Taking Up Hobbies While TTC

I’ve tried to be as open as I can be about my trying to conceive journey (I say “my”, but my husband has a part in this, obviously, since he’s a pretty important part; I’m just the one talking, so it’s “my” journey for simplicity’s sake), but I still get questions. In my video about fertility apps I’ve tried, I talked about how I had to stop using apps in general, because I would get too obsessive over the information involved. After posting, I recived a message from someone whose TTC journey is taking longer than expected, and she asked how I manage to keep my sanity, especially as a stay-at-home mom.

My response? Hobbies. I’m always doing *something*. In this post, I’ll share some of my current and previous hobbies – hopefully, this can help you if you’re looking for something to do in your spare time.

  1. WRITING. I love to write, so much. I’ve actually written and self-published two books, and I attempted to fit into the author scene in my area. Unfortunately, due to my son’s schedule and other limitations, I can’t attend very many author shows, conferences, or other publicity events; as such, I am not able to promote my book as much, and I lose out on sales. Without sales, I can’t continue to seriously write books. I do enjoy writing little things, though, especially to help me work though any emotions that may affect my real life.
  2. BAKING. This can be a fun and dangerous (for the waistline) hobby, and I’m sure you’re aware of why that would be.
  3. YOUTUBE. Yup, Youtube and the related activities are a hobby for me. I’m not paid to make videos, and the different steps to making a video (planning, recording, editing, and doing all the little related extras) takes up a decent chunk of my time, time that I used to spend obsessing over my fertility charts.
  4. GARDENING. This is a hobby I plan to take up when it’s warmer. Yard work is not only good for my mental health, but it’s good for my physical health. This year, I want to plan a few easy plants, just to see if I can without spending a ton, and I would like to put up a clothesline, so that I’m not overheating our house on hot summer days.
  5. VOLUNTEERING. This one is pretty self-explanatory: volunteering is a great way to get out of the house, meet new people, and get your mind off of things. Looking to start, but have no idea how to do so? Contact your local food pantries, animal shelters, place of worship, and public schools, for starters – even if they don’ have anything there, they could point you in the right direction. Helping others and not obsessing over every minute detail? Yes, please!

Anyway , these are just five things you can do to keep your mind off of any TTC struggles in your life – or really, any struggles that are out of your hands. Hope this helps, and thank yall do much for stopping by! 🙂

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What Santa Can’t Bring – A Moment with Secondary Infertility

This past week, the Kiddo and I went to Frankenmuth, MI, to partake in some Christmas joy before the end of the holiday season.  This is one of our traditions, mind, you – I’ve gone to Frankenmuth every year since I was a child, and he’s gone every year since he was in utero.  It’s fun to just walk around Bronner’s and downtown Frankenmuth, to spend time looking at the lights and picking out a slab of Frankenmuth fudge, you know, just the fun stuff.

But this year, my son broke my heart.

When he went to see Santa in Bronner’s, he originally had a list of three things – a deer, a dog, and a “real” sword.  He’d been asking for all of those for a few months now, so I wasn’t surprised (he’s not getting any of them, by the way, but he did get a cool sword, and I’m looking into stuffed dogs for him), but when we got up to Santa, he changed his tune.

He asked Santa for what I thought was a Bambi, and I translated it as such when Santa couldn’t hear him.  It wasn’t until I was leading him away that he started to cry and told me he hadn’t asked for a Bambi, he asked for a baby.

You guys.

I jokingly tell him to stop trying to steal babies because he adores them – he’ll lead them around by the hand and play so nicely, or calm them if they’re crying, little things like that.  Moms of babies think he is absolutely precious, and he’s often touted as the ideal big brother.  He’s the sweetest thing with a baby, and he’s asked me time and time again if I can have a baby.  I always say no, because I feel like it would be worse to give him hope and watch it die off…

So now, apparently, he thinks the only way he can get a baby sibling is by asking Santa to bring one.

I held it together, all through the rest of Bronner’s and Frankenmuth, until he fell asleep on the drive home; then, and only then, did I allow myself to bawl.  All this time, I’ve only thought about my husband and myself, and how we’ve felt with trying and failing.  I never thought about how it could affect him – heck, I never thought it would affect him!  I didn’t have this issue growing up – I always knew my parents were never going to have a child after me, so I never really thought about it, and my husband’s parents were divorced (plus his mom never remarried) – so it never once crossed my mind that our son could want a sibling just as badly as we want to give him one.  It’s not something I expected.

