Month: December 2012

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

  Pesto and veggie lovers, have I got a chicken dish for you:
  Here’s what you need:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 – 5 garlic cloves
1 cup fresh basil
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 package of cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 red onion, sliced
Mozzarella cheese, optional
  Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.  While you wait for it to get up to temperature, brown your chicken breasts on the stove top (I used a little bit of olive oil in my pan when I did mine).  All we’re looking for is to cook the outsides and seal the juices in, so don’t worry about cooking them too long, just hot and fast.  Place them in a baking dish when you’ve browned them and create your pesto.  You will need your blender.  Put your garlic, basil, olive oil, vinegar and water into the blender and pulse until it’s nice and chopped up.  Pour this over your chicken.  Top with your mushrooms, tomatoes and red onion.
  I didn’t actually add any cheese this time, but I’m planning to next time I make this dish.  It’s delicious without it, and if you’re worried about fat content you’d want to leave it off, but I think that it will take this from delicious to over-the-top good.  I think probably the best way to go about it if you’re adding cheese is to add it after your chicken has baked and put the whole thing back in for 5 minutes or so to let it melt.
  Place your chicken in the oven and allow to cook for around 40 minutes.  Double check to make certain it’s cooked through (165 degrees) and serve.
  G wasn’t so big on this one.  He liked the mushrooms, and was okay with the chicken…but he was having nothing to do with the cherry tomatoes.  “Too squishy” he told us after trying his mandatory bite.  Ah well.  They can’t all be home runs.
  Like I said earlier, this is very good even without adding cheese, but as I’ve mentioned in conjunction with my gestational diabetes saga, we tend to eat pretty low carb, high fat, so “add cheese” is standard operating procedure in our kitchen.

2012-A Year in Review

  Showed you Mayans, 2012 is just about over and we’re still here!  
  A couple of my favorite blogs have been doing end of the year wrap ups that included collages of what they’ve done over the year and I rather love the idea.  It’s far too easy at the end of a year to look at what’s left on our to-do lists and feel like we’ve gotten nothing accomplished.  I absolutely have dozens of projects I promised myself I’d finish this year that just didn’t happen, and it’d be really easy to take that as an indication I’ve been lazy…but when I lay out everything that did get done…wow!  Not too bad for somebody with a toddler in her hair, a baby in her belly and who has been back in school!
  I started out a little slowly sewing for myself this year.  Not a whole lot of pieces came off my machine until the weather started to warm up, but once I found out I was pregnant I went a little crazy!
  …one of my goals over the past year has been to improve my photography.  Perhaps one of my goals for next year should be to learn to actually smile at the camera when I take self portraits…
  G didn’t get a ton of sewing done for him this year.  He grew a lot, but Grandma B was well ahead of him in the clothing game, so I just supplemented with a couple of pairs of pants this fall and some lightweight pjs when the weather was hot.  Turns out I forgot to take pictures of about half of what I made him.  Oops.
  The start of the year was a little heavier on craft sewing, which, of course has slowed down a little with all the maternity wear getting churned out, but still is a pretty substantial amount of work.
  Whew, all that and I still manged to do some non-sewing related stuff.  I guess I can’t really beat myself up for being lazy after all!
  Not a whole lot of knitting or crocheting this year…what I have done is a bit hush hush as it’s a long term project that will eventually be a gift, but I have plans for a few larger projects in the next few months and one small project that’s already on my needles that you’ll see in the next week or two.
  The landscaping didn’t get a whole lot of love, due to the massively scorching summer we had being pared with a bad case of morning sickness, but we did expand the trellis on our garage, put in a new flower bed on the east side of our garage, mulched it and re-mulched most of our other flower beds as well as getting a new crop of garlic planted this fall.  It wasn’t nearly as much as we had intended to do, but we maintained all the progress we’d made in the previous summers and nobody actually collapsed from heat stroke or sun poisoning.  Good enough for me.
  Inside the house our list of things we wanted to get done was a little shorter, but a lot of them got done!  We painted the kitchen…something I’d been wanting to do since we moved in, and every time I walk into it since I heave a sigh of relief that it’s not orange creamsicle explosion anymore.  We continued working towards our goal of fewer, more useful items.  We still have a ways to go, but this slow and steady progress means we’re really thinking about finding solutions and minimizing the things in our life, not just throwing things out one day to replace them the next.  And the biggest project of all, we moved our office downstairs into what used to be our guest bedroom so we could move G into his new room.  The office is still a big, hot mess and G’s room still has a good dozen projects I need to complete before I’ll consider it “done”, but both are functional, if not pretty, and are headed very much in the right direction.
  I’m sure I’m missing stuff.  Every time I go to look for a picture of something I’m finding another project I’d forgotten we’d done this year.  None of this is even counting any of the new recipes we tried out!  I’m pretty proud of everything we’ve gotten finished.  2012 has felt a little rough.  Between losing our cat, classes frying my brain, pregnancy messing with my body and half of our house/belongings breaking on us one way or anot
her (and lets not forget the invasion of bees…) it’s nice to have a reminder that we weren’t just playing catch up all year!
  What about you?  Write down everything you can think of that you accomplished this year.  I bet you’ll be astonished by how much you achieved! 

