Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:28 PM | No comments

Habitat for Humanity

I was so excited to share our baby news that I forgot to post my photos from Habitat for Humanity. I only got to volunteer for 1 day, the day after I found out I was pregnant. It was a great day though. This particular build is an all woman build. Well, we had some manly help around, but the women did 95% of the work. I helped build a wall and put in some foundation work for a porch. I highly recommend volunteering in your area.

We built the missing back wall in this photo.
Here is our new wall, about to go up!
They had two houses going at once and this one got some 2nd level flooring put in.
Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 8:56 PM | 6 comments

Extra! Extra! Read all About it!

For those who want to know our fertility story: 

Not everyone knows that Kyle and I have been trying to get pregnant for 6 years now (Well, Kyle hasn't tried to get pregnant, but you know what I mean). We have jumped through many hoops, too. Kyle was tested twice and looked great (He's so pretty). So we switched the focus to me. I had tons of blood work taken and was on progesterone for a long time. I took my temperature for years. I had endometriosis surgery. Then we did an Intrauterine insemination. Nothing was working. When we first arrived in Massachusetts, I got on thyroid medication that my new fertility doctor thought might help. After some amazingly expensive blood work that was supposed to be inexpensive, I decided to leave my fertility place, but continued the thyroid medication. My next thought was to seek out acupuncture, as every fertility place here seems to have an acupuncture partner. My web research seemed to suggest that many people had been having luck with acupuncture. I called around and spoke to a few acupuncturists. Since I was looking to improve my health overall, thinking that might improve my fertility odds, they recommended Chinese herbs. They said herbs would be more beneficial than acupuncture in my situation. So, with nothing to loose, I started seeing a Chinese Herbalist 8 weeks ago. I gave up caffeine and switched to 100% water. I see my herbalist every week and get herbs specific to where I am in my cycle. I continued to chart temperature and other body functions. We got a digital ovulation kit that tested LH (luteinizing hormone) and Estrogen too. Well, apparently that was all we needed. On May 2nd we tested positive, and that afternoon my blood work confirmed it. We are still very early in the pregnancy (only 3 weeks in). Apparently there is about a 20% chance of miscarriage through the first 8 weeks and then it should drop to about 5%. If we make it through the first trimester we should be good to go. That is our story. It was a long road, and we are so glad that we have been able to see that plus sign on our pregnancy stick.
Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 8:15 PM | No comments

Franconia Notch

On our last day of our Bed and Breakfast weekend, we drove along Kancamagus highway to Franconia Notch State Park in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The drive was beautiful, and we wish we would have been here during the fall.
After entering the park's main entrance, we pulled off into a trail head parking lot and discovered the Falling Waters Trail. From the very beginning of our hike we thought we might be in trouble as there was snow on the trail. Sure enough, the whole hike was full of snow. Eventually, we decided to go ahead and turn back. Before that decision was reached, we did get to enjoy a number of beautiful water falls.
We certainly hope that we can come back here before we leave. Of course, we keep saying that abot every place we visit.
Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 7:51 PM | No comments

Bed & Breakfast getaway

A few months ago, I found a deal on Living Social that sounded absolutely wonderful. It was a 2-night stay at Wakefield Inn in New Hampshire. During the stay we would get to take a cooking course and get some massages. On the last weekend of April, we hopped into the car and ventured a few hours north to our destination.

The Inn was nice, as was our room.  The sheets on the bed were super soft and comfy.  Even so, I didn't sleep particularly well there, but that was ok because there were other aspects that made the trip wonderful.

