‘Tis the season…for cold remedies. Because we have colds.

*sigh*  I have a cold.  I blame Ezra, as he was the first to succumb, and who can help but kiss and cuddle on sick kiddos?  I got it next and I missed two days of work because of it, including the company holiday party last night.  I was so bummed!  It was a Black and White 20s-style Gala, and it was going to be a fun-filled date night full of buffets, and dancing, and casino games.  Instead of was a night of nose-blowing and taking elderberry tonic every couple hours and feeling grimy from greasy chest rub.  Leo seems to have come down with it as well, but appears fairly mild so far.

I was on my Facebook a couple days ago and one of the “memories” they remind you of was from a blog I had posted exactly one year ago, and it was all about having a cold (that had turned into walking pneumonia).  Apparently this is the time of year I get sick.  Awesome.

Aside from dealing with colds, it’s been a very mild winter so far.  Mom came to town for a couple days in November.  It was great seeing her and always too short a visit.  I’ve been baking pretty frequently.

Coconut-cream-filled chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache:

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Pumpkin spice cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting:

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Banana bread with cream cheese layer:

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Butterscotch pudding from scratch:

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We cooked the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner:

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Chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and coconut cream filling:

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I made a chocolate pudding from scratch as well but it was eaten too fast to get any photos.  The butterscotch pudding was VERY good, but extremely sweet.  It called for scotch in the recipe and you could definitely still taste that in the finished product, but it wasn’t enough to get anyone drunk or anything.

We have started Ezra on ice skating lessons.  The first lesson he was excited for it, then didn’t want to do it, and then excited for it again.  When we got to the rink they gave him those really thin-walled skates so it seemed a little difficult to hold his ankles steady.  We eventually were able to swap them out for some thicker skates and I think that helped.  I think he was just a little overwhelmed with the whole thing.  He really liked the ice, liked scooting on it with hands and knees but had NO interest in learning how to stand or move on it.  It would have been very funny if I hadn’t been so embarrassed about it.  Whenever the instructor would hold him up, he would go limp like he had no muscles.  Or he would let his legs slide out from under him like a pendulum.  Eventually the lady was like, “I’m really sorry but he’s killing my back, I cannot keep holding him up,” and I was all “No worries, go help the other kids.”  Near the end of the session he was standing on the ice, and they had brought over this “walker” to stabilize him.  It was kind of like an old person walker, but in miniature.  He was so proud of himself when he was able to get from one side of the lane to the other.  He was supposed to have another class this past Thursday but we received an email that it was cancelled because the rink had been rented out.  Um, ok…I paid good money to reserve that portion of the rink every Thursday for seven weeks, no sure how they can just bump everyone and take more money from another source, but whatever.  So, he hasn’t had a second lesson yet.  He was very verbal in his praise after the first lesson, though, so hopefully he will continue to enjoy them.

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Jesse and I have talked for months, over a year actually, about finding Luca a new home.  I reached out to a rescue group here in Salt Lake that I admired and they sent someone out to the house to do an evaluation.  Well, she brought her dog into the house and our dogs went crazy and Luca rushed her dog and so she said that he had aggression issues and the rescue sent an email saying they wouldn’t take him because he was too high risk.  Really?  So what, you only rescue puppies?  I would hazard to say most dogs are going to be territorial when another dog comes into their domain.  But Luca had calmed down after a few minutes and didn’t go after her dog again so for her to make a big deal out of a little thing seemed weird to me.  I was pretty mad about it, actually.  The rescue suggested I look into the humane society or I get a trainer to come work with him.  That was probably one of the dumbest things they could have responded with; if I wanted to drop him at a kill station, I would have done so and not reached out to a rescue program.  If I could afford to hire a personal trainer to work with him, I wouldn’t be trying to find him a new home.  Idiots.

I then put him up on KSL Classifieds and I received one text about him but no follow-up interest.  I was pretty much resigned to keeping him, and he is a good dog so it wouldn’t have been too big to deal with, but then one of my coworkers suddenly had to have one of their dogs put to sleep and immediately needed a companion dog for their remaining dog.  I told him about Luca and he came over to check him out.  He brought his dog as well and while our dogs rushed his dog, my friend didn’t freak out about it.  We kept a close eye on things and everyone sniffed each other and calmed down.  Luca went home with him that night and as far as I know it’s a match made in heaven.  Fingers crossed it remains that way.  Now we just have Benny and for a day or two he would kind of wander around like he was looking for Luca, but I don’t notice him actively missing him.  And you know what I don’t miss?  The rough play and fighting.  It’s been blissfully quiet on the dog front.

