Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce with Vanilla and Marmalade

I’ve got three holiday recipes that I make almost every year: the best chewy ginger bread cookies ever, the Lord of the Pies (the best apple pie ever) and this cranberry sauce. 

I developed this recipe about eight years ago and it is the culmination of the best parts of several different recipes and styles.

PLUS, it’s very easy… (unless you let it boil over because you always forget how hot your stove is – but whatever)

This is the BEST, most delicious, quick, easy, tasty, unique cranberry sauces I’ve ever had, and I’ve been known to polish off a can  of the whole berry kind WELL after spring break, so mama knows cranberry sauce.

Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce with Vanilla and Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz jar (1 1/2 c )of orange marmalade
  • 2/3 c of orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or two, it doesn’t matter)
  • 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for weirdos
  • 1 tbs of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon

 

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat to melt. Bring to an easy boil. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat (really reduce it unless you want to scrape caramelized marmalade off of your stovetop) and cover, stirring regularly. Berries will begin to burst within 8 minutes or so. Add vanilla extract. Continue cooking until it has thickened to desired consistency, which should be no more than 5 more minutes. Remove and add ground cinnamon. Stir to combine and allow to cool in the pan before transferring to another container and moving it to the refrigerator to fully chill.

Nutrition Facts

Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce with Vanilla and Marmalade

12 Servings

Amount Per Serving

  Calories – 119.0

Total Fat – 0.1 g

 Cholesterol – 0.0 mg

Sodium – 23.2 mg

Total Carbohydrate – 31.1 g

Protein – 0.3 g

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my independence day 

Today, the US celebrates stepping out of the motherland’s shadow and standing on its own. 

Today, I’m celebrating my own independence. I’m free of expensive period products. I’m free of ovulation pain. I’m free from ruining my clothes. I’m free of scheduling my life around my cycle! 

This is an entirely new thought: FREEDOM. 

I’m in pain now, but I’m so glad I made this choice. 

my last night with a uterus

I’m a little nervous. I’ve teared up a couple of times tonight… But mostly, I feel really strong and ready.

My period could come at any second–though I HOPE my last one (several weeks ago) was actually my LAST one.

If she starts overnight, to get one last jab at me, I won’t be mad… She’s being kicked out of a pretty awesome person.

If it doesn’t start, that’s fine too, cause it means I beat her to the finish line. She’ll never hurt me again.

Goodnight, Felicia, and goodbye.

Part 2: my journey -road to hysterectomy

After my surgery, I was optimistic for the first time in a long time. If my doctor has just removed all of the endometriosis cells he could find, I’d be good, right?

Well, it is true that removal of endometriosis through excision is the best way to combat that disease, but there’s always the chance of missing something, and the next five years were a steady climb up the pain ladder.

I had relief for a while–relief meaning LESS pain, not none–but it wasn’t great. My first period after surgery was one of the most painful things I’d ever felt, EVER.

In many ways, life just sort of went back to normal. I still had painful periods, and the pain lasted around 3 days or so, but within a few months, I started to also have painful ovulation. Suddenly, I was having pain two separate times a month and it was lasting a little longer each time. Now every other week, I was hurting. Sometimes it wasn’t awful, but other times, I couldn’t leave my bed.

My doctor and I decided on pain management since I’d responded well to the heavy meds I’d used since surgery. I am a responsible patient, and I follow all of the rules, so I was able to keep access to my heavy pain killers which I use judiciously.

For another 3 years I continued in that way. But as each year passed, I noticed (and so did my husband) that the pain seemed to be getting worse.

What was once 3 bad days a month had become 4 bad days twice a month. And now it was more like 6 days twice a month. And then it was like two full weeks every month.

These painful days had escalated.

I regularly ended up on the floor of my empty classroom, crying on the cold tile when my students were in electives. More than once I was wheeled away to the nurse’s office where I laid on a cot next to a sneezing seventh grader and tried to keep my crying quiet. Other days, I couldn’t get out of bed at all. The pain travels up and down my legs and back, so walking is hard. Times when I did decide to walk, I’d sometimes get so lightheaded that the 30 steps to the kitchen ended with me sitting on the floor, white as a sheet. I passed out dozens of times at home and at work because my body just couldn’t take the pain. I’d fall to my hands and knees on my way to the bathroom.

