Monday, August 31, 2009

and I was worried about the pharmacist judging me…

As I’ve previously mentioned, birth control pills were not on my protocol for the IVF cycle in Minsk. I know it’s fairly common at most clinics, but this is my first experience with it. I’ve not been on birth control for the entire 4 ½ years we’ve been married and considering what we’ve been through to get pregnant, it just seems inherently wrong to take “the pill” even though I understand the reasons it’s often used before an IVF cycle.

It’s difficult to put into words, but I’ve been extremely anxious about that prescription for days. I worried that the pharmacist would judge me. I even joked with my husband that I wanted to explain to the pharmacist that it was for an IVF cycle, not for “birth control”. My husband laughed and quickly reminded me that we’re in a Catholic country. If the pharmacist is going to judge me for getting a birth control prescription filled, he’s likely also going to judge me for doing IVF. I got the prescription filled, didn’t feel judged, thinking back, I didn’t even speak to the pharmacist, anyway all went well.

Of course as is my curious, impatient, type A personality, I had to look at the box and read the instructions immediately (no, I couldn’t wait five minutes until we got to the car). As we were riding down the escalator to the parking garage, I was digging in the pharmacy bag for the instructions, holding a box of pills in the same hand I was holding the bag with, when I saw him. Not just anyone, a priest. Yes, a priest was coming up the escalator toward us. It was one of those moments you wish the earth (or the escalator in this case) would swallow you up. I tried shoving the box back into the bag which only made it more obvious. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do. There was not a single person anywhere near the escalator (in either direction) when we got on. Then BAM! a priest. Oh well, we had a good laugh on the way home, and I have officially started "the pill".

first visit to the vet

When we adopted the cats from the DSPCA, we were assured that they had been examined by the vet, spayed and neutered, vaccinated, and micro-chipped. Since coming to live with us in January, both cats have been very healthy and doing remarkably well.

My husband decided that before starting IVF again, we should take the cats to a private vet for a checkup. On Saturday morning we loaded them into their carriers (Bella screaming) and into the back of the car. Fortunately if we face the carriers toward each other and cover them with towels, the cats quiet down right away; they just like to know the other one is there.

We arrived at the vet’s office, found a place to park in the neighborhood (a small miracle), and got them checked in. There were three additional feline patients brought in while we waited, leading the vet to declare it “pussycat morning”.

Both Guinness and Bella had a full exam and were given a clean bill of health. We discussed a few minor issues, but the vet said they both look great, healthy weight, clean teeth, glossy coats, etc. Guinness is a bit on the anxious side, so we bought some spray, Feliway, while we were there; it’s supposed to calm his nerves. We’ll see.

We brought the cats home and I tried to get their picture in the car, but they weren’t interested. They seemed relieved when we walked in the door and let them out of their carriers. Overall a very good experience with the new vet.

Festival of World Cultures (in the rain)

After some creative schedule juggling, we were able to attend the Festival of World Cultures yesterday. There were booths of food, arts, crafts, carnival rides, and several stages with performances throughout the day. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate at all. We walked around for a few hours, ate some food, did some people watching, and headed home.

I’ve heard that next year the festival will take place in July instead, so hopefully the weather will cooperate. I know that I’m missing several countries, but Italy, Pakistan, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Ethiopia, Lithuania, Mexico, Kenya, India, and of course Ireland, were well represented. We will definitely go back next year!

It was pouring rain and very crowded, so not many pictures.

A very dark, rainy day in Dun Laoghaire

Friday, August 28, 2009

Festival of World Cultures

This weekend the Festival of World Cultures is taking place in Dun Laoghaire. We were looking forward to checking it out (had it on the calendar for months), but “work events" take precedence over our personal social schedule, so I don’t know if we will make it or not. I suppose there’s always next year.

If you are in Dublin this weekend and looking for something to do, head down to the Festival of World Cultures. As usual, the farmers market in Dun Laoghaire will be open on Sunday from 11-4 in People’s Park.