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I came into the kitchen two nights ago and Ezra was obviously up to shenanigans because he looked at me and told me I shouldn’t be in the kitchen.  I told him, I’m just here to get a drink.  After a couple minutes I noticed he had not moved at all from his spot and when I looked at him he had this sad look on his face.  When I asked him what was wrong he ran out of the room and then then came back in and said he didn’t want his drink!  Apparently he had mixed some soda with chocolate milk.  I said ok, just dump it out if you don’t want it, no biggie.  He started to stormily cry and when I asked what was wrong he said, “I thought you wouldn’t love it!  I thought you wouldn’t love it that I mixed my drinks!”  It took me a minute, but he was crying because he thought I was going to get all mad at him that he had mixed his drinks when he  knew he shouldn’t have done that.  It was kind of funny because to me it was more, well, now you don’t have chocolate milk or soda, so whatever.  But he must have had so many feelings going on they just had nowhere to go.  It’s rough being a kid, huh?  I picked him up and cuddled him for a bit and let him know all was well.

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Treats in the hizzy

Hizzy is outdated slang for “house”, Dad.

With trying to keep my blood sugars low, I’ve been looking for treats to satisfy my sweet tooth that won’t send my sugars skyrocketing upward.  The first thing I tried were these toasted coconut butter treats.  They sounded like they would hit the spot so I attempted to make them.  I didn’t have stevia, so I used a little blob of honey in the mix.  I should definitely have used more.  And I think maybe I toasted the coconut a wee bit too much.  Sad to say, I found these very gross, but Ezra seems to like them.  They turned out kind of grainy and no hint of sweetness.

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I remembered there were these coconut oil treats that I’d always wanted to try, but I couldn’t find the blogs for the recipes when I was at home, so I found a different recipe: 1C. coconut oil, 1 C. cocoa powder, and 1/2 C. raw (unprocessed) honey.  You melt the oil and cocoa powder slowly in a double boiler and then add the raw honey.  You want to make sure the oil/cocoa mix is under 180 when you put in the honey because you don’t want to kill the beneficial properties of the honey.  Honey and oil typically don’t mix, so you’ll want to use an immersion stick blender to mix it all together.  I ended up adding a little vanilla as well, and then poured into the molds.

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These things are awesome!  Super rich, melt in your mouth (and Ezra’s hands and face), and satisfy that sweet craving.  I think it ended up making about 45 treats, so I’m not too worried about the amount of honey used.  I used silicon ice cube trays from Ikea, they worked really well.  I’m still going to try and find the recipes for those other coconut oil treats, but these are very tasty.

Speaking of very tasty, Jesse has gotten really good at smoking cornish game hens in our smoker, and yesterday he did a regular chicken; it was awesome!  I wish I had gotten a photo of the whole bird after it came out, but this will have to suffice:

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The skin was crisp, the flesh was super juicy and tender, and I made stellar asparagus to go with it.  Per pound, chicken is cheaper than cornish game hens, so we’ll probably go this direction again in the future.

Sunday was also my first night of taking Glyburide, a diabetes medication.  My OB thought my fasting numbers and dinner numbers were too high, so she wants me to take this pill before dinner.  It’s supposed to help the body absorb the insulin available (which will lower blood sugar) as well as lessen the ability of the liver to release glucose.  I will say it gave me great numbers for after dinner, but I felt like crap.  I don’t know if it was a one-off thing or if there were other issues at play, but I did NOT feel well.  I’ll see how it goes tonight.  My morning fasting numbers were better as well, though still not where they should be.  Apparently fasting numbers have to do with hormones, and the placenta is making my hormones all crazy, so I cannot really control that aspect with diet for now.

I’ve gotten in touch with a dog behaviorist; we’re just waiting to set up a time for her to come over.  Fingers crossed she gives us solid information that we will actually be able to implement.

Damn you, blood sugars!

It’s official.  I have gestational diabetes (GD)…and I am PISSED.  Granted, I started out about 30 lbs heavier than with Ezra and I have not been stellar about food choices this pregnancy, but STILL!

I have to take some class next week and I do not have high hopes about the information they will present.  I have a feeling it’ll be all about low-fat foods, and “healthy” grains, and maybe counting calories (which I disagree with).  I guess I’ll find out when I go next week.

In the meantime I’ve been set up with a glucose tester and I’m supposed to test four times a day and keep track of my numbers and also what I’ve been eating.  This sounds like it can quickly get expensive.  Yesterday was my first full day of tracking and I didn’t change my eating habits one bit in order to have some kind of baseline.  Today I’m going a bit more low carb and we’ll see how much that affects it.

