Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: October 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sgroppino al Limon


I’ve had this drink on my brain since last September when I read A Thousand Days in Venice for Cook the Books Club.  I made a glass then, but I felt like the vodka was too heavy handed and I wasn’t thrilled with my pictures.

Fast forward a year later and I had homemade lemon gelato in my freezer, lemon vodka on my counter, and vodka marinated blackberries marinating in the refrigerator.  Oh yeah, it was totally time to revisit this one.

For this revised recipe, I cut the vodka by half and used the lemon infused version instead of plain.  It made all the difference in the world!  The end result is something like a blended mimosa float only with lemon instead of orange!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Grieving the Loss of a Baby {Angel Wings Wednesday}

I was planning to write last week about being a grieving mother, the mother of an angel baby.  But then life got hectic and there was so much negativity in the news that I had to put it off for a week.

Then today, so much more negativity.

I’ve read several blog posts in the last couple days from other grieving mothers.  They’re full of swears.  And anger at doctors.  And anger at people who are only trying to help.  And anger at God.  And all the swearing!

Let’s just stop right here and get things straight: I’m human, I’m not perfect, I don’t claim to never swear.  But you won’t see in on the blog.  This simply isn’t the place for it  Like it or not, things publish online are here forever.  Is this how we want to be remembered?  Writing a long sweary blog post is not impactful in a positive way.  If we really want to raise awareness, we need to be calm and rational.  We don’t have to be happy about the lack of research concerning stillbirths – we should definitely raise concerns.  But insulting readers and doctors alike is not a helpful solution to the problem.  I see things like that and almost immediately disregard them.  It’s just not classy.

Okay, tangent over.

And I know those feelings or anger exist, but it breaks my heart for these women that they’re still focusing on the negative and cannot or will not find peace (from what I can tell these women experienced their losses years ago).

And that’s really the whole point of today’s post. 

How can I move forward after losing my child? (And also a bit about where I am now in my personal journey)

Notice that I didn’t say move on.  In fact, one of the posts that I vehemently disagreed with* did have one good point: some things can’t be fixed, only carried.

It’s so true.  Sarah Catherine will always be with me.  I am forever marred because of my loss.  I am the mother of an angel.  I want people to know.  I want to raise awareness.  Loss and grief will always be a part of me.  But I won’t become bitter.  I will not let this define me.

So here I am – let’s try Q&A format like last week, but this time from one grieving mother to another.

Q: I’m so sad after losing my baby, will the sadness ever go away?
A:  No, not really, but it will evolve and become more bearable.  In the beginning, there is so much sadness and so many tears.  It feels like the sun will never shine again, like you’ll never be able to figure out life without the baby that was meant to be.

For me, I found comfort in routine.  I put one foot in front of the other.  I played with my boys and got them to their school events.  I volunteered at the school.  I was big into “Fake it ‘til you make it”.

And slowly, the laughter came back and the tearful days slowly spaced out.  If you want to see my frame of mind at that time, go back to the earlier angel wings posts.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the first few months are rough.

Now that it’s been nearly two years since my loss, I still have to fake it sometimes.  Days (like today, in fact) when my facebook is bombarded with pregnancy and birth announcements, a little weight sits on my heart.  But now it’s a little twinge of sadness.  Instead of curling in a ball (which would have happened 18 months ago), I’ll just limit my exposure to social media until it fills up with cat memes again

Q: But I’m so angry!  No one understands! 
A: I hear ya, sister!  The first few months, especially, I felt like I was living is some sort of alternate universe.  I could scarcely believe the life that I was now living.  A life without my daughter, instead of with her.  And it was so odd to see people going on with their everyday when something so tragic had just happened to me.

I used to look at people and wonder how they could just go on living when my world had just shattered.

Then I got angry.  I wanted to punch everyone and swear like a sailor, because I couldn’t believe the hand that I’d been dealt.

