Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

I honestly think that 2013 has taught me more about life than any other year of my existence, so I think it's pretty important to jot it all down so that I can compare it to what I'm about to learn in 2014 & beyond so here goes...

My family & friends
This year has proven more to me about the quality of the relationships in my life than any other year, with both family and friends. I remember when I first realized that the “friends” that we make over the years, the people who we considered some of our “best” friends in high school & grade school & college, tend not to blossom into true relationships & that’s totally fine. Those relationships are important because each person we encounter is probably teaching us something about our lives, about friendships, about what kind of friends we want to be and what kind we don’t.

I've learned that just because a person is related to you, doesn't mean that they will be involved in your life at all. I've learned that just because a person isn't related to you, doesn't mean they don’t care as much as you expect your family would. I have some of the truest, realest, best friends I could ever ask for & I consider them to be my family. They genuinely care about me & my life & I genuinely care about theirs. We try to lift each other up as much as we can. All three of the girls I consider to be my “best” friends have been around for a looong time, I know they say it’s not about who you've known the longest, but trust me, it has a lot to do with it. If I hadn’t known these girls as long as I have, then we wouldn't know every little thing about each other, we wouldn’t be able to relate as well as we do, be able to pick up right where we left off when we don’t see each other as often as we used to. I’m so thankful for my friends, every girl needs to have at least one (if not more!) true best friend in their lives & I’m very blessed to have three that are irreplaceable. Thank you so much to my 3 J’s, you guys rock!

As far as family goes, it’s amazing how the older you get the more important they become to you. Family is permanent, you can’t choose them, but I’m lucky to have some really amazing family members. I love getting together with all of them on any side because we always have such a wonderful time. From the monthly GNO with my cousins, to the Starved Rock Christmas Eve Eve stay over with my aunt & her family, the family Christmas’s & nights out at the bars, trips on the bike, we have many of our best memories & adventures with our family & I am so thankful for that. Of course there is dysfunction, but Aunt Nancy’s sweatshirt says it best, “we put the FUN in dysFUNction”

My Travels & Adventures
One thing we got to do A LOT of this year was travel. Mini-vacays, cruises, bike trips, we did it all. Our ski trip to Galena in January was an absolute blast, our day in Boston & our cruise to Bermuda for Joe’s 30th was completely unforgettable, the most beautiful island I've ever seen! A few thousand miles put on the bike this year on our travels to Bloomington Minnesota, Galena, New Glarus, Wisconsin, & beyond.  And our most recent trip to Las Vegas to watch our friends get married!  Travel is such an important part of life & I’m so glad that Joe and I have gotten to go to some really incredible places over the last 5 years. We took our first cruise for our one year anniversary in 2009 & have tried to make it something we do about every other year. We are so lucky to be able to have experienced some of the places that we have & we can’t wait to do more of it!

My Marriage
All I can say about my marriage is that it’s stronger than ever after the year that we have had. We have gone through a lot our first couple years of marriage, a serious motorcycle accident about 6 months after we got married & now our journey to get pregnant, it has been a lot, it’s been a challenge & I think we have only gotten through all of it as well as we have because we are a great team. We always take each other into consideration when we make decisions, even little decisions, once you have a spouse; they’re pretty much an extension of you. Of course we have had our downs, our arguments, and disagreements, everyone does and if you pretend you are perfect and that you don’t fight, then you’re living in an alternate reality. Joe is my best friend (and what a coincidence his name begins with a J!), everything I do I want him to be a part of; I want to experience everything in life with him. He is my partner in crime & I wouldn’t want it any other way. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for us! We will be celebrating six years together, three as a married couple, it’s funny it already seems like we’ve been together for a lifetime. I know that there will be lot of wonderful things happening to us this year between trying for baby, & starting to build our home! Lots to look forward to!

My drama-free life.
After some thought on this topic, here's what I came up with, my life is relatively drama-free... I don't think I really have any "haters", and if I do, well I guess I wasn't giving enough fucks to notice & I'm completely content with that.  I don't think that the world is against us & people are out to get us & like I said, if there are, I really don't care.  I'm a grown ass adult now, this ain't high school & I'm so glad it's not.  I DO NOT hang around with people who just live and breathe negativity & think the world is out to get them & create drama.  I left that all behind & have never looked back because I have no reason not to be positive about the things in my life.  It's a waste of precious time to be miserable & unhappy & pretend that you aren't those things.  No one is perfect, & pretending to be so is just pathetic.  I feel like I've got a lot of supporters out there.  I surround myself only with people who lift me up, not who bring me down & I will continue to do so... forever!

