Friday, June 29, 2012

Interesting Color Wheels

In order to be a better crafter, I am brushing up on color theory.  There is so much great information on the web about theory, too much to even begin to review them here.  But I did think that the first color wheel I saw was a little plain.  So I googled for the image and Oh Boy! are there a ton of images for the color wheel.  I collected a few that I liked the most to share with you.  The first is an antique version that is so striking.

The next one is identified as an 18th Century French color wheel.  Leave it to the French to add a cherub to a color wheel;).

I think the next one is so fun and refreshing, it is made using fruits and vegetables.

This next one was made by a flower seller and used for advertising.  Very clever and beautiful.


This last one is my favorite.  The wheel itself is very beautiful, and it includes hue, tint, shade and complement.  I am printing this one out for my desk.  I am very interested in the complement colors.


I hope you enjoyed this little look at color wheels.

Have a Happy Friday!

This is the first thing I painted using my watercolor set, I used a picture of a dragon in a book as my inspiration to draw it.  Not bad for my first watercolor since the third grade;).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Family Super Powers

I hope I have made it clear in my posts so far, I have a pretty terrific family.  I have been thinking about each person and their family super powers. These are just initial thoughts, I think each person also has other super powers, but that is for a different post;).

Family Super Powers:
Isabel is a sweetheart.  She has developed great confidence for her age and sometimes it can seem like too much confidence (SASSY); but at her core Isabel is a loving angel.  I can see it in the way she helps me, in her eyes when we joke and craft, and how she plays with Luci.  Sometimes I secretly stand in the hall outside of the kitchen so I can hear her sing while she washes dishes.

Sebastian is a lover and a fighter.  He beats on Bob mercilessly but he also kisses my cheek in greeting when we see each other in the morning and before bed at night, every day.  He loves Luci with great abandon, even teaching her to hug (yes, she will actually jump up and hug him).  He has a strong manly love for his papa and even gives his sister a brotherly kind of "tough love";).

Esteban is a comedic magician.  He tells stories and makes comments that are so funny.  When he comes back from work, Esteban tells me about some of his adventures and most often I laugh to tears.  Sometimes I am in one room and hear roaring laughter coming from another and I know Esteban is working his magic on the children.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Our summer is moving in the right direction, we are often wearing pajamas and eating delicious snacks.  Wow, I just realized we are basically having a long pajama party.  I choose to embrace it.

Have an outstanding Thursday.

This gong is on our kitchen table.  Interesting or weird?  Both?  The sound it makes is soft and musical versus loud and metallic.  We all love it but forget about it sometimes.  I am going to go ring it in honor of this post.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sun Pod;) and Silk

I admit I let the heat get to me yesterday.  Sometimes it feels like we are living in a pod on the sun.  Luckily we have a giant bag of M&Ms in our sun pod;).
Also, I have to briefly discuss my winking.  I am a winker.  In real life and when I write;).  Sometimes when I go back to read my last paragraph, I find winks after every sentence.  I am working on not overwinking, but I must insist there will be times when a wink is absolutely critical.  Like now;).  No?  Not critical?  Ok, I'll keep working on it.
When I get heat restlessness I tend to turn to the computer for outside inspiration.  I wanted to see interesting graphic designs so I was clicking around on some design blogs and found Silk.  Yes, it sounds like a site selling scarves but this is something interesting.
Silk is an experiment in generative art.  Meaning art that continues to create after you initiate it.  How is that possible?  Basically you move your mouse across the screen and then wait for the magic to begin.  Sparks come from your mouse movements and then you see the silk materialize.  You control the initial movement then the program takes over and a new kind of art is born. Yuri Vishnevsky created the program while persuing his degree in Computer Science and Linguistics.

All I know is that Silk felt like a cool breeze yesterday.

You can reach the Silk site directly here.  I know it sounds weird, but I think you will be surprised at how fun it is to see the silk grow on your screen.

The images below are free screen savers available at the site and made using the Silk program.
I can't decide if I like the blue or red best.

The Silk wallpapers were designed by the inimitable Anand Sharma.

I hope you have a whimsical Wednesday. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Staying Cool

It is super hot right now here in Arizona.  Yesterday's temperatures don't even sound real:  106 degrees as a high and 87 degrees as the low.  Yes, the overnight low was 87 degrees, Yikes.   Arizona has very low humidity so most people find it more bearable than tropical heat.  But 106 is the kind of hot that can't be denied.  You may not be as hot, but some of the things we do may help you have a more comfortable summer.