But like it or not, things happen.  I firmly believe that things happen for a reason.  No, it doesn’t diminish or invalidate my grief, but, to me, it offers some comfort.  God has an ultimate plan.  I will probably never understand while I walk this Earth, but God has a plan and a reason, and I need to trust in that.  Trusting in God has helped me make strides toward peace.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t still anger.  I would say that anger is one of the bigger lasting impacts Sarah Catherine’s death has left on me.  I think that I still get angry faster than I used to (having a 5 & 7 year old doesn’t always help this!)  I’ve been working on my anger and relearning patience this year.  I definitely have slip ups, but I’m trying to be more aware of it.  Like I mentioned before: Fake it ‘til you make it.  I know I’ll get there.

Q: What is the hardest part?
A:  There are a lot of hard things. 
-Seeing pregnant ladies, especially ones who aren’t taking care of their bodies
-The fact that there are still so many unanswered questions about stillbirth.
-The fact that this happened even though I don’t fit into any of the high risk demographic groups (obese, over 35, carrying multiples, African-American, diabetic, smoker or drug user). 

Q: What advice can you give?
A: Give yourself permission to heal.  Give yourself permission for whatever it is you need when you need it.

I’ve mentioned before that in the early months, after the loss, I turned inward and focused on me and my own little family.  I needed to take care of us.

I needed to give my heart time to heal.

I needed to make sure Hubs was okay and that our marriage would be okay (we have a very strong marriage, so thankfully, our marriage was the least of our worries.  We weathered the storm.)

And I needed to make sure my little boys were going to be okay.  You can read this letter I wrote to Sarah Catherine on the day of her burial, if you want a glimpse into a grieving 3 & 6 year old.

What does giving myself permission look like?

I looks like spending a day reading a book when it’s too hard to deal with life.

It looks like letting the housework go for one more day.

It looks like playing Legos and board games for hours with a preschooler instead of getting dinner on the table.

It looks like saying no, even though I’m the one who always says yes.

Now, all that being said, be careful.  Giving yourself permission to take care of yourself isn’t the same as giving up.

Take care of yourself go into what I call “survival mode”, but check back in with yourself and make sure you get back to the real world.  If you’re having trouble with that ask for help!  Seek help from family and friends or a doctor if you need to.  Postpartum depression is a real thing.  Hormones go crazy after giving birth.  Couple that with the grief of losing a baby and you’ve got the perfect storm.

So basically, take the time you need and get help if you need it.

Q: I feel like I’m losing friends or driving them away.
A: In last week’s post, I talked a lot about how to support afriend who has experienced a loss.  I talk a lot about good intentions shining through.  Don’t be too quick to judge.  Challenge yourself to look past the words and into the intent.

The flip side is that you see those who weren’t real friends to begin with. 

I’ve always been quite introverted.  I’m the type a person who has a few close friends.  I do not have a giant circle of friends.  (Remember fake it ‘til you make it?  I can deal with social situations, then I go home and hibernate with a book).

In the past year, a few friendships have needed to be evaluated.  Is this person making me a better person?  Do we offer each other mutual support?  It is all drama?  Is it give & take or one sided?

Loss bring friendships acutely into focus.  Now is the time to prune away toxic friendships and cultivate true friendships.

Q: So what happened, did you ever find out?
A: Despite all of the tests, we never did find a cause for Sarah Catherine’s death.  Based on the observable signs and symptoms (history of pre-eclampsia, history of placental abruption) it’s possible that I have some sort of a blood clotting disorder.

However, none of blood tests show evidence as such, so no one really knows.

Therefore, I’m not actively being treated for anything, but I do need to be careful.  My doctor does not want me on any hormonal birth control, just in case.  That decision is totally fine with me, I was on it once for a month and I felt so awful, that I stopped taking it, so it doesn’t really change anything.

Q: So, are you going to have another baby?  Wait, am I even supposed to ask that?
A: It’s okay to ask.  I know there is a bunch of stuff on social media lately where women are getting all uppity about people asking when they’re having children.  I’ve personally never minded these questions.  Sure it’s a little nosey, but at the same time it’s a way of people showing they care.

As for having another baby, at this time, no.  I’ve been considered high-risk since my pregnancy with Dude (he was born 6 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia & placental abruption).  Coupled with Sarah Catherine’s death, I am now very high risk.  Another pregnancy would require a lot of extra interventions (weekly ultrasounds, consults with specialized doctors, early delivery).  So with the risk to my own health, and the health of a baby is too high for us right now.

