Wednesday, July 1, 2015

More YUMS

Want to know something funny? My last post (in February! I'm such a bad blogger) was about the very subject of which I write today. Ha. I am so creative and original.

Oh well. This is worth sharing!

Imagine for a moment, a mother and her child, sitting together smiling, laughing, as they share the creamy, delicious contents of a mixing bowl. "Nom, nom, nom!" might've even escaped the lips of the 10 month old child, and definitely escaped the lips of mama, more than once. Envisioning cookie dough? Cake batter, maybe? Yeah, that's what it sounds like. But no, we're talking the creamiest, most delicious chicken liver pâté you've ever had. And you know what's even better than that (don't say "a lot of things!". Don't!)? It's also the easiest, cheapest, fastest recipe I've ever seen or created for pâté. AND it is dairy free, so it fits into almost any diet you may be on. Even my husband likes this, and he is not a liver lover, as much as he does believe it to be an extremely healthy food. We all eat it completely by itself it is so good, including our 10 month old. 

Creamy Chicken Liver Pâté

1 tub, approximately 1lb of chicken liver, rinsed

1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp salt + to taste

In your favorite pan, pour the liver and cover completely with water. Boil for 7 - 10 minutes. Drain, rinse again, and drain well. Dump liver into a food processor, add coconut oil, sage, and 1/2 tsp salt. Blend until smooth. Taste, and add more salt as desired (I prefer about 1 tsp total salt, but adjust according to your preferences, keeping in mind this tastes much better with more salt than less).

That is really all there is to it. No bacon. No onions. No butter. No cognac or mushrooms or anything else. Just the most nutrient dense, creamy, delicious 
pâté you've ever tasted.

Now I need to go eat some more of it. 



Thursday, February 26, 2015

Liver Three Ways

You know I have posted about my love  of liver before, but people really don't know what to do with it in spite of the fact that we are all being told more and more how healthy it is for us! So in this post I am going to share my three favorite ways to prepare liver! I posted one back in 2013 which I will share again but the other two have not been shared until today! So first off, my Spicy Liver and Onions!

Spicy Liver & Onions
Serves 2

Two slices beef liver, approximately 4oz each

around 1/4 cup rice flour
Seasoned Salt
1 med/lrg onion, sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of brown sugar

Preheat a skillet with coconut oil in it to medium heat; combine rice flour with a few shakes of Seasoned Salt (I envision myself sprinkling the Seasoned Salt on either side of each slice of liver, to get the appropriate amount; this has worked great for me so I never bother to measure). Dredge both sides of the liver in flour/salt mixture. When pan is hot, add liver. Allow to cook, undisturbed around 3-4 minutes, depending on the heat of your stove. Lift a side and check for dark/golden brown color. Once it's dark/golden flip it and cook it another 2-3 minutes or until the same color on that side. Remove from pan to a cooling rack. Add sliced onion to the pan, along with the pinch of brown sugar. Allow to cook until they begin to soften, then add jalapenos and continue to cook a few more minutes or until jalapenos begin to lose their bright green color. Top liver with onion/jalapenos and serve immediately.  



This recipe is similar to the one above except it is not spicy at all. Though it is very good with some garlic added towards the end of cooking! But this is a very simple, basic way to serve it that nearly anyone should be able to "handle".  Added the side dish of kale makes this a powerhouse of a meal! 


Liver & Onions with Kale

Serves 4 

1 lb beef liver

1/4 cup rice flour
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2-4 tbsp bacon fat
1 large onion
Stevia or dextrose

1 tbsp butter

2 large handfuls chopped kale
1 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

While the liver is still partially frozen slice with a knife or kitchen shears into thin slices. Add 1 tablespoon of bacon fat to a medium – large frying pan.Cook onions until they begin to turn clear, and golden on the edges. Add a few drops of Stevia or a pinch of dextrose to sweeten onions. Remove onions from pan and set aside. While your onions cook place rice flour in a medium bowl with garlic salt and garlic powder. Add liver and toss to coat. Once the new oil added to the pan has heated add your liver being sure to shake off all the excess flour before placing it in the pan. Cook over medium to medium low heat until the light breading becomes dark. Add onion back to pan heat thoroughly divide onto four separate plates. Add butter to the same pan, place your two large, keeping handfuls of kale into the pan, cooking until bright green and beginning to wilt. Add cheese cook 2 to 3 minutes longer or until cheese is thoroughly melted. Divide between your four plates and enjoy! 


This final recipe is one of my most favorites, though really I love liver just about any way at all! I think I ate around 2lbs of the stuff in the week following Ethan's birth. :) This last recipe is my favored method for making chicken liver pâté. It is delicious, but more cost effective than a lot of recipes you find online! Sure, adding a quarter pound of bacon and 8oz of mushrooms is delicious, but if you're trying to eat healthy on a budget that may not be for you! This, anyone can afford! 