 Tips to stay cool:

-Drink water every few hours.  Here in the desert we run the risk of dehydrating very quickly; drinking water every few hours ensures that even a light dehydration does not occur.

-Avoid using the oven.  We toast or use our crock pot most of the time.  We have a kitchen that is open to our living room and when the oven is used it heats both rooms and causes the air conditioner to work even harder.

-Eat and drink cool things.  Esteban regularly makes frozen fruit smoothies.  We also eat a lot of salads or cool sandwiches.  To order great cool sandwiches try Jimmy Johns, they have delicious food.  You can find a decent variety of No-Oven summer recipes at is a Disney family blog that has fun content and a whole section of recipes.

-Schedule outings.  We schedule our fun in the cooler early morning hours or late in the evening when the sun goes down.  It is still really hot in the evenings but without the sun it does not feel like you are burning alive;).

-Wear breathable clothes.  Cotton is what we choose most often, but there are great poly cotton blends available now.  100% polyester is to be avoided.  Run away from black polyester.

-Go to the shade.  If caught in the sun try to get in the shade as soon as possible.  Esteban and Sebastian use this when they walk Luci during the hottest part of the day.  The sun here seems to burn the skin quickly, even when wearing sun screen you can feel your skin burning.

-Don't waste cold.  When anyone goes in or out we close our front door right away so we don't let the cold out.  We also check the windows regularly to make sure we are not leaking cold air.  When your house gets hot here it can take forever to get the temperate cool again.

-Have plenty of inside entertainment.  Books, games, crafts and B.O.B. keep us busy and happy, as well as movies and music.

I know these are all common sense, but they can serve as good reminders to be mindful of the heat.

It is hot here but we are having a very fun summer so far.

I hope your summer is off to a great start.  Stay cool.

Courtesy of Graphics Fairy

Monday, June 25, 2012

Family Member Updates

I wanted to give a brief update on what our little family is up to right now.

Here we go:

Isabel:  facebooking with her friends, reading about an Egyptian adventure, crafting jewelry, obsessing about Narwhals, singing while washing dishes and vacuuming, prepping for a summer adventure, sassing her brother, feeding and petting Luci, writing in her journal

Courtesy of Graphics Fairy

Sebastian:  gaming online, learning to play the violin via Youtube videos, applying for summer jobs, walking and petting Luci, beating up Bob, washing dishes and cleaning kitchen, going to the gym, bossing his sister, prepping for next semester
Violin VL100.jpg
Courtesy of Wiki

Frances:  goofing around with Esteban Isabel or Sebastian, crafting jewelry, embroidering a giraffe (from Embroider Everything Workshop),  reading about animals, Blogging about us;), eating good food and some bad too, petting Luci, sleeping
Embroider Everything Workshop
Embroider Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp
Courtesy of Wild Olive

Esteban:  Working, taking photos, digitally altering photos, thinking of setting up his own digital art blog (yea!), cooking up a storm, listening to his great music collection, cleaning and laundry, walking and petting Luci

Original Digital Art by Esteban
This was initially a photo of a piece of fabric

I tried to list a good sample of activities for each person and I wanted to give credit so included some chores.  Esteban and the children take really good care of me and Luci.  We are both very grateful.

I hope your week has a great start.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Dick Clark Rose

I don't have a garden, but lately I can't get enough rose.  I even found a light rose oil that I use to keep my room smelling beautiful.  I also used some rose fabric on curtains I recently made.
I felt the need for some fresh rose inspiration and I always learn a lot by googleing, so I looked up rose.

I found  It is the website for the All-American Rose Selections.  They are a non profit association that keeps 10 test gardens around the country for roses.  Their motto is: "Proven in our garden to flourish in yours."

For nearly 70 years, All-America Rose Selections' sole function has been to determine which new rose varieties can be recommended without equivocation to the public as rose varieties of top quality. To be chosen as an AARS Winner a rose must complete a two-year testing process in nationwide test gardens.

