Andes Crème de Menthe Cookie Bars

Things are looking up around here!

I had my doctor appointment yesterday & good news: nothing but a flare! All of the results from the tests they ran just showed a ‘normal’ flare, no infection or parasites. (<—Gross, but one thing they tested for)

The other good news is that my new medication is really kicking in! This past week I have felt like my old self (*knock on wood*) & only continue to feel better. Thank you all again for all of the kind comments, emails & thoughts and prayers my way. MUCH MUCH appreciated! ❤

Anyways, remember that new wine I showed you on Tuesday? Apothic Rose.

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Verdict? Not a fan. I was bummed. It was too sweet for me and had a weird after taste.

But, I’m not one to waste wine.

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So I finished my small glass & that was enough for me. I’ll have to find someone that enjoys it. (& No, Mom, this wouldn’t be sweet enough for you…even though it is extremely sweet. I know how you like your sugar water wine. 😉 )

While I was drinking my wine,  I decided to bake. I have three ways that I like to unwind or de-stress: Running (or any form of working out), Drinking wine & Baking. So after the crazy day on Tuesday I was ALL about finding something good to bake. I also wanted to surprise Craig with a treat when he got home from his trip.

I had some chocolate mint baking chips and thought about making cookies with them, but I didn’t feel like having to make a bunch of batches of them. So instead I decided to make cookie bars!

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Andes Crème de Menthe Cookie Bars
(recipe adapted from here)

Yield: Approximately 20 bars (depending on your cut size 🙂 )

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
– 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
– 1/2 cup white sugar
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 2 tsp. vanilla extract
– 2 eggs
– 1 package (10 oz.) Andes Crème de Menthe baking chips
– 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and set aside.
2. In a large bowl beat butter, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extra & eggs until mixed.
3. Stir in baking chips and then flour. Mix well, until combined.
3. Pour cookie dough into the 9 x 13 inch pan. The dough may be kind of thick, I just sprayed a fork with cooking spray & spread the dough out in the pan so that it was even throughout.

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4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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Craig is a HUGE mint chocolate chip fan and these were right up his alley! As soon as he walked in the door he ate three bars. He loved them! I had a bite of one (mint chocolate isn’t really my thing), and I really liked them too. I really like baking with brown sugar, I think it adds such a good flavor over regular white sugar. Just gives it a boost, if ya know what I mean. 😉

I sent the rest of the bars in with Craig to work and he said they were gone almost immediately! I would say this recipe is a WIN! 😀

Well, I’m off, I have some reading to do for my first Bible study meet up! A group of ladies and I are starting this new study (based on the book ‘Tune In’) and we are meeting every Thursday morning. The kids will be upstairs with babysitters & the Moms will be downstairs discussing the book. I . CANNOT. WAIT!

Enjoy your Thursday!!

Questions for ya:
– Are you a mint chocolate lover? Favorite mint chocolate chip food?
– Are you reading any books right now??

Perfect Ending

Despite this past week being as crazy as it was, this weekend was by far one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.

Yes, I am still having issues with my Crohn’s, but I think I can finally say that the new medicine may be kicking in. I don’t want to jump ahead too much, I am thinking positive though. It really is amazing how much positive thinking helps.

Also I cannot say THANK YOU enough for each and every one of your kind words, emails, and comments. Every time I checked my email & saw that I had a new comment, I would read it & it would just make me smile. Most of you I have not even met in person, and yet you still have the nicest, most uplifting things to say. For that I truly cannot thank you enough!

This weekend was time spent as a family. Our little family of three.

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Saturday I actually did quite a bit of cleaning and clearing out my closet. I took a bunch of clothes to Plato’s closet and made some money, always nice to sell more than you were expecting!

After that Craig & I played with her and she is REALLY into hearing her little voice. She will just sit and screech for HOURS. It is hilarious!! Then I will do it back to her & she laughs and does it some more.

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^that would be her mid screech 😉

Absolutely LOVING this age!! She’s becoming more & more aware of her surroundings and really soaking it all in. She is already trying to pull herself up on EVERYTHING. The more & more I look around our house the more ‘hazards’ I see when she starts walking. I think we may have a couple of more months before that, but never to early to baby proof, right? 🙂

Saturday afternoon I actually felt up to going for a run, I wasn’t able to run on Friday (due to the Crohn’s flare up) and REALLY missed it. So the minute I felt like going, I knew I should. I put Gabriella in the BOB stroller and we were off!