Chicken Liver Pâté

Serves 4, as a meal, serves 8-12 as an appetizer

1 container chicken liver

1 stick, plus 1-2 tbsp butter
1 large onion
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp white pepper, optional
3-4 cloves roasted garlic, optional

Prepare your chicken livers by cutting off any white connective tissue, and rinsing clean. In a medium-large skillet add the chicken livers in water (enough to cover the livers fully), over med-low heat. Cooking them in water and over a low heat will keep them softest, which you want for pâté! Cook until the livers are done, about 5 minutes or so. Set aside, covered. Now chop (however you want because it's going to get ground up later anyway) your onion and saute in 1-2 tbsp butter until very clear (I like to add just a pinch of sugar to the onions, too, but it's not strictly necessary). Alternately, if you have the time, caramelize them! Talk about adding some amazing flavor! I rarely have the time to do that though, so I just cook them until clear.

Add livers, onions, and 1 stick of butter to a food processor, along with all your spices. Blend until smooth and pour into a storage container or bowl of your choice -- a lovely way to present p
âté is to use a bowl or container with no lid, and melt some extra butter to pour over the top. This seals the pâté just like a lid would and looks (and tastes!) delicious! Refrigerate until firm and enjoy with your favorite veggies or rice crackers! I even enjoy my pâté spread on romaine lettuce leaves, and when I'm feeling kind of splurgy and have it on hand, smearing it all over my sister-in-laws amazing gluten-free beer bread is indescribably good!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ethan David

 So this post has been a long time coming! I've thought so many times that I needed to sit down and write it, but I have so many other things that take priority these days!

I can hardly believe I haven't written a post here since this past MAY. My goodness I am neglectful! But for good reason. So what's gone on with me since May 8th?

My pregnancy continued on, for the most part very easy and healthy, although I had trouble with too many contractions once I hit the third trimester. I can't remember exactly when it started but it was enough that it worried me quite a bit and I contacted my midwife multiple times while we tried to figure out how to calm them down! We got them to where they were manageable, but I spent many nights up until midnight or later in a hot shower trying to relax (let me tell you now that relaxing in the shower is a HORRID thing to try to do compared to relaxing in a tub! But alas and alack! A tub I lack!).

Birth kit supplies, ready and waiting...
At my 37 week home visit with Debbie, she found, much to her surprise that I was progressing quite well! I was excited but not terribly surprised! I'd been having contractions that seemed like more than typical Braxton Hicks for a while, plus I'd had a feeling since I found out I was pregnant that I would go early (at least for a first-time mom!). A few days later, more obvious progress and I had my first serious "I realize now there is no escaping labor," moment. I kept having more than typical contractions for a primipara, but they weren't progressing in a way that had my sweet midwife concerned -- just excited! I wanted them to stop. I wanted total rest before labor. But she thought it was awesome. Of course, now that we were at the "safe to have a homebirth" point in the pregnancy, I was growing increasingly excited about them, too! Ethan was on his way!

I also remembered to ask finally where to get the birth kit when she was there. She was like, "Uhhh, you don't have it yet?" Oops! Needless to say I was really thankful when the birth kit arrived a few days later, since I still felt he'd be coming a bit early.

All ready for our little Ethan.
On August 21st I knew for sure he'd be here soon -- I had a total emotional meltdown for no reason at all. That was a funny thing to experience! David had come home for lunch and at some point I just started sobbing and when he asked what was wrong I was clueless! I think we both had a bit of a laugh about that.

The next day, David went to work with his sister's husband as he had been doing on and off for a while. I wasn't happy about it at all, feeling that our last bit of time as just the two of us was being robbed from us -- or at least my vision of how it "should" have gone was. In the end I think it turned out good because his being away allowed me to spend more of my time resting than I might have if he had been home. So that day I was having what I strongly suspected to be "real" contractions all day, though they were only somewhat painful. Then at some point in the mid-late afternoon I got a total break from them for a few hours and slept, slept, slept! By 6ish I texted him asking if he would be home in time for us to go to a church event that night. He said no, but that I should go with his parents. I debated with myself the wisdom of that, considering how my day had gone, but went for it! Less than two minutes into the drive to church though I realized that was not my brightest move ever as the car brought the contractions back with a vengeance! At some point I texted David again hoping he would be there soon. I wanted to go hoooome, but didn't really feel like telling anyone/everyone that I thought I was in labor since I still wasn't 100% sure. He finally showed up, but instead of going home we stuck around! Looking back on that all I can think is, "What?!" But hey, we did what we did! We even stopped at a friends house on the way home, by which point we were becoming increasingly convinced that I was in labor.