There is also a bit of rose history:

The first fossil records of the rose date back 35 million years. In 3000 B.C., in what is now Iraq, the Sumerians created the first written record of the rose. Sappho, in her 600 B.C. "Ode to the Rose," referred to this beauty as the queen of flowers, a reference still popular today. 
Jumping ahead to the 16th century, colonists brought the rose to North America, making it the longest cultivated European plant in this country. In 1798, Empress Josephine acquired her palace at Malmaison and created the most remarkable rose garden ever planted. It included every variety known at the time (about 250).
"Modern" rose hybrids date back to 1867, and by 1920 hybrid teas dominated the market. Today, shrub roses are increasingly popular as they provide the season long color roses are known for, while being very easy to grow.
All-America Rose Selections formed in 1938 to test new rose varieties to determine which, if any, could be recommended to the public.
One of the most popular roses of all time, "Peace," was smuggled to the United States from occupied France in 1945.

Pretty interesting.  I looked up the recent rose winners and found out in 2011 one of the winners was called Dick Clark.  What a nice way to remember him.  Of course it is also an amazing flower, the yellow to pink to almost red is a work of art.  Take a look:

"AARS winning roses embody all of the characteristics today’s homeowners desire in a garden plant. Each AARS winning rose excelled in an extensive two-year trial program where it’s judged on everything from rose disease resistance to flower production, color and fragrance."

Would you want to have a rose named after you?

What kind of rose would it be?

I love roses that are dark orange, basically a rust color.  But I think I am actually a grey rose.  I love grey, it can lean towards green or blue, even pink.  There are so many beautiful shades, I am sick with grey right now.  I would say blue-green is my favorite color, but I am not sure blue-green works on a rose. 

I will leave you with a final bit of rose inspiration in the form of a photo college:

The photos used are previous AARS winners and the originals can be found here.

I hope your weekend is rosy.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Around Our World

While on break I have been looking around with new eyes.  It is like waking up from a long sleep.   As I've been looking, I was compelled to capture some of the interesting things we have collected over time.  I thought I would share some of them here today and in an ongoing series.  Of course the photos have been colleged*;)

*colleged-word I made up that means I put the photos in a nice college format.  Warning, I may be a bit addicted to colleging.  Another new word!!  Ok. I am backing away from Picasa.

These faces are scattered around our living room and hallway.  We've had a few of them for more than 15 years.  They look so interesting close up.  The lion and blowing man are actually very small, about the size of a closed fist and are made of rough plaster.  Sebastian and I found the wooden face carving in the lower right corner on a bench in a park in Tucson.  It is also pretty small, so when Sebastian sat on a bench he picked up the piece of wood that was there.  When he turned it over and saw the face he was so surprised and delighted.  We believe that someone carved it and left it there for another to treasure.  It hangs in a place of honor in our hallway. The lovely face in the lower left corner greets people as they enter our kitchen.  Although she looks like she could be on the bow of a tiny ship, the face in the upper right corner is actually a wall vase that holds dried flowers.  The two men with faces made of leaves look like they are talking; I really like the detail and whimsy.   Seeing them together like this might make you think that we have faces of random people all over the place.  We don't.  This is it.  Too bad, right?

All of the things in this second college are from my desk or the bookcase right beside my desk, except the one in the middle.  It is a fisherman's tackle box that I converted into my craft tools and supplies storage (I <3 this box).  The lower left picture is my sewing machine cover with a strip of leather that I stamped and propped up in front of it. I am so drawn to the blue plaid fabric that I had to give it a central location.  The paintings in the upper left and lower right corners are post cards of  "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa" a Japanese masterpiece by Hokusai and a favorite by Van Gough called "Almond Branches in Bloom San Remy".  The rich color and details on the tiny paper animals make them fun to look at (and play with).  I am working with beads right now and find myself really drawn to a certain range of colors and textures.  I like how shiny the glass bottles look in the photo.
I am having fun with all of my little things, they really help inspire me. I even like organizing my desk and crafting corner. I feel so fortunate and grateful to be able to spend my time in a place I enjoy.

There are also several pieces of fabric collected over the past few months that I am madly in love with right now.

