Tiny Eden

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Dana has cancer."  Those were the 3 words that my mother said to me on November 9th that made my heart beat so loud in my chest that I could no longer hear what she was saying.  I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me and the room was getting smaller and smaller.  The shock was so great that I could not even cry and I could see Sam's mouth moving asking me what was wrong, but I couldn't hear a word he was saying.  All I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears. 

While my mother was on the phone with me, the doctor was telling my groggy sister the same news.  It made my heart hurt.  This was a feeling that I had felt only one other time and it was when my mother told me that my Grams had passed away.  This was a feeling that I hoped that I would never feel again, but less than 4 years later, I was feeling it again.  She was having surgery that day and something didn't look right.  What was supposed to be a short procedure ended up taking hours. 

They gave Dana a preliminary stage of 1B cervical cancer.  I did exactly what I told my mother and sister not to do.  Shortly after hanging up with my mother, I started to search on the internet and find out what her treatment options are and what her prognosis would be.  The doctor was very hopeful that it was caught very early on.  I flew to NY so I could be with Dana and my family while we tried to process all of this as we were all unsure about what the next road would lead us.

After we had all "accepted" the fact that Dana had cancer, she had to have a PET scan.  It did not reveal what we wanted it to.  It seems as though the cancer has spread to some lymph nodes.  Again, this was news that made me feel as though I had just been hit over the head with a baseball bat.  This changes her staging and her treatment.  Now we are not exactly sure what we are facing.  My faith is rocked, I am angry, frustrated, wondering why we have been handed something else to deal with. My heart is aching all over again and the stress and waiting is killing me.  Dana seems to be handling all of this a whole lot better than I am!  She will have surgery again in January which will give us the answers we need and to find out what treatment she will be getting to fight this.  Dana is a fighter.  She is a red head and is filled with courage and strength to beat this. 

So there it is.  I said it.  My sister has cancer. And it sucks.  Big time.

Dana is just like Martha Stewart, although not as snooty, much prettier, much younger, and much better hair.  But cooking wise, you would not be able to tell them apart.  I know Dana would be very disappointed if I did not include some of my Pinterest projects, especially my big Pinterest FAIL!  So, I will write about weeks 26 and 27.  Now I know I said that I would get better about writing, but I was so angry last week, I did not want to blog.

Pinterest Project Week 26: Also known as my epic FAIL!  Here is the blog I got it from.  I am not really sure what went wrong here.  It could have been that the pineapples were old, that they should have been pineapple tidbits instead of chunks, or that I just don't like angel food cake!  The choice that I am leaning towards is the whole not liking angel food cake thing.  Another thing, I did not follow  the directions very well.  It said to use a 9x13 pan and I used a bundt pan.  When I mixed the pineapples into the mix, it frothed up the way it was supposed to, but the chunks just sank to the bottom of the bundt pan.  The pan was not big enough, either I don't think because it kind of baked over.  I let it bake for the proper amount of time, but it was still wiggly, so I cooked it for some additional time.  When I took it out, it smelled good.  I let it cool completely and then I took it out of the pan.  What a mess!  The chunks all sank to the bottom (which only reaffirmed the fact that I needed to use the tid-bits) so the top of the cake was stuck to the inside of the pan.  I tasted the little bit that I was able to salvage and that was when I realized that I had never had angel food cake before.  I am sure that if you like angel food cake and follow the instructions, you will enjoy this cake.

Week 27 was a success!  This is something that I whipped up today because I was not feeling well and my co-worker, Mandy, was nice enough to work for me today so I didn't have to go in.  My throat has been on fire and I have a ton of post nasal drip.  My throat is froggy and my voice is almost completely gone.  I have been eating a ton of soup and for lunch, I thought if I had one more spoonful of soup, I would hurt someone!  So, I made some homemade mac and cheese in the microwave.  The recipe can be found at this great blog here!  I used some mini farfalle pasta and of course extra cheese.  The water in the mug will bubble over, but this is not a bad thing because when I wiped it up, it cleaned the microwave really well.  I can see lots of tasty opportunities with this.  Think bacon and all different types of cheeses!  Yum, yum, yummy!!!!!

With only a week away from Christmas, I hope everyone has a wonderful week of preparing and enjoying time with your families.  Thankfully, I have off Christmas day, but will be working on Christmas Eve.  Better to be working than to be a patient in the hospital, though!

"One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly." ~Andy Rooney

"Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times." ~Kate L. Bosher

"Great little One! whose all-embracing birth
Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth."  ~Richard Crashaw

Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home. ~Carol Nelson

Monday, December 3, 2012

Week 25: I am a SLACKER!

Hello, Friends!  Here I go back to slacking again.  This blog is going to cover the last 10 weeks of Pinterest projects.  I am sad to say that most of them contained vinegar and baking soda.  Boring, I know. 

On a more exciting note, I went to Orlando for the CF conference in October.  I had a wonderful time with one of my co-workers, Shekina, as well as many of the other disciplines from my hospital.  Shekina and I spent a whole lot of time hanging out with Dr. Caplan and he was definitely the party animal.  He kept us out way past our bedtime! 

I feel like fall came and went.  It is my favorite season and I am kind of bummed that it is just about done.  Although, I feel like Mother Nature here in GA never got the memo that summer ended.  I can't deal with this 75 degree weather in December!  Sam and I did go apple picking in October.  The only problem is that once we go into the apple farm, there was a sign saying that there were no more apples left to pick!  The farm does have bins of apples so we didn't leave empty handed, but I think we would have had more fun actually picking them off the trees ourselves.  Either way, the drive thru the mountains with the leaves changing color was well worth the trip. 

