Friday, 28 September 2012

#140 Crab Apple Canning (09/28/12)

Just a little post on our canning ventures so far.  The 11 little jars are crab apple butter, aka Chutney, or spicy jam.  It turned out a little runny, but still pretty good for our first try.  Woohoo.  All but to snapped closed.  So they are the first two we will use, after the left over bowl we didn't fit into the small jars we had.  So many preserves, so little time, and so little jars.  I guess we need to stock up.  We thought 1 dozen of each size should be plenty, WRONG.  We have the big ones left, but they will get used quickly enough I imagine.  The jam size and the next size up are going to be our preference I think.

The four big jars were our first attempt at canning in general, and are straight, no sugar added apple sauce, same as the baggies. 

#139 Day 2 – Something that makes me happy (09/28/12)

The ultimate thing that makes me happy is my wife, Deb.

Apparently we have been in hat moods for the past 24 hours, not a normal. 

#138 Day 1 – Self Portrait (09/27/12)

From a few blogs I have been reading, I was shown a photo blog inspiration of 30 Day Photo Challenge.  Click here for details.  (Posted a day late, a bad start; but the photo was taken late last night.)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

#137 Walk for the sake of walking (09/27/12)

Well, I’m finally getting back into a groove, hopefully for a long period of time.  It seems though; my body is winning over whatever Amy is trying to tell it.  Part of me wanted to just sit and relax on my lunch because it will be my workout day tonight.  That half must have been Amy.  The other part of me was trying to come up with any excuse to go for a walk.  It is a beautiful day, just get some extra ninja steps in; the winning argument was I needed to go to Sobey’s after work for some cottage cheese and a melon. Koodos to my feet for learning to speak up.  So I decided to walk there on my lunch instead.  It was a little more of a walk that yesterday, and it was good.  I had a pretty good pace going too.  So I got in 1.5 miles on my lunch. 

Now if only my stomach can get on the same page and come up with excuses NOT to eat things.  Overall my wife and I are eating pretty well, it’s just the sweets/deserts are too fluent.  For the most part, I’m managing mostly to stay within calorie allotment for the day though.  Let’s hope the effort shows on the scales this weekend. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

#136 Music is good for the sole (09/26/12)

On my lunchtime walk today, I was listening to my random music list on my phone.  The jiving to the music made me want to walk further than I usually do, and at a steady quick pace.  Usually my walk is between .5 - .75 miles.  Today it was 1.25 miles.  The music just kept my feet going, I really didn’t care that I needed to get a few other things done on my break; I was just walking and loving it.  If I wouldn’t have HAD to get back to work, and the fact I was getting hungry, I think I would have walked a lot longer. 

Tonight we will be processing more apples, but maybe I will try and squeeze in some treadmill time too.  Last night’s workout was a good one, I did the Wii step for 30 minutes, and got 3100+ steps.  That is a record for me, before it was just over the 2900 mark.  Progress is being made, let’s hope the scale shows the changes. 

#135 Adventures in Apple Sauce (09/26/12)

Well, as mentioned in #130, we have a LOT of crab apples.  This is our adventure in making about 150 pounds of apple sauce.  This post is picture heavy. 

To start the mass production of apple sauce, we needed a plan.  This is what I came up with.  First day we tried this procedure. 

Pick large bowls of apples using the parachute method, holding a sheet under the person picking to catch the apples.  After the first afternoon of picking two bowls at a time, we then switched to picking a Rubbermaid tote at a time, and for the de-bugging (literally) fill the bowls and leave outside while processing the previous bunch. In the picture below, is my wife (left), me (middle), and my FIL (right). 

Here are a few pictures of our crab-apple trees. 


We then leave the bowls outside for a while to de-bug.  The freshly picked apples have a lot of lovely lady bugs, and a few other icky things that we try to have vacated from the bowl before bringing into the house. 

Alas, only a portion of them do leave, as this is our capture container that we empty after each bowl set.


We bring the mostly de-bugged bowls inside to our sorting station; our couch/coffee table with a chuck-it platter/bucket and a container for the good ones.  When full the good bin is approximately the two large bowls sorted down, which will fill our two cooking pots well. 

 From there we take them to the wash basin; our kitchen sink.

Then, as is, the apples go into the boil pots.  We add water to the pots, just below the top of the apples, about two depths down.

We bring the pots to a boil, and then let them simmer for about an hour.  Till they look like that, and can be smooshed with a spoon.

None of the water gets drained off.  Per put the contents into our food mill. 

