Always, Katie: March 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Katie's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know that everybody's (or their mom's) chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best... but mine really is ;-)

I love a slightly puffy cookie with lots and lots of chips, so I combined and tweaked recipes I found online and on chocolate chip packages and finally came up with a winner. These cookies have a bit of a cult following in my area, and I love to make them to go with new mom meals, or for other folks who need a pick-me-up. They whip up quickly and easily, with a minimum of dishes, and are a real crowd-pleaser. 

They're great anytime, but if you can deliver or eat them still warm and gooey from the oven, you will NOT regret it! 


3/4 C margarine, soft. (I know everyone calls for butter, but let's be real. I use margarine because it's cheap. If you're a butter person, give it a whirl, but the recipe was developed with margarine.)
3/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C chocolate chips (I like semi-sweet, or a combo of semi-sweet and milk)


Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with foil. (I'm a lazy baker, and crumbling up and discarding foil is so much easier than washing baking sheets, haha!)

Cream margarine and both sugars together, in the bowl of a stand mixer, until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix. (Quick note - I like to remove the chalaza from my egg before I add it to baked goods. Yeah, they're safe and edible, but chomping into that by surprise can ruin a perfectly good cookie or brownie real fast!)

Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix until the dough is smooth. Scrape down the sides if you need to in order to get everything incorporated. Gradually add the chips. It's a lot of chips for the amount of dough, so your mixer may struggle if you add them all at once. :-) But the more, the merrier, right?!

I use one of these nifty scoops to drop globs of dough onto the foil - roughly a tablespoon. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The tops will stay pale, but the edges should be starting to get golden. (See photo below.)

I usually get 2-3 dozen cookies per batch, but I am the WORST at consistent batch sizes, so your mileage will vary ;-) 

Enjoy!! If you make these and happen to Instagram them, tag me (@always_katie) and let me know how you like them!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

My Child Wants to do IVF in Barbados!

So your son or daughter just told you that they are considering going to Barbados for IVF treatment, and there's a pit in your stomach. You've decided to scour the internet and figure out how to convince your children that they need to abandon this plan, and this research has brought you here.

I understand your concern. My husband and I did similar research almost four years ago (back in 2014), and I'm now a mom myself. I can think of several reasons why this decision would make a parent nervous. Please allow me the opportunity to respectfully try to calm some of those fears.

"Barbados sounds dangerous."

Barbados is the most developed country in the Caribbean, and the crime rate is low. The citizens - especially near tourist areas like the one in which the clinic is located - are warm and friendly, and everybody speaks English with easy-to-understand accents. The same advice for traveling to any foreign country (or, let's face it, anywhere in the US, too) applies... keep a close eye on your belongings, stick to populated areas, make good choices... but Barbados is absolutely a safe country to visit. One of Barbados's nicknames is "Little England," because it is one of the most popular vacation destinations for British people, and several famous people have homes there. Simon Cowell is a pretty tough critic, and it gets the thumbs-up from him!

"But are those doctors even 'REAL' doctors?"

Dr. Skinner, the medical director and one of the founders, was educated in Ireland, at the famous and prestigious Trinity College. IVF was created in the UK, so her training comes from right by the source! Medical advancements and extremely high-caliber medical training can happen outside the US, I promise. Dr. Skinner has published research in respected medical journals - my husband and I found her articles while we were researching the clinic - and is a world-renowned expert in artificial reproductive technology. Practicing in her beautiful native Barbados only enhances her practice, it does not detract from it.

Dr. Corona is a breathtakingly accomplished doctor who speaks several languages and has studied and worked in more places than I can wrap my brain around! While I have not yet been fortunate enough to meet her in person, I am in awe of her background and have heard wonderful things about her from fellow patients.

As a chronically ill woman, I have had dozens of doctors. Many of them well-respected and at the top of their fields. I've maybe met one or two whose education and experience rival this team's, but to be frank, their bedside manner was NOWHERE near as great as what I experienced from Dr. Skinner and have heard about regarding Dr. Corona. This doctor duo is educated, accomplished, and genuinely kind, in a combination and to a degree that is truly rare. Your adult children could not be in better hands.

"Foreign clinics aren't as clean or safe as American clinics."

Barbados Fertility Centre has earned the prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) gold seal accreditation continuously since 2007. JCI is an American agency, and accredited clinics must meet or exceed American standards for cleanliness, clinical outcomes, and infection and mortality rates. Every three years when they apply for renewal, BFC opens their doors to incredibly detailed inspection, and they work very hard to be above reproach. It is not an easy or a casual thing to earn JCI accreditation!

"There's a perfectly fine clinic just down the road!"

I'm sure it's a lovely clinic!

However, in my experience, patients at American clinics often feel like numbers on a chart more than like people. Barbados Fertility Centre actively cares about their individual patients as whole people and as couples, and their patient-focused approach has resulted in astronomical success rates. Compare their success rates to the clinics near your child. I think you'll be surprised by how well BFC stacks up!

BFC has a Life Wellness Centre upstairs from the medical clinic. The Centre offers services such as counseling sessions, nutrition counseling, massage, acupuncture, reflexology, and Reiki. This is part of the whole-person approach, where they strive to help their patients be at peak wellness in multiple facets of health.

Cost is also a factor. IVF in the States can run from 2-5x as expensive as a full cycle in Barbados. I live in a relatively-inexpensive area for IVF, and by the time we paid for our flights, hotel, food, entertainment, medications, treatments, and spa services, we still saved a couple thousand dollars compared to what we would have spent on JUST treatment in Ohio. Plus, we got to do it in a beautiful, relaxing, distraction-free place.

Bottom Line

If your child and their spouse are considering IVF in Barbados, they are adults. They have no doubt researched this decision extensively. While they probably value your opinion, this is a decision they will have to make as a couple. At the end of the day, if that's the decision they have made, you need to try to trust that you raised them to make good decisions and that this is one of them. And if they have entrusted you with the details of their fertility struggles and treatment, they need your support and encouragement.

You are about to become a grandparent, and that means your role in your adult child's life is shifting once again. This can be difficult for many parents, but it's a natural, healthy part of raising children. I hope that the information and links I have provided can help you come to peace with their choice. And I wish them (and you!) the very best of luck!

If you (or your child) would like to email me with any other questions, my email address is and I am always happy to chat :-)  You can also explore my "IVF in Barbados" tab at the top of my blog page to read more about my own IVF vacation in Barbados.

PS: Follow me on social media (links in my sidebar!) to follow my family's return to Barbados this summer! We'll be introducing our twins to the clinic staff who helped conceive them, and writing about lodging and attractions around the island!

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