I was in denial though. My doula had literally just left town less than a few hours prior to take a mini-vacation with her family. "No way I'll go into labor when she's trying to take a day or two off, right?" WRONG. :) Because that's how I roll.

By the time we got home, it was evident that this was the real thing, though I kept saying maybe it wasn't! Because I really did not want to recall my doula from her getaway! Nor was I really feeling up to the task at hand. Ha! But things continued to progress and just before 10PM my water broke! That was a surprise to me. So many of the books and websites you read, and other moms you talk to say it may not happen prior to "serious" labor, or may be so minor you don't notice. Um. I noticed. At that point I texted both my doula and my midwife (midwife first!) to tell them this was definitely real. My sweet doula had her husband turn around and hightail it back here!

That's when things get blurry. I know I talked to my midwife on the phone a few times. At first she
was going to go to another client who was also in labor and already further along than I was. By the time she talked to me again probably less than 10 minutes later she changed her mind and said she was coming to me. I was SO relieved! I remember David going around trying to get everything ready (the tub inflated and filled, music, and trying to be there for me in between all that, a task that I am sure was NOT easy at all) and feeling concerned that neither my midwife or doula would arrive before Ethan came. I think David was more stressed about it than I was though, because at that point it was really taking all of my focus to get through each frequent contraction. I also remember Debbie telling me I could get in the tub then! That was some of the best news I had ever heard in my entire life, I kid you not! I would highly recommend water birth to anyone and everyone! There were two points during labor when I had to get out of the water temporarily and they were the worst parts of labor hands down. Even worse than the birth itself, and I am not exaggerating. The water doesn't eliminate the pain, but it definitely eases it! Poor man's (er, woman's!) epidural, indeed!

At some point, Debbie arrived with her assistant midwife, Abby. I will adore them both forever and ever. I know that Ethan would have been born whether they made it or not, but it feels like it couldn't have happened without Debbie. The closest I've ever felt to not adoring that woman is when she made me get out of the tub when they arrived so she could assess where I was. Ahhhh! That was so seriously uncool. But I forgive her since everything she does is in the interest of making sure everything is going okay. ;) I guess things just kind of kept on at that point -- and then maybe an hour or so later, my doula showed up. I just remember getting through a contraction and then Debbie (or somebody!) saying, "Look whose here!" and I looked up and Shauna was standing in my bedroom doorway, smelling of lavender and glowing like an angel (okay, so it was just a light on in the living room behind her head, but she looked and smell divine!). I remember getting really, really horrible leg cramps at one point, and Abby suggested coconut water or magnesium water or something. David disappeared and I was SO glad Shauna was there! I would have freaked out at that point to have nobody there (so much for my, "I don't want anybody but David around," idea...). The coconut/magnesium water helped really quickly and I was glad! The leg cramps were so painful they were actually distracting me from labor, but most of all distracting me from relaxing between contractions. I remember other things vaguely, like a fly landing on my belly at one point and actually shooing it away. Mostly I just remember resting my head on the side of the tub and holding David's and/or Shauna's hands, and sipping delicious coconut water that I wanted to gulp. But I was pretty excited that I hadn't thrown up yet (not even during my whole pregnancy) so I didn't want to risk it by overfilling my stomach. Ha ha ha. Yes, I WAS thinking about my "record" even during labor. There are other things I remember, but not a lot more. I just remember it being really fast and furious. My midwife would later call it a "freight train labor". Perfect description!

Towards the end, my midwife asked me to get out of the tub so that the pain relieving effects of the water wouldn't be completely lost -- too long in the tub and it does start to lose it's effect! Bummer! I couldn't believe how different it felt laboring outside of the tub vs inside! In that moment (that felt like eternity!) I decided I will never, ever, willingly do anything besides a water birth!

I think it was relatively shortly after I got back into the tub that Ethan was born! It was crazy how sudden it seemed, but then they told me it was 2:53AM and I realized I had just lost all track of time. It was still quite fast for a first timer, but not nearly as fast as it felt. By the time they got me situated in bed with Ethan and David I was telling everybody I was ready to do it again. And I meant it!

This is my, "I just got permission to get in the tub." face.
At our first PP visit with Debbie (at home!)!

Our new little family, and beloved midwife. ♥
Same day, Shauna and her PP visit! 
And here is the boy today, just over 4 months old! He's grown like a little champ since he was born and now weighs over 19lbs and is over 27in long! He's been in the 90th + percentiles on weight and height almost his entire 4 months and is very close to the 100th percentile for height. He is a very happy, healthy little boy and we could not be more thankful for the gift of him! God is gracious, and we will never forget, thanks to this beautiful little reminder. ♥



Thursday, May 8, 2014

Easy Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

Guys. Guys. Guys! And by "guys" I mean everybody. I have something to tell you today that is very exciting to me and probably will be to a lot of you, too! But first I'm going to entice you to read on with a photo:


You know you want that. Read on to find out how easy it is to get it! It really is easy. Like... probably easy enough to be dangerous.