For more information

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chicago labs

I had the “Chicago labs” blood work yesterday, so as of this afternoon, the ridiculous number of vials should have safely landed in the U.S. You know it’s going to be a big blood draw when the nurse remembers that you are there for the “Chicago labs” and goes out of the room to get more vials, then returns and asks if you’ve had a big breakfast and lots of fluid. She also made me promise to have a big lunch after I left the clinic. See the “REAL Gourmet Burger” post below.

We discussed the seriousness of the tests in Chicago and she basically said that if they (the reproductive endocrinologists and reproductive immunologist) were putting me through the blood draws and expense of “Chicago labs” I would need intralipids or IVIG therapy. GULP. I asked the price of both and it’s much lower than what I had previously been told. Each IVIG infusion is $3500 and intralipds are even less. Of course it still adds a significant expense to the IVF procedure and other meds, but again, it’s lower than I had been told, so I’ll take it. For now I’ll continue to hope that I only need the even less expensive intralipid therapy. The results from Chicago should be back in 7-10 days, as well as the lab report we are still waiting on from Denmark. I’m expecting a call back today regarding the final list of IVF and supplemental meds so those can be ordered and ready to go. That’s the latest.

Update: Fabulous RE #1 just called. The results from Denmark (sperm DNA fragmentation test) are great! Finally, some good news.

Fabulous RE #1 isn’t going to order the meds until the “Chicago labs” are back next week. Apparently even the IVF medications that are used will be dependent on those results. And so we wait….

The REAL Gourmet Burger for lunch

This is a neighborhood favorite that I’ve previously mentioned on the blog. We decided to stop in for lunch yesterday since I’d been instructed to eat a big lunch after the blood work. This is the first time I’ve been to REAL for lunch on a weekday and was pleasantly surprised to find a “weekday lunch special”, limited, but good enough. I decided to have a basic cheeseburger which came with skinny, rosemary fries, and a drink for €10.

The staff was pleasant and efficient as always, and food was great, again, as always. I will say that the hamburgers are BIG, as in they need to be eaten using a knife and fork, but the food is always delicious and the rosemary fries are soooo good.

If you are ever in the Ballsbridge area and want a quality cheeseburger, stop in at The REAL Gourmet Burger.

recipe 23: Dijon herb-crusted salmon

I feel so behind with the recipe updates, but we’ve been eating a lot of salads lately (not very exciting).

Another great recipe from the “Nordstrom Flavors” cookbook. I actually made this last week, but my husband liked it so much, he requested it again this week.

Dijon herb-crusted salmon

4 green onions, white and light green parts only, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil

6 skinless salmon fillets
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together green onions, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, and garlic. Drizzle in the olive oil, stir, set aside.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper, place the salmon on the baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread 1 teaspoon of mustard over the back of the salmon. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread 2 tablespoons of the herb crust over the mustard coating on each fillet.

Roast until the salmon is barely opaque, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
We enjoyed this dish with garlic mashed potatoes and Williams Sonoma stir- fried spinach.

Monday, August 24, 2009

they might want to change the name

Yesterday my husband decided to run some errands, including picking up some cat litter. There’s only one pet store (that we’ve found) that carries the type of litter I use for the cats, and it’s across the city. He called to inform me that the store was out of the brand we usually buy. I told him to go ahead and get a different brand, just to be sure it was the clumping variety.

He came home and said that the store only had one brand of clumping litter in stock. Now, I know I've complained about the high cost of living here, but this is ridiculous. One bag of “The World’s Best Cat Litter” was €56, that’s $80 for a bag of litter.

CRAZY! I think they might want to change the name to “World’s Most Expensive Cat Litter.”

Guinness and Bella have my husband wrapped around their little paws, so no trip to the pet store is complete without a new toy or treat. He bought them catnip bubbles.

Unfortunately the cats weren’t very interested. Better luck next time.

Friday, August 21, 2009


My spirit and my body are broken.