My blog & readers
Last but not least, I cannot begin to thank everyone who has read my blog & left me a comment, sent me a Facebook message, email, or text in support of us. I had NO IDEA the outpouring of prayers and support that we would get by sharing this journey that we are on. So many wonderful messages of hope and positivity for us and what we are doing. I have found some amazing women in blogland that I have been able to connect with and bond with over infertility, and so many people that I know well & some that I hardly know at all have reached out to me. I can never thank you all enough. This blog has been a true blessing to me. I hope you all continue to follow along as we continue our beautiful journey.

I wish everyone has a safe & happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Now that Christmas is over & I've finally given these presents, I can share them with you all! 

I'm really big on making something homemade or at least giving something from the heart each year.  The first year that I started this I made a bunch of different Christmas cookies & gave them on pretty red glass plates. The second year I made homemade spaghetti noodles & canned spaghetti sauce.  It was a  huge hit.  This year I decided on homemade vanilla.   It's easy, it's practical, & everyone uses it.  I'm so happy with how it turned out.  I bought the vanilla beans from Indri Vanilla. I bought a half a pound of premium beans which ended up being more than enough than I needed to make around a dozen or so bottles of vanilla.  They have a blog on their site too about what the different beans are & when you should use which one.  They ended up sending me an additional package of beans too since the ones I had originally ordered were out of stock at the time. Bonus for me!!

I read so many different ways to make it, but ultimately decided on using Bacardi Rum to make the extract.   I started them back in October.  I ended up using 3 750ml bottles of rum, one bottle per jar, and I don't know how many beans per jar, I just eyeballed the bundle into thirds & cut the ends off of each bean, put them in the jar & poured the alcohol over the beans.  I turned the bottles about once a week to shake everything up, and keep them in the kitchen cabinet, in the dark. Seriously, this was the easiest homemade gift I've ever made!  

I found some killer cheap amber bottles here.  They cost about $.68 per bottle.  I made my own labels which was kind of a pain but I'm really happy with the way they turned out.  I used glossy white Avery labels, (22830) that are 2.5" in diameter.  The "Homemade" font is Penelope Anne and the banner is KG A Little Swag both can be found here.

this little funnel, which I thought would work great, turned out not working well at all
the liquid kept filling up & spilling everywhere so I just ended up pouring it from the jar into the bolttle

I cut the beans in half at this point & added a couple to each bottle.  The black slimy stuff on the 
cutting board is the inside of the vanilla bean.

the finished product!

I'm thrilled with the way these turned out.  They were really easy.  I ended up filling all 15 bottles that I had ordered with enough left for maybe another bottle or two, so the extra I kept for myself.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

What a wonderful Christmas we had this year! We got to see our family & friends, exchange gifts, eat lots of food, & have an all-around awesome time!

Christmas Eve started at the Ridley’s for dinner with roast beef sandwiches and potato soup before heading to church. After church we made a quick stop at my uncle’s house which just happens to be right down the street from the Ridley’s church so it works out well. About 9 we headed back to Joe’s parents’ house for our gift exchange. We always get matching pj’s every year & this years were so cute!! Us kids did a gift exchange which went over great, we got a lot of laughs out of it & some really fun gifts. Joe’s parents got all of us ENO hammocks which my litter sis-in-law said she saw on my blog & told her mom about! We were all excited! After all of the gifts were exchanged we got our Coke’s in glass bottles & listened to Joe’s dad read Christmas stories, one of my favorite traditions on Christmas Eve. This year was a very special year because all of us were together for Christmas. This was the first time in 10 years that all of the Ridley kids were home, together, with their spouses/kids, & it was wonderful. Now that Joe’s brother Jon, who is in the Air Force, is recruiting in Lafayette Indiana, they are only three hours away & we get to see them all the time now. It’s been a huge blessing!

Christmas morning Joe and I got up and exchanged gifts. I got my bar cart, a Harley Davidson sweatshirt, a gift card for Skin Dimensions, & some d├ęcor from West Elm. I got Joe an oak whiskey barrel from Uncommon Goodss & he loved it! He was so surprised & happy. He can make his own homemade whiskey now which he’s been talking about forever. I also got him a ukulele, & some movies & other random stocking stuffers. We headed back over to his parents’ house to watch our nephew & niece open their gifts from Santa. They are 6 & 7 & still so excited about Santa, it’s so much fun!

