Kelly the Culinarian: May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Why I Chose an IUD

IUD cookies, anyone?
I'm not a doctor, nurse, medical professional or phlebotomist, even. My medical knowledge starts and ends with high school biology. These are just my opinions and experiences, for all they're worth. And if you're not into periods or birth control, now would be a good time to go somewhere else on the Internet (may I suggest pursuing my dessert recipes instead?). 

I debated whether to write this post, and I very well might still delete it. Kamila recently wrote about her experiences with the pill, and after a few comments back and forth, urged me to write about my experiences. So here goes nothing.

I've had an IUD for more than a year now. I get a ton of questions about it, so I wanted to get my thoughts together on this.

About IUDs

IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are long-term birth control devices that are placed in your uterus by a doctor. There are two major brands in the U.S., Mirena and ParaGard. Mirena contains hormones and lasts for five years, whereas ParaGard is a copper-based device that's good for 10 years.

In the U.S., IUDs get a bad rap because back in the '70s, they tested them on prostitutes who had horrible reactions because the profession puts women at higher risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause permanent infertility with and IUD. As a result, they fell out of favor for a long time - domestically. In other countries, there are dozens of different types of IUDs because they never had the controversy (learn more about the Dalkon Shield debacle).

Until recently, doctors only recommended IUDs for women who have already had at least one child and are in long-term relationships.

My decision

Kids are not part of our plan anytime soon. The pill has its benefits, but it also has a lot of drawbacks. For me, remembering to take the damn thing was difficult. It was nerve-racking when I traveled to keep on schedule and it's just another thing to remember to buy, carry and consume. I tried the patch for a while, which was not for me. The hormones seemed super intense and every side effect of the pill was amplified in the patch for me.

I found an IUD attractive because it was long term and reversible. Mirena also has the distinct advantage of reducing or, in my case, eliminating periods. Like ever. #winning

The IUD surgery

The process here started with calling my OB/GYN. She actually referred me to a nurse practitioner who saw me for a consultation to see if I would be a suitable candidate.

Because I don't have kiddos, the nurse told me to call the office as soon as I got my period next because my cervix would be slightly open. That night, I took a pill to exaggerate the effect as much as possible, then went in for my little procedure the next day.

I won't lie, it hurt. A shit ton.
This is why this shit hurts: A video
The procedure was over in probably five minutes, but it was so painful that it took my breath away. I broke into a cold sweat and my vision narrowed. I had to lay there for a few minutes to get my act back together before I dressed and went home. Doctor's orders for that night were to have a glass of wine and try and relax. I also wasn't allowed to test its effectiveness for a week or else my body might expel it, which would have made all that pain for nothing.
There it is.

The side effects

I had a period for about a month, on and off, as my body adjusted. I also had little contractions for two or three days, which scared me because they hurt a lot and I was afraid my body would push it out. If it did, I'd have to pay and go through all of that twice. No bueno.

For the first few weeks, I constantly worried it would fall out and I wouldn't notice. I eventually stopped thinking about it after I saw a picture of it on an Xray and realized I'm being paranoid.

The cost

I have insurance as well as a flexible spending account provided by our employer, so this cost me nothing out of pocket. If I didn't have insurance, it would have been $2,000. Insurance covered all but $500 and the FSA paid the rest. I hear that this is covered under ObamaCare, though. For comparison's sake, the pill cost me $28 for three months, or $560 for five years. So we're not talking about a big cost savings here.

Long term side effects

  • Not getting pregnant?
  • I don't get periods. I like this, but I'm sure some people find it freaky. As a result, I don't get PMS or cramps.
  • I can occasionally feel the thing. It's weird.

My final thoughts

I love my IUD and would get it again. It was painful and slightly expensive, but it's birth control that I don't have to think about and has less of a margin of error (eliminating user error). It was actually a relief to get this done because the idea of an unplanned pregnancy freaked me out. I am nowhere near ready for kids, and I feel like getting knocked up right now would send me into a flailing panic spiral because I've already screwed up in raising a dog, and he can't even talk. It's basically bought me five years to get my act together and plan, decide and budget for the next stage in life ... whatever that may be. Until then, I'm really happy with my little family.

