Cruciferous Vegetables

Foods to AVOID for hypothyroid

Unfortunately, I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I made myself a handy little chart of foods to avoid in order to promote healthier TSH levels and thought I would share!

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Cruciferous Vegetables

US Passport Processing Times 2017

I’m not going to lie. I totally lost my passport. I got it in 2012. I used it when we went to Europe that fall. All was fine and dandy, brought it home with me. Kept it in our little accordion file (which was usually kept in the safe) and somehow, after I used it again through Canada when we moved to Minnesota, I lost it. I kept thinking it would turn up. Why wouldn’t it? I hadn’t been anywhere with it. No one had been in the home. Where the heck did it go? And only mine was missing. The kid’s passports and my husband’s passports were all still in that accordion file. My only theory is that I misplaced it, meant to put it back and lost it… or one of my kids got it. Two theories, I guess.

We moved and I used my passport card at that time and figured I’d probably find it when we unpacked at the new house. Wrong. I didn’t find it. I looked EVERYWHERE. That stupid thing was nowhere to be seen. Seriously. How could I lose it? I swear, I misplaced it but I don’t even know when I last saw it. Knowing my luck it fell into a crack or crevice or some tiny nook and cranny at our old house and six new owners from now, someone’s going to find it.

What to do if you lose or misplace a passport

First, make sure it’s really lost because once you report it, the old passport is a dud. I’ve done that with my bank cards before, swearing up and down I lost it then finding it minutes after I hang up the phone after deactivating my card. That sucked, big time. So, make sure it’s really lost. Check everywhere. Tear your house apart like I did. Then, if it truly is lost, you’ll need to submit a DS-64 form. You can print it off and mail it in, but there’s an online option now which is kind of nice. They’ll ask you for your name, passport numbers, etc. I found the form a little difficult because how am I supposed to know the number if I don’t have it in front of me? Memo to self, write the number of the next one down and put it somewhere safe.

You can find the DS-64 form here: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/lost-stolen.html

It’s relatively painless. Once you finish the report, you can even fill out a request for a new passport. It will fill in all the blanks and spaces for you with your information. Once you’re done, you print it and take it to your local agency with your new passport photos (which for me, was the post office). DO NOT SIGN IT UNTIL YOU GET THERE! If you sign it beforehand, you’re going to have to fill out an entirely new application. Just don’t do it, okay?

Don’t know where to take your finished application?

Usually, the post office will accept completed passport applications, but not always. Sometimes they have specific hours that they accept passports. The easiest way to figure out where to take your passport is to use THIS website to locate the nearest acceptance agency.

2017 US Passport Processing Times

Last time I applied for a passport, it was a whole lot of sitting and waiting. It’s still a lot of sitting and waiting, but fortunately for me (and everyone else waiting), you can now track the status online via the U.S. Department of State’s passport tracking website. While times may vary, applications submitted around the same times tend to have similar processing times, as the times are based on passport application volume; the more passports submitted, the more likely it is to take longer, toward the 8-week side of the spectrum, vs. the shorter side of 6 weeks. Of course, this is entirely different if you submit for an expedited passport.

I applied for “routine service” with a processing time of 6-8 weeks.

  • 3/27/2017 – Submitted application, photos, and fees at my local passport acceptance facility.
  • 4/3/2017 – Online tracking information updated from “not found” to “Your passport is currently being processed.”
  • 5/3/2017 – Online tracking information updated to “Your passport application is in the final processing stages.” and “This means you should receive your passport on or about 05/08/2017.”
  • 5/5/2017 – My passport arrived!
  • 5/6/2017 – My documents were returned to me!

Have you submitted a passport application recently? Was it routine service or expedited? Card or book? What’s the status on yours?

 

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Cruciferous Vegetables

How to do an AncestryDNA test WITHOUT spit

I haven’t written my reviews on the three big ancestral DNA companies, but I plan to soon. When I do, it will become glaringly obvious how obsessed I am with genetic genealogy. The science behind it is amazing, and in many cases (like mine) it can be completely life-altering. There’s one issue though; two of the three companies require saliva samples and not a cheek swab. While this might not seem like a big deal, it can be when you’re trying to test older generations as the elderly often have difficulty trying to produce enough saliva. Sometimes certain medications can also affect spit production. So, while a teaspoon of spit might not seem like a lot, many people have had to forgo testing at their company of choice due to difficulty producing saliva. On individuals who are searching for biological family using genetic genealogy, this is a huge blow and can dramatically reduce the odds of finding good matches. Fortunately, this hasn’t really been an issue for me, but I discovered the solution to this problem doing a “just for fun” test.