But let's back up slightly, first!

Have I mentioned at all on my blog how much I love Aldi? They're an excellent little grocery store if you're unfamiliar with them. They keep their prices low by staying small, minimizing the need for dozens of employees at each location, get fewer shipments than other stores, etc., etc., I don't know all the details of how they do it, but they do. Recently they introduced an organic line, after trying out organic stuff from time to time in the past. The prices are good, and I guess it was a popular addition because they always have at least a few organic choices these days! Another specialty line they have toyed with is gluten-free products. Personally I have never seen any in the store until yesterday, but I don't get to go very often because we don't have an Aldi in town and we rarely go anywhere else to shop! Anyway, Aldi decided that they were going to try out a whole line of gluten-free products recently and as of yesterday, May 7, 2014 had the line available at all Aldi locations. I saw the kind of prices they were going to be offering this line at and knew we had to go! So go we did, in the middle of the week and for no other reason at all we went up to Belton to try stuff out. We brought a little cash and got a whole stash of goodies! Brownie mix, pizza crust mix, yellow cake mix, baking mix, soft baked cookies, baked chewy bars, mac & cheese, and chocolate chip cookie mix. We spent a grand total of $22.93 for all of this you see in the photo below, plus the brownie and pizza crust mix we already gave away and used. Way more than I would usually spend on "splurge" foods, but a very worthwhile experiment and FAR cheaper than buying similar items at any other store. Seriously, we spent $6 at HyVee recently on a 10oz box of gluten-free cornflakes for casserole topping for Easter! Compare and awe.



We gave the brownie mix to my mother-in-law, and she made it up into cupcakes that very night for a church event. She gave us one to try out and it was delicious! It didn't taste weird or "gluten-free" like some of these things do. It just tasted like authentic brownie goodness! The taste, texture, and appearance was all great!

Then we decided that we just had to try the pizza crust mix that night rather than wait for the weekend! Once I saw that the mix would make 2, 12 in pizzas I knew I had to experiment. I made one half of the dough into pizza and with the other half I made up some cinnamon rolls! I've been craving cinnamon rolls for my entire pregnancy, but never found a recipe to make them that looked remotely easy and also had good reviews, so I have done without until last night! The few recipes out there that promise to be truly amazing were always complicated, often featured on blog posts longer than I could stand to even read once, detailing how tricky it was and how everything had to be done "just so" for them to turn out right! Well no more. I am here to rescue you from that problem, thanks to Aldi!

But first, a quick, poor quality photo of my pizza. It, too, was amazing. The crust was one of the best gf crusts I've had, though I think I like the mix best for cinnamon rolls, rather than pizza! But I would definitely eat the pizza again with no hesitation. Over and over if it were offered. Ha.

This pizza was topped with Italian chicken, onion, and deli-sliced Mezzetta peperoncini peppers. DELICIOUS! Side note: I've been obsessed with these peppers through most of my pregnancy so far. I want them all the time, and would probably eat them plain if I wasn't so tight with our grocery budget!
 Now for the really important part of this post though. The easy peasy, delicious gluten-free cinnamon rolls! It's so easy you don't even need any actual measurements. Really! Rough measures are all fine here. As I mentioned, I used half the dough, but if you need or want more cinnamon rolls, go ahead and use it all! We definitely did not need 16 cinnamon rolls between the two of us though, especially considering it wasn't our official "cheat" day and therefore the fact of having them (and PIZZA) at all was a big treat!


Easy Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 8, 2 1/2 inch cinnamon rolls

1/2 liveGfree pizza crust mix, prepared (not baked!)
Butter (I used a little over half a stick for the entire process)
Powdered sugar
Cinnamon

Frosting:

Milk
Butter
Powdered sugar
Vanilla
Cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl (like the type for condiments, small) combine 1 1/2 tsp-1tbsp melted butter with a tablespoon or so of powdered sugar. Stir until combined. Pour into the bottom of your pan (I used a glass loaf pan and fit my 8 rolls perfectly so adjust according to how much you're making).

Roll out your dough until it is approximately 10-12 inches long, 5-6 inches wide, and about 1/2 inch thick (remember, this is a rough guess so adjust as you feel fit!). Slather the dough in butter, and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/4-1/3 cup powdered sugar over top, and carefully roll dough up. I rolled my dough out on a silicon pad, so I was able to use the pad to help me roll the dough nice and tight.