Questions? Leave me a comment or e-mail me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. The randomly selected winner of my BarkBox giveaway is Jill Y.! Congratulations on scoring big for the fur babies in your family. Never fear, dear readers, I have another giveaway ready to go next week. Let's just say it will bring a smile to any runner's face.

2. I've been at my new job for six months, which means I'm now eligible to work from home one day per week. It also means that our office mascot and I worked on the balcony for a bit today and I took a run at lunch without having to stink up my office for the remainder of the afternoon and was able to put my sweats back on this afternoon. This is bliss, people.

3. I went to another fabulous Yelp Elite party last night. This time, Alyssa was my plus one. I'll have to actually get a picture with her one of these times or else the Internet is going to start to think I have an imaginary friend. I promise she's real, and you should read her blog: Don't Look Down

Anyhow, the party was at Frato's Pizza in Schaumburg, which has undergone big changes in the last two years. It used to be a greasy little hot dog stand - now it has a chef on staff who whips up gourmet pizzas, pasta, burgers and wings. They even have their own signature beer, a caramel ale we all sampled. I was a big fan of the pizza crust. It was so delicious.
Join me next time: here are my tips for getting invited to Yelp parties.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

San Francisco: What We Ate

I don't have a photo of every locale for this particular post, so bear with me while I highlight a few spots and just mention a few others. I really need a new phone with a battery that lasts more than a few hours. Anyone have a gadget they recommend?

In between the wine tastings and walking, we had to get a little sustenance to keep us moving. San Francisco has every kind of food and cuisine you could ever want - crepes, Ethiopian food, Chinese food, deli sandwiches, artisan chocolate and hipster-style coffee, just to name a few.

New Delhi Restaurant: The garlic naan was great, but the chicken tandoori and chicken masala were both super tiny portions and not that flavorful. It worked for us that night and was convenient to our hotel.

La Casa Sonoma: In the heart of wine country lies a Mexican restaurant, and it is amazing. Tim and I agreed this was the best meal with had. I got fish tacos, which were served two ways with black beans and rice. The sauces and garnishes were all very complementary and complex. Tim got a fajita burrito which was so tasty and seasoned perfectly.

Central Coffee and Spice: On our magical, multi-mile tour de San Francisco, I got thirsty. But water would not do. Yelp helped me find this super cute neighborhood coffee shop. Tim encouraged me to live a little and get a latte instead of my standard coffee or iced coffee. He even let me choose whether I wanted the heart or the leaf latte. What a guy. The drink was amazing, and the ambiance was great. I'm glad we went somewhere off the beaten path.

Butterfly: While we waited to take our Alcatraz tour, we got a few drinks at this bar. I tried the Racer 5 IPA and the Steam Anchor, which was a local lager with the coloring of an amber. It was delicious and make me long to live in San Francisco. This bar was also very classy and offered an array of original cocktails featured fresh and exotic garnishes. Can't beat the view of the bay, either.

Josey Baker Bread at The Mill: I had to go here. I searched Yelp for sourdough purveyors and reviewers said Josey Baker Bread was the best. We made our pilgrimage and were unprepared for the place - it was more chic, bustling coffeehouse and sleepy bakery counter. We had no idea what people were ordering, but realized we had our choice of four toasts. This seemed to be a thing in SFO. The dish du jour feature thick-cut slabs of fresh bread toasted an topped with a variety of fixings, which included butter, cinnamon, sea salt, sugar, almond butter and marscapone. We got a slice of whole wheat with butter and sea salt and a slice of cinnamon raisin with butter and sugar. Both were tasty and excellent examples of artisan bread, but I don't get the whole toast thing. I saw it offered all over the city, though, so it appears to be a popular snack/brunch option.