The black and white fabric is a soft light sweater like material that has just a bit of wool from  I ordered it when it was still cold out and haven't been able to commit to a project for it, yikes.  I may use it to make a hat for fall, until then another great idea may come along.  The pattern on the fabric looks like chain mail to me, I am surprised that I am so drawn to it.  The blue floral fabric in the upper right corner is a poly cotton jersey from JoAnns that I want to make a hat out of but I can't bring myself to cut it just yet, that color range just pleases my eye right now.  I have it draped over my desk chair so I can just look at it for a while.  The lower left is a nice floral I got at Ikea, so cheerful.  I am looking for a quick project for it this summer.  The last is a great thick material from JoAnns I used to make a small backpack for Isabel recently.  I love the colors in it and plan to use it to make some kind of small bag for myself.  I know they sound pretty willy nilly, but these are actually back burner projects.  We have a priority on completing jewelry crafts and prepping for a special summer adventure Isabel is going on.  We will do a special post on that so stay tuned.

Thanks for starting the journey around my world, more to come. 

Have a fun Friday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Life List

I love her blog because she is funny and I really like the way she writes.  The bonus is that AB Chao is a successful designer with an interesting life.  I enjoy AB's photo series of headless pictures of herself, they are so funny.  And like me, she has a very photogenic dog;)
I bring her blog to your attention not just for great dog photos, but because I feel compelled to share the Life List she put together.  I have been thinking about the world and my place in it for some time now.  A list like this made me feel so many things.  For me the point of the list is not about doing them, it is about identifying the things and places we love and the dreams we have inside.  My list would be very different except for the photo show of my dog's pictures and Kenny Rogers (Islands in the Stream-I know all the words).  Fun Frances Fact:   I learned the "Thriller" dance in high school. What is the Tamale Trail?  I looked it up and the trail is located in the Mississippi Delta and let's just say good eating and good times are the focus. I like how AB crossed out the things she has done already.  I am working on my list and hope that you are inspired to write one of your own.  Thanks AB.

Here is a small excerpt, you can see the complete list by clicking here-AB Chao's Life List:

Compete in a darts tournament
Buy and renovate a beach house on the Gulf Coast
Give a dramatic reading
Spend a day on a shrimp boat
Have a chef cook a 7-course meal for me and a crowd
Learn the "Thriller" dance
Run the New York marathon
Decorate a room with Jonathan Adler
Tour the Tamale Trail
Do a back flip on an in-ground trampoline
Sing a duet with Kenny Rogers
Attend a Super Bowl
Have a photography show with pictures of my dog
Speak really good French
Smoke pot in Amsterdam
Make the cover of a magazine
Eat a rice burger in Taipei
Have bespoke clothing made for myself in Singapore
Quit my job
Own a vintage Danish light
Eat at the French Laundry
Eat at Alinea
Eat at Cochon
Live in New Orleans

Here is a peek at a few flower pins I made recently.
I made this out of thick grey jersey like material.  I love the way the blue bead catches the eye.

These are also made of jersey and are super soft.  I sewed one onto my orange hat and just love it.

I hope you have a Wacky Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Crock Pot Tips

I know if you go by my recent focus on french fries you would think that I eat junk food all the time.  The truth is that I only have fast food once or twice a week.  The rest of the time my handsome husband cooks up a storm.  My favorite thing to eat right now are his Crock Pot creations; he has no recipes and no two ever taste the same.  I wanted to share a few of his techniques that really work to make each meal special.
  • Spice and then sear the chicken/meat before adding it to the crock.  You should not cook it, just sear in the spices on the outside.  If you do not have a go to spice mix then you can sprinkle on a bit of rosemary, paprika, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.  This helps the meat have it's own flavor.
  • Use canned soup or broth as a flavor base, there are many great low sodium options.  We like cream of mushroom best right now.
  • Don't add too much water.  I like a stew consistency so we don't add much water, usually only about 1/2 cup is added to the cream of mushroom or other condensed soup.
  • Cook meat and root vegetables for a few hours then add the more delicate vegetables for the last hour or two. Try new vegetables that you would not normally add to the crock pot, like snow peas, broccoli crowns and spinach.  Adding them in last also allows for them to taste fresh instead of too mushy.
  • Pour the finished stew over brown rice to give additional texture and fiber;)  I LOVE a brown and long grain wild rice mix.
I whipped up a nice PicMonkey college to show some of the ingredients of a recent creation.  The carrot pictures show the root vegetable covering the meat.  The picture with white sauce over the root vegetables is our cream of mushroom soup.  Esteban cooked that root vegetable mix for a few hours then added the green mix you see with snow peas.  This one had a sweet note with the carrots and sweet potatoes, that was balanced by just a bit of heat with Cayenne pepper.  It smelled so wonderful and tasted even better!

