Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bittersweet Magic

When I got married I not only gained a wonderful husband but a wonderful family as well.
Including, a set of awesome grandparents.  They're sweet, strong, inspiring and downright amazing!  
They celebrated they're 70th wedding anniversary a couple of years ago.  
Grandma is now 91 and Grandpa is 93.  

Grandpa has beaten the odds on life so many times.  Including, an accident when he was about 21 when he was given a mere four hours to live.  Years later he lost half a lung because of a tumor. Then, about 25 years ago he had a heart attack.  I think there are other similar stories about him but those are the big ones.  He's one tough guy!  We say that if anyone can beat the odds, it's Grandpa.  In recent years he's become almost blind, deaf and walking has become difficult but he's tried to not let it slow him down.  

He's been beating the odds again over the past couple of months.  He was in the hospital with pneumonia before Thanksgiving. They put him on oxygen full time and he went home.  He seemed to be getting better and stronger after that.  But, he had to go back into the hospital again a couple of weeks ago and his health took a drastic turn.  He was put on minimal life support and we weren't sure if he was going to make it.  However, by Christmas week he was doing well enough to move from the hospital to convalescent care. 

Grandma and Grandpa's love is deep and inspiring.  She stays by his side almost constantly.
There have been times when he wanted to be alone with her and would point to his lips wanting a kiss.  The night before his health got really bad, he had the nurses call Grandma late at night asking to see her.  He wanted to tell her that he loved her and hold her hand.  Amazing love!

Grandpa spent Christmas in the convalescent hospital and Grandma stayed with him most of the day.
We went to visit and it meant a lot to him.  He told us all how much he loved us and put an exclamation on it by saying, "I mean it!"  He has such a big heart.  I know it was hard for him to not spend the day with the family like he's always done.

He mentioned a couple of things while we were there...that he'd love to hear my daughter play "Silent Night" on her harp and that he loves split pea soup so much that he "could eat it two or three times a week".  We had to make those two wishes come true!  So, this afternoon we took him split pea soup, some flowers from our garden, and my daughter brought her little travel harp to play for him.
We managed to get him to eat a few bites of soup.  A big accomplishment considering he's hardly eating a thing these days.  After that, my daughter sat and played her harp for him.

The very first song was "Silent Night" and he started to cry.  It may have been at that point that Grandma and her daughter/my mother-in-law started to tear up as well.  Grandpa loved it and asked her to keep playing and playing.  Even the man who shared a room with him was enjoying it.  He was trying to sing along.  Nurses kept peeking in and a few came in to listen for a bit.  One stayed for a while and sang.  She seemed excited to see how it was affecting the other man in the room who has Alzheimers.  He kept telling my daughter that the music was beautiful.  Grandpa asked about hearing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".  My daughter looked it up on her cell phone/Internet and read the music from the tiny screen as she played and as Grandpa moved onto his side for a nap. 

It always amazes us how powerfully, emotionally, touching harp music is for people.
Today was no exception.  In fact, it may have been the biggest example.  It seemed to move Grandpa very deeply and touch so many others that heard it.  What a gift my daughter has!  I'm blown away at how big and wonderful it is.   And, so grateful for her, her giving heart, and what we witnessed today. It was an emotional and moving afternoon that we'll always remember.
It was bittersweet but it was magic!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Warm wishes to all of my wonderful blogland friends
for a beautiful Christmas filled with love and good times!

Thank you for all of your visits, comments, inspiration and support.
It all means so much to me and adds rays of sunshine to my life.
You are special to me!  Hugs!  :-)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gatherings and Gifts

Last Friday, one of the ladies in our knit group was so sweet to open her home up to us and host a Christmas party.  I was happy that I had a few hours to spare so I could go.  It was a relaxed get together in the morning.  She had some yummy treats and coffee (one of the best cups I've ever had black...I think it was Starbucks Christmas Blend).  We all sat around in her living room to 
snack, knit, chat and exchange gifts.  We all had a really nice time.

