though, wow, my body sure hasn't let me forget it for one minute!

Despite what those other ladies said about how great being pregnant is, what has this pregnancy been like for me? Ooooh boy. Let me tell you.

The #1 most unpleasant part is that I just never feel good. Like, ever. If I do it's a short-term thing (maaaybe a 3-hour stretch maximum like once a week if I'm really really lucky. I do usually get maybe 30-60 good minutes a day though...) For the past 3 years I have been having daily recurring nausea with no true cause know as of yet. Now I get to deal with my previous health issues that were already impacting my life and well-being quite unpleasantly, and I get to toss a thick extra dose of nausea on top of it! Wahoo!! My previous nausea issues were that I basically get sick every time I eat (and any time I'm stressed, or excited, or emotional, or somewhere loud and chaotic, etc). Now with morning sickness I get sick when I don't eat, and I get hungry every 3 hours or so. That means I get to spend my day waiting. I wake up, get sick because I'm hungry, eat, feel sick because I ate, wait until I'm hungry again to feel better, but then I feel sick because I'm hungry, so I eat and feel sick, so I wait until I'm hungry again to feel better...you get the drift. I just can't win this fight. Ever. I do have great anti-nausea meds though, but I still feel yucky nearly all the time, even when I'm on them. **They have successfully prevented me from throwing up so far for the entire pregnancy! So despite always feeling sick and gross, at least I have been spared that!!**

Another big thing is bloating! It's soooo uncomfortable! My stomach nearly always (it's usually best in the morning and worst at night) feels swollen and just huge. Like someone hooked me up to a bicycle pump and is pumping up my belly and it's stretching from the inside out way further that it's supposed to. Ouch. It also makes it hard to tell when I'm hungry and when I'm full since I frequently feel like there is just waaaay too much of...something (food? air? pressure? who knows what?) in my abdominal cavity. There's also this tight painful pulling feeling if I twist or bend. It's kind of hard to explain. Kind of like how if you totally killed your abs at the gym (like REALLY bad) and then a few days later they feel a bit tight and restricted. Like, not sore, just tight like they're healing? That's the best explanation I've got. But it's also very uncomfortable.

Speaking of which, having a huge swollen bloated belly means my clothes don't fit. Specifically the waistband of my jeans. So I literally wear pj's all day every day, unless I'm wearing my yoga shorts or my ballet cut-off sweats. It's pretty convenient since I spend nearly all of my days laying in bed or laying on the couch feeling miserable, with frequent trips to the kitchen for snacks. Fashion...not my thing these days.

Neither is hygiene for that matter. I haven't experienced too many taste or scent aversions so far, but the ones I have are pretty bad, and they're pretty inconvenient!! The biggest is mint. That means no minty gum to get through the nausea (gum has been my first line of defense for the past many many years, and is a major coping thing. now it just makes me sicker :( it's like having your favorite teddy bear ripped to shreds right when you need it most ), no peppermint oil to help calm my stomach, no TUMS to help with the reflux (I can't stand the fruity ones either), no breath mints to help get rid of food aftertastes that make me especially sick right now, and the big one...no toothpaste. My previously flawless cavity-free (ok, I've had 1 cavity) teeth will be rotted to stumps by the time this baby is born. I can't even stand it if Trevor breathes on me after brushing his teeth. Mint. Hate it hate it hate it!!! My aversion is so strong that even thinking about smelling mint makes my stomach turn. Even writing this is making me sicker. And the scent frequently plays itself through my mind very vividly like that scene from the horror movie that keeps haunting you for weeks after watching it. I have found that brushing my teeth with water is occasionally acceptable, although even having a toothbrush in my mouth kind of makes me gag sometimes now. I also found a small bottle of mouthwash that isn't minty that I use sometime, but the aftertaste makes me sick, so I have to suck on Jolly Rancher Crunch 'n Chews (my go-to aftertaste solution since the baby doesn't like gum) immediately after rinsing and I would imagine that kind of defeats a lot of the good the mouthwash just did.

Also showering makes me sicker for some reason. I think it's partly because it requires me to stand up for a long time, and partly because now I feel like I can't breathe as well with all the steam in the shower. There may be some sort of blood pressure or temperature thing coming into play somehow too? Who knows. But showering is definitely not happening as often either.

