Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I have a problem...


I have absolutely, positively NO interest in working today. 

I've been up since about 7:30, I left my house a little after 8, and I've been in my office since 9:30 but very little work has actually been completed.  All I've done is watch the facebook chat room with my ttc friends, beg people to have a snowball fight with me, and tease the CA employees. 

I want to go home! 

I want to be in my PJs, in my bed, watching Christmas movies OR baking!  I have not baked in months and I need to.  It's almost Christmas, gosh darnit!  That's what Italians do this time of year! 

6 pm is way too far away!

Sorry for the rant, I needed to get that out!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas with the Cooks

It's possible, I may have gone overboard with decorating this year!  I'd like to take you on a tour and show you everything we've/I've put up.  Please excuse some of the pics, I love my apartment but it desperately needs updating, and it's hard to keep Jim from being messy.  With that being said, welcome to our home!


Front Door wreath, the beginning of a lot of Giants paraphernalia!

Apartment door

Dining room chandelier, the balls are uneven but I don't care!
Dining room table
Dining room corner, Jim loves his skulls!
Coffee table with the new nativity, and the love seat.

Close up of Santa.  He's so old but he still dances, I love him!

The nativity my parents bought for us.  It's so cute!  I'm so excited, I've wanted one for a while
The side table
Entertainment center and our tree (please excuse all the wires!)
The tree!  I love that our topper is a Rutgers Santa hat!  Can you see all of the Giants/Mets ornaments?
Close ups, love the little present tree
C is for Christmas, Cookie, and COOK
The Christmas village.  I need to put something on top and I can't decide what, suggestions?
The kitchen is even taken over (please excuse the table, it's old and stained!)
Close up of the salt and pepper kissers!  I love them!  My nonnie bought them for me last year and I forgot until I started unpacking everything, they were such a great surprise!

Well that's it for the Christmas tour!  The only none Christmas decorating is in the bathroom and our 2 bedrooms, so I spared you any pictures of that.  Thanks for coming along and joining in the Christmas spirit!

Also I'd like to note how ironic it is that we don't plan to do Santa for our kids and yet I'm obsessed with Santa.  Not including ornaments there are 7 Santa's scattered around my house right now.  Our kids will definitely know about the fairy tale of Santa, just like they'll know about Rudolph and Frosty, but they won't believe he's real, they won't demand presents, and they won't loss any of the fun or magic that is Christmas.

Friday, December 6, 2013

High Five for Friday (Vol. 13)

Linking up with the lovely, Lauren for this weeks


Can I just say this was a very good week?  It was also a bit rough because of work stress, but lets focus on the good!

1. Meeting up with old friends!  I was lucky and got out of work early on Tuesday.  This left me time for a dinner date instead of a coffee date with my oldest friend, Michelle.  I will never forget how we met- we were 13, it was the 1st week of 8th grade and I was new to school (we had just moved from Ohio to NJ.)  We were on the bus ride home, she popped her head up and said "you're new here!"  I said "yes" and she squealed "great!  I'm Michelle, we'll be friends and I'll show you around."  She's been showing me around ever since.  She was the maid of honor in our wedding and although we don't see each other often, I feel like no time has passed when we finally get together again.  Sadly, Jim had fallen while I was out and thought he would need to go to the hospital, so I only got dinner and then had to leave, but I loved getting to see her, hear about her engagement, and all her wedding plans, and I can't wait to see her again in January!

2. SUSHI!  Michelle and I went for sushi, which I've sampled before but never really eaten on it's own!  OMG I love sushi!  I had a Boston and a Philadelphia roll, and I could not have been happier.  We also had miso soup, which tasty a bit like Bacon (odd since it had tofu in it,) I guess it was because it was so salty.  Needless to say, I'll definitely be having sushi again!

3. The holidays are here and my apartment could not be cheerier (is that actually a word?)  I'll be posting all the final pictures of our decorating extravaganza this weekend!

4.  The holidays being here means Christmas movies!  I've already watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation a couple of times and can't wait to watch Elf, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, etc...

