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Mirror Selfies

I recognize that mirror selfies are the lowest form of blogging, but I guess that's where I'm at now. There was a time in my life where I literally put up a post everyday -- even weekends! -- of me wearing a cute outfit. That time has passed... But people on instagram seem to love seeing my wear basically the same outfit everyday, so I thought I'd share them here too.








 





 




















I hope you enjoyed that tour of my recent looks. As you can see, I repeat a lot of items, and I'm loving some high rise jeans right now. I still feel like I'm able to get excited about my outfits and dress interestingly even when it is essentially the same elements and overall silhouette. However, I am still looking forward to Spring and wearing dresses!

XO,
Annika

Thoughts on Valentine's Day

spoiler alert: a picture of three.

Blogging consistently has never been easy for me. I'm usually very quick to start projects, but not able to keep them going long term.

It's hard to not see this as a theme in my life -- especially when it comes to pregnancy, which everything feels like it relates back to.

I stopped working on this blog for so long that I actually let the domain lapse without even realizing it. You see, after hitting publish on the last post, I careened straight towards my 30th birthday, and then took a sharp turn towards the holidays: my busiest, blurriest season of the year.

Everything feels marked with meaning.

30 felt impossible. I couldn't let that number sneak up on me without being pregnant. But as the calendar rolled forward... I still wasn't. I took solace in the knowledge that at least we were trying again. But with travel, stress, work, and so much more that we all deal with, it wasn't happening for whatever reason. I tried to not let it bother me.

But, anniversaries. My birthday has now also become an anniversary. A week before I turned 29, I miscarried for a second time. So, now too, my birthday week is tainted with the painful memory of heavy bleeding into a pad that I couldn't decide whether to throw out or keep.

Anyway, the holidays rolled on. I kept my hands and mind busy. And it was a beautiful season touched with its own share of hardships and joy, seemingly equal in measure.

When I went through TSA on my way home to visit my parents for Christmas, I was secretly relieved that carrying Bucket through security meant a pat-down rather than a scan -- I was suspecting something was up. I was still days from a missed period, but let me just say it, my boobs were HUGE.  

I'd started taking progesterone two days after ovulation and the prenatals had been pulsating in my system for months. I finally felt like I struck the right balance with everything... this was a solvable puzzle. And yet, negative after negative. On Christmas Eve Eve, while out picking up Chinese food for my family, I stopped to get an actual pregnancy test -- it was time to ditch those shitty little ones that come with the ovulation prediction kit that are so tiny and fickle and impossible to read.

I just couldn't let go of the idea that the negatives weren't telling the whole story.

So here's a funny thing -- Christmas Eve morning, I'm sitting on the floor of the bathroom. There's a disposable cup of urine on top of the closed toilet seat next to the instructions -- yes, fifty pregnancy tests later, I still read them -- when my five-year-old niece bursts into the room. Locking doors has never been a big thing in my family. Neither has knocking, either, apparently.

"What are you doing?!"

"Um, I'm working on a special project," was all I cold muster.

"In the bathroom? That's silly. What is it? Can I help?"

Since lying to kids doesn't seem smart, and my sister has always been pretty transparent with her kids, I opt for the truth.

"I'm almost done. I'm trying to figure out if there is a baby growing inside me. This stick uses the pee to find out. The pee knows."

"But pee doesn't have a brain. Can I use the potty?"

I clear the way for her, dumping the urine, and putting the test away in the cupboard. It was negative anyway.

The day passed with our usual tradition of braiding christmas bread, butchering crab in the backyard, and picking at the leftovers in the fridge. Since I'd been talking about nothing but fertility and how I can't let go of the fact that I'm not pregnant, I confide in both my sisters that the real First Response  test is negative. Boo hoo.

But I still can't move on.

Like, I really, really can't let it go. My boobs. They hurt so bad and they are just so big.

So I go back to the bathroom cabinet and check it again.

You guessed it.

POSITIVE.

Right there in pink and white.

see? proof.

I'm a little bit in shock, and a little bit relieved, and a lot a bit anxious.

"Thank you for being with me today, baby." I say as I pat my tummy.

This is my new mantra for pregnancy. Thankful for what exists in the now.