Blue Bottle Coffee at Mint Plaza: Monica from Run Eat Repeat blogged that this was the best iced coffee in the world, so I was obligated by my journalistic integrity to check it out. This place is legit, but you really had to earn it. It was down an alley behind a corner, but the line out the door helped me locate it. I've never seen coffee made using the Nel Drip method and it was like having dinner and a show. Except it was coffee. The inside was small in square footage, but the minimalist decor and high ceilings made it appear larger. Tim's latte was nothing to write home about, by my New Orleans-style iced coffee was a show stopper. The flavor was so intense I thought it might be alcoholic. I could plainly detect what would have been subtle undertones in the coffee had it been served hot. There were notes of cinnamon and vanilla, and each sip was a bit different as the milk settled over the ice. The coffee also seemed more dense, as if it was more viscous. It was $8 for two coffees, but we were on vacation, so carpe diem.

Not pictured:
  • Capital Restaurant: We had our first meal here. It's a Chinese diner featuring an expansive menu. What this place is known for is salt and pepper wings and they were pretty good. Tim is an aficianado in this category and said they were perhaps the best wings he's had.
  • Go Bistro: An airport meal. It sucked hardcore and was $33 for two lunches and an appetizer. The spring rolls were mushy, the sauce was bland, my grilled chicken curry featured canned vegetables and everything was greasy. Ick.
  • Boudin Bakery: We went to the really nice museum/cafe/bakery in Fisherman Wharf and had a shrimp pesto pizza and a turkey and Havarti sandwich. This place is famous for its sourdough, which was just OK. This place is worth seeing, though, because you can watch the bread being made and see all the amazing treats they serve. The pesto shrimp pizza on sourdough crust was really awesome, though.
Catch up with what we saw and where we stayed in my first San Francisco recap.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

San Francisco: Where We Stayed and What We Saw

Hello readers! Thank you for your patience while I traveled all about during the long weekend. I'm back to blogging and have so much to share!

After we jetted to the West Coast Friday (via Southwest Airs), we took the BART to our hotel in Union Square in downtown San Francisco. We checked into the Hotel Fusion, which was a great place for what it was.  It's a very basic, inexpensive hotel in the heart of downtown that includes WiFi and breakfast. It doesn't have a gym or pool and the rooms are small, but the rooms have fridges, are clean and have plenty of hot water and great water pressure. I go on vacation to see sights, not hotel rooms, so it's a win, in my book.

Friday night, we walked all over the city and saw lots of touristy highlights, which I don't have pictures for because my camera died. We did visit Fisherman's Wharf to say "What's up?" to the sea lions, as well as checked out a great little restaurant in Chinatown. We saw Lombard Street and trekked up some massive hills in the name of seeing it all. Also, there's a super cool flagship Walgreens around the corner from our hotel that's even nicer than the Chicago flagship. There's a full liquor section, sushi, frozen yogurt and a beauty bar.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to take our Extranomial Tours trip to wine country. But first, we stopped at Muir Woods to see the giant coastal redwoods. This place is so gorgeous and peaceful, featuring trees as old as 3,500 years old and nearly 400 feet tall. It's amazing to see some of these trees, which are like looking at a wall of tree. I hear there are redwood trees that are up to 30-feet wide.

Next up, we stopped at Mayo Family Winery for a tasting. We tried sparkling, chardonnay, pinot noir and many others. Nothing there really struck our fancy, so we soldiered on.

Next, we had a tasting at Madonna Estates, which was awesome. The employee was very knowledgeable and the vines grew up right to the back door, so we got to know more about the production and the products. We bought two bottles here and look forward to enjoying them soon.

The final vineyard on the trip was Cline Cellars, which was a much larger, more corporate experience. There was a wedding going on and lots of hustle and bustle here. There actually wasn't any type of tour, just a straight up tasting. I loved their red dessert wine, but I couldn't justify the $48 price, so we bought two equally lovely, cheaper bottles instead.

At the end of the day, the tour guide showed us a bit of Sausalito and let us stop and take pictures of the bridge. The tour was excellent and well worth the money.