Sam and I also got to go home for Thanksgiving.  I was able to go up there a little bit earlier than Sam.  I went to my first Army football game with my mom, Dana, and Stina.  So much fun!  We also made our annual trip to Stew Leonard's.  One nite, I babysat Matthew for a few hours.  What a character he is!  Stina now calls me her BFF and she is growing up into a beautiful little girl.  There was a ton of food made and consumed on Thanksgiving and the day after.  My mom, dad, Gramps, Brian, Dana, Sam, Stina, Matthew, and myself all squeezed in at the table.  The kiddie table didn't last very long.  As soon as Matthew sat down, he fell backwards in his chair and Stina looked so lonely sitting by herself.  Maybe the kiddie table can make an appearance next year.  Of course, we also made our annual Black Friday trip to the Christmas Tree Shoppe. I got to spend a whole lot of time with my Gramps and had a pancake breakfast with him and spent the whole day with him.  I always love all of the stories that he tells me.  Can't wait until I see him again.  Before making the trip back to NY, I got to meet Julie's triplets and went to Lisa's baby shower.  It was great to see Kathleen, Julie, and Lisa again! 

This weekend, Sam and I put up all the lites and Christmas decorations.  I got some great wreaths when I was in Michael's in NY.  A big thank you to my dad who drove to NY for Thanksgiving so he was able to drive all of my stuff back to GA.  I added some battery powered candles and some bows and we put one in each of the nine front windows.  We opted to do that this year instead of putting lites in each window.  I found some great hooks at Target and those came in handy when I was putting decorations outside.  They are velcro hooks!  So simple, any idiot could have thought of that and now someone is making millions!  Insane!  Anyway, the tree is up and decorated, stockings hung on the fireplace, and hot cocoa set on the kitchen table.  Also, for anyone else who gets a fake tree (Sam is allergic to real trees, BOO!), I found these great things at Michaels called Scentsicles.  They smell like pine and you hang them in your tree.  I am loving the smell that they are emitting!  Let's see if they last!  Usually, we don't decorate until closer to Christmas, but I never really put up my autumn decorations because things just got really busy this fall and also my sister and brother-in-law's nephew is coming down here on Friday for an interview for Emory's medical school.  Fingers crossed he does well, although I have no doubt in my mind that he will do a great job! 

Before I get into my Pinterest Projects, I need to profess my love of Christmas movies.  I love them all, but my favorite is It's a Wonderful Life, although that is my favorite movie of all time.  Next up is Christmas in Connecticut which I just purchased at the Christmas Tree Shoppe for a steal at $4.99.  Following that is The Bishop's Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, Bells of St. Mary's, and then The Man Who Came To Dinner.  I love old Christmas movies.  There is something about them that gives me the warm fuzzies.  I found a great blog that has a list of all of the movies that will be played this month as well as their airtime and channel.  I know it says 2009, but it is for 2012, I promise!  http://itsawonderfulmovie.blogspot.com/2009/09/christmas-schedule.html

On for my Pinterest Projects.  I have added vinegar and baking soda to my laundry.  It really does make everything smell fresher and it makes my clothes softer.  Sam kept saying that we needed to get a new dishwasher because our old one was stinky.  I put some vinegar in a measuring cup on the top rack and ran a cycle.  Then I sprikled some baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher and ran another cycle.  If Sam thinks that there is no longer a smell, then I can guarantee that it worked!  Our dishwasher is the original one that came with the house when it was built in 1979.  It is old, but no longer smelly!  Another little trick that I learned was putting some vinegar in a measuring cup in the microwave and then letting it heat up a little.  The grease and residue wiped right off and the microwave no longer smelled like food.  I was impressed by this one!  The next little tip that I used was putting Dawn dishwashing detergent and vinegar in a sponge that has one of the soap dispensers attached and I used it to scrub the bathtub.  I was not feeling this one as much.  To clean my tub, I usually use soft scrub and I found that my Soft Scrub does a better job and does not require nearly as much elbow grease.  The tip that I was least impressed with was putting baking soda in your toilet and letting it sit.  Apparently, all you have to do is flush the toilet and it is sparkly clean.  Well, I sprinkled it, let it sit for about an hour, and then flushed.  Nothing happened.  So, I flushed again.  Being that I am rather environmentally conscious, I was a little apprehensive to flush again, but I did.  The cleaning session ended with Soft Scrub, a toilet brush, and 3 wasted flushes.  Speaking of being environmentally savvy, we switched our plastic anti-mildew shower liner (p.s. they are never anti-mildew!) to a cloth one.  As soon as I start to see a tad bit of mildew, I throw it in the washer with some, you guessed it, baking soda and vinegar.  Works like a charm!

Just a shameless plug for PhoebeLu's - I have an order for 4 Name Frames as Christmas presents from one of my friends as well as an order for 30 Christmas cards for Stina's preschool.  I will be sending my check to the CF Foundation before the end of the year!  If you are interested in any of my projects, let me know!  It is not too late to order Christmas gifts from me!  I also made 30 s'mores on a stick for our respiratory therapy appreciation day.  They were a big hit and everyone was saying that I should add those to the items that I sell.  If anyone is interested in those, please let me know!  I can whip some up for you! 

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season!  My resolution for 2013 is going to be to actually keep up with my blog.  I know I say this every year, but 2013 is going to be the year that I do it!  I promise!

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" ~Clarence - It's A Wonderful Life

"Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel's just got his wings."

"Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."
"George Bailey, I'll love you 'til the day I die." ~Mary Hatch -It's a Wonderful Life

"Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!" ~George Bailey -It's A Wonderful Life

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pinterest Project Week 15: Salt Bagels, Gnocchi Mac and Cheese, Apple Caramel Crisp, The Hidden Gems of N. GA, and Good-bye Ruby

Greetings to all of my fabulous readers!  I hope everyone is enjoying this fall weather as much as I am.  We rang in the new season last Saturday in the most perfect way imaginable.  Discovering the hidden gems of North GA.  You see, California and Long Island are not the only places with breathtaking views of wineries.  Dahlonega, GA is the home to some gorgeous wineries and we had a deliteful time with our friends, Rick and Rachel.  We went to three separate wineries.  After 1.5 wine tastings, I don't remember much except for the fact that, by the 3rd winery, Rick was able to talk everyone at the table into taste testing pate.  I know that my tongue was numb and I was so hungry I could have quite possibly eaten anything at that point, but from what I recall, it was actually pretty stinkin tasty!  The wineries that we hit were Three Sisters Vineyards, Frogtown, and Wolf Mountain Vineyards.  If you ever get the chance to pop into one of these, I highly recommend it.  Sam and I loved it so much that we are tempted to get married all over again so we can do it there!