Yesterday I had typed out a long, whiny blog post (see below) about the faults I had with the new clinic. For the most part, I completely love the clinic we chose here. I was just confused by the number of reproductive endocrinologists (REs) involved in my case. There was RE#1, the RE we chose and really like. Then there was RE#2 who preformed the SIS and discussed the autoimmune panel results that had come back from France, then there was RE#3, who called yesterday.

RE#3 called to discuss my autoimmune profile in detail. He is sub, sub specialized in reproductive immunology and really knows his stuff. We spoke about the two autoimmune issues that RE#2 had pointed out. He agreed with RE#1 and RE#2 that I would need to be on Heparin, Lovenox, or Clexane, plus the baby aspirin, plus the steroids, plus all of the other “regular” IVF meds. At that point, I still wasn’t quite sure why he was consulted because these were issues that had been dealt with. When I asked him about it he said that the REs consult with him when an autoimmune profile comes in that is “troubling”. He also said that it never hurts to have another pair of eyes look at a case and make suggestions, which I completely agree with. He told me that according to my chart, I’m still listed as a patient of RE#1, good to hear.

Then we got down to business, the “reason” for the call. There it was, the test at the bottom of the page, the test that didn’t stand out on the paper, the test that I had missed. Anti Nuclear Antibodies. Anything over 320 is considered a significant increase, I’m 640.

This means a number of things:
-blood work has to be sent to Chicago (one of only three labs in the world that perform this type of profile)

-the results of the “Chicago labs” will determine whether we do intralipid therapy or IVIG therapy.

-the cost of doing this is huge and if it is determined that we have to to IVIG therapy (RE#3 was leaning that way), we could very well be done :( We are already paying for everything out of pocket, I just don’t know how we could swing a regular IVF cycle, plus the extra meds, plus the extra testing; the cost of each IVIG treatment is stomach turning.

RE#3 had reviewed my records and thoroughly agreed with the seven other REs we’ve dealt with, it’s most likely that my autoimmune issues caused the miscarriage of the triplets. His recommendation was to not even try another IVF without the intralipid or IVIG therapy because it would likely just result in another loss. After doing some research and contacting yet more experts, I agree with him. According to one RE, the IVF success rates in women with my history are 64% with IVIG therapy, 4% without.

So the next step is “Chicago labs” as they are called here. They are only done once a week and then put on a plane for the U.S. that afternoon. I’ve made the appointment and requested our favorite IVF nurse if she’s available. I’m feeling rather broken.

Before you read my whiny post (written yesterday) let me just say, ALL of the staff, physicians, and nurses we’ve dealt with at the wonderful clinic have been nothing but kind, gentle, professional, and have provided the highest level of care, couldn’t be happier. And now I understand some of the things that were unclear when I typed the following post.

August 20
I was “that” patient yesterday and I don’t want to be “that’ patient

In Belarus, I never called my RE or any of his Russian speaking nurses. Even though I had his personal cell phone number, not one phone call. I had no reason to call. The IVF protocol was simple, I was familiar with the medications that were being used (U.S. and U.K. brands), and I was VERY well monitored, like every other day for ultrasounds, type of well monitored. I could ask him questions or discuss issues when I saw him.

Things are a little, okay a lot, different here and I’m not sure I like it. We chose to go with a certain doctor based on several factors, so we made an appointment with him. My husband and I were both very impressed with him after our first meeting and really like his IVF nurse. Last Thursday I had the SIS procedure and a different RE performed it, okay fine, it was just a saline scan. Well here I sit waiting for yet another RE to call me to discuss the autoimmune issues.

The first RE had put together a great plan for the next IVF, changing things a bit from what was done in Minsk, adding extra meds; we were all comfortable with it, I thought. Then the IVF nurse named a few different medications, fine, I figured that they would discuss it and let me know.

