Thursday, June 30, 2011

when plans change...

My dad is having open heart surgery on Tuesday.

We will be heading to Delaware Saturday morning.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

being creative in the kitchen

With our family vacation right around the corner, today was the official day to start making all of the road trip goodies (it's a 14 hour drive to the Outer Banks from here).

The first thing Chase and I made today were Tracey's Simple Cheese Disks. When I saw these posted a week ago, I knew I had to make some for my family and our upcoming trip. They went over so well today, that tomorrow Chase and I will be making a double batch (which I may hide from my family until it's vacation time).


Chase was the official snack cutter.



Thank you so much Tracey for posting the recipe! We are all enjoying these delicious little snacks.

Between the time the last tray of cheese disks came out and almost 4 o'clock this afternoon, I was busy tending to fires with other issues. As soon as those issues were under control, Chase and I made two different marinades for homemade jerky. We have the meat in marinating and will slow cook them early Friday morning.

Tonight for dinner I made one of my favorite meals. It just screams summer to me (I'll post recipes at the end of the post). They are so delicious.

Turkey hummus pitas

Of course while making dinner I decided I needed to make some sort of cookie to have for the rest of the week (and any leftovers can go to the beach with us!). I opted to go with the oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies with dried cranberries. It's a simple recipe that makes between 12 and 20 cookies depending on size (I usually get a dozen, but I like to make larger cookies).

Cookie results! Sage just could not resist being nosy and getting in the picture.

Turkey Hummus Pitas
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 cup hummus, preferably spicy or roasted red pepper (about a 7-ounce container)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • Pita pockets
  • 2 to 3 plum tomatoes, sliced
Mix the diced cucumber, feta cheese and red wine vinegar and put in fridge to chill. Heat skillet with olive oil. Mix salt and pepper, ground turkey, hummus, parsley and coriander then cook in warmed skillet, breaking apart meat mixture. Once meat is cooked through, spoon hummus into split pita pockets, line with sliced tomato and fill with turkey mixture. Top with chilled cucumber feta dressing.


White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal (fruit) Cookies
* I have used dried peaches, blueberries, and now cranberries as the dried fruit and all have turned out tremendously well!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
In mixer, cream butter and sugars together. In a small bowl, mix flour and baking soda together. Gradually add flour mixture to creamed sugar and continue mix. Add oats, dried fruit, and white chocolate chips until mixed together. Spoon mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 20.

Happy baking and creating!

Wednesday Yarn Along

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today we join Ginny and all of the other great fiber artists in her weekly knitting and reading. Stop by and join in the fun!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? ~ Ginny
 
I was almost done with the first Evenstar Glove Saturday morning, when I foolishly left the glove on the couch to go outside and see the slugs (egh!) that Chase had found. Big. Mistake. Jessica-4 seized her opportunity (and the ball of yarn) and decided to redecorate the house. I was screaming "NO! NO! NO!" so loud that Chase came running back inside from slug hunting to see what happened. The glove was partially un-raveled and caught on a dining room chair. The yarn tangled through the living room, a couple of dining room chairs, through the kitchen, and up the stairs into Chase's room.


After the yarn was collected and I sat with the remnant of the glove, I decided to pull it all out and put it away for another time. I had been working on it all week and in less than five minutes Jess undid all the work. I decided then I would pick up my WIP, the Luscious Lace Scarf from the Creative Knitting magazine (and sadly, I cannot find their pattern on the site -- but I will keep looking for it it).


I've more than doubled what I had when I stopped in May!

I'm really loving the lace pattern for this. It's really easy.

I'm using Ella Rae Bamboo Silk in "Orange". When I went to the LYS to pick up the last two skeins I needed a couple of months ago, I picked up enough to make another scarf in their "Seafoam" color. I think it is a pretty close match to Carolina Blue, and will make a scarf this year for either my stepsister or stepmom (both UNC grads).

Sage with the "Seafoam" yarn. He was distracted because Jess was looking to jump up and be nosy.


I thought that I would post a picture of the yarn Chase and I picked up last week for Chase's Christmas sweater. When Chase and I were going through the sweaters Mom sent home with us, he was quite distressed that he didn't have one, not even in progress, for this year. I told him I was making him a sweater, but he insisted that was his Autumn sweater. Mom was already planning on making a sweater for him. :) Chase chose the yarn Wild Berries for his sweater.

There is also a bit of red in this. It's so soft!

