Wednesday, February 23, 2011

a comparison

I was re-reading a couple of older posts the other day, and I came across one post I wrote almost a year ago, after I found out I didn't get accepted to any internships. I basically just talked about my alternate plans for the next year. Let's recap how those plans/goals went:

Plan: Get a job that will give me good experience to help beef up my resume.
What actually happened: I applied all over the place, had several interviews, and never got a job.

Plan: Save money, instead of spending a ton of money on internship.
What actually happened: We probably didn't spend as much money as we would have if I'd done an internship, but exorbitantly high insurance premiums with maternity coverage and all these extra doctor visits, in addition to me not ever finding a job, means we're not exactly saving hoards of money ya know?

Plan: Apply to an internship for the next year.
What actually happened: Well the application deadline passed and I haven't applied... I'm planning on waiting another year to apply. It just works out better that way, I promise. Although since my resume hasn't really changed too much from last year, I don't know if the outcome will be any different. Didn't someone say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results? Well, let's just pray for a miracle. :)

Plan: Trip to France
What actually happened: Ok in all honesty, what I didn't say in the post last year was that we had sort of started thinking "hm should we have a baby" and tossing the idea around a little bit, and it was either we'd have a baby, or we'd go on a vacation (although this was still under the I'd-be-making-money assumption). Soooo we're having a baby! And that fantastically amazing vacation will just have to wait.

You know though, I wouldn't have chosen exactly the way this past year has gone, but it's still been okay. I'm incredibly thankful that my husband has never made me feel in any way like I've become more of a liability or an expense, or that I'm not contributing anything (something I worried about a lot). We've been incredibly blessed to somehow have enough money for our needs... and to a small degree, our wants too. To be honest, the first several months of pregnancy I was only excited about having a baby maybe 50% of the time, and the other 50% I was nervous, scared, apprehensive and basically really freaked out about being able to be a good mom and feeling fulfilled doing it. It sounds dumb, I know, but there you go. Now, I'm really excited and know that it will be great. And, as this has been my first real experience with failing to achieve my goals on my timeline no matter how hard I worked or tried, I feel like I've developed a lot more empathy for other people too. I feel like I've learned to readjust and make the best out of things more as well. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Brioche and Couscous!

Love these!

1/2 cup warm water
2-1/4 tsp dried yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
4-1/4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp milk, for egg wash

Make sure your butter is at room temperature. it really does work better that way. Combine water, yeast and sugar, mix and let sit until risen. Add eggs and yeast mixture to the bowl of the mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 minute until well mixed with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed add 2 cups of flour and the salt and mix for 5 minutes. Still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour and mix for 5 more minutes. Still on low speed, add soft butter in chunks and mix for 2 minutes, scraping down the beat until well blended. With the mixer still running, sprinkle in remaining 1/4 cup flour. Switch paddle attachment to dough hook and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape dough into large buttered bowl and cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, allow dough to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Grease the loaf pans, turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and cut in half. Pat each portion into a 6x8 inch rectangle, roll each rectangle into cylindrical loaf. place each loaf into a greased pan, cover the pans with a damp cloth and set aside to rise at room temp for 2 to 2-1/2 hours until double in volume.

Preheat over to 375. When loaves have risen, brush the tops of each with egg wash, and bake for 45 minutes or until the top springs back and sounds slightly hollow when tapped. put on wire rack to cool.

Moroccan Couscous:
2 cups diced butternut squash
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
1-1/2 cups diced carrots (4 carrots)
1-1/2 cups diced zucchini (2 medium)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1-1/2 cups (10 oz) couscous
2 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place vegetables on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes until veggies are tender. I would say that you should dice the carrots and squash pretty small and roast them for 10 minutes or so before adding the zucchini and onions to the baking sheet. Otherwise, you'll end up with sick soggy zucchini. Bleh.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil and turn off heat. Add butter, some salt and pepper, cumin and saffron threads and allow to steep for a few minutes. Bring the stock back to a boil, add the stock to the couscous, which you have put in a large-ish bowl. Stir, cover the bowl tightly and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Add the roast veggies, green onions and toss with a fork. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

25 degrees outside

We had a fantastic and romantic Valentine's Day--beautiful flowers, Matthew made dinner, chocolate and frosted sugar cookies were involved... fairly standard, but still great. Obviously because I have a significant other Valentine's Day is a little more exciting, but seriously, there is no reason for people to get all Singles Awareness Day, I-absolutely-hate-February-14th, just because there may not be a significant other in their lives. I dunno. Maybe I would have a different opinion if I was much older and single and frustrated by that, or perhaps if I'd had some recent tragic heartbreak, but still, here's my view.