Anyway, I just thought I would share a hard thing I learned this holiday season.  Even though we’ve been dealing with secondary infertility for over five years now, there are still new feelings and new territories to be crossed.  I can only hope that one day, the finally territory will be beating it, but in the meantime, I’m just going to have to wait.

Thank yall so much for stopping by, and have a good one!  Bye!

I’m Still Here!

Not necessarily sane, but here.

I have been so swamped over the past week – it took everything, and I do mean everything, to even have my videos up and ready to go.  Between all the Christmas stuff around here, familial obligations, Kiddo’s sport and even a random sickness that hit him just after we got home on Saturday, I was dead on my feet.  Zero sleep for this momma this week.  It looks like this week will be about the same, too, with the added bonus of not having my husband home from work because, while he had a 4-day “weekend” last week, it was because his days for this week and the week before lined up juuuuust right.

I’m still here, though!  In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please check out my previous post – I’d really appreciate it, especially if you share it with your friends & family.  Thank you! ❤

Family, Holidays, Cooking, and NESTLÉ® – #JuntosConNestle

Many thanks to NESTLÉ® for agreeing to sponsor this post. 🙂 Though I am being compensated, all views and opinions are my own. Please see the disclosure on my “About Me” page for more details.

When I was younger, I was a small and skinny child. My family and doctor both worried about my apparent inability to gain weight, to the point where my doctor told my family to not deny me any food I asked for, whenever I asked for it. It didn’t matter what I was putting in my mouth, he said, as long as I gained weight.

After that appointment, a new drink came into my life – chocolate milk. Hot cocoa was no stranger to me, but the thought of putting cocoa into cold milk fascinated me, partially because both the chocolate and the milk were powders! I had so much fun watching them mix together in the glass before we added the water – I’d try to point out any familiar patterns or shapes, like numbers and letters, that the powder would make. At my next doctor’s appointment, I had gained enough weight to not have to worry about my health, and I know now that it was largely due to the chocolate milk my family gave to me.

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Twenty years later, I was in another doctor’s office, listening to another doctor’s orders, only this time it was my son whose weight gain was cause for concern. Unlike my mother, however, I didn’t have to ask family in another country to send me that special powdered milk – I just had to drive to the nearest Walmart and pick up a can of NESTLÉ® NIDO® Fortificada.

Of course, the holidays are fast approaching, and that means lots of sweets: candies, cookies, cakes, fried bread – all things a small child loves, and all things that can wreak havoc on a healthy diet. Luckily, not only can I mix up a glass of chocolate NIDO®, it can also be used in place of milk for your holiday sweets! In fact, I have a recipe that I use NIDO® in, and it tastes delicious! Buñuelos are a Mexican sweet, primarily made during the holiday. For those of you unfamiliar with them, they’re kind of like a smaller type of pastry that’s often found at fairs or carnivals.

YOU WILL NEED:

2 cups of flour
½ cup NESTLÉ® NIDO® Powdered Milk, reconstituted (4:1 ratio, ½ cup water, 1/8 cup NIDO powder)
A pinch of salt
A pinch of baking powder
2 eggs
¼ cup butter
1/8 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon to taste
Oil for frying.
Cinnamon sugar mix.

Before starting to make the buñuelos: Heat the frying oil in a pan.
1. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder) together.
2. In a sauce pan, add the reconstituted milk, butter, and vanilla. Heat until butter is melted, and stir together.
3. Beat eggs together.
4. Once the butter has melted, temper* the eggs with a small amount of the butter/milk sauce. (*For those unfamiliar with the term, tempering is when you add a small amount of hot liquid to a colder liquid prior to mixing them together, to bring up the temperature and prevent curdling). Mix eggs and liquids together.
5. Mix liquid and dry ingredients together in a bowl. If the mixture is too wet or sticky, add more flour. Roll the mixture into balls, size depending on your preference.
6. Depending on preference, use either a rolling pin, tortilla press, or your hands to flatten out the dough into circles. Drop the circles into the frying pan and fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping once.
7. Dust with cinnamon sugar, and serve warm! Enjoy with your family. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this post, brought to you by NESTLÉ® NIDO® Fortificada. It’s easy to be #JuntosConNestle this holiday season. As always, thank you for stopping by, and have a good one!

