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Supporting your infertile friends & The Stork OTC giveaway *CLOSED*

*This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Laura (dandelionsarenotweeds6)!*

I know, you are waiting for my blue ribbon banana bread recipe (still happy dancing) I promised last week! Well it is still coming, I’ve gotta take pictures of the loaf I just baked, and in the mean time I have something very near and dear to my hear to talk to you about, and there is a giveaway involved so don’t be too hasty to close the window in a fit of banana bread frustration. ;)

Before the incredible gift of our son, I shared fairly often about my personal 13-year struggle with infertility, and the heartbreak.  There’s nothing quite like infertility to make you realize you’re really not in full control here. You can do everything within your power to improve your chances, from natural remedies to over-the-counter, to medical help…and you still may never get pregnant.  It’s hard to want something so badly, and not be able to accomplish it no matter the lengths you go to, or how hard you pray.

Which is why I agreed to join The Stork OTC with other bloggers to help raise awareness about how to support infertile couples and to introduce you to their nifty at-home conception device (with a chance to win one, and more, stay tuned!).  Even if you’ve never suffered from infertility, or known anyone else who did, chances are there is more than one couple you know that does, and has never revealed it.  Infertility is largely suffered with silent tears because it’s a very personal struggle that is awkward and embarrassing to share even with close loved ones.  (After fifteen years, I’m mostly past that, and it’s also easier to share to a larger semi-anonymous audience than it is one-on-one.)

Some things you should know:

Infertility doesn’t affect every person the same way, but in general these are some things that can be difficult for us (or even heartbreaking, depending on the day):

  • Pregnancy announcements. Personally these aren’t as hard for me as other infertiles I know, but at times, they have brought me to my knees.
  • Baby showers. Though I’m the odd infertile duck that really LOVES baby showers (part of it is the white cake, I just love it, LOL), I’m ashamed to admit that there have been times when I couldn’t force myself to go to them because my circumstances grieved me too much to join in the celebration.  I know it sounds terrible – jealous and selfish, and I was. Infertility can really put the ugly on beautiful things.
  • Mother’s Day, especially if at a place or function where mothers are singled out and honored in a way that shows them apart from the women they hope to be some day, and don’t know if they will ever be. This can be really shaming to infertile women, almost a pointing finger showing them unable to achieve what every other woman that wants to can.
  • Questions like, “When are you guys going to have a baby?” This truly isn’t an appropriate question to ask anyone, but especially if they’re infertile.  No matter who it is, this simply is not your business, and if the couple has been trying for an extended time without your knowledge, a question like that can really rip into their heart.
  • Hearing a pregnant woman or mother bitterly complaining about her pregnancy or child/children.  Having now been through pregnancy and mothering my own child, I know there are lots of hard times, but I make a point to only vent/complain to those who get it because I know how easy it is to hurt those who would give anything for the hard times by complaining.

This short list isn’t so much advice as information to help you understand your infertile friends and family a little better.  For a really wonderful series that is far more extensive with advice, you can start reading “Loving Your Friend Through Infertility.”  But if you’re looking for the short and sweet answer, it’s this: the best thing you can do is simply offer your love, prayers, and support.  And if possible, lots of hugs and a shoulder to cry on.

Now for the fun part, a giveaway!  If you are trying to conceive and it’s taking longer than you anticipated, using The Stork OTC is a nifty way to increase your odds if you want to try something at home before getting medical help.   Let’s talk shop for a minute, this thing is really fascinating, and forgive me but I’m going to do a little copying and pasting on their info so if it doesn’t sound like me, you know why:

The Stork OTC is an innovative, home-use device that helps with becoming pregnant. Whether you are just starting on your journey to parenthood or have been trying for longer, let The Stork OTC optimize your chances of conceiving. This NEW treatment option is FDA-cleared for home-use without a prescription. The Stork OTC offers a relaxed and private way of conceiving in your own home using new technology based on cervical cap insemination. This smart technique puts the sperm at the opening of the cervix as possible, optimizing your chances of conception.

• The Stork OTC is the only conception assistance device cleared by the FDA for over-the-counter sales to consumers, without a prescription.
o The Stork OTC could change the way couples approach challenges becoming pregnant.
• The Stork OTC is delivering hope to millions of Americans struggling to conceive a child.
o Can be used if you are diagnosed with infertility, have tried months without success, or simply want to get pregnant more quickly; also if you want to conceive without intercourse.
• With The Stork OTC, consumers finally have an easy-to-use, drug-free, economical conception aid they can use at home, without a prescription.
o A sensible first step before trying more costly, invasive procedures.
• The Stork OTC uses an established and effective conception technique—cervical cap insemination—which helps with many common fertility difficulties.
o Cervical cap insemination’s documented success rate is around 10-20% , similar to the success rate for IUI .
• The Stork OTC puts you in control; you can use it to optimize chances to conceive this month.
• It is available now, online and in select retailer stores, for where to buy visit

The Stork OTC lets you take charge of your family planning, and act as a team while you do it. FDA-cleared applications for The Stork OTC include common fertility difficulties attributed to both men and women, including:

• Low Sperm Count
• Motility Issues
• Unfavorable Vaginal Environment (pH imbalance)
• Unexplained Infertility

Sounds pretty rad, right? If you’d like to enter to win one, simply comment below and mention you’d love to try it out. I will draw a name from the eligible entries on Thursday, September 24th and notify the winner by email. I will update this post with the winner’s name on Friday.