For the gift exchange, we drew numbers and took turns choosing an unopened gift or one that had already been opened (I like that game).  All the gifts were great...hand knitted pot holders, dish cloths, one of my lace crochet covered rocks, a folding project tote, a handmade crystal bracelet, a couple yarn skein gifts that came with a slipper pattern, Starbucks cards and what I was lucky to bring home...A hand dyed skein of yarn in one of my favorite colors, blue.  Isn't it pretty?!

I didn't even realize until today when I took photos that it also came with two stitch markers.
They're attached to the tag...

This yarn was dyed by one of the ladies in our group.  She is a talented dyer and comes up with some amazing colors and color combinations.  She's got a lot of wonderful yarns in her Etsy shop right now.  Her Sea Glass colorway is one I'm eyeing right now.  I might not be able to resist much longer!  As if I need more yarn!  ;-)  You can also find her on Facebook as Inner Yarn Zen.  I love that name!

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Looking Like Christmas Around Here

For the past few years we haven't done a whole lot of Christmas decorating.
It's been very minimal.  We even had a Christmas that all did was put up the tree.  It didn't even get decorated...except for putting Christmas cards on it...which actually looked pretty good.  I've just been tired of the same old thing year after year and life has been so busy. 

I was a lot less Scroogy this year and we got some new decorations...which helped a lot.
It's actually looking a lot like Christmas around here!

Here's our main Christmas tree in the living room.  We got a new tree with lights already on it.
I love that!  Putting lights on a tree is something I don't really like doing.  So this was great!
I also love that this tree is a little smaller around.  So, our decorations fill it up a lot nicer.
These are night time photos...

Here it is during the day...

The tree is seven feet tall.  But, to make it taller, hubby built a box for it.  We've put previous trees 
in a half wine barrel.  But, it gets dirty and yucky outside during the rest of the year.  So, it was time for something new.  I love that it raises it up and gives it a nicer look.  Now, it's about 8 1/2 feet tall.

Our daughter thought it would be fun to set the Bumble (from the Rudolph movie) in the box.
He looks like he's trying to help decorate the tree.

Bumble's close up shot...

Another night time photo...

 I bought a couple of miniature trees this year to start some themed trees around the house.
This one is in our music room/dining room.  It's filled with harps (since our daughter is a harpist)
and some other instruments.  It could use a few more decorations and 
maybe some sheet music strips for garland.  But, it's a start.

This one was purchased to be a food and drink themed tree.  I bought some cute ornaments at BevMo last year...a metal cocktail shaker, a glass of liqueur, and a glass with wine.  I'd like to collect some more drink ornaments and some food ornaments.  But, for now we're leaving off the fragile glass drink ornaments because of our kitty, Penelope.  The tree is on a cabinet behind the sofa in the family room where she can easily get to it.  So, for now, I've decorated it with knit themed ornaments...
little sweaters, hats, skiers, and some cute little baskets.  The tree doesn't look quite like the one I had ordered.  This one has a lot of twig like things on it and they're really long.  I might clip some a little shorter.  But, it was super cheap and I didn't feel like sending it back.  The lights help.

Here are the little skiers.  We found them at Target and I had to have them.
I couldn't believe they were only $3 each!

One for hubby...

One for my daughter...

And, one for me...

Here's our family room.  The fireplace is dressed up with country western boot stockings.
And, the shelf/cubby at the top of the built in (hubby built that this year!) is a village.

Here it is a little closer.  It's so pretty and magical at night but doesn't show up well in a photo.
So, here is a photo taken during the day...