Have a terrific Tuesday!!

Do you like the new look? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

A French Connection

While I enjoy watching the actor Gene Hackman, I am afraid this post is not about The French Connection film he made in 1971.  This post is about a few things I have enjoyed lately that happen to have a French connection.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I moved to Germany while in High School.  I was there for several years, Sebastian was born on a small Army post in Nuernberg, Germany.  Spending time abroad as a young person definitely left a positive impression on me, one that lasts to this day.  I regret that I was not able to travel to France when I was in Europe.  I think that has helped to build the romance in my mind.  So now I take virtual tours on the Louvre website and dream of picnics under the Eiffel tower.
Speaking of picnics under the Eiffel tower, I got the idea from a blog I love called Oh, Happy Day!  The blog is owned by event planner Jordan Ferney.  I started reading it while she and her husband and two boys lived in Paris for a year.  Most of the photos are taken by her husband Paul and are stunning, I felt like I was transported.  Jordan's posts from Paris helped me to remember the best things about Europe.
They recently moved back to San Fransisco and they take us with them as they get reacquainted with the city. You can still read about their adventure by clicking the Paris tab at the top of the home page. This Paris section is packed full of great tips and fun places to visit along with photos showing this little family in action.  Because Jordan is an event planner, the blog also has a lot of cool ideas about putting together a gathering, celebration or photo booth.  Jordan also writes for and she does a summary of her stories from there each week.  A very special blog for sure, I urge you to visit when you get a chance.  Here are a few photos from Paris from Oh, Happy Day!  

Next I want to share about a book I got as a gift for my Birthday.  A special person (who does not read this blog) gave it to me knowing that I would never get it for myself and I really appreciate that.  I learned about the book from a blog I mentioned before called DesignSponge;  it was featured a few months ago and is called The French Cat by Rachael Hale (Rachael's married name is McKenna, but her books are published under Hale). You may have heard of her or at least seen some of her pictures, Rachael Hale is a very popular photographer of super cute animals and babies. There is actually a website that offers books and items with her super cute photos here.  After years of capturing them in the studio, Rachael wanted to get out and photograph animals where they live.   I consider myself a dog person but I have never seen anything like this book. Rachael, her husband and baby moved to France and set out to capture photographs of animals in their natural environment.  Her first book from France is about cats and the photographs are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.  Included are bits of information on the area in France and the cat being photographed.  There are also fantastic quotes and great behind the camera information.  Like how Rachael used a feather tied to a stick to get the cat's attention and lead him/her into better lighting (no zoom lens or photoshop used!!).  While it seems like an unlikely treasure, I continue to enjoy my cat book.  Her other book just came out The French Dog!  I am wishing on a star that someday it will be mine.  Hey it worked last time;)

The pictures below are all taken by Rachael Hale and are just a few from the original feature on DesignSponge Here. 

These pictures are of Rachael's notebooks, so detailed.

The last thing I have to mention in a French related post is a stretch, but work with me.  French Fries.  Yes, I know they have nothing to do with France and the French call them chips.  Anyway, you may remember my love of waffle fries from Chic-Fil-A.   I have not lost any love for them, I have just grown my love to include Smash Fries!  Recently our nearest Mall added a new restaurant called Smash Burger.  I had never heard of it, but word of mouth spread quickly about the special french fries sprinkled with rosemary, olive oil, garlic and a little salt---Smash Fries.  My knees go weak just thinking about them.  Give them a try if you get a chance.

Smashburger Sides
The fries in front are SmashFries! 
This photo is from the Smash Burger website.

Have a Monumental Monday!

**The views expressed here are mine.  I was not compensated in any way for my opinion.**   Although I would consider some type of fry payment plan;).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Special Father

My father is a very special man for many reasons.  I will share some of those with you in honor of Father's Day coming up in a few days.

He is living a life of service.  After the Air Force, my father returned to school and earned his nursing degree and started working for the Veteran's Administration hospital.  A soldier nursing other soldiers is special and takes a certain strength and compassion.  While still working at the VA, he returned to school and earned his Masters in nursing.  Now he helps facilitate the treatment of seriously injured soldiers returning from overseas.  I know how much he cares about the patients he works with.  I could not be more proud of what my Dad has accomplished professionally. 

He can do anything.  Seriously.  He has shown me again and again that when you set your mind to it anything is possible.   He is a real source of inspiration for me.  I feel like his love and support has helped me so much, much more than he knows. 