I originally developed an interest in genetic genealogy for the purpose of identifying my biological father. It quickly spiralled out of control into a full-blown hobby/addiction. I manage a couple dozen DNA tests for friends and relatives. I tested my daughter in 2015 and when Ancestry had their Black Friday sale (Hello, $69 DNA tests!) I decided to test my remaining children. The 7 year old did fine. The 5 year old did fine. The 3 year old, however, did not. She is strong-willed and refused to let me hold the vial. Problem was, she would spit, then drink it, spit, then drink it, over and over. And if I tried to hold it, she would refuse to even attempt to spit and throw herself on the floor in a tantrum. I was getting stressed once we hit two hours of attempting to collect a sample from a bratty toddler and I gave up.

The spit-drinker and I.

After complaining about it to my husband, he asked me “Well, is there a way to do it without her spitting into the tube?” I tried explaining that the topic comes up frequently on my DNA group, but as far as I am aware, no one has figured out how yet. He suggested I figure it out.

Challenge accepted.

I did a lot of research and learned that saliva is approximately 99% water and the remainder is electrolytes, enzymes and other naturally occurring substances. I kept researching how to make artificial saliva and after a few days, I was pretty sure I had a theory figured out. My biggest concern was that I would accidentally create a hypotonic solution and the cells would burst, but at this point, what would it hurt to at least try? If it fails, it fails. If it succeeds, I could help a lot of people in much more serious predicaments than a strong willed toddler. If my ridiculous amount of biology courses prepared me for anything, it was for this moment. I took a leap of faith, created an artificial saliva solution and guess what? It worked. Perfectly. I was on pins and needles the entire time her sample was processing, but as soon as those results came in, I knew I had figured it out! I was shocked. I was sooooo sure the test would fail. So here’s the information YOU will need in order to re-create my artificial saliva test kit.

If you have the time, PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO. It can be so much easier to understand with the visual/audio explanation versus the written! Please watch the video before asking me questions! I know it’s long, but bear with me!

SUPPLIES:

You will not need a lot of supplies, but you will need more than if you were to just spit in the tube.

1: Create Your Artificial Saliva Solution

  1. Pour a fair amount of distilled water into one of the clean cups.
  2. Spray a small amount of saline into another clean cup until it pools in the bottom.
  3. Measure 99ml of distilled water into the third clean cup.
  4. Measure 1ml of saline into the third clean cup.
  5. Discard the two unmixed cups.

2: Take Your Sample

Now the fun part! You will need to obtain your sample.

  1. Measure approximately 5ml of your artificial saliva and fill the test tube 2-3mm ABOVE the fill line. As you remove swabs, liquid will be removed from the container, so overfilling it very slightly will not be a problem.
  2. Swab the GUM brushes on the cheeks 10-20 seconds, then place tip down into the DNA tube to soak for another 10-20 seconds. You may “stir” them in the tube as well. Remove the swab carefully allowing the liquid to drip off of it and into the vial, and scraping the swab along the edge to ensure as much is left behind as possible.
  3. Repeat above until all 8 swabs have been used. While swabbing, it is best to leave the previous swab in the solution to soak.

Note: If the mouth is especially dry, dip the swab tip in your excess solution before swabbing.

3: Proceed as normal

At this point, your saliva sample should look identical to actual saliva. It’s actually pretty cool. If you tilt and swish it near a light source, you should be able to see debris from the cheeks and it should be thick and slimy just like actual spit. Screw on the cap with the stabilizing liquid, place it in the pouch, seal the box and ship it in!

 

Conclusion:

This method was very successful for me. I used it to obtain DNA results for my bratty strong willed 3 year old who kept drinking her spit, despite my pleas and attempts at bribery. Her results, despite my doubts about my methods, came back perfectly and took the normal amount of processing time when compared to other kits obtained through normal spitting.

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Cruciferous Vegetables

Bearpaw Boots Warranty Service Review

I love boots, but not fancy-and-cute-but-hurt-your-feet boots. I like the relaxing kind. You know what I’m talking about; they could be boots, they could be slippers, the world may never know! Unfortunatelly, Ugg boots just are NOT in my price range, so finding an alternative that was just as cute, was the next logical step. Several years ago, I started wearing Bearpaw boots. I absolutely love them and have bought a new pair every year since. It’s been great and I have never had an issue with them… until this year.

This year was a little different. I ordered my boots a bit too late. I had planned to buy them at Fred Meyer but all they had was the tall ones and I prefer the short, so I ordered online and waited patiently. They came in, looked great, felt great. I went about life like normal. Then, while taking kids on a walk, I felt like there was a golf ball in the bottom of my shoe. I shoved my hand down the side of the boot and nothing. I looked at the bottom and bam. The soles had split in a few places and there was snow from the ground clumping behind the sole, but beneath the fabric against the bottom of my foot.

UGH!

Of course, like anyone who pays good money for footwear, I was a little annoyed. I only had the boots  a few months and they were split? Whatever. I’ll just deal with it. Maybe I can duct tape it later? Of course, I would always forget to tape them and then regret it the second I went outside and got snow clumps in there again (or worse, wet feet from melting snow clumps). Finally, I got a spare moment to myself and when I went to email the company, I realized they had a warranty on all of their products.