The rest of the day was spent at my mom’s where we ate a huge breakfast & opened gifts, followed by several other stops to my dad’s, aunt’s, Grandma Ridley’s, & Jessica & Mike’s. We finally got home around 5:30 or so. We were so exhausted. The house is an absolute wreck of boxes, wrapping paper, & general disarray, but I am so thankful for such a wonderful Christmas. This year did not disappoint at all. Getting everything & more, being with our entire families, & enjoying a beautiful Christmas Eve & Day was all I could really ever ask for.

I hope everyone had a wonderful & blessed Christmas this year. We are still hoping for one more special gift from Santa which would really put the cherry on top of an already amazing Christmas & would be such a great way to start off 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'twas the night before Christmas...

Merry Christmas Eve!! I can't believe that I'm already saying that!!  It's a frigid 3 degrees here in Illinois! Last night was our annual Christmas Eve Eve stay over at Starved Rock Lodge & we had such a blast.  We gathered in one of the cabins to open presents, & have a few cocktails and snacks.  We had dinner, spent some time soaking in the hot tub, then went back to the lodge to play games.  This year we had a Jelly Belly game called Bean Boozled which was given to us as a gift from my aunt in California to specifically be played last night.  This game did not disappoint. It's basically a box of assorted jelly beans (as pictured below) and a spinner, it's simple, you spin, & you eat the color jelly bean you land on.  And yes, there are literally, baby wipe, dirty socks (the worst!), skunk spray, & moldy cheese flavored jelly beans.  

Today is a pretty relaxing day, noting much to do until about 5.  Right now I'm watching Elf, finishing up Christmas presents & cookie baking, & eating entirely too much candy.  Looking forward to spending time with family tonight, putting on our matching PJ's at the Ridley's & hearing Christmas stories, drinking our Coke's out of glass bottles & opening gifts.  Tomorrow is filled with more family fun at my moms, my dad's, & my aunts house.  I hope everyone has a wonderful & blessed holiday!!  We have our fingers crossed that Santa will bring us an extra special gift this year!  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Five On Friday

One.  IUI #2
This past Monday I had my 2nd IUI procedure done.  It went well, it’s a very quick procedure, and it’s the waiting two weeks that’s tough!  We did the procedure a bit earlier this time around so I have to wait a full 14 days before I can get my blood test done.  Last time we only had to wait about 10 or so days.  I’m hopeful that the rounds of injections will be more effective this time around.  So far I feel differently than I did last time.  Last time I felt delicate and fragile, I didn’t exercise, I didn’t drink, I was very cautious, this time around I feel like I will try to live like I normally do, (sans drinking) exercising, eating whatever I want, maybe even enjoying some Christmas punch next week.  Just want to give a quick thanks to everyone who has sent us messages, texts, emails, etc. this week.  You are all so wonderful to be thinking of us during these times, much love.

Two.  Olmsted Family Christmas
This weekend is the annual Olmsted Family Christmas.  The Olmsted family is Joe’s mother’s side, & what a blast they are.  This party will consist of an absolute TON of food, and an absolute TON of Christmas Vacation quoting.  Practically all conversation will have some line from the movie in it.  Uncle Robbie will wear his Santa hat with the little jingle bells on it just like Clark Griswold did.  We will exchange gifts & have a ton of fun with family.  Each year the siblings (Linda, Joe’s mom, Lori, Leslie, & Robbie) switch off hosting.  Leslie and Robbie live near each other about 3 hours away from our house & Linda and Lori both live here in town so some years we travel & some years we stay close to home.  It’s always so much fun.  This will be the first big kick-off to the Christmas season & I can’t believe it’s already here!

Three.  More Christmas Festivities
Actually, this entire weekend is filled with Christmas festivities of some sort.  Friday night we will go to my parents for Garzanelli’s (local, awesome, Italian food) this will be our first Christmas without my grandma.  We won’t be exchanging any gifts, just getting together with a small group of family members. Probably will trim the tree at my moms and enjoy a nice fire.  Then Saturday is the Olmsted Family Christmas, followed by Sunday’s Shields Family Christmas.  Love this time of year!!  I can’t wait to see all my family members, eat too much food, and exchange gifts.

mom your house is beautiful, but this is they view I'd really like to be enjoying! wow!