I haven't done any recreational reading in the past week, sadly. My e-reader started to act up (and was just replaced -- thank you warranties!) so I put off reading to focus on knitting. I do, however, have a stack of titles I am going to pick up from the library before we head to the beach.

Chase just woke up and came downstairs with a tangled mess of scrap yarn. I guess Jess is finding my hiding spots at night and continuing her re-decorating. Sigh.

Happy knitting and reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lazy Days..

Chase and I made bagels today (along with another batch of white chocolate chip raspberry scones).

bagel bumps

bagels ready for a bath

it's hard to get a picture of bagels that are busy in their bath ;-)


I think we were quite successful in our first attempt at making bagels. We used this recipe from the King Arthur Flour bread book. The bagel that looks more like a rather large onion ring was my attempt at using my smallest biscuit cutter and then too much finger spinning. It was still tasty ;-) I think that when Chase is on vacation, I'll make another attempt and possibly add sun-dried tomatoes and basil from the garden to them. Yum.

It's not even the middle of summer, but the lazy, peaceful days are settling in. Granted, I have been spending time tidying the house and organizing our packing for our vacation, but I have been finding plenty of time to sit, sip tea, and just relax.

Today we wandered our farmer's market. I picked up a jar of pure maple syrup (the heights of deliciousness Chase has not had before, he says), bread, homemade crackers, and two more tomato plants for the garden (As Chase said "You can just never have too many tomatoes".)

These days are excellent days for breakfast as dinner. French toast was the easy choice.

yum

French toast with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

And yes, these days are also good for napping.

Agent cat-napping (there was a smudge on the lens when I took this picture - argh).
Happy summer, everyone.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

From the Heavens to the Earth

The Farmer's Insurance airship flew over our house twice this evening :)


Koda is quite interested in the basil and carrots. This morning I caught her trying to mow down the carrot greens.

Nice little moments from today. Glad I at least had my cell phone on me to snap a few pictures.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

raspberry lemon quick bread

Steve was out early this morning to work so, after having my fingernails chewed on by a certain feline, I decided to get up and get started with my morning. Chase was still asleep, but I thought it might be nice to wake up and have something fresh from the oven for breakfast.

The recipe for the raspberry lemon quick bread is from King Arthur flour. My mom gets their catalog in the mail and thought the bread sounded interesting so she ordered the raspberry jammy bits for us both. She hasn't made the bread yet, so I decided to give it a whirl.

The results are quite delicious. While the bread was baking, I chatted with Mom and we both think that as nice as those jammy bits are, it would be nice to use fresh raspberries instead. I think the next time I will alter the recipe a bit and see how changing to fresh berries will work. Still.. this goes great with a fresh cup of coffee!

Fresh from the oven!

breakfast time! (That's Koda in the background hoping for a piece)

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

Friday, June 24, 2011

spaetzle and lamb brats

My mom's farmer's market has a vendor that sells lamb! She graciously picked up two pounds of ground lamb and lamb brats for us and sent them home with us over the weekend. It's been a while since I've made spaetzle (usually sided with chicken brats from Whole Foods), but I figured lamb brats would be a perfect side.

Spaetzle became a food obsession for us after Chase and I saw the episode of Worst Cooks in America on Food Network where Robert Irvine taught his students the recipe for spaetzle with mustard cream sauce and sausage. We have followed the recipe for the spaetzle to the letter, but I have not made the mustard cream sauce yet using the white wine. You can make a very delicious and simple cream sauce by just using the cream, cheese, and mustard (that's what happens when two stores and the co-op don't have shallots!).

The first two times I actually didn't have a spaetzle maker and used a colander instead. That was an extremely long and tedious process (one which I do not want to repeat) so I ordered our spaetzle maker from Amazon.com and haven't regretted it once!

Here are Chase and myself making tonight's dinner:

Red pepper puree. I love this color of reddish orange.

Spaetzle maker ready to go.

Chase and I took turns: this can be a very hot experience!

Spaetzle in the pot.

The results of the spaetzle once drained.

The finished results!


The lamb brats were extremely delicious. I will need to start looking for them locally since everyone enjoyed them. I forgot to take a picture of our edible flower salad that I picked up from our farmer's market this week. It was also extremely delicious.

{this moment} - Smooching Smooch

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

I am so happy to be joining in with Soulemama  again this week.


