Wednesday, December 16, 2015

5 Last Minute Christmas Eats!

The Headlines:


Planning a Party?

Or even if you're not... these are some good eats.

Super simple.

Super Yummy!

And don't forget the Cranberry Cocktail (at the end)!



Every year, around December people all over the world start to plan parties.  Many cater them, some go out, we do neither.  To make matters worse, we do ours on the biggest Eve itself!  Yup, Christmas Eve.  It started out years ago because my family would come over for the holiday.  We'd do cocktails and appetizers and it was always a fun celebration!  Then I started inviting a few co-workers, a few neighbors.  Pretty soon it was a party tradition. I figured if I'm making apps for 6 - I can make them 16.  Then 26.  Then 36, 46, so on and so on.  Anyways, our party has steadily grown larger each year and we topped out in 2014 with our biggest guest list ever.

And the only reason I still do it all on my own is because I assemble the easiest recipes on the planet and use those!



Yes, we have some staples: a large "smoked" salmon, tri-tip, cheeses and bread.  But the best part is all the other fun foods!  Because at parties... people expect FUN food!  Here are some of them:

1 - Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds

Everyone loves guac, even during the winter.  Throw in some Pomegranate Seeds and it takes the traditional dip up a notch.  Plus, looks oh-so-festive.  See above.  You can even buy the guacamole and just add the seeds if you'd like... or you can find my recipe HERE!

2 - Bacon Wrapped Potatoes

It can't get any easier folks.  Here you take small potatoes, the tinier the better.  You wrap a piece of bacon around them, stick a toothpick in it and bake it at, I think it was like 400 degrees.  For like a half an hour.  It was so easy I forget!  But I'm doing it again this year...




and you should too!


3 - Finger Salads!
At a party, you actually need some variety.  People don't even know it but they want a little veggie taste thrown in, in some tricky way!  So try this... because like many others, I am so over the boring veggie tray.  This is way more fun!


You basically toss a head of radicchio, 5-10 chopped peperoncinis, 2-4 ounces of goat cheese with some red wine vinegar and EVOO (1 tspn each).  You can add some pine nuts too if you choose.  Then take a spoon full and roll it in a large piece of salami.  Use toothpicks to fasten it together and you have a salad you can eat with your fingers!   Told ya, tricky!


4 - Peppermint Red Velvet Cake
You must have a few sweets at Christmas time!  A cake thrown in a party is never a bad thing!  Try this one.  It's a Red Velvet Cake with a twist. And it's so easy because you use a mix while adding some extra ingredients!



You Need: 
Box of Red Velvet Cake Mix
1 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil (or canola but coco is better for you)
1 pkg cream cheese (softened)
4 oz white choc
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla
1/4 tspn peppermint extract
1 cup heavy cream
Peppermint candies or crushed candy canes

You Do:
Turn oven to 350.  Line 3, 8 inch cake pans with wax paper or heavily spray with non-stick spray or cover with butter.  Prepare cake mix according to directions but sub buttermilk for water.  Divi batter evenly among pans.  Bake for approx 18 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  The  remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Microwave white chocolate until it melts (no more than a minute).  Beat cream cheese and butter.  Add white chocolate to mixture.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla and peppermint.  Beat until smooth.  Then increase speed and beat until fluffy.  Take first cake, place on cake plate, flat side up and frost top.  Add the next cake, carefully frost top and then add final cake.  Frost sides and then place in freezer for about 15 minutes.  Save a little of this frosting...


Now, whip heavy cream and fold remaining frosting from last step into the mixture.  Frost entire cake once more to give it the finished look.  Add Peppermint candies to center or crushed candy canes on top, whichever look you prefer.  People will LOVE!  It;s really quite tasty and stunning!

5 - Graham Cracker Toffee
This next and final recipe needs it's own blog post, I swear.  Why?  It's ridiculous.  I got it from a court clerk by the name of Karen.  She worked at the city courthouse in Spokane, WA when I was a reporter trolling the halls looking for news in that town!  She made some, handed them out and my life's never been the same since!  It's like you're eating real toffee from a candy making metropolis but you're not and it's made with 4 ingredients.  BAM - my kind of recipe!  Unfortunately, when I made it last year I only snapped this quick picture before it was even put in the oven.  I guess after it came out - it was eaten too fast!


You Need:
12 whole graham crackers
1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups sliced almonds

You Do: 
Line a baking sheet with foil. Place crackers in pan. In a sauce pan, melt butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stir constantly.  Pour mixture over crackers. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes or until you see it bubbling. Cool in pan about 5 minutes,  Cut each cracker into 4 sections.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Then get ready to dive into perfection!

There you have it - 5 of the easiest Christmas Party Eats a person could (barely) bake/cook/assemble on their own!

Oh, I almost forgot... if you're looking for a Christmas Cocktail - look no further - serve the CRANBERRY MARGARITA.   Click HERE for the recipe.  NOW, you're ready to Party!