5. Chocolate!  Sales reps are starting to get presents from their doctors and lets face it no one needs that much chocolate, so they're sharing with us!!!  We were given this box of Godiva on Thursday morning and it was gone by lunch.  So stinking delicious!


Hope you all had a fantastic week and are feeling the holiday spirit as much as I am! 

Are you planning to decorate? Or have you already decorated?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's beginning...

To look a lot like Christmas!

We started decorating last night!  I have been holding off since learning we lost the baby.  Originally, I thought this would be a great way to drown my sorrows, but then I was afraid I would look around and just be sad that I wasn't decorating and getting ready to tell my family a baby was on the way.  So I held off.  But it's been a few weeks, Thanksgiving is over, and it's time! 

The tree is up. 
The lights are strung, but there are no ornaments yet.
The Christmas village has replaced the pictures on our entertainment center, but it still feels like something is missing!
The nativity is on the coffee table.
There are santa's everywhere!  (How is it that I love him so much but I'm actually considering raising my kids without Santa?  Does that make me a bad mom?  I'll save that for another post!)

We'll work on it again tonight after work but for now I'll leave you with this:


A taste of the Santa explosion! They're all over the living room, in the hallway, on the tree, even in the kitchen!  I'll add more pictures once everything is in it's place.

Happy holidays!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tribute to Grandpa

As I mentioned on Thursday, my family did a ceremonial unveiling of my Grandfather's headstone on Friday.  This is a Jewish tradition that I've never experienced before but I was glad and proud to be a part of it.

My grandfather passed away on Thursday November 1, 2012 right in the middle of the Hurricane Sandy disaster.  I'll never forget escaping NJ to my parents house in PA for some electric- hot water and heat were much needed.  We woke up on Thursday morning and I could hear my aunt in the living room, she wasn't there when I went to sleep, immediately I knew Grandpa was gone.  He had been battling heart issues for years and I had been bracing myself for this moment since I was about 15, but nothing will ever prepare you for the first time you lose a grandparent.  I've never hugged my dad so hard, what must it be like to lose a parent?  I don't want to know!  It began a whirlwind of events including trying to find clothes to wear for the funeral, driving to CT, battling to get hotel rooms as everyone was fleeing their homes and also trying to find places with generators so they could be warm and take showers. 

It was sad to bury him.  He was small and quiet and I really don't remember much about him.  My parents kept me away from that side of the family because there was always a battle over me not being raised Jewish, but I do remember being more comfortable around him than I was around my grandmother and I truly wish he was still here.  He was buried in a traditional Jewish ceremony that Sunday morning, since he couldn't be buried during the Sabbath (Friday night into Saturday) and by the next Thursday we were all back to work or school and living our lives again. 

The tradition is that you do not visit the grave or place a headstone on the tomb for a year.  In a year you come back, have a ceremony, and unveil the grave, which is what we did on Friday the 29th. 

Here is an excerpt from the speech my Uncle Phillip made at the opening of the ceremony, I think it helps explain the process pretty nicely:

We gather together to formally dedicate this marker or monument or tomb stone to the
memory of Grandpa Milt.
“Unveiling” is the name for the ceremonial “unveiling of” or dedication of, the
headstone at the grave of a loved one. The dedication has its origins in the Biblical story
of the patriarch Jacob, who erected a memorial pillar for his wife Rachel following her
death, as related in Genesis 35:19-20: “So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way
to Efrat (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of
Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day.”
As the passage suggests, the chief purpose of dedicating a headstone is to mark the
final resting place of a loved one to honor his or her life and to serve as a focal point
for people’s memories for years and generations to come. This marker represents
our conviction that the life of a person does not evaporate when the body dies.
Some significant part of the person lives on among family, friends and community.
Accordingly, remembering and honoring Grandpa is the main purpose of this unveiling
ceremony.
While there is rigidity in some things done in the Jewish faith, it is not the case with
an unveiling. Other than not taking place on the Sabbath, there are no other rules for
scheduling. This enables it to be done when most people are available, it just makes
sense. The ceremony consists mainly of some psalms or poems, the memorial prayer
known by its first couple of words in Hebrew – El moleh rachamim or “Oh G-d, full of
mercy” and the Kaddish said by people who mourn.