Grieving the loss of a baby is such a huge topic.  I still want to talk about your post-loss body and body image, but it’s such a major part of my journey that I feel like it needs its own post.  So until that time, if you’ve had a loss, I pray that you can find peace.

*If you must, you can read it here, but beware of language and anger

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lemon Vodka Marinated Blackberries #HandCraftedEdibles

Today is Libations Part 2 for #HandCraftedEdibles and today we’re bringing on the garnishes!

Now, today’s marinated blackberries aren’t really going to preserve well for gifts (they’re best eaten right away), but they are marinated in that yummy lemon vodka I shared a few weeks ago!

The marinated berries are delicious!  They’re fresh and juicy and I love the pop of lemon the infused vodka adds!  These are amazing straight out of the marinade and also for garnishing fancy lemonades like Thyme Infused Lemonade.  I also have a brand new drink (that I’ve been hinting at) and that’s coming up a little later this week, so don’t miss it!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cheesy Pizza Bread #SecretRecipeClub

I’m jumping in for an extra Secret Recipe Club post today, since one of our Group D bloggers had a family emergency (if you’re the praying type, keep the family in your prayers, if not, send those positive thoughts!)

I have to tell you, though, I couldn’t be more excited about my fill-in assignment!  It’s my friend Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm!  I’m so excited, because Wendy is not only a blogging and SRC friend, she’s a friend in real life, too!

Wendy is actually my mother-in-law’s best friend, but since I joined the family nearly 10 years ago, she’s been my friend, too.  You can’t meet a kinder person than Wendy, I am so blessed to know her and to get to visit whenever we visit my husband’s hometown (which, unfortunately is only once a year or so – boo to living so far away!)  In fact, I introduced Wendy to blogging & SRC, and she introduced me to Cook the Books Club and Food ‘n Flix!

A bit more about Wendy: she and her husband are both retired police officers who now live on 12 acres and strive to eat as locally as possible.  In fact, she even raises her own chickens, turkeys, and pigs!  Wendy & I also share a love of good books; I share monthly reading posts and she reviews them as she reads them!

Now on to the recipe!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Melted Witch Candy Bark Bites #FoodNFlix

It’s time for this month’s Food ‘n Flix!  Food ‘n Flix is a fun little club where any blogger who wants to participate can watch the selected movie, make something inspired by the film and share it!  This month’s flick is hosted by Elizabeth at the Lawyer’s Cookbook.  For October, she choose the Halloweeny flick, Hocus Pocus.

I think I had only seen Hocus Pocus once before, on TV, so I set out to find a copy.  As always, I checked Netflix (no), Amazon (available for rental, but not on Prime), and finally the library (yes!)  Only problem was, it was checked out from the library.  So I checked, daily (online, I didn’t actually go there daily), since the last week of September, waiting for it to be returned.  My library only does a 1 week lending period for movies, so I thought, how long can it take?  Famous last words.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Multigrain Pancakes in a Jar #HandCraftedEdibles

It’s another week of #HandCraftedEdibles!!

This week is all about the jarred mixes!

I’m going to be honest here.  This one was a first for me and I really puzzled over what to make.  At first I could only think of oatmeal cookies in a jar and it seems like that’s been done over and over again.  Plus my kids freak out about the raisins in oatmeal cookies and refuse to eat them!

So I started thinking and trying to come up with something that I love to make that could easily be packaged in a jar.

Finally I had it!  My favorite go-to pancakes!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sloppy Joe Pie

Rather than eating sloppy joes on a bun, like one typically does, my boys prefer to deconstruct their sloppy joes and eat the meat with a spoon.

Since they also love cornbread, I figured this was an opportunity to try something new!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to Support a Friend Who Has Lost a Baby {Angel Wings Wednesday}

I’m back with Angel Wings Wednesday again today for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month.

The first year after losing Sarah Catherine in my 28th week of pregnancy, I focused solely on myself and my family.  It was survival mode.  We were just trying to heal and remember how to be normal.

The subject of stillbirth was still very awkward and touchy for people.  Not many people would bring it up (I imagine for fear of making me sad or hurting my feelings), but I would.  I learned to talk about Sarah Catherine.  How can people remember her or the fact the stillbirth is still a very real problem if no one talks about it?