The Great Saga of the Diabetic, Gestational.

  Last week I got a little ranty.  It’s been 3 weeks since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and things are finally, finally starting to level out.

  When I first posted last week, I was still trying to follow the diet the dietitian recommended for me.  That lasted for all of 24 hours before I felt horribly, horribly sick and got my first high blood sugar reading.  I immediately retook it to be sure (I was following their diet after all, shouldn’t it stay in the right range?) and it came back even higher (by 20mg no less!).  Obviously the suggested “low-carb” diet wasn’t working for me.
  I went back to eating how I normally eat.  I felt better and my blood sugar levels dropped.
  Until they didn’t.
  I eat essentially the same thing for breakfast every morning.  I make myself a pot of tea (with only 2 teabags to 5 cups of water, because pregnant or not, I have a crazy sensitivity to caffeine), some honey and some milk.  To go with my tea I typically have a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter or some granola mixed with Greek yogurt.  Since I’ve been out of granola, it has been toast all week.  This breakfast works out to right around 30 g of carbs, which is the minimum they asked me to eat in the morning.
  Now, to understand what I’m going to say next (and why I flipped out) I need to give you a little bit of back information.  When we met with the dietitian and she walked me through the diet and explained how the blood sugar monitor worked, she mentioned that there were target blood sugar levels I needed to keep below, and that if I didn’t, I would be removed from my regular OB’s practice (where I went through my entire pregnancy for G and have been for the entire first 30 weeks of this pregnancy) and transferred to a high risk office.  The comment was that this would happen if there were two or more high blood sugar scores.  The scores, btw, for those who are curious, are 140 mg after a meal and 90 mg when fasting (first thing in the morning before I eat).
  I do not want to be transferred.  On top of the whole “I don’t like the idea of being labeled high risk” issue, there’s also the fact that I don’t know anyone at that office.  I’ve been frustrated with how the staff has handled this diagnosis, but I’ve always been happy with my actual OB.  With only ten weeks left to go, I don’t want to start from scratch building a relationship with a new doctor.  Also, from an entirely practical point of view, the high risk clinic is an extra 20-30 minute drive beyond where my current office is.  Trying to find times to make my appointments that I don’t need to hire a babysitter for G and that he won’t melt down mid-appointment is difficult enough without an added hour getting there and back home again, especially now that I’ve hit the 30 week mark and will be going twice a month instead of once a month.
  So I already had one “failing” score from attempting to increase my carbs to the level they wanted them at when I ate my usual breakfast (that had been yielding blood sugar levels in the low 130s or lower) and got a 147.  I took it again…because, wtf, I’m eating the exact same thing! and it came back as 127 mg.
  Oh I got mad.  Two failing scores and both had a 20 mg margin of error when I took them again…one of which the second test made me passing.  I was not about to be considered high risk because of a score that was high due to error margins!
  I called the office, and, hallelujah, actually got to talk to a doctor.  I explained to her what was going on, how angry I was, and that I’d really like to know what to make of the jumps in blood sugar numbers when I was taking them so closely together.
  Seems I’d run face-first into another instance of scare tactics that are used to get the average Joe to take the situation at all seriously, freaking me WAY out unnecessarily.  The doctor reassured me that, unless there was a new, seriously militant dietitian that she wasn’t aware of, there was no way the scores I was getting were going to move me to a high risk situation.  That yes, there was some margin of error in the machines, but that also, sometimes blood sugars just change that fast…and that they take that into account when they look at the scores.  She said that unless I started getting regular scores closer to 180 or 200 mg that any issues in this first week would be ones we would look at diet adjustments to address before doing anything more drastic.