I made a crustless quiche today and while tasty wasn’t the same as our regular quiche (you know, the one with the flaky, buttery crust).

crustless quiche

crustless quiche

I made mushroom soup a few days ago and it was great!  It could have used a soft pretzel or something to go with it, but it was gooood.

mushroom soup

mushroom soup

We also made that island lime shrimp recipe I mentioned a couple days ago.  It was flavorful but not nearly close enough to the original recipe.  It was too much orange flavoring, needed to be more lime/cilantro.  Back to the drawing board on that one.

island lime shrimp

island lime shrimp

We bought the dogs a bed at Costco because they’ve been using our chair and looking fairly uncomfortable about it the larger they get.  We’ve tried out mats/beds before but they always destroy them quickly.

new dog bed

new dog bed

With this bed, they did chew some holes in it already and chewed off some binding, but it’s held up for the most part.  I think what helps is that there is a pillow inside instead of stuffing, so not quite as much fun for them since there isn’t anything to pull out.  They can both fit on this one, but depending on how much they like it (or how little they both demolish it) we may pick up another one so they each have one.  Then again, they’d probably just end up curling up together anyway, so who knows.

And here is your weekly dose of cuteness:

ezra

ezra

A weekend for making things

Ok folks, I made so many things this weekend!  First I poured off and made some new water kefir.  I’m doing a second ferment with our homemade elderberry syrup because it actually seems to flavor it fairly strongly and it’s one flavor Jesse seems to like.  I also like adding a bit of sugar water with some vanilla, it’s like a cream soda then.  I’ll have to make that flavor again soon, maybe with the next batch.  That’s one item off the list.

Thinking about making our own snacky foods, I then made cheese crackers (think cheese nips) and they were ok, but I think I either need to let them bake longer or have them be a more uniform size.  Also I used a bit more cheese than called for.  Ezra seemed to like them but they get kind of soft after the next day, a little soggy.

cheese crackers

cheese crackers

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And remember forever ago when I said I was going to make homemade deodorant and see how that works?  Well, I finally did it.  There are a lot of recipes out there with similar ingredients, so I went with one that was 1/4 C. coconut oil, 1/4 C. baking soda, and 1/4 C. arrowroot powder.  I added a few drops of lavender essential oil for good measure.  The mix itself smells really good, kind of a light coconut/lavender scent going on.  I wore it today for the first time and doing a smell test after 8+ hours has me believing this just may work.  Some people reported that the baking soda left their skin rashy and tender but if that happens apparently you can decrease the baking soda and increase the arrowroot powder.  Other people use cornstarch in their ingredients, and others yet include shea butter or cocoa butter.  I will stick with this simple recipe unless I am forced to change it.

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Jesse wants to try it as well.  I told him I’d make him some that smelled more manly (think cedarwood) but he said he didn’t mind smelling like lavender:)  My lucky coworkers will get to let me know if I start to stink.  Although they will probably be too polite to tell me to my face and will have to go to my supervisor instead.  I’m not too worried about it if today is anything to go by.

I have a crazy sweet tooth and saw we had shredded coconut flakes, so I found a coconut cream recipe and made a pie.  I think this was a recipe Jesse had made before I wasn’t a huge fan of the pudding filling.  I’ve made a banana cream pie before and really liked that pudding base, but of course I lost that recipe.  In this coconut cream one I did about half the dairy and included a can of coconut milk to increase the coconut flavor.  It’s ok and Jesse seems to like it, but I think the flour addition gives it a more bland flavor.

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I made spaghetti last night and it was so good!  I made everything from scratch using our canned tomatoes and grass-fed beef and sausage.  Of course, we didn’t process the meat nor dry the Italian herbs, but I will still call it from scratch.  Ezra doesn’t like meat sauce (which is weird because he likes meat) so I just gave him noodles and cheese, which he loves.

I made us some smoothies from frozen organic cherries, frozen strawberries, and yogurt.  I want to use our Vitamix more often (that’s why I put it on our new kitchen island).  Ezra liked it, dare say.

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Of our two dogs, Benny doesn’t bark all that often.  Luca will go out at night and I don’t know what the hell he’s barking at.  If it’s some potential intruder, then I’m glad he does it.  However, I’m pretty sure he’s just barking at shadows and that gets old really quickly.  This morning around 4am I’d had enough so I went out and called in both dogs (Benny had just gone out to see what Luca was shouting about) and when they came in I tried to shut the dog door using the metal plate insert but somehow the tracks in the door had become bent so I couldn’t fit the door into the tracks.  I finally said screw it and just put them both in their kennels and went back to bed.  They did pretty well; sometimes Luca just scratches at the base of the floor but it seemed like they both just settled down and slept until I let them out around 8am.  Then a few hours later I looked outside and saw they were both in the chicken coop.  Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but for the past couple days we’ve been keeping the chickens penned up which meant the dogs had found some way to break in.  The weird thing was both dogs were eating the wilting spinach that Jesse had just given to the chickens.  Jesse had to go to school so he wrangled the dog door insert into place and we’ve had to manually let out the dogs today.  It’s not that I’m afraid the dogs with go to the bathroom inside but really they’ve had access to that dog door since they were little so haven’t learned any real method of communicating to us that they need to go outside.  So it is a wee concern.  (Haha *wee* concern, get it?  Yeah, at least I think I’m funny.)

