Rediscover Your Creative Side – Last Chance


A few days ago, I told you about a free mini-course to help you rediscover your creative side.  If you’ve already subscribed, leave a comment and tell me how it’s going.  If you haven’t, read on to find out why you should.

I’m a big believer in carving out time for being creative: having that outlet away from work and daily obligations is essential, if you ask me! But so many people struggle to find the time or the head space to dedicate even an hour to something fulfilling like creating handmade gifts or learning to take beautiful photos.

And that’s why I’m so pleased that there’s now a FREE mini-course to tackle this problem! It’s called 4 Steps to Rediscover Your Inner Creative Genius , and it’s been tremendously helpful to those who’ve already taken it: they can’t wait to get started on some new creative pursuits!

Want to be in their shoes? It’s your last chance to take the course today! And if you’ve already taken the course, I’d LOVE to know how you’re getting on – so please do reply to this email and tell me!

There’s even better news: once you’ve taken the course, you’ll be one of the first to know about a brand new product from the Ultimate Bundles team! Every quarter they put together a collection of eBooks and eCourses on a particular theme, carefully curating the best content out there and selling it for a fraction of its true value.

Their latest bundle is coming out very soon! And as you’re someone who’s interested in crafting and DIY, I just know you’re going to love it!

If you want to be among the first to find out about and buy the new bundle, sign up to their FREE mini-course today!  Then come back and tell me how you liked it.

Colon Cancer – My Story, Finale

Colon Cancer - My Story

See part one here.

See part two here.

So, my part in the colon cancer surgery was easy.  Next thing I knew, I was waking up in my room.  I remember that I was so tired it was hard to keep my eyes open.  I remember opening them and seeing my parents.  I tried to smile and say something, but it took so much effort!  Then, I opened them again and my husband and mother-in-law were there.  Again, keeping my eyes open was just too much work.  I tried to say “I love you” when they left, but I’m not sure I did.  Then the night nurse came in and asked if I had been up and walking yet.  I managed to say no.  She said that Dr. AB wanted me up and walking.  I remember thinking there was no way I can walk – I can’t even keep my eyes open!  Next thing I knew, I was waking up and it was morning.  So much for walking the same day as my surgery!

Now, I was ready to get up and walk.  I knew from past experience (I had my gall bladder out laproscopically several years ago) that getting up after having your stomach cut open was tough!  The nurse’s top priority was to get me up and walking – at least to the door of my room – and then into a chair!  I remember that it took a lot for me to sit up.  The actual standing up part was easy.  Walking to the door of my room totally exhausted me!  I couldn’t believe it.  The day before I had walked into the hospital with no problem and now walking just a few feet was hard.  Each day I was able to walk a little farther and eventually I was able to walk the halls with no problem.

The other part was waiting for my intestines to wake up.  Our bodies are designed to stop the intestines from working anytime after a surgery.  This meant that I had to have a tube up my nose and down my throat – what a pain – literally!  Nothing could get past my stomach – not even saliva.  I remember being thrilled when it could finally be removed about three days later.

When I was finally discharged (I believe I was in for 7 days), I still couldn’t lift anything over 5lbs.  That in itself was hard!  My youngest was still in diapers and wanted to be carried by Mama.  I couldn’t go grocery shopping by myself, because while individual groceries don’t weigh over five pounds, the bags of groceries do plus the cart was too heavy to push.  Ever go grocery shopping with your mom and not help her?  She unloads the cart, puts the bags back in, loads everything into the car while you just watch?  It was a definite learning experience.

I was very fortunate!  After visiting three oncologists, the consensus was that I didn’t have to have radiation or chemotherapy.  There was much celebrating!  For three years I had bloodwork every three months, and I’ve had a colonoscopy each year.  This past December I had my five year colonoscopy and it was clear.  I’m officially considered cured.

I had some genetic testing done, and it came back negative.  There’s some family history of colon cancer, but no direct links.  I’ve read a lot of recent studies about ways to prevent colon cancer and that it’s one of the most preventable cancers.  As always, better safe than sorry – get checked!