  Whew.  I feel better.
  So because I keep talking about how crazy low-carb I eat, I want to give you guys some numbers.  Lets get mathy.  I’ve kind of been a brat about this ordeal, but it’s because nobody is believing me when I tell them how I eat.  …that’s because it’s not usual.  I do not want any other pregnant mamas out there to read my account and wind up angry and indignant about being told to change their carb levels until you first take a good, hard look at what you’re eating.  I am not a doctor and I’m not suggesting that what they’ve been trying to do with me wouldn’t work for plenty of people.  It just doesn’t work with my body.
  To figure out how many carbs you consume in a day, obviously you’re going to have to count.  Packaged foods, check the side of the box.  Non-packaged foods you can find charts online.  Things like fruits usually have a range because the amount of sugars (and thus carbs) in them changes as they ripen.  If what you’re eating has 5g or more of dietary fiber per serving you can subtract half of them from the total carbs (ie, 5g you subtract 2.5g).  I haven’t bothered, since the numbers I have are already way lower than the dietitian wants and I expect I’d get yelled at for even longer if I started subtracting them from my totals.  Make sure that you’re using the number from the “total carbohydrates” line, not any of the ones below it.
  Current dietary recommendations say that you can get up to 65% of your daily calories from carbohydrates.  That’s something like 400g.  I’m pretty sure I’d go into a coma.  The suggested diet for a woman who is not looking to lower her carb intake is a range of 180-230g.  The low carb diet the dietitian suggested for me (as a pregnant woman, I expect a non pregnant woman’s suggestion would be lower) was 165-210g a day.
  Based on the totals I’ve added up from the days that I’ve eaten what I’ve wanted, not increasing my intake, I average around 115g a day.  That number is a little squishy because the way they had me calculating left out carbs in things like peanut butter and carrots.  For whatever reason those foods are “free”.  Regardless, it’s safe to say, my levels are lower than normal.
  Don’t you dare go giving me the st
ink eye for being too skinny, starving my baby and start typing up a comment about an eating disorder, I’m not finished yet.
  If you’ve been reading my recipes for a while, you’ve noticed that I put cheese on nearly everything and cream in the rest of it.  “Low-fat” is a slur in our house.  I may be running low on the carb count, but calories are not an issue.  Each gram of fat you consume is 9 calories where each gram of carbohydrate is only 4.  That means that I can easily make up the 200 calories I’m missing out on from not eating those 50 g of carbohydrates.  A single ounce of cheese gives me 110 calories, and I find it far more satisfying than trying to shove more bread and sugar down my throat. 
  We eat low carb and high fat.  It’s not normal, and it’s not really something that the medical community even recognizes an option, but it works for us.  I suspect that it would be a diet that would be really hard for a lot of people.  Most folks really like their carbs.  I can’t really blame doctors for not looking at it as valid…you can’t exactly keep eating all the carbs that most Americans do AND eat high fat and stay healthy.
  Anyhow, that’s where things stand for now.  My sugar levels seem to be in a healthy range and so hopefully there won’t be any further drama in this ongoing saga.  If you have any questions about any of what has been going on, or questions about how/what we eat, I’d be happy to answer them. 
 Anybody out there who really understands diets and who could explain to me any reason that less carbs could be a problem at this level, I’d love to hear it.  So far the main answer I’ve gotten has been basically “just because you need more”.*
  Miss the start of the story?  You can read it here.
  So NOW what am I eating?  Here’s how I’m successfully managing my gestational diabetes with diet.
*I’ve since found at least ONE compelling reason.  If you’re pregnant and already eat low carb, PLEASE click and read.