                                         With Rachel at Frogtown

Pepper, Our buddy from 3 Sisters          

                                                    Sam & Myself & Our Bottle O'Wine

Rick & Rachel

It finally came time to say goodbye to my beloved mobile, Ruby.  She was unable to be repaired without us paying more than her blue book value.  I don't say more than what she was worth because to me, she was worth alot.  We had been thru quite a bit together.  I was really sad to say goodbye to her.  I felt very guilty about the fact that the best cleaning that she ever got from me in a really long time was the one that was going to be her last with me.  I cried when I had to leave her.  They reassured me that she would be auctioned off, repaired, and sold to someone else that she would make very happy.  Now, I have a shiny new mobile that I never would have splurged on myself.  To say that my husband spoils me and makes sure that I am happy is a gross understatement.  And no, it is not just with material items.  He puts up with my crazy silliness, insane mood swings, clinginess, anxiety.  I love him to pieces!  If you asked me about 10 years ago if I ever thought if I was capable of finding a love this great with a man who treats me with such love, I would have said no.  He put the broken pieces back together.


Onto my Pinterest Project!  I gave some of the recipes a whirl and this time, I followed them all exactly the way they were written.  BAZINGA!  You didn't think I would actually do that, did you?  I did all of these yesterday because I had quite a bit of pent up anger with my dr's office and their less than stellar communication.  My first feat were Salt Bagels.  The recipe that I followed was fairly easy and I did not have a choice but to follow this one the way it was written.  The only thing I did differently was top them with salt.  I did not have kosher salt, so instead I used margarita salt.  Funny how I had a whole lot of that on hand!  I ate one for breakfast this morning and it was delish!!!!

Salt bagels...YUMMY!
My next delicacy was Macaroni and Cheese with Homemade Gnocchi.  It was pretty good!  I used swiss cheese, mozzarella, and ricotta because that is what I had in my fridge.  Bacon makes everything better, so I added a few slices of bacon.  I was surprised that Sam ate it, but he seemed to really enjoy it.  There was not the usual answer of "Interesting" when I ask him if he likes something that he is not a fan of.  I made a little extra sauce because who doesn't love extra cheesy mac?

       Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Last but not least is the Apple Caramel Crisp.  This last recipe is one that I got from my friend.  I have made lots of Apple Crisp, but this one is one of my favorites.  The recipe is actually for Apple Cranberry Crisp, but I am not one for cranberries.  Instead, I replaced the cranberries with more apples and then I nestled some caramels into the little nooks and crannies before I added the topping.  Another thing is that I made quite a bit of the extra crumble for the top.  My philosophy is that you can never have enough crisp on top!  That is my favorite part!  I cannot even begin to tell you how yummy it was to bite into the apple crisp and get some ooey-gooey caramel in it!  No words can even begin to describe it!
Apple Caramel Crisp
So that is all I have to offer you, folks.  I am hoping to have completed a craft or 2 by next week.  We shall see!  This fall and winter, I am planning on finishing organizing the house.  It is so liberating to just be able to get rid of everything that we don't need.  My belief is that last year's organization was not very successful because I was in such a slump about the whole IVF thing not working.  I feel much better as time has gone on.  It still hurts, but we have moved on and started discussing the next steps that we will be taking.  I hope you all enjoy these recipes as much as we did!  Hugs to all!
"If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on"
~FUN - Carry On
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ~ President Barack Obama

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pinterest Project Week 14: Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, Risotto, and Banoffee Cheesecake

I soldiered thru my bout of strep throat.  It lasted so much longer than I thought it should have, but what do I know, I have never had it before.  Right now, it is my favorite weather - pouring rain!  I don't have to drive in it, hence it being my favorite weather.  If I had to be somewhere, than I would not appreciate it as much.  Fall is approaching and I am so excited!  To me, there is nothing better than that cool, crisp weather.  Soon, there will be apple picking, the search for the perfect pumpkin, soup with grilled cheese for dinner, our house will be covered with fall decorations, and Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, will be upon us.  Sam and I will hopefully be going to NY for Thanksgiving where there will be tons of food, many laughs and a ton of memories will be made.  Then, we will spend Friday going to the Christmas Tree Shoppe, Target, and Stew Leonard's before coming home and reheating the leftovers and creating more memories. 

Now, on to my Pinterest Projects for this week!  I tried several recipes and they were all delicious.  I have to admit, I tweaked almost all of them, except the Brussels sprouts.  I really do not think that I am capable of following a recipe as it is written because I am always substituting ingredients.  The first recipe was Stuffed Chicken.  I used this recipe as a base, but switched a few things around.  First, I used the bottom recipe for the Chicken Roll Ups.  Sam is not a fan of anything with bread crumbs, so the bread crumbs were omitted.  The chicken breasts were pounded down and then I put in some chunks of mozzarella cheese, sauteed garlic, fresh parsley, and fresh basil.  Then, they were rolled up and sealed with toothpicks and I put them in the frying pan.  Once they were done, I transferred them to a baking sheet with a slice of fresh tomato, some more cheese and stuck them in the oven so they would finish cooking.  The juices in the pan didn't go to waste!  I added butter, chicken broth, and white wine and let it simmer and reduce to which it turned into a delicious sauce for the chicken.  Before serving them, I added a fresh basil leaf to the top.  YUMMY!!!