Now take a piece of non-waxed, non-flavored floss (thread will work too if you don't have floss. Wait... why don't you have floss?) and cut dough into 8 equal portions. If you're not familiar with this method, watch this YouTube video: How to Cut Cinnamon Roll Dough

Arrange rolls in pan -- it should be a fairly tight fit but go ahead and cram them in if you have to. Now spread a little more softened butter over the tops, and sprinkle again with just a bit of powdered sugar (the amount of sugar you use throughout this recipe can really be dependent on how sweet you want your rolls!). Bake 10-15 minutes or until rolls just begin to turn slightly golden and feel fairly firm to the touch.

Once they are done baking pull them out of the oven and set them aside while you make up your frosting! You want them to cool slightly before you frost them so the frosting doesn't all melt off.

For the frosting, I again have no actual measurements. Sorry about that, but it really is very easy! I took a spoonful of cream cheese (probably somewhere around 2 tablespoons) and warmed it in the microwave until it was very soft. Then added about 1 tsp melted butter (because butter!), a small splash of milk, about 1/4 tsp of vanilla, and then started adding powdered sugar in small portions until the texture and flavor was what I wanted (yes, keep tasting as you add it -- you'll know when it's right!). You will know you have the ratios correct when the frosting is smooth, and begins to lose it's translucent appearance. If it's still really thin looking, add more sugar! Pour generously over warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy!


These were amazing hot, but probably almost equally good cold the next morning with a cup of hot coffee!

See how easy that was?! No need for a video to demonstrate anything because it is simple, quick, and very much like any other gluteny cinnamon roll recipe you've ever made! YAY!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another Opportunity

If you've been a reader for very long, you know a little bit about our journey as LifeVantage distributors. You may remember how life changing it was for my father-in-law, how despite our general distaste for MLM's (who doesn't have a general distaste for them, unless you're IN one and see how amazing they are when done right?!) and my hesitation to become distributors, we did it because we saw what an incredible thing it did for my beloved father-in-law and knew that however much "direct sales" may make some folks cringe, this product was worth the frowns because it was giving people their lives back, and I'm not really being figurative here! There are so many amazing stories out there of people with really significant health conditions who begin taking the product and see a dramatic change in their health and lives. Of course, we are not allowed to make any claims except that it reduces oxidative stress an average of 40% in 30 days. So I'm not saying it was the Protandim that turned these folks around. I'm just saying that they started taking it and saw these dramatic improvements in their lives. You can decide what you want about that information!

LifeVantage has been a pretty amazing journey. We haven't really been working the business for the last couple years, which I think was an unfortunate mistake, but one that I hope to rectify in the near future! But I'm not actually writing today to talk about LifeVantage. I'm here to talk about Another Opportunity, one that I've decided to plunge into all by my lonesome!

I decided to do this largely because we have a big expense coming up! Baby! We absolutely have to get a new-to-us vehicle as our truck is only a two-seater. Taxes were higher this year than expected which ate into our savings a little already, and even using up all of what we've saved for a down payment on a house (boo hoo!), we'll still have to get a loan to get a vehicle, I suspect. If I can do anything to help make that easier, I want to do it! So here I am. Trying my best to help in a way that I can.

The company is called Jamberry, and they make vinyl nail wraps -- the end results in what looks like an amazing polish job, but is done quickly, easily, inexpensively, at home, and one of the best parts in my book is that it's completely non-toxic! Oh, and did I mention they last? And last? Most people find that they last around 2 weeks on their fingers and as long as 6 weeks on their toes! And for the most part, by the end of 2 or 6 weeks the only reason somebody removes them and applies new ones is because their nails grew out a bit, not because the wraps were chipping, peeling, or fading! Sound intriguing? Yeah. As someone who can't keep polished fingers looking nice longer than 24 hours, I was interested, and I have never even been very "into" having my nails done up!

Granted, Jamberry is not changing lives in the same way that LifeVantage is. Though I suppose you could argue that you are probably reducing oxidative stress on your body if you switch from regular toxic polish, to Jamberry. But no, it's nothing really significant in that way. But it is changing lives in other ways. Ways that are still really significant to those experiencing them! It's giving women (and probably some men) a way to make more money for their families, without having to take on another job they end up a slave to. Whether your desire is to simply pay for piano lessons for your child, or completely replace your current income you earn working outside the home so you can be home with your precious children, or whether you don't have kids or even a husband at all and just want to do something to support yourself without being a slave to somebody else, this could be an opportunity for YOU! Some people join Jamberry to earn money for a one-time purchase they can't afford right now. The possible reasons to join and what you do with what you earn is totally up to you! But isn't that the cool part? It's totally up to you! It's not like getting a minimum wage job where you're forced to work at a certain pay rate no matter how badly you may need more than that. If you need more, you do more work and earn more. That simple!