We all know that Valentine's Day is a very overcommercialized, "Hallmark holiday," so if you're single, why not just not stress about having a boyfriend/husband or whatever and just get a little caught up in the commercialization? Buy some chocolate, make some cookies or whatever, write a few Valentines for your friends or family, enjoy the evening with friends or family, you know, just take it for what its worth and enjoy it. I know one year of college, when I was single, my grandma sent me a popout elephant Valentine and my family sent me some cookies and homemade Valentine's cards that everyone had made, and it was wonderful. Anyway, that's my last word: stress a little bit less and just embrace the sugar overdose and commercialization!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Middle of the month

Hey! So its not the end of February yet, but I am going to post the recipes that I tried so far this month for two reasons: 1. I really went to town the first part of the month and made a lot of things and 2. I'm in the hospital and insanely bored out of my mind. Don't worry, nothing critical; I'm fine, the baby's fine and I'll write more about it later, probably when they let me go home. But in the meantime, I'm going to talk about food. This month I decided to give each recipe stars (1-5, 5 being the highest), a completely arbitrary way for me to rate the dishes. Without further ado...

French Style Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Oh my heavens these were delightful. A mixture of leeks, mushrooms, garlic, lemon juice was processed and then stuffed and rolled up into the chicken breasts, pan-browned and a fantastic sauce was also made with it. A little bit of a time consuming recipe, but it really had fantastic flavor. Not usually a huge fan of mushrooms, and I’ve never tried leeks, but it worked. And I think the sauce really added a lot to this recipe, so if you make it, just replace the wine with grape juice cuz its way good. 5 stars.
Source of recipe: Annie Eats

Homemade Chocolate Pudding
Very decadent and chocolately. Nothing super fancy or amazing, but its better than a mix, that’s for sure. The recipe said to strain it when you’re done cooking it, which I did, but I think I would have put it through the mesh sieve again after it was cooled to get out some more lumps. 3 stars
Source of recipe: the food network website

Cream Sauced Pasta with Vegetables
Personally I thought this was a delicious dish with a great combination of stir fried-ish vegetables (zucchini, asparagus, onion, broccoli, tomatoes) with pasta and a heavy cream sauce. The recipe as written was a little bland, but I added in extra spices and herbs until it was a flavor I liked. 4.5 stars
Source of recipe: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Homemade Guacamole
I love avocados, and I adore guacamole, but the closest I’ve come to making it myself is mashing an avocado and adding a seasoning packet from the store. I sure did love this recipe! I don’t think there is anything particularly different or special about it compared to other homemade guac recipes you’ll find, but it sure left me satisfied. 5 stars
Source of recipe: The ward cookbook from my home ward (Jackie I'm looking at you!)

Lemon Chicken Pasta Toss
This dish was a nice little twist on chicken, and although it was nothing particularly fancy, I’ve never had something like it and I quite enjoyed the flavors of the dish. I also liked that the chicken was dredged in flour and then pan-fried, and I liked the chicken stock and lemon based coating that went over the noodles and chicken. Not a bad dish at all, easy to make and we’ll probably make it or something like unto it again. 3.5 stars
Source of recipe: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
I had my doubts about how this one would turn out, but I wanted to try it, at least for the hollandaise sauce part. I guess normally hollandaise is a time consuming, whisking over the double boiler sort of sauce to prepare… the one I followed just used a blender, and I don’t know if it really got to the thickness that perhaps ideally it should have been at. I may have to try some different things sometime with this. Maybe. Although it turns out that I really enjoy asparagus. I’m not sure when that happened. Matthew was a good sport and ate exactly one stalk. 1.5 stars (for the sauce)
Source of recipe: Barefoot in Paris Cookbook

Moroccan Couscous
This dish was simple and very easy to make, and boy did I like the flavors. Its essentially just a “hearty” mixture of butternut squash, zucchini, carrots and onions mixed in with couscous. Simple, but I really loved it. Matthew thought it was good too, although he would have had a higher proportion of couscous to veggies (I thought the proportions were great as they were). 4.5 stars
Source of recipe: Barefoot in Paris Cookbook

Brioche is a deliciously rich bread they make in France—it doesn’t have a lot of sugar in it, but it has many eggs and much butter (one loaf has 3 eggs and a stick of butter). This recipe turned out exactly how I remember brioche being like. It was definitely a winner, and required little effort to make. And it also makes fantastically delicious caramel French toast. 5 stars
Source of recipe: Barefoot in Paris Cookbook

Well there you go! It was a very good start of the month, if I do say so myself. Probably my favorite recipe of the half-month was the French Stuffed Chicken Breasts. Also, I used 5 ingredients this half-month that I've never cooked with before: mushrooms, leeks, butternut squash, capers and asparagus. Kinda exciting, I guess. I'll probably post the recipes for the Cream Sauced Pasta w/ Veg, Moroccan Couscous and Brioche in a day or two if anyone is interested in them (the cookbooks are at home, I'm at the hospital). Peace!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

sometimes its funner on the bandwagon

Ok guys so I've never been one for worshiping athletes or movie stars. I just don't. They are what they are, and usually they are a little too cocky for their own good, at least in my opinion. But I have to say that this year I am being swayed... at least a little bit...