The smell of our detergent makes me sick too. There's no way to get away from that! You just have to wear the stink and make yourself sick the whole day.  I usually end up wearing the same outfit for like 3 days before changing it to cut down on the amount of extra nausea that clean clothes bring. That means, if I have to go somewhere (church?) and I decide to shower because I haven't done that in days, and I decide to brush my teeth so I don't send people running for the hills from my halitosis, and I put on something clean because I've been sleeping in what I'm currently wearing for the past 3 days, I am going to be one sick girl wherever I go!! NOT FUN! :(

Another thing I've having a hard time with is acid reflux and knowing how much to eat. The reflux was reaaaally bad the first few weeks after finding out I was pregnant (which we only found out because I was feeling so ridiculously sick), but fortunately has gotten quite a bit better lately. It is still a problem though. Luckily, the wintergreen TUMS are so sugared up and the mint is fairly mild so my body can handle them sometimes, but I have to follow it with some food or those Jolly Rancher Crunch 'N Chews (they have seriously helped me so much) to get any lingering wintergreen flavor out of my teeth and out of my mouth ASAP or I'll feel way sick. Knowing how much to eat is hard because when hunger hits, it hits hard!! Quite often I go from minding my own business to feeling like I've starving in just minutes. Then since I'm so starving I assume that I need a whole meal, but really my body just needs enough to keep it quiet for about three hours until it suddenly tells me I'm starving again. It's weird. And I'm bad at judging when I'm full. Especially when I'm always so bloated. Ugh. Being starving and feeling bloated beyond belief is such a strange and contradictory feeling!! And uncomfortable. And very unpleasant.

Also of note, my sacroiliac joint is hurting BAD these days on my right side. For anyone who is unfamiliar with it, it's the spot where your sacrum connects to your pelvis. You know those little indentations or dimples everyone has on either side of their back below their hip bones and above their butt? It's right around there. And it hurts. Pretty much all the time. Around Christmas I started having pain there, and my chiropractor helped me and I got a new computer chair and stopped doing a couple of things in ballet and it was better for awhile. I think I really aggravated it on the 5-day road trip here though, and laying in bed all day propped up on pillows is really not making it feel good at all.

A couple of other little things that make me less myself include:
- chocolate tastes funny :( It's still good...but it doesn't taste the same anymore
- my body hair has decided to start growing long and luscious these days
- I sleep a lot. Like 8-10 good solid deep hours a night, in addition to laying in bed nearly all day
- grocery shopping is a lot less productive. I start craving some certain kind of food and I forget about my original shopping list. One time it was beans, red sauce, burritos, and taco seasonings. Another time I went produce crazy. This last time I bought like 7 boxes of crackers and bags of chips, and 10 rice-a-roni/hamburger helper/pasta sides type things even though I'm lactose intolerant and most of them have a lot of cream and butter and stuff. I almost bought ice cream too, but in the end I didn't.
- I'm a bit more moody and emotional these days. For example, I was watching a movie and I totally started crying at like 5 different parts. I'm really not much of a cryer, and it wasn't even a sad movie,  it was a kids movie!
- I can't stand water that isn't ice cold. Before this pregnancy I always drank room temperature water. I actually strongly preferred it to colder water. Now I keep 2 water bottles in the fridge and 2 in the freezer and I rotate them throughout the day so I always have cold cold water.
- I don't really like people very much. Probably mostly because I look gross and feel sick all the time. I'm actually quite starved for some company, but I sure don't like it whenever I have it!
- Basically any motivation to do anything is gone, gone, gone. Although spending all day on Pinterest or watching Netflix while lying in bed in my pj's is getting pretty boring and unfulfilling after all these weeks, I really just can't think of anything else I want to do. I hate feeling sick and blah all the time.  
- I especially like salty and vinegery things. Mustard, ketchup, onions, olives, pickles, chips and salsa, chex mix, popcorn, italian dressing, you get the picture. Love it.