It felt SO good to get out and run and NOT have to have any bathroom stops along the way. (Sorry if that was a bit too much information.) Gabriella enjoyed her time too, girl LOVES to be outside. She got her Momma’s love of nature and outdoors! Once we got back, we spent even more time outside- I set her her baby pool and she played for a good hour in there.

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I thought Saturday was great, but then there was yesterday…which was darn near perfect! G woke up at her normal 6:30am wake up call, so after getting dressed and getting her ready, we were out the door for our normal Sunday morning Starbucks run. The baristas love seeing her each week, she made some friends. 🙂

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Once Craig woke up and Gabriella had her morning nap I suggested we go to the farmer’s market on Lake Eola, in downtown Orlando. I really wanted / needed to get out of the house. I couldn’t really go anywhere last week, because of the stomach issues, and I was just feeling a little stir crazy.

My parents were actually going to come down & visit us, but I asked that we postpone the trip, only because I really was not sure if I would be able to enjoy the company. (only because I wasn’t sure if I would be in the bathroom the whole time) Thankfully they understood, and I’m looking forward to seeing them soon.

I figured we would give the farmer’s market a try, and it was right near my office, so I knew exactly where EVERY bathroom was, just in case I needed to make a run for it.

Side note: One of the perks of having Crohn’s disease is that you know where each & every bathroom is at all of the places that you go to – restaurants, grocery stores, departments stores, etc. 😉

I’m so glad we went because we ALL really enjoyed ourselves. Gabriella loved looking at all of the people there, and she had her first encounter with a duck!

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She also got to play with a new toy at the park.

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And we had to get a few Daddy & Mommy pictures in front of the lake too, of course! 🙂

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Girlfriend was MUCH more interested in the swans & ducks than taking pictures, can’t say that I blame her, she pretty much always has the camera in her face. 😉

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I also was able to pick up some homemade Kombucha at the farmer’s market, which made me think of Lindsay :), in hopes that it may also help my stomach. Fingers crossed!

Once we left, we headed home & took Gabriella out to the big pool for a while before nap time. We finished up watching the Orioles win the series against the Tigers! WOOHOO!

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Couldn’t think of a better Sunday! (well, unless the Ravens were playing too 😉 )

I’m so thankful that after such a stressful, rough week that our weekend ended up PERFECT. I’m so thankful for my husband & daughter. They really do know how to cheer this Momma right up!

Do you ever go to your local Farmer’s market?
Favorite part of your weekend? Anyone out there run any races? I know two very special ladies that ran AWESOME races & WON!

& It Continues…

I HATE this disease. Absolutely HATE it.

Not only does it interfere with my life, but now it’s interfering with Gabriella’s life. I feel like it is taking me away from being the best Mom I can be.

I thought things were looking up there for a minute, and then today happened. It has been AWFUL to say the least.

I down MORE weight. At this point it’s scary. With past eating issues, I would have been like ‘oh yay! I’m down even more weight.’ Not now. Not at this point in the disease. It keeps going down down down. It. Is. Scary.

The other thing is that it is HARD to eat, and now I need to eat even more to get in the calories. But the LAST thing a person dealing with a flare up wants to do is eat. About five minutes after you eat anything (I mean ANYTHING) you are in the bathroom. And in pain. So in the back of your mind, it’s like WHY am I even eating if it’s just going straight through me AND leaving me in pain?! But of course you have to eat, ESPECIALLY during a flare, it’s just HARD. Really hard. I have been drinking protein shakes, but the protein is causing stomach pain, so I may have to switch to something else, like Ensure or Boost. (They just don’t have a lot of protein, which is key, but hey they are additional calories.)

I’m not going to describe what happened this morning, but it was NOT pretty. It just VERY clearly made me remember HOW bad a flare is…and that I probably should NOT leave the house. AT ALL. Thankfully I have Craig, who was able to run a few errands that I had to get done. (like dropping off things for the tests I am having done to find out if it is more than a flare- like a possible infection)

Anyways, I’m sorry, yet another vent about this da*n disease. I just needed to get it out. I feel bad for always telling Craig about it, but to be quite honest I don’t think many people really want to hear all of the details because well…the disease is disgusting & embarrassing.

I’m just happy I have this girl to make me smile:
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She Makes Me Laugh & NEW Workout!