After his speech, my cousin Melanie and I recited Psalm 121, she read it in Hebrew and I read it in English.  Then we listened to a song by Charlie Spivek, apparently Grandpa loved him, and my Uncle and dad shared some memories before closing the ceremony with the Kaddish and then placing rocks on the grave stone.

Things I learned about Grandpa:
    He was a hustler- he sold balloons and popcorn at street fairs and made my dad and uncle help
    He loved Jazz, especially Charlie Spivek
    He loved baseball and used to empire games because he was too small to play
    He was wounded in WWII, received a purple heart, served under and was a great admirer or Gl Patton
    He literally hid money all around the house
    He liked horse racing, playing poker, and smoking cigars in the part
    He refered to my aunt, uncle, and dad as the triplets, even though they were years apart in age
    He was a member of the Tribe of Levi, how they know that I have no idea, but it's pretty darn cool!

I wish I had a chance to ask him about the war, to know more about this man that always seemed so distant to me but clearly had quite a bond with my cousins.  It's sad but I c an't change it so I just have to be happy for what I do know about him and pray that I'll meet him again.

Here are some pictures to remember Grandpa with:

Grandkids with the grandparents at Michael's Bar Mitzvah, September 2009
First row:  Grandma, Alissa, Grandpa
Second row:  Me, Michael, Samuel, Melanie

Grandparents with their kids, also at Mike's Bar Mitzvah
Uncle Phillip, Aunt Reyna, and my dad

Grandpa's grave after the unveiling, it was wrapped in gauze, which I kept, not sure why

Grandpa was a good man, and a hard worker.  He worked so hard and never enjoy anything that he had earned.  My dad cried when he spoke about that, which made me cry, he said we should all learn a lesson from that.  Life is short.  It's important to work hard but not so hard that we forget to enjoy.  I hope you can all take that lesson to heart and balance work with life, otherwise it's gone in a flash and you can't get it back.  Rest in peace, grandpa, you are greatly missed.

Friday, November 29, 2013

High Five for Friday (Vol. 12)

Good morning and happy BLACK Friday everyone!

I'm linking up with the lovely Lauren as I do every Friday!

This week has been cray cray in the best of ways, here's what I'm most excited about:

1. Thanksgiving!  I got to spend the day at my Nonnie and Poppie's house (maternal grandparents) with almost all of my cousins, as well as my aunt and uncles.  We ate and joked, it was great.  There are few things that feel as good as being in that house with those people!  It's the only home I've never lived in that will always be considered home.

2. We also spent time with my dad's side of the family.  They have a tradition of spending the holiday at Maplewoods (the home where my grandmother lives, she has Alzheimer's,) then going out for Chinese and wrapping up the day with an intense round of Pictionary.  Jim and I played with them this year in our hotel lobby.  It was INTENSE and awesome!  I loved it!  I hope to play again next year!

3.  It's also Hanukkah!  While I'm Christian/Catholic, my dad is Jewish, as is all of his family.  So it was fun to enjoy some yummy cookies that my aunt made as well as Latkes!  OMG LATKES!  I love them so much!


4. Today we're unveiling my grandfather's grave.  That's not really something to be excited about but I am because I'm not familiar with my family's culture in this respect so I'm looking forward to learning and remembering grandpa.  It should be interesting to say the least.  Plus he was in so much pain that while I'm sad he's no longer with us, I'm happy he's in a better place.

5. It's finally an acceptable time to put up Christmas decorations!  I'm hoping to have everything up this weekend!  But honestly, I've been a bit lazy lately, so we'll see how that goes.

Hope you all had a fantastic holiday!

Did anyone brave the black Friday sales?  I did not!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey day!

Just a quick post to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving! We're heading up to Connecticut and I can't be more excited. We'll have lunch/dinner at my nonnie and poppie's house (moms side of the family) and everyone will be there. Then we're heading to our hotel to hang out with my dads side of the family. My grandfather passed away just over a year ago and we're unveiling his tomb tomorrow. Honestly, I have no idea why this is a tradition since I wasn't raised Jewish but I plan on getting all the details from my amazing cousins and sharing with you all.
What are you doing for the holiday?
Hope you all have an incredible day with your friends and family!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Leftovers Casserole!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share this recipe with you!  It's quick, it's easy, and it's great for leftovers.  I used all fresh ingredients for these pictures, but I assure you I'll be making it again this weekend with leftovers.  Enjoy!