Into the kitchen


It’s a beautiful Friday. I’m sipping my coffee, contemplating the morning, and watching Sage (full from breakfast) try to squeeze himself into a shoebox. It’s still quiet on our street, Koda is deep asleep on Steve’s chair, and Chase is still upstairs.  It’s going to be cloudy and cool here today, but I am just fine with that. Everything is still wet from last night’s rain.

 It would be a good day to stay indoors and bake. 

I’ve had this incredible urge lately to be in the kitchen cooking and baking. There is a stack of new recipes on top of a pile of tried and true recipes that are just begging to be used. I’m not quite sure where the urge has come from, but I am happy it is here. 

In a week, we’ll be heading on vacation to the coast of North Carolina. I have been making a list of road snacks that Chase and I can make ahead of time and take with us. Chase loves to be my assistant in the kitchen. I think he has a magical touch when it comes to cooking. New recipes, especially, turn out better if he is with me (Every time we make cheese, if he is helping, it turns out fine. If he’s not home, it doesn’t turn out well).

Along with the road snacks we’ll be making (and Chase’s weekly batch of scones), I have a recipe for lemon raspberry breakfast bread I want to try. And because I need a challenge, I’d like to make bagels. The bagels I buy at our local co-op/bakery sadly aren’t made on site and come from a chain bagel store. I’d rather bake our own and be able to control what goes into them. 

As Chase and I cook our way through the next week, I’ll start posting pictures of our creations. For now I hear Chase starting to stir upstairs, so I think I will go.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Into the garden

Last night we finally got the much anticipated rain we had been waiting on. Chase has been diligently watering the garden every day, but was happy to have this morning off (so he could better track the comings and goings of ants that have taken up near the watermelon plants).

There was no sign of the visiting kitten this morning, but Steve was out to work at 4 and he said that Koda searched but did not find him. Maybe another day.

Chase and I ran to our grocery store early this morning for our shopping trip. He's spending time with our elderly neighbor today so he wanted his home chores out of the way in time. I think he enjoyed this trip more than usual because I gave him a calculator to tally our purchases as we shopped.

But back to the garden! When we got home from shopping, I wanted to wander between the beds and see how things were going. There are six more plants that were started indoors that will need to be transplanted this weekend (something on a vine -- gosh I am so bad about this!). Everything else didn't survive our super wet and cold spring. Oh well, next year, yes?

Corn (back two rows), pumpkins, cantaloupe (and possibly 2 eggplants)



The little green sprouts are carrots. A flower is on the black tomato plant, and the basil is looking fantastic!
My pictures are a bit blurry today because I used my cell phone and for whatever reason, I just could not hold the phone still enough. I weeded a few things in the beds this morning (mostly Maple leaves) but I think more work will be done this weekend.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Curious things

There are things I expect to see in our raised beds. Plants, for one, are expected. The occasional dropped leaf from the massive maple tree, also are expected. Bugs, yes, they are expected, too.

But a grayish kitten of about eight weeks old, sleeping soundly, nestled by pumpkin vines is not something I expected to see in the garden early this morning. Neither did Koda, for that matter.

Chase slept in this morning, so I took Koda out for her morning constitutional. Everyone enjoys this time of day when it's still quiet on our street and everything is dewy and fresh. I was looking forward to checking on the progress in the raised beds (I've seen the carrot sprouts and corn from the dining room window) and determine if we could squish anything else into those boxes.

We surprised this kitten from their slumber as we approached; Koda was already whining so I suspect she knew something was in the garden and could possibly still be there. When the kitten startled itself awake it looked at us both and darted off behind the garage. Koda wanted to give chase, but I quickly reminded her of why she was outside and that kittens are not play toys.

I shouldn't be surprised that there is a new young visitor to our yard. Last year we spent a good portion watching a mother cat with her two babes (Sonar and Radar -- they still have not grown into their large ears a year later!) move from across the street to our yard and back and forth. It worries me. We lost our indoor/outdoor cat last summer when she was hit on our street. And our street, though not the main strip through town, is relatively busy (and nobody slows down apparently for person or animal). I did see the momma a couple of months ago looking rather large but have not seen her since. Just last week when Chase and I were getting ready to go someplace, one of the babes from last year was nestled on the stack of porch wood.

I suppose it's time to start putting a small dish of food out in hopes they stay close by and not take their chances crossing the street. We have a large amount of cat food that our indoor fuzzies can't eat (Sage has to be on special food, so they're all on special food) and I don't want it to go to waste. Our local Humane Society doesn't do trapping themselves, but do have the numbers of those in the area that do. We had them out last year to catch Mamma and babes but they had no success.