I'm sure there are several other odd things that have started happening since this baby came into existence, but I think that's definitely enough complaining for one day! And now that I've gotten that all out there, I am sooooo close to being out of my first trimester! I hear the first pregnancy is the worst, and getting through the first trimester is usually the hardest, assuming I'm not one of those unfortunate women who have to suffer through morning sickness for the entire 9 months! So I'm hoping and praying that in the next week or so I will start to see some notable improvements and will start to be bit more of normal happy self instead of this useless, swollen, sick, stinky, miserable blob of gross that Trevor has been so good about dealing happily and kindly with! And I really really really hope that my next pregnancy will not be as bad because I do NOT want to have to do this again!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Modest Argument

I've been seeing a lot of posts and comments and threads floating around facebook of varying ideas regarding modesty. A lot of them are in response to Jessica Rey's presentation The Evolution of the Swimsuit.


In her presentation she brings up a study that looked at brain activity in men when they viewed pictures of women wearing clothing of varying modesty. They found that when viewing pictures of women in bikinis, the brain activity in the frontal lobe (the part that you use when interacting with other people) completely shut down. Instead of thinking of the women as people, the brain activity in the test subjects showed they were using the same parts of the brain associated with thinking of tools and objects, such as a hammer or screwdriver. The women literally became objects for them to use, instead of women to interact with, just because of what they were (or weren't) wearing.

What I want to put my two cents in about is actually not specific to what kind of swimsuit you wear; It's regarding the comments I've seen regarding the topic of dressing modestly in general.

Nearly everything I've seen recently has either been completely in support of the video, or completely against it, and the people seem to be pretty equally split between the two sides. Those supporting it say things along the lines of "Ew, who would ever want to be thought of completely as an object! I'm never dressing immodestly again!" or "Girls, remember this and dress modestly!". Those passionately against it argue things like "They need to stop teaching that guys are incapable of controlling their thoughts. Girls are not responsible for what guys think and do" and "Guys are not animals. How they think about women shouldn't just be an automatic response to what she is wearing".

I've seen excellently worded and structured arguments and comments for both sides, and I think both sides have a lot of right in them. So here's my take:

First off, modesty is not a measure of the number of square inches of skin you cover up, and it frustrates me when people assume that it is. Modesty is kind of like propriety, and it can refer to mannerisms, thought, speech, hair style, life style...basically every aspect of your life and how you present yourself. This conversation is specific to modesty in dress. To me, modesty in dress means you are showing through how you dress that you understand your body is important - sacred even - and that you respect it as such. Kind of like being modest about your talents instead of being an over-eager braggy show-off. You're not ashamed that you can do awesome things, you just are respectful and protective of your talents, and are respectful to those around you who maybe don't want to hear about how cool you think you are every 2 seconds (even if you really are super talented). Because you value and respect your body, choosing to dress modestly rather than showing yourself off is also kind of like how if you wrote some major song or had some brilliant idea for a product, you'd want to copyright or patent it instead of just handing it out, or like how you lock up valuables in a safe, or keep your grandma's antique china protected and on display in a china cabinet instead of keeping it laid out on your front lawn for everyone to see and step on. Ok, maybe those aren't the best analogies ever, but you get my point. Hopefully. Anyways, moving on.

So to address the issue of who's fault it is if a guy is having a hard time not thinking of a girl as a body instead of a person, I have another analogy.

photo source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/blueberry%20cheesecake

I LOVE dessert, especially fatty, creamy, death-by-everything stuff. If you have the most divinely delectable piece of cheesecake and you set it in front of me and tell me not to eat it, I'm going to have a hard time. I know that it's your cheesecake, not mine, and that if I eat your cheesecake it will be stealing and it will make you sad. I also know that I am lactose intolerant, and that cheesecake in particular - while one of my favorites - has a LOT of ingredients that will make me very sick if I eat it. Will I eat your cheesecake? Most likely not. I have more self control than that, and I am a better person than that, plus I know it's bad for me and I don't like to be sick. Will my natural animal instinct be to want it reaaaaally bad? Absolutely. And will I have a hard time not imagining eating it and drooling like crazy all day? Heck yes! So if you really value your cheesecake and want to be nice to me, why on earth wouldn't you just put your cheesecake in a box in the fridge with your name on it instead?

photo source: http://m.bakerella.com/cheesecake/

I'm not a guy, so I'm not claiming to be an expert here (and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!), but I'm guessing it's kind of a similar thing with the way women dress. If a girl is parading around flaunting her cheesecake, that doesn't mean that every boy will go crazy and steal it. Some boys might, some might mistakenly think that she is offering free samples, and some might want to but end up settling for just imagining taking her cheesecake. The best ones will feel bad for wanting her cheesecake and will do whatever they can to not think about it, or will just find a way to get away from all that cheesecake because they'll remember that they are actually lactose intolerant. Regardless of the girl and the cheesecake, the boys are responsible for their thoughts and actions, and while they may not have complete control over how their body naturally responds initially to the cheesecake, they ultimately choose how they react to the situation and how they think about her cheesecake.

