Tuesday, January 31, 2012

And the Appendix Must Go!

I previously had this huge fear of my appendix bursting and my not being anywhere near a hospital since I typically try to be 'tough girl' when in pain, so I thought I'd share a little insight gained with all of you from my unexpected surgery a little over a week ago.

Thursday night I went to my book club, where our gracious host served a yummy dinner, complete with these delicious cake balls that I couldn't get enough of! I should clarify: my book club is really an excuse to have a girls night. As you might imagine, sometimes we get a little carried away with the adult beverages. However, this particular night I only had one glass of wine. So when I woke up at 3 a.m. Friday morning feeling sick, I quickly ruled out alcohol as the culprit.

When I woke up my whole abdomen was cramping & hurt. It honestly felt like I needed to poop. But, I did poop & there was no relief. Then I started vomiting. I probably vomited every 20-30 minutes from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m.. Nothing was relieving the pain in my abdomen and I didn't have anything in me to vomit. Also, it was a deeper vomiting than anything I've ever experienced, like there was something in there my body was trying to get out. My next thought was food poisoning, but since I ate the same thing as all my girlfriends, I was able to rule that out as well. Around 11, I stopped vomiting & my pain lessened just enough that I was able to fall asleep for about 30 minutes.

Earlier in the week my running buddy mentioned that her sister thought she was having an appendicitis & the doctors told her it feels more like you pulled a muscle in your abdomen. They also told her that the real key is a fever. As the day went on, I realized the pain in my abdomen was starting to feel more like a pulled muscle, and it seemed to be moving from the center of my abdomen to the right. It was definitely more intense on the right as time went on. Around 7:30 p.m. I looked it up on the internet. I was having all the symptoms except the fever, but the website I visited indicated it could be as low as 99. I said multiple prayers that if I needed to go to the hospital, God would show me a clear sign. At 8 p.m. I took my temperature again & it registered 99. I told the hubby I was going to the hospital.

Upon arrival they immediately hooked me up with an IV. I must have had "dehydrated" written all over me. The doctor didn't seem convinced it was my appendix, but he did think it was a possibility. He said a CAT scan was the way to figure it out. It takes 3 hours to do a CAT scan, by the time you drink the stuff you have to drink & let it settle. Fortunately they pumped anti-nasea medicine into my IV so I was able to keep it down. The CAT scan revealed that I had a stone in my appendix, but they could also see that I didn't have any lacerations (yet) so it was up to the surgeon as to exactly how quickly he was coming up to take it out. It turned out to be noon the next day, though once they started giving me morphine, I didn't really care.

They did remove it via laprascopy, which is amazing! I have 3 very small incisions that can be covered by a bandaid. The worst part of it is that they pump you full of gas in order to create the room they need to work. My neighbor tells me it will take 2 weeks for my body to absorb all of this. I've had many bloated days since, and 1 in particular where I felt pregnant again. But, if that's the price, I'll take it! Anything is better than the way I felt that Friday!

Also, my prayers that God would give me a clear sign if I needed to go to the hospital worked! I went because my temperature registered 99. Upon arrival to the hospital my temperature was 97 and I never had a fever afterwards. I additionally wonder if the "stone" was really one of those cake balls I ate the night before. Perhaps I should've taken it a little easier on those!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best Sugar Cookies Ever...with fun colors found in nature!

Its no surprise food dyes are bad for you. I even remember them talking about the red & yellow dyes when I was a kid. Reading the list of chemicals most harmful to kids has reinforced the fact that we should try to avoid them when we can. It's not terribly hard for me to avoid them in food at the grocery store (except at Halloween), but my real weakness? Frosting! Specifically, frosting for sugar cookies! I am fine making them with white frosting, but I've made them in fun colors previously so that's what my kids expect. When we start talking about making sugar cookies, they immediately start deciding what color they want "theirs" to be. Ugh! Do I take this happiness away from them too (as if the M&Ms aren't enough)? Or, do I look for alternative & natural colors found in nature? Clearly I try the latter since I'm blogging about it.

My ideas:
white=no dye (easy)
pink=beet juice or maybe strawberries if they are juicy enough (but, I have boys & they don't want pink)
purple=blueberry juice (I did this once with the witches hats, but they were really more violet)
green=spinach juice (dare I try it?)