Now I just need to focus on getting that bone broth into us on a daily basis.  Still haven’t got that ball rolling yet.  But I *DID* just get some milk kefir grains today when I picked up our raw milk at the store.  The cruddy thing is they are dehydrated, and you’re supposed to rehydrate using pasteurized milk, which we don’t have.  I had to pasteurize the milk myself heating it up to a certain point for a certain amount of time.  Pain in the ass.  Once the grains are rehydrated then I can work on transitioning to raw milk.

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Homemade marshmallows

I am not a huge fan of marshmallows.  They are chewy and usually pretty bland and typically I only enjoy them in s’mores (and really it’s the chocolate that carries that treat), but I saw a maple/bacon marshmallow on Etsy that looked pretty good so I decided to do some investigating.  What I found was shocking: making homemade marshmallows is super easy.

I watched a few YouTube videos and then hunted down a recipe. Eventually I would like to find a recipe that doesn’t use corn syrup, but until then I think I’ll stick with this Alton Brown recipe.

gelatin and water

gelatin and water

water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt

water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt

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all set up the next morning

all set up the next morning

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finished marshmallows

finished marshmallows

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The end result was pretty tasty.  Granted, these are a basic vanilla flavor, but I liked the texture and they didn’t seem as weirdly waxy as some of the store bought can get.  There are no added preservatives so they should be used up within a couple weeks.  One of the recipes I saw called for a little bit of peppermint extract for holiday-themed treats.  Might make for some nice homemade gifts around the end of the year.

We buy bananas pretty frequently but usually we have a couple that are browning before we get around to eating them, so I just throw them in the freezer to use in banana bread later.  While I like banana bread, I like banana muffins better.  Ezra helped me make some a couple weeks ago and they turned out very well!  Here is the recipe I used.

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One of Velvet’s friends has a dessert food blog and made some buckeye treats.  Velvet was talking about them so I decided to make some myself, only I didn’t care enough to make them actually look like buckeye nuts, so I coated the entire peanut butter ball in chocolate.  I also swapped out the shortening for coconut oil and it was a great substitute.

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On the home front, we’re still trying to decide if we are going to continue with the rabbits.  A part of me really wants to, but the majority of me is lazy and thinking they aren’t worth the hassle.  I told Jesse we should keep them through the growing season where we can feed them more garden scraps to cut back on the pellet feed food costs, but the rabbits in the freezer just aren’t a go-to protein for us.  I have, however, seen a number of YouTube videos making fried rabbit very similar to fried chicken, so most likely I just haven’t tried them with enough variety.

One of my coworkers gave us a bunch of small, cleaned fish, so I think we’ll be trying them out tomorrow for dinner.  Jesse didn’t seem to enthused about it, but I will try most anything once.

Our chicken are ramping up egg production so many days we get between five to the full seven.  Our smaller chicks won’t start producing until around the end of summer.

We’re still trying to figure out what to do with our garden this year which isn’t really a good thing because I think we should have started planting already.  But, Jesse still has a few more weeks of school and then after that the garden will probably really get going.

I decided I needed more activity in my sedentary days, so a couple of us at work put together a 10k challenge – 10,000 steps, that is.  Every day from 4/14/14 until 7/31/14 we are going to commit to walking 10k steps.  That is roughly five miles a day, and the steps count from when you wake up until when you go to bed.

To that end, I bought a Fitbit Flex tracker and got it last Wednesday.  I’m glad I got it earlier than the challenge started because I wanted to have a baseline for what my days are normally.  Yeah…apparently normal for me is about 5,000 steps a day, if not less, and the average is about 3,000 to 5,000 for most people.  So I am really going to have to push it to get to 10k a day.  The last couple days I have been doing a two-mile walking video by Leslie Sansone, and that usually gets me to around 9,000+, but never yet to that elusive 10,000.  I told my challenge partners that it’ll probably take me a couple weeks before I will be able to consistently hit 10k a day.  Also, it seems like the Fitbit doesn’t count steps very well when the exercise involves a lot of random arm movement, so after I do the two miles I usually manually log the distance in order to get a more correct step count.  It’s not a perfect science but I like the tracker well enough.

Ever since we placed Ezra’s mattress on the floor and dismantled the crib, there is almost no getting this kid to take a nap.  He has free access to all his books and toys now, so nap time is basically kid-locked-in-his-room time while mama tries to get stuff done.  Speaking of, I’m off to put him back to bed once again.