Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Today is Wednesday, and I'm usually at work, but there is snow in Seattle!  Some areas got up to 2 feet, but we only got about 4-5 inches where we live and now it's raining which means everything is freezing over.  So today is a snow day and Matt and I are hanging out at home enjoying the relaxing day and the beautiful snow while it lasts.  I'm getting the laundry done, the dishwasher is running, and I even broke out my guitar and started learning a new song.

So, if you're "hunkering down" at home like us, perhaps you can bake these snow-capped Chocolate Crinkles I made over Christmas weekend.  FYI, you'll need to chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, so be sure to plan ahead for that.  I got this recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book my Grandma gave me in 1999, and these are one of Matt's favorite cookies.  The warm, gooey, chocolate center dusted with the sweet powdered sugar are best to eat while still warm.  Share them with your neighbors who are also stuck at home and not just because you are a friendly neighbor, but because this recipe makes a lot...and it is difficult to eat less than three :)

What You Need:
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1 1/2  cups sugar
  • 4 squares (4 oz) unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sifted powdered sugar
What You Do:
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine beaten eggs, sugar, melted chocolate, cooking oil, baking powder, and vanilla. 
  2. Gradually add flour to chocolate mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined (it will be thick).  Cover and chill for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll balls in powdered sugar to coat generously.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. 
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set and tops are crackled (I found 10 minutes worked best in my oven).  Cool cookies on a wire rack.  If desired, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar (I do not).
Happy Snuggly Snow Day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I am the 15% and Baby B Has Been Occupying my Belly for 4 Months!

We had an appointment with our midwife, Nancy, on Thursday and it was a special appointment.  My parents, along with Matt's Mom, accompanied us to our appointment so they could meet Nancy, see her birth center, and (most exciting) see the ultrasound!  They have seen the ultrasound pictures, but it is even more amazing to see their grandbaby moving around and hearing the heartbeat.  Our mothers didn't get to enjoy the excitement of the ultrasound when we were roasting in their ovens, so we were thrilled to share this experience with them and will be inviting them to future appointments as well when Baby B is even bigger. 

My blood tests came back and everything came back normal...except for the fact that I'm Rh- (I should've probably known my blood type already), which is only a big deal if nothing is done about it. 85% of the population is Rh+ when it comes to their blood type  (B+, AB+, etc...), so I'm the special 15% I guess.  This website explains it all much better than I could.  Matt's blood is being tested because he doesn't know if he's + or -, but chances are he's Rh+, which means I'll need RhoGAM in order to prevent hemolytic disease of the newborn.

16 weeks today (hello month 4!)
  • Weight gain:  4.5 lbs
  • Current craving:  Nectarines (I eat them every day!)
  • Nausea is MUCH better and mostly non-existent
  • I just signed up for a 2-day birthing seminar that our midwife referred us to.
  • My throat has been SO dry and I'm always thirsty for water, waking up in the middle of the night not able to swallow.
  • I read Jenny McCarthy's Baby Laughs this weekend.  Although she doesn't share my "language style" and is a bit vulgar, I really appreciate her hilarious honesty!  I was laughing out loud and reading parts to Matt.
  • I am reading 3 other books right now with another one on the way, and many others on my wish list.  Who wants to host my intervention?
  • We find out NEXT MONTH if we're having a Prince or Princess.  I've had so many people tell me they think I'm having a girl, even patients.  I had one female patient tell me with complete certainty that I was having a girl, she could "just tell" and is "never wrong".  Well see...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hot Body Chili

When I moved to the Seattle area, I got a job working the front desk and daycare in a gym.  It was a perfect job while in school not only because of the hours, but I could work on schoolwork later at night when the gym slowed down.  Other great benefits were the free gym membership and the friendships I made.  Heather was my front desk partner and we always worked Friday nights together.  Not too many people work out past 6:00 p.m. on a Friday night, so we had plenty of time to talk and share life with each other.  Heather taught me how to knit and shared her nutrition and acupuncture knowledge with me (she was completing her Master's degree).  I enjoyed sharing with Heather what I was learning in school, we scrapbooked together, and I got to see her have fun planning her wedding. Although she's about 10 years older than me, we never seem to run out of things to talk about.  I also love how she lives life...she rides a dirt bike, enjoys down-hill mountain biking, is a black belt and used to teach kickboxing at the gym where we worked. 

Why am I telling you about Heather?  Not only is she pretty awesome, but I recently realized I have friends such as Heather that I rarely talk to anymore, and a text message or Facebook comment is just not cutting it for me (she doesn't have Facebook anyway). One of my "resolutions" for 2012 is for more face time with my friends.  It's difficult and life gets in the way, but I want my friends to be a part of my life and I want to be a part of theirs.  I realized I hadn't seen Heather since Matt's and my wedding almost three years ago, and we had some catching up to do! 

We chatted on the phone a little bit and decided we needed to make a visit happen...and that happened today!  She had not been to our house, so she made the 1 hour drive (which doesn't facilitate face-time) and we had a great time sipping tea and chatting, and she also stayed for lunch.  Today was cold and wet, and chili sounded like the perfect lunch.  This Hot Body Chili is not only my go-to chili recipe for a quick dinner or company because it's so easy, but it's healthy and I snagged this from a fitness magazine in 2005...when I worked at the gym with Heather. 