Last week we made cookies & these were the color options. My youngest picked purple. This time I used more juice & they actually turned out purple! Perfect! My oldest chose green (little did he know). This past summer I pureed some spinach & froze it in ice cube trays. Normally when I defrost one, there is juice. This time, there was no juice. So, I put the entire cube in the frosting. Now the frosting looks white with green flakes in it. It truly looks more like something you should be dipping a veggie in than something that you should be eating on your cookie. But I taste it & it tastes great! Just like normal frosting. There is so much sugar in it, you can't taste the spinach at all. Now for the true test: I tell my oldest that his frosting is more like white frosting with green sprinkles in it. He takes one look at it & says "no mom!" Then I give him a taste. "Ok mom!" Whew! They passed the test & my boys have thoroughly enjoyed their cookies. To top it all off: I feel like I just snuck some veggies into their systems. I LOVE IT!!! (It may be worth a note that the older these cookies get, the flavors are starting to come out. I couldn't taste the blueberries or spinach at all initially. Now its been 5 days & I taste a hint of them, though just a hint & I'm still fairly certain if you didn't 'know' you wouldn't taste the difference.)

Not to be a total bragger, but I do make the best sugar cookies. They aren't easy, but they are so worth it! That junk you buy at the store doesn't even compare. Here's the recipe:

Sugar Cookies
Mix together:
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup butter (must be room temperature, sometimes I pop it in the microwave to soften (melting some of it))
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Stir it until it all sticks together & essentially forms a ball (this is the 'not easy' part-your arm will be ready to fall off by the time you're done). Refrigerate the dough 15-30 minutes so its not so sticky when you roll it out. When you do roll it out, you'll need to use a decent amount of flour to keep it from sticking. Bake 8-10 min at 400 degrees.

Butter Cream Frosting
1 box powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Mix it all together & add your favorite color found in nature's finest food & frost. Frost when the cookies are cool. Also, let the frosting harden a bit after you frost them & then you'll be able to stack them on a plate.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy, peasy cleaning without chemicals!

So, one of my good friends started selling Norwex. Its one of those things you buy at a party. Initially I knew it involved cleaning supplies & they were chemical-free. Right up my alley, except that I really dislike those parties. I always feel obligated to buy things & they are usually expensive, yadda, yadda. Fortunately for me I was unavailable for her first party or two (no joke). I continued to hear bits of info about it & heard ravings about just using water (no chemicals) with this cloth. Right up my alley, except I looked it up & its not cheap (for the record, I am a little on the cheap side). So, parties involved, expensive and if you're just using water, it's not really clean, right? I mean, where's the 'anti-bacterial' in that? I hate the chemicals, but I hate the idea of germs & bacteria even more. I try to limit our exposure to un-natural things, but I am human & I have my limits.

I finally go to a party. I learn the following:
1. silver is a bactericide (aka anti-bacterial agent)
2. these Norwex products are laced with silver
3. the main 'rag' is a microfiber cloth that picks up most anything with water

I'm still skeptical so I buy the very basic of items: enviro cloth, window cloth & dusting mitt. They arrive and I put them to work. OMG!!!
Fast-check (this is the part I missed until I tried it)

I cleaned my whole kitchen in about half the normal time. Scratch that. I probably actually spent the same amount of time because since it was so easy, I started looking around for new things to clean. Inside of the fridge, cabinets, all the appliances (which are stainless). You name it, I cleaned it!

However, I was still a little skeptical. It looks clean & it feels clean, but is it really clean? I watched my friend place a raw piece of chicken on a mirror & do a protein test on it. Before cleaning: test failed. After cleaning with her cloths: pass. But, I needed more. I did the natural thing & googled it. It took some digging to find info that wasn't directly from Norwex, but I dug I did & everything indicates this stuff is for-real. I've been using these items for about a month now & I can no longer live without them. If I could capture the before & after of my shower (my shower is all tile & the solution of how to best clean it has eluded me until now) in a picture, I would!

As for the cost...I can somewhat justify the fact that I won't have to buy chemical cleaners anymore, but how much do I really spend a year on that stuff anyway? Probably not a lot. But, the time savings is invaluable! The products that I have invested in so far are worth every penny if only for the amount of time they are saving me! Total bonus that they are chemical-free!

Here are a couple demonstrations if you want to see how easy these things are:

dusting mitt to clean a screen:  http://youtu.be/cbum22AL2dM
dusting mitt to clean blinds:  http://youtu.be/AwrBQRzqhSE
protein test after cleaning raw chicken: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYw_vjQjbPo

Now, for the record: I do not sell Norwex nor do I intend to start. However, I will be having a party in the next few weeks so let me know if you are interested. If you don't live near me, you can order online  http://melissaklusman.norwex.biz/ or look up a rep in your area. It may be worth it to actually see some of these things in person if you're visual like me.

Happy cleaning!!!