Tomorrow I will take the camera out with me early before Koda goes out and see if the kitten is back. I'd like to befriend the little guy and maybe get them to the Humane Society if possible.

Wednesday Yarn Along

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today we join Ginny and all of the other great fiber artists in her weekly knitting and reading.

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? ~ Ginny

This past week I finally finished the sweater I was working on for my Mom. I realized when she was here in May that I had been knitting a couple of sections incorrectly. I taught myself to knit two years ago, and all this time I was doing the basic knit stitch incorrectly! Ah well, live and learn, yes? But the sweater still turned out extremely nice, I think. Mom certainly loves it :) The pattern I used is Plymouth Yarn Encore Worsted 1530. Their website is giving me extreme issues right now, or I would link it properly.
Showing off her sweater!


I think it looks really nice!





I didn't knit this past weekend while traveling to and from Indianapolis. Instead, I took the Webelos handbook with us so I could study up on Scouting. Chase joined Tiger Scouts earlier in the spring, but didn't have a chance to earn any badges before the summer. Now he is considered a Webelo so we are studying up on the Webelos and the badges he can earn. On Monday, the latest issue of Food Network magazine arrived so I have been studying the recipes and making plans on what to try out.

Agent approves of the reading material.

On Monday I started a new set of wristers for my friend as a late birthday present. I fell in love with the Evenstar Gloves and felt they would be perfect for her. I went into my stash of orphan yarns and chose a couple of skeins of Eucool yarn in a lovely shade of burgundy. I'm going with a slightly lighter yarn because my friend is moving from Michigan to Florida for school this fall and I am pretty sure she's not going to need the super heavy (and warm) stuff! :) I was up to the palm on the first glove Monday night, but I had made a couple of mistakes early on. So Tuesday morning I pulled it all out and started again. This is where I stand as of this morning:

The back of the glove.

Front of the glove.


As a special treat to this Wednesday Yarn Along, I have pictures of the three projects Mom has finished up over the past two weeks. When she was here in May, she was working on my Christmas sweater, her Christmas sweater, and a scarf pattern from our LYS (someone came up with the pattern and if you bought the yarn, you got the pattern for free). She completed these projects and sent them, along with at least six other sweaters she's made over the past few years in a tote back to our home (for when she visits this winter, she says). I couldn't resist taking out the Christmas sweaters to feel (and try on).

Scarf!

Mom's sweater.


A close up of the front cable pattern.

My sweater.

The cable pattern on the sleeves
Mom used fisherman's weight wool from Beaverslide Dry Goods. Her sweater was knitted in Marsh Sedge and mine is in Prairie Fire. The sweater pattern is a free pattern from Bernat Yarns called "Boyfriend Sweater". As for the scarf, I have to find out what yarn was used (offhand I can't remember).

She'd also like to mention that she has read the following three books in between knitting:

Mystery - John Kellerman
Buried Pray - John Sanford
A Walk Alone - Mary Higgins Clark

 Happy knitting!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Home again, home again

This weekend, we all piled into the truck and headed down to Indianapolis for my cousin's wedding reception (she and her husband married the month before in Key West and were now having a celebration for all).

This is one of the first family vacations Steve has been able to take in a long while (last year's plans were cancelled after he had major knee surgery and was recovering for six months). Steve finally got to meet more of my family! The last family gathering was my grandmother's 90th birthday three years ago. Steve had just moved up to Michigan with his job transfer while Chase and I stayed back in South Carolina to pack up.

Anyway, we drove down early Saturday afternoon and checked into our hotel before the reception. It was a great drive with the weather cooperating. As soon as we hit the reception site at 6, the skies opened up. It poured (thankfully the reception was indoors), and when it stopped pouring, it drizzled. This continued until about 90 minutes into our trip home last night.

My cousin was absolutely beautiful. She has grown from an awkward little girl into a beautiful young woman. Her husband was nice; he better take good care of her! ;) It was nice to see my uncle again (whom Chase adores) and my aunt and her husband, all the way in from Texas (all of these the parents of the bride). My brother and his girlfriend made a brief appearance (I promise not to talk negatively about them, so I will leave it with the fact they did show up), Mom came(!), and my Dad and stepmom made the trip from Delaware.