What you'll need:
~Chicken cut in chunks/ shredded left over turkey
~Corn
~Carrots
~Peeled and cut potatoes, also great with mashed potatoes
~Gravy

How to do it:

1. Cook the chicken or turkey, if it's not already cooked!
2. Fill casserole dish with veggies and potatoes

3. Add in chicken/turkey
4. Pour gravy over top and blend all ingredients


5. Bake for 30 minutes on 350, it's basically just warming everything up.  If you really want to put it over the top cover in shredded cheese!  I love it but Jim hates gooey cheese (I don't know what's wrong with him!)

Enjoy!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend Round Up!

This weekend was fantastic.  It was exactly what I needed to get out of my funk. 

Friday night we went to our weekly poker game and just had fun hanging out with some great people.  Then we headed out to PA to see my parents.

Saturday morning my mom and I went to have pedicures!  I wish I had taken a picture, but I forgot (fail!)  We also got our eyebrows waxed (I haven't done that in months and they looked horrible!)  Then we had lucnh with Jim and my dad, then we went to have my hair done.  I got it treated and colored back to my natural cut with a little trim.  I could not be happier!  I was blondish, redish, all over the place for a while.  Now I'm a true brunette and I feel like me again, but a better version of me.  That is a fabulous feeling!

Before!
You can actually see where my hair had grown out and the blond was at the bottom.
Unintended Ombre is my only excuse! 

After!
All one color.  Healthy and shinny, and still long!
Check out those brows, they look so much better!

My mom also surprised me with new shoes!  Glorious, beautiful, much needed new shoes.  Oh how I love DSW!  They were all on sale!




Saturday night we went out with our friends to see a cover band.  The bar we went to was gorgeous and chill, the music was great, and there was a high school 30th reunion going on who let us have some of their food.  I've never had a cheesesteak egg roll before, but they're amazing and I must find a recipe to share with y'all.

Sunday we slept late, treated ourselves to Red Robin thanks to a gift card my aunt gave Jim for his birthday, then headed home.  Jim's car had died on Friday so we had to get a battery for him, luckily Advanced Auto helped us out with that.  Once we were home, I literally put away all our laundry, crawled into bed and didn't get out again until Monday morning.  I watched random TV shows and a few movies, and just chilled.  Ahhhhhh the best kind of Sunday.

All in all it was a successful weekend and I really have my parents to thank for it.  Although I didn't grow up in the house they live in now, they make it feel like home, and there really is no place like home!

How was your weekend?

Friday, November 22, 2013

High Five for Friday (Vol.11)

Linking up with Lauren for H54F!


First, I must say, I have severely neglected this blog!  My heart just hasn't be in it!  I hope that will be changing in the coming days and weeks, as I'm finally starting to feel like myself again.  So let's get to some high 5-ing!

1. When your husband is a better babysitter than you, it truly melts your heart!  I received this picture while I was working on Tuesday night, Jim had no problems taking care of Collin for the hour or so that we had him before I got to D&L's house.  When I got there, he woke up saw me and freaked out!  He only wanted his uncle Jim, they watched the Knicks together.  Adorable factor through the roof!


2. As I mentioned before, I'm finally starting to feel like myself again.  I'm still sad that we lost our baby Blast and that I'll never know if it would have been a boy or girl, never got to have a fun announcement to my extended family.  But I'm still holding out hope that those days are coming and for right now I'm just focusing on doing the best I can at work, and enjoying the upcoming holidays.

3. We're actually going to PA this weekend.  I can't wait to see our good friends, see my parents, and get to relax a little.

4.  There were more layoffs at work this week, this time all involving sales reps.  While I'm sad to see them go, I'm enjoying seeing the supplies that they're sending back.  Particularly this little stress ball gem, if you can't tell, it's an intestine (I've spared you the side with the anus on it!)  Seriously, who thought this would be good for advertising?