 

The warranty process was simple. They collected a few details, including the style, color and size of the boot, nature of the defect, a picture of the defect, a copy of your receipt, and of course, your shipping details. I was shocked that within an hour, I had confirmation that my warranty replacement had been approved! A new pair shipped the very next business day and I was holding them in my hands less than four days after submitting the request (despite an “animal exception; animal interference” issue on the tracking somewhere in Nevada).

Overally, I was very happy about how quickly they dealt with it. I wasn’t required to send the shoes back to them (which meant I wouldn’t have to wait even longer) and they processed it extremely quickly! Although I wasn’t happy with the defect, I was pretty happy about how they handled it!

*Disclaimer: I was not provided any compensation for this post, nor did I receive any complimentary products. I have purchased this item on my own, with my own money. My opinions expressed in this review have not been influenced and are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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Whirlpool WDT720PADM Built-in Stainless Dishwasher Installation Review

NOTE: Due to the length and nature of this particular review, I will be writing two reviews; one on the installation process, and one on the dishwasher’s function and performance.

 

We bought our current house in April of 2016 and moved in June of 2016. Like most mid-range homes on the market, the appliances the old owners left behind weren’t the greatest. Our “new” dishwasher was no exception. The tiniest specks of food on a plate and the thing would clog and back up. We took the shop vac to the lines, cleaned and gutted everything, but it just wouldn’t drain well and it certainly didn’t wash well. In October 2016, that dishwasher completely bit the dust and I was washing dishes 3x a day just trying to keep up with a family of 6 (plus two bonus babies). We needed a new dishwasher and pronto. Unfortunately, it took us a while to get one (partly saving and partly the local store being out of stock).

Let’s start this with a funny story. In our very first house, we had a very old avocado green dishwasher keel over on us. My husband bought a new one and set it in the kitchen; and there it sat for months and months while he repeatedly told me “I’ll install it on my next day off.” In a fit of rage over having cracked and blistered hands from handwashing the dishes for months, I decided to install the dishwasher myself. Problem was, I couldn’t get it out from under the counter. I was so angry and frustrated, I took a sledgehammer to it. I broke it out, bit by bit, only to realize when I was done, that the entire reason it wasn’t working anymore was because it had come unplugged from the outlet behind it. Oops. I just sledgehammered the crap out of a dishwasher in a fit of pregnant hormonal rage, only to discover it wasn’t even broken, just unplugged. Needless to say, I installed the new one (and struggled to do so; many tears were shed) and didn’t breathe a word about the sledgehammer incident to my husband for almost three years. In our second home, I was lucky enough to have the plumber install the dishwasher and didn’t have to deal with what would have been a day full of tears and frustration.

As you can see, dishwashers and I do not quite get along. It’s not that I don’t like them; don’t get me wrong. I love dishwashers… But I don’t love installing them. The Whirlpool Gold Series WDT720PADM built-in stainless dishwasher was no exception to this.

First, I need to get something off my chest. The Whirlpool WDT720PADM Built-in Stainless Dishwasher is part of what Whirlpool has designated the “Gold Series.” Can someone please explain this to me? They are stainless steel. Maybe there were black and white ones, I don’t know. Dan picked it out and had it delivered. Either way, I searched online and there was nothing available in gold color. Maybe they’re supposed to be worth their weight in gold? I’m no marketing expert, but the name threw me off. Regardless of the name, this dishwasher is a beauty. I got so excited looking at the stock photos online! Way better than the one that came with the house and was probably made in the 90s.

  

I’ll admit. I was feeling way more confident about my dishwasher installation skills than I apparently had a right to. I woke up the morning of delivery and told my husband I would go ahead and get the old one out on the porch for the delivery guys to haul away. He was supposed to do it the night before, but someone (I’m not naming names) procrastinated and had to go to work by the time he remembered. No big deal. I’ve done it before, I can do it again, right? Dan heads out to work. I go flip the breaker to the dishwasher, test that it is off and start undoing the wiring. We’re all good, the coast is clear and I’m still feeling pretty confident.

Then comes the water valves. And boy, was that a fiasco.

I’m not stupid, and I’ve done this a time or two. Obviously, when working on appliances or plumbing, you MUST shut off the water valves to avoid a flood. I know this. You know this. I get under the sink and shut hot and cold water both off… And flood my kitchen. What the hell? I look again, and joke’s on me… There’s 3 valves. One is just super small and apparently contains nothing but scalding hot water eager to flood my kitchen and burn my arm. High pressure too, might I add. Holding my thumb over the end did NOT work.