On Sunday, we walked the entire city. That's only a slight hyperbole. Tim calculated that we walked at least 12 miles. We started with AT&T Park, then headed to Mission Bay, swung through Carnivale in the Mission District, walked up Castro Street, checked out the Presidio, strolled through Golden Gate Park and then took the bus back to Fisherman's Wharf to pick up more chocolate, sourdough bread and seafood.

We also decided to take the Alcatraz at Night Tour. It was a really cool experience. You're ferried out to the island, then go on an audio tour of the prison before taking optional tours or your own wanderings. Ironically, the best views of San Francisco are from a place that used to house condemned men. No women were ever incarcerated there, and no executions ever took place.
Monday, we had a bit of time before catching our plane, so we took the BART to Berkeley to check out the campus. The university is beautiful, but we thought the town would be fancier since everything is so damn expensive here.

We ate A LOT this weekend, so check back tomorrow for full details on what made me fat this weekend :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

It's All in How You See Yourself

We're still in San Francisco, making our way back to Chicago. Today marks the fourth anniversary of Tim and I adding a furchild into our lives. We brought Napoleon home Memorial Day weekend one week after we returned from our honeymoon. Sadly, Napoleon is spending the day away from us. After a very exhausting day (for him) at work on Thursday, he went off for an adventure at Tara's house.
Tara's black Russian terrier, Czar, is showing him the ropes.
Napoleon learned that toys come in multiple sizes.
 And eventually found something more his style ... they're cat toys.
Before going on a family hike.
I have a feeling I'm going to be retrieving a very tired baby yorkie.

I'm On Vacation

... and I'll write again soon. Check this out in the meantime. I love a good panoramic pic.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. I went on a lovely ride with the ever-patient Alyssa last night. She clearly is going for canonization because I was a full 15 minutes late. Damn Google Maps and your inconsistencies. Also, I forgot to take a photo. Blogger fail. Here's an artist's rendering of our ride:
2. Tomorrow, we're heading to San Francisco. Our plans include a trip to the Redwoods, a tour of wine country, an excursion to Alcatraz at night and possibly an open water swim lesson. And sourdough. Lots and lots of sourdough. Tara is watching Napoleon for the weekend, and I took him to work today so she could pick him up on her way home from work. He was a little mayor, checking out the office and making friends.

3. I finally did a CrossFit workout (WOD) as it was written! In CrossFit speak, this means I did it RX (as in, as prescribed). This morning's workout was a 200-meter row sprint followed by 10 squats while using a 35-pound kettlebell. This was repeated ever three minutes for seven rounds. It wasn't a particularly tough workout, but it's validating to finally do a WOD as prescribed.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Win it Wednesday: BarkBox

Napoleon works really hard for this blog. He's constantly modeling medals, proofing my work and trying to take naps while we're disturbing his slumber with our incessant activities. This thankless gig has finally netted him something tangible: a BarkBox!

Mr. Man, as we call him, is always very excited when I get mail. This is the first time a package has arrived for him, so he was beyond elated. Alas, he has no thumbs, so I had to help him out. The result:
What is this thing?
I smell stuff for me, mama
Just checking out the wares
BarkBox is a monthly subscription service that sends specially selected items to your furbaby each month. You select the size of your dog and your dog's birthday upon signing up and plans range from $19 to $29, depending on how long you commit to it and how big your pooch is. Also, 10 percent of the sales are donated to rescue groups.

This particular box cost $29 and was provided to me for review. Here's a closer look at what was inside:
This box contained two large bags of treats, two treat sticks and a new toy for the little boss (another moniker Napoleon gets in our household). It also contained a card suggesting activities for the puppy face:
If you have a picky pup, this would be an excellent way to try new treats and toys. Lucky for us, Napoleon actually loves the treats from ALDI ... just like his momma. This would be an indulgence in our house, for sure, but I do like to spoil our puppy baby from time to time.

If you want the opportunity to show the furriest member of your family some extra love, I've got a deal for you! I'll be giving away one BarkBox using RaffleCopter. The randomly selected winner will be announced on May 30, so enter now!
a Rafflecopter giveaway