Archive | November 2012

World Prematurity Day

Today’s post is not a recipe, craft or party. Today I wanted to share something that affected my family 3 years ago & affects millions of families every year. Today is World Prematurity Day.

After wanting more children for many years, I had made peace with the fact that I would only have one child & was grateful for her. At 38 years old, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. At 20 weeks, I went for a normal anatomy scan to ensure the baby was growing normally. It was then that the technician discovered a problem that altered the course of my pregnancy.

After spending a couple weeks on bed rest & still getting worse, I was hospitalized. At 26 1/2 weeks, I found myself going into premature labor. I was given Magnesium Sulfate to stop the labor, but it was unsuccessful. The next thing I knew there was a flurry of activity in my room. The on-call doctor, nurses, anesthesia, neo-natologists & others rushed into my room. There were so many people in my room, I lost track of who they all were.

My husband called all our family to let them know that our baby girl was entering the world way too early. I was brought to the OR & gave birth to a baby girl, Taryn Elizabeth, who was born weighing 1 pound 13 ounces; 13 1/2 inches long. After pausing briefly so we could catch a quick glimpse, Taryn was whisked away into the next room where the team went straight to work on her.

After being released from recovery, I was brought up to the NICU to see Taryn. I was so enamored with her right from the start. It was quite a shock to see her hooked up to so many machines & tubes, but she was still precious to me.

Every day after being discharged I drove the 14 miles to the hospital twice, sometimes 3 times a day to see my little angel. She fought so hard to stay alive. We took pictures of her daily, keeping a photo journal of her progress. I loved bonding with her via kangaroo care, feeding & bathing her.

I remember how excited I was the day she drank from a bottle; wearing clothes for the first time; the day she came off the CPAP & eventually the nasal canula.

Four blood transfusions, an infection requiring surgery,  too many episodes of apnea & bradycardia to count & 13 1/2 weeks in the NICU, she was finally discharged.  It was a surreal moment for us after trekking to the hospital daily to finally bring her home with us. 

Now she’s 3 & a relatively healthy little pre-schooler who’s a ball of energy! I know the prayers of so many helped her win her fight for life, along with her own will to survive. It’s certainly not something I would wish on anyone, but with the support of family, friends, church, the amazing staff at Bridgeport Hospital & The Tiny Miracles Foundation, we got through it.

For more information, please go to the March of Dimes

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Frosted Brownies

Frosted Brownies I have a great love of all things chocolate, hence today’s post. I’m not sure where I even found this recipe, but I’ve been making it for years; although today I’m frosting them. Nothing like a little chocolate to go with my chocolate! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8X8 glass baking pan. Please excuse the condition of my baking pan, it’s nearly 20 years old, but it works! 

Ingredients brownie:

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

½ teaspoon salt chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

frosting:

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Since I’m lazy, I just dump all the ingredients into a bowl & stir until everything is combined.

 

Of course, you could go the more traditional route & mix the dry ingredients & wet separately then combine the two. Once I’m sure everything is mixed well, I pour the batter into my baking dish. The consistency should be thinner than cake batter but not as thick as cookie dough. Spread out evenly in the pan with the back of a spatula & bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the center of the pan. While brownies are cooling, melt butter in a small pan.

Once the butter is melted, remove from heat & mix in remaining ingredients. Pour over brownies once all ingredients are combined.

Now comes the hard part- waiting. I love brownies straight out of the oven but with the frosting I am forced to wait.

There are so many ways to tweak this recipe- using different extracts to flavor, adding nuts, chocolate chips, or even crushed candy canes for the holidays & of course the frosting can be omitted. I’m working on a version with peanut butter but today’s attempt didn’t quite cut it.

My computer & camera don’t want to talk to each other so I can’t post the pics for this post. Once I figure out what’s wrong, I’ll add the pics! 

Here are the pics I promised. I ended up swapping SD cards with my old camera & uploading that way. Oh well!

Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies

Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies

Today I decided to experiment with a fairly new recipe I came across over the summer. I made Nutella cookies for my oldest’s birthday party & they were a HUGE hit! However, the recipe didn’t make nearly enough so I doubled them the next time I made them.

I changed things up a bit since I didn’t have enough to make a double batch. I substituted half the Nutella for peanut butter & tweaked the recipe a bit more.

Ingredients:

½ cup Nutella

½ cup peanut butter (I used creamy but chunky would work too)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup shortening (I use Crisco, but butter will work as well)

3 eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream Nutella, peanut butter, sugar & shortening. Add eggs & vanilla extract, beating well. Add baking soda, salt & flour, one cup at a time until combined.

Once dough forms a large ball you are ready to start scooping onto an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. I found with my oven that 8 minutes wasn’t quite long enough but 10 minutes seemed to dry them out. Yields about 3 dozen cookies.

Beaded ornament hook tutorial

Today’s post is my first ever tutorial. My pictures aren’t as crisp as I’d like, but I think you can figure out what I’m showing.

Fancy ornament hooks come in a few different styles but today I will be focusing on beaded hooks. These are great for those special ornaments you may want to highlight on your tree. They’re so much nicer looking than those ugly hooks you buy in the stores- 100 for $1.00 or something like that.

Supplies needed:

16 gauge wire (I used gold tone since that’s what I had on hand)

ruler

jeweler’s round nose pliers

wire cutters

pencil

mandolin (or use a marker like I did)

few matching or coordinating beads (I used beads left over from other projects)

 

 

First, measure & cut off 4 inches of wire (it doesn’t have to be perfectly straight, just straightened out by hand is good enough)

 

Next, wrap wire almost completely around your pencil so you have something that looks like a shepherd’s crook & slide it off

 

Then, bend the short end up on itself with the round nose pliers

 

Take the long end & bend it at a 90 degree angle away from the opening of your hook & add 2 or 3 beads, depending on the size you choose

 

Once all your beads are on, bend the wire at a 90 degree angle towards your open hook

 

Next, take your mandolin (or marker) & wrap the remaining wire around & slide it off

 

Right now the wire looks a little funny. You will need to trim just a couple millimeters off the end. Then grab your round nose pliers once again & curl the very end of your wire inside the loop until it looks like this: You may need to play with it a little to get it to look just right.

 

Sorry my photos aren’t the greatest; I’m not much of a photographer but I think you get the idea.  Have fun & bling out your Christmas tree or give them as a gift!