When I had the SIS, the second RE named yet more medications. After calling the IVF nurse yesterday for a little clarity (see I was “that” patient), she gave me a list of 13, yes 13 medications that had been decided on, and that’s not counting the baby aspirin, intralipid iv therapy, or birth control pills (more on that below). I don’t know who decided on the meds and in my shock of hearing and subsequently writing down the names of the drugs, forgot to ask.

And then there’s the birth control pill issue. From what I’ve heard/ read, it’s fairly common in the U.S. to be prescribed birth control pills at the beginning of an IVF cycle; I was not on them in Minsk. When I asked about it at the first appointment here, I was told that I likely would NOT be put on them. Now I’m being mailed a prescription for birth control pills. What??

The final issue, which I haven’t addressed with anyone yet, is that this clinic doesn’t perform routine betas (pregnancy blood test) after IVF cycles. Ladies with infertility experience, you may now pick your jaws up off the floor; I had a similar reaction when I was told. I have NEVER heard of a clinic not doing a beta, or several, after IVF, never, never, never. I’m already having nightmares about this. Do I beg and plead with my RE, do I ask my GP to do it? Meep.

I do not want to be “that” patient. Give me a black and white plan, send me out the door, I’ll do some research and if there is a problem, I’ll be in touch. Otherwise I’m perfectly comfortable with minimal contact. I’m really hoping for some clarity when the RE calls today. ::sigh::

This was my venting post and now I will relax. I really do like the clinic and I’ve had EXCELLENT care there. A little less confusion would be nice, but overall I’m very happy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the complicated, vile process AKA bidding

This seems to be a popular topic amongst the foreign service blogs this month, so I thought I’d play too. Fortunately we don’t have to bid until next year, but I thought I’d post my thoughts and a few links to other blogs. Next summer I will look back and take comfort knowing that other people dislike bidding as much as I do.

Approximately one year before leaving post, all federal employees (State Dept and others) have to “bid” on the next post. It’s a vile, vile process. Based on the list of available cities, you have to choose six that are at your grade level, places you have researched and are willing to go to. I’ll let the other bloggers explain the process in more detail, but let’s just say, as fun as it sounds, it isn’t, and you may or may not end up in one of your original six choices.

In no particular order, these are the questions I ask myself when thinking of where we might move next.

Is it an accompanied post? Meaning, are spouses and children even allowed to go.

Hardship. Is it time to do another hardship post? (required every seven years)

Medical care. I have a class two medical clearance because of the amount and seriousness of my allergies and allergy-induced asthma. Because I have a class two med clearance, there are many places we can’t go, thus limiting the options even more. Does the city have quality medical facilities? Does post have a good working relationship with local doctors and dentists? Do they speak English?

How medically “safe” is it? What immunizations are required? Are there many dangerous diseases that affect the area? Is it necessary to wash the produce with bleach water? Is it necessary to take ongoing medication to prevent certain diseases?

Housing. What do the post reports say about the housing pool? Apartments or single family houses? How far is the commute to work? Is housing assigned or is it necessary to find your own housing? Is furniture provided or must you buy it yourself, then leave it behind 2-3 years later?

Language. What language is spoken, how difficult is it to learn, does post have a language program available to family members?

Vet care. Is it available, reliable, does the vet speak English?

Internet. How reliable and fast is the internet?

Mail. Is it an APO or pouch post? Having had both, I will mention how much I detest the pouch (no glass, no liquids).

Pollution. What is the air quality like? Do they burn coal, trash? Due to my allergies and asthma, would I be allowed to live there?

Crime. How safe is the city? Are there many housing burglaries and break ins? Is it safe for women to be out alone? Is there a terrorism threat?

Climate. What is the weather like? Distinct seasons or hot and dry all year?

Groceries and household items. What is available, not available? How expensive is it compared to other places?

Can we/ should we take a car? Small car or SUV? Some countries have restrictions regarding importing vehicles (age, left hand versus right hand drive). What are the rules of the road, or are there any?

Activities. Are there interesting things to do in the city? Is it safe to leave the city and explore other parts of the country? How difficult is it to travel to other places?