His Wife. She is a great match for him. Smart, sassy and with a strong sense of family; she brings a lot to the table in their relationship. Just a note here- Her holiday spreads are legendary and she has exquisite taste in pajamas.

He is a builder.  You should see the changes he has made to his house since they bought it, just magnificent. Not to mention the back yard.  I think he is rebuilding a whole other house right now.  I get my love of making things from him I think.

Grill Genius.  He has some kind of super human grill instincts.  He has a special brisket preparation, I just remember it sounding like angels singing with each and every bite.

He is an exercise demon.  He once participated in a 100 mile cycle race in the scorching summer heat.  He is an avid runner and swimmer.

My father is intense. Intense like there is a bright source of energy inside him.  I see that spark inside of Sebastian and Isabel and I can't wait to see how it materializes in each of them.

I feel very fortunate to have such a special father. 

I hope all of the special fathers out there have a great weekend.

I Made This!

Isabel and I are working on some new jewelry projects, but are not ready to unveil them just yet.  In the mean time, I have been making random things over the last month or so and wanted to share a few of them.  First are my bedroom curtains.  We had this burgundy colored curtain that was feeling really dark (and dusty) and I wanted to lighten things up a bit.  Last month we made a visit to Ikea.  I had not been in years, what a fun place.  In their fabric department they had muslin on sale for 99 cents a yard!!  Muslin is 100% cotton that has not been bleached or dyed so it looks light tan.  I picked up four yards and used every bit of it for the curtains.  I also had some tan rose print that I got from Joann's last year.  I did not have enough rose fabric to make all of the loops on top so I added thick blue ribbon that matches my bed covers.  They are very basic curtains but have made a big difference in my room.  A special thanks to Sebastian for removal and installation of the curtains.

Out with the old!

A close up of the rose material and the muslin together.
In with the new!  I put the rose material on top so I could see it all the time.
I like the little peek of blue from the ribbon loops.

The curtain ends just below the edge of the picture with a plain seam.

Next up is a bed I made for Luci.  I got this nice light green cotton material at Joann's (of course on sale).  I sewed an old blanket and a Styrofoam mat together to stuff it.  One side has Velcro so we can take off the green cover and wash it.  A special thanks to Isabel for helping put this together.  At first Luci smelled it and walked around it and around it.  She even tried to dig the stuffing out.  It took a few hours for her to lay down, but now it is her spot.  I tried to take pictures without her on it, but she insisted on modeling. 

I am currently working on embroidering a giraffe.  It is going to be a little pillow with a cute giraffe print on the other side.  I am making it for my brother's little girl.  I will show what it looks like when I'm done.  The project is from the book Embroider Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp.

Thanks for taking a look at my sewing and embroidery. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Take Care of Yourself! **Warning-Personal**

This blog is about fun but I want to take a moment to discuss my personal medical situation.  I know that I have invited strangers or semi strangers into this place, so I thought a warning might help ensure that no one is made uncomfortable.  Thanks for your patience.

Yesterday I had a check up at my Oncology clinic.  There are a bunch of us that know each other because we all visit the office so much and we chat while we wait.  One of the lovely ladies introduced me to her husband and said "she has stage 4."  He looked at me with big eyes and said "How much longer do you have?" in a hushed whisper.  I couldn't help it.  I laughed.  The only answer I could give is: "My doctor doesn't believe in that, she doesn't like giving death a goal."  He laughed and I can laugh about it now, but in the beginning I really struggled with stage 4.
My confession is that it is my fault that I am so seriously sick.  My fault.  Really.  I had opportunities and an obligation to take care of myself and I did not.  I thought I was being brave or tough.  I thought I was invincible. I will explain.
I initially had breast cancer in 2002 with a mastectomy and 6 months of chemo.  After that I was fine and had the standard check ups for several years.  But as recently as late 2007 I was treated for a cancer lesion on my sternum.  I went right from a quick in office scan, to biopsy then to radiation treatments.  My doctor at the time scheduled appointments for complete scans to verify the cancer was not anywhere else.  I did not go.  Scans that would likely have shown the beginning of what I am dealing with now.  He also gave me a hormone effecting drug to help manage cancer growth that I really struggled with and eventually stopped taking.  I did not go back.  I was busy.  I was sure I was fine.  I was an idiot. 
In 2010 I gained weight quickly over a few months and my abdomen became swollen, at first I thought I was just overeating.  I began having serious pain in my back, right between my shoulder blades. I was struggling to exercise and eventually had to stop.  I was taking a ton of Advil with no effect on the pain.  I would get light headed and feel like I was going to faint.  I was in a new city and did not have a doctor and initially went to an urgent care clinic.  The doctor there told me that I needed a primary physician and he recommended one.  I made an appointment with that primary care doctor.  But one night I was so sick Esteban took me to the emergency room. That was where we found out.  The doctor on duty had a scan done.  Then he came to tell me that my liver was twice the size it should be because I had what appeared to be large and small cancerous tumors.  He let me know that it was very serious and I needed to see an oncologist immediately.