Merry Christmas, good luck and may the force be with you... it's absolutely crazy around here too! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

5 Ideas to Christmas-ize!

The Headlines:

'Tis the Season to decorate

Try some of these ideas




Sorry.  That's what I call it:  Christmas-ize, Faller-ize, Springer-ize... you get the picture.  It's my slang for decorating for the season at hand!  Something happens about this time of year, every year.  People who don't usually decorate, do.  They feel enormous pressure because, it seems, like the whole world is celebrating a season!  Any of them: Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukah, etc... so people do what they can in their own homes to take part in the festivities.

Now, you can either spend a TON of money at your local Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs (catalog) or any other decor store you can think of... and look like all the other houses on your block.  ORRRRR you can try these, easier (cheaper) things.   Up to you.



1 - Nostalgic Toys
Can it GET any easier?  Look around your house.  Or your Mom's house.  Or heck, even your Grandmother's!  See what's there.  During Christmas, toys become decor.  Especially if it's nostalgic and cool looking.  Here are some super simple ideas.  The scene is set in the above picture.  Can you see them all?  Let's zoom in.


You're not seeing things... that is an old block container and my first camera just sittin' there on the coffee table.  And it's cute.  Just beyond that... yep, there are those blocks spelled out to say Merry Christmas of course!  Now tell me your house doesn't have those blocks?  Spell out what you wish and put it on your hearth, mantel, kitchen table, wherever you're feeling it!


Did you notice what else is on that hearth?  Indeed, those are roller skates.  I'm glad my Mom kept them... so cute!  The kids are enamored with them!   I even have another pair (not pictured). Remember the ones you put over your shoes?  Uh-huh... those are under the tree!


 Have a tricycle?  Yep, us too.  Put it anywhere and it becomes decor this month!


Or one of those adorable cars everyone's selling these days... definitely use that!



2 - Light up Your Life!
Obviously, you can't decorate for Christmas anymore without putting plenty of lights up.  Luckily, the stores have finally gotten that memo.  These tiny, battery powered "wire" lights are simply THEEE coolest things on the planet.  It makes it easy to light up ANYTHING!  Check it out....


I got these at WALMART (about $6).  But get them fast, they sell out!  Then, go to WORK.  One idea that's really hot (not pictured) is putting these lights in a jar.  It looks great at night but rather  boring during the day.  So I'm not doing it, yet.  Here's what I am doing... the nativity set below looks way better lit up.  Praise Jesus.


And that front door wreath... with lights - Gorge!


In fact, any wreath you have any WHERE get some light on it!  This is in my bedroom...


Don't forget the kids rooms... light up those head boards!


If you turn them on mid-way trough the day - the timer will automatically turn them off before they're off to bed!


Super hard to beat.  But try... with this 3rd idea...

3 - Accent Pillows
Forget changing out all your sofa pillows, just change one!  Here in our "white" living room it works well.  I actually do this every season in this room.


Even in my bedroom "living room," it makes a world of difference!  It instantly whispers - it's CHRISTMAS to anyone who see it!!  Where can you get them?  Anywhere.


4 - Wreaths everywhere 
I know, this is a no brainer.  I've talked about this in years past... I wrote of it above here but I must discuss again.  It absolutely deserves its own number!  Because you really can't have enough wreaths at Christmas.


Put them in each person's room, over the fireplace, front door, in your kitchen windows and even on a CAR!  I wrote about it a few years ago... you can see that HERE .  Then, go get your wreaths on!

5- Bows on Anything (it looks like a present)
Finally, and again it really can't get much easier here friends.  Buy some ribbon.  It MUST be the ribbon with the wire on the sides.  Then, "wrap" things in your house.  Like some boxes...



Some baskets....


Even a chalkboard.  Stick a bow on it and it instantly turns festive.  Now that's easy.


Plus, don't forget to put a bow around your cookie jar!  Or in this case your candy.
BONUS: Speaking of candy I didn't add this as a number (because it's kind of a given for me now) but as always, use candy to decorate!


Throw it anywhere...  even on your chandelier.


I do this every year... just don't turn on the lights!


Not it's your turn - go try your own Christmas-izing!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finding Your Voice

The Headlines;

I have no voice.  

Like gone.

Turns out... there are lessons to be learned.



This has been an irritating few weeks.  You may have heard about our little flood we had due to a washing machine busting (literally) in my laundry room.  If not, check it out HERE.  Then I get sick, slightly, not a biggie.  But then I lose my voice.  Like gone.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Yes, but as "they" say... in every cloud there is a silver lining!

You ever get sick?  I know the answer to that... everyone does.  Especially Moms.  Those little germy hands bring in crud from all over the universe to your spic and span house (at least in theory).  Then they share those germs with you and you get sick.  Over and over.  It's like a running joke in every family.  Well, that happens here too.  But my sickness, about once a year - goes further than that.  I get sick and then, towards the end of the sickness, I lose my voice.   I remember this happening when I used to anchor the news.  Producers would actually let me go on.  I was sure I could just hear the remotes turning me off as the words came out.  Or didn't.