I unceremoniously tell my husband in the guest room of my parents place, on Christmas Eve, that I'm pregnant. He's dubious, but I wanna hang the tiny stocking I happened to pack in case of this eventuality. We decide to wait until after dinner, when we are putting cookies out for Santa.

I know at least one of my sisters catches me swapping my full wine glass with Alex's empty during pre-dinner drinks.

Then, as we are all sitting down to crack crab at our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, there's an impromptu round of toasts. This is the moment. I feel it. I squeeze Alex's hand under the table, let's tell them.

Skrrrrrtt. Let the record scratch here for a second while I explain something. Before I ever got pregnant, before I ever miscarried, I always believed and was told that you wait until 12 weeks before you tell anyone you're pregnant. I know what you're thinking: I'm like two minutes pregnant. Isn't this a dumb idea? Well, if you can guess where this whole story is going, then yeah, maybe it is dumb.

But for me, especially after what I've been through, keeping this secret in felt more painful than sharing. First of all, the twelve weeks thing is designed to save you from the embarrassment of having to reveal a miscarriage should one happen -- which is likely -- before that point. Here's the thing: I miscarried and honestly, it was way more embarrassing to have to call someone while choking back tears and explain that surprise! yes, we've been trying to get pregnant, yes, it worked, but then I lost it. 

That was too hard.

Plus, I'm not embarrassed of miscarrying. Hiding miscarriages only makes the subject more taboo, compounding the pain a woman might already feel, by making her feel more alone.

It was much easier and more simple for me to say, hey, we're back on that baby making train, wish us luck! hey, guess what? it worked! i'm pregnant as of this second! than to try to lie and hide and sneak and deny.

The truth was much less painful. The truth is also a lot more joyful. It was nice, thrilling even, to be able to share happy news for once!

So anyway, back to Christmas Eve. I'm so excited as I'm raising my glass of sparkling water, that the liquid wobbles in my hand. "Here's to family," I toast. "And to it getting bigger!" I say as I point to my belly.

There's shock. There's screaming. I think someone cried. But the whole thing is such a blur... I was just glad to not be sitting on this secret, even though I didn't get to reveal it in the pinterest-perfect way I had planned. I hang the baby stocking up that evening anyway. Santa put a candy cane in it.

On Christmas morning, we call Alex's family to tell them the good news. I didn't want to leave them out of the loop now that my whole family knew. "Best call ever!!" my mother-in-law shouted.

This is the part I feel really guilty about. Getting other people's hopes up.

But I was feeling good. I was taking all the vitamins and supplements and hormones, I was eating right, exercising, meditating, journaling. All the things. In theory, this was all going to plan.

That is until, just a couple days later -- the tiniest red spot in my underwear.

I pushed the worries aside, reminding myself that stress is the worst thing I could do to my pregnancy. {What a vicious cycle! To stress about stress!!} But the bleeding persisted. And got worse.

While out for a sisters-only evening, a trip to the restroom revealed to me that it was really over. Without being graphic, it was just too much blood. I knew what a miscarriage looked like, and this was it.

This is the other part I feel really guilty about: I cut girls night short. I boo-hoo'd to them on the sidewalk outside a margarita bar where five minutes earlier I had sat drinking lemonade while they sipped tequila. I couldn't make myself go to another bar and pretending to keep having fun. As we walked back across the plaza in front of City Hall, I remember suddenly feeling so, so cold. As if I could feel everything now -- the grief, the frustration, the anger, the remorse -- it crashed down on me hard.

I lived under that weight for weeks. Hell, I'm still under that weight.

By the time I got back to Tennessee and my doctors office, there wasn't even enough HCG in my system to register a pregnancy. The tiny light at the end of the tunnel was that knowing, stupidly, that a third miscarriage would open up a new level of insurance for me because I could officially be diagnosed with "multiple miscarriage."

Nope. My chart would read "chemical pregnancy," instead. If you don't know what that is, look it up. It's one of the seemingly endless terms I've picked up since starting this journey. It's basically a false positive, a fertilized egg that doesn't implant, enough hormones to spike a home pregnancy test, but not enough to keep things going...

So, why is Valentine's Day so hard?

It was my first due date.

It's bizarre to think that in another universe, if I hadn't miscarried on that trip to Maine, I'd be lighting a single candle on the first birthday cake my firstborn would get to taste.