Sparkling Wrap- McCall’s M6408

  It’s the holidays, so who doesn’t want something in their wardrobe with a little shine?  This time of year I always seem to find myself drawn to rhinestones and sequins and anything that goes sparkle.  Problem is, all the super cute sparkly tops that are out right now go over my big ol’ baby belly and, poof, somebody magicked up the local disco ball and it’s running around on legs like good old Frosty the Snowman.
  Amusing?  Yes.  Flattering?  Not remotely.
  So I made this instead:
  Because I’m pregnant, this fits rather differently than it’s supposed to.  I have to tie it a good 3-4″ above where my waist normally would be so the knot can sit above 2.0.  The picture that comes on the envelope looks like this:
  I’m sure that come spring/summer and I relocate my, uh, misplaced waist, it will look somewhat like that on me, but for now, it’s a comfy way for me to get a touch of glitter without looking like I’ve dressed up as the New Years Eve ball.
  The fabric I used has more stretch than the required “moderate” stretch knit, so the tie that I’ve used in the picture above may not work in a less elastic fabric…but I found that, with my belly, tying the sweater as shown in the picture was more casual than I was looking for.  Perfectly fine for Tuesdays in jeans, but the above picture was taken just before we rushed out the door to our family Christmas celebration.  Instead of only pulling the ties forward and putting a knot in them, I wrapped them around my back first before bringing them to the front.  This makes more of the excess fabric gather in the back, instead of up front like on the envelope, but otherwise it looks a bit like a robe on me right now.
  A few notes about the pattern: This is HUGE.  This is described as a “very loose fitting jacket”, and they aren’t kidding.  I suspect that the models in the pictures above are wearing 2-3 sizes smaller than their measurements would indicate they should wear.  I am.  As I’ve said before, I typically pick my pattern size based on my bust size and then bring in the waist and hips as needed, but after how big the tunic I made two weeks ago turned out (also a McCall’s pattern), I decided to do some preemptive measuring.  Man am I glad I did.
  I checked the shoulder measurement on one of my favorite sweaters, measuring across the back from armhole seam to armhole seam and compared it to the measurements the pattern had.  According to the envelope I’d be a medium (a size 12, just like the tunic).  Once I measured the pieces, I decided to go with an XS (4-6) instead.  I’m starting to think that McCall’s engages in vanity sizing just a touch.  I’m definitely going to be measuring their pieces instead of believing their envelopes from here on out.
  This is a crazy simple pattern.  It goes really fast and turns out very cute.  Even cuter if you’re not a lazy hobo like me and you actually iron/steam your finished product before you put it on and start taking pictures.
  The only kind of unusual thing that I found was the instructions to add clear elastic to the shoulders.  It’s actually a great recommendation, as it will help keep the shoulder seams from stretching out, but still allows them to stretch…buuuut, I didn’t have any clear elastic on hand, so I’m just going to have to hope that the fact I used non-wooly nylon serger thread for those will help stabilize it enough.
  If you’re just starting out working with knits, I’d definitely suggest this as one of your first projects.  There aren’t a whole lot of pieces, no real complicated directions and the end piece is nice and versatile.  I will absolutely be making more of these!

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala Casserole

  Sorry mushroom haters, I’m at it again.  G loves mushrooms and so do we, so they get a lot of menu-time at our house!
  Here’s what we’re making:
  Here’s what you need:
2 Tbsp butter
10 oz mushrooms, sliced 
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup long-grain rice
2 cups rotisserie chicken, coarsely chopped 
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese,  grated
  Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  On your stovetop, saute your mushrooms in butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle your flour on top and stir for about a minute before adding the wine and cream.  Stir and simmer for about 3 minutes, until it is slightly thicker.  Add your parsley, salt, pepper and 2 cups of water and mix well.
  Grease a 9×13″ baking dish and spread your rice in an even layer across the bottom.  Top with your cooked chicken and pour your mushroom mixture over top.  Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes.  Remove the foil, sprinkle the cheese on top and cook for another five minutes (we placed ours under the broiler for this time to get it nice and browned).
  Mushrooms, wine, cream?  Obviously this was a hit.  We had the usual squeal of glee from G when he saw that it had mushrooms in it and the Mr. and I both devoured our portions.  The rice gets gooey and creamy, the chicken is tender and the mushrooms soak up the wine flavor.  If you’re lucky enough that any of this survives to the next day (only about 1/2 cup of ours did) it’s delicious as leftovers too!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