I've been inspired by other bloggers who have been creating new decorations for Christmas.  It's helped me realize that new decorations might help re-fresh Christmas and take the same-o, same-o out of it.  I'm so happy that it worked!  Now, if we could have at least another week before Christmas  so I could tweak it all to make it nicer, enjoy it all a little longer, and finish up things we're not going to get Christmas cards.  But, that's ok...this Christmas is more festive than it's been for years.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Biopsy Blues

I've been working with my OB/GYN doctor for over a year to try and correct endometrial hyperplasia.  After a six cycle round of progesterone, she did a second biopsy and found that it had improved from "complex" to "simple".  That was good but not good enough.  So, I took hormones again.  I finally got around to scheduling a third biopsy appointment for this week.

I've been dreading going through this again but was hopeful that the tests would come back great and it would be the last one I'd need.  Unfortunately, my cervix didn't cooperate and was closed so tight there was no way to get an instrument in to retrieve a sample.  Ugh!  All that pain for nothing! 

The risk of cancer with this is slim and I'd love to just move on and forget about it.  But, like my doctor said on Tuesday, we can't play roulette with my life.  Plus, having peace of mind that it's gone (what I'm hoping for) would be great!  We discussed some options...another D and C (like she did the first time when she also removed polyps), trying something that would possibly (but not guarnteed) dilate my cervix to get the sample (ugh!...more pain!!), or continue the progesterone to reduce the risk of cancer.  She told me that she was concerned that the hyperplasia didn't go away with the first treatment and that if it isn't gone now (if we were able to get a biopsy) that we'd need to consider a more serious option...a hysterectomy.  UGH!  I left the office in pain, tears and frustration!

For now, I've decided to go with another six cycle treatment of progesterone and then try the method she mentioned of trying to get my cervix to dilate and cooperate.  She gave me a prescription for something to help me relax this time but I don't think it did a thing.  I'll need something much stronger next time since it hurt so much more this time.  Ugh! 

I almost always reward myself with a trip to the yarn shop after appointments like this and mammograms.  I think I needed a trip to the yarn shop more than ever this time!  One of the good things about this doctor is that her office is literally down the street and around the corner from a cute little yarn shop, Labors of Love in Fallbrook.  I didn't spend a lot but I did find some yarn to treat myself with.  A pretty skein of Cottontots.  I'm planning to knit another cowl.  I love the colors and it should go with a lot of things I have in my wardrobe.  Here's the colors from one end of the skein...

And, the other...

I'm thrilled to find out that Cottontots isn't discontinued after all.  I love this yarn!
They had so many beautiful colors of it in the shop.

This yarn isn't fancy either but they had a sample cowl made with it and I loved it.
So, I bought two skeins and picked up a copy of the free pattern.
It's Lion Brand Tweed Stripes in the "Mixed Berries" colorway.

Ahhh.....yarn!  Always makes me feel a bit better!

It's been a crazy few husband's grandfather has been in and out of the hospital.  Last weekend, he took a turn for the worse and we weren't sure he was going to make it.  He was on life support and it wasn't looking good.  But, he seems to have taken another turn and is now breathing on his own, working with a physical therapist, and they're moving him to a convalescent hospital today.  He's 93 and has beaten the odds so many times.  Looks like he's doing it again! 

Gifts of Love

My husband and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary recently.
When he came home from work that evening, he brought me a sweet card
and this huge Christmas Cactus.  He thought I'd love the pink blossoms.
I'm not a huge fan of succulent plants or Christmas Cactus but this one is quite pretty.
It has SO many blooms and keeps sprouting more buds every day.
We went out to Yard House for dinner that night and had a wonderful time!

What I didn't know was that he'd ordered something for me that hadn't arrived in time.
When he ordered it, he didn't realize it would be made for his order and would take a while.  I was surprised last weekend when I picked up the mail and there was an envelope from "Home Baby Crafts".  It's a name I recognized because I found them on Facebook a while ago when a friend "liked" them.  I fell in love with the beautiful handmade jewelry.  I recently gave a link to hubby as an idea for Christmas.  That's the one he ordered.  Isn't it beautiful?  The little green stones are Peridot.

It came with a matching chain.