My family and I love buñuelos, as you can see. 😉

Cooking When You Can’t (or Hate It)

(This blog post coordinates with the following video on my channel.  Enjoy!)

Hello, my name is Kari, and I have a confession to make: I hate cooking.

I hate cooking so much that I actually refused to learn when I was a teenager.  My dad would try to show me different recipes and insisted that I cook at least one meal a week for the family, but I full-out refused to commit any of it to memory out of sheer spite.  After a helping of my infamous “macaroni and cheese soup” (overcooked noodles), my mother informed me that I wouldn’t be forced to cook again.  A few years later, when I went to college, I subsisted mostly on dining hall offerings, pizza rolls, and rice.  It wasn’t until I moved back home and started working at my retail job that I started to cook anything outside of those major dishes.  I learned very quickly that I wasn’t great, but I was passable, but I was the best at baking and making sauces.

But then I ended up with a man who loves to cook, and whose oven was broken.  The stovetop was his playground, and specifically frying things.  I hate heat (even campfires make me uncomfortable), and I’m terrified of oil spattering up and hitting me in the face, so I stopped cooking again.  Once our was born, I was too tired or too busy to cook even my basic rice or pasta dishes.  Due to our conflicting schedules, my husband would often cook for the kiddo and himself, while I would subside on fast food.  A few years ago, once I became a stay-at-home-mom, I realized that I’d have to pick up the slack on the days when my husband couldn’t cook, so I started up again.  I still hated it, but I found a few things to make my life in the kitchen an easier thing, and I’m here to share them with you.

Learn What Works For You

I use my slow cooker maybe once a year.  I know, I know.  Right off the bat, I’ve broken the cardinal rule of easy cooking: always use a crock pot, slow cooker, pressure cooker, what-have-you), but before you beat me over the head with yours, let me explain.

I’m sure that most of you would agree with the statement that having a crock pot has made your life so much easier.  You just toss a meal in the pot, set it up, and let it cook for a few hours while you do other things.  It’s fantastic, at least in theory (for me); you see, I am a “fiddler”, constantly wanting to mess with all of my things while cooking.  I hate to cook, which means I want it done quickly – so of course, I’m constantly tasting, checking, poking, pacing.  If I’m not actually “doing” something in the kitchen, I can very easily forget about the food, or even forget to turn it on – and even if I do everything properly, what’s to say I won’t wait eight hours, then come back, only to not be in the mood for what I made earlier?  Sure, I’ll still eat it, but I probably won’t eat as much as I would if it was something I wanted right that moment, and we really don’t “do” leftovers in this house, so a lot of that food will go to waste.  That’s also why we shop for groceries on a daily- or near-daily basis, too: I pass the grocery store at least twice a day every school day, so I can easily stop in either after I drop off or pick up the Kiddo.  It stops waste, and it means we’re eating what’s being cooked, which stops a lot of the hard feelings when a meal is cooked but not eaten.

The Internet is Your Friend

Look, I used to think I couldn’t cook, and for a while that was true.  The advent of Pinterest has made me believe that 98% of those who currently “can’t cook” simply aren’t trying to do so.  Harsh, but true, and I’ll admit that I was that way.  The internet has made recipe searching a breeze – want to know how to make flan?  Google it!  The first result is too complicated?  Go back and find another recipe!  I do this all the time, and I especially love taking some of the things from the “fancy” recipe and inserting them into the “easy” recipe, to make it just a little more decadent.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Tools

I don’t even mean in the proper way – I used a meat tenderizer to mash potatoes, because my potato masher was giving me a headache.  What I mean is, make a few simple things (I recommend boxed mixes for cakes, muffins, etc.) and just learn your way around your kitchen from scratch.  This will help you see what you use vs. what you have.  Have 800 baking pans, but only use 3 (plus two cookie sheets)?  Maybe it’s time to cull the herd a little.  Have a mixing bowl, but you were slapping batter out of it?  Might be time to get a bigger one.  Just stuff like that.  Once you’re familiar with baking, perhaps move into easier stove-top dishes, like macaroni & cheese or five minute rice.  Just get yourself familiar with what you have and how you use it.

On that note, familiarize yourself with the basics of your pantry.  Learn how to make a roux, pay attention to the difference salt can make, see what happens when you swap milk for cream or vice versa.  Just make these changes gradually (no more than one or two DIFFERENT types of changes – so if you swap your liquids, don’t make any other texture changes like using applesauce in the place of eggs, or if you decide to add a flavor, don’t add anything else with a strong flavor), that way you can pinpoint any errors.

