Monday, February 27, 2012


I had 18 vials of blood drawn this morning.  18.  That's a new record for me.  8 was my previous record.  It would have been 21, but I held off on one test.  Here's the story:

I have a PCOS check-up coming up, and I have to have a battery of bloodwork done before I go in.  My doctor's nurse emailed over my lab order on Friday, and I went to a local lab this morning for the fasting bloodwork.  When I handed over the 2 sheets of paper, the lady behind the desk responded with "They want all of this?  Wow.  This is for one person?" 

(Did I mention I HATE needles?)

When I was taken back to the room where the phlebotomist would enter the tests into the computer and then prep me for the draw(s), I was doing okay - not too nervous.  I figured I had done up to 8 vials before, and this couldn't be any worse than that.  The lady from behind the desk came in to hand the lab order to the phlebotomist, and explained to her, "I had to break it into 2 orders; I could only fit 34 tests on the first order, and there's 56."  SERIOUSLY?  56 tests?!?  The phlebotomist raised her eyebrows and responded with "For one person?"  Now I was starting to get worried.

She brought over a basket of tubes and laid 9 of them on the counter.  "9?" I asked, a bit relieved, "I'm beating my previous record of 8."  She turned to me with a pitying look on her face. "Honey, this whole basket is for you - 21.  You're not first place, but you'll be the second-largest draw we've had here."

It took her a long time to enter all of the tests into the computer for the label stickers, and while she did that, I was on the phone to the doctor's office.  I didn't think to question the number of tests, but they had also brought out a bottle of glucose solution for a 2-hour glucose tolerance test, and I specifically remembered being told by the nurse on Friday that I wouldn't be doing that one.  No luck - the dr's office was having phone issues, and the only person I could get through to was the operator, who offices at a different location.  She promised to take a message for the nurse, and I told the lab tech I would hold off on the glucose test (and the accompanying 3 vials/blood draws) for another day. 

The phlebotomist proceeded to draw the remaining 18 vials needed, and I managed to not pass out.  It wasn't pleasant, and I hope I never have to repeat that experience.

After grabbing some breakfast and spending most of the day trying to recover my strength, I got a call from my doctor's nurse - the same one I'd spoken to on Friday.  She insisted that the 2-hour glucose test was not on the lab orders, and I - looking right at the copy I had of the lab orders while talking to her - insisted to her that it was.  She then insisted that the 2-hour test was "not one of the 14 tests {she'd} marked" on the lab order. 

WAIT.  14?  FOURTEEN?  What happened to 56??! 

Turned out "something must have happened" to the email she'd sent.  The emailed lab order she sent me was the full list of tests possible - all 56.  What she was supposed to have sent was the list of 56 with only 14 of them marked as the ones they should test for at the lab.  I'd spot-checked the list when she first sent it, and recognized the names of some of the tests as things I knew they'd be checking (insulin, thyroid, etc.), so I assumed she'd sent the correct thing.  Nope.  She's not sure what happened, because her copy of the email didn't look correct either.

If the doctor wasn't so good, I wouldn't be sticking with this practice.  I have not been impressed with the nursing staff.

18 vials of blood, when I probably should have just been matching my previous record.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Southern Comfort Apple Pie

This was the best apple pie I've ever made.

Southern Comfort Apple Pie
adapted from the Pastry Queen cookbook

1 pie crust (bottom crust only, whatever recipe (or store-bought version) you like best)


1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c flour
1/2 c chilled butter, diced
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

-In a food processor (or mini chopper, like I have), process the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour for 1 minute.  Add the butter, and pulse until mixture is crumbly.  Stir in pecans by hand, and then refrigerate topping until ready to use.


6 large, tart apples (I used a mix of Granny Smith and Braeburn)
1/2 c butter
2 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 c sugar
3/4 c Southern Comfort liqueur
1/2 c heavy cream