Anyways, after the sickness dies down, hoarseness sets in and then (especially if I force talking) it's just POOF - gone!  Not very convenient for anyone who has anyTHING to do in life.  But then again... there are lessons in everything.  Losing my voice always requires me to find it again.



Finding ones voice really should take years.  But when it's gone... you get to re-evalaute.  Are you using it correctly?  Here's what I found:

Kids Fight. 
Let them fight.  Stopping them while whispering is a near impossible task.  But try.  It's funny.  The real question is... if you say nothing, what do they do?  Does the silence do something your voice can't?

Listen More. 
As a former reporter I developed that skill early on.  Ironically, people think reporters need to be good talkers and they do.  But more than that... they need to listen.  Everyone wants to be heard.  They want to know their voice matters.  Because it does.  I like to ask questions but I most enjoy hearing answers.  This skill escapes many.  Not sure why... the sound of their own voice is too encapsulating maybe... I get it.  I love to talk too.  But I do realize that others, including your own children, have incredibly important things to say too.  Things I want to hear.  Things we all need to hear.

Couples Need Conversation. 
It's necessary to be really good together.  I have a million things I have to tell BP (the husband) but only a few things I can say right now.  He talks.  I smile.  Best conversation ever as far as he's concerned.  But I long to connect with him through my words.  He's my best friend and what we say to each other, means something.  Even the small stuff.

Real Friends Tune In.
People need patience to listen to me right now.  My good friends take the moment needed.  Some even translate.

Silence is Awkward.  
But should it be?  So many of us say something just to fill voids. We've all done it, "Nice day... this weather is awesome!" "How 'bout them Chargers?" Sometimes, less is more. If you stop talking, I promise others will step up.  Try it, you'll be amazed what comes out.  Just the same...

Words Matter.
So if you're going to talk please know words are powerful so pick them wisely.  Every single one.

Your Voice is Your Calling Card!
People not only respond to the words but also to the voice behind them.  When you don't have a sound... part of you is lost.  A part that is taken for granted daily.  I was at a party last weekend and I spoke to a man I had never officially talked to before... I thought the conversation went fine but he later turned to my husband and said, "what's up with your wife?  I can barely hear her?"  He thought I was a lunatic!

People Need Cheerleaders.
At my children's games last weekend I couldn't cheer them on.  It seems like a trivial task but I think this world could use a few more cheerleaders and maybe a few less "play-ahs!"


Yes, losing a voice changes ones life for the time being.  I have no doubt, I will soon find it again.  But like many things, it's a nice reminder of what you're missing... when it's gone.










Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Holiday Wine 411!

The Headlines:


Looking for good wine?

You've come to the right place. 

This chick knows some good wine!







Let me be very clear.  I love wine.  I really do.  I enjoy a light Sav Blanc with fruit on a Summer day.  Or a big, bold Cab when I eat a rich and hearty steak.  I think wine enhances food enormously.  A good dish can become over the top incredible if you pair it right.  Sometimes, even if you don't.

So when it comes to the holidays... the months when we, as a people, consume probably almost half of our yearly caloric intake - it's fitting to do so with fabulous wine!  But I know many people just really don't... know... where... to... start.

You can read all the super well educated, certified, typical wine geek information of the world (no offense) we love and need you people!  Or you can listen to ONE PICKY CHICK like me.  I'm not a geek or a wine critic of any sort.  I officially do not know what I'm talking about.  But I will say, I'm fairly good at knowing what's good.  It's not that hard.  You probably are good at knowing what's good too.  Cause I'm pretty sure you have taste buds, right?  The difference may be that I have been fortunate enough to go to many, many wine tastings all over the world... YaY!

With that said, I get nothing for any of my "recommendations" here.  DARN!

So take these seriously (but don't take them to your sommelier - they'll want you to buy much more expensive wines).  These are good, popular, not ridiculously priced wines that will make everyone happy this Holiday!  Promise.

Schrammsberg.  Blanc de Blancs. $31-$35 (highest priced of the bunch - worth every penny)


This is an amazing bottle of bubbles.  It's pricier than Korbel but not Cristal dollars.  Believe me?  Don't take my word for it... go to the White House.  Every president since, like Nixon, has served it there.  Not sure about Obama but if not, his term isn't over yet.  It's a fabulous way to start a holiday party.  Bubbly always puts people in the mood.  It's not just for wedding toasts anymore!

Washington Hills. Riesling.  $9-$12


First things first, you must know Riesling is considered the most "turkey paired" wine.  It works for the big bird.  But here's the deal about Washington Hills.  This puppy sells all year long.  Arguably one of the most popular Rieslings around... it's a good solid bet to make your guests happy.  Especially if they're having the standard: turkey/stuffing/potatoes!  Not to mention, did you see that price?