photo source: http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com/menu/Cheesecake/white_chocolate_raspberry_truffle

But on the other end of the equation, girls! Keep your cheesecake someplace safe! If the thought of tons of boys constantly plotting how to steal your cheesecake, or breathing all over it, or getting germs and bugs and drool and gross things in it and contaminating it makes you sick, take better care of it! It can be very damaging to those lactose intolerant boys (let me clarify, once they get married they are cured from their lactose intolerance, but only for their wife's cheesecake :)), so there's no need to make it hard for the ones who are trying to be good and stay away from dairy! That stuff can be very tempting! Taking good care of your cheesecake is better for everyone in the long run.

photo source: http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com/menu/Cheesecake/oreo_dream

As for what exactly constitutes "flaunting your cheesecake" as opposed to looking great and dressing to flatter your body, there are tons of guidelines you can refer to. But ultimately you know without asking. Are you thinking about how many guys will be checking out various aspects of your cheesecake, or are you just being a great representation of you. Are you dressing to be seen as a body? Or as a daughter of God? As much fun as it may be to have everyone craving your delicious awesome cheesecake, being a daughter of God is waaaaay better :)

photo source: http://www.hugsandcookiesxoxo.com/2012/05/rolo-cheesecake-barsinsanely-delish.html

Another thought that I've seen discussed a few times is that saying an immodestly dressed girl causes boys to have bad thoughts opens the door to assuming that if a hot looking girl gets raped, it's because she was asking for it and the poor guy who raped her just couldn't help himself because of how she was dressed. Obviously that's a bit extreme, which is kind of the point of the comment. I don't exactly agree with it though. Like I just pointed out with the cheesecake, although guys are responsible for how they choose to respond to situations and stimuli, how girls choose to act and dress (in addition to speaking volumes about how they respect themselves) can make things significantly easier or harder. And honestly, most rapists aren't nice boys who are trying to do the right thing and then some scandalous girl walked by. How a boy thinks and acts is his choice, but girls can help him make good choices.

photo source: http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com/menu/cheesecake

Here's another analogy I like. It's one I learned from my bishop as a teen. He was very adamant about the importance of dressing modestly, to show our respect of our own bodies, and also to help keep the young men on track. I can't even tell you how many lessons we had about it. In one particular such meeting he told us about some TV series or something where they get this top-of-the-line trained break-in guy and they have him go to top security buildings and homes and find a way to get through all the security and break in. Kind of like a real-life break in scene from one of those movies where they spray mist or powder to find all the lasers...you know what I'm talking about. Then they can use what he did to find where the flaws are and make even more secure systems for the future. One thing the break-in guy said on the show is that the dinky little locks we have on our front doors and garages really don't do much against anyone who is trained. If a thief wants in, he will find a way to get in. The purpose of those locks is not so much to keep the real big bad guys out, as it is to keep the honest men honest. It's so when some guy in the neighborhood walks by and thinks "hey, nice TV!", and tries to sneak in the back door only to find it locked, it will be enough of a nuisance and deterrence for him to remember that stealing is wrong and he doesn't really want to go to jail, and he'll go back to living a good honest life.

Covered, covered, covered...and still not immune to rapists and perverts

Relating that to modesty, if a rapist wants to be a rapist, it probably doesn't really matter immensely if you're wearing a bra and fishnets, or a moo-moo. Sure one will be more alluring and spark a lot more interest, but he wants what he wants, and he will find a way to get it regardless. (That being said, there are several things you can do to prevent rapist attacks. We're not completely helpless here) If a pervert wants to be a pervert, he will find a way regardless of how much is left to his imagination and how much he is actually seeing. Dressing modestly is (in addition to speaking volumes about yourself) a way of helping the boys who are trying to think good clean thoughts and treat women with the respect they deserve. It helps keep good boys good, and hopefully help the ones who are trying to be better achieve that too. It also shows them that you appreciate their endeavors to think good clean thoughts :)

So lets take good care of that cheesecake, ladies!

photo source: http://faimouioui.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/the-cheesecake-factory-seattle/

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Deliciously Dairy-free Hawaiian Haystacks!