Four.  Starved Rock Stay Over
We live right next to Starved Rock which is more well-known then we locals seem to realize.  It’s a beautiful State Park with an enormous lodge, right on the Illinois River.  There’s tons of hiking on trails, through canyons, & under waterfalls.  Truly a very beautiful place that we sometimes take for granted.  Every year for the last few years Joe and I have stayed on Christmas Eve Eve in one of the log cabins with my aunt, uncle, two cousins, & their girlfriends.  We eat a nice dinner, then bring board & card games into the lodge & enjoy a few cocktails & a ton of laughs!  It’s one of the most relaxing things that we do around the holidays.  We missed it last year since we were visiting family in North Dakota so we’re really looking forward to it this year.

Five. TTC Timeline
Be on the lookout for a new page being added to the blog soon, our TTC timeline.  It will be a timeline from our wedding day to current.  I will try to keep it as updated as possible.  I'm also planning on including the cost of what all of our procedures, doctor visits, & medications have cost.  I will include both before insurance coverage & after.  I know everyone is different, but I think this will be great information for those who are going down a similar path & also a good record for me to keep track of when things were happening & how much they were costing us.  I got this idea from Jessah @ Dreaming of Dimples and Megan @ A Brink Adventure.  Thanks to both of these brave ladies for sharing their amazing stories!!

Happy weekend everyone!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

DSC - The Gifted Man

Sometimes the hardest people to shop for are guys. Clothes, alcohol, tools, that’s all fine, but those types of gifts are usually expected. One of my all-time favorite gifts that I’ve given that isn’t awful (or expected) is a Dollar Shave Club membership. It’s seriously one of the most convenient, affordable services we have ever received; I’ve even been using it the last few months. If you’re currently a member then you know how awesome their products are and how funny their packages are. They always include a bit of humor in each one, they really know their stuff when it comes to guys and what they like.  My guy shaves his head on a regular basis so this membership is definitely worth the $9 a month that I spend on it.  We never run out of razors, & they're delivered directly to your house so you never have to worry about buying them at the store again.  Packages start at $1 and go up to $9.  I picked the $9 membership simply because of the amount of times my husband (and now me) use a razor each week.  

This year the crafty folks at DSC polled their members & came up with this infographic for their blog about gift giving with a bit of a humorous take. A great tool to refer to (or share with those not-so-great gift givers) when looking for a gift for our guys. I don’t know anyone who has given a relationship-ending gift, but apparently, they’re out there!


Looks like grandma & grandpa are the reigning "worst" gift givers out there, sorry guys!!  Although, when it comes to grandparents, they always get an "A" for effort!

I'd like to thank Dollar Shave Club for contacting me about this awesome twist on holiday gift giving for guys.  Be sure to check out their blog and their website if you're interested in a membership!

I was contacted by Dollar Shave Club about The Gifted Man infographic, but the content of this post was not sponsored, all opinions are mine.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Next Procedure & my first V-log

Yesterday was my ultrasound in Peoria.  I have two really nice sized eggs so they decided to schedule the procedure for Monday.  Woohoo 3 day weekend!!  I'm now giving myself another one of my injections, Ganirelix, then Sunday I give myself one shot of Ovidrel & Monday we have to be back at 9AM for collection and insemination.  I thought it would a lot harder to have an open, positive mind about the outcome this time around, but I feel really good about it & we're just hoping for the best.  That is all that we can do.   

Initially I thought I would video myself giving myself my first injection, but I was so nervous, & had no idea how I would react that I decided against it.  This morning, however, I decided that I would at least take a video of what exactly the Follistem is like & what's going on over the next few days.  Please excuse the messy hair, glasses, no bra (yep, no bra), unpleasant background of this video, & be sure to let me know what you think!!  

In this video I dial in a dose & actually just inject it into the plastic tip of the needle, or waste it in simpler terms.  I know that these medicines are very costly for some people, me included, but there was less than 50mg of medication left.  I still have two cartridges of Follistem, which if this IUI does work this time around, I will GLADLY GIVE to someone in need.  