 

So, my dishwasher installing day… Was certainly not off to a good start. I flooded my kitchen. And when I say flooded, I mean that hot scalding water was shooting out of this stupid hose all the way across my kitchen and dining room. High pressure. High speed. When I was disconnecting it from the old dishwasher, it was spraying out, but I figured it was just releasing pressure as I unscrewed it. Every other dishwasher I have disconnected did the same thing. Not a big deal. right? Wrong. I keep unscrewing and by the time I realize that it’s not just releasing pressure, it’s too late. Water everywhere. I’m trying to kink the hose and begging the three-year-old to get me a pot to contain the massive stream of hot water long enough for me to grab the pliers on the counter just out of reach and the kid just stands there with her hands on her cheeks saying “Oh no! Oh no!” At this point, I just have to let it flood. I crimp it and do my best to stretch across the kitchen while holding onto this really hot metal hose I have crimped in my hand and grab the pot. Let go of the hose in the pot and get the pliers, while the pot didn’t contain too much of the disaster… Finally get the water shut off, but my entire kitchen and dining room have standing water. And of course, I start crying at this point, so add those tears to the standing water situation and I had to use every towel in my house and a few bedsheets to mop up the disaster.

I contained the disaster, cleaned everything up, and got the old dishwasher taken out, wiring removed and hose removed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling the urge to take a sledgehammer to this one too.

So, the delivery guys get there. They get a kick out of the story and tell me I should have waited for them, they could have helped me (which is funny because the delivery contract specifically says they cannot and will not help with removal or installation of any appliances). They get the new one upstairs for me and I’m ready for action. I thought “Well, it can’t get any worse, can it?” Installing them has been tough in the past, but not nearly as bad as taking the one I just took out was. The rest should be a piece of cake.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

 

So, I search my house for a box cutter. No box cutter to be found. I swear, I just saw one a couple days ago. Where the heck did I see it? I check the garage. Check Dan’s random box of stuff that often contains tools. Can’t find anything. GAH. I considered using a knife, but I didn’t want to hurt the dishwasher, especially with it being nice and stainless steel. Scratch the knife plan. I end up using scissors with a plastic coating on the edge, mostly because I felt like it would protect it from scratches. Two extremely cramped hands and ten minutes later, I have my Whirlpool Gold Series WDT720PADM Built-in Stainless Dishwasher out of the box. It’s a start. And of course, it’s beautiful and I get an excited renewal of my motivation to get this bad boy installed. It can’t be much harder than it was to get the old one out, right?

Side note: Whirlpool, PLEASE start labeling your pieces with what they actually are and not just the part number. It would really make everything so much easier for the consumer.

If I pull hard enough, maybe I won’t have to finish installing this?

 

I decide to start with something easy. I’ve already had my mishaps for the day and don’t want to tempt fate by jumping in too hard and too fast. So let’s just leave the dishwasher where it is and run the lines. That will be easy enough. The water line is already run, and so is the waste line… But do I need to replace it with the new one that was inside my new Whirlpool Gold Series dishwasher? Heck if I know. So I do what I do in every situation I’m clueless… I call my grandpa. He asks me what condition the old one is in… Dirty. Really dirty and gross. Yellowed. He tells me to replace it with the new one then, or I’ll end up having to do it later. Got it, gramps. So I hang up and onto the instructions for that. Everything is going great until I find this green tag on the hose.

I guess mistake #1 is that I removed the tag, when it clearly says “Do not remove tag.” Perhaps it’s the universe’s way of punishing me for not following instructions. No matter how I try, I can’t seem to figure out what plug I need to knock out in the disposer… And frankly, the image of taking a hammer and screwdriver to the garbage disposal does not sound like something I feel comfortable doing in the first place. I hate garbage disposals. They make me nervous. I’ve seen too many horror movies where people shove their hands down a sink looking for a ring and they lose an arm. No sir. Not happening to me! So…,. I call my grandpa again, because I can’t figure it out. He says the dishwasher company is assuming my garbage disposal is new as well, and when brand new, there’s a plastic plug where you hook up the dirty water line. Alrighty then. That’s been done. I get the waste water line hooked up and threaded through the cabinet wall. My confidence is renewed. I’ve got this and I’m doing great. I’ve got this!

Now, onto the easier part. Wiring! I go downstairs and double check that the breaker is off. I am paranoid about these things and I figure, it’s just extra exercise running downstairs again, so it doesn’t hurt to check and possibly prevent your own self-electrocution. In the past, I had always wired my dishwashers to a cord. I never bought the cords they designed to wire to dishwashers, since you can actually just buy a cheaper extension cord in the length you want and cut the receiving end off of it and wire it that way. Those were always pretty easy. This was my first time wiring a dishwasher into the electric on the house. I figured it would be about the same. You connect the proper wires. Electric tape them. Cap them. But the wiring on the house was difficult. It was actually really thick and I couldn’t just twist the wires together like I had with the extension cords in the past. After cutting my thumb trying to twist it together I ended up hunting down that pair of pliers again and using that to twist them together. I was kind of worried about it because I didn’t feel like I was able to twist them well enough, but I twisted, taped and capped, ran downstairs and flipped the breaker. Ran back upstairs and sure enough, the dishwasher turned on. The electrical worked. Ran back downstairs and shut the breaker off, so I could go back upstairs, connect the water lines and put the dishwasher under the cabinet.