-Preheat oven to 375.
-Place pie crust in deep-dish pie plate, and put pie plate on a baking sheet, in case your caramel bubbles over in the oven.  (Mine did.)  Cover a second, and maybe third, baking sheet with foil, to place your sauteed apples on in a minute.  (The foil makes for easy clean-up.)
-Peel, core, and slice your apples into 1/4-inch thick slices.
-Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  When it starts to foam, add the apples and saute for 5-7 minutes.
-In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon and sugar.  Sprinkle the mixture over the apples, stir to combine, and saute for 2-3 minutes.
-Remove apples from the skillet with a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the butter mixture in the skillet as possible.  Arrange the apples on the foil-lined baking sheets in a single layer until ready to use.  (Heaping them in a pile will make them soggy.)
-Pour the Southern Comfort into the butter mixture in the skillet.  Simmer the mixture over medium heat for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the alcohol burns off.  (If it burns your nose when you smell it at close range, keep simmering!)
-Add the cream and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes while the mixture thickens.  Return the apples to the skillet, and stir to coat.
-Pour the apple/caramel mixture into the pie crust, being sure not to fill it to more than 1/2 an inch below the top of the crust.  Sprinkle evenly with the topping.
-Bake 50-60 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is brown.
-Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Father Daughter Dance 2012

Jamie and Gisèle had a blast at our church's 15th annual Father Daughter Dance.  This was their 4th year to go, and Gisèle, especially, had been looking forward to it all year.  We had planned on taking her shopping for a new dress, but she told us she wanted to wear the flower girl dress she had from Aunt Brandi's wedding.  For weeks, she talked every day about how excited she was that the dance was almost here.  The day of the dance, I helped her get dressed, including her sparkly shoes and some lip gloss.  She loved the corsage (pink!) Jamie got for her, and I took some quick pictures before they left for dinner at Chick Fil-A.  The last picture was one snapped by a colleague at the dance as they were about to go in, after a carriage ride.  Gisèle's dance experience this year included 2 carriage rides, lots of cookies, punch, grapes, and cheese, a lot of dancing, and a very memorable evening with her Daddy.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Orange Madeleines

I made orange madeleines.  That wasn't the plan - the plan was to make lemon madeleines, but when we got the lemons home from the store, we realized that they were actually oranges.  Who knew?  Just the person who put the stickers on them that clearly said "ORANGE," I guess.  (They really did look like thin-skinned lemons, though, I swear.)

In any case, I made orange madeleines, and they were beautiful, delicate, and lovely.  The recipe was unintentionally adapted (see above re: oranges/lemons) from a recipe by Martha Stewart.

Orange Madeleines
adaped from Martha stewart
(makes 2 dozen)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering pans
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted (not self-rising)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt (I used kosher salt)
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp orange zest
2 Tbsp orange juice
powdered sugar, for dusting

-Butter 2 madeleine pans and set aside.
-Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in to a bowl, and set aside.
-Put eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, zest, and juice in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-high until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the butter.  Using a spatula, fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture.  Let rest for 30 minutes.
-While the batter is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  The batter will have thickened - use a spatula to stir it a few times to incorporate the liquid that separated out underneath.
-Spoon batter into the buttered madeleine pans.  Bake cookies, rotating pans halfway through, until edges are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes.
-Let cookies cool slightly in pans on wire racks, and then invert and unmold.  Dust with powdered sugar.
(Best eaten the day made.)

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Christmas Cookies

We had a fun, messy time making and decorating sugar cookies before Christmas.  The kids helped me make and cut out the cookies, and were more patient than I thought they'd be during the multiple chilling stages.  It was fun to make it a day-long process (mixing, chilling, rolling, chilling, cutting, chilling, baking, cooling...), because the kids got more and more excited as the day went on.  They also really enjoyed being part of every step.  The excitement really built when Jamie and I sat down at the table with them and showed them how the white icing magically changed color when we added a few drops of food coloring.  And the decorating, oh the decorating!  Gisèle was pretty precise with her cookies, and knew exactly what she wanted to do ("I'm doing a pink stocking with purple icing and red and blue sprinkles!"), but Miles was just a sprinkle monster.  He would grab a handful and, without looking, toss it in the direction of his plate.  Rarely, if ever, did any sprinkles land on a cookie.

All in all, I would say these cookies are a true masterpiece!

Starting to decorate - icing and sprinkles galore

Admiring her handiwork
Starting out well, trying to sprinkle
Some of the gorgeous finished products

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black Bean Soup

This is an oldie, but a goodie around our house.  It makes for a quick weeknight meal, and can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd.

Black Bean Soup

1 cup fresh salsa (I usually use Newman's Own, medium)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (1 can) low-sodium chicken broth

sour cream
shredded cheese
diced red onion
diced avocado
sliced black olives

-Simmer the salsa in a medium saucepan for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
-Add the beans and broth, and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
-Ladle half the soup into a blender and puree, then add back to the saucepan to heat through.
-Serve with the toppings of your choice.


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