Once a pot is process this is what remains, one pot equals about one of these bowls of apples sauce, and a bunch of stem/seed/pulp mess.  In this whole process we found, we have three crab apple trees, one tree that produces rose wildish apples, and one that produces white apples.  The picture below shows the variation of sauces; rose (left), white (Top Right), crab-apples (Bottom Right).  The two wild apple trees didn’t yield much.  The shown apple sauce was the total yield. 

We leave the apple sauce in the bowls to cool, usually ends up being overnight, due to timing.  Then we put about 4 cups of apples sauce into Ziploc baggies, in order to freeze them.  This is a very small portion of the apple sauce bags.  Each bag weighs just shy of two pounds, and we have about 150 pounds of apple sauce, so far.

While talking with a neighbour, he let us know, apples run in three year cycles, small, medium and lots yield.  This was the LOT’s year.  Our first run at sauce was just picking the apples that could be easily reached from the crab apple trees. 

In our first bunch of turning sauce into something we made fruit leathers with just crab apples and some corn starch.  They were very sour/potent.  The next run we tried something a little different.   We followed this recipe inspired by Sunrype fruit/veggie leathers.

               3 Cups Crab Apple Sauce
               3 Cups of Boiled Carrots
               1 Cup of White Sugar
               1 Cup of Boiling water

               Blend the sauce and carrots together. 
Add the sugar to the water to create syrup
Add Mixture to blender
Mix a bit more. 
Pour onto dehydrator tray liners.
Run the dehydrator for about 8 hours.  This yields about 12-16 fruit leathers.

In an epiphany, we also tried the same recipe substituting carrots for yams (sweet potatoes).  Both recipes turned out quite nice, however fairly sweet.  On the next bunch we are going to try and cut the sugar in half.  Each fruit leather has about one fruit serving and one vegetable serving. 

Once we had finished the adventure of saucing, there were still so many crab apples left in the trees.  That added with the knowledge that next year we might not get as many, we decided to pick more.  Last night we picked another 110 pounds of apples.  We still haven’t picked the trees clean, just got a little higher with a small step ladder.  On our first bunch, we did our first run at actual canning.  We just heated the sauce to boiling again, sanitized the jars by added boiling water then emptying, and putting the sauce directly into jars and adding the snap lids.  This morning, they had snapped.  Yay.  A movie quote comes to mind where a city lady inherits a farm and starts making baby food with the produce.  As she is leaning to can, she says “I will be domesticated.”  We have officially, successfully canned.  We are domesticated. 

I will try to remember to take a photo of the frozen apple sauce, and whatever we can right away, along with a picture of the finished reduced sugar fruit leathers. 

Any suggestions on recipes involving crab apples and sauce would be appreciated.  I think our next trial run, other than leathers, is apple butter. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

#134 My Feet Have a Mind of Their Own (09/25/12)

Today at lunch, I had mentally decided not to have a walk, I’m planning on working out tonight, so I figured, I don’t need to, I have a bunch of other things I want to get done on my lunch, pay bills, update spreadsheets (yes I’m a geek.), read some blogs, write a blurb on my blog today etc, plus actually eat lunch.  So, I went downstairs to the lunch room to grab some utensils, and then headed back to my office.  There is a point on that trip, where I can either turn and go upstairs, or walk out the door.  This is where my feet took control of my body.  In my head, I was already half way up the stairs, but before I knew it, I was outside.  Once again, I thought, I would make it just a quick walk around the building kind of thing, get to my to do list quickly.  But my feet just wouldn’t cooperate.  Instead of going right, to head back into the building, they turned left to go on my usual walk.  I didn’t quite walk the full length I might have, if planned, but it was a good 20 minute walk. 

I’m happy I have happy feet that have a mind of their own, even if that does cause me to trip a little more often than most people. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

#133 Admitting Reality (09/24/12)

My ticker has officially gone backwards, again.  After the cruise, I didn’t reflect the gain, but the following week I reflected the balance, hoping the remaining would come off.  However, once again this week, there was a gain.  A small one, but gain none the less.  I could blame TOM and ignore reporting it on my ticker, but this gain is a reality, and not officially recording it, is just ignoring it completely.  When I did the weigh in on Saturday morning, the scale couldn’t get it’s story straight.  I weighed once, and was a little dishearten, so I weighed again, it was a little less, yay, but whenever I do this and the numbers come up different, I weigh a third time, and usually that number matched one of the first two.  This time it did not.  The third time was a bit more that the first.  If the scale is going to lie, it needs to get its story straight.  So I went with the first number. 