Get a Core Set of Recipes

Look, we’ve all that this happen: no matter how hard we try, we’re either guilted into or voluntold that we have to bring a dish to the company potluck or Grandma’s holiday dinner.  How many times has this happened last-minute, or simply forgotten about until the last possible second?  Until I followed my own advice, I used to Google for a recipe and hoped it turned out – sometimes it would, and sometimes, I’d be so frazzled that I’d mess up something big, or (like my favorite “oops”) I’d be measuring out sugar, only to have my kid and my dog run into me at full speed, causing me to drop the bag into the recipe and dump it everywhere, and leaving me with nothing to serve because I didn’t have time to Google anything else.  I cried.  It wasn’t pretty.

It was after one of those fiascoes that I decided to simply search for simple recipes on Pinterest and Google.  I went in without any specific plan in mind, simply the knowledge of what I did best (baking and sauces) and went from there.  I ended up choosing five recipes that I loved, were quick to make (generally under an hour from conception to plating), and that played to each of my strengths.  Once I had my five recipes decided, I worked for about a week to get to the point where I could basically make each of them in my sleep.  It has been such a lifesaver to know that if I mess something up, or if I need something to take to an event in a few hours, I have five recipes I can whip up in a matter of minutes.

I’ll confess something, here – if you and I met on the street and you asked me how to make my alfredo, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.  It’s pretty much pure muscle memory at this point.  Oops?

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

My husband is an incredible cook – absolutely incredible.  I adore him and his cooking.  He literally spends so much time thinking up new dishes or flavoring things, and I can’t even come close to his creativity in the kitchen.  He made a marinade out of FROG jam & red pepper flakes the other day, and I honestly believe it was the best thing he’s ever made – and he came up with that on his commute home.  I can’t do that on a regular basis, and that’s fine.  I can’t cook at his level, but I have my strengths (I’m a much better baker, and we often play off of each other when it comes to cooked sauces).  If I spent my time comparing myself to him, I’d feel like a failure…  So, I’ve learned to let it go.  It took a while, but it’s honestly been the biggest help with regards to cooking while hating to cook – I found a lot of my dislike stemmed from the fact that I’d compare myself to other people.  I can’t cook steak and potatoes like my dad, I can’t cook at all like my husband, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.  Nope, I can’t, but I can make some pretty awesome sugar cookies without breaking a sweat, and I have yet to mess up a cheesecake recipe, so I’m doing pretty good, I think.

Anyway, I just want to share some of what I learned when I intentionally made changes in my mentality.  I still hate to cook, but now it’s less of a chore.

(If only I could figure out some way to apply these tips to doing laundry and washing the dishes…)

As always, thanks for stopping by, and have a good one!  🙂

Mom Life: Why I Halved My Wardrobe

Hey yall!  Yesterday on the vlog, I talked about my wardrobe choices (you can read the corresponding blog post HERE), and I mentioned that I planned to go through all of my clothes and pare everything down.  This post is actually going to be a kind of behind-the-scenes look into why I did this, which was basically by asking myself a few questions and going from there.  If you’re interested in picking my brain, or maybe you’re just looking for your own motivation, keep reading.

Why start this whole thing at all?

Well, I’d been asked quite a few times about my style choices.  I don’t think it was malicious in any way, but it comes down to that first impression, and on the outside, I tick a lot of boxes for a specific category of person:

  • Young mom (I was 21 when I had my son),
  • Young wife (married at 21),
  • Stay-at-home mom,
  • Wears skirts all the time,
  • Wears hair long.

Seeing it listed out like that actually made me realize: wow, I really do give off an impression of living my life a certain way, and I can see how it might be alienating to some people.  My posts were simply a way for me to clear up any misconceptions, hopefully in a way that wasn’t abrasive to anyone in particular. 🙂

Why cut down my wardrobe?

Honestly, for the videos.  No, really.  Over the last few years, ever since I started phasing pants out of my daily life, I’ve been removing items of clothing from my closet on a pretty regular basis.  This was just one of those times, and it was borne out of the idea for a video.  It also came from the knowledge that I’ve moved into a sort of “uniformity” in my wardrobe – I found myself wearing the same skirts about once a week or so, the same shirts about once a every two weeks, the same dresses, the same sweaters and cardigans, and there were items of clothing in my closet that I hadn’t touched in over a year.