I decided I want to turn over a new leaf. Lots of them, actually, but one in particular is on my mind today. Ever since finding out last Summer that I'm lactose intolerant, my food options have become a lot more limited. I take Lactaid frequently to help me get through life without having to give up all my favorite foods with dairy products in them (dairy, or at least some form of it, is in like everything!!!), but sometimes it just doesn't cut it and I still end up feeling gross and sick despite taking lactaid. Foods really high in lactose like cream, butter, straight up milk, sour cream, ice cream, cream cheese, soft cheeses etc. are especially problematic, even with lactaid. You try finding a way to eat desserts and all your favorite meals without any of those as ingredients!! I'm also mildly allergic to soy and almonds, so the main milk replacements are not an option for me.

Now that I'm combating this basically 24/7 morning sickness on top of my usual nausea and lactose intolerance, I get cravings for comfort foods that I can't eat without getting sick! Not cool. Plus in general it's just not fun to have to choose between eating food and being happy until the symptoms set in and make you miserable for several hours, or just eating lame dry cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, and salads without ranch and pretending like eating that makes you happy and fulfilled. Not to mention it takes all the fun out of cooking, and my husband is obsessed with dairy, so a no-dairy diet for both of us is a bad thing. And who wants to spend all afternoon cooking some great meal for your husband, and then have to eat something lame instead while smelling it and watching him eat it in front of you?

Just last night I went through a collection of favorite recipes my mom sent me as a birthday present a couple years ago, and of the 45 beloved childhood recipes I can now only eat about 4 (one of which is a veggie appetizer thing, and one is bread. Not even meals). And most of them are not just mildly lactose-laden, but are big red flag no no's. Sad!

My aspiration now is to make a collection of "deliciously dairy-free" recipes that are adaptations of all my old favorites that I can no longer eat, as well as a few that are already dairy-free favorites (for example, tacos and fajitas! Just without the sour cream and cheese on top), and of course lots of yummy desserts! So I won't feel like I'm missing out, I'll have a great handy list of ideas of food I love, I'll get good practice learning how to tweak recipes and make substitutions so they still taste great but are free of lactose, and it will hopefully be a good resource for any other lactose-intolerant people out there experiencing the same suffering as me!

Today's project:
Deliciously Dairy-free Hawaiian Haystacks! One of Trevor's favorite meals!

Skipping any cheese or sour cream on top is easy, it's the gravy/sauce that's the culprit. Milk and canned creamed soups are both big bad items, so mixing them together and dousing your entire meal with them is just not good news. Delicious? Yes. Problems later? You betcha. My husband also has a habit of mixing a stick of butter in with a pan of rice as soon as it finishes cooking to keep it from sticking. Yikes. Also a big problem.

I usually just skip the gravy these days, and eat it like a fruity chicken veggie salad on top of rice and let Trevor have all the gravy for himself. It's absolutely not the same though.

I got inspired when I saw a recipe on Pinterest for Hawaiian Haystack gravy that doesn't use cream of chicken soup! It's from Mel's Kitchen Cafe linked here.

It's not dairy-free, but it gave me a great diving board to jump from!

Here's the final recipe for the sauce that I came up with, based very strongly on her original:

Deliciously Dairy-free Hawaiian Haystack Gravy

 I took a picture before loading it up with toppings so you can see the sauce, but the picture really doesn't do it justice!

- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
- 3 Tbs Blue Bonnet light margarine (that specific one is dairy-free). You could probably also substitute oil, it just wouldn't have quite the same flavor.
- 1/2 c. chopped onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic (can also substitute garlic powder or garlic salt. If using garlic salt, do not add salt when simmering. I used about 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt and I liked it)
-  1 tsp salt (do not add if using garlic salt instead of garlic)
- between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 c flour
- 1/2 can (about 1 cup) coconut milk
- 1 c chicken broth

Melt the margarine in a large skillet and add raw chicken chunks and finely chopped onion. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is done. If using fresh garlic, add once chicken is cooked, and heat for an additional minute or two until fragrant. Turn the heat down a notch or two and sprinkle flour over the onion/chicken mixture and stir until combined. Cook for an additional minute to help eliminate the starchy, flour taste. Gradually add chicken broth while whisking (plastic whisk! protect your skillet!) to prevent lumps. Then gradually add coconut milk and continue whisking until sauce is a consistent smooth texture. Bring the sauce to a simmer and add salt and pepper (or garlic salt and pepper if not using fresh garlic). Simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens. It will be nice and thick and creamy!