 

Colon Cancer – My Story, Continued

Colon Cancer - My Story

See Part One here.

I called the gastroenterologist’s office and made my appointment for 3:30 the next day.  They assured me that the results would be in by then.  The next day, Thursday, was very snowy and the doctor’s office had a lot of cancellations.  They called me to see if I could come in at 11:00.  I asked whether or not they would have my test results.  They assured me they did (I’m surprised at how quickly some test results come back and others seem to take forever!).  I called hubby to make sure he could go with me.  I picked him up at work and we drove around to the doctor’s office.  I remember being taken into her office and waiting for her, wondering what she was going to say although I was pretty sure I knew.  When she came in, she started off by saying that she had my results and then she said I had cancer.  I remember thinking that it was almost like she didn’t mean to say it so soon – like it came out before she intended.  I wasn’t surprised, but  I didn’t want it to be true.  I had three little kids and I wanted to see them grow up!  She asked if we had any questions.  My only one was, “Now what?”

Dr. MB was all business (which at that moment was what I needed – someone to tell me what to do) and quickly got me scheduled for a CT Scan on Friday (it took all of 10 minutes to have done) and got me an appointment with a surgeon on Monday, February 1.

The surgeon, Dr. AB, was very nice. When he walked in, he looked at me and said “You’re 35 and have colon cancer?!” He was totally surprised (or at least he appeared to be) much like us. He recommended surgery (the sooner the better) to remove the cancerous part of my colon and then reconnect the remaining halves (colon resection). It was scheduled for Feb 16. Although it was only two weeks away, it seemed like forever.  Especially since I knew there was a cancerous tumor growing in me.  I could just imagine it getting bigger and bigger everyday.  I’m sure it didn’t grow that fast, but I just wanted the surgery date to be here!  I’ve never been so eager to be in the hospital.  After the surgery they would biopsy the piece they took out and look for any signs of the cancer moving to other areas (nodes). The results of the biopsy would determine if I would need chemo and/or radiation. He also wanted to take out my ovaries (and my uterus since it doesn’t behave without the ovaries) as a preventative measure so he called my gyno, Dr. S.   He called me to talk about it and to have me come into the office to sign paperwork. I also had a mammogram as another preventative measure (that was normal…whew!).

The day before the surgery was the worst!  I had to do the prep again!  This time however, I had the “good stuff” – a free sample from the doctor’s office (I’m so glad they took pity on me!).  It involved two little pills and drinking maybe 16 ounces of liquid.  Totally doable!  The clear liquid diet is never fun and spending a good portion of the evening/night in the bathroom isn’t fun either.  Because my OB/GYN had regular office hours on the 16th, they requested first surgery.  That meant I had to be at the hospital bright & early.  Fine by me – I wanted it over with!

I don’t remember what time I had to be at the hospital, but it was early – before my daughter had to be up to get ready for kindergarten (my parents and mother-in-law were staying with us for several weeks to help out).  After getting checked in and IVs in place, the nurse gave me the most wonderful invention – a warm blanket!  Seriously, I was absolutely freezing!!  Then, they came in with another even more wonderful invention -a machine and blanket contraption.  They hooked up the machine to the blanket contraption and it blew warm air into the layers of the blanket.  Ahhh….so wonderful!  At some point before I went into surgery, I found out that my daughter didn’t want to go to school.  We had figured that this would be a possibility and the school knew what was going on, so it wasn’t a big deal to us.

Finally it was time.  I don’t recall being overly nervous, just eager to have it done with.  I knew I had the easy part for now – I would be out and have no idea how much time was passing.

Come back tomorrow for the final part of my colon cancer story.

Colon Cancer – My Story

March is colorectal cancer awareness month so I thought it was a good time to share my story.