Joel Gott.  Sauvignon Blanc.  $11-13


Know this guy?  If you've ever been to Napa Valley you may know his burger joint.  It's not subtle.  You can't miss the red & white restaurant called Gott's Roadside - which is literally off the main road that runs through that area in St. Helena.  It's good food.  And he's now making really good wine (well, he's been doing it for a while actually).  Yep, he's a real guy.  I happen to like a lot of his wines.  But I really love this one.  It's light, refreshing, crisp.  Everything you want in an SB and you don't have to go over seas to get it.  Huh?  Take a look at a lot of the popular Sauvignon Blancs we drink here in the states.  They're mostly from New Zealand.  Sure it's a good region to grow that grape but taste this one.  You may decide it's time to keep your dollars here at home.


Chalk Hill. Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. $19-$22


Some guests just want Chardonnay.  It's America's favorite white varietal of all time.  So if you're going to have people over for the holidays... you have to have it.  This Chard blows.  It blows your mind that is!  Now, it's not their Estate Chardonnay - which some may consider an iconic white wine in the industry - but it's a more value priced white that's super duper, duper good.  Want to impress people?  Buy this!


Angeline.  Pinot Noir.  $11-$13


If you're hosting, you also must have a Pinot for guests during the holidays.  It's just gotten so popular since that movie, you know the one I'm talking about (that bashed Merlot like 10ish years ago)  "Sideways"!?  Anyways, since then, some people think they absolutely MUST have it.  This is one that I would agree, you must have.  As I write this, I'm actually sitting here enjoying a glass of it with an incredible cold smoked salmon, chopped salad that is a MUST MAKE, by the way, which you can find HERE.  People love it.  You will too.  I digress.  Back on topic.  Buy this wine!


Menage a Trois Silk. Blend (Pinot based). $10-12


In case you didn't know, Menage a Trois (traditional) is theee number 1 selling red wine in the state of Arizona.  It's probably that or close to that where you live too (if you're not here)!  So here's the new wine they're introducing and it's killing it.  It's tracking to be on par, if not surpassing their traditional blend.  Here's a hot tip: head into any Arizona Target and you'll see it front and center for a steal...


You are reading that right... $7.99 for this pupper is ridiculous.  For the value, it's a blend you can't beat.


Coppola Claret.  Cabernet Sauvignon. $16-$18


You know this brand.  Francis Ford Coppola?  The famous director turned wine maker?  Check it out.  It's an impressive bottle.  Something you could bring people as a gift if they're hosting Thanksgiving or any holiday occasion.  It's a large, balanced Cabernet that guests will enjoy.  The bottle has the extra touch of net strewn over it so that it resembles old world Europeans bottles.  Plus, here's a money saving tip: you can grab this HUGE version (seen below) at Costco for 60 bucks (it's 4 bottles in 1) - do the math - not bad, eh?


Bottom line, it's a fabulous Cab and for the price and presentation - hard to beat!


That is all my friends.  Hope I helped.  You can find most of these at all your major grocers and wine/liquor stores.  Most will be on special during these holiday weeks.  Some of the prices mentioned above could get EVEN BETTER!  So enjoy your family, food and festivities this holiday and don't forget to pass the wine!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Simply Grateful

The Headlines:



Life is never simple.  

But maybe it is... simple to be grateful.




In the blogging world lately, due to the time of year there's been a lot of talk about "teaching kids to be grateful & thankful."  Of course it's something every parent strives to do.  Yet for children, I think that's a hard, perhaps impossible, "lesson" to learn.  They're kids.  They may just learn "How To Be Grateful" when you're not paying attention.


On Sunday, November 8th, our house flooded.  The washing machine in our laundry room malfunctioned in a very big way.  We were on a walk.  When we came home there was water, 2 inches deep in our laundry room, down our long hallway, down another hallway, into our office, dining room and it started to trickle towards the front door.


It was a complete and total mess.  The water covered our fairly new, gorgeous wood floors we put in our house not too long ago.  But after stopping the water that was flowing from the washing machine, we didn't cry or moan or even pause.  We went to work.  With the help of my husband and 2 little children we got all the water out.  Well, most of it.  Our family came together, we didn't crumble, we conquered.  We floated to the top of our flooded house.

Today we're drying out.  It's going to cost a boat load of money, it's hot and super noisy but we'll be okay.


We have water restoration people here, appliance people here, friends here. It's fixable.  And we're thankful.  Everyone's okay, life will get better and we'll go on through the mess.

It made me stop and think about a topic I was already pondering: Being Grateful.  Perhaps when you get too comfortable, life throws you a curve ball.  A reminder to stop, evaluate, focus, balance, work, love and then re-evaulate.  Lately, I've been a little off kilter.  Nothing major, just off.  Not sure why.  Feeling overwhelmed for probably silly reasons really.  So maybe this is the universes way (or God's way - whichever you believe) to get me back in line.  Reminding me not to sweat the small stuff.  Instead, to appreciate and do the best with everyday you're given.