5.  Today is my parents 34th wedding anniversary!  Sadly I don't have a picture from their wedding but I do have one from mine!


Hope you're all having a fantastic week and have a fabulous weekend!

Friday, November 15, 2013

High 5 for Friday (Vol. 10)

Linking up with Lauren, as always!

Its been another long week and I've neglected the blog, I'll try to make up for that this weekend. But in the mean time let's do some high 5ing!

1 & 2. We had our WTF appt on Tuesday. This is 1 & 2 BC 1 they got us in 2 days early and 2 I actually feel a lot better. I feel like err have some explanations, got apologies that I needed, and direction. I'll explain more in another post.

3. 2 friends found out they were pregnant. This is the best news! In this community, the next best thing to getting your own bfp is a fellow struggler getting theirs! One girl had been trying for 8 years, the other just suffered her 6th failed iui and wasn't even trying. God performs miracles everyday and these ladies got to experience that first hand. I could not be more excited for them!

4. Long conversations with my mom. I love my mom, don't we all love our moms? But sometimes I need my distance. This was not one of those weeks. On Tuesday night we spent nearly 2 hours on the phone. It feels so good to have long reconnecting, random conversations like that. Its good for the soul.

5. I'm down right sick right now and I actually had the balls to stay home. Why is this high 5 worthy? Dude, I had a miscarriage last week and still went to work and just dealt with it. It was about time that I realize, I need a break, stay home, and do absolutely nothing (besides watch 24, which is finally interesting to me!) I'm still sick but at least I got a break, sometimes that's the best medicine.
That's my week in a nut shell. Hope you all had great weeks and have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bacon!!

Sunday morning breakfast has become a tradition in the Cook household.  I like to make pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon!  I have found a way to make bacon that is crispy, not greasy, and just down right delicious! 

What you'll need:

Bacon
Baking Sheet
Cooling Wrack
Paper towels
Salt/Pepper OR Brown Sugar/Cayenne Pepper

How to do it:
  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Cover your baking sheet with tin foil, it makes for much easier clean up!

  • Place the wrack on the baking sheet and lay the bacon out across it  The wrack lets the fat drip off the bacon instead of it laying in fat and eating up grease!


  • Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and pepper, if you want to be adventurous use some brown sugar and cayenne pepper instead.  The sugar vs spicy combo is mind blowing!
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes, the longer you leave it in the crispier the bacon will be, but make sure to watch it so that it doesn't burn. (Here's what it looks like when it comes out)

  • When you take it out of the oven and take it off the wrack immediately place it on a plate that is covered in paper towel and blot it with another piece.  Get as much of that awful grease off of it as you possibly can! (See how wet the paper towel looks?)
There you have it, you're finished!  Get to enjoy your less greasy, more crispy grub my friends!  Oh and be grateful that you put down that tin foil because it really does make this a lot easier to clean up!



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dirt Dessert!

Trying to keep my mind off of my beta test tomorrow so I thought I'd share with a recipe that I actually made on Thursday for Halloween but can be made appropriate for almost any time of year.... Dirt Dessert!  Sounds yummy, no?  Well, it is!  This is a easy and great dessert, especially for kids!  Have fun with it!

Here's what you'll need:

Chocolate Instant Pudding Pack
Milk (according to the pudding pack)
Cool Whip or the store brand, like I used!
Oreo's or the store brand, like I used!
Gummy worms, I bought sour since it's Halloween, I wanted a kick!
Plastic Cups for serving, plant pots are also useful, but that's not what I showed today!

How to do it:

  • Make pudding according to instructions, mine required being whipped with 3 cups of milk for 2 minutes, then letting it stand for about 5 minutes to set.  I put mine in the fridge while it was setting up.
  • Blend in with cool whip.  I don't have an amount because I do it to taste.  Also if you need to make more and don't have a lot of pudding, add more cool whip, it'll still be yummy just not as dark.  A lot of people also put sour cream in theirs, but I feel that makes it too tart.  Plus I use sour gummy bears and wanted to keep the dirt as sweet as possible.