Several years ago, I made some risotto for Sam.  This is when he was still in his "anything that is different is disgusting" stage.  Of course, he wouldn't eat it so I had not made risotto in a really long time.  The recipe that I used was this one right here, Orzo with Parmesan and Basil.  As you can see, the recipe actually calls for orzo, but as I was getting my ingredients together, I noticed that the box that I thought was orzo was really ditalini pasta.  So, I pulled out the container of risotto that I planned on making for myself and figured that Sam was going to have to choke it down.  I also did not have as much Parmesan cheese as I thought I did, so I used some ciliegine that I had left over.  I cooked the risotto according to the way that it is supposed to be cooked on the container, except that I substituted about a cup of the broth with white wine.  It was give or take a cup.  I feel like that gives it a much better flavor.  When it was done cooking, I added the Parmesan cheese and ciliegine.  I made sure not to let the ciliegine melt completely because it was great to get that slightly larger clump of cheese in the occasional bite.  Once it was done on the stove, I mixed in some fresh basil from my raised garden bed.  We ate every bite and Sam could not believe he had avoided eating risotto for so long!

This next recipe was one that I followed exactly as it was written.  They are Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  I am probably one of the few people that absolutely loves Brussels sprouts, so I was really excited to find a recipe that involved fresh ones instead of the Green Giant frozen ones that I always buy.  Luckily, I had been to Kroger the day before and found some in their produce clearance section that were already trimmed, cut in half, and seasoned!  Only 99 cents!  If you follow the recipe, they are very tasty.  The only thing that I will do differently next time (of course I have to change something!) is that, once I take them out of the oven after 15 minutes to turn them, I think I will add some more vinegar and olive oil because I felt like the vinegar cooked a little too quickly and charred a tad bit.  Either way, they were fabulous and I would make them again any day (hopefully I will be running into more clearance ones at Kroger again!).

 Now, the recipe that you have all been waiting for!  The Banoffee Cheesecake!  If you would like the original Banoffee Cheesecake recipe, here it is.  I also had tamales to make, so I did not have the time to go as far as to make the Banoffee cheesecake per this recipe, so surprise, I came up with my own.  I did, however, have the time to make a homemade cheesecake (after going to a meeting at 7:30 am on a Sunday and doing the grocery shopping).  That was definitely one of my Super Woman Days!  I followed this cheesecake recipe.  I did use cinnamon graham crackers as well as adding the cinnamon to the crust.  The decadent toffee that was on top can be found here by following the portion of the recipe for the topping.  I felt like the center of the inside was still a little gooey, so I would recommend cooking it for a few minutes longer and perhaps even leaving it in the oven for a few minutes with the oven off before letting it sit on the counter.  Also, if you have dogs, make sure it is out of their reach because apparently they like cheesecake.  Lulu used her Go Go Gadget Legs and I caught her taking a chunk out of the side while I was searching for the candles. 

Top of the Banoffee Cheesecake                                                        Lulu's bite out of the side of the

The Birthday Boy with his tamales!                                                        51 Birthday Tamales!!!!

I hope everyone is doing well!  I one of my clear frames to a friend for her parent's anniversary.  Please don't forget about PhoebeLu's!  There are greeting cards, frames, jewelry, as well as other special requests.  If you have an image of something you want, feel free to run it past me.  I might be able to make it! 

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”  ~ W. C. Fields

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  ~ Julia Child

“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”  ~ Julia Child

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Taking it one day at a time

So, I guess I had an EPIC FAIL with my Pinterest Project the last 6 weeks.  I am so embarrassed that I have not posted in 6 weeks.  Lucky for you guys, I have strep throat and Sam is away in Panama City Beach for a bachelor weekend, so I am home, bored out of my mind.  There is no excuse for me to not post a blog right now.  And if a doctor ever tells you that they are going to put you on Biaxin, say no!  It is the most disgusting antibiotic.  No matter what I eat or drink, it tastes like I am sucking on a nickel.  All the time.  It is gross!

This summer has been a good one.  My mum, sister, brother-in-law and the kids came to visit.  We went to the pool, went to the Yellow River Game Ranch (where I hand fed deer!!!!), took Stina for a Rockstar Makeover where she got her ears pierced, went shopping, cooked fabulous meals, laughed a whole lot, and made a ton of memories.  Matthew is growing like a weed and he is very mobile.  Stina is turning into such a beautiful young lady who is starting kindergarten in a few weeks.  Dana, Brian, and the kids left before my mom did, so I got to spend a spa day with my mum.  Very relaxing and I think I might be due for another one! 

Stina's Makeover                                         Matthew cuddling with                    Sam ready for a dip!
                                                                      Papa Diego

Sam and I went on a fantastic vacation.  I had no clue the hidden treasure of Alabama.  The gulf shore.  It was amazing.  We went to Orange Beach and, although it did rain for a little bit each day, we had plenty of beach time and we even went para sailing one day.  If you ever have the opportunity to do it, you should.  This is something that we never would have imagined ourselves doing, but we are trying to seize new opportunities and break out of our comfort zone.  I would say that floating 600 feet in the air while attached to a rope tied to the back of a boat would be out of our comfort zone.  Sam is not a fan of heights, so I was very proud of him when he agreed to do it.  If you are ever in the area and are looking for a place to stay, we stayed at The Hilton Garden Inn - Beachfront.  They had a breakfast buffet that I wish I could go to every day.  I do not recommend doing what I did and attempt to have a healthy day ~ fruit, activia yogurt, a bran muffin, and coffee are a great way to get things moving!  The company we used for para sailing was really great.  It was Zeke's Landing.  The guides were really nice and did a wonderful job.  The day before we left, we found a fantastic restaurant, Cosmo's.  I would eat at Cosmo's for lunch and dinner everyday if I could.  The food was heavenly! 