Of course people who have children have even more issues to think about (schools, extracurricular activities, reliable childcare, etc)

As I said, it’s a vile, complicated process.

For much better explanations of “bidding” and other peoples’ thoughts, please check out

Life After Jerusalem: Bidding

Email from the Embassy: Apples vs. elephants: The Bidding Process

Diplodocus: So Where Have I Been?

Girl In The Rain: The Bid List Is Out

recipe 22: chicken cobb salad

Here's a great recipe from "Cooking Light" magazine.

cooking spray
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups mixed greens (I used romaine)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or diced roma tomatoes
1/3 cup diced peeled avocado
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1/3 cup fat-free Italian dressing
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 bacon slice, cooked and crumbled

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Put greens in a bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Top with chicken, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, onion, and bacon.

We both really liked it. There were plenty of leftovers, so I've been having it for lunch this week. Yum!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Every Sunday evening I change the bedding. Guinness LOVES to help. He jumps around and bats at the clean, white sheets. It takes longer to make the bed, but he's so much fun to watch.

and then Bella joined in the fun

recipe 21: glazed lemon loaf

Another great recipe from the "Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking" book.

glazed lemon loaf

1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
finely shredded zest of 1 large lemon
Kosher salt
2 large eggs
½ cup low fat milk (I used nonfat)
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
juice of 1 large lemon, about 3 ½ tablespoons

Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a loaf pan with canola-oil cooking spray. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mix until combined. Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake until deeply browned with some golden cracks on top, about 40 minutes.

To make the glaze, combine sugar and lemon juice in a small, heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, continue to boil until the mixture is bubbling and frothy on the surface, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour evenly over the surface of the hot loaf.


Friday, August 14, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you so much to Illanare at “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below” for honoring me with my very first blog award. She’s been through a lot, so please hop over to her blog and give her some support.

The rules of the “One Lovely Blog Award” are to accept the award, post it on your blog with the name and link of the blog that granted the award to you. Pass the award to other blogs and contact those bloggers to let them know they’ve been chosen for this award.

I chose to honor a few women who have been down the road of infertility or are still on it. ((HUGS)) ladies.

Please check out these fabulous blogs:

Fran at Everyone else but me
Trish at Fertile Hope
Jane at Lacking Expectations
Nikki at Our roller coaster ride through infertility and more

SIS and auto immune profile are completed

I had the saline infusion sonohysterogram (SIS) yesterday. The reproductive endocrinologist (RE) that did the test was not my usual RE, but she was very nice and took the time to explain all of the blood work that had come back from the lab in France, in addition to sharing her thoughts on the SIS and my history.

As we expected, there is good news and bad news. First the good news, my uterus is “perfect” in her words, no septum, polyps, or fibroids. The left ovary also looks great, nice and healthy. The bad news, the right ovary is “small and diminished”. I was not at all surprised to hear that because my RE in Belarus had problems with it, too. In fact during egg retrieval he didn’t even mess with the right side.

The other bad news (also not a surprise) is that I have several auto-immune issues, in addition to the autoimmune thyroid problem.

They are going to fully suppress my immune system (heparin injections and prednisone) before even starting IVF. Once I start injections for IVF, I will continue with the meds that are keeping my immune system knocked down. The RE said that instead of the one or two daily shots most patients have, I will have 3, 4, or 5, plus several pills to take. Good times.