Then, shortly after we passed Sarah Catherine’s first birthday, there was a subtle shift.  People still aren’t bringing up Sarah Catherine directly, but more and more, people are reaching out.  It turns out a lot of my friends know someone (or they themselves) who has had a stillbirth or miscarriage.  And my friends are reaching out, asking, what can I do?  How can I help my friend?  Or, I lost my baby, how do I move forward?  How do I get through the sadness?

I feel like this is such an important shift.  It’s a shift toward empathy.    I’ve often seen (on Facebook or blogs) 10 things you should never say to ____.  Fill in the blank –someone who has had a miscarriage-is getting divorced-moms of preemies – pregnant women-childless couples – someone who’s depressed, has anxiety, is adopted- Seriously google it.  There’s a list of things we should never say to just about anyone.  But you know what’s nearly always missing? 

What should I say?

What’s happened is that everyone is so afraid of offending someone is that we’ve become apathetic and no one says anything to offend or to comfort.

So I want to talk about both of those situations above – what to do or say if your friend has a loss and how to move forward if you do (it’ll probably take a few posts).

First I want to tackle the friend who has had a loss.  I’m going to put this in Q&A format for the sake of simplicity.

Q: My friend just had a miscarriage/stillbirth.  What can I possibly say?

A: Say what’s in your heart.  If you are speaking with good intentions, it will come through. 

If you’ve lost a pregnancy too, speak up!  Now is the time to let her know she’s not alone.  I was astounded after the loss of Sarah Catherine to find out how many of my friends had experienced early miscarriages and never told anyone!  It broke my heart to think of them suffering alone and comforted me to know I wasn’t so alone.

Q: But what if I offend her by accident?!? There are all those lists of things to never say to someone who’s had a loss!

A: Now that is been nearly 2 years since my loss I’ve heard it all.  And here’s the thing.  One of my very best friends in the whole world said something that was probably on those lists.  It really wasn’t comforting at all.  However, I know my friend.  I know that as someone who doesn’t have children herself, she was doing her best to be comforting.  Her good intentions shone through.  I was able to focus on her intent and her (slightly misguided) show of empathy.

So like I mentioned above, make sure your intentions are pure (you’re not just being nosey or judgy) and speak from the heart.  Your friend will hear the truth of your words.

Oh and through those stupid lists out the window.  Honestly, what’s insulting to one person can be comfort to another.  I’ve read those lists and wished someone would say some of those things (granted some of those lists mention some really really stupid things people have said, but those are clearly not said with good intentions).

Q: What can I do for my friend?

A: Be there for her.  She may not be ready yet (I wrote about that here and here) but keep the door open.

For me, going out and doing something “normal” was huge.  A week after losing Sarah Catherine, I went out with a friend and had a pedicure and went shopping for some clothes that would fit, because I needed to get away from the sadness and feel like me, even if it was only for a couple hours.

Q: Can I do more?  Can I bring her something?

A: This one is tough, because it will vary so much from person to person.

Right after we lost Sarah, there were many people who wanted to bring food or help clean or watch the boys.  I accepted the meals, but turned down everything else.  Why?  Because I (personally) needed my daily routine to keep me going and to keep me from sinking into a dark place.  However, I know that not everyone grieves the way I do.  Where I craved the normalcy of cooking, baking, and taking care of the boys, I know others feel like they can’t keep up.  So know your friend and what she needs.  Or simply ask and don’t be offended if she declines your offer.

Several of my friends found remembrance plaques and things on Etsy and many of them are very special to me.  I also have a necklace I wear almost daily, though I hesitate to recommend buying jewelry, since it’s hard to know exactly what someone would want.

You can also give book or website recommendations (I received several of these), but I never got around to them (sorry friends!) and preferred to find my own.

If you are looking for recommendations, feel free to share my Angel Wings posts.  I also can recommend Grieving the Child INever Knew for grieving parents and We Were Gonna Have Baby But Had An AngelInstead for grieving siblings.  We got the sibling book from the hospital and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s a must for grieving children.

For me, since I craved normalcy so much, a gift card for a pedicure (and a friend to go with!) or coffee was nice.