I won't go into any of the nitty gritty details about the compensation plan or anything else here today, but if you're even slightly interested, contact me! These wraps are great fun, so whether you're interested in simply purchasing some to try out yourself or you're wanting to learn more about working as a consultant, talk to me! I can even get you set up to host an online party, where you basically don't have to do anything beyond tell friends about it, but then get the chance to earn some cool rewards like free wraps, or discounts on becoming a consultant (which is already affordable even at full price)!

Here is a quick low-down of what makes Jamberry Nail Wraps so cool!


  • They are non-toxic (as someone who can often go on rants about all the toxins we're faced with daily, this was a huge draw for me! Especially now that I am pregnant and even more mindful of what I put in/on my body)!
  • There are over 300 designs to choose from, so no matter what your tastes, there is something for you! But even if you're really particular and can't find anything you like pre-made, you can pay a few extra dollars and have some custom made, any way you like! This is an awesome option for weddings and other special events where you may need an exact color/pattern!
  • They are inexpensive! A single mani or pedi at a salon will easily cost $30 or more. And if you take advantage of our buy 3 get 1 free deal, that's enough manis for 8-24 weeks (depending on how hard you are on your nails) and up to 60 weeks of pedis! The same amount of manis and pedis would cost an average of $450 in a salon!
  • Can be used on artificial nails
  • No dry time
  • No chipping
  • No peeling
  • No fading
  • Latex free
  • Do NOT damage your real nails

And lest you think I am telling you about these awesome, fun wraps and not leaving you with photos, don't worry. I wouldn't do that to you! The first 4 photos are of my manis/pedis, followed by some photos of some of the wraps I won hosting a party prior to becoming a consultant!


My very first Jamberry manicure, "Kiss Me Ombre"
I used leftover scrap pieces from my "Kiss Me Ombre" mani, to do a pedicure! This was 6 days in, and I did a pretty poor job applying them to begin with, due to my belly getting in the way. 

Then when I had to remove my manicure after 13 days (due only to my nails growing out!), I tried out some new wraps that came with my consultant kit, "Horseshoes". I thought I was going to hate them, but I actually find them really fun! Then a day or two later I decided to change things up again, by adding a "Kiss Me Ombre" nail to my hand, and doing a mix on my toes, too, as seen below!
Keep in mind the "Kiss Me Ombre" on my toes had been on for almost 3 weeks when this photo was taken!
Now here are some of the wraps I ordered for free and/or deeply discounted as my hostess rewards for my party I hosted recently!
Left to Right: Twitterpated, Hostess Exclusive for April, Prissy Plaid, Wild Elephant, and Stone (matte). The Stone I got to wear with my Army Camo (not pictured but also got free!). And I'll probably wear some Prissy Plaid with some Raspberry Sparkle (also not pictured).

So if you like what you see, and have even a small handful of friends who you think would also have fun with these, get in contact with me and we can set up an online party for you! It's super easy to earn free stuff, there's no pressure to order if you don't want to, and we play some fun games where people can win free samples and things! 




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two-Minute Molten Chocolate Mug Cake

There are some days where you just need a fix. Most of us recognize it immediately and may try to ignore it, or satiate it with something else but let's be honest. Nothing compares to real chocolate fix, especially not popping a magnesium pill, the common "if you're craving this what you really need is ______" answer to chocolate cravings*. And the warmer and gooier the chocolatey goodness is the better, am I right? I know I am. I won't wait for an answer.

This fix happens to practically be health food, if we conveniently ignore the fact that it's prepared in a microwave. O_o It's healthy enough that I have no guilt at all eating it pregnant, on a weekday**. No gluten. Barely enough sugar to mention. Good fat. But all the YUM your little heart could desire. I can only imagine what a delightful treat it would be on a splurge day with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or drizzled with a little bit of caramel! Prepared as below, there should only be around 7g of sugar in the entire cake, which I split with my dear beloved (see how much self control I have? He was on the phone with a client and I totally could have gotten away with scarfing down the entire thing before he ever knew there was any food at all to be had). You could do even better than that if you had darker chocolate chips/chunks, made your own like I've done in the past, or omitted that part entirely (but where's the fun in that?).

Sorry about the photo. It was too good, I was too hungry, and the fact that any photo at all exists of anything more than the empty cup is kind of amazing. Next time I make this I will try to take a picture of the finished cake, because it's really quite pretty for a microwave mug cake. But for now, this is what you get.