Serve over rice, and top with diced tomatoes, bell peppers, pineapple, peas, shredded coconut, chow mein noodles, olives, green onions, mandarin oranges, or whatever else your heart desires :)

It is NOT your typical Hawaiian Haystack gravy; it definitely has it's own ring to it, but I thought it was absolutely divine! The coconut milk gives it a super rich creamy taste different from the typical all-chicken gravy I'm used to. In the future I think I may want to experiment with maybe a bit more chicken broth and a bit less coconut milk just in case we have people over for dinner who don't like the different little zing this recipe has. I seriously love it though! I could just pour it over rice and eat it without any of the toppings, and the toppings are usually my favorite part! And I bet it would be awesome over pasta with red bell peppers too!

If nothing else, Trevor clearly loves my dairy-free adventure of the day! That sounds like victory to me!

P.S., no he is not eating that huge bowl of salad, I'm just short and lazy and the angle is bad so you can't see his heaping plate of haystacks! :)

Mom's French Bread for Father's Day

In the entire 2 years (ok, technically 1 year and 50 weeks) that we've been married I have not made bread one single time. My goodness, what a failure! Especially considering that for as long as I can remember, my mom has baked bread at least once a week. And by "baked bread" I mean she baked (and still does) like 4-8 loaves each week of hearty, from-scratch, mostly - if not completely - whole wheat flour (which she grinds herself from fresh wheat), true blue homemade bread. The scent of freshly baked bread constantly graced our home growing up. We had a loaf on the table at every meal, and several loaves in the freezer ready to be pulled out the minute we finished the one we were currently devouring. I can't tell you how many times I would be completely full at meal time because I had been snacking on thick slabs of warm fresh-out-of-the-oven bread, real butter, and my mom's homemade strawberry freezer jam all day. Mmmmm good :)

She's tried a number of different recipes and variations throughout the years, but the two I remember her making by far the most often are Anne's Whole Wheat Bread and her French Bread. The whole wheat bread is super thick and hearty, but the one I really love is her french bread. She makes it with both wheat and white flour to give it a bit more of a hearty punch, but it's still nice and light and fluffy and wonderful!

I've been wanting and meaning to bake bread for quite some time now, it just obviously hasn't happened yet. But today is the day folks! I did it! I baked my first real loaves of 100% mine bread!

 Here are my little dough blobs all ready to start rising in our warm, humid, sun room. How cute :)

I brushed one of them with oil and sprinkled it with Italian seasoning just to see how we liked it.

And here are the finished products! They didn't even turn out half bad! Not as good as my mom's of course, but still quite tasty :) The Italian seasoning on the bread was good, but not particularly impactful. The next time I try that I'll mix the seasonings in to the dough instead for a bit more of a kick.

Now I just need to learn to make awesome freezer jam! If anyone has any great freezer jam recipes, PLEASE share them with me!!! Any kind is great, but there's a blueberry farm here and I really want to go pick buckets of fresh berries once we finish getting moved in and my never-ending morning sickness eases up, so a blueberry one would be awesome :)

And speaking of recipes, here is my mom's wonderfully easy delicious French bread recipe!

French Bread

- 8 cups flour
- 1 Tb. salt
- 2 Tbs. yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 Tbs. olive oil (I just used canola oil)
- 3 cups hot water

Mix 6 cups flour and other dry ingredients.  Add oil and water.  Mix. Add last 2 cups flour.  Knead till dough is stiff, but doesn’t stick to finger when touched (5 minutes in my Bosch).  Shape into 2 large loaves or 4 smaller loaves and place on cookie sheets.  Brush with olive oil or roll tops of loaves in a stripe of olive oil.  Make 3 ½” inch slashes in the top of each loaf.  Let rise 45 min. to 1 hour.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