Here's the truly dumb thing: every time I throw a party while pregnant, I miscarry.

Fourth of July, Halloween, and now New Years Eve now all mark the coming of the end.

Along with Valentine's Day, May 28th, and September 1st, those celebratory dates will probably always be hard for me.

And I might never host a party while pregnant again.

I've had so many pregnancy losses that every season has a little bit of grief in it. Whether is a due date, an anniversary of loss, another holiday spent without my children, the calendar seems pocked with painful dates. They kind of feel like potholes to me -- like you can swerve to avoid them and hit something else, or you can just careen towards them head on.

I think I'm doing the latter.

XO,
Annika

Fall Bucket List 2018


I think Bucket lists are fun. They both help set goals for fun {am I taking fun to seriously??} and help remind me of things I'd like to do when I cant think of what to do on days off. I've made a few over the past couple years. You can see them here, here, and here. For Fall 2018, I wanted to add some oldies but goodies, and also some things I've never tried but didn't want to miss. Hopefully you can draw some inspiration from this.



1. Make caramel apples
2. Bake with home steamed pumpkin
3. Visit a pumpkin patch 
4. Go to a petting zoo
5. Put fall wreaths on the front door -- planning on trying a spin on this DIY
6. Decorate the mantle
7. Throw a soup party
8. Carve pumpkins on the back deck
9. Go for a hike 
10. Roast marshmallows 
12. Buy a new pair of boots -- already checked this off the list with these Dr Martens and these OTK Burgundy Leather beauties
13. Try knitting -- I've ordered some yarn from this shop and now I gotta find my needles!
14. Have a big brunch in PJs
15. Make cinnamon ornaments 
16. Take on a ghost tour
17. Go leaf peeping
18. Camp
19. Eat apple cider donuts
20. Go to a street fair
21. Watch a football game
22. Burn a fire in the fire place
23. Get cozy sheets and blankets for the bed
24. Watch Halloween movies with friends 
25. Read Anne of Green Gables -- “I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
26. Go wine tasting
27. Make a family costume 
28. Buy fall pajamas -- I already got these!
29. Paint my nails black
30. Preserve fall leaves
31. Try a new restaurant



XO,
Annika

Good Jeans


Let me tell you about my new favorite jeans. The jeans I wore for five days in a row. The jeans that made me throw away all my other jeans. The jeans I'm going to cry over if they get discontinued. The jeans I bought in every color and wash, and duplicates of this exact pair.

I am a somewhat long-waisted person, so most "high-rise" jeans barely hit above my hip bones, but these jeans, oh these jeans, they come all the way up to my natural waist, and huge every curve along the way. There's no tightness in the thighs but looseness in the waistband, like with other pairs. No, these jeans are soft, and comfortable, and everything I could ask for when it comes to denim. The distressing makes them look expensive, and the wash is so flattering. Can't wait for more to come in the mail!





Tee: Amazon
Shoes: Rifle Paper x Keds {new collection out today!}
Sunglasses: Kate Spade


 XO,
Annika

Like A Rainbow


Nothing like a bright, beautiful rainbow to put you in a positive mood, am I right? That's why I asked my friend/amaze hair stylist Mallory to semi-perminently install a rainbow on the back of my head. And when Daisy Faye Designs sent me this rainbow skinny scarf to try ahead of the release, I knew it was a match made in heaven! I mean, how cute is this look? It's just so fun!!

To complete this outfit, I decided to go full tilt color spectrum, so I grabbed my new favorite dress, and these rainbow-adorned keds.


To create this bow look, I simply tied the scarf into a bow shape like I would tie my laces, and treaded a bobby pin through the back, and attached it to my hair at the base of my bun.






Scarf {used as hair accessory}: Daisy Faye Designs
Dress: Target
Shoes: Keds
Cardigan: Zulily


 XO,
Annika

Summer-Fall Transition Drink: Pumpkin Spiced Thai Iced Tea

If you're anything like me, you are probably anxiously waiting fall's first crisp day, the sound of leaves crunching under your feet, and the release of the PSL.

Since it's still at least one hundred thousand degrees outside, a refreshing iced beverage is the only kind of morning drink I'll be sipping for a while. This sweet smoothness of the class Thai Iced tea, spiked with some hot spices and rounded out by real pumpkin, will make this crave-worthy drink your new go-to no matter the season.