So here’s the part that really makes me mad. I’m upstairs, feeling pretty damn good about it all. I’m almost done, it’s going great. I just need to connect the water line and waste line and we’re golden. I get the waste line on and secured. Perfect. I go to connect the water line and I can’t freaking find it. Uhh… I’ve done this before. The water line is pretty standard. They’re all the same, look the same and should fit the recieving end of the water line. The dishwasher doesn’t freaking have one!!!! Color me confused. I go back to read the manual again and apparently, you have to buy a rotating elbow fitting that goes between the dishwasher and the water line.

What. The. Hell. Whirlpool.

I call my grandpa again and talk to him about it. My husband is at work. I have three very grouchy toddlers running around the living room. I’ve had a day from hell. And now, I have to go BUY a dinky little part for this dishwasher that frankly, should have been included with the damn thing, just to finish installing it?! Not cool, Whirlpool. REALLY, not cool. My grandma is amazing though and she volunteered to come over and sent me to the hardware store where I proceeded to wander around like a lost puppy with a dishwasher manual desperate searching for some metal part that looked like an in-counter public bathroom soap dispenser. Some old guy took pity on me, realizing that I was not in my natural habitat and found the part for me.

$8.97

A freaking part, that was $8.97 and Whirlpool couldn’t include the damn part with the dishwasher? Seriously? It wasn’t an optional part. There was no way around it. You had to have this part or you could not install your dishwasher, end of story. Jack the price up $8-10, Mr. Whirlpool CEO, but at least include the part so you don’t cause so much unnecessary stress on your consumers after being forced to follow your extremely unclear and poorly drawn installation instructions on your products. Talk about adding insult to injury. This process was tough enough… Now I have to go search a hardware store for a part?

I get home. Get the stupid-and-should-have-been-included-part installed. Hook up the water line and tighten it with pliers to be sure there won’t be any leakage. Set the dishwasher back upright. Back it into the spot, only to realize I forgot to put the insulation around it. Pull it back out, line up the insulation on it. Push it back very slowly, wedging the insulation into the space between the dishwasher and the cupboard. It’s a tight fit, but we get it. I screw the feet to adjust the height on the dishwasher. Then I get to the brackets. I see where they slide into the top of the dishwasher, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how the heck to insert them. I consult the manual. Again, the drawings are soo poorly done that despite the clear differences in the two sides of the brackets, neither my grandma nor I can figure out which way they go. I get pissed and decide Dan can deal with it when he gets home. It’s in. Everything else is done. That’s all I care about.

It’s in. The kids obviously have to touch it and leave their fingerprints and handprints all over it immediately. But it’s in. Now for the moment of truth. I run downstairs and flip the breaker. I come back upstairs and turn it on. VOILA!

It lights up. Good sign. I didn’t screw up the electrical pulling it in and out from under the counter a few times. I get all excited and start doing my “Oh yeahhhh” celebratory dance, when my grandma tells me we should run a rinse and drain cycle just to see if it leaks, if it’s got water flow, etc. I guess I was excited prematurely. Way to rain on my parade, Gigi. Parade raining or not, she’s right. We probably should check to make sure there are no leaks. We start the cycle. Let it run a few minutes. Open it up, there’s water in the bottom. Steam everywhere. Nothing on the floor. Nothing leaking out. We cancel the cycle. It drains how it should. Everything is perfect. At that point, I install the footboard for it and we call it good. I do need to say I love the footboard on it. It’s a flexible plastic that lines up almost perfectly with the floor so crud doesn’t get stuck under the dishwasher when you sweep. It’s great.

The three-year-old who just threw her hands on her cheeks and said “oh noooo” repeatedly while the kitchen flooded.

 

Of course, my husband gets home and tells me “You didn’t have to do all that. I could have done it when I got home.” Seriously, dude? It took me all flipping day. He couldn’t have just done it when he got home. I tell him he gets to do the brackets because I am just done. I did everything else. He can deal with those because I can’t figure it out. He looks at the brackets, looks at the manual and thirty seconds later, they’re installed and screwed in. My grandma and I tried for HALF AN HOUR to figure those stupid brackets out. Although, he did enjoy telling people “She did all of the hard stuff… Water, waste line, electrical wiring… and for some reason, the brackets were too much.”

At the end of the day it took me, a toddler, a pot, every towel in my house and a couple sheets, a whole lot of tears, some pliers, a few phone calls to my grandpa, some insane acrobatic stretching on my part, a lot of frustration, a Gigi to babysit, a trip to the hardware store, $8.97, several trips up and down the stairs to flip breakers, electrical tape, a screwdriver with a bit I’ve never before seen in my life, and thirty seconds of my husband’s time, but it’s installed.