I did manage to find a way to work some of my Pinterest pins into this summer.  Not that Sam and I fight a bunch, but we did nit-pick a tad.  One of us would be too sensitive or the other one would be too defensive and the next thing you knew....BAM another dumb argument that by the end of it we didn't realize what caused it.  In July, I pinned a quote from Bob Marley.

It helped me realize just what I had.  Not a perfect man, but someone who was perfect for me.  Our communication skills have greatly improved, we say thank you to each other for even the smallest thing, I'm not constantly on my phone, checking e-mails or looking at Facebook.  We talk about our day and we enjoy the time that we are spending with each other.  He truly is the love of my life and I wouldn't want it any other way.  He has only been gone for a few hours and I miss him terribly.  Before he left, he made sure I was stocked up on soup and ginger ale (as well as stamps).  Best of all, he loves me. 

Me trying some Brunswick Stew

I did try out some recipes and I will write about them in my next blog.  I hope everyone enjoyed their summer as much as the Byram/de la Garza/Murphy clan did!  Looking forward to Orange Beach again next year.
"Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to people. For those few months you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are. The fresh cut grass smell in the air & the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool, gives you courage you didn’t think you had. Summer just opens the door and lets you free." ~ Unknown


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pinterest Projects 11, 12, and 13.... Veggie gardens, Milestone frames, Name frames

I have been so busy doing projects, that I have not even taken a break to blog!  It is very satisfying to be able to check things off my list that I have completed.  Because I have been so awful with blogging, here are weeks 11, 12, AND 13!

Lots of things going on right now.  After some long thought and contemplation, we are making some changes.  It is something that we really don't want to discuss with everyone just yet, but when the time comes, we will.  I always hate when people elude to something and don't say what it is, but it can be something that is potentially life changing and we are both nervous, scared, excited, you name it.  No, it is not a baby.  We are not ready for that right now and when the time comes, we will know. 

My mum and sister are coming to visit with the kids on Thursday and then my brother in law will be coming on the 26th.  I cannot wait until everyone gets here!  I know that my dad loves being here with me, but he is happiest when my mum is here.  I pick on him because he gets very giddy when my mum is here, but I love when he is that happy.  It makes my heart smile.  We have a bunch of things planned, but I am secretly hoping that we spend a whole lot of time at the pool.

Phoebe and Lulu have been with us for a year, which means that my Cheyenne has been gone for a year.  I miss Cheyenne everyday.  She saved my life several times and I am eternally grateful for that, as is my family.  Phoebe and Lulu have really come a long way since we got them.  And the secret is......DEER ANTLERS!!!!  No deer are harmed in the process of getting the antlers.  Deer shed them naturally and that was something that was really important to me when we decided to get them.  The girls chew on them non-stop!  This has helped us a whole lot in the sense that we don't need to leave them in their boxes anymore at nite and when we are at work.  Now, I am not saying that they are totally cured of all destructive behaviors.  But, they have decreased to only once in a while.  There are also still some instances when Phoebe will lick my hand during the middle of the nite, but she has gotten better about doing that too.

On to my projects!!!!  Hooray! 

This first project has been my favorite by far!  When we moved into our house, the previous owners had left some furniture for us.  One of the things was a futon.  We had gotten rid of the cushion for it and we were going to get a new cushion, but we decided not to.  When we had mold remediation done to our basement, the futon frame was moved out to the patio.  That was a year ago.  It has been thru rain, ice, extreme cold, extreme heat, everything.  It was an eyesore that I had been planning on taking apart and disposing of.  Then, I had my veggies that I had planted from seeds, but had no where to put in the ground.  Our backyard is very shady because of the large amount of trees that we have back there.  So, an area where there was tons of sunlite was not really feasible in the yard.  They were just sitting in pots in the driveway and their growth had been stunted because there was nowhere else for them to go.  I had a little chat with Sam and asked him if I could put them on the side of the house near the shrubs because that is an area that gets a lot of sun.  He said whatever would make me happy was fine.  Sam is a firm believer in Happy Wife, Happy Life! ;-)  With that, I got out the shovel and started to dig.  In an hour, I got about a 1'x1'x1/8" hole dug.  It was sad and pathetic and I almost cried.  I plopped down on the stairs to our deck and called Sam in a huff stating that I was going to Home Depot, getting wood, and building a raised garden bed that I had seen on Pinterest.  That is when the futon looked very inviting!  I got the proper tools that I needed from my toolbox, hosed off the wood, took apart the futon, and started measuring, hammering, and drilling.  There were 2 pieces of wood that needed to be cut, so I left that to Sam once he got home from work.  He could not believe what I created from only the pieces of the futon and nothing else.  Actually, I even impressed myself with this one.  Definitely a raised garden bed that would make Gramps very proud!  To see where I got my idea from, please visit this wonderful website!

                                        Old Futon                                                        New Raised Garden Bed!                                

                   New Garden Bed Getting A Sprinkle!                                 Sprinkles and Smiles!

My next project was a  gift that my co-worker asked me to make for a relative that is expecting a baby.  This is another form of the I Love You Because..... board.  She asked me to make this for when they take pictures each month and to document milestones.  I just love it!  She picked out the graphics and told me what color frame she wanted as well as filled me in on the color scheme of the baby's room.  Pink and gray.  I love it!  I had some extra time and paper, so I also made a matching card to go with it.  This is something that I will also be featuring on my PhoebeLu's page that is on Facebook, so make sure that you check out the page and Like it!  I am selling these as well for only $15!  Matching cards are only $2.50.  Take a peek at Ava Grace's board below!
                                                                 Ava Grace is...... board!

Matching Congrats Card

My third project is something that I just love.  It was my first project using vinyl with my Cricut.  It was a whole lot of fun to create and I also got to use my Cricut Craft Room program.  We will be hanging this in our dining room.  Every time I see it, it makes me smile and reminds me of one of the happiest days of my life!  This fabulous frame would be great for a wedding or anniversary gift for only $25.  It can be customized to suit your needs!

Double Paned Name Frame!

