Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gingerbread tradition continues

In December 2010, I wrote about our Gingerbread House party tradition. Well this year, while Nathan was visiting for Thanksgiving, we started the tradition for this next generation. The boys were a bit young at 2.75 and 1.5, but we all had fun anyway. They mostly wanted to eat the cereal, raisins and candy, so the Moms helped out a lot!
I have photos to post and will be back soon to do that!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Back on chemo

I had a CT scan last month in November, after being off chemo for 4 months, due to the Shingles. The scan was not good news. My four lung nodules have all grown, my prior radiated chest lymph node is showing activity again, and I have a new mass in my abdomen near my liver. That was the most shocking to me, a new mass. 
I met with Dr. Movva, my Emory Onc and she gave me the bad news. We talked about different chemo drugs and she thought Sutent would be a good one to start. By the time I had all the pre-tests to start the drug, I already had an appointment with my new oncologist, Dr. Gina D'Amato. (Dr. Movva has since moved on to Fox Chase in Philly). She spoke with Drew and I for ~ 1.5 hours going over all my history. We talked about the possible drugs to try also. Since I had previously been on Temodar + Avastin and it had showed shrinkage,  then stability, we decided to try that combo again. It was a matter of the known (side effects and results) and an unknown. I know I will try Sutent next, sooner than later if the Avastin/Temodar don't show strong results. 
So I'm back on the pills for a week, then the infusion on the 8th day, off a week, then back on. So far so good. I did get nauseous the first night on the meds despite all the anti nausea meds I also took. Oh well, just my body reacting I guess.
I've also been battling a cold/cough for ~ 2 weeks now. (Carter had croup and I couldn't avoid it) I think I'll be calling tomorrow for an antibiotic to get rid of this infection. 
The other strange health issue I've had is a systemic achy swollen joint, sore muscle pain. I went to an Internist to test for what it could be and my SED rate was 75, normal is 30. The tests came out inconclusive for anything specific, so she referred me to a Rheumatologist. I'll be seeing him late January, as that was the first available!
That's the health update for now! Back to Christmas prep and parties! xoxo

Monday, November 5, 2012

peek at a project... complete!

These are the makings of gift stockings for an Advent Calendar or the Twelve Days of Christmas that I am making. That will depend on if I make 12 or 24! I'll string them up together to hang in number order. I think I'll clothes-pin them to the string, that way the boys can take them down for their surprise!

I got the Idea from Garnet Hill, pictured here:
The one they sell is $78... I thought I could do better. I bought 2 yards of burlap, 2 yards of lining, 14 squares of felt and 2 spools of ribbon for $24. Mine is not as trimmed out, but I think it will end up just as cute! I'll update when I complete the project. 

Here  it is with "12 Days" of burlap and felt stockings, ready to hang and ready for 12 little treats!

one more to make!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

do you know Lily and Laura?

Lily and Laura bracelets are handmade by women in Nepal. They are beautiful pieces of wearable art. They are a current obsession of mine. I feel good supporting this business, women helping women make a better life for themselves. This is from their website:

Namaste.  We are the producers of Lily and Laura Bracelets.  Our  handmade glass beaded bracelets roll on over any hand.  Laura and our  women artists in Nepal custom design these creations which are handcrafted in the Kathmandu Valley.  We use the finest glass beads in the world in our bracelets.  Our business focus is to pay more than fair trade wages to our artisans in Nepal thereby improving the quality of their lives while providing you with beautiful, top quality, handcrafted glass beaded bracelets.  All beading is done in the comfort of their homes or on rooftop decks during nice weather.  Our artists also have the freedom to work only when they are inspired.  Please visit our Facebook Page for the most current Lily and Laura Bracelet pictures, bracelets news, and to view our video of how the bracelets are crocheted.  Thank you.

I love designing combinations to wear out of all the different patterns and colors. I'm looking forward to their next shipment to add to my collection!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

the last 2 months...

Seems like I've gotten away from blogging... since it's been 2+ months since my last post. So I thought I'd try to look back to see what I was up to. The Shingles took quite a while to get over. The nerve pain and itching lasted about 6 weeks. I didn't do much of anything during that time. My Oncologist took me off chemo and I'm still on a break. I feel normal again! I started back to golf in mid-August and tennis started on August 22. It felt so good to run around the court again. I hadn't played ALTA for the past year because of surgery, radiation and chemo. We've played 2 matches so far and I've won both, hooray!
I flew down to Orlando to visit Kris, Ryan and Nathan and stayed for a week. We got so many projects done! We upholstered her guest room bed, reupholstered a rocker in her bedroom, chalk painted and glazed a cabinet and built a sewing cabinet in her office room closet. It was a productive week and a great visit!
We spent Labor day weekend at the Lake house with Kelly and Carter and Alex. 
I planned, designed and contracted with a company to renovate our master bathroom. Demo to start in ~ 2 weeks. That will be a mess to contend with for sure!
And this past week, in mid-September, we met the extended family in Hilton Head for a week's vacation. What a fun time we had! My husband and the girls and their families, my sister and her husband, my brother and his wife and their daughter and her boyfriend, and my husband's brother and his wife. My Mom lives there too, there were 17 of us in total! We golfed, played tennis, cooked, rode bikes, played at the beach, swam in the pool and hot tub, read books, puzzled, shopped and had a great time together!