I was so glad to see my dad and stepmom even though we will see them again two weeks. Dad has been having health issues unrelated to the kidney issues (more on that sometime in the future) that include a hurt back and a massive infection. The day before they left for Indianapolis he found out he was going to need to have a TEE (transesophageal echocardiogram) to see if there is infection in his heart valves. I was afraid this was going to cancel their plans on coming this way (how his back was acting was also a major contributing factor).

It was an excellent time. There was good food, wonderful company, and lots of dancing. Chase had his first let down in the rocky world of "courtship" when he asked a little girl to dance, not once, but twice, and she turned him down. The second time was worse, I think, and he was on the verge of tears. Thankfully, while he was grooving to the music on his own, a wonderful lady asked him to dance with her and he happily obliged. He also danced with all three of his present grandparents, the bride, and of course his momma.

Mom stayed with us in our hotel that night. She, Chase, and I stayed up past midnight chattering away and continued early Sunday morning. Once it was time to check out, we ran around town for a couple of errands before taking her back to my brother's house. We were able to meet up with my dad and stepmom to bid our goodbyes before we heading back home.

I was fighting a sinus headache and migraine most of Sunday and was so happy to get home to my own bed last night. I put myself to bed early to sleep, sleep, sleep.

Sadly, I don't have any available pictures from the reception just yet (my aunt is going to post some later, however). I was there to enjoy myself and not document everything for once. :)

Now it is getting back into a somewhat normal routine. Laundry is in. White chocolate raspberry scones are in. Biscuits are made. I'm working on wristers right now and trying to balance Sage on my lap (he apparently missed me us terribly).

As for Father's Day, Chase and I made beef jerky for Steve last Friday and presented it to him as a road snack for this little trip. Steve happily has been munching and sharing with everyone (I think he finished the last piece before bed last night). He is a hard person to shop for, and I knew that the jerky would be a perfect gift.

We decided that we would give my dad his goodies when we see them in two weeks (Chase wants to see his face when he opens them).

Happy belated Father's Day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

{this moment} - A finished sweater

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.





Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday Yarn Along

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today we join Ginny and all of the other great fiber artists in her weekly knitting and reading.

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? ~ Ginny

My goal this week was to finish my mother's sweater (!) so that I can finally give it to her this coming weekend and to get to a good stopping point with Chase's sweater. Well, I reached the latter goal so far.

All that is needed to finish my mom's sweater is to finish the neck. No big deal, right? But it's just straight knitting and a bit boring

This is the best picture I could get this morning (Sage is about to jump in the shot).

Clearly the sweater was put there for him.

I wish he had held still in this picture! 
 
I think you just can't see how neat the sweater is while still on the needles. There are over a hundred stitches (offhand I can't remember) crowded onto those needles so it won't lay flat. I promise when I finish the sweater I'll get better pictures of it, and maybe even on my mom!

After only putting on two rows of the neck, I realized I should be working on a gift for my friend whose birthday is tomorrow (I've been easily distracted this week). I wanted to work on a pair of wristers for her, but add cables to them to make them a bit pretty. I had a pattern in a magazine that was a mock cable pattern so I thought it would work.

The first issue I had was that they want you to knit the wristers, in the round, on size 8 32 inch circular needles. I tried four times, and had convinced myself I just was not getting it and that's why it wasn't working until I gave up. When I called my mom yesterday I told her about the pattern and how frustrated it made me. She said there had to have been a major misprint in the pattern and to just knit my basic wrister pattern and toss in cables. I'm not comfortable making my own pattern just yet (especially because it has cables) so I pitched that idea. I did remember that last week Karen made beautiful wristers and decided I, too, will start those (Thank you so much Karen for posting the pattern!). The wristers will have to be a late gift, however.

Saturday evening I reached another milestone in Chase's sweater. I am to the point where I split the stitches to make arm holes. I am so pleased with my worth so far and comfortable putting down his sweater for a week.

The back

The front (I swear it will make sense when the pattern is done!)
Chase and I picked up a bunch of colored bottles yesterday at our co-op and he is loving them. He thought they would be fun to include in the sweater photo shoot.

Speaking of Chase and yarn, my mom sent us to our yarn store to pick up two skeins of yarn for a scarf she wants to make for her stepmom and to feel a yarn that she wants to use for a sweater for Chase. Chase was given the task of picking the color for the scarf. I knew he would gravitate to red (it's his favorite color) but he first picked a light blue (then went to red). We ended up sitting with three different colors before he opted to go with a raspberry color.