  We don’t do a whole lot of baked desserts here at our house.  My Mr. isn’t big on sweet things (good thing or he’d have picked another woman!) and when it comes to food vices, I’ll take a bag of tortilla chips over a cake 9 times out of 10.
  That being said…there’s always that tenth time to account for, and as xmas crawled closer and closer, I found myself in the mood for homemade cookies.
  The salted caramel craze has really taken off in the last few years…and there’s a reason.  It’s delicious!  My Pinterest dessert board tends to be where good recipes go to die, but this one only sat for 2 weeks before I decided I had to make it.
  Here’s what you need:
2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
16 wrapped caramels, cut into 4 or 5 pieces each*
sea salt to sprinkle
* I found these Kraft caramel bits in my baking aisle.  We all know I love the lazy, so I was all about them!  I was a little afraid they’d turn out to be more or less butterscotch chips, so I did chop up some actual wrapped caramels, but learn from my experience, these work just fine!
  So I’m going to start this recipe with a little bit of a warning: this is kind of a pain in the butt.  Butter has to be softened, eggs have to be warmed, then everything has to be chilled and blah blah blah, finicky junk that I hate ahead.  I followed the directions…and I will tell you right now, all of those annoying details yielded incredibly delicious, squishy cookies that have stayed soft for an entire week…but if you aren’t in the mood for prep work, I think throwing caramel chips into my chocolate chip cookies and then sprinkling them with salt would yield delicious results as well.
  The original recipe has us start out by preheating our ovens to 325 degrees…but then it also tells us that we need to chill our dough for at least 1/2 hour.  I’m pretty freaking slow in the kitchen, but I can’t imagine that anybody is throwing together their dough fast enough that it has 1/2 hour to chill before their oven is preheated.  Lets ignore that whole preheating thing for now.
  When it comes to baking, there is chemistry involved, so there are only so many shortcuts we can take.  I understand why the original has you mix your flour and your baking soda in a separate bowl first, because you do want to combine your wet and your dry ingredients separately…but I hate dishes, and we only have two dry ingredients.  I creamed my butter and sugars, added my vanilla and eggs and mixed it all up.  Then I added my baking soda and flour to the same bowl, making certain to sprinkle the baking soda in as I added the flour and keeping my mixer down low.  Dry ingredients+high speeds on the mixer=giant kitchen mess on your head.
  Once your ingredients have formed into a dough, mix in your chocolate chips and caramel bits.  I’d suggest leaving a handful of each to the side to press into the top of your cookies so that your salt has something to stick to, and if you’re feeling ambitious, the hand cut, square chunks of caramels do add something to the look.  I got 6 pieces out of each caramel cube and stuck one into the top of each cookie.  If you cut them while your dough chills, you’ll have plenty of pieces for the approximately 3 dozen cookies this makes before your 1/2 hour is up.
  As a note, the original recipe says your dough needs to chill for at least a half hour, but as long as 5 days.  That means that even if you don’t have time to do everything with these at once, you can prep the dough now and come back to them later.
  Now start your oven pre-heating to 325 degrees.
  When your dough is chilled and your oven is hot, drop rounded Tbsp-fulls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Press some of your extra chocolate and caramel bits into the top and cook for around 8-10 minutes until the edges are browned.  The centers of these cookies will still be soft.  Sprinkle them with salt while they are still hot.
  As a warning:  I typically use a baking rack to cool my cookies on when I cook them.  That didn’t work out so hot for these.  They are so soft that a few of them broke off through the bars while cooling.
  The original recipe suggests keeping your dough in the fridge between batches to keep it cold, and I did.  I’m not sure how much effect that has on the end result, but it was a convenient place to keep it out of my way, and as I said, these have stayed fresh-from-the-oven soft for a ridiculously long time.
  These are crazy good.  Even my sweets-averse Mr. has been gobbling them up.  I don’t like high maintenance recipes, but this one…this one just may be worth it.