This week I was back to tennis and Gal Pal golf, and yesterday I painted baby Nolan's nursery. He'll be here in ~5-6 weeks! I've got quite a bit of sewing to do for his nursery... better get to it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


If you've had them you'd shudder at that word. The word means "pain".
It all started last week, probably early in the week, when I felt a slight pain behind my left ear, like the frame of my eye glasses was putting pressure on me. Then on Thursday evening I noticed an ear ache, in my middle ear. I had no congestion and I wondered where an earache could come from. I even thought maybe there was a lymph node putting pressure on my ear. When you have cancer you think like that. By Friday the ear pain was throbbing, coming in spurts now and then. I took a decongestant and some ibuprofen to ease the pain. It didn't really help. On Saturday I noticed a few bites on my neck but didn't remember being bitten. They were extremely itchy and when I touched them they oozed clear pus. By Sunday the rash was in front of and behind my left ear, and by that evening it was all the way to the back of my neck into my hairline. We were home from the lake by then so I put it out on the Sarcoma Website to get everyone's opinion. Three people immediately responded "Shingles". I Googled it and after some research thought they were right. Monday morning I got into the dermatologist who confirmed the rash and told me what to expect and handed me 3 prescriptions. I called my Oncologist who said to stop the chemo this week and just come in for blood work on Thursday. By that afternoon the nerve pain was coming fast and furious. Like no pain I've ever experienced. When I move my head or neck I get a shooting tingly nerve pain that radiates through my whole neck. OUCH!
Another side effect from cancer. I got this now because I am immunodeficient from taking chemo. 
This has got to be the worst side effect yet. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sarcoma treatment update

I haven't posted on Sarcoma since my last post in April on my five year anniversary. In March I had come to a conclusion. My current Oncologist had come to the end of his expertise for my unique cancer. He was in touch with the Doctors at Dana Farber over my treatment, but they were still not sure about what chemo to try. I decided to go to Emory and meet with their new Sarcoma specialist, Dr. Movva. Our first meeting, she presented me with a research paper about my exact cancer and the drug combo they were using to fight lung mets. She wanted to use these drugs on me and she had a reason why. I liked that right off the start! So, I switched Oncologists and we started a new chemo protocol in March. I take Temodar pills, 200mg for 7 days and on the 8th day have an infusion of Avastin. Then I get a week off the drugs and start again. I've been doing this since March 8th. I had a PET scan on April 30th that showed shrinkage of the previously growing nodules. It was minimal shrinkage, but most of all hope! So we continued the protocol for 2 more months. After 4 months on the drugs I had another PET scan. The nodules were basically the same size as on 4/30, no shrinkage or growth. I was disappointed in this. I wanted my wonder drugs to attack and kill those nodules down to nothingness! But the good news is I was stable. "Stable" but unstable emotionally because now I had to think further down the road to the next treatment. We are doing the drugs for 2 more months, through the end of August and we'll scan again and assess. If still stable I may get a break to see what happens on nothing. We'll see. That's the hard part, the unknown...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

flip flop wreath

A little craft project for the 4th! Wrap a straw wreath in ribbon, pin on wide organza ribbon, stick silk flowers through the flip flops and pin them onto the wreath! Easy and festive for the 4th!

happy summer!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

whitewashing brick

One of my spring projects at the Lake house was to whitewash the brick wall in the master bedroom. I had seen this done on another blog and loved the look. I thought it would update the room and it would look good especially since I was decorating with gray. The red and clay colored bricks changed to white and gray bricks. 
Here's the how to: I watered down a can of flat white interior paint + primer by Behr. I brushed it on and had a rag handy to catch the drips. This was quite a tedious job, to get the paint in all the nooks and crannies takes time. It took me 4 sittings b/c I didn't have the patience to do it all at once. Boy was I happy to be done!

Here's the wall with the new gray and white duvet:
And while I was at it, I updated the yellow paint and country quilts in the loft. I painted the walls a "hemp" brown and decorated with blue quilts with a bit of a nautical theme. 
The window frame became white and the shade brown, 
a reverse of what it used to be. 
We're getting new carpet in 2 weeks, and then I'm ready to relax for a bit 
and just enjoy the lake!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My new walk-in pantry!

This room went from a small computer office when we first moved in, to a room for the dogs to basically a closet for stuff. We cleaned it all out and created a walk in pantry just 3 feet off the kitchen. The walls went from Venetian plaster terra cotta to creamy white. 
We hit a slight snag when the closet company doing the install could not get the countertops to fit correctly. After 3 attempts, I fired them and searched for a countertop-only company.
I found a granite remnant at Premier Surfaces. A remnant ends up costing less because it's not as useful as a full slab but great for smaller projects. I wanted something that didn't compete with the kitchen granite. So... I found this green/gray that picks up the sage background in my kitchen countertop. I think it coordinates very well!
and of course it needed a few accessories...

from my favorite accessory store Home Goods!