I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer vacations!  The weather has been rainy the last week, but the plants in my new raised flower bed love it.  Big hugs to all of my readers!

"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live." ~Flora Whittemore

"Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year - it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul." ~Author Unknown

"Each fairy breath of summer, as it blows with loveliness, inspires the blushing rose." ~Author Unknown

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pinterest Projects Weeks 9 & 10 - Repainting Outdoor Fixtures and Lemon Ice Cream

I have been quite the busy bee in the last 2 weeks, which is why I have not had a chance to blog, but I am making up for it by posting 2 weeks in one. But I can guarantee that I have not been nearly as busy as one of my BFF's, Julie, who just gave birth to 3 beautiful boys on Monday! Everyone is doing well ~ please keep them in your thoughts and prayers that everyone stays well. I cannot wait to get up to NY so that I can give those boys and their mommy a big giant SQUEEZE!!!!! Yay!

As for work, I worked another shift as charge nurse. Let's just say we had 6 admissions and everyone stayed in one piece by the time I was done. The nurse that was doing my orientation said that everyone thinks that I am too nice to be charge nurse. I am one tough cookie, though, who has been thru a whole lot more than most and I am still here with a smile on my face. I figure that you have to be a tough cookie in order to have a husband with CF. Years ago, I did not have the best coping skills, but with time, I have learned what works and what doesn't. People forget that I am from NY and I can unleash a beast when necessary :-).

On to our DIY projects! I love our house. The style of our house has always been my dream house, but I think I might have had some blinders on when we decided that it was perfect. The people that lived here before us really did not care about keeping things modern. Slowly but surely, we have been making this a little bit better. We were starting from square one. The kitchen still have the original cabinets and appliances. Sam and I were just thinking about redoing the kitchen, but everything works and it really is not that bad. Instead, we decided to do a bunch of small things instead of just one large thing. This past weekend, we tore out the vanity in the half bath downstairs, put in new tile where the vanity was, and we will be installing the new vanity at some point this week. That will be a later post!

One of the things that irked me so much about the front of our house was the gold lites outside the front door and the faded brown screen door. Enter me and a can of spray paint! All it took was a few new screws to replace the rusty ones in the screen door and a can of Satin Black Rustoleum spray paint. I have decided that spray paint is my new best friend. The blog that I used for the instructions was this little charmer! I did run into an issue when painting the lites. I did not have the time or the patience to to take it apart or remove the glass, or cover the surrounding areas of the house with newspaper. So what did I do? I sprayed the paint in a plastic container and painted the lites with a sponge brush. It did not take very long at all. The most difficult part was coaxing myself to climb up past the third step on the ladder. I clung on for dear life and painted away! Next up was the lite post that sits in our lawn. It was faded and sad looking. This one was easier to do because I was able to spray that. The cost of this project was simply the $6.99 for the can of spray pain as opposed to the cost of 2 new lites and a new lite post!

The following week, I painted the screen door. Just remember to detach it from the little pressure bar thingy - something I forgot to do. After removing all of the other screws, I remembered to detach that and let's just say that after a large crash, I was lucky that the glass panes didn't break! I was able to spray this one because I did take the time to cover the glass with newspaper and tape. While I did get a little bit of paint here and there, I used the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and it took the paint off the glass very easily! The latches got a new coat of paint, too! It looks like a whole new door for just the cost of a can of spray paint and screws. All together, it cost me <$9!

Take a look at the before and after photos below!
Old Rusty Gold Lite...Blah! Newly Painted Black Lite.....Oooh-Ahhhh!

Here are the new lites with the old door.

Old lite post......Ugh! New lite post.......Tada!!!!

Old door.......Sheesh! New door.....Hooray!

This is what happens when you don't wear gloves. It washes off relatively easily, but it stayed around my cuticles for about a week despite massive scrubbing!

My next project was not from Pinterest. It was a recipe that I received from the mother of one of my patients. And boy was it tasty! It is a Lemon Icebox Pie Ice Cream. There was only one thing that I changed. The recipe called for graham crackers, but I used shortbread. The recipe is from Southern Living, but I found it here on this website so I did not have to retype it. I made it with the fantastic new Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment that my mother in law sent me as a surprise. This is definitely going to come in handy!

Yummy, delish ice cream!!!
I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the first days of summer! Please don't forget to "Like" PhoebeLu's page on Facebook. I will be doing more projects that will be for sale in the next few weeks. 15% of the profits go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Big hugs to all!
“Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.” ~Don Kardong
“...stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. ” ~Robert J. Hastings
“If I could lick the sunset, I’ll bet it would taste like Neapolitan ice cream. 
” ~ Jarod Kintz

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pinterest Project: Week 8 - Heavenly Squished Potatoes and Imitation PB Mirrors

So I am behind.  I am very behind.  That is because I have been doing so many things around the house that I am too tired to blog about it.  I am definitely going to try a little bit better to be on time with my blogs.  Many changes have been done to the house, small changes, but time consuming changes.  In order to avoid this being the longest post known to man kind, I am going to write about the two things that apply most directly to my Pinterest Project, and in future posts, I will write about the other changes. 