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry.

  So I’ve mentioned a couple times this week some ongoing medical stuff that has been making me…cranky.  I thought it was time to share what’s going on.

  Last Friday morning I got a phone call from my OB’s office about some blood tests I’d had done.  If you’ve never been pregnant you may not know, but at a couple of different times throughout a pregnancy it’s standard to do blood draws and check levels of certain things.  As you enter the third trimester there is a blood test to check for, among other things, gestational diabetes.  If you develop it and don’t control your blood sugar, it can lead to excessive growth of the baby and other complications.  Turns out, my results had come back positive…and an exceptionally emphatic positive.  A flurry of phone calls ensued with them setting up appointments and having diabetes supply companies contact me for a blood sugar monitor, ect, ect, ect.  It was overwhelming and frightening to say the least.
  Once the phone calls died down and I had a moment to think though, I realized that those results didn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me.  The following is the list of requirements which, if you meet all of them, you can be considered to be so low risk that they don’t even bother testing you:
You’re younger than 25.
Your weight is in a healthy range.
You’re not a member of any racial or ethnic group with a high prevalence of diabetes, including people of Hispanic, African, Native American, South or East Asian, Pacific Island, and indigenous Australian ancestry.
None of your close relatives have diabetes.
You’ve never had a high result on a blood sugar test.
You’ve never had an overly large baby or any other pregnancy complication usually associated with gestational diabetes.
  …I’m 30, so obviously I don’t meet that first one, but I meet every single other requirement…  There are other, additional risk factors that could up your chances, such as high blood pressure or a previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes…but all of those are so far from applying to me it’s laughable.  My results on this test when I was pregnant with G were exceptionally low, and when I had fainted 2 weeks before and they had tested my blood sugar at the hospital it had been in a perfectly healthy range despite my having just eaten a handful of candy.
  I asked to do the test again.
  …this is the last point that I spoke to anyone in my doctor’s office beyond one specific nurse until my appointment, a week later.  That nurse has been a huge portion of my frustration with this situation and I will absolutely be taking measures to be sure that her employers know that I feel her behavior has been unhelpful and unacceptable, but I don’t want this to be a rant about one person doing their job poorly.  It’s the bigger picture that concerns me.
  I took the glucose-screening test a second time…as if it wasn’t miserable enough the first time… heading to my local lab early Saturday morning so I’d have fasting results (usually lower) and have them as soon as possible.  The paperwork that was supposed to be sent through Friday afternoon had not been called in and so I had to wait for the call center to find and push it through.  The lab told me the results would be ready that afternoon.  It was 2pm Monday before I heard from the nurse, despite the fact I called their office as soon as they opened that morning.
  My levels came back even higher.
  So I left my appointment with the nutritionist scheduled…called the diabetes supply company and confirmed my order…and basically said “now what?”  The response was “wait”.
  …now, I don’t know about you folks, but when I’m told that there is an issue with my health, I want to act on it RIGHT then, like, that instant…not ten minutes later, certainly not a full week!  I was given absolutely no information, no direction…nothing.  Essentially an implication that I eat poorly (which I found extremely insulting) coupled with no guidance.  So I hit Google.
  I researched and the more I found, the less made sense.  I’ve still been struggling with what at least seem to be episodes of low blood sugar leading to dizzy spells…haven’t gained any more weight than I had at this point with my pregnancy with G…haven’t had an increased appetite…already follow what I was finding as the recommended diet…and on and on.
  I called the office, was redirected to the troublesome nurse and was essentially told “you’re fainting because you’re pregnant, it’s expected” (NOT true, and if it were there’s no way I’d have been held at the hospital for over 5 hours after my episode!) and “there’s no possible way your blood sugar is low”.
  After being given no directions and being left to twist in the wind I was basically being called a liar for calling to ask about conflicts in information I was finding.
  Again, this is mostly a problem with one person, but I do think it’s somewhat indicative of an overall issue with medical treatment.