*Disclaimer: I was not provided any compensation for this post, nor did I receive any complimentary products. I have purchased this item on my own, with my own money. My opinions expressed in this review have not been influenced and are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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Cruciferous Vegetables

HCG Diet P2-Friendly Chocolate Jello Bite Delight


I am not a chocolate junkie. I don’t scarf it down like crazy, but every so often, I get a chocolate craving. And when I say chocolate craving, we are talking about the most simple chocolate craving there is; a chocolate bar. I don’t want pudding, or cake, or shakes, just a plain old chocolate bar. What am I supposed to do during phase two of the HCG diet when chocolate bars are off limits?!

In the HCG Diet Support group I found on facebook, there is a recipe that is passed around more than the salt and pepper at my family’s house on Thanksgiving. They call it “Chocolate Delight.” It sounds delightful. Hell, anything chocolate sounds delightful right now. What is this chocolate delight everyone swears by? It’s similar to a chocolate bar, made with cocoa, sweetener, and…. coconut oil. FYI for those of you who don’t know, coconut and I do not get along. I want to love coconut, really, I do, but it makes insanely sick, vomiting, diarrhea, and for some weird reason, I start shaking whenever I have it.  And of course, there really aren’t any oils similar to coconut oil in consistency (believe me, I’ve looked) and if there were, I kind of doubt they would be approved for P2. What the heck am I supposed to do with a supposedly amazing recipe for P2-safe chocolate that I can’t even have?!?! What’s a girl to do?

Make my own recipe, of course! It took a little tweaking, and a few batches in the trash, but I got it down and I swear it is *almost* like biting into a chocolate bar.

Chocolate Jello Bite Delight

1 cup boiling water
2 packages Knox plain unflavored gelatin
3 TBSP cocoa
Stevia to taste

Boil 1 cup water. Pour into small glass pan. Mix in both envelopes of gelatin. After gelatin is completely dissolved. mix in cocoa. After cocoa is well mixed, add stevia to taste (liquid mixture should taste similar to chocolate pudding).

Cut into 16 squares. Each square is approximately 2.5 calories.

TIP: For a variation in flavors, try using flavored stevia, such as Vanilla Creme, English Toffee, Valencia Orange, Caramel,  or Hazelnut.

 

 

 

 

**This post contains affiliate links.

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Cruciferous Vegetables

Weight Loss Resolutions

I hate to be one of those people with the cliche weight loss resolution, but this year there’s no denying that I need to set that resolution. Let’s face it. Most of us have been toting around some extra weight. And for one of the first times in my life, I am no exception to this.

As a kid, I was pretty twiggy, much like my two older daughters are. As a pre-teen, I got a little chubby and then quickly lost the weight and thinned out once puberty hit. As an adult, I stayed pretty thin, even after giving birth. While postpartum and breastfeeding, it seemed like the weight just melted off, no matter what I stuffed my face with. With each of my four children, I bounced back in 3-6 months, rocking the same size 3/5 jeans I wore in high school. I never expected I would ever become overweight. After all, I was just built thin and losing weight always came so easy to me.

Fast forward to baby #4. I had lost all my baby weight, plus a little extra. I moved to an old farm town in Minnesota when my daughter was six months old. Despite my best efforts, I just didn’t fit in well and there wasn’t really much to do like there had been in Alaska (think hiking). Even worse, it was really cold and windy in the winter, and in the summer, it was way too hot for me and my Alaskan babies. As an added difficulty, Minnesota’s summers set off my asthma. I had asthma attack after asthma attack all summer long, despite not having had one since I was three when living in Alaska. Needless to say, I spent pretty much the entire 19 months there sitting in the basement, packing on the pounds. By the time I returned to Alaska, I had gained 50+ pounds.

In December, I joined a weight loss challenge with a cash prize. I was so sure it was going to be what I needed to motivate myself and get into gear. I stuck with it alright; probably not as well as I could have, but I did make a conscious effort to choose healthier options, workout and sneak exercise into my daily routine. And guess what?

The scale didn’t budge.

The month long weight loss challenge ended and I lost a whopping one pound. That was it. All that work and I only lost a pound. One. Freaking. Pound.

Obviously I wasn’t thrilled with it. I was actually pretty stressed about it. And then a friend told me about the HCG diet. I had heard of it before, but it sounded really weird and not entirely healthy. At first I just brushed it aside. It sounded too easy, too good to be true, and borderline risky. This friend though, kept telling me about it so I decided to read the book “Pounds & Inches” by Dr. A. T. W. Simeons detailing the original protocols, research and successes. The reviews on Amazon were overflowing with success stories!