On a side note, when my wife and I do our official weigh in, we have two moments.  First is the scale that is in our bathroom.  That is just our guide.  After that weigh in, we head downstairs and do the Wii Fit body test.  It is that number that we record on MFP.  (I do keep notes on both however.)

So, I’m back at the 10 pound mark, (actually 9.8 but the ticker rounds so let’s just say 10).  I do hope that the TOM is part of this gain, which should come off, but at this point, I’m definitely not holding my breath.  I think I would pass out long before that happens. 

This weekend, we did work out butts off though; tonnes of cleaning, and yard work, and pruning, and hauling garbage, yanking dead branches etc.  Today is going to be our day off, but Tuesday (tomorrow) will be back to the workout schedule, which I have been keeping fairly well to so far. 

The weight loss battle has turned into a war.  Some battles you win, some you lose, you just have to keep fighting. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

#132 My thoughts about getting Pregnant (09/20/12)

Well, today my wife was trying to get caught up with my blog.  She came across this post Pinnacle Pregnancy Point.  The main comment was about

Today is the day I find out if my body is ready for me to become a mom.  (My mind is still in debate.) 
She was worried I am not on board with the pregnancy any more.  That I had kind of gotten on the pregnancy train, and now I couldn’t get off.  That isn’t quite what I had meant. 

Am I worried about getting pregnant; yes.
Do I still want to get pregnant; yes. 

You can see the debate that happens in my head which prompted the sentence above.

One fear I have about becoming pregnant is gaining too much weight and ending up on bed rest because my body won’t support the extra weight.  That is the one fear that is above and beyond the usual pregnancy fears of miscarriage, diabetes, birth defects, not being able to get pregnant, toxaemia, Crohn’s flaring up, asthma getting worse, allergies getting worse (the last bunch, I’m hoping it follows other trend of getting better.) and the dreaded morning sickness.  My stomach used to be fairly iron clad, used to take a LOT to get me to puke; now I get queasy a lot quicker.  We have a few pregnancy books, which I’m sure will instill a few more fears, but I still want to do this.  

I will admit, reading the blogs that I have, has helped get over the initial fear of even trying, and seeing the end result as to why we do this. 

Are two main ones I have read. 

The next fear is one, I hope most people share, “Will I be a good mom?”  My wife is sure I will be, and I’m positive she will be, but still worried I won’t be.  Not having maternal instincts kick in, not trusting what to do.  But the end argument is “you won’t know until you try.”

Monday, 17 September 2012

#131 Sperm Relief (09/17/12)

As mentioned before in #126, our sperm donor is no longer in the system.  I was getting very stressed over having enough chances to have two pregnancies.  Originally my wife and I said, we would try three times each to get pregnant, otherwise, we would adopt, thus in the end would need 6 vials from the same donor.  We didn’t purchase all at the same time, and should have. 

Today, I got an email from our sperm bank, leading me to believe we could buy more, but do it soon.  I thought there was some mass confusion on this, so I emailed back to double check. They responded there are the last 3 vials available; please respond soon as there are other clients interested in them.  I emailed and texted my wife urgent to call me to double check with her.  I have just placed the order to have the remaining three we wanted/needed.  That is a huge perfect birthday present for me.  I am just tearing up waiting for the response that the vials will be ours. 

There is always a chance that I won’t get pregnant in three tries, or my wife won’t get pregnant in three tries or we both could get pregnant on the first try and have extra, but then we are covered for more kids if needed.  Our original plan was to each try three goes and go from there.  We should have just stuck to that and purchased the 6 right off the bat.  But at least now, we have the “supplies” to follow our original plan. 

I guess now I need to book the acupuncture and massages to give things every chance they have. 

I just got the email from the bank.  The order has been placed and the sperm will be in transit to Canada.  They will hold at their location until we order a transfer to Calgary.  Woohoo.  My nerves are still a little bit on edge, until they get here and we have paid for them, but this has helped tremendously. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

#130 Crab Apples (09/14/12)

As I have probably mentioned before, we have fruit to deal with, and lots of it.  We have managed to process the Nanking Cherry tree of my MIL.  We have a bunch in our freezer to do something with later.  Our next major project is crab apples.  OMG we have a lot.  On the first “pick” we got two huge bowls of crab apples off of one branch and a half.  We have 4 trees to do (and one wild apple tree). 

We have figured a fairly quick way to pick.  It requires three people, but we can fill two-three bowls in about 10 minutes.  Two people hold a sheet as a catch cloth; the third person pulls rapidly and just drops them.  As a sheet holder you can sometimes help with the picking with one hand, but main focus is making sure there is a large catch area. 