Think about it.  There really are constant reminders of this in our daily lives.  But are you seeing them?

I have a friend.  She's an amazing talent and spirit and caretaker of people.  Her story is long and convoluted and complicated.  But a few years ago life was really good.  She opened a dream business, bought a new house, had a strong, lovely family and was on top of the world!  But no sooner than she opened that business, did challenges settle in.  She was hit with a whopping (and ludicrous) lawsuit and has been in court fighting it ever since.  On top of that, a partner stole an exorbitant amount of money from her, her lawyers over billed her (for work they DID NOT do) and she was in danger of losing everything.  She almost caved entirely.  But she didn't.  She made a pointed decision to carry on,  let go and be grateful for what she does have: herself, her family and her life's work are all still there.  They will survive.  Even if something else doesn't.

Today she's at peace and is thankful strength still lives in her.  Turns out we all have that inside of us.  We just don't always know it.  Until we're reminded.  By something little... or something really big.

Last week, a California woman and fellow mommy blogger by the name of Melissa Matters died after she suffered a severe stroke.  She was put on life support and several days later, taken off by her family.  Matters was young and vibrant, a wife and mother and now she's gone.  Just gone.  Taken way too early.  I'm sure her friends and family are left in shock and horror over their sudden loss.  In fact, they started a "Go Fund Me" donation page in her honor, you can find it HERE.  Her blog is called "Wading Through Motherhood," you can click it: www.wadingthroughmotherhood.com  I didn't know her personally, other than maybe a Facebook comment exchange or two, but it doesn't matter because she IS me.  She is like all of us.  Every other mother out there trying to make each day count for themselves and for their children.  That's a job she can no longer do.

But we can.  All the career and stay at home, overworked, busy, confused, money strapped, exhausted, scheduled, chaotic Moms who are still here can continue to do that job with pride and resilience.

Feeling grateful now?


The lessons are always there if you choose to see them.  They don't need to slap you up side the head like the ones above.  You don't need a lawsuit levied against you or a flood to rise.  It's easy to just... be... grateful.  Your children will see that and learn that.   It will not only make them grateful little kids but it probably will turn them into really really really GREAT people!

Our family had a flood.  So we came together, we dried out and we floated to the top.  Turns out being grateful is pretty simple after all.


Watch my Periscope on the matter.  *Warning: Some of it may be hard to hear due to the LOUD FANS drying out my house!



Thursday, November 5, 2015

The BEST Homemade Soup in the world!

The Headlines:


Thanksgiving is here.

What's on your menu?

SOUP!





I'll admit.  I'm having a hard time this year.  I feel like there's 1 thousand things going on every second of the day.  999 of them I'm not doing.  For some reason, I just feel a little out of sorts and it's bugging me.  Shoot, I can't even keep up with this blog.  I'm down to like once a week.  Being a stay at home Mom is harder than you'd think and the time... just.. flies... by.  Forget about a job.  I know I "work".  But I mean one where you have to clock in, ask for time off, you know A REAL one!?  I salute every single working mother out there.  I do.  Especially now.  During this time of year.  And Summer.   Actually any days children are out of school.  I digress.  Back to the point.

The biggest eating day of the YEAR is upon us and we're having it here.  We always do.  Don't get me wrong, I like doing it.  But usually I know exactly what I'm serving by now.  This year I do not.  See, I love trying new things and this holiday is perfect for test drives.  Sometimes, we go traditional (with a twist): (smoked) turkey, (apple)stuffing, (cream cheese)mashed potatoes, broccoli something-er-other!  But I've also been known to veer off a bit... serving anything from chili to steak on the big bird day.  Plus I really like courses: cocktails, appetizers, starters, main and desert.

I'll figure out mine soon.  But we all need to get on the menu now.  And this Celery Soup with Caramelized Apple & Blue Cheese toppings MUST be on yours!



It truly is the best soup in the world.  First made by a woman, I know not, in Scottsdale, Arizona by the name of Rita King.  And let me tell you... she's the QUEEN of this soup!  Hail King Rita.  What makes this soup is what you put on top of it.  It's just a tad of creamy, tangy goodness which compliments the vegetable lusciousness below.  The sautéed apples and blue cheese absolutely adds just enough to the balance of the subtle celery taste of the soup.

IT IS TO DIE FOR!

And as always... easy to make.  Yes, more labor intensive than opening a can but worth every extra minute!