And still, I was stagnant.

Partially because this had somehow become a twisted version of NORMALCY, and in part out of pride.

See, when you have endometriosis, everyone and their dog thinks they have the right answer for you. Friends, acquaintances, and strangers would tell me how I should OBVIOUSLY have a hysterectomy already! It worked for their aunt! Their cousin had bad periods but ablation worked for her! Their grandma just had a couple of kids and poof! No more pain!

But I’m a researcher. I study.

I know that HYSTERECTOMY DOES NOT CURE ENDOMETRIOSIS. That’s not a thing.

Think about it. Endo is when these rogue cells are growing all over your insides! On intestines/abdominal wall/bladder/appendix. THESE CELLS AREN’T IN YOUR UTERUS. Removing the uterus, while removing the period, does NOT stop the pain for such a large percentage of women.

And in my case, all of the visible endo had already been removed. So either some was missed, or new spots had grown, or… endo wasn’t my only problem.

Turns out, as my doctor had suspected for years, I had a high likelihood of a sister disease: Adenomyosis. Adeno is when cells (a lot like endometriosis cells) grow in the walls of your uterus itself. That combined with the way my ovaries are being trapped by the web-like adhesions to limit their mobility means that for ME, my uterus and ovaries ARE a big part of the problem.

So they’ve got to go.

I supposed I’m writing this to document that my decision was NOT arrived at lightly. Hysterectomy is NOT an obvious or easy choice. It is NOT a sure thing. It is NOT something I “should have done years ago.”

This is my journey, and I’m hopeful that this decision will reduce my pain and give me back some of my life. Whether it’s 20% or 60% or 100% improved, it’s worth it to try and get back some of who I am and who I want to be.

Missed part 1 of my journey? Click here.

 

pain

But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.
-Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

A lovely couple of ladies I know run an interactive art collective, and one of the prompts is this Maraget Atwood quote. 

It resonated with me because I think about pain a lot. 

I’ve never thought of myself as a strong person. In fact, I usually think of myself as pretty weak. But this week, as I’ve spent time at the hospital and with my doctor for pre-op stuff, I’ve been called strong more than once. 

In my head, maybe, strength has always meant not feeling pain. But really, that doesn’t make sense. Strength must be about feeling pain, and also about living with it. Strength might even be about not suffering alone or not wishing it away while doing nothing. 

Daron has held me while I’ve screamed in pain. He’s watched tears pour down my face and he’s heard me beg for everything to just go away. He’s been beside me when I’m–for all intents and purposes–helpless. 

But that doesn’t mean pain makes me weak. 

I’ve survived 20 years of pain. 

In the moments, hours, and days between  surges of pain, I’ve thought about how the effects of pain linger like bruises. Even when the pain is gone, it’s still left a smoking, cauterized space behind. 
When the fire goes out, there is still ash and char–there is still smoke and heat. 

The flame or blow or wound or fall isn’t the only thing that hurts.

The hollow that follows aches too. Sometimes worse. Sometimes for longer. 

The effect my pain has had on me will live beneath my skin for a long time, like a handprint left once the grip has gone slack. 

But it will not create weakness in me. It will, as it always has, give me strength. 

Kelsey’s uterus’s going away party 

I knew weeks and weeks ago that if want to have a little party before going under the knife. 

I was sure I’d want an opportunity to get together with a small number of very dear friends (mostly people who had seen me at my worst) and celebrate my approaching freedom. 

I wanted to be silly and make jokes and be irreverent in the face of a big, scary operation. That sort of thing helps me feel 1) in control 2) less scared. 

My friend, Jessica, let me have it at her house (cause my house is quickly becoming recovery central), and we kept it simple but we had SO much fun. 

  • Uterus piñata! I found a heart shaped Mylar balloon and Jessica helped me mix the flour and water to cover it with paper mache. You better believe I beat the CRAP Out of that thing. (I packed it full of little pouches of jelly beans as a small pert favor for my friends to say “thanks for BEAN here!”