There was some additional lab work sent to Denmark yesterday that will hopefully be back in 2-3 weeks; once we have the results back from the Danes, we will proceed from there (our labs travel more than we do, France, Belgium, Denmark, possibly the U.S. ;) )

In the past two years we’ve dealt with seven REs in three countries (working with them directly, their colleagues reviewing the case, or consultations in the U.S.) While it doesn’t make the news any easier to hear, I do find some comfort in the fact that they have all said the same thing, it would be medically impossible for me to get and stay pregnant without IVF and a lot of medical intervention. I’m really happy with our clinic in Dublin and feel that we are where we need to be. And so the journey continues….

recipe 20: citrus chicken

This recipe isn’t from a cookbook, but it was really good and easy, so I thought I would post it. The recipe is Cooking Light’s citrus chicken.

citrus chicken

¼ cup orange juice
½ teaspoon grated lime rind
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
1 tablespoon olive oil
cooking spray
6 cups bagged pre-washed baby spinach

Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Pour ¼ cup juice mixture into a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag. Seal; let stand 5 minutes. Add oil to remaining juice mixture; stir well with a whisk.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Place 1 ½ cups spinach on each of 4 plates. Divide chicken evenly among servings; top each serving with 1 tablespoon juice mixture.
Very good recipe, served with whole wheat pasta.

recipe 19: fish tacos with tomato and orange salsa

Another great recipe from the "Williams Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking" cookbook.

½ pound salmon fillet
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup diced, peeled English cucumber
2 tablespoons thinly slice green onion
½-1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
½ teaspoon grated orange zest

1 large naval orange
1 large tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
½-1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Kosher salt
4 soft tortillas
1 cup romaine

Remove skin from salmon, season with salt and pepper. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes or until slightly translucent. Transfer to plate and let cool to room temperature. Flake into large bowl, discard any bones.

Add the cucumber, green onions, jalapeno, orange zest, and ¼ teaspoon salt to the fish. Sprinkle with lime juice and toss lightly.

For the salsa, peel the orange, cut to remove the peel, pith, and membrane. Cut the orange into bite-sized pieces and add to a bowl. Dice the tomato, add tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, orange zest, lime juice, and ½ teaspoon salt to the bowl holding the orange. Stir to combine.

To assemble the tacos, place some romaine on each tortilla, add about ¼ cup of the salmon mixture, then top with 2 rounded tablespoons of the salsa. Fold each tortilla, serve.

I really enjoyed this recipe; it was flavorful, light, and easy to prepare. My husband is not a fan of mixing seafood with fruit. He liked the flavor of this dish, but asked me to leave the orange out of his portion next time.

Sorry there isn't a picture. I uploaded one and now I can't seem to find it. Definitely time to do some laptop cleaning and organizing :(

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dublin Horse Show, unexpected surprise and pictures

We had planned to attend the Dublin Horse Show on Saturday, and much to my surprise, we were given tickets to sit in a private box for the day, catered lunch included.

The horse show was amazing, the best riders from around the world. Our seats were absolutely perfect and it was so nice to enjoy the events where we were, versus down below fighting the crowds. I was so interested in the actual show that I didn’t take time to walk around and look at the exhibits, but there’s always next year.

Guinness and the spinach

I went out to the garden to get herbs and came back inside to find this. He was on the counter, drinking the water the spinach was in. Naughty kitty...

recipe 18: Starbucks pumpkin bread

Someone who knows how much I love Starbucks sent me a can of pumpkin and this recipe.

Starbucks pumpkin bread

1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground clove
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and 
salt, set aside. Beat eggs, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl on 
high speed for about 30 seconds. Add dry ingredients and mix. Add pumpkin and oil, mix. Pour batter into 
a greased loaf pan. Bake approximately 70 min. or until the top of the bread begins to brown. When the bread is cool, slice into approximately 1 inch slices. Serves 8.

Great flavor and very easy to make!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

cards, wine, and I can't believe what I see

After I left the hospital, I walked over to the grocery store to buy a bottle of wine for a dinner party tomorrow night. I was early (alcohol isn’t sold until 10:30am), so I walked to the card store to buy birthday cards. Unfortunately the cards aren’t marked with prices, just codes. So yeah, $16 for two birthday cards ::rolling my eyes:: and they aren’t big or particularly fancy. I paid for the cards and headed back over to the grocery store. You couldn’t have imagined my surprise to find

That’s right, “I can’t believe it’s not Butter”. This is getting strange, I think someone from Tesco really is reading the blog. I might just start doing a weekly blog post of products I’d like them to carry ;)

Tide laundry detergent
Neutrogena sunscreen

free service? I don’t think so

My GP is out of town and I needed more blood work this week, so he’d given me a referral for the local hospital. I walked into the hospital to find antibacterial hand sanitizers lining the walls with information about H1N1 above them. I know that the government is taking the swine flu very seriously over here, but I wasn’t expecting that everyone who enters the hospital would have to use hand sanitizer. Anyway, hope it works.