All I can say is WOW.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I tried to start the book with an open mind, keeping my own shallow and limited impressions of the HCG diet out of the picture. I read the book and took what it said at face value. I have to admit, some of the concepts presented in “Pounds & Inches” by Dr. A. T. W. Simeons were foreign to me; they challenged everything I thought I knew about weight loss and health. Despite these challenges, the research and information presented by Dr. Simeons was very encouraging and some of my skepticism began to wane. But I wasn’t convinced yet.

Even after reading the book, I still wasn’t sure. If this was the solution, why weren’t more people doing this? I did a lot of digging. I found articles on every end of the spectrum; it’s a scam, it’s a miracle, it worked for me, it didn’t work for me, it’s dangerous, it’s healthy, you name it. But what I really loved finding would surprise you.

Facebook groups!

I found several Facebook groups dedicated to individuals using the HCG diet. These groups were not only encouraging, but validating. I could find someone’s amazing before and after photos, search their username and find their very first post on the group expressing their own skepticism, just a few months prior. That is what sold me. These are real people; people who have struggled to lose weight, people who doubted this diet would work, and people who got the results they were trying for.

I am by no means an expert, but the HCG diet consists of three phases;

  • Phase 1
    Phase one is a preparatory phase focused on cleansing and preparing, however, it is not required for the diet, but rather encouraged.
  • Phase 2
    Phase two is when you begin taking either shots or drops of HCG. Phase 2 consists of 2-3 “loading days” (where the goal is to gain a little weight) and 20-40 days following a low-calorie diet plan consisting of only specific approved foods.
  • Phase 3
    Phase 3 is often referred to as the “stabilization” phase, lasting three weeks. During these three weeks, the goal is to stabilize your new weight. Anything can be eaten during this phase with the exception of starches and sugars. Drops/shots are discontinued during this phase.
  • Phase 4
    Phase 4 is often referred to as the “maintenance phase.” Weight has been lost and stabilized and there are no longer any restrictions on diet, nor are there any more shots/drops. At this point, a dieter can simply maintain by employing healthy eating habits, or they can remain in phase 4 for three weeks before beginning a repeat round of phase two. Multiple rounds of phase two may be needed for individuals who need to lose a significant amount of weight.

So there you have it; a brief synopsis of the HCG diet and why I have decided to follow this plan. I am very excited and will keep everyone updated on my progress! Wish me luck! And if you’re interested in it, don’t take my word for it! Read the book. Read the reviews on Amazon. Join the Facebook groups. Do some digging. Decide for yourself.

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Cruciferous Vegetables

Sprouting Fail to Sprouting Win…

I’m a weirdo. I absolutely love vegetables and sprouts are definitely one of my favorites, especially while re-lactating, as they can actually help to improve my breast milk supply when I eat sprouts like red clover blossom, fenugreek and alfalfa. I just love sprouts though. Especially on sandwiches, in wraps or I will even munch on them plain! My youngest kid must be like me because I can hand her a bowl of sprouts and a fork and she’ll eat it like spaghetti, twisting her fork and slurping them up. There were a few problems with it though.

  1. Sprouts are reallyyyyyy expensive here. A small 8oz container at the stores here could run as much as $6.
  2. Sprouts are reallyyyyy hard to find here. No joke. Nine times out of ten, I’d go to the produce section and wouldn’t be able to find any sprouts of any kind. It’s kind of depressing, but I guess they’d be a more fragile produce item to transport to Alaska.

Because of these two things, I decided to start sprouting myself. It’s actually really simple and I didn’t even buy any special gear. Just a few mason jars and some plastic mesh. Maybe I’ll write up a tutorial on that soon. The problem I kept having though, was that the water would pool at the neck of the jar and my sprouts would rot. I am not kidding when I tell you that they rotted. They were full on rotting. It smelled like something died in my kitchen. I was rinsing them twice a day and setting them to drain, but I just couldn’t figure out the best way to do it. It was pretty hit and miss. Some batches, I guess I had them lined up perfectly, yet the next batch I would do what I thought was the exact same thing, and my sprouts would rot.

Needless to say, it was frustrating.

Initially, I had two jars propped up in an aluminum bowl like this, which was fine and dandy the first batch… But not the second… or third… or fourth…

After three &*%&()* batches of sprouts that were rotting and getting nasty within just days, I decided to go for plan B. I found a long narrow container in the home department at Fred Meyer that looked as though it would fit perfectly. It worked great at first.

The first few days it was great. The water drained. The seeds started sprouting. Then they started growing. I thought we were in the clear. Then, of course, it all went south. As soon as the sprouts were about half-way done, they started blocking the holes in the mesh, which was directly pressed against the bottom of the container. Cue more rotting sprouts.

At this point, I considered building some kind of little miniature wooden table to fit over the long container with holes for the necks of the jars, but I just never got around to doing it. I was about ready to give up. Then, while washing my pump pieces, I realized that my Boon Countertop Drying rack was sturdy, solid, and well-aerated. Perhaps that would work for sprouting seeds without the issues I was having previously.