  My appointment with the nutritionist was Friday afternoon.  She laid out a diet plan to “keep carb levels low” and hopefully keep my blood sugar on an even keel.  It took me all of about 30 seconds to recognize that there was no way I was taking that many carbs in during an average day, even if I used the low end of the spectrum she laid out…and I said as much.  We discussed my fainting and she said that coupled with my diet being lower in carbohydrates, it was possible I was experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and that it should be something we kept an eye on.  She was very respectful and responsive, helpful and professional.  The problem cropped up when we started talking about grains.
  Part of what the nutritionist gave me was a list of common foods and the grams of carbohydrates usually found in them, so I would be able to tally up what I was eating and try and keep it close to the levels they were suggesting for me.  We were discussing how to tally foods that weren’t on the list, reading the nutrition labels and what not when my Mr. brought up high fiber foods.  Certain kinds of fiber can’t be digested by the body, so obviously they aren’t going to effect your blood sugar, but those are still added into the overall carbohydrate percentage on the labels.  These are in things like whole wheat breads and pastas.  The dietitian’s take was that if there was something that was like that, then we should subtract the fiber, but that “not a whole lot of what people eat is like that, so it’s not really something we pay attention to.”  …we don’t eat bread that’s not whole grain and I do my best to only buy whole wheat pasta.  That means that carb intake score that I tallied in my head?  The one that was too low?  It was, in actuality, even lower.
  Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is annoying.  It means I have to take my blood sugar 4 times a day (all my levels have been nice and low so far, btw) and that I have to kee
p a diary of everything that I’m eating for at least the next week.  It means that I now have a big, red “watch this one” mark on my chart, and it means a lot more red tape.  But what’s really scary is how the whole thing has been treated as if there’s only one way this could come about and one set of behaviors around it.
  I understand, I’m unusual in being thin, with low blood pressure and actually following the guidelines that say “eat more whole grains, eat vegetables, eat fruits, drink water!”, and that doctors and nurses are used to seeing people who struggle with their weight and fight against giving up their Coke or their Pepsi or their Wonderbread…. but it’s terrifying that when I say “I do those things, and I have complications anyhow” that the standard answer seems to be “you’re lying”.  
  This will be fine.  I’ll use the blood monitor to reassure the office my levels are never above where they’re comfortable with them and I can see if low blood sugar is causing the fainting spells.  If it is, I’ll know for sure that I can “fix” them by snacking more.  But it doesn’t seem like it should be this much of a fight to find answers that accept that I may, in fact, be following the recommendations the medical community makes.  I understand why the assumption is that “nobody” eats whole grains, but it’s concerning to me that it’s such an assumption that they’re not even discussed.  I understand why the assumption is that I couldn’t possibly have low blood sugar while also having a type of diabetes (and not taking insulin)…but it turns out it’s perfectly possible that I do.
  I don’t have an explanation for why the results of my glucose screening came back so high.  Neither do the doctors.  Nobody actually knows what causes gestational diabetes.  What I did know was that further lowering the carbohydrates in my diet sounded like a really bad idea to me when I was already having issues with what seemed like low blood sugar.  Because I had the misfortune of only being able to get in contact with the one nurse I was left in a position where I was essentially being told that regardless of what I felt, I was going to have to lower them or hurt my baby.  That wasn’t true, and thankfully I didn’t make any real changes to my diet before talking to the dietitian…but I struggled through the entire week, worrying about every bite of bread I took.
  The assumption is that you’re not healthy and that you’re not trying.  It makes being an advocate for yourself incredibly important if that isn’t true (and even if it is!).  Doctors and nurses are people, and so of course, they make mistakes and sometimes they fall into routines that they shouldn’t, as every human does…so be kind, but ask questions, and ask for retests if your results don’t make sense, and don’t let yourself be put off with statements of “that’s normal” if it shouldn’t be.
  After about 24 hours of forcing myself to mow down (even the low end) of their recommended number of carb grams I felt terrible, was forcing myself to eat when I wasn’t hungry to try and fit everything in…and spiked a high blood sugar number.  Am now back to following my usual diet (making sure I don’t ever go above their suggested number of grams at any one meal of course) and seeing what happens.  Dinner and first-thing fasting numbers were both improved with this approach, we’ll see how it goes for the rest of the week!
IMPORTANT: If you’re pregnant and follow a low carb diet, please click through and read.