Before the Pinterest Project, I am going to just chat a little bit about what has been going on in this crazy head of mine.  It seems as though there is something in the water that is causing everyone to be pregnant.  I can truly, genuinely and honestly say that I am happy for all of my pregnant friends.  Some have been struggling to get there and others just happened to "stumble" there.  I am not sure if I am just more aware of it, but it seems like everyone either has a child or is carrying one via uterus.  Right now, I am at a point where I am very confused.  I am not sure what I want.  Adopting a baby seems like a great thing to do and I am sure that I am going to want that soon, but right now, I am not sure how I feel about us being parents at this current time.  I'm not sure if it is because I am afraid that we won't be able to adopt so it is just easier for me to pretend I don't want one right now.  It still doesn't mean that not having a baby doesn't hurt any less and that our infertility doesn't bother me any more.  Mother's Day was a hard one for me this year.  I had to work and of course that is the famous day when everyone asks if you are a mother.  Well, one of our respiratory therapists asked me and I told her that I was the mother to 8 furry legs and 2 wet noses.  Another employee, who knew my situation, quickly cut in and said that dogs didn't count so no, I was not a mother.  Well, thanks for adding salt to that wound.  Way to be sensitive!  Also what happens a lot of times is every time I feel sick, people always say, "Maybe you're pregnant."  When I tell them it is impossible, they say stranger things have happened or Miracles happen!  Yes, miracles do happen, but I am also not delusional and I also am a firm believer in science.  Trust me people.  If it happened, I would have a whole lot of explaining to do and one very angry husband.  I try to turn our infertility into a positive - we can go out whenever we want to!  We can sleep thru the nite!  I won't have a stomach down to my knees or droopy boobies!  We don't have to worry about day care or babysitters!  We don't have to worry about raising a child in this crazy world!  I know, I know.  We also don't get all of the joys that come with having children.  But humor me here, people.  The whole point is to try to make me feel better.

One other factor that is making it difficult has been work lately.  Right now, we seem to have an increase in child abuse/abandoned children.  It has been really hard seeing these beautiful children who come to use malnourished, scared, lonely.  The scars on their exterior are not nearly as bad as the scars on their interior.  I can only hope that while they were in the hospital with us, our staff was able to leave a positive impression on them.  Seeing these children being treated worse than anybody should be treated is heartbreaking.  Knowing that the people who did this to them are never going to be treated that way even when they are serving their time in prison is very unsettling. 

Now for my 2 Pinterest Projects!  The recipe I tried were squished potatoes.  They were yummy!  This recipe was from a pin on Pinterest, but apparently the pin leads to spam, so I made up my own recipe to go with the photo.  I took some small red potatoes, boiled them for a few minutes until they were fork tender.  Now comes the fun part.  I used Reynold's non-stick foil on a baking sheet, spaced them out evenly, and had a spiffy time squishing them with a glass.  Don't squish too much otherwise they will sort of fall apart.  Just a lite squish to open them up some.  I added a pat of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter to each one and then gave them a little spritz with some Crisco butter cooking spray.  They were seasoned with a bit of garlic powder, some parsley and then topped off with some coarse sea salt.  I popped those bad boys in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes until they are nice and brown and crispy.  These made a lovely side with our filet mignon and sauteed spinach. 

Next up was the really cute mirror idea that I got from this fabulous blog here!  Apparently, Pottery Barn has a mirror that is similar to this and I imagine it cost a whole lot more than my new mirror.  Because my new mirror cost.......drum roll please!  TEN BUCKS!!!!  The only things that I had to purchase were the 9 mirrors from the dollar store as well as the foam board from the dollar store.  I already had the duct tape, but they do sell that at the dollar store if you need it.  I also had some ribbon and that is what I am using to hang it.  When I taped the mirrors together, I made sure that the hangers were facing the same way.  I tied the ribbon onto the hangers and, when I get around to it, I will hang it above the mantle.  This whole project took about 12 minutes.  The only reason it took that long was because the dogs were very interested and kept attempting to walk on the mirrors.  Best of all, Sam really likes it!

 I am not really sure why the photo is so crooked.  Perhaps because I took it with my iPhone! 

Hoping that everyone is doing well!  Have a great rest of the week!  Hugs!

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." ~ Lady Bird Johnson

""Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children." ~ Princess Diana

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 6 - Whiter Whites & Greeting Cards

The past week was a pretty decent week.  On Thursday, I had my first orientation shift as charge nurse.  My Assistant Nurse Manager, Shanta, was the person doing my orientation.  It is always a good time when I work with her and this was no exception.  Well, maybe there was one small exception.  The fact that I got rather sick when I was at work.  I am still not sure what exactly it was that came over me.  It was similar to the issue I had the week before, but I had a lot more physical symptoms at work than I did the week before.  Since then, I have gotten queasy a few times, but not nearly as badly.  Either way, I stuck it out and the hospital was still standing when I left.  My co-workers were extremely supportive and very patient and helpful, so that made the shift go by very smoothly.  Kudos to my great friends at work!

Lately, I have been on a kick where I just want things to be "normal".  I know there is no such thing as normal, but I wanted to get as close to it as possible.  There are times when I get tired of always having to be on someone else's schedule.  This sounds terrible, I know.  But some days it can be a lot to bear and I am not even the one doing the treatments and the home IV's, having body aches and pains, being exhausted, etc.  I see how I feel with all of this stuff going on, so I cannot even imagine what it is like for Sam.  So, this weekend, Sam made sure that we got up early, we had breakfast, he did his treatments, he packed the cooler with his IV's and all the necessary supplies, as well as everything he needed for his afternoon treatments, and we hit the road!  We didn't come home until almost 11 pm!  Not that we have never stayed out until 11, but we were gone the whole day and didn't have to have any time constraints or stop what we were doing to come home and do treatments/IV's.  The entire day was spent at the outlets shopping and then we went out for dinner.  Sam was quite the trooper.  It was hot, he had his aircast on his foot, but we went up and down every row of stores and he did not complain once.  I know it sounds really dumb, but there were so many things that I used to take for granted and now every aspect of the day pretty much needs to be scheduled out.  It was something that I really needed and I appreciate Sam going out of his comfort zone in order to make me happy.