Finally, there will be a Stork Twitter chat tomorrow – please join me to exchange ideas on the best ways to support others during their struggle to conceive. You’ll also have a chance to win one of three $25 gift cards to CVS/pharmacy by answering some trivia questions during the chat!

When: Tuesday, September 22 at 1 p.m. ET

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #TheStorkOTC hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Vite:

Hashtag: #TheStorkOTC

Prizes: Three prizes will be awarded to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $25 CVS/pharmacy gift card

Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TMChatHost, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

This content is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.

Some Updatey Stuff

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Well my weekly posting was short-lived, but life has been a whirlwind lately.  Look how much my boy has grown up since I last posted! Can you even believe he’s the same baby I introduced you guys to less than two years ago? Time just FLIES when you’re having fun, and I’m enjoying every fleeting second.

In other news, I was interviewed after dropping off my (whopping three) baked goods at the fair this year, and ended up in the Hutchinson newspaper on Saturday. If you click the photo you can enlarge it to read it if you like.

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So now everyone knows I’m just a wannabe. Ha!! And by the way, it’s not true that I place 3rd every year. I’ve placed 3rd twice (for my Favorite Banana Bread and Black Walnut Banana Bread), and didn’t place at all the other times. So yeah, pretty much doomed. It’s also not true that I’m “cautiously optimistic,” as I have no hope for placing with the banana bread competition this year.  In fact, I have no idea what recipe I’m even going to make even though I have to make it today. But I’m entering anyway. Pretty sure I’ll be doing this until I die, I’m all in and can’t stop now, even if it feels foolhardy and a time waste at this point. LOL! For new readers, you can see all about my banana bread journey here.

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We’ve also decided to do some fundraising to try and give our son a sibling, and I raised $320 (profit) selling a ton of cupcakes at my sister’s shop recently, and am currently organizing a garage sale that will be mainly donated items. My wonderful friend, Holly, started a Gofundme page for us that you can check out here if you want the scoop.

Joshua is currently recovering from his first bout with strep throat, which has been hard on all of us. Thankfully he loves his medicine and is doing so much better already.  It is so hard seeing your baby in so much pain, and I was so relieved when the doc said it was strep. If it had been a virus we just had to ride out, I don’t know what I would have done with myself. I was about to lose it, because nothing I did was enough to make him feel better, not the Motrin every four hours, not the Hyland’s cough syrup, not diffusing Thieves oil, not feeding him fresh pineapple, and he could hardly stand to eat and drink so he lost his baby fat again. (He had the stomach flu at the beginning of the year and couldn’t eat for almost a week, that was the first time he lost it.)  So everyone is much happier now, and we’re all trying to catch up on lost sleep.  Hopefully Joshua will be eating like a pig soon and getting back the little thigh rolls I adore so much.

I’ll be sure to update you guys on the banana bread competition when I find out. If you don’t hear from me this week, you can assume it’s more bad news. Ha! ;)

TILT: My two favorite cake piping tips

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Welcome to another edition of Things I Like Thursday (TILT)! Today begins a series containing the many things I love to use to make cake & cupcake decorating quick and easy.

I’m going to start with just TWO piping tips, because I use them for nearly every cake, and/or cupcake I make. They are very inexpensive, and worth the small investment. Each of these have had about twenty five years of use between my Mother and I, and have stood the test of time. I would not be nearly so fond of making cakes and cupcakes if it weren’t for these tips.

The first is Wilton’s “Icer Tip” #789. I used it to frost both wedding cakes above, and nearly every other cake I’ve ever made. It’s wide and flat and you use it to pipe frosting in an even layer in stripes all over your cake.  This means you don’t have to crumb coat it, it means that once you stripe your cake, all you have to do is smooth the lines.  (Don’t forget my water bottle trick for a perfectly smooth finish on your frosted cake!)  You can see me in action using my trusty icing tip in the video below.

The second is just as invaluable to me, as I now go the easier route of cake-making, doing cupcakes instead.  All it takes is 1-2 seconds per cupcake to pipe on a pretty swirl and voilà! You’re done. It’s probably the fastest thing you’ll ever do with this nice a result.

white cupcakes 6-27-11

I use Wilton’s Tip 2110 (1M) for nearly all my cupcakes, as I just prefer the size of swirl it makes, and I also use it to decorate my most popular cake on this site, the Cookies ‘n Cream Cake, along with CW’s Strawberry Shortcake, and many pies, like Key Lime Pie, and yesterday’s Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie. Pretty much anything requiring a swirl of whipped cream, this is the tip I use.  I have a video tutorial on how to use it to frost cupcakes here if you want to see this tip in action.

I hope this TILT was helpful, and that you haven’t been overwhelmed with the sheer amount of links I was able to provide in just one post. Ha! Catch you next week with another cake-y edition of Things I Like Thursday.