Good Morning & Happy Friday to you!!

Thank you all SO very much for all of the comments about my Crohn’s disease dilemma. I am looking into a few of the books recommended to me, and for now I am just taking it day by day. I started my new medication on Wednesday morning…6 horse pills.

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Yesterday I started actually feeling a bit better, still a LOT of trips to the bathroom, but not as many as Wednesday. So a little progress, I hope that it continues. The weird thing, well, I don’t know if it’s all that ‘weird’ but my Crohn’s is EXTRA bad at night. I mean I barely sleep at night. I may go 45 minutes, if I’m lucky, and then I’m in the bathroom (or up with Gabriella for a feeding). That part kind of sucks. Another hard part is that I’m trying to stay away from coffee because it irritates my stomach even more. Yesterday though I did have to have a bit in the morning, I just NEEDED it! 🙂

Another good thing was that I was able to run and not have to stop for a bathroom break- WOOHOO! So I’m crossing my fingers & toes that it continues to get better & that yesterday wasn’t just a fluke.

Enough Crohn’s talk for now. I have to tell you something funny about Gabriella. Well, you all know that she won’t take a bottle, that’s old news. BUT this girl will take ANYTHING else that’s not a bottle. I mean look at this:

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Girlfriend takes my cup from my hand & then proceeds to drink straight from the mouth piece. I just have to help her hold it & tilt it up for her, but she drinks it like a pro. She makes me laugh! As much as we tried & tried with the bottle, she refused, but give her a sippy cup or just a regular cup & she’s ALL about it! I think part of it is seeing me drink from it & she is very much into the ‘copy cat’ routine right now. Monkey see, monkey do. 😉

Now as for that promised workout, I have it for you below! I did this on Monday & I was sore for THREE days after it- my hamstrings & tush were on fire! So don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉 Oh, and I did use heavy weight for all of the exercises- which is part of the long term soreness…but so worth it!

Full Body Workout, With Emphasis on Glute (Butt) Muscles

1. Single Leg Squat (Using Smith Machine): 4 x 12 (each leg)
2. Dumbbell Bicep Curl: 4 x 10 (each- & heavy)

3. Single Leg Step Up with Knee Drive holding Dumbbells (Just like a step up, but at the top push your knee in the air) Here’s an example, but don’t go that high with your knee, just 90 degrees: 4 x 12 (each)
4. Incline Bench Sit ups holding plate : 4 x 15

5. Alternating Jump Lunges : 4 x 20 (each leg)
6. Tricep Dips : 4 x 15

7. Bulgarian Lunge holding dumbbells (or a plate) : 3 x 12 (each leg)
8. Lat Pulldown: 3 x 12-15

9. Box Squat (or use a bench):
10. Calf Raises on Machine: 3 x 20

I actually started this workout with a 20 minute HIIT run (30 seconds at 9.5mph, 30 seconds at 6.5mph), but I would suggest either starting with some form of cardio, or ending with it. I just wanted to get it done before I started with the weights, and I’m glad I did because I was WIPED after this one.

Happy Friday!! & enjoy your weekend!

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Love, my little lizard tongued girl 😉

The Beast Is Back…

Good Morning to you!

This post is going to be a bit of a ‘Debbie downer’ type of post, and for that I apologize, but I just want to be as real as I can be with you regarding my Crohn’s disease.

I had planned on writing this a few weeks ago, right when Gabriella turned 6 months old, but I kept putting it off and it’s kind of ironic that I did because boy did it change in a matter of a couple of weeks.

I was living the life before this past week. It was almost like I didn’t have the disease. I had a few rough days here & there, mainly with the urgency to go to the bathroom immediately, but nothing too crazy.

Before I got pregnant with Gabriella I couldn’t remember the last time that I was able to run outside. I always ran on the treadmill so that I was near a bathroom at all times.

Then I got pregnant & life changed. My Crohn’s pretty much went into ‘remission.’ I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t know what it was like to live life Crohn’s free.

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I was able to run outside, eat ‘normal’ foods when I wanted & not have to know where every bathroom was within a two foot radius…well, other than the normal pregnant woman’s need to pee every five seconds. Haha!

During my pregnancy I always wondered how my Crohn’s would do once I gave birth. Would it flare up, like some women experience? Would it stay the way it has been during my pregnancy, which was pretty much remission? Or would I experience a ‘milder’ form of the disease?