What You Need:
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 16 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 cap full white vinegar
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf (I use 2)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce or red pepper flakes to taste (if desired)
  • 8 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
What You Do:
  1. Lightly spray soup pot with cooking spray and place over medium heat.  Add turkey and onions.  Using wooden spoon, crumble turkey keeping large chunks & cook until almost fully cooked.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except beans.  Cover and cook over low heat for at least 15 minutes (or up to 2 hours) for best flavor, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add beans, heat until hot, serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings but is so easy to double or triple for a larger crowd.

Per Serving:
  • 228 calories
  • 33 g protein
  • 22 g carbohydrates
  • 2 g fat
  • 6 g fiber
May your belly always be full with good food, and may you always be surrounded by great friends!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Wish I Knew then, What I Know Now.

For those who really know me, you know I'm a planner.  In elementary school I would make "to do" lists for Saturdays and during Summer break.  I color-code my calendar.  I had an account set up on The Knot before Matt and I were engaged so I could start doing research on vendors and reading reviews (yes, I told him this after we were engaged), and I researched natural childbirth and picked out our midwife (and read her book) before we even started trying to conceive.  Don't get me wrong, I do love a good spur-of-the-moment road trip or an I-have-no-plans-for-today day.  But when it comes to a moment so life-altering as the birth of our child...I need a plan!

I am fully aware that this baby may have a different plan and mine might get thrown out the window.  I'm not inflexible and stubborn by any means, I just like to be prepared and it brings me confidence (which I will need come "D-Day").  I understand that situations arise during a delivery in which my plan is not the best plan. 

This all to say that I love hearing advice from others. I love listening to people's stories and experiences in various areas of life.  I learn so much from other people and truly believe we all have so much to offer one another.   Every woman has a pregnancy and birth that is unique to them, and I can't rely on what other women tell me because my experiences and children will also be unique.  However, I can never have too much advice from those who have gone before me, and recently posed the question on my Facebook page:  "What 'I wish I knew then, what I know now' advice do you have for me and/or Matt?  Advice regarding pregnancy, delivery, or newborn stage is welcomed!"  Here are some of the responses...

Linda (my momma) - "Don't sweat the small stuff.  In the big picture of LIFE it didn't matter!" (I wish she knew that one then too ;)

Bill (my daddio) - "Raise your children how you wish, not how you think others want you to."

Natalie (my sis) - "You need to be flexible and adaptable. You and your children don't live in a bubble and even though you should have your own way of doing things, your kids will be in contact with lots of other people. Knowing that even if they don't follow your exact rules or expectations, your kids will be ok. As long as they're not playing in the street, running with knives, or eating bugs - they'll be ok." (Although I'm pretty sure her son Donovan did eat ants...and he's still ok)

Kelley - "You can never be too prepared. It doesn't hurt to carry a change of clothes for you too. Spit up and poo are inevitable!"

Kris - "Journal your pregnancy! It'll be a treasure to read the pages to your little one once he/she is born and again later on at 5 years old when they'll actually understand it" (I love this, and actually have been journaling for while.  It's just pretty much consists of pregnancy news now as I don't want to forget a thing)

Kriste - "Your baby will choose how they need to be born. I wanted all natural...Alexander didn't agree. Unplanned c-section after 28 hours of labor....his heart rate started to drop and we just needed to get him OUT of there. I cried at first because it wasn't the delivery that I had planned, but I trusted my doctor and I wasn't disappointed afterward."

Esther - "Enjoy the quiet now, sleep all weekend, watch marathon movies and enjoy the qt with your husband! After baby arrives, take life one day at a time!"

Mary Ann - "Relax - Enjoy - and Love every moment!!"

Nicole - "The pregnancy itself is awesome! Every stage, every step is so amazing. And appreciate and take it all in, because your next one will be different! They are all different!! Don't rush any stage either. Don't wish for the next one. And you can read all the books out there, but babies don't always follow the book."

Lindsey - "...breastfeeding can be hard and painful. The breastfeeding book by Sears is helpful. Also, make meals and freeze them before baby is born so you have dinner ready when you first have baby. "

Shalaney - "...after the baby is born, still remember to have time for YOU and Matt..."

Jennifer - "Educating myself helped me to deliver naturally, stick with breastfeeding (even when I faced some challenges) and put my baby on a well balanced schedule. However, you have lots of time to take a break and enjoy a relaxing book." 

I also just recently read in one of the several books I'm juggling right now, for Dad-to-be to pack a "D-Day" bag as well. We might be away from our home for a very long time, and Matt might want a change of clothes, snacks, and a toothbrush too!

Thank you SO much to everyone who offered up their advice and personal experiences, Matt and I really do appreciate it.  If anyone has anything else to share, please feel free to comment here on the blog or on my Facebook page.  You can send me a private message if your advice is "TMI", but I have read Jenny McCarthy's Belly Laughs so I've gotten some detailed insights there :)