Ruffle Scarf

  I didn’t actually sew anything this week.  Clearly there’s something horribly wrong, right?  I’ve had a rather stressful week dealing with some medical results that I got back and some less than professional behavior in response to my wanting information about it…which I promise I’ll tell you about, but I don’t want to be slinging mud until I have more to go on than speculation.  All in all the situation shouldn’t be terribly serious, but it’s being handled extremely poorly.  Myself and the baby should be fine, but needless to say, I’m in a foul mood and so instead of working on my sewing machine I’ve mostly napped and vented to my friends.

  Rather than leave you with no craft on Tuesday and no sewing on Friday, I thought I’d share a xmas gift I created a little bit early.  I try not to post gifts on here because I don’t want to take the chance of ruining people’s surprises, but I happen to know that the person who this is for (my mom) doesn’t “do” reading blogs, so it should be safe.
  Ruffle yarns have been everywhere in craft stores this holiday season, and I couldn’t help but wanting to try them out.
  I hadn’t been particularly enamored of the multi-colored versions I had found, but my local JoAnn’s had a basket full of solid cream Red Heart Sashay (Aran) and so I scooped up a couple balls.
  A lot of the finished scarves I’d seen had been…well…a little scrawny.  The directions that come in the package claim you can make your scarf with one ball of yarn…and that with 6-10 stitches cast on you’ll be good to go.  I wanted to make sure that mine was nice and fat…but not too short to have a nice drape either, so I wound up using a skein and a half for my scarf.
  I used the pattern-indicated US9 needles, but cast on 12 stitches rather than 6 or 10.  I found that as I worked, if I slipped my needle into the next hole as I worked, my rows weren’t nearly as pretty as if I skipped over a hole or two and let the yarn create gathers as I worked.  Obviously this uses more yarn, but it creates a much prettier, frothier scarf that doesn’t need as much fussing to look full.  I worked until my scarf was 48″ long.  It’s not wrap-around-your-neck, muffler length (I thought that would be too overwhelming with how fluffy it is), but it’s long enough that both ends will fall to the waist instead of ending in the middle of your chest like a 38″ scarf would.
  This was a fun, quick little project, and I love that it turned out looking like some kind of lace boa.  I think it’ll be gorgeous on my mom.
  If you’re going to be playing with ruffle yarns, I’d definitely suggest going bigger.  Yeah, you could do it with one, but splurge on that second ball of yarn and let it fall loosely as you knit and you wind up with a much richer, more sumptuous looking end result!

Mushroom Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach

  Sorry other moms, it’s official, I win at developing my toddler’s palate.  G ate 3 servings of this.
  Not that I can blame him…
  Here’s what you need:
8 oz Crimini mushrooms*, quartered
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp garlic, minced 
1 lb pasta**
4 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
6 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped 
Salt and black pepper, to taste
*also called “Baby Bellas”
**I was out of all pasta except spaghetti, but I’d recommend a smaller, more compact noodle like rotini
  The original recipe for this suggests roasting your mushrooms in the oven.  If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you already know that unless I’m putting something in there for an hour, my oven only gets turned on in the most extreme of circumstances.  You know, like when I need cookies.  I sauteed my mushrooms on the stovetop instead.
  Start by cooking your pasta.  Before draining it, scoop out 1 cup of the water and set aside.  Pour your pasta into a drainer.
  In your now empty pasta pan, saute your mushrooms in your olive oil, adding your garlic and balsamic vinegar.  Cook until they start to release juices.
  Return your pasta to the pan and toss with your mushrooms.  Add your goat cheese, spinach and reserved cooking liquid, tossing to allow the cheese to melt and the spinach to wilt.  Keep stirring until the cheese becomes creamy and coats everything.  Add your basil, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
  Wow this is incredible.  It’s one of those rare vegetarian dishes that you feel naughty eating and you don’t feel like you’re denying your “hibernate” urges when you eat it in the winter.  There wasn’t a bite left in the pan when we were done, and G was a serious contender in finishing the batch.
  I love that this gives us a big bunch of spinach and mushrooms and that it tastes so rich even though there isn’t any added fat beyond the goat cheese.  This is definitely going to become a favorite on the menu!