Another thing I love about this little beauty? The butter in the cake makes it so that it comes out of the mug rather easily, which made sharing a cinch, and would probably also make it a pretty one to "dress up" by inverting it onto a plate and topping it with...something incredible. Or even something moderately exciting like a few slices of strawberry. Also, if you're afraid of raw egg, cook yours a little longer than 1 minute. You'll lose the "molten" part, which was part of what made this so good, but like I said... if you worry about that sort of thing there is an easy solution. I get my eggs from my own very healthy, free-range and semi-free range chickens so I don't worry about a little underdone egg now and then. FUN FACT! Did you know that only about 1 in every 20,000 conventionally "raised" eggs are contaminated with salmonella anyway? Most hens whose ovaries become infected stop laying, so if you wash the shell prior to use, your chances should be essentially nil. You would have to eat 250 eggs a year for 80 years to consume 20,000 eggs over your lifetime anyway so you can see how low your chances of illness probably really are, even if you have to get your eggs from less healthy chickens than a well-cared for backyard flock. The only reason to be cautious about eating raw egg whites with regularity would be due to the discovery that raw egg whites (not yolks! Your daily fried eggs are safe, people! Yolks are actually much healthier raw than cooked) can increase biotin deficiency.

Two-Minute Molten Chocolate Mug Cake

1 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp milk (sorry, I wasn't measuring, but this is my best guess)
1 large egg
2-3 tbsp sweetener of choice (mine were a combination of xylitol and several types of stevia)
1/8 tsp salt (again, best guess -- or add more if you like the whole salted-everything fad)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large mug, carefully melt baker's chocolate. My microwave takes a little over a minute to melt 1 oz when I forget to chop it, and is faster than that when I remember (i.e. never). Stir chocolate until smooth. Add butter, then milk, combining each well. Add all remaining ingredients, leaving half the chocolate chips set aside. Stir until egg is fully incorporated. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and cook in the microwave for 1 minute. Allow to cool slightly, and enjoy!
This is a mug cake my dear husband made for us last night (04.30.14) -- same recipe except he added a little more sweetener and then inverted the cake onto plates for us! It was beautiful, delicious, and as you can see, very molteny! I loved it.

Here is a freshly made cake -- not as pretty as my first because I accidentally overcooked it (I know, in the microwave? How do you accidentally cook something longer than a minute in the microwave?). But it was still tasty! Just less molteny.



*and I'm telling you right now, magnesium deficiency is not the only reason for a chocolate craving; I take 3 magnesium tablets per day aside from whatever I get in a healthy diet and I still crave chocolate from time to time. So there.

**during the week, especially now that I am pregnant, I try to mostly stay very strict about not eating junk/sugar, but on Sunday do still allow myself a few little splurges like ice cream at night, bun-free fast food burgers for lunch, or some GF cereal or chocolate candy.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"What do you think changed?"

Since announcing my pregnancy back in December I've had a lot of people ask me, "What do you think it was that changed?" and every variation of that question you can imagine. Some people are just curious for the sake of curiosity. Others want to know because they have a friend struggling with infertility and when you or someone you love is in the midst of that struggle you will grasp at anything that offers even the slightest glimmer of hope. Some want to tuck the information away in their own minds in case they someday face this heartbreaking trial. Some already are in the middle of that pain. After 3+ miscarriages, followed by years of not conceiving, totally in 5 1/2 years of days and nights of praying fervently that God would someday bless us with a child we could actually hold in our arms, the question really feels so... big.

Ultimately, we know that it was God. All God. Nothing but God and His infinite wisdom and knowledge and perfect timing. Could He have given us a child sooner? Sure. Did He? No. Why? No clue! But that's okay, because God knows. And God is the author and creator of all things, and I would rather be in His will, pain and all, than outside of it. I won't pretend it didn't hurt. I won't say that all those days and nights, I didn't sometimes question His will. His timing. Or even His love for me. I did. There were times when I would cry so hard I couldn't even ask the question, but He knew. There were times when all I could do is cry, and ask, "Why, Lord? WHY?!" Because it just hurt so bad. There are days when I sit here, thinking about my tiny baby growing now inside my womb after so many prayers and tears and high hopes followed by broken dreams, and I can't help but turn my thoughts towards my dear friends and even women I don't know at all who are still in that struggle. I know I can't make it okay. I can't take away the pain, or give you the child you so desperately long for. But I can give you my prayers. And I can tell you that if it is part of God's plan for you to have that precious little one in your future, while the in between time is hard, it is worth the wait. And suddenly, when it does happen, you realize that right now was the right time. Not before. God always has the best plans, and sometimes His plans hurt a little, sometimes a lot. But He always loves us. Always does everything for a reason, whether we see it right away or not.

I know even that isn't always as encouraging as we'd like it to be though, when you're at your lowest. You can tell yourself in your head it's all true, and good, but when you're in those darkest moments, it still hurts more than you can say.