Now, I originally planned on moving into a capsule wardrobe, and maybe I will in the future, but as I started going through my things, I realized that I really do wear a lot of the clothes that I have, and as such, it would be pretty pointless (at least for me) to remove them.

Do I plan on continuing this, perhaps with the parts of my wardrobe that I didn’t bring on camera?

No.  My PJs, underthings, and leggings aren’t really that interesting, trust me.

What if I regret this, or what if I just toss it in a bag and let it rot somewhere in my house?

I actually donated everything the day after I filmed, thanks in large part to a local clothing bank that constantly needs inventory.  I knew they’d accept it, and I knew that if it stayed too long, I’d pull things out and back into my closet, basically undoing all of my work.

Lastly, do I plan on keeping my wardrobe small?

Not particularly?  I mean, if I find an item of clothing I really like, I’ll get it.  If I wear it a lot, I’ll keep it.  If I don’t, then I’ll donate it.  If I wear it at the expense of another item, I’ll decide which I prefer more after a few weeks, and donate the one I like the least.  I don’t have a set amount of clothing I want to own, I just want to make sure I like and I wear what I have, you know?

Well, that’s really it for the behind the scenes.  If there’s anything you want to know that I’ve missed, please let me know, and if you’ve decided to declutter your closet because of me, please drop a comment down below or let me know on my vlog.  Thanks for stopping by, and as always, have a good one!  🙂

Childhood Traditions: Thanksgiving

Hey yall!  It’s officially fall here in the Northern Hemisphere!  The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, and Christmas decorations are now in stock at most retail outlets.  For the US, Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and it’s caused me to think back on a few things that I did or didn’t do as a child.  I’d include my husband in this post, but as yall probably know just as well as I do that he’s not one for really paying attention to things, so…  This will simply be a post about my traditions.

1. Mommy & Me

My dad is a huge hunter, and opening day usually falls about two weeks before Thanksgiving, so my mom and I would often have Thanksgiving alone.  It wasn’t that we weren’t invited places, we just kind of enjoyed having the time to ourselves & not having to travel (our family was about 3-4 hours away).  Obviously, just by virtue of me being a stay-at-home mom, there is no way a 2-person Thanksgiving with my mom could anymore.

2. Bird Was the Word

With only two people, there was no way we could come close to eating a full turkey, and getting turkey meat from the local deli was usually super expensive.  The first year my mom and I had our special “just us” Thanksgiving, my mom happened to stumble across a couple of teeny tiny birds in the back corner of the local grocery store freezer.  It was the first time I’d ever heard of a cornish hen.  Honestly, I’d recommend them for any small family that wants semi-normal Thanksgiving meal.  I haven’t had a cornish hen in ages, but I recently saw some at Kroger, & I’m thinking about picking them up for our Thanksgiving meal here at home.

3. Hap-pie Birthday!

My mom’s birthday is usually relatively close to Thanksgiving, so she almost always gets some sort of birthday pie during the pre-Thanksgiving sales (usually some sort of BOGO deal).  Her favorite pies are Dutch Apple and Razzleberry, both from Marie Calendar, so to me, both of those taste like this time of year. 🙂  This is something we still generally do, but it’s no longer limited just to my mom’s birthday, mainly because if she wants to celebrate, we have to arrange some sort of get-together.

4. Expect the Unexpected

The good thing about having a small Thanksgiving is the fact that it can be easily changed.  This may not seem like a tradition, but it was always in the back of our mind in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and it would be easy to move our meal should something else come up, like my Dad requesting our presence up north, or some sort of activity taking place on Thanksgiving that required the whole day (like a training day for my mom, or, once I was old enough, my work schedule).  Towards the end of my childhood, this became more and more common, and we actually started moving our Thanksgiving to Wednesday specifically for this reason.  Now, my family’s Thanksgivings are often on Black Friday (if they don’t go up north), which is nice because my family lives out and away from most of the stores.

Anyway, I know there are only four traditions, but I wasn’t trying to share everything, otherwise this post would take forever.  What sort of family traditions did you have growing up?  Do you or your family still participate in any of them?  If so, how have they changed over the years?  Let me know down below!

As always, thank you for stopping by, and have a good one! 🙂