In that first appointment with her, my new Oncologist told me I had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.  That means my original cancer-breast cancer-spread to my liver, two vertebrae and a number of bones.  The two vertebrae are dangerous because a fall can cause the bone to crumble and potentially paralyze me.  I remember getting angry.  At myself, at her, angry at the world.  I remember nearly passing out from pain and anger in the office that day.  I was going to die and it was my fault. 
My doctor was stern with me then, in the beginning.  I was a hot mess.  After the first 2 or 3 months of chemo I was still in shock.  I remember asking her why I wasn't dead yet.  She said "I don't know." She got my attention.  I said "What?"  She said that stage 4 means no cure and that your life is in danger but it does not mean that you will die tomorrow or next month or even next year.  She let me know that aggressive treatment could give me time. "But how much time and time doing what?" I asked.  She laughed.  I had to laugh too.  She said that I could decide on what and she would help as much as she could with the time.  She is very funny and that helps.
Coming to terms with long term chemotherapy was very hard for me.  It was a tough time in 2002 and I remember swearing that I would never go through it again.  So hearing that I would have chemo for as long as I needed it was alarming.  Luckily it has gotten a bit better since 2002.  I had chemo this time for 15 months and am now on a break to recover.  The recovery is important because I lost quite a bit of weight and am frail, I need a cane or wheelchair when we go out.  But so far the break has been wonderful and I am gaining weight (thanks Chick-Fil-A and M&Ms;). The largest lumps in my liver are now smaller and a few of the smallest ones are gone!  I still get regular injections of medication for my bones.  Doc says that I can continue the chemo break for several more months as long as the cancer doesn't start growing again. So far so good. 
The break has helped me so much, my mind feels more awake and alert.  Able to blog even;)
Ultimately I realize the best choice for me is to focus on right now.  Appreciating right now has improved my attitude and outlook tremendously.  I can better enjoy the time with my family.  Crafting and writing this blog have also helped to give me some purpose and routine.  I appreciate that I am able to share my thoughts and ideas so openly.

I want to be sure to let everyone know how important it is to follow up and get regular check ups. For cancer, diabetes, that cough, that pain or any other persistent health concern. We have to take care of ourselves and neglect can be a harmful choice.

Thank you for listening.  Tomorrow back to fun.

Luci says Hi:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blogs and BOBs

A Note on Blogs
I love to read but I want to be swept away, taken to another place to experience, learn or feel something. That's why reading blogs appeals to me.  I read a wide variety and enjoy every one.  I shared a bunch of blogs I like with a friend recently. She seemed to think they were not for her because she was able to pick out or find the differences she had with that person or blog.  Interesting.  Things like that blogger has this religious affiliation, that blogger is Vegan, that blogger is in France.   I was surprised.  We talked about it and I understand where she is coming from and I think she understands how I feel.  She wants to read about people who share her perspective, not just her interests. I guess I think of blogs like I think of people.  There is something connected about all of us.  The things we choose, do and create distinguish us from the pack.  I am fascinated by those things. I think there is so much value in having people who are fundamentally different share about things they care about.  I feel like my world is opened up every day because I am able to read such a great variety of topics from very different people around the world.  I plan to continue to share blogs I like in posts so I can detail why I like them.  If they are not for you, I understand.

Sebastian and BOB
For his Birthday Sebastian wished for and got BOB.  I think it stands for Body Opponent Bag.  Basically it is a stand up punching bag that looks like a man.  I would think it was creepy if Sebastian didn't love it so much.  Love changes everything.  Now Bob is a member of the family.  Kind of.