  • Snacks! I wanted to make funny signs for all the snacks–some were funnier than others. But these helped set the tone for the party. It helped establish the event as a place to talk some serious sh*t about my mean old uterus. (“I wanna PUNCH my uterus in the face / FUN*fetti cupcakes – *about 300% more fun than my period / veg-at-jays / chips and hot [FLASH] sauce.)

  • Pin the eviction notice on the uterus: I used some post its to make little eviction notes so that my friends could write down some of those reasons this is the right choice to make. It can be hard to remember when you’re facing a big operation. It was so funny to read all the comments after about how RUDE my uterus is, and how much she deserves to GET OUT. 

  • I had a spare pillow form laying around, so I went to the craft store and bought some colored felt, iron on bonder, and a clearance white t-shirt. I created the little felt shapes, bonded them togerher and stuck them to the shirt, stuffed the pillow in and bonded the edges closed. Super cheap little recovery pillow! I even had enough felt leftover to make a pocket on the back. (Perfect to hold an ice pack, or in the case of the party–perfect for holding sweet notes from friends that I’ll read in my recovery room. ❤️

  • The “BYE STUPID” sign Jessica made for me was the icing on the HILARIOUS cake. She “gets” me. I’m so grateful for my sweet friend–I can’t think of a day we’ve spent together that we didn’t lose half of our time doubled over in laughter. 

The real reason I wanted this party was because I wanted to have some time with my women. Lady friends are such a gift. Girlfriends make moments like this so much easier to tackle. At the end of the party, we raised our cups and toasted to her departure. It felt so good to say, “Bye, Felicia!” and know that I’m surrounded by love. 

one week from now

One week from now, I’ll be in surgery.

A doctor will be making some little cuts and using his fancy robot video game thing to remove some bits of Me.

My emotions have been all over the place for the past many weeks. Some days, I just cry to myself for 3o seconds at a time before wiping them away and going back to binge watching OITNB or Gilmore Girls. Other days, I’m indignant and defiant and SO ready to get this DEMON organ out of me–this organ that’s caused me so much pain.

When I’m around friends who have seen the worst days, it’s harder not to cry. I’m one of those people who always gets choked up when someone loves on me. Always have been. I’m constantly one hug away from being misty-eyed.

I’m a logical person. I know that my womanness isn’t wrapped up in my body parts. I know that being a woman really and truly, is NOT just about biology. I know that because of my love for my Trans friends, ladies who embody the Female spirit no matter what their chromosomes say. I know that because of friends who’ve had mastectomies after breast cancer. I know that because of friends who’ve lost children, or never had them at all.

But I also know that because of how I feel about this experience.

I admit it. I have wept at the idea of losing the body parts that society says are “what makes me a woman” through this surgery. I have. But I’ve also felt very connected to the non-physical part of my femininity over the past few days too. Which has made me think a lot about what being a woman really is.

Being a woman is about being confident and self-assured and sometimes insecure.

Being a woman is about being strong in a culture that wasn’t necessarily designed to build up your identity.

Being a woman is wearing the clothes you want because you want to.

Being a woman is being a creator… of music or words or babies or cupcakes or bookshelves or good conversation or earrings or guitars or relationships or napkin origami or silence.

Being a woman is being told who you are and what you’re supposed to be by other people all the time and still having the fortitude to define yourself (and redefine yourself again and again).

Being a woman is loving who you are, exactly as you are, even when you’re a little bit weird/rude/annoying/silly/perfect.

Being a woman is about liking what you like and not apologizing for it.

Being a woman is about being open and transparent if you want and private and isolated if you want.

Being a woman is about knowing yourself and getting to know yourself at the same time.

It’s funny. This experience has shown me that being a woman is simply about being a woman. There are no  rules. No criteria.

I keep telling myself over and over that even when women lose their ovaries or breasts or hair or WHATEVER physical component of a person society says are solely for girls, they’re still whole.

Somehow, human beings are always more than the sum of their parts. It’s a miracle, really, that people can lose things and still be complete.

I am scared.

But not about losing my womanhood.

There isn’t a surgery in the world that can take that.

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