Here's what you need:
2 head of celery (separated and chopped in large slices)
1 onion, chopped
2 quarts of reduced sodium chicken broth
4 tbspns butter
2 granny smith apples, finely chopped
1 cup half and half
salt and pepper
1/2 cup or more of chopped fresh parsley
crumbled blue cheese (if you don't like blue, use goat or maybe nothing)


Here's what you do:
In a large pot, boil celery and onion in broth with lid on until tender... 30 minutes.  Celery should be very soft.  Then, blend celery in blender until smooth.  Add half and half, mix together.  Sprinkle in salt and pepper.  In a separate frying pan, use butter to sautee apple bits until carmelized.  Pour soup, sprinkle apples, blue cheese and parsley topping each bowl of soup.  Serves about 8, depending on portions.  Prepare to be WOWed!  Check it out close up!


It is theeeee perfect "starter" course" on Thanksgiving or any day!  Absolutely, positively the BEST Homemade soup in the world!

Check out my Periscope on this!



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Misconception about Conception

The Headlines:


Girls think they can have babies forever.

Until they can't.  





Tick tock... tick tock... tick tock... hear that?  That's the sound of the clock working.  Minute by minute the time is passing.  If you're a woman, from the moment you're born the clock on the eggs in your body starts to tick. And tock.

It is a fact that a woman is born with a certain amount of eggs.  Before she's even started her menstrual cycle she's lost more than half of them.  And each year that goes by, they dwindle.  When she runs out, there are no more.  She can't buy any.  Well, she can, but they're not technically hers.  HER eggs are present (a gift really) for only a specific amount of time.


In the last several decades, something happened on our way to the baby shower.  Women have gotten busier.  Thank goodness.  We now hold high political offices.  We're esteemed judges and doctors.  Tech moguls, CEO's, there's really nothing we can't do.  But ironically, that very freedom can limit an ability we've had since the beginning of time.  We're so busy living our lives that sometimes we forget to create them!

Bravo to those women who want to live their dream, I was one of them.   I would never bash a woman who wanted to put herself and her career front and center.  But I would caution her: don't forget about your other dream (if it is one) because having a baby isn't a given - we just think it is.

There are lots and lots of young women who think the possibility of having children extends well into their 40's.  And it does.  For a very few.

When I was reporting for a TV station in California years ago I did a story on freezing eggs.  For a hefty price, an Orange County company would go into a woman's body, grab some of her eggs during her prime and keep them "on ice" until she was ready to use them.  I was amazed and envious really.  A woman who had the means could very potentially go well into her 40's and then have children.  No bother.  No worries.  No old eggs.  NO way.  For me at least... I had to do it the old fashioned way.  Kinda.  This is my 3rd post in a short series.  Read my full infertility story HERE  and then read how I fought to get pregnant HERE.   Spoiler alert - it was not by way of frozen eggs!

But when I did that story all those years ago it hit me for the first time... THAT'S HOW THEY DO IT!  You know there's tons of news about celebrities having babies well into their mid to late 40's: Halle Berry at 47, Tina Fey at 44, Gwen Stefani at 45, Amanda Peet at 43, Mira Sorvino had a baby when she was 44 and Kelly Preston was 47 years old!  The list really does go on and on... and that's great but here's what's not so fabulous: they're having lots of help and paying tons of dollars for those babies.  The world just doesn't know it.

Same thing happened when I was working.  As a television broadcaster for about 17 plus years....  I ran into plenty of very driven women.  Ladies who dressed lovely, talked fast, made money and wanted it all.  They lunged hard at their career early, got married later and babies were almost an after thought.  About the time I wanted to conceive others in my business did too.  There was a bit of a baby boom.  Multiples happened.  Some women talked about where they came from... others didn't.

I get why they hide it:

privacy
presumption of youth
embarrassment
emotions

They have the right to keep it to themselves.  It's hard to go through and it can be a struggle that's difficult to share.  I know just as much as anyone.  But I also believe perhaps it's their duty.  Otherwise, it's really such a dis-service to the women and girls out there who will attempt to live the lie.  Sadly, when they find out the truth... it may be too late.  

As I did that story about the frozen eggs all those years ago I learned something I would never forget.  The cold hard facts surrounding the eggs inside a woman.  A woman is born with about a million eggs in her body but only has a few hundred thousand left by the time she's a teen.  Sounds like a lot but she loses them incredibly fast.  There's less in her 20's.  By the time a woman hits her early 30's there's still lots of good options but they're starting to dwindle.  Then by 35, there's such a severe drop, on a graph chart, it would look like a 90 degree angle.  After 40, there's almost no eggs left.  At age 45,  there's just about a 3-4% chance of natural conception... according to Parents.com.  So, even a high powered CEO of a Fortune 500 company can not put in a bid for a baby... she just can't have one.

Why am I writing about this?  Not to scare anyone but to plant the seed.  Yes, I want girls to live their dreams but I also want them to take a moment to recognize a dream they may not even realize is there.  Being a mother is a special part of life that could easily pass you by if you let it.  If you want a baby, it's just as important - arguably more - as that job promotion.