The lab area kind of reminded of a post office or department of motor vehicles in the U.S. You take a number and when the number is displayed, you enter the lab. Seems efficient. The woman who took the blood was very friendly, quick, and she only took one vial. Yay! Then things got interesting. I asked where I should go to pay and she said it was a free service. I told her that I wasn’t Irish. She still claimed that it was a “free service”. I about fell out of the chair. Our health insurance doesn’t offer infertility coverage, so there is no way a blood draw is free, particularly in another country. I told her I was sure I needed to pay the hospital, again she said it was a free service. I’ll definitely be following up on this one because I guarantee, I owe somebody some cash.

recipe 17: healthy sautéed spinach

Another great and really easy recipe from the “Nordstrom Entertaining At Home” cookbook.

healthy sautéed spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 bunches spinach
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat, add garlic, stir frequently for about 1 minute. Add the wine, raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the wine evaporates. Add the broth, cook until nearly evaporated, 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and stir, tossing to coat with the liquid and garlic, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, serve immediately.

We had it with Northwest salmon and mashed potatoes. We thought it was delicious and it will be in regular rotation on our menu.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Dublin Horse Show starts tomorrow

Dublin is proving to be a wonderful place for me to indulge in all of my hobbies. First the Volvo Regatta, now a horse show!

The Dublin Horse Show runs Aug 5-9 at the RDS. I had planned to attend all five days, but even the general admission tickets are a little pricy, so I think I’ll just go one day and buy good seats in the main arena. Should be a great time!

For more information

PS- To my parents, I know I didn’t say it often enough, thank you for buying Sweet William for me, and paying for the years of riding lessons, stable fees, and other misc. horse related expenses. To my friend who will remain nameless in blog land, thank you for sharing your horse with me in Germany and Belarus. I hope you will visit next summer so we can attend the horse show together :)

insanity, shopping related

Nothing shouts insanity like a €15 shipping charge on a €20 item that weighs about 10 ounces and is 10 miles away from my house. I guess I’ll take the DART and pick it up myself (there's no parking anywhere near the store).

A grocery store in the area has a small display of American items (stuffing, Poptarts, cookies, pancake mix, things like that). While I’m generally not a fan of processed foods, I was quite pleased to see the familiar looking box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (hey, I haven’t been in the U.S. in almost a year). I was contemplating the purchase when I looked down at the price, €4.95. In the States this stuff sells for what, 80 cents, $1? Needless to say I didn’t buy the macaroni & cheese; my body and my bank account thank me. I came home and did the conversion, $7.12 for a box of pasta and a pouch of dried, processed cheese, no thanks.

recipe 16: roasted sweet potatoes with cumin and cilantro

I recently planted cilantro in my herb garden, so I decided to make this recipe as a side for our homemade veggie burgers. This recipe is another great one from the “Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking” book.

roasted sweet potatoes with cumin and cilantro

2 sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into slices ½ inch thick. Stack half of the slices and cut lengthwise into strips ½ inches wide. Repeat with the remaining slices. Rinse the strips with cold water and dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel.

Place the potatoes in a bowl, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with cumin, toss to coat. Preheat a nonstick pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the hot baking sheet. Roast the potatoes, turning every 10 minutes, until evenly browned and tender when pierced with a knife, 30-35 minutes.

Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, a grind of pepper, and cilantro. Toss gently to coat.

I baked them for 45 minutes hoping that they would crisp up, but they were still a bit soft. However, the flavor was great and I will be making them again!