  • Place 15 cookies in a plastic bag and have fun getting to smashing them.  You'll need more than 10 cookies for the entire recipe, I'd say a whole pack in total, but I like to do this by hand instead of with a processor so it's better to stick with small batches. Note:  If you use a mallet like I did, use the flat side, not the sharp side that's shown in this picture.  You will break open the bag and create a mess! 
  • Mix the broken cookies in with the pudding/cool whip mixture.

  • Using an ice cream scoop put 2 scoop fulls of the mixture into each plastic cup then drop in a worm for a fun surprise!

  • Crush some more cookies and sprinkle on top of the pudding, then add 1 more scoop of the mixture on top.  I like to add warms to the top and make it look like they're crawling out. 



Because of the cup size I chose, this only yielded about 10 cups of dirt, but you can use smaller cups.  You can also get adventurous and use a plant pot, like I has mentioned earlier.  When I was younger my mom would make this, and do several layers of alternating pudding and cookie/worms, then cover the top with crumbling cookies and place a full fake flowers for decoration.  It looked fantastic and the worms were even more of a surprise.

Just have fun with it and enjoy!

Friday, November 1, 2013

High 5 For Friday (Vol. 8)

Linking up with Lauren!


Not gonna lie, it's been a rough week.  I'm exhausted.  I'm hormonal.  I hate my new work hours and I'm really worried about how things are going at work with the new company coming in.  On top of all that, I took a pregnancy test yesterday and got a BFN (Big Fat Negative.)  I'm praying it was just too early, and apparently I used the wrong test.  Note to all my fellow ttc'ers- don't use Clear Blue digital tests that are supposed to tell you how many weeks you are, they're not strong enough to detect a super early pregnancy.  I've also stumbled across a chart that helps explain what happens each day after an embryo transfer (I'll be posting that soon) which makes it clear that a home pregnancy test wouldn't detect a positive until tomorrow at the earliest.  So after wanting to curl up and die yesterday morning, then being talked off the ledge by some fantastic women in my life I'm finding it really hard to find 5 "high" points to high 5 about.  However, I do have 5 things that I'm very grateful for, so that will be the focus of this weeks post.

5 things that I'm grateful for, especially this week.

1. Family/Friends.  I am a firm believer that not only will family get you through life, but friends how have become family.  These are the people who know you inside and out.  They know your weaknesses but they love you anyway.  They're the people who know you're struggling and call just to make sure you're ok.  I am unbelievably blessed to have a few of these people in my life, as well as family who have become friends, and I wouldn't be able to make it through without them.  

2. New Friends.  Especially those who are going through the same struggles as I am.  I'm very lucky to have met some wonderful women through this blog and through facebook, who just understand, because they've been there or they're going through it.  There is nothing better than someone you just met being able to say exactly the right thing to you.  It's a beautiful thing when you find kindred spirits.

3. Warm comfy clothes.  I have been so bloated lately, thanks to medication and hopefully a blast that is growing inside of me.  Going to work and wearing jeans is just not something I want to do right now.  Being able to go home and curl up in sweats literally feels like heaven.

4. A helpful husband.  I'm not gonna lie, there are a lot of things that Jim does not help with and it is very frustrating.  But with this new schedule having me work til 7 or 8 pm every night, it is so wonderful that he will cook.  Granted, I usually set it up in the morning, leave it in the fridge and ask him to toss it in the oven, but he still has to make the sides.  The icing on the cake is that he's been waiting to make dinner so that it's still warm when I get home.  It really is the little things that can make me smile.

5.  Just the right song.  For me, my "favorite" song changes almost as quickly as the wind does, but every once in a while I stumble upon just the right song.  That one song that takes me away from all of it for 3-4 minutes.  The song I feel connected to, the song that makes me happy, the song I can sing along with and not care who sees or hears.  Right now, that song is "I believe" by Third Day.  I can't get the youtube video to connect, but hopefully the link works for you.  Also, here is a link to the lyrics.  I strongly recommend that you have a listen or at least read the words.  It's just the right song for what I need to hear right now.

There you have it, the 5 things that I am most grateful for this week.  Thank you so much for getting me through the tough days, the hard times, and all the crap that feels like it's piled up around me right now.