We got about 4 inches of snow overnight last night & it's still coming down.  Hope everyone has a safe & relaxing weekend!!  Really looking forward to double date birthday dinner with two of my bestie's Jessica & Mike at our favorite restaurant in town, maybe some board games to follow!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Five on Friday

One. Next Appointment
Today is my next ultrasound appointment at 4 in Peoria. They will look to make sure the injections are doing what they’re supposed to and more follicles are growing. I’m thinking about this time next week I will be having the IUI procedure done again, hopefully this time with positive results. I can’t believe that when I started this blog about my pregnancy journey over a year and a half later I would be writing about giving myself injections of hormones, & having all these procedures done to treat infertility. We never know where life is going to take us, but this journey has been quite the experience & I know in the end it will all end up being worth it.

Two. Holiday Lull
This week and next week, we really have hardly anything going on and I’m totally OK with that!! It’s been down in the single digits here in Illinois along with snow & ice & crappy weather that I hate having to go out in. I’m perfectly content going home after work, immediately putting on sweats, & relaxing the evenings away with my husband and dog. Soon the days will be filled with lots of travel, chaos, laughing, present giving, Christmas fun, but I’m glad that these next couple of weeks are quiet. We have dinner plans on Saturday for our friend’s birthday, but that’s pretty much it as far as the weekend goes.

my husband, my dog, my beautiful tree & the crazy finale of SOA

Three. Crane Humidifier
Yep, it’s that time of year when the air is so unbelievably dry that my nails are breaking, my skin is scaly, and my nose just hurts. We used to run a humidifier in our bedroom all winter long in our old house, but we could never find the right filters to change it. I ended up buying the Crane Humidifier & I’m so in love with it. It’s sooo quiet, you can’t hear it running at all except for the gargle of water every once in a while & I’m not waking up with a dry nose anymore. Highly recommend this product as I know Jessica @ Little Baby Garvin does as well.

Four. Christmas Mugs
Last Friday we had to drive to Bloomington, about an hour away, to go see Out of the Furnace (HIGHLY recommend!) so I made Joe take me to Cracker Barrel to get my chicken n dumplins’ fix. I love their store, they have some of the cutest most unique things there. A great place to do a little Christmas shopping, which I definitely did. While there I found these adorable mugs that I just had to have. They were cheap, & cute. I love the vintage look of them. They would be perfect for hot chocolate with some whip cream and mallows on top. I’ve got a pretty large collection of Christmas mugs since we always get one in our stocking every year. These would make great gifts for the person who loves all-things Christmas, or the hard-to-buy-for person with some hot chocolate packets included!

Five. Family Traditions
I’ve seen a lot of posts in blogland lately about traditions, some of the headaches that are caused by breaking tradition, creating new traditions with our new families, tweaking traditions that we already have with our families to accommodate for our spouses families, etc. I think it’s important to create a balance between keeping old traditions & making new ones. We still go to Joe’s parents Christmas Eve & put our matching PJ’s on and read Christmas stories & drink Coke’s out of glass bottles, we still go to my parents Christmas and have breakfast & open gifts. But once our house is built & it’s filled with kids, things will eventually change. My parents were divorced when I was two. I went between houses my whole life, & it didn’t bother me at all, but I don’t want to have to drag my kids around during the holidays & try to get to see everyone & have to rush to make sure we make all of our stops. I want to be able to savor every moment that I can with them & with family. I hope that our families will be understanding of this. I hope that we can keep some old & create some new. How do you balance old & new traditions during the holidays?

Christmas Eve 2011

Happy weekend friends!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

self administered injections

Monday I had my baseline ultrasound done in Peoria.  I already have a follicle that's around 12mm so we are hoping that it has not been "recruited" yet & the injections will allow more follicles to grow. This will better our chances of conception.  Before my appointment I received a box of about $500 worth of medication.  I definitely had sticker shock, but my insurance has covered pretty much everything & these are considered to be specialty medications so I knew that I probably had a co-pay on them.  Most cost me around $40, but the co-pay on the injections was $280!

The injections have to be assembled & administered by yours truly!  The doctor was very thorough and even let me practice on in the office after showing me what to do.  It's very similar to an epi-pen so it's pretty easy. Assembling the pen is not at all what scared me, administering it had turned me into a nervous wreck, but I decided not to ask about Joe doing it & decided that I would try it myself, with is moral support of course. The needle is teeny tiny, and it's only a 75mg dose which is pretty small. This morning after I got ready for work around 5:45am I did it. I got everything ready and stood there for about 2 minutes laughing nervously while Joe watched & told me just to do it. I did, and I felt nothing. All of my fears were pretty much laughable at this point when I realized I was worked up over nothing.  