No doubt about it... wait until you're ready.  But don't wait too long.  Because the misconception about conception is ultimately pretty clear.  Tick tock, tick tock, tick tick... tock.




Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fighting For Fertility: How to get Pregnant When Doctors say "You Can't..."

The Headlines:


Sometimes Doctors are wrong.

You can do the impossible.  

Be your own best advocate.

And never take NO for an answer.






When you find out, from a Fertility Doctor, there's no way - in his professional opinion - you can get pregnant.  What happens?

You want to prove him wrong.

To read the FIRST full story - click HERE ... this is the 2nd one in the "series."


Yes, that doctor scared me and scarred me.  He took lots of money from me yet he made me feel like less of a woman.  The one thing he did positively was introduce me to a skilled fertility Acupuncturist.

His name is Robert Koagedal.   He has a practice in Scottsdale, Arizona called ACUHEALTH ... click that business name to go directly to his website.  I recommend him up and down, around the corner and through the woods.  He's good.  He gets the credit for leading me on this journey.  I started seeing him when I began IVF.  But it was too late.  Turns out, a woman should go to the acupuncturist months before attempting the procedure to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

What Koagedal does is bring you back to basics.  He took a look at my life and helped me begin the path to fix it.  My FSH (that's Follicle Stimulating Hormone - also explained HERE) was high.  Why?  Since I wasn't pre-menopausal... it was a number of other reasons.  I wasn't sleeping enough (morning television reporter), eating enough (or the right things),  probably exercising too much in the extreme heat that is Arizona.

The question became: how is your body supposed to take care of someone else when it can barely even take care of itself?  Bingo.  I needed to heal me first before I could support any other living thing.  Particularly a baby.  It made total sense. The yin has to meet the yang.  So my mission was crystal clear.  Make myself into the perfect model home.  It was renovation time and I was cleaning house.

Acupuncture was a solid, no stress hour of getting pricked by pins.  I'm not an eastern medical expert so I can't tell you exactly how it works but I do know this:  it does work.  Acupuncture is not a crock.  It's part of a process that brings an ailing body into balance.  It can help multiple issues including pain management, allergies, medical ailments and in my case... fertility.  And so I began to see another man every week.  My husband supported it.  I loved going.  Yet ironically, every time I walked in the door I got mad.  I was there because I had failed.  And it hurt.  But, in my mind, there were no other options.

Change began.  I not only went to Acupuncture every week but everything differed from life as I knew it.  Call it an about face.  There wasn't much I could do about my night sleep, other than quit my job but my stubborn attitude won that battle. However,  I did start taking a nap almost everyday.  I no longer exercised in the extreme heat.  Heat's not good for conception.  And rather than eating less I began to eat more.  There are what they call "fertility foods."  Local, fresh, whole and balanced.  Real food.

I did not consume breads, pastas, caffeine (coffee), soy, corn, lots of sugar, fast foods or highly processed foods.

Let me start by saying this is not a "diet."  These food won't necessarily make you skinny, to the contrary, the suggestions here may put more weight on you.  Depending upon body type.  Heavier women could lose, my goal was to put a little extra meat on my bones.

Eggs.  Eat them almost everyday. Extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Yum.  Rich tasting and good for you.  In some cultures, women eat near a dozen everyday!  I stuck with 3.

Meats.  You need plenty of organic/grass fed meat.  Not the lean meats.  Fat, some of it, can be good for fertility purposes.  And boy does it make a steak tasty!   Like I said, grass fed.  Not corn fed.  Quite simply, cows and lambs are supposed to eat grass.  Not corn.  Corn is everywhere in the diet of today's animals and that's not necessarily a good thing.  Just a way to fatten the little guys up into big guys.  They're not meant to eat corn and in turn... you're not meant to eat them that way.  Grass fed/organic may be hard to find, sometimes expensive,  but worth it.  In my case, my friend and I found a grass fed cow in Utah (this is no joke) and we bought him.  We knew the farmer, he knew the butcher and my friend's husband drove it across a couple states.  If you can't buy a cow, try your local grocer, butcher or farm.  Just search for it.

Other foods including organic chicken, eat lots of wild Alaskan Salmon.  You want to use real, organic butter and drink organic, whole milk.  Remember, it's not a "diet!"  Eat organic fruits and vegetables but avoid soy.  Experts say it messes with a woman's estrogen.  Even in small amounts. Which is why many vegans have trouble getting pregnant.  You want a baby?  Put the vegan lifestyle aside... if just for a year or two.  Why risk it?

Drinks.   Enjoy liquid chlorophyll.  I started to drink it when I read it could help clear up your skin.  Found in most health food stores, I was delighted to hear it also aided fertility.  It's bright green and about a tablespoon in a large water bottle will do.  There's hardly any taste.  It's a rich source of natural minerals vitamins, proteins and anti-oxidants.  Plus, it gets extra credit for helping clear the skin.  Looking beautiful while going through a hard time in your life never hurt.