Pleased with his selection.

Surprisingly, the ladies at the yarn shop were pretty nice to us yesterday (usually they make the whole experience there quite uncomfortable). The one lady was quite nice to Chase (She always is) and he asked her to wind the yarn for him (a process that fascinates Chase).

As for reading this week, I've been reading a lot of food magazines this week. I'm always on the hunt for a new recipe to try.

Happy knitting!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Homemade Jam

Chase and I dedicated our Saturday afternoon to making jam. This was our first attempt at canning jam, so I was desperate to make sure it was perfect.

After we had had breakfast, Chase and I sat down to cut the tops off the strawberries. This was a big deal for Chase because I gave him permission to use a sharp-bladed knife to assist. He was so careful.

The next task Chase helped with was squishing the strawberries with a pastry blender. I told him it was a job that required muscles so he was all for it. At one point while he was squishing away, he commented that he imagined this is what a human heart felt like: sticky, bright red, but not as sweet smelling. Only Chase.

We had opted not to use pectin, just berries and sugar, and off we went. I think Chase didn't realize how slow of a process it would be. He was patient, however, and we both took turns stirring our batch of jam.

When it finally came time to can, I realized I didn't have enough jars. I filled a dozen 1/2 pint sized jars then asked Steve to run and get more. In total, we have ten full pints of jam. Since Saturday I have been dreaming of a bagel with cream cheese topped with fresh jam. Finally, finally... this morning it happened.

Delicious.

Chase is busy squishing berries (the little mother is in the background supervising).

Bubbling away!

The end results.

So delicious.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Infertility


Tomorrow I am seeing a fertility specialist. 

I’ve wanted to write about this when Steve and I started the process about a month ago, but I was unsure about putting it “out there”. 

This isn’t the first time we have seen a fertility specialist. It’s actually our third attempt. 

A little back history is needed here: 

In 2009, when Steve was nineteen, he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Nodular Lymphoma stage 2A. His younger sister had been diagnosed with the same cancer in late 2008 (stage 3). She had been in remission for less than six months when Steve was diagnosed. 

Steve was put on a test trial of medication (Cap-Cab) and chemotherapy for nine months. After five months of treatment there was no sign of cancer cells, but he was encouraged to complete the full nine months. 

Like many cancer patients, especially in men, fertility is often compromised. And obviously, in the mind of a nineteen year old man, having children in the future was far from Steve’s mind. From what we have read and have been told, if fertility is to return it would within ten years.
Steve is a wonderful father to Chase. He is more of a father than Chase’s biological father is (Chase recognizes Steve as his dad, not my ex-husband). We are a perfect three person family unit. But we still want to have a family. We want to have a baby.
 
When we lived in the Carolinas, Steve and I saw a fertility specialist who prescribed topical medication for six months. After six months, Steve still was not producing sperm. The specialist prescribed another six months of treatment. By this time, we were preparing to move back to Michigan via a job transfer for Steve. What we thought was going to be a thirty to sixty day stay at his parents while we closed on our house turned into eighteen months (that is a completely different story). Needless to say, for the first year, conceiving a child was not at the top of our list (and I should mention here that not only did Steve’s parents graciously open their door to our family and our fuzzies, but they also have three additional adult children living at home!). 

Eventually I brought it up again to Steve that we still didn’t have any clear answers to if we would be able to conceive a child together so we returned to finding a new specialist. This specialist informed us that the treatment that our first specialist put Steve on was completely incorrect and actually would have hindered our attempts. With stressing news, we started the process again. New prescriptions were to be called in. At that time we were supposed to be closing on our home but were fighting with the bank and actually were three months delayed in closing. The specialist never did fax in the prescription and we realized earlier this year that he had actually retired.

Once again (and I certainly feel this will be the last hunt), we found another specialist. I absolutely love Dr. A. We knew going in to our first appointment that we would need to start over from the beginning. We are both willing to take those steps. I was defensive going in. I didn’t want to put the blame on Steve, nor did I want the blame out on me (my weight – I stressed there and now that I was actually nearly one hundred pounds heavier when I had Chase so I feel my weight shouldn’t be a major factor) and we certainly don’t want to put the blame on him. 

The first step with Dr. A was blood work for both us and a semen analysis for Steve. I was to schedule an ultrasound during ovulation to make sure there were no cysts or growths on my ovaries. It was funny because at this time my period was late and I was ever so hopeful that maybe, just maybe, everything worked out on their own. They didn’t, of course, so I played the waiting game to see what happened. 