I go back on Friday for another ultrasound so that they can see if the follicle I already had has been "recruited" and will be the only one, or if the injections worked as they should & I have more than one.  The doctor said that sometimes the Clomid which I took last time could still be signaling the pituitary gland & that is why I already have a follicle so early in my cycle.  So, fingers crossed that the injections will create more follicles so that our chances of conception will be higher.  On Friday they will determine if I need to start administering another injection that I received.  Then the 3rd injection is taken the day before the IUI is done.  Lots of shots this time around.  

I want to document this process as closely as possible.  I want to be able to look back on this & remember what I went through to have a child.  It's not for the faint of heart.  It has only made me stronger as a woman, & Joe and I stronger as a married couple.  Although this was never how I imagined us conceiving our children, this process will make us appreciate parenthood so much more.  Of course everyone's child is special to their parents, everyone's journey is different, I am not speaking for anyone else but us, that our baby will be an extremely special gift for us.  I would've been ecstatic if I would have conceived naturally, but I had an inkling that we might struggle.  I'm not sure why, I think it's just because we just have that type of luck.  But I am willing to do whatever it takes for us to be successful with this process.  I hope that anyone else out there that is struggling will feel like they have someone to relate to, or someone to use a reference tool.  It's so reassuring to find and talk to women who have gone through similar situations & find a sense of normalcy when something doesn't go according to plan.  I appreciate all of the sweet comments, messages, emails, & texts that I have received throughout this process of people who are praying for us & people who have stories of their own that they have been willing to share.  It has been so amazing the support that we have received & I can't thank everyone enough for that.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

homemade cream of chicken

If you're like me, then you really don't care if your food is processed or not.  I watch pretty well what I eat, but I never don't eat something that I really love because of the ingredients it contains or the amount of fat or calories that it has.  I eat a lot of fruits, especially at work, I eat a lot of whole grains in anything I can including things like waffles and goldfish crackers.  I eat a lot of brown rice, tuna, & vegetable soups at work for lunch, but our favorite food is pizza and there are times we eat it three times a week.  I love food, & I love flavor, but one thing that I found that I was using the "processed" version of constantly in my home cooked meals was cream of chicken soup.  The stuff that comes in the can that you add to pretty much any recipe in the crockpot along with countless other meals. 
If you ever look on the back of a can of Cream of Chicken you will see there are a lot of ingredients for what should be pretty simple to make.  Well, for the last year or so I've been making my own cream of chicken (or beef, or mushroom) soup & I can tell you hands down the flavor is so much better, it's much richer, & you know what all of the ingredients are.  The first time I made it and used it in my chicken pot pie rather than the canned stuff, Joe noticed right off the bat that I used something different that he actually liked better.
What you'll need (to make two "cans"): 4 TBSP of butter, 4 TBSP of flour, 2 Cups of 1% milk, & 1 TBSP of L.B. Jamison's Chicken Flavoring.
In a skillet on high heat, melt the 2 TBSP of butter.
you will want the butter to be melted all the way, & nice and bubbly
Add the 4 TBSP of flour and begin whisking, this will create a roux, which is a French word and is a substance created by mixing flour & fat (or butter).
Add the flour & whisk together, it should look like a bubbly paste
Once you have your roux, you will slowly pour in your milk & continue to whisk until it begins to thicken again.
Once it begins to thicken up a bit, you are ready to add your chicken flavoring.
You can basically make it whatever you want to at this point.  You don't even have to add chicken flavoring, but I always do.  I use the L.B. Jamison's because its more like a paste & it melts quickly, I wouldn't recommend using the cubes.  You can also add beef bouillon for & mushrooms for a cream of mushroom soup.  I don't like mushrooms so when I make things like beef stroganoff, I just use beef bouillon and omit the mushrooms. 
Add your bouillon, whisk thoroughly, and voila!!  You've got rich, creamy, additive free, cream of chicken soup. 
I wouldn't think that this version is any healthier, per say, let's face it, it's loaded with milk, butter, & flour, the three most fattening things I can think of, but I cut down a bit by using 1% milk, & I figure there are no ingredients in it that I can't pronounce so it has to be a little bit better for us.   


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