I can't believe I have one of my very own.  I've been looking at these for a while now.
I love it!  And, I love how it supports an individual artist.  :-)

Here's a LINK to her Facebook page.  I noticed that she's closed for orders until after Christmas.
She only took orders for what she knew she could complete in time.  But, take a look at some of her other creations.  They're wonderful!  I love the ones with moons behind the trees.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Stash to Style

While clothes shopping a couple of weeks ago, I ran across a Tommy Hilfiger outlet store.
They had a sale on some long sleeve, v-neck T's.  They were nice...not that tissue thin kind I normally see in stores.  The sleeves and body were plenty long.  And, they had some shaping instead of being baggy and boxy.  I was thrilled.  I tried some on to figure out my size and I was ready to buy a few in various colors.  Unfortunately, they only had my size in one of the colors I liked, pink.

As I was driving home, I realized that a ball of yarn in my stash might go with it perfectly.
It did!  Yay!  I love the color in this "Cottontots" yarn and have been waiting for just the right thing to use it for.  I finally found it!  So, I cast 105 stitches onto size 7, 16" circular needles and got started.
I knit 10 rows, *purled one row, knit one row (*three times), continued knitting 
and repeated it in reverse on the other side and loosely bound off.  

I love the colors in this yarn!

I have one big problem!  I washed the shirt in cold water, dried it on low and it shrunk at least 3 inches!  ARGH!  I can't believe that!  It's a name brand too!  So frustrating.  I didn't even get to wear it with my new cowl yet.  I'm going to wash it again and try the trick I've used on some shrunken sweaters...hold the top of the sleeve in one hand, the bottom in the other and S-T-R-E-T-C-H!
I'll do the same with the body.  Wish me luck!  I really want to be able to wear this shirt!

I'd take it back to see if I could exchange it but the store is about 45 minutes away.
And, since it's holiday shopping time, there probably aren't many left.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I've been seeing "Throwback Thursday" posts and thought I'd join in on the fun.
I went back to my oldest digital photo folders and found these...

These were taken back when we had land and llamas.
That's Caramel Kisses in the top photo...aka Carmie Lou.
Such a sweet girl with the softest lips and such pretty eyes.

This is me hugging my fresh cut llama fiber!

Wardrobe Enhancement

I love jeans!  They're my favorite part of my wardrobe!  I wear them in the winter with pull-over sweaters.  And, I wear them or denim shorts in the summer with short sleeved tops.  I have started wearing some skirts in the summer.  But, I've been trying to stretch beyond that and add some new things and more style to my wardrobe.  I've been watching episodes of "What Not to Wear" and learning a lot.  I love that show!  One of the biggest things I've taken from that show is to try things I wouldn't normally try.  

My daughter and I played around with that idea a few weeks ago.  We went to Macy's and picked clothes for each other.  We tried to think outside of what the other would normally wear.  We got a big dressing room and put together outfits for one another.  We had a ton of fun and found some styles we really liked that we never would have considered before.  Unfortunately, we didn't find anything we HAD to have that day and most of the things we liked were not on sale and were beyond our budget.  But, we'll definitely be shopping differently after that.

We were on a mission that weekend to find some things.  One thing I've been looking for is a nice, thick, warm sweater.  They're all so thin these days and I hadn't found any I liked until I found this...

I think Penelope likes it too!  My daughter fell in love and bought one for herself too.
It's thick, warm, comfy and I love the neutral colors, the designs and the style.
It's not a standard's much more up to date, stylish and fun.

It looks great with another find from that weekend.  Boots!
My daughter and I scored on these all leather boots!  She got brown ones and I got black.
They're flat, comfy, and I like the buckle details on them (top and at the ankle).

They look great with my black skinny jeans, a rust colored top, and my new sweater.
On a really cold night, it looks good with one of my chunky hand knit cowls too.

I also bought a pair of tan pants/jeans...a color I never would have gotten in the past.
I like colored pants on other people but always felt weird when I put them on.
After our little "What Not to Wear" experiment, I think I've changed my mind.
I even considered some red ones but they didn't have my size.