My blood work came back normal, as did Steve’s, but his analysis results were what we expected: nothing is there. Steve was prescribed medication (which I am making sure he takes on schedule) and I finally was able to schedule the ultrasound appointment. One thing that leaves us to be hopeful is that Dr. A said one of the tests they ran on Steve showed that the level was normal. This was good news for a former chemotherapy patient (gosh I wish I could remember what it was at this moment). He said most male patients had a lower level so this was considered a good sign.

So yes, if you’re still with me, tomorrow I have my ultrasound appointment. I’m nervous. I want to believe everything is fine, but they still make me nervous. I know this is just another step that needs to be taken, and I should remain optimistic. 

Through all of this, my best friend has had two children. There was a point about a year ago I didn’t want to be near her or family. Or anyone and their children. I saw so many knitting patterns I wanted to try but I kept saying “I don’t want a baby to put in them, so why bother?”.

The worst part that Steve and I have heard from strangers “Well, at least you have one child.” Or “If it was meant to be, it would happen.” (Steve says it’s not for a lack of trying on his part!). 

Those comments, especially from strangers, always anger me. I am forever grateful that I have Chase. But is it wrong that I want to have another child? We are open to adoption (we both have parents who were adopted – my mom when she was nine, Steve’s dad when he was an infant). We just want to exhaust our options with fertility treatments. 

The first comment, my mother heard after my sister died at 36 hours (congenital heart failure). How is that supposed to be comforting to a grieving parent? And how is that supposed to be comforting to a couple struggling with infertility? The second comment hurts because I think we are meant to have more children, either biologically or via adoption. It just may not be our time yet. 

That period in my life when I didn’t want to be around my friend and her family, or babies in general, I admit was a dark time for me. I was desperate. I would read online to see if there was something herbal Steve and I could be taking. I wondered if there was someone other than just God I should be praying to. Should I build a shrine? Sacrifice a lamb? Like I said.. I was desperate. I was depressed.
After meeting with Dr. A and being given a solid plan of action, I feel better about our situation. Right now we are going through the motions and remaining hopeful. I’m still praying. I’ve changed my mindset about all of this. I will make those cute baby clothes. If not for a baby of our own, perhaps for a future niece or nephew (or even a grandchild??). It’s a waiting game. I pray for patience. I try not to think about it all the time, but for anyone who is trying to conceive and is having issues, it’s hard not to. 

For now… hope.

UPDATE:

According to our doctor, I have a "happy, healthy uterus". This puts me at ease. We're now going to put me on the back burner and focus on Steve.


Still remaining hopeful.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Knitting In Public

Today is Knit In Public Day. Mom finds it amusing that there is a day dedicated to knitters to get out in public and knit. Of course, Mom knits whenever she gets the chance (as I am sure most knitters do), but she said back in the day, most people didn't knit in public. I wonder why. Too taboo?

I know where she is coming from because this past semester I worked on her sweater and wristers between my Thursday classes. I would sit and knit away, and I often had people ask me what I was doing or just stare. I guess they weren't used to public knitting. There actually was an article in the school newspaper about Stitch and Bitch groups. Dale and I discussed possibly joining one of the local groups but realized we were better off knitting together (these women were boasting their use of $100+ a skein yarn -- I could never afford that!).

After Chase and I finished our Saturday errands, I took him to our local coffee house to knit. I offered to teach him to knit with his skein of hand-dyed yarn, but he turned down my offer. He would prefer if my mom teaches him to knit. I'm still unsure about teaching him to knit as I am a lefty and he is a righty (my mom is also left-handed), but I am sure my mom will do a fantastic job.

So while I knitted on Chase's sweater (after not knitting for two days), Chase read. He's currently reading Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconcetions Throughout the Ages (Chase is not happy they use the word Stupid in the title, but he is enjoying the stories). It was the free book on Friday for the Nook and I am pleased he has new reading material to catch his attention.

He was deep into reading mode...

So much so that he continued to read while eating lunch.

Progress on the front of Chase's sweater.

A little more progress on the back.

I really only stopped knitting because I need to measure and start preparing to move stitches again and I didn't have my measuring tape with me. We also wanted to get home and start working on making jam.

Who else enjoys knitting in public? Do you have a specific place you enjoy to go and knit? Do you often carry knitting projects with you just in case?