Some of the drive to show you the countryside.
On the first night, we were on our own for dinner, so we drove to Wolfeboro, about 25 minutes away.
drive to Wolfeboro
We walked around the town looking for a restaurant that had been recommended by our B&B owner. It had just been renovated, and we walked by it a few times as it didn't have the name outside of the building yet. We eventually found the place, and the food was really good. So if you are ever in Wolfeboro, check out Garwoods.
Town of Wolfeboro
There was a wait for dinner so we strolled around town and found a lovely park overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee (2nd place for best lake name, behind Lake Titicaca  -- according to Kyle).
Not sure if you can make out Santa's Hut there in red. St. Nick's summer home?
The next day was our big day at the Inn. We started out with a breakfast that was a little too gourmet for me, but Kyle loved the Cheddar Apple bake. Luckily, there was plenty of other food for me. After breakfast we headed out to visit the chickens and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The chickens saw us coming and came racing across the lawn to see if we had any food for them. Sadly they were out of luck.

In mid-morning we took our cooking class. I have to say that I really learned a lot, and it was a ton of fun for me. I think even Kyle enjoyed the time. We prepped some bread for dinner, made a pretty amazing carrot soup, and baked a chocolate torte. We also prepped our fish in parchment for lunch and made some polenta (really good, similar to grits, but better in my opinion).
A mother and daughter along with a young couple, Jeff and Laura, were our cooking partners.
Prepping flounder in our parchment paper.
Showing the final fold of the parchment paper. Then all you do is bake for 15 min. Easy.
You might all know these, but in case you don't, I thought I would share the top 3 tips from our class.

3. You can freeze fresh ginger. I knew this and already do it, but no one else knew it, so it seems worth passing on. I use ginger all the time, so it is a great saver.

2. When grating ginger, you don't have to peel it. I didn't know this and am really excited to save myself time moving forward.

1. We have been using our peeler incorrectly. I don't know about you guys, but I usually run my peeler down the length of, say, a carrot and then pick it up, bring it back to the top and run it back down. Don't do that. Run it down the carrot and immediately back up. Go back and forth. No need to pick up the peeler at all. To me this was the most obvious thing once I thought about it, but I found it funny that not a single person there did it that way. I have been asking friends since we got home and no one else goes back and forth either.

After class was over, we got to eat the food we prepared!

Then Kyle and I were off to our room for our massages. As usual we thoroughly enjoyed them and highly recommend that people get massages more often.

Before dinner we headed back into Wolfeboro to visit a kitchen store that our chef recommended. We also picked up some spices she highly recommended that come from this area: Victoria Gourmet.

Our dinner was prepared by the rest of the guests that were staying at the inn They made a Swiss Chard bake, some duck and lamb and a lovely dessert. We all sat a large table together enjoying each other's company.

In the morning we enjoyed one last breakfast of puff pancakes (you can get the recipe here). We had a fresh berry mixture on top. It was pretty awesome. Then we said our goodbyes to the chickens, took some photos of the enormous back window from the dinning area overlooking the back yard, and headed out.

This was the largest single pane window I have ever seen in a house.
Our weekend didn't end there, but I will write about our final day in the next entry.


Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:59 PM | No comments

Cape Cod in the Spring

The last time we visited Cape Cod was in November with Kyle's parents. Back then it was really cold and slightly windy. So, we thought it would be nice to visit when the weather was at least a little better. While it was still a little cold (enough to keep the crowds away), the weather was much better than it was in November. We still didn't get to walk around any towns along the Cape, as traffic to get there was horrible and we didn't arrive at the Cape until late in the day. However, we drove along route 6A through some of the cute little towns so that we could at least see some of the area a little better.
Short hike around the visitor center area.

Our main goal for the afternoon was to walk along the beach so we could enjoy some more ocean time before our July departure. We headed to the Great Island Trail located along the peninsula around Wellfleet Harbor. 

View Larger Map

See the snail path?

This terrain seemed so out of place.  We're right on the ocean here, but looks like an inland mountain path.  The picture is poor as the light was fading.
We walked about 8 miles in sand that day.  It was a beautiful location, and almost nobody else was there.  There was, however, also some element of sadness. During our trek we found 3 dead dolphins and 1 dead seal lion. It was heart breaking. We assume they got stranded on the beach by a storm that had just gone through the area. I sure hope to never see anything like that again.