I wasn't able to get a picture of Bob's um legs.  Maybe when we get a little closer;)  But with a good variety of photos I felt almost an emergency need guessed it---A Picmonkey Photo College!!

See?  Clearly Sebastian loves that BOB.  I remember waking early in the morning one day and hearing a funny noise that sounded like two badgers fighting coming from Sebastian's room.  It took a moment for me to realize that the gloves he wears causes a funny squeaky and buzzing noise when he punches Bob.  I am so glad it wasn't badgers;)

Have a terrific day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fine Art and Clip Art

The Louvre Museum
While I have never been, I've often thought of and imagined the Louvre museum in Paris.  I was so amazed when I found their website.  The site is very functional and available in English, you can use it to plan your trip to the museum, review maps and get information on live tours.  But the best part is they also have virtual tours available!! I was able to see some Egyptian antiquities and a Midevial section of the Museum.  The tours are very clear and worth the time if you are interested. There are other sections of the website where you can view individual art pieces, just awe inspiring.  I grabbed a few of the pictures quickly to show the range of art works available for view online.  Take a look when you get a chance, I really love it, like food for your mind.

You can reach the Louvre website in English here.

I've been looking for a new blog background that better represents us and stumbled onto a jewel of a blog called The Graphics Fairy owned by Karen Watson.  This blog has thousands of clip art pictures available and most are vintage looking.  I found cool images of lions and bees which are my favorite right now.  Using those images, I put together two quick colleges with Picmonkey.  Take a look:

I think the first is the crest of Scotland.  I love the fox blowing bubbles and the human like faces of the lions in the last crest.

The honey bear in the top right square makes me smile.  From a few of the posts I've read, some of the pictures are scanned and cleaned up images from old rescued magazines and journals.  They are all free, Karen just asks that you give her credit when using them.  She also collects pictures of crafts people have made using her images, there are some pretty cool and inspiring projects available to look at. A recent post of that can be viewed here.  I may use one of Karen's free backgrounds in the next few days, so don't be alarmed if things look a little different next time you stop by;)

I hope you have a Magic Monday!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our Etsy Shop-Under Construction

The children and I wanted to find a way to contribute financially and I wanted to continue crafting. So we decided to try a little shop on Etsy, which is an online hand crafted marketplace. Please don't feel pressure about buying our items, this is a hobby and a fun project for us. I plan to reach out to a few hospitals regarding my made to order hats. I want to reach Chemo patients and that can be tough, but I have a few ideas. Luckily made to order means that you see pictures of my hats and I sew a new one or two when an order comes in, no inventory and ultimately no waste.  The other items will either sell on Etsy or we may have other options at the end of the summer to sell them. So no pressure for any of us;).
I am having so much fun spending time with the children and making things, the venture is already a success.  I am so impressed with Isabel's budding photography and crafting skills.  I am proud of what we have accomplished so far!  Wow!  It has been something we have been working on in some capacity for the last several months.  At times I wasn't sure it would be possible, but little by little things have come together, pretty cool.  We plan to continue crafting and trying different mediums and will have our shop evolve as we do with our interests and skills.
While the shop is open for business now, we are adding items to inventory and plan a July 5 grand opening. So if you are interested, stop by in July to take a look.

Here is the link to our shop:

Below is a look at some of the items available now.

My Laughing Lion

Handmade Accessories & Made to Order Hats

Our made to order soft cloche caps are perfect for chemotherapy patients and great for anyone looking for a bad hair day fix. Special handmade accessories include metal jewelry and soft cloth cuffs.

**We are open, but are currently building our inventory for a July 1 grand opening. Please stop by again to see our additional items.**       
  • Orange Flower Painting Soft Cloche
    Orange Flower Painting Soft Cloche
  • Purple and Black Animal Print Soft Cloche
    Purple and Black Animal Print Soft Cloche
  • Navy Lace Cuff with Opaque Silver Resin Buttons
    Navy Lace Cuff with Opaque Silver Resin Buttons
  • Silver and Black Elastic Crown Bracelet with Metal Button
    Silver and Black Elastic Crown Bracelet with Metal Button
  • Cloth Cuff with Geometric Pattern and Shell Button
    Cloth Cuff with Geometric Pattern and Shell Button
  • Golden Fabric Cuff with Brass Buttons
    Golden Fabric Cuff with Brass Buttons