Q: I just found out I’m pregnant, how do I tell my friend who lost her baby?

A:  From what I can see, there are two common reactions here.  First, is to single out the grieving mother and give her special treatment with the announcement, and second is to not tell her at all.

I’ve had several occasions where an acquaintance is about to do a mass facebook pregnancy announcement, but worries and contacts me separately, beforehand to let me know that they’re planning an announcement.

It may seem surprising, but for me, this makes things worse.  It singles me out and makes me different.  I prefer to find out with the crowd.  Now, what you won’t see is me ‘liking’ or commenting on the post.  Why?  Because then I get 8 zillion notifications throughout the day when everyone and their dog writes on that post.

I am truly happy for these friends, but I don’t need to be reminded all day.  I’ll often send a private message of congratulations, if anything.

Now here’s the exception.  If this is a really good friend, a friend who you would’ve told the news before the facebook reveal before she had a loss, then by all means tell her beforehand.  There’s a difference between sharing good news with close friends and singling out an acquaintance.  If you’re planning to start your conversation with, “I thought I’d better tell you first…”  you’re singling out.

As to the second, why exclude?  That’s just rude.  If she doesn’t want to see the post, she can ‘hide’ it.  Or she can let you know that she prefers not to be part of those sorts of reveals.

Q: I’m having a baby shower, should I invite my friend?

A:  Yes!  If you would’ve before, of course!   If it’s going to be too painful for her to come, it’s up to her to rsvp ‘no’. 

It’s that whole excluding/singling out thing again.

I’ve been to one baby shower since I lost Sarah Catherine.  And honestly, I wasn’t thrilled about going, but it was for a family member, so I felt like I should go.  And know what?  It wasn’t so bad once I got there.  I even had a nice time.  I was super relieved to go home after 2 hours, but it didn’t make me depressed or ruin my day!

Q: I’m pregnant and/or have a newborn & I want to get together for a playdate, should I ask?

A: Sure, but don’t be offended if she declines.  Try for a girl’s night out or (kid-free) coffee if she’s not ready to see babies.  And also just be patient.  And don’t give up on her.

Wow, that got long!

Any more questions?  What did I miss?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Bites #HandCraftedEdibles

This week’s #HandCraftedEdibles is all about the special diets.

Making something for all your friends, and want to include someone who is vegan or gluten free or dairy or egg free?  These are the cookies for you!

These sweet little cookie bites are everything except nut-free!  Plus, they’re so delicious that no one will believe they’re made out of chickpeas!  My kids and my husband’s co-workers had no idea!  They just gobbled them up!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Garlic & Rosemary Froccacia #SecretRecipeClub

It’s already Secret Recipe Club Day!

In SRC, members are assigned a blog, scope out all the recipes, whip up something amazing and then post of reveal day.

Today I was assigned Corina’s blog, Searching for Spice.  Corina loves all things food and loves experimenting with spices from around the world!  She has also taking a more recent interest in baking, now that she is a busy mom of two (I can relate, Corina!)

As I was searching through her blog, I found so many amazing recipes I wanted to try!  Originally, I had planned to make Corina’s Butternut Squash & Spinach Stuffed Pasta with Sage Browned Butter.  But I ended up going a slightly different direction with that (you can see a sneak peek in that photo below, I'll post the recipe soon), so I decided to make something amazing to complement it instead!

A Chocolaty #Giveaway for #Choctoberfest

*Disclosure: I received products to sample from ­­­­­Imperial Sugar, Just Hemp, & Barlean’s.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’ve had such fun filling this past week with chocolate thanks to #Choctoberfest with Imperial Sugar!!

I’d like to thank all of our wonderful sponsors and remind my readers that there is still a little time to enter the giveaway!  You can click over to this post, or enter at the bottom of this one!

In case you missed it, here are my chocolaty offerings from the week!

And now a big thank you to all the sponsors who sent out product to bloggers and/or are sending out a treat to the giveaway winner:

 Imperial Sugar

Just Hemp

Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter  | Pinterest 

Tahana Confections

Lindt Chocolate

Rescue Chocolate

Lulu’s Chocolate

Bless This Mess Etsy Shop

Divine Chocolate

Pearson Farm

Thank you all so very much!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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