My bread got kind of wrinkled looking when I cut it. Oops. And I only did half of the recipe since I don't need 4 loaves of bread for just me and my Trevor, but it freezes really well if you let it cool completely before bagging it. I also did half white and half wheat flour, but we just used whatever cheap brand of bagged wheat flour they had at the store and I'm not convinced of it's purity. My bread basically looks like is entirely white flour. Oh well! I tried to be healthier :)

I'll definitely be baking more of this soon! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Princess Karin, Her True Love, and the Mischievous Little Grape

There has been a major blog posting drought in my realm, but it's definitely not because I don't have anything to post about! Just you wait :)

So...the last time I posted was almost a month and a half ago. I had a different blog template (something is wrong with it now so I had to change it :( but it's ok, I like cupcakes too :). I also lived in my Grandparents' basement in Utah with my Trevor who was scratching around looking for something productive to do during his year off before graduate school, and I was busily and happily working full-time while taking ballet classes and going to rehearsals for our rapidly approaching performance of Cinderella a few nights a week (and bruising and blistering up my feel pretty good in the process too :).

That all changed one fateful day in May...

A few posts back I wrote a post (linked here) and talked about how I missed the closeness I felt to my Heavenly Father when I was really sick all the time. Yeah, I got my wish. I have spent a great deal of good quality time being bed-ridden and feeling miserably sick all day every day for a long time now! At first I thought it was a flu or something. I could tell it was different from my usual nausea somehow. After a couple of days though I noticed that I didn't have a fever. Weird. And the thought occurred to me...maybe...it's morning sickness?

But that couldn't be right. We're not trying to get pregnant, we're actually trying to NOT get pregnant. We specifically decided to not even think about starting to have kids until I was done with my performance and had quit my job, and Trevor had a secure job so we knew we could afford to take care of a baby without me having to work, and if we had to move for his job that would be taken care of first too so we wouldn't have to deal with moving while pregnant etc. None of these criteria were met, so we were planning to not get pregnant for a good long while. 

I don't really keep track of my periods since it's always been so irregular, plus my body gives me a nice big fanfare of symptoms (bloating, cramps, aches, feeling like I have to pee all the time, exaggerated emotions, etc) announcing that it's coming in the next few days. Oddly enough, once I stopped and thought about it, I realized I had been having these symptoms for about 2 weeks now and was still waiting for a period...and they also happen to be the same as some early pregnancy symptoms...

So I took a test after a middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom for some dry heaving since I was already up and in there anyway, plus that was when it occurred to me to take it. 


I'm a mommy!!!!

And not only that, my little rapidly growing baby had been sneakily living inside of me for just under 2 months before we found out (according to the measurements and due date from the ultrasound), and was already the size of a grape!! What?!?! And how?!?! This will be a sneaky mischievous little one, I'm sure :) I'm kind of thinking it will be a boy, but I really hope it's a girl!! And Trevor thinks it's a girl, but he really wants a boy. So regardless, one of us will be happy and the other will be right, and we'll both be proud proud parents :)

I woke Trevor up to tell him the good news and then went back to the couch to continue feeling miserable and sick and watch tv until I fell back to sleep. About 4 hours later he came and woke me up with some good news of his own! He had just gotten a phone call about the job in Alabama that he applied for and we were really excited about...and he got the job!! They wanted him to start ASAP too! They called on a Wednesday morning, and we rented a moving van and trailer for the car and packed everything up (and by "we" I mean Trevor. I just laid on the couch and felt like dying) and left the following Friday (the day after his sister's wedding :).

So in contrast with where my life was when I wrote my last post, now I'm a pregnant lady (starting to show now!) who spends LOTS of time in bed feeling sick despite being on anti-nausea meds constantly, I suddenly quit my job because this morning sickness has me way too sick to work, I dropped out of the ballet (there was no way I could dance if I can barely even get up to get myself food sometimes), I survived a 5-day cross-country drive from Utah to Alabama (I do NOT recommend this to sick pregnant women. It wasn't punch and cookies, that's for sure!), my husband is now employed and he LOVES his job, we've already got some new friends here, I survived the first week here alone in a hotel room all day feeling rotten while my husband was at work, and managed to drag myself around to view a few homes with a realtor, we chose one, moved all our stuff in, and now we're unpacking in our new Alabama home just 2 hours or less away from the beautiful white sands beaches of Destin, Florida!

Sooooo much has changed!!! And it's going to be great!