The first night we were picking we brought the bowls directly into the house; bad idea.  There was a Lady Bug parade.  We kept putting them in a glass with leaves, but out they came, so we covered it a bit and added as we found more, but sometimes the ladybugs would climb out as we were trying to add to the glass.  As small as they are it was hard to keep them wrangled.  We had to empty the glass a few times through the processing.  When the lady bugs were left to themselves they would climb the bowl to the rim, and just start walking around the bowl, hence the parade.  (There were a couple spiders too, but I ignored them and my wife took care of those.)  The next night of picking, we left the bowls outside for about an hour or so and most of them had vacated the bowls. 

As far as processing the apples first night we tried two kinds of batches.  Once batch, we topped and tailed the apples to get rid of the stem and the bottom fluff, which took a considerable amount of time considering the quantity of the apples.  The other batch we just washed and threw in the pot, to see if we could negate the topping and tailing to expedite the process.  Once they were boiled for about an hour we processed them in the food mill we bought from Bed Bath and Beyond to get rid of the seeds and what not.  We have come to the conclusion, we can save the topping and tailing and just boil them.  Once through the food mill, it takes all the needed stuff out, and tastes the same.  Yay on that one. 

For the first batch, we made 7 trays of fruit leathers by just taking the apple sauce from the food mill, adding corn starch to taste, and pouring onto the dehydrator.  In one of the trays we added cinnamon.  The second batch we have processed so far, we just froze into Ziploc baggies as flat bricks.  

As a little note, it is easier to process the apples while still warm in the food mill, than processing them cold.  More pliable I guess. 

This weekend is going to be an apple processing fiasco.  The frost is coming and so we have to get as much off the trees as soon as possible.  In order to accommodate the huge amount of bricks we will be freezing we have purchases a second small upright freezer.  I will try and take photos this time around to give an idea of the process.  By the end of this weekend, I may hate crab apples, or love the process. 

This year we probably won’t make it to do anything with the berries we have, as we think some are choke cherries, and some others that might be edible, but haven’t confirmed, so we haven’t got the time to organize what to do with them.  I guess that will be next year’s project. 

When trying to figure out the best way of processing the crab apples, we ended up watching a YouTube video of making crab apple jelly.  It looks a lot easier than I thought, so we will probably give it a try, once we have everything processed into apple sauce and frozen. 

#129 Cruise pounds (09/14/12)

Well, so far I’ve lost about 3 of the cruise pounds, one more to go, and then work on the weird gain I had before the cruise, that I’m sure had been solidified by the cruise and will be a bit harder to lose than just water fluctuation. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

#128 Timeline of IUI (09/11/12)

Well, it has been a fairly long journey to get to this point, and it is going to be a bit longer.  The trip started pretty much at the beginning of this year when my wife tried to quit smoking.  That took a few months, then testing for Rubella, and getting on the wait list for the fertility clinic.   It was about five months ago that we got the phone call about when we might get our first appointment.  After testing, purchasing sperm and more testing we now have a new timeline. 

The surgery to remove the polyp in my uterus is scheduled for mid November.  That is another two months away, then another cycle after that for our first attempt.  Late November would be my first ovulation after the surgery.  That is too early in my opinion, no healing time.  However the next ovulation would be over the Christmas/New Year period, which after reading a few other blogs, I’m not convinced our clinic will be open those days.  I’ve emailed the clinic to check. 

On the upside, that gives me more time to lose weight, on the downside, that is lessening the possibility of my Grandma flying over for the birth, even now that is a remote possibility.  My boss is happy of the delayed timeframe.  She is in slight denial that I would be leaving for maternity leave.    

As my other posts before this one, New Month, New Vigor or New Month, New Motivation, I need to kick up my weight loss again.  I don’t think I’m the only one that goes through this cycle of three steps forward and two steps backwards, or should I say three pounds lost, and two pounds gained.  As long as it doesn’t turn into two pounds lost and three gained, repeatedly it is still technically progress. 

So now I need to get rid of the cruise pounds, and continue on my weight loss lifestyle.  Going from full buffet for a week to normal is a hard transition.  I just had three cookies with Tea Tuesday.  Not a good diet choice.  Our vegetables haven’t been cut yet for our lunch salads either; Sunday had very good reasons, Monday medium good reason.  But tonight it is the night they have to get done.  I think my body is craving the veggies again. 