November 5th, 2012 I got my answer. My little bundle of love arrived.

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The best day of my life.

I honestly was on pins & needles regarding my Crohn’s after giving birth. I really felt like at ANY second it would flare back up. But as time went on, and I didn’t have any symptoms (other than a few here & there), I figured I may be in the clear.

Well, you know what assuming does…

Last week it took a turn for the worse. The VERY worst. One night it just hit me. I could NOT stay out of the bathroom. I was either up feeding Gabriella, or in the bathroom…ALL NIGHT LONG. It was awful. Completely draining.

I was hoping it might have been something that I ate, and that the issues would go away. Not the case. For the past week I have been in the bathroom more than I ever want to talk about.

I have been completely exhausted. My body is not absorbing ANY food. The second I eat anything, even something as plain as a piece of toast, I end up in the bathroom about five minutes after I finish. Gross.

The other thing that is worrisome is my weight. It keeps going down…it’s getting BAD. I know, you are probably thinking, ‘Cry me a freaking river Holly. You poor thing.’ But it IS a HUGE issue now. I lost three pounds in two days. I look like I need to eat. It’s NOT the look I’m going for.

This is me (& Lea 🙂 ) right before I got pregnant:

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I actually liked my weight at the point in life….which for me had NEVER happened before. I always had issues with body image (I thought stick thin was the way to go), so to actually be content with my weight was a shock.

Now I am smaller than the picture above, which was ok, but now I am quite a bit smaller. Seeing bones is never attractive. This is not by choice, but just because my body isn’t absorbing any nutrients…or any food at all.

The other thing is the exhaustion. Never have I ever really ‘needed’ help with Gabriella since she has been born. Of course I appreciate any help, but right now I am almost to where I NEED the help. Another reason I wish we had family close by. Taking care of a 6.5 month old while being in the bathroom half of the day is not ideal.

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I feel bad for G. I don’t want her to feel like I’m not paying her enough attention.

Another thing is the running. I LOVE running. It is my sanity, and MY time. Yes I go with Gabriella daily, but she plays with toys in the BOB while I run & typically takes her morning nap in the stroller. It gives us a chance to get out of the house, and I am able to get my exercise in. I usually run anywhere between 6 & 10 miles each day. But yesterday I ran three miles & thought I was going to die. I couldn’t believe how DONE I felt when I finished. I felt like I just ran a marathon. Then it hit me ‘DUH!!! You have no fuel in your body to get you through your run. HELLO!’

It’s amazing how much better you feel with some food in your body! And it was scary after that run, to see how much my body was suffering from the symptoms from my Crohn’s.

Once I got home, I called the doctor to see if they had any appointments available. Thankfully they were able to squeeze me in for an ‘emergency appointment’ yesterday afternoon, specifically for patients dealing with a sudden flare up. Like any other doctor appointment, the first thing they do is weigh you & take your blood pressure. Well, the FIRST thing the doctor says when he walks in is ‘You can’t lose anymore weight.’ Which I knew. So we made a plan.

Since I am breastfeeding, my options on the medications that I can take are limited. But he did change my medication from Delzicol to Apriso, which is another form of Mesalamine and it is safe for breastfeeding.

Next up the plan for not losing anymore weight: add protein shakes, or nutrition shakes to my diet. He said 2-3 a day. Eek! But it’s manageable and NEEDS to happen. I immediately went out and bought some shakes as soon as I left the office.

And finally they sent me to a lab to pick up some things so that they can run a bunch of tests to find out if there is some sort of another infection going on, or if it is just my Crohn’s flaring.

He also reminded me that if I am feeling exhausted, it’s probably not the best idea to go out for a long run. (I know, DUH!) He said sometimes a little rest does the body good. And obviously my body is telling me to rest with the feelings of constantly being tired.

I go for a follow up appointment in two weeks. At that appointment we can make our next plan. But we are hoping that the medication starts to work wonders.

If you don’t mind, please say a little prayer that we can find something that works to get this disease back in ‘remission.’ Also anyone want to come & help me take care of a 6.5 month old for a few days?!

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She’s REALLY cute & I promise to pay you in baked goods.

If you made it through this entire post, THANK YOU! I hope it didn’t bore you too much.

Anyone else out there experiencing issues with Crohn’s? What medication or supplements, if any, are you on? Do you have certain things that trigger your disease?