Today, on the other hand, was quite the doozy!  Sam and I were just talking the other day about us getting a new car.  While I would love to get a new car, the thought of not having a car payment is even nicer.  I don't live in my car, it doesn't take me very long to get to work, the car is not used for long car trips - I really don't even like to drive!  So the necessity of me having a new car is just not there for me.  Same thing with Sam.  Our cars get us from Point A to Point B without any issues - except for today.  About 5 minutes from my house, my car started to ding and I looked down at the dashboard only to see that my temperature gauge was in the red zone.  CRAP!  For some reason, I remember this happening to us on the way to Chicago in my dad's car in the dead of summer when I was about 6 years old.  The only thing that I could remember was that I had to turn the heat on.  Well, it was about 85+ degrees out here today.  And did I mention that none of my windows actually roll down but the rear driver's side window has dropped about an inch so it is slightly open?  And did I mention that it was pouring rain so every few seconds a raindrop would find it's way onto the back of my neck?  I actually think that I heard a sizzle every once in a while when one hit me.  In a sweaty panic, I called Sam - and no answer.  Next, I called my dad - he was on the phone with a client and said he would call me right back.  Thankfully, I was right down the street from my destination so I made it to the supermarket parking lot in one big sweaty, steamy piece.  As I was walking into the store, Sam called.  The call took a turn for the worst when he suggested that I go out into the parking lot to see if I was out of antifreeze.  Yeah, not going to happen.  There is rain, me already hot, sweaty and angry.  Popping the hood of my car searching for things was not going to happen.  I was able to get back home in one hot piece and my dad came over and discovered that I was completely out of antifreeze.  Either way, I learned how to fill my car with antifreeze and I also learned that my eye lids have a ton of sweat glands in them.  There was about a three hour's time when I was kicking myself for not taking up the new car offer, but again, no car payment is even better! 

Onto my Pinterest project!  I used bleach on our whites a few times and, while Sam was thrilled with how white everything came out, the bleach was an irritant for hime.  When I found that vinegar and baking soda worked well as a whitening agent on Pinterest, I was skeptical as always.  I figured it would not hurt to try it, so when I did laundry, I put in the detergent, added Borax as usual, and then tossed in a half cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.  Lo and behold when I pulled out our whites from the washing machine, I was shocked to see that old yellow t-shirts that we use to do gardening, dingy socks, and Sam's boxers all came out gleaming white!  I will never go back to bleach again!  When I put it in with my colored clothing, they came out even brighter.  So cheap and so easy!  I definitely give this one 2 thumbs up and would recommend it for anyone who is looking to decrease their bleach usage. 

My next Pinterest project involved my beloved Cricut machine.  I used it to make some greeting cards.  I got the idea for the daisies from the card from this blog.  Mine is not as intricate as hers is, but I still like it.  I also made a few other cards as well including graduation, birthday, and new baby cards.  It was really simple to do.  I got the blank cards from Michael's as well as the cardstock from there.  In order to add some dimention, I used some double sided foam tape.  Let me know your card occassion needs and I can do it!  They are $2.50 a card.  And remember, PhoebeLu's will donate 15%of the profits to the CF Foundation!  I have a check in my hot little hands for my Great Strides team and I am hoping to add more to it before I send it in! 

That is all of my excitement for this week.  Wishing all of my Nurse friends a Happy Nurse's Week!  I know that every day that I get home from work, I am satisfied because I know that I made a difference in the life of a child.  I hope you feel the same way, too!  Big hugs to all!

"To do what nobody else will do, a way that nobody else can do, in spite of all we go through; is to be a nurse."  ~ Rawsi Williams

"Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God's spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts."  ~Florence Nightingale

"As descendants of the "lady with the lamp", we the angles of mercy, spread the warmth and light of care, compassion and hope to the ones we serve!"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Week 5! Pancakes and Necklaces

Good news, friends!  I have been trying and trying to come up with a name for my Pinterest Project other than just, well, Pinterest Project.  After much thinking and running names past my family, I finally came up with and decided on a name.  Everyone ready for this one.......PhoebeLu's!!!!  I know!  I just love it!  And if you don't please don't be honest and tell me that you don't.  I would rather just live in a fantasy world that thinks that everyone loves the name as much as I do.  I have come up labels and business cards and I am currently in the process of putting together a Facebook page.  This is something that I am really excited about.  When I was younger, my dad used to bring me to the local K-Mart here in GA when I would visit him over the summer and he would pay $15 so I could set up a table selling my crafts.  He would also bring them to his office and he would sell them there.  This is something that I have always had a passion for and I am really excited about this. 

Onto my Pinterest Projects for this week.  My first one was a recipe that was really delicious!  Like a lot of recipes, I was kind of skeptical about it.  They were called Busy Mom Muffins which is pancake batter in muffin pans.  You add the maple syrup and you can add whatever add-ins that you like in or on your pancakes.  I used walnuts and apples and they were delish!  After they came out of the oven, I sliced them open and slathered them with butter.  And what goes best with pancakes?  Bacon of course!  Which made a lovely side dish.  I followed the instructions on this lovely pin here! I had some leftover, so I brought them to work and they made a lovely, quick, easy breakfast (that I had at about 11:30 am) that I just popped in the microwave.

Now for my next project, which was my craft of the week.  It was a really fun one!  Even though I screwed up the first one and had a cursing fit.  But I digress.  My project was the LOVE necklace that is an idea that was originally sparked by an Anthropologie necklace shown at their website.  It is simply just some jewelry hardware, tread in any color that you like, and some wire.  Simple enough!  I got the idea from this clever blog here!  I used some blue thread for mine and a silver chain.  I opted not to use a charm on it because I liked the simpler look of just the word.  Take a peek!
These lovely necklaces retail on the Anthropologie website for $48.  Mine are only $15!  And remember - 15% of that will go to the CF Foundation.  So far, I have $35 from my lovely little Pinterest Project which is now known as PhoebeLu's that is going to go towards my Great Strides 2012 goal! I am really hoping to be able to add more to that.  If you are interested in this necklace, please let me know what color you would like, what length you want for the necklace, and what you would like the necklace to say.  Personally, I think mine is cuter that the Anthropologie one!

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!  Thanks for reading my blog and make sure to pass it along to your friends and families!!!  Hugs to all!!!!

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”  ~Dr. Seuss

“If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.”  ~Marilyn Monroe