My current goal is to work out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, NO EXCUSES.  The closer I get to possible pregnancy the more worried I am that I will be put on bed rest because my body can’t support the weight of baby and pregnancy gain.  Well, today is Tuesday, and I have a million other things that need to be done, but I NEED to put working out in the top three. 

On the fertility goals, I have also put an email into our friend who is a Fertility Acupuncturist, who owns a clinic that focuses on Fertility, which also has massage, and chiropractic, along with a few other services. Currently I have three extended medical plans which has coverage for such things, and two of which have amounts that expire at the end of the year, thus, I might as well use them up.  So I am trying to be one relaxed cookie by the time I go for the first IUI treatment.  If only the plans also covered Manis/Pettis, that would be the ultimate relaxation day. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

#127 What would you tell yourself? (09/10/12)

I have been reading this blog Two Moms To Be.  On one of their earlier posts entitled What Would You Tell Your Pregnant Self.  The video is very precious and I thought it was worth sharing.  The video was found by Two Moms To Be on . 

This link, I think is directly from YouTube. 

As a hopefully soon to be pregnant woman, this video was fantastic.  I appreciate any comments from moms to a person hoping to get pregnant soon. 

#126 Catch Up (09/10/12)

Well, it has been over a week since my last post.  First major concern, last Friday, I found out, or donor for sperm is no longer in the system, and may not have sperm available for second pregnancies.  We are now having regrets not purchasing the full six at the time of purchase.  Alas, all things happen for a reason.  We will see how things go.  But it was a shock to our planning.  We are soon going to blitz through the sperm banks again and look for CMV positive donors as well, as a possible to save the current purchased items for my wife who needs CMV negative.  There are multiple options, but while we have the subscriptions for full profiles, we might as well use it. 

For the past week my wife, my MIL and I have been on vacation.  We went on a Cruise to Alaska.  It was a fantastic experience.  I had been worried about sea sickness, as I’m very prone to motion sickness in general, and while in Mexico, on various excursions on boats, experienced it to a varying degree.  Alas, I had my herbal Gravol in my pocket and took it when needed and was good to go.  I’ll post a few more pictures in a few days, with a bit more detail of our trip.  But here is one of a bear crossing our pathway while at a park in Juneau, and a rainbow we saw while on our boat.

The cruise was a floating buffet, so it was hard not be eat a lot.  It was diet killing, but worth it, I think.  In the end, I gained about 6 pounds, hopefully I can burn then off quickly.  Not holding my breath though, but will be working on it diligently. 

It seems Sunday was a day of days.  We got off to a slow start to have a morning to relax, watch some TV and started laundry.  While we were going through flyers to make up our shopping list we got a call from my FIL.  My MIL had slipped in a grocery store and was being attended by EMS and would be taken to the hospital, he just didn’t know which one yet.  Thankfully nothing got broken, but did end up with a lot of pulled ligaments in the back/inside of her legs. 

In the evening, while I was trying to take out the food processor to cut celery and cucumber for lunches, I sliced my thumb pretty good.  I yelled out ouch, and my wife yelled if I was ok, from upstairs, and I said “Not really.”  I had managed to get to the sink before blood started flowing quickly, but couldn’t get anything to put over it to stop the bleeding.  She rushed in and handed me some paper towel to be able to get me to the first aid station in our house upstairs.  We were on the debate on stitches or not, but once my thumb was above my heart for a while it stopped bleeding, one trip to emergency in a family per day is plenty.  So she put on a make shift butterfly bandage and taped/splinted me up so I couldn’t move my thumb and bust open again.  By this time it was after 10:00 pm and we still hadn’t had dinner, my MIL didn’t want the casserole I had made, she only wanted mushroom soup, so we made her some, then dished out the casserole for the three of us and took the plates/bowls to their house. 

While we were there, MIL finally reached the point where she needed some pain killers.  She hates taking anything, even for a headache.  So my wife went to our house to get something for her.  While there she let out the dogs for a quick run outside.  When she went to let them in something happened.  And this part is a good chuckle, only because he is ok.  My dog Tuffy was running full board into the house, but he missed the first step by a hair and ran straight into the slate riser.  It resulted in a temporary TKO (Total Knock Out).  My wife said Eep, and while she was wondering what to do, he regained consciousness.  He was a little wobbly for a bit, but seemed fine otherwise.  The story reminds me of a Tom and Jerry cartoon, so I have to chuckle. 

Now we are finally back on track, ready to work off the cruise pounds and process crab apple trees, browse sperm, and follow up when my Polyp surgery is.  Never a moment to say, what should we do today, there is always a long list of things to keep us busy.