Drink wheat grass if you can stomach it.  I hated it.  It was like drinking my lawn.  Like I took scizzors and cut some grass and mixed it in a blender with water.  If you can, go for it.  It will only help.

The last important liquid is Fertil-i-Tea.  Get it?  Cute.  It's a blend of herbs that aids in the quest.  I bought the tea through my Acupuncturist.  Drink it every morning instead of coffee.  I almost completely gave coffee up.  But I still went through the warm-liquid-morning-motions.    

Personally, I did not give up wine.  A few times a week I'd enjoy it with my steak or salmon!  If I needed a treat I usually turned to ice cream.  I figured the dairy fat was better than Red Vines!
  
Vitamins. Take pre-natals and fish oil.  Also, look into herbs throughout the month.  There's a series eastern medicine thinks you should be taking to aid in the fertility fight.  One type for one week, another the next, it follows your monthly cycle.  The Herbs also came from my Acupuncturist.

You may put on a little weight but not too much.  Perhaps like 5-7 pounds.  I never weigh myself so I don't really know but that's what it felt like.  No one else will notice.  You may hear compliments though.  People said I looked better, my skin was fresher, my hair was thicker.  One odd thing: my fingers got smaller.  After my first child was about a year old my fingers swelled and I could no longer get my engagement ring on.  I'd have to be really cold to slide it into position.  It was also about that time my cheeks looked constantly flushed.  It was like my body was running hot.  Perhaps it was running on empty.  There was no gas in the tank.  Remember, how was I going to support another human being if I couldn't even support myself?  The question was out there and I felt the real answer was within my reach.  

Finally, the new year came and went.  I had been under this regime for 10 months now and I was growing weary.  The sadness inside of me was sometimes overwhelming.  Once, I burst out crying at a little girls birthday party when someone asked me a pointed parenting question: my daughter was 4 and if I wasn't going to have another child - should I quit and stay home with her?  At this point, secretly, between BP (the husband) and I... it was decided I would be a full time mom.  I would quit my job when my contract at the TV station ran out.  The 1 year count down was on.

Now, aside from this out burst... overall I was actually feeling very good.  My fingers had gotten skinnier, though I had put on a tiny weight.  I was a little less tired and I felt better.  My Acupuncturist agreed something should happen now if it was going to happen at all.

It was time to re-take that FSH test.  I made an appointment with my OB-GYN.  I took the test and the results came back fairly quick.  But I dodged them.  Until I finally talked to my doctor who gave me the news...

MY FSH LEVELS WERE THAT OF A 20 YEAR OLD (like around a 6)!  

It was go time.  Turns out,  I was feeling good for good reason... my model home was ready for a nursery!

My OB gave me a very small amount of Clomid that I could only use for 3 ovulation periods.  I had 3 cycles to get this job done.  Clomid, for the record, in very non-pharmaceutical terms, is a drug that basically pushes all your eggs out in one swoop so you have a better chance of getting pregnant.  I took it once and nothing.  I took it a second time and it worked.

I could NOT believe it.  I was pregnant.  But the term we used over and over was "cautiously optimistic." We were hopeful the pregnancy would last but afraid it wouldn't.

We told (almost) no one.  We prayed a lot.  I was excited to be nauseous.  Ecstatic to be tired.  A craving made me jump for joy.  All good signs that it was working.

We finally exhaled when I was 5 months along.  We began telling people I was pregnant.  The baby bump was more evident.  We had done it.  I had a baby shower.  Something I didn't do with my first pregnancy.  The attention was something I didn't crave.  But this time... was different.  I wanted to share in a joy that was hard to find with a baby who was difficult to meet.

January, 2011, I gave birth to my first and only little boy.



He's no better than any other child but he's perfectly mine.  I told my husband after I had him... I was in love with another man.  I still am.

After a few months, I emailed the fertility doctor who told me I would never have a child on my own.   Now isn't that just the justice we all crave?  You bet I was proud.  He emailed me back and asked for details about how I did it.  How's that for irony?

Here are my children today:


In the end, the lesson here is clear and goes far beyond conception.  When it seems all hope is lost, maybe it's not. Anyone can do something they thought not possible, something outrageous... even a little miraculous.  I did.  You can too.  Just carve your own path.  Listen to medical professionals but be your own best advocate.  The rules don't always apply to everyone.  Sometimes... you have to make your own.

Above all... anything worth having is certainly worth fighting for.  My Fight for Fertility was a long, hard battle but it was worth every second.

Watch my Periscope, live "broadcast" on this topic here:


In my next post on "Fighting for Fertility" I'm talking about the Misconception with Conception.  I've found so many young women struggle to have children because they think they have all the time in the world.  This, due, in part to so many visible and working women (celebrities) having babies well into their 40's and 50's.  But the reality is different.  To read it click HERE






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