If you're around Provo or follow BYU basketball even a little, you'll know I'm referring to Jimmer Fredette. For a long time I liked him a lot less just because everyone adored him so much. And I still think he can be a ball hog,  can try to draw the foul instead of making a smarter play, and play some lazy defense at times, and I don't think he is attractive at all, but ok ok ok... he's dang good. And I love that he's helped BYU be ranked at #9 and is giving us a good shot during March Madness.

And lets face it, the Jimmermania is really catchy. I mean, who can't get caught up in chanting "you got jimmered" in the marriot center after a fantastic game? I came across this today and spent a good 25 minutes reading every last post. So so so hilarious. I laughed out loud more times than I care to admit. Check out both links:  This one refers to a letter to the editor in BYU's newspaper. This one is an espn story about it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Maybe more than you wanted to know?

In light of entering my 32nd week of pregnancy, and by extension the 2-4 doctor visits per week that I will be having, I thought I would take a minute and explain just what I am doing at the doctor's office/hospital so. insanely. often.

There is of course the normal OB appointments every other week and then every week, like any other pregnant woman. No big deal there. Then there are the appointments with the diabetes doctor every 3-4 weeks, where they take an A1C and we talk and troubleshoot any problems with my blood sugar control. Again, not a big deal.

Where the doctor appointments start to get ridiculous is at Maternal Fetal Medicine, the specialists who have been keeping close tabs on me because I have type I diabetes. Up to this point I've gone in every month for an ultrasound. Starting at 32 weeks, they are starting me on Non-Stress Tests (NST) twice a week. Here's why they are doing the NST.

With diabetes, especially type I diabetes, you have an increased risk of several complications in pregnancy, including a higher risk of stillbirth. The risk of stillbirth comes because diabetes can affect placental health. Apparently higher levels of glucose in the blood and just having diabetes in general can damage the placenta, and if the placenta has issues, not so good for the baby. This isn't too surprising, as high levels of glucose/diabetes in general can cause eye problems, kidney problems, vascular problems etc in the same manner. Anyway. During the NST, they hook me up to some external monitors and watch the baby's heartbeat and amniotic fluid levels for about 1/2 hour. These two things are indirect measures of placental health. So, if everything looks good with the heartbeat and fluid levels on their tests, they can say pretty safely say that the placenta and by extension the baby are good for the next week or so.

Additionally, the risk of stillbirth is a lot higher after 38 weeks (I believe that's when anyway). I think the incidence of a lot of other complications increases at that point as well. It has been standard then to induce at 37 weeks to avoid all this stuff. However, since they will be doing all of these NST and ultrasounds as well, and if I have generally good blood sugar control and don't start developing pre-eclampsia, then they are willing to wait a little bit longer before inducing me. Its incredible motivation to keep my blood sugars as good as possible (although lets face it, its been really tough lately. All I'm saying is that yesterday I used about 110 units of insulin, whereas prepregnancy days I used 35-40 a day. That's a huge increase. The whole insulin resistance thing really throws you through a loop). Anyway, blood sugar control is a big deciding factor as to when to induce, and if I'm not dilated really at all at 37 weeks, there is a good chance they would just schedule me for a C-section. Really really reallllllllyyyyyy trying to avoid that one.

Very likely my one and only "crafty" post

All right guys so I admit, I'm not exactly very adept at crafty stuff and sewing and whatnot. However, when my mom was in town we decided to make some curtain thingys for our little baby's room. I'm pretty proud of the finished result:
So we made the curtains as you can see above. You can't really tell that the yellow fabric has little polka dots on it. It actually is adorable. We didn't make the top part that's white with the different colored panels on it... basically we just sewed the yellow square. So its still not even that impressive of a sewing project, but hey, it is straight, hangs right, it even has backing on it, and is sewed to the top part, so I am just going to be proud of myself and call it a jour.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

remember that one time

You expect that there will be some awkward, or at least interesting, transitions during life as newlyweds. I never realized that what to call the in-laws, specifically your mother-in-law and father-in-law would be one such transition.

When we were dating, it was "Brother So and So" or "Sister So and So." Around when we got married, we were informed that both sets of parents prefer to be called as "mom" or "dad." This seemed right because it seems weird to address your mother-in-law as "Sister so-and-so" but we felt a little nervous and awkward just all of a sudden making the leap to "mom" and "dad." So for several months we just didn't call our new parents-in-law anything.

Until one day, Matthew and I were walking to school, talking about this, and decided that it was time to make the leap. My parents were coming into town the next day, so it was a perfect opportunity to just let it slide out in conversation at some point. So, we practiced, pretending to be our parents and addressing them with the appropriate titles. It was great. We got through the first few times just fine, and now, the whole "mom" and "dad" thing rolls off the tongue. My dad, being the nostalgic guy he is, almost busted his buttons when Matthew first called him dad. Haha. Anyone else experienced this, or was it just us who felt nervously awkward about the whole thing?