Monday, December 28, 2015

The Fifth Time's A Charm?

Well, no Christmas miracle for me.  I'm not pregnant this month.  Dang it.

So, Adam and I have decided to try out another IUI.  For those of you who don't know, an IUI is an Intrauterine Insemination.  Basically, sperm is placed directly in the uterus.  It takes out a step that the sperm has to make on its own by bypassing the cervix.  A small catheter is put through the cervix and doctors send the sperm through the catheter.  It gets the sperm closer to the Fallopian tubes where the eggs are located.  And there's your anatomy lesson for the day.  

The actual procedure is not painful and is very quick.  It feels about the same as a pap smear.  I usually have some minor cramping for the rest of the day and that's it.  If I sound like I know what I'm talking about, it's because I do.  Adam and I have been through 4 other IUIs.  Why are we trying again?  Well, both our acupuncturist and our fertility specialist think it is a good next step.  It's been about a year since our last IUI attempt and we've done acupuncture since then.  Everyone agrees it's worth trying a couple IUIs before moving towards more invasive and expensive options.  

In addition to the IUI, I will also be taking Clomid which will increase the number of eggs that I release when I ovulate.  Having more eggs released means an increased chance that one (or more) will get fertilized.  Typically, women only release one egg each cycle.  Taking Clomid will make 2-3 eggs release. While this does increase the chance of having twins or triplets, it's a relatively slim chance.  

Clomid has some pretty crazy side effects.  I took it for 3 of the 4 previous IUI cycles.  It pretty much makes you crazy.  Everyone and everything annoys you.  You get hot flashes.  It's just not pleasant.  Poor Adam had to take the brunt of it.  And also that car mechanic.  I still feel bad about that...

Anyways, hopefully the Clomid and the IUI will result in a healthy pregnancy!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Everything!

As promised in this post, here is this year's Christmas card:

Jazzy and I would like to wish everyone and their loved ones a very merry holiday season full of hope and happiness!  

And we wish you a fabulous New Year, too!  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cookie Day!

AKA: The Day I Ate My Weight in Cookie Dough!  (I know you're not supposed to eat raw cookie dough, but what can I say?  I like to live dangerously!)

For the last few years, I've taken a day in December to whip up some Christmas cookies to share with my neighbors.  It's a nice way to give a little something to the folks who put away our trash bins and look out for the house when Adam and I go on vacation.  

Usually about halfway through the cookie-making process I stare at the growing pile of dishes in the sink and ask myself why I did this in the first place.  But not this year!  This year I planned ahead and forced myself to keep my cookie day as simple as can be.  That way I could actually enjoy it instead of wishing I hadn't done it halfway through. 

Here are a few ways I kept the cookie-baking fun and stress-free.

I gathered all my supplies ahead of time.

This year I got my act together ahead of time.  I looked at all the recipes and gathered all of the ingredients and baking utensils I would need before I started.  It really did save a lot of time in the long run.  Plus, I felt like I was on a cooking show and had everything I could possibly need right in front of me. Maybe I should start doing this when I cook dinner...

I used tried and true recipes. 

In previous years, I would scour Pinterest and look for some exciting new cookie recipes.  I don't know about you, but it always takes me twice as long as the expected prep and baking time when I try a recipe out for the first time.  And nothing ever seems to turn out quite right the first time I try to bake something.  So this year I decided to use recipes that I knew how to follow and that I knew would be delicious.  

My absolute favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe can be found here.  The cookies are so moist and chewy. Yum!  

And the award for most adorable cookies has to go to these Peanut Butter Rudolph Cookies.  C'mon!  Look at those cute reindeer!  I do recommend having a second set of hands to pull off the decorating part.  You have to quickly add the antlers, eyes and nose as soon as you take the cookies out of the oven.  

I tried to find the recipe online without much luck.  I'm pretty sure I cut it out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, like, 5 years ago.  Here's a picture of the recipe.  

I mixed in some store-bought cookie dough. 

I wasn't afraid to use some store-bought cookie dough this year.  I figure if only 1 out of the 3 types of cookies I made were made using store-bought dough, then I can still say I made most of the cookies from scratch.  My mom told me about the peppermint sugar cookie dough she bought from the grocery store and I was sold.  Delicious and very easy!  

Buy some cute storage containers to hold the cookies.  