I'm on the lookout for some skirts and dresses that I can wear with tights and my new boots.
It's a look I've liked for a long time.  I'm determined now to find it and be brave enough to wear it.

This isn't much but clothes shopping is hard.  Especially with a tight budget.
But, another thing I learned from the show is that to look good you have to put in the effort/work.
It's not terrible that it takes so much's just part of the process.
Knowing that makes it less frustrating and a lot more fun!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hot Soup on a Cold Day soup on a cold day is so good!
When it's homemade it's even better!

I love tomato soup and have started making it from scratch.  I'm amazed at how fast and easy it is to make.  And, blown away by how delicious it is...better than any pre-made soup from a can!
Even my husband likes it and he never liked tomato soup before.  

To make it, I finely chop some fresh garlic (a small clove or about 1/4 teaspoon or so) and put it in a pan with a bit of olive oil.  I turn the heat on low to medium...just long enough to let the garlic flavors bloom (smell really good) but not toast and turn brown.  I turn off the fire and carefully (it might splatter) add a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce.  Then, I add a can of milk (I use unsweetened coconut milk), a dash of pepper and some finely chopped basil.  If I don't have fresh basil I use two cubes of frozen basil I get at Trader Joe's.  I love this stuff!  It tastes fresh and it's super convenient...

Sometimes, I add a dash of Cayenne for a little extra yum.
Then, I just leave it over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until it's hot.

I love having tomato soup with a grilled sandwich.  I used to love it with grilled cheese but I no longer eat dairy.  So, two slices of Rudi's gluten free bread, a thin spread of Earth Balance spread (buttery side down in the pan), and some lean turkey or chicken grilled in a skillet until golden brown on both sides is just as good.  I like to put a dollop of mustard on my plate to dip it in.  Yum!
Sometimes I even dip my sandwich into the soup. Double yum!

Since I'm posting about dairy and gluten free food...some people who follow my blog have asked
about health issues my daughter was going through at the beginning of the year and the results of the "Total Elimination Diet".  One blogger even sent me sweet, long email asking about it.  I tried several times to reply and had a hard time getting it to go through.  I'm not sure if she ever got it.  I hope so. If not, please know that I tried.  Since then, my computer completely crashed and I lost that email and all my email addresses.  So, I'm not even sure who sent it.  I'm sorry.

My daughter is doing great.  It turns out that she has a gluten sensitivity.  It's been a tough change because so many foods have gluten in them.  In a lot of ways we've had to almost completely change how we eat.  It's all for the good though because we eat very few pre-made/processed foods now.  We mostly eat things we make from scratch and LOTS of veggies.

My daughter is feeling a lot better.  Hubby and I eat mostly gluten free and like how we feel.  My daughter and I even noticed that eliminating gluten improves our overall mood and sense of well being.  I've lost weight and dropped to my goal and holding.  I think that's due to reducing carbs and that healthy, gluten free eating makes us feel more satisfied with what we eat and we don't have the urge to snack as much.  I can't believe we're coming up on one year since we started this.

Thank you for thinking of us and asking how it's going.  :-)

Monday, December 9, 2013


Today is our 24th anniversary!

I feel so lucky to be married to this wonderful man!
Marriage with him has far surpassed my dreams and expectations of what marriage could be.
I feel so lucky that we found one another.  We love, respect and appreciate one another.
We have lots of similar interest but just enough different ones to have our own stuff.
We support one another and we're always there for each other.

I often think of the meeting we had with the pastor of the church we got married in.
He met with us one time and the meeting was short because he said he noticed right away
that we respected one another.  He said that respect was the key and he knew we'd do fine.
I thought that was interesting.  As time has gone by, I've realized how important that truly is.