Some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own, I wouldn’t recommend something I didn’t stand behind 100%.

Quick Coconut Oil & Kahlua Brownies

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In looking over all the food photos I have in my “future blog” folder, I’m noticing a trend. Everything is baked in the oven! In the past, I’ve tried to save most of my baked recipes to share in cooler weather, but I just bake so much in summer, that’s really all I’ve got for you. Even the main dishes I’ve been making have come from the oven.  Am I the only one? Maybe I’ve got some Australian readers eager for baked treats & casseroles? haha!

So these are a box mix recipe which I know, is probably a food crime combining wonderful virgin coconut oil in conjunction with a box mix, but it’s really good! If you’re wanting a good from-scratch coconut oil brownie you might be able to just sub coconut oil in my favorite Fudge Brownies recipe.  But if you’re in a hurry, this one will do you.

My usual trick to make box mix brownies taste homemade is to sub melted butter for the oil, but I was out, so I used coconut oil. The slight coconut oil flavor mixed with the Kahlua (I used my homemade stuff) is pretty out of this world. Using the coconut oil changes the finish on the top and although it’s got that flaky crispy layer, it’s dull, not shiny. I also noticed they were harder to remove from the pan, but nice and fudgy and the flavor is much better than just following the instructions on the back. Enjoy!

Quick Coconut Oil & Kahlua Brownies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 fudge brownie mix
2/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup Kahlua, room temperature

Mix all ingredients and bake according to package directions.

Veronica’s note: You want the ingredients at room temperature to keep the coconut oil from hardening during the mixing. If it hardens, it will not mix evenly. Also, if your box calls for 1/2 cup oil, use 1/2 cup coconut oil, not 2/3 cup. Mine turned out pretty thin in a 9×13 pan so if you like thicker brownies, go with a smaller pan.

You can’t see in this photo, but he’s already holding a half-eaten brownie while reaching for another. These are definitely Joshua-approved. I served these to five other children and three adults besides myself, they were a hit all-around.

Apricot & Pineapple Jam

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This is yet another winner from my Foodie Mama’s cookbook (I think she still has a few available, just let me know if you’re interested) that she has not only won a blue ribbon for, but included it in a coffee cake recipe and won a blue ribbon for that as well. She’s pretty much unstoppable. :)

I don’t know what to tell you about this jam other than it’s really good! The pineapple isn’t very pronounced, but does decrease the intensity of the apricot a little and make it more exotic.  If you do adult Easter baskets like our family, this would be a wonderful addition.  A certain Mother-in-law may be getting one from the Easter bunny this year! :)

Apricot & Pineapple Jam

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 lb. dried apricots
1 quart warm water
6 cups sugar
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained
5 whole cinnamon sticks
5 pint jars

Soak apricots 3 hours in warm water. Process in a food processor with blade attachment until finely ground. Place apricots and the undrained pineapples into a medium pot. Add sugar and cook rapidly until thick, stirring often. Pour into prepared jars. Insert one cinnamon stick to each jar and processes with simmering water bath about 5 minutes. Cool jars completely.

Veronica’s notes: I didn’t measure my soaking water, I just put the apricots in a very large bowl and covered them with twice as much water as the line they came to in the bowl. I let them soak for 8 hours, just because I was too busy to get back to them any sooner, and then drained before processing. I also did my canning the cheater way I learned from Suzie and Erin, which doesn’t include processing the jars in a water bath. I just put the jam in the sterilized jars and screwed on the caps and the heat from the jam sealed them all, as it always does. I only do this with jams or cranberry sauce, basically stuff with lots of sugar in it (which if you didn’t know, is an incredible preservative), and have never had any go bad within a year, though I’m not making any guarantees here and this certainly isn’t FDA approved. There’s my disclaimer so try it at your own risk. :) And perhaps it was because I didn’t process my jars in a water bath and reheat them once the cinnamon stick was inserted, but I couldn’t detect any flavor that the stick imparted so would likely just skip that ingredient unless I was going to can them properly. I might even try stirring a little cinnamon directly into the jam next time, which sounds so lovely to me.

Recipe source: Splendour In My Kitchen by Marina Castle

Daddy’s Boy

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a baby/toddler update, and even longer since I shared a video.  I took this one recently and I love it so much that I just had to share. I think it’s my favorite video to date. Joshua has suddenly turned into a Daddy’s boy and calls for his Daddy all day while he’s gone at work. This particular day, Dennis went in very early to work and Joshua didn’t get his usual morning time with him.  When I put him to bed, he woke up crying every 15-30 minutes for two hours until I finally allowed him to stay up a bit longer and wrestle with his favorite person.  You can tell he missed him. This just fills my heart so much.  Oh, and don’t be frightened by Den’s appearance, he was utterly exhausted but he got to sleep 12 hours the next day and no longer has those awful sunken eyes.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I just couldn’t resist sharing this V-day card I made on PicMonkey just now. You may not be able to tell, but Joshua’s been very sick all week with a tummy bug and has lost a lot of weight. Today he’s starting to feel better and has his smile back. Best Valentine’s Day gift ever!


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