Usually I end up putting cookies on paper plates and then wrangling plastic wrap over the cookies and plate.  (Why is it that plastic wrap only seems to stick to itself and not the thing you are trying to cover?) I got smart this year.  Way back in last December, I bought some cute cardboard cookie containers during the after Christmas sales.  These cookie containers ended up being far easier to transport and they looked as though I picked them up at a bakery.  I will definitely be looking for more containers after Christmas this year.  

There you have it.  The only cookie-baking secrets I possess.  Happy baking!  Or happy eating raw cookie dough! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Under The Sink Gets An Overhaul

Under my sink was starting to get a little messy.  There were all kinds of bottles, many of them almost empty.  Plus, there was a lot of random stuff in there that didn't need to be housed under the sink.    

It was also pretty dark underneath there.  The previous homeowners had painted the inside of the cabinet a dark brown.  So, it was a bit like looking into a cave when trying to find anything under there.  

I wanted to lighten things up under there, clear out the clutter and organize what was left.  The first thing I did was clear everything out.  

Then I needed to work on lightening things up.  I decided to put some vinyl peel and stick tiles on the bottom of the cabinet.  This would help make it brighter and it would also make it just a bit nicer to look at when I'm rummaging around for cleaning supplies.  

It was pretty simple to put the tiles in.  I marked on the back of the tile where I needed to make any cuts. Then I used a metal ruler as a straightedge to run a utility knife along to make my cuts.  

After I scored it a few times, it was very easy to bend the tiles and break off the part I didn't need.

Once my tiles were cut to size, I peeled off the paper backing and stuck them on the bottom of the cabinet.  Adam helped me out and, of course, made things much easier with his expertise.  Jazzy approved of our work. 

Once all the tiles were in place, I got to work organizing the supplies that were going back in the cabinet. I put all the supplies I use daily in the big basket on the right.  When I'm cleaning a bathroom upstairs, I can simply grab the basket and bring it with me and have everything I need in one place.  Other supplies that I don't use all the time are housed in the smaller baskets on the left and the little shelf.  I keep any extra supplies in the back of the cabinet.  I used a tall glass to house a water bottle brush.  And I had to make sure the fire extinguisher was front and center.  Mr. Safety requires it to be in reach should any fires occur in the kitchen.  

The last thing I added were some gloves and sponges to the basket on the door.  I must say, it brings a little smile to my face when I look under the sink now.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Jazzy's Gotcha Day

It's hard to believe it's already been a year since Jazzy joined our family!  I recently revisited this post, which talks about how Jazzy ended up with us.  I truly cannot imagine Jazzy not being a part our lives. Adam and I had gaping holes in our hearts from the loss of our baby.  While those holes will never be completely filled, Jazzy sure has stuffed lots of love in them.  

She brings us so much happiness and joy.  Adam and I have laughed so much more since Jazzy moved in with us.  There's a lightness she brings to our everyday lives and we are so incredibly lucky she's our dog.  

We wanted to show Jazzy how much we love her, so we wanted to spend her Gotcha Day doing all the things she loves most.  Since the weather has been unseasonably warm, we decided to take Jazzy to a trail.  The girl loves to go on walks, especially to territory where the smells are new.  So, we decided to take her to a trail she's never been to before.  

She had a blast!  She loved looking at all the pretty views.   

She seemed to be quite enthralled with the lake views.  Or it might have been the people fishing.

I think she was especially excited that she was with us.  Jazzy has a pretty sweet dad.  Not all doggy dads would willingly walk around holding a pink leash.  

While on the trail, we noticed a random dog park.  Jazzy is not exactly thrilled when she comes across other dogs.  She's okay with some, but despises others.  Adam has braved one other dog park with her and it's wasn't exactly her cup of tea.  But we figured we'd let Jazzy try it out since we ran into it.  

Jazzy seemed curious about it and did enjoy all the smells.  She was perfectly content to wander around where there weren't any dogs and pee on things.  Jazzy did not care for most of the dogs.  She preferred to watch all the action as opposed to being a part of it. 

Oh well, at least she had the option to play.  We'll still have to work on being around other dogs.  We decided not to force her to play.  It was her special day, after all.

After the dog park and trail walk, we made a couple other stops.  We stopped by Poppy's, which is an ice cream joint that features a "Puppy Scoop" on the menu.  Jazzy ordered it and devoured it.  And we also visited Home Depot.  Jazzy loves to greet everyone and get lots of attention.  The Home Depot employees certainly delivered and Jazzy got lots of loving.  