 

I gave it a shot. The sprouts turned out perfect. Nervous it was just a fluke like my last “perfect” batch, I tried again a few times. It worked perfectly every single time!

Happy Sprouting!

 

*Disclaimer: I was not provided any compensation for this post, nor did I recieve any complimentary products. I have purchased this item on my own, with my own money. My opinions expressed in this review have not been influenced and are my own. This post contains affiliate links.4

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Cruciferous Vegetables

Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack

I have been nursing, pumping and exclusively pumping for the vast majority of the last 9 years. If there’s one thing that drives me batty, it’s wet pump pieces when I’m ready for my next pumping session. This was especially true when I was (and currently am) exclusively pumping. It’s a pain to have to wipe down all my pump pieces just to dry them before I use them and wash them again. I found that most traditional bottle drying racks didn’t really work for pump pieces, and they definitely didn’t work well when I switched to using freemie cups exclusively. So what’s a pumping mom to do?

The Boon Countertop Drying Grass is the answer to those problems! This versatile, well-ventilated drying rack really helped me maintain my sanity while exclusively pumping for 14 months, as well as while exclusively pumping to re-lactate (currently)! I’d probably have lost my mind long ago wiping down parts, especially considering we don’t buy paper towels and rags stay wet longer than I’d like! Needless to say, the Boon Countertop Drying grass is perfect.

The grass is available in white and green, but let’s be real here. Who the heck has white grass? The green one is way cuter. They also make varying sizes, including a small one, a large one and a “patch,” for smaller odds and ends, bits and pieces.

Boon Drying “Patch”
Boon Drying “Lawn”

 

Technically, the one I have is the “Lawn” version, while the smaller one is the “grass” and the little strip (as shown above) is the “patch.” I splurged and treated myself to the “Lawn” and I’m glad I did because it fits all of my pieces perfectly.

As you can see, I can fit all of the pieces from my Freemie cups, and my Medela harmony all on one drying rack, with room to spare! It works perfectly and doesn’t look like the hot mess of a towel folded on the counter that I was using previously.

The little “blades” of grass are a semi-flexible hard plastic and separate from the white portion of the product. The white portion acts as a reservoir to catch any water that falls from whatever is drying. You MUST clean this periodically. I clean mine once or twice a week just with a dish brush and hot soapy water. How often you need to clean it will depend greatly on how often you use it. If you don’t clean it though, the water below the grass gets pretty nasty, slimy and gross, so make sure to do it.

I don’t currently have any, but Boon also has a line of add-ons for the drying grass, allowing you to extend your drying space upwards through the use of little trees, flowers and butterflies from which you can hang things.

Pretty nifty, hey? I love these things. While I haven’t used the add-ons, I am hoping to add some to my collection to dry my membranes and valves a little more quickly than the grass does on its own!

The best part about the Boon Countertop Drying Rack is that is has multiple uses. Yeah, I use mine for my breast pump pieces, tons of moms do, but really, it can be used for anything. Baby bottles. Breast pump pieces. Silverware. Normal dishes like cups, plates and bowls. Even cooler though, is a secret use I found for it! I had so many issues trying to sprout seeds at home where the water would collect too much and my sprouts would rot… The Boon Countertop Drying Rack worked PERFECTLY! So now, I can use it for my pump pieces, or for sprouting, or even both!

Fenugreek sprouts

 

Overall Rating: 4.6 Stars

Fulfills Purpose Well
Design & Visual Appeal
Ease of use
Affordability
Earth-Friendliness

Fulfills Purpose Well:

The Boon Countertop Drying Grass was a sanity saver for me. It does an excellent job keeping items well ventilated, suspended (so that water isn’t pooling at the bottom) and quickly drying pieces.

Design & Visual Appeal

The Boon Countertop Drying Grass is super cute and has adorable add-ons available. Seriously! Who doesn’t want a beautiful piece of lawn adorned with butterflies, trees and flowers in their kitchen?

Ease of Use

The Boon Countertop Drying Grass is super easy to use and only has two pieces (unless you get some add-ons). It requires little maintainence, just the occasional washing and draining necessary to prevent stagnant water in the resevoir.

Affordability

Initially, I thought the Boon Countertop Drying Grass was a little expensive, however, I did buy the largest model available (“lawn”). After using it for over two years, I’m well-convinced that while it is a bit pricier than other bottle drying racks, the quality makes it worth it.

Earth Friendliness

Given that the Boon Countertop Drying Grass prevents me from using paper towels to dry my pieces, as well as prevents me from having to use (and wash) several rags a day, I’d say that it’s fairly eco-friendly.

*Disclaimer: I was not provided any compensation for this post, nor did I recieve any complimentary products. I have purchased this item on my own, with my own money. My opinions expressed in this review have not been influenced and are my own. This post contains affiliate links.4

 

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