Life with my hubby is a wonderful adventure and 
I look forward to many more amazing years together.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fun with Food

As I started taking photos and loading them onto my computer to do some more blogging I realized I had some photos on my cell phone of some yummy fun foods we had last week.  We had one of our new favorites...a delicious Thai Noodle Soup recipe that I found in the "Forks Over Knives" cookbook (page 106, if you have the book).  The flavor of this soup is unique and delicious.  The colors and textures of all the veggies are wonderful.  And, it's healthy too!  
This is a recipe we may never stop making.  It's that good!

Some of the wonderful ingredients in it are onions, garlic, bok choy, shitake mushrooms, carrots, lime zest and juice, cilantro, bean sprouts, tamari, vegetable broth (I used chicken broth this time that I'd just made by cooking up some chicken for another meal and I added spices), and rice noodles (I used those flat white ones this time).  We ate every drop!  Just blogging about it makes me want more!

Another fun food we had last weekend were these colorful carrots I found at Trader Joe's.
Aren't they pretty?!  I wondered if there was any difference in flavor but couldn't detect any.

They were even prettier cut up and in the steamer/pan...

I made a salad with mini heirloom tomatoes that I found at Trader Joe's too.  Yum!

I love finding fun, new-to-me, colorful veggies and great recipes!
Have you found any new and interesting foods lately?

Thank You!

I want to say, "thank you" for the comments ya'll left for me on my last post...and every post.  They mean so much to me.  They warm my heart, make me feel like I'm not alone, that other people understand and are going through similar situations, and add extra brightness to my day.  There sure are wonderful people out here in blogland!  :-D

I got a lot done at my parents' over those couple of days.  Enough of the necessary stuff was moved so they would be able to comfortably start staying at the new place.  And, I had enough stuff cleared to make way for the furniture mover to come in yesterday and do his job.  He'll be back today to finish up.

It wasn't an easy task.  My mom seems to be a collector of everything...even things that many of us would consider to be trash or throw into our recycle bins.  And, she wasn't interested in even considering parting with a single thing.  Combine that with the fact that she hadn't even attempted to start packing before the move and that she tends to walk around looking dazed and confused made it even more challenging.  I had to just take charge and get stuff done.  I tried to gently lead her into things to do.  But, even that became challenging as she'd have little tantrums (like a child) and say, "I don't want to do that!".  Ugh!  But, I kept plowing ahead, moving all I could, even trash!  I'm hoping that I'll be able to finish clearing and cleaning up their old place next week.  Wish me luck!

I had a nice break yesterday.  My mother-in-law and I went to see my daughter perform in a harp ensemble concert and have lunch.  The concert was awesome!  Especially when the three harps were playing "Carol of the Bells"!  Oh my gosh!  It was so made me cry!  And, of course, it's always great to spend some time with her and my mother-in-law too.  Here's picture I took with my phone....  That's my daughter playing the harp in the middle.

Well, I'm off again in a few minutes for a busy morning.  But, I have my afternoon free (Wow!) and I'm planning to take some photos for blogging so I can catch up even more.  Have a wonderful day! And, thanks for stopping by!  :-)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Is Crazy the New Normal?

Sheesh!  Everytime I think I'm about to get back on track with blogging and creating and everything else, life continues to be crazy busy.  Maybe this is the new normal?  I guess I'd better figure out how to work with it to still get some of these things back in my life.  I actually have some stuff to blog about but this is about all the blogging I have time for right now.

I'm about to head back over to my parents' house to help them move.  It's a much bigger job than I had anticipated.  I went over yesterday to help clean at their new house and move some things for them.  It turned out they hadn't packed a thing!  So, it turned into an all day event and an all day today event. And, probably into next week since the rest of my week is full and I won't be able to help them again until then.  My mom continually seems lost with what to do next and my dad doesn't have much strength or energy to do very much.  Oh...and...they have a LOT of stuff!  So, I have to take charge to get stuff done and work as fast as I can.  Especially today because rain is in the forecast for today.  Luckily, it's sunny right now.  I'd better get going!  Wish me luck!

Have a terrific Tuesday!  :-)