 It's so neat and clean now, filled with my food,extra serving dishes and craft stuff. 
A much better use of the space!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

my outdoor room with a view

I LovE outdoor spaces and have always wanted a covered porch. Our roof line doesn't lend to adding on a real roof for that, so we decided on an adjustable pergola. It's solar powered and with the push of the remote, it opens and closes rain tight. 
The guys finished it after the rains on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I got to work on leveling the once shrub and pinestraw area up against the house. I put down landscaping cloth and covered it in bluestone. 15 bags of 40 lb rock carried one bag at a time from the front yard to the back. I say I earned my workout that day! 
We're on a little lake so the view is quite pretty.
 The rugs I had from last year, and the patio dining set is ~20 years old. It's cast aluminium and will last foreva'! I just updated it with some new PB striped cushions. 
 The all-weather wicker is new from Sears. It's sooo comfy to sit and relax on.
 I continued the PB stripe on the sofa with a throw pillow and also added a coral pillow that they have this season. The colors are perfect with the orangey-red covers.
The lanterns were a find from Home Goods, can't beat their prices!
All ready for entertaining.... planning my first garden party, who wants to come?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

five years of living with cancer

Five years ago today, I was in surgery for what was supposed to be a benign fibroid and a routine TAH. That "fibroid" turned out to be a rare cancer, a sarcoma, Hemangiopericytoma. We really didn't get the definitive diagnosis until 2 weeks later, when the word came from Dr. Sharon Weiss  of Emory, that is was indeed a Sarcoma. That's when the roller coaster ride of fighting cancer started for me...

Through the past five years I've had:
20+ CT scans of the abdomen, chest and pelvis
40+ barium shakes and 20+ contrast IV's
2 PET scans
countless blood draws and needle sticks
2 abdominal surgeries
2 VATS surgeries
1 hospitalization for an intestinal blockage
3 trips to Dana Farber in Boston for 2nd opinions on treatment
30 radiation treatments to the abdomen/pelvis
20 radiation treatments to the chest
2 different chemo protocols
nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, and the aches and pains of healing,
numerous tears spilled along the way from anxiety, confusion, and fear.

but... in the past five years I've also had the unrelenting support of family and friends
lifting me up in prayer, sending cards, letters, flowers, delivering meals...
In that time I've had the joy of a wedding for my oldest daughter, and the life-changing joy of two babies being born into the family, our grandsons. 
Life is a challenge, life is good, life is full of joy making the hard times worth the fight. 
I'm happy to be celebrating 5 years today!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

First days of Spring

The weather has been beautiful, except for the pollen being off the charts high in the 9,000's! It's a nice temperature to get out and walk or just play outside. We live on a lake with lots of wildlife and Carter likes to investigate. 
Every little boy needs a net to catch things.... fish, bugs, whatever! Carter and I scoped out the lake for fish but none were around at this moment. All the sunbathing turtles dove back into the water when they heard us come outside. So we looked for bugs. We saw some ducks but they're too smart to swim too close. Not a good catch that day, but we'll be back.
Relaxing, watching the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, after playin' outside. This is Carter's chair, and he'll let you know it! But he let me snuggle in, and the pups too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

1st week on Temodar + Avastin

I'm currently on the "off" week of every other week on the pills and infusion. I was feeling pretty good the first week I took the pills, and grateful for that. One of the side effects from Temodar is constipation though and this past weekend that hit me hard, no pun intended. I will watch my diet a bit better from now on and make sure I stay more regular. Digestive issues have been the biggest side effect from treatment for me, from radiation to the abdomen and also my chest, and now on chemo. I've lost ~10 lbs since all that started last August, without trying to of course. I try to eat well when I feel good, lots of protein and calories. I'm not drinking wine very often though and that alone could account for half the weight loss. 
I start the pills again on Thursday... here's to the 2nd round going well and staying on top of the side effects!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

my first attempt with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint...

was a great success! I loved using it and was so pleased with the result. 
I found this chest at a local consignment store for $40. I fell in love with the shuttered style of it and could picture it painted white or even blue. It's solid pine, no veneer here, and the sides and back are finished just as nicely in the shutter style as the front.
 Although you don't have to pre-sand to paint with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I wanted to smooth out a few nicks so I did it anyway. 
I decided to take off the trim to update it more too. 
 All ready for the paint.
 Duck Egg blue to go in Kristin's family room as a toy chest for Nathan.
 I sanded the edges after painting to give it a weathered look.
 See the back detail, nice huh?! 
All painted and ready for the wax. The waxing is a bit of a body-buster though so I purchased an electric buffer to use for the next project to save my weary muscles.
 Look how well it matches her fabric in the room. I love it!
 Ta Da! Finished and all ready for toys. 
It's now safe at home in their Florida family room.