After all her adventures, she still wanted to go on a walk when we got home.  She sat patiently on the rug by the front door.  And since it was her special day, we obliged.  It's pretty hard to say no to such a sweet face.  

All in all, I think Jazzy had one heck of a Gotcha Day.  We'll have our work cut out for us next year.

We love you, Jazzy! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Merry & Bright

There's just something about Christmas decorations that make your house more festive.  Adam and I finally got around to putting up our outdoor lights this past weekend.  One good thing about it getting dark so early is that we can enjoy the lights a bit longer.  Adam set them up on a timer, so we don't even have to remember to turn them on and off.    

Adam was kind enough to get me some real garland from Home Depot on Black Friday.  We put it up and it helps dress up the house during the daytime, too.  

Adam also picked up a real pine wreath for the front door.  Every time we open the front door, we get a big whiff of pine.  I guess it makes up for us having a fake tree.  

Some of my favorite decorations are the little touches throughout the house.  Like the Santa on the entry table...

...and the snowflakes hung from the kitchen lights...

...and the hand towel by the kitchen sink.  They all serve as little reminders to enjoy the season while it lasts.  

I especially love our tree.  We invested in a larger tree after Christmas last year.  We got a great deal because we bought it after Christmas.  This was the first year we got to put it up and it's quite a bit bigger than our tree last year.  I'm not quite sure how all the ornaments we had ever fit on our smaller tree! 

Jazzy's favorite ornament is the one she made.  I might have to agree with her.  

Our mantle looks pretty festive, thanks to the help of some easy canvas artwork...  

...and one of my favorite words.

After finding a cute "Merry & Bright" pillow from TJ Maxx, I made some coordinating throw pillows to add to the couch and chaise.  Adam's eyebrows went up a bit when I showed him the pillow I bought for $15. But they went back down after I reminded him he just bought a nail gun that cost far more.    

 Jazzy approves of the pillows.  She's looking forward to putting dents in them.  

Hope you and yours have a holiday season that's merry and bright! 

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Good Luck."

On my way home from work today, I stopped by Walgreens to pick up an ovulation predictor kit.  I've lost track of how many of these I've bought and have spent a small fortune.  I'm not really sure why I keep buying them, but I do.  

When I made it to the check out lane, the cashier greeted me with a warm smile.  She was this sweet lady, maybe in her 40s.  You could tell English wasn't her first language, but she was very kind to each customer and tried her best to make small talk with each person.  After she rang up the ovulation predictor kit, she said, "Wow, that's kind of expensive!"  I agreed.  She then proceeded to look for a coupon in a booklet she had at the cash register.  She couldn't find one, but I was touched that she looked for one.  As she handed me my receipt, she looked at me with the kindest eyes and said, "Good luck." 

I'm not sure why it touched me so much, but she had such a hopeful look on her face.  I felt like she really meant it and was pulling for me.  

It still surprises me how much kindness random strangers can give to one another.  You see countless stories about people doing kind things, both big and small, for perfect strangers.  Usually these stories make me start bawling like a lunatic, but they really do make me happy.  In a world where there's so much negativity, it's nice to see glimpses of kindness.  

So, I will take that kind cashier's good luck wish and carry it with me this month.  And try to spread around a little kindness of my own.  

Throw kindness around like confetti Art Print

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blank Canvas + Red Paint Pen = Easy Holiday Decor

After putting up our Christmas decorations, I realized my mantle needed a little more Christmas cheer.  I wanted to find some sort of large-scale artwork that would tie in the red color of our stockings.  I looked at several websites and saw some cute options.  However, I did not like the prices.  After mulling over my options, I decided I could just make my own artwork!   

Off to Hobby Lobby I went.  I bought a large 20" x 20" blank canvas and a red paint pen.  My total cost was around 12 bucks.  I, of course, used a 40% off coupon that I found on Hobby Lobby's website.  

Once I got home, I started to plan out my artwork.  I decided to write different words that represented the holiday season using different fonts.  I wrote my first few words lightly in pencil.  

After I got my first words on the canvas, I just eyeballed the rest of them.  I did write them on paper first to get the hang of each font.  I didn't pay too much attention to spacing, but I got lucky and it turned out pretty cute!  It looks very nice on our mantle and definitely brings in the red color from our stockings. Isn't that little plaid stocking for Jazzy just darling?   

This was a super easy project and it really does bring some extra holiday cheer to our living room.