Here's what you'll need:

1 Cup Thai Iced Tea Mix
1 Can Condensed Milk
1 1/2 Cup Half and Half
1/2 Cup Canned Puréed Pumpkin
4-6 Tablespoons Pumpkin Pie Spice (depending on taste -- I like mine spicy!!)

Prepare the Thai Iced Tea according to the instructions on the back, or -- my favorite way -- in a cold brew coffee maker. I like this one. I don't add sugar to this mix because there's plenty of sweetness in what comes next...!

Combine all other ingredients in a mason jar and stir/shake until completely combined. This will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge, but at the rate you'll be drinking it, it probably won't last that long. This creamer tastes good with everything!!

Fill a glass with ice and pour the Thai iced tea over until the glass is 90% full. Top with the Pumpkin Spice Creamer with a splash or a generous dose, the choice is yours!

Enjoy and let me know if you make it!

XO,
Annika

Simple Hand-Drawn Noodles

Last week I got it in my head that I wanted freshly made hand drawn Chinese noodles. I've made these noodles once before, but I couldn't track down the recipe that I used, so I kind of just went off memory... and they turned out great!

I thought I'd write down the recipe for posterity, and share it with you! While this recipe is time consuming, it's not particularly difficult, and the results are divine.

I first developed a flavor for these soft, chewy noodles when visiting my sister in Philly. There used to be a little hole-in-the-wall place in Chinatown called Nan Zhou (they've since moved to a larger, swankier locale, but the noodles are still cheap and delicious), and it is a must-go whenever we are in town. I love the Duck Soup with Shaved Noodles, or the Peanut Pork dish with hand-drawn noodles.

This recipe is a bit of a mash up between hand drawn and shaved noodles. It's technically not a shaved noodle, but the shape resembles it. You'll see.

I use a kitchenaid stand mixer with the paddle attachment to form and knead the dough and I couldn't recommend this method more!



HAND DRAWN / HAND PULLED NOODLES

Noodle Ingredients:

- 2 cups fine cake flour
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups lukewarm water

1. Pour water into the bowl of the stand mixer. Alternate adding each kind of flour, salt, and baking soda until a shaggy dough forms.

2. Turn mixer to middle setting and let the mixer knead for about 15 minutes. The dough should feel like clay and not spring back to the touch. Add more flour if the dough is sticky at all.

3. Wrap in plastic wrap, and rest for at least an hour.

4. Put back into the stand mixer, and knead again for 15 minutes.

5. While you wait, boil about a quart of water, with plenty of salt.

6. When the dough has been kneading for about 15 minutes, prepare your workstation next to your pot of boiling water with a cutting board, a rolling pin, a pizza cutter or knife, and a dusting of flour. Remove dough from mixer and set to the side of your work station.

7. Pull a tennis ball size piece of dough and roll to about 1/8 inch thick. See this video. Roll into a long and skinny shape, flipping your dough often so it doesn't stick.

8. Using your pizza cutter, slice the dough long ways into 1/2 strips. See this video. Pull up one noodle at a time and stretch and "tap" the noodle down on the cutting board. If you kneaded the dough long enough, there should be nice long chains of gluten developed, making the dough stretchy. Even so, be gentle so that you don't break your noodles short. Long noodles are more fun!

9. Drop your noodles into the boiling water and boil for about 2 minutes. See this video.

10. Pull the noodles from the water with a slotted spoon (do not strain), and place in a bowl with sesame oil. Reuse the water until you've made all your noodles. This recipe makes about 10-12 servings of noodles, and the noodles store well in a ziploc bag with oil until you're ready to eat them.


PORK FRIED NOODLES

Ingredients:

- 1 lb ground pork (mild italian sausage works great in a pinch)
- 1 head of garlic (lots of garlic! not a clove... a whole bulb!), roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1-2 cups broccoli
- 1-2 cups of Hand Drawn Noodles

1. In a frying pan, brown ground pork.

2. Once browned, add all other ingredients, combine, and cook on high covered for about 2 minutes, and then uncovered for about 5 minutes, or until noodles are crispy, and the broccoli is tender.

3. Serve immediately and ENJOY!!



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