Doing something about it isn't always the answer, and I can't say I have a magic bullet that will work for everyone. But I'd like to tell you a little bit about some of the things we were doing in the months leading up to this precious little one, and hopefully someone somewhere will benefit from this information.

1.) Have you considered the possibility of having a methylation defect? A significant portion of the population (somewhere between 40-60%) does have some form of this genetic defect (my husband and I both have it), which causes the body to not be able to convert folic acid into methylfolate. Without that conversion, your body will be severely lacking in the very important methyfolate and all the supplementing in the world won't help, because almost all prenatal vitamins and other supplements are the synthetic folic acid instead of folate. Over time this can wreck havoc with your fertility, causing miscarriage, and eventually often progressing to no longer being able to conceive at all. It causes other problems, too, including decreased detox capabilities, which can also cause a host of problems, so whether you're trying to get pregnant or not, or are even female or not, doing something to correct this defect is ideal.

So what can you do to correct it? Fortunately, correcting this particular gene defect is pretty easy! You just have to take pre-methylated folate! But be careful; you don't want to just take folate without adequate levels of B-12 beforehand or you can make things worse. Ideally, consult a healthcare provider familiar with methylation defect in order to best go about correcting this condition.

In my case, it was January of 2013 when we began to seriously consider the fact that I likely had at least some degree of methylation defect. I had some of the signs that indicate methylation defect (midline defects such as lip and tongue tie, for example were my primary signs aside from infertility. Other signs include things like sacral dimples, and certain heart conditions) and some of those signs also ran in my family. David had started looking into the issue before I did but once I started digging into it myself I remember calling him one day when he was out somewhere, very excited, doing that whole familiar, "I think this might be it!" thing. Before the month was out, he had me start on a supplementation protocol. After already dealing with infertility for years at this point I was rather impatient. I took my supplements daily for the first 3-4 months and then slacked off a little. I continued to take them at least a few times every week though, "just in case" -- though emotionally I had given up on the idea that that would help after the first few months. See what I mean about impatient? It is a problem that took years to develop; I shouldn't have expected it to fix things overnight!

2.) We seriously addressed my adrenal fatigue, and not a moment too soon, as testing revealed that I was on the cusp of falling into stage 3 adrenal fatigue! We took a few months off from trying to get pregnant so I could take some supplements that are great for adrenal fatigue, but are contraindicated if pregnant or trying to conceive. Adrenal fatigue can play a significant role in fertility problems as the adrenals are key in hormone production. If you're chronically stressed (and remember, stress comes in MANY forms; just because you love your job does not mean you are not stressed in some way), you'll eventually begin to burn out your adrenals. Your body will then start to express this in the form of a hormone disruption called "pregnenalone steal". For one thing, this means your body will start converting your progesterone into cortisol to try to make you feel better, instead of letting the progesterone do it's job of creating a good environment for implantation to occur, and support a pregnancy if fertilization is successful.

 So how do I fix this? Do some research, look up "adrenal fatigue + infertility" or "pregnanalone steal + infertility" or something along those lines and you'll find a lot of information about this problem. Of course, I cannot vouch for the information you find or the suggested methods of treatment -- like so many things when it comes to our health, a lot of people have an overly simplistic view of things and as a result may not treat adrenal fatigue properly; for your best bet, look for a healthcare provider with a good track record with adrenal fatigue, and ideally, someone who is familiar with the Kalish Method!

Here is a quick little image to show you how what this hormone cascade looks like:

For me, we went with a simple version of what my naturopathic doctor (husband!) has learned from Dr. Kalish. We didn't do it for very long, but I felt a positive change in my overall well-being, and I'm sure a few more months on the protocol would have been ideal! However, God had other plans for me and I got pregnant while on the protocol, so we had to halt it entirely for now. Most likely I'll go back on some other variation of an adrenal support protocol after the baby, though it will be pretty limited since a lot of the good herbs for adrenal support are contraindicated during breastfeeding.

So while this is by no means an exhaustive list of everything we tried (ha ha ha!), it is the two things that we believe were the most likely to have been God's tools in bringing about our precious little baby! Also consider looking into myo-inositol (and be specific, don't just look into "inositol" -- they are different) which is great for ovarian health, and if you have any reason at all to believe you may have PCOS (being overweight is not required, even though that's often the picture presented of women with PCOS), look into some simple things like spearmint tea to help lower your androgens. Also consider looking into Protandim, if you're infertility is unexplained, or suspected to be due to age related factors. There are no guarantees, but things like high oxidative stress can play a role in all kinds of disease and conditions, and for $50/mo, it's worth a try. It wasn't "the thing" for me, but I have heard testimonials from couples where it was.