Colon Cancer - My Story

Being a cancer survivor was never something I thought I’d be.  Never.  Not even in my nightmares.  Yet, here I am.  It’s been just over five years since I found out I had colon cancer.  An old man’s disease, right?  Wrong!  I’m female and I was 35 at the time.  My kids were 5, 3, and 16 months.

*I will apologize ahead of time if this post contains TMI, but it goes with the story.*

 

I’d been having diarrhea several times a day for quite a while.  It had become normal.  I’m not sure how that happened, but I’m guessing that with three kids, I just didn’t think about it.  I’d eat breakfast and then head for the bathroom.  A couple hours later, I would be there again.  Usually by lunch I was OK.  Then, one day, it was normal.  That got my attention and I started wondering how long this had been going on.  I think I figured maybe six weeks.  I called my doctor before I could put it off.  At my appointment, she wasn’t too concerned – she was thinking maybe celiac disease.  She ordered some blood tests and told me to come back the next week.  I got the blood work done right away. At my follow-up appointment, I specifically remember her saying “no dread diseases.”  What a relief!  She recommended a probiotic and then said that maybe I could try eliminating different foods to see if that helped (my husband thought it was my beloved french vanilla creamer….nope…whew!).  Nothing did.  It didn’t get any better and it didn’t get any worse….

Until the night there was blood.  Enough to color the toilet water!  That freaked me out!  Of course, it was late at night and by morning I realized it could’ve been a hemorrhoid.  That made sense to me.  A couple days later it happened again.  I called my doctor right away and told her I wanted that referral to a gastroenterologist (she had offered it at my last appointment if I wanted it).  They said sure; they would call the referral in and I should hear something within a week.  I didn’t.  I gave them a couple extra days and then called my doc again.  They called the gastroenterologist and I got a call that afternoon.  Their next new patient appointment wasn’t until January!!  This was towards the end of November.  Obviously it couldn’t be that bad if I could wait another six weeks!

I remember the holidays – wanting to enjoy them, but at the same time wanting to know if there was something wrong with me.  I went back and forth between not being worried (after all the doctor didn’t seem to be) and knowing what I’d found when I googled “bloody diarrhea.”  Dr. Google is never your friend!

My appointment was totally uneventful – something of a letdown!  The doctor mentioned a couple different possibilities – hemorrhoids, Chron’s.  Cancer was never mentioned.  She told me to schedule a colonoscopy with the girls at the front desk.  I think I had to wait ten days.  After waiting weeks for the first appointment, ten more days seemed like forever!  In the meantime, I googled Chron’s – let me just say, Dr. Google is still not my friend!

Finally, the day before came and there was the awful prep!!  I had no idea that something could be that awful.  I’m not good at drinking large quantities of liquids anyway (except maybe coffee), and having to down a gallon of stuff was tough (not the taste, just the amount in a relatively short amount of time).  The constant running to the toilet was rough too!  The test itself was easy!  They put me in a twilight sleep and I don’t remember a thing.  When I woke up, the doctor told me there was an irregular spot and she biopsied the heck out of it.  I was to call her office and schedule an appointment for the following day to get the results.

More tomorrow.

 

Rediscover Your Creative Side in Four Simple Steps

I want to share an incredible FREE mini-course that I’ve just learned about and I have a feeling it could be perfect for you!

I’m a big believer in carving out time for being creative: having that outlet away from work and daily obligations is essential!  But so many people, myself included, struggle to find the time or the head space to dedicate even an hour to something fulfilling like creating handmade gifts or learning to take beautiful photos.  I know I have a pile of clothes cut out for my kids, and I love to sew, but I tend to put it off because I have other stuff the “needs” to be done first.

And that’s why I’m so pleased that there’s now a FREE mini-course to tackle this problem! It’s called 4 Steps to Rediscover Your Inner Creative Genius, and it’s been tremendously helpful to those who’ve already taken it: they can’t wait to get started on some new creative pursuits!

If you would like to feel the same way, consider signing up to 4 Steps to Rediscover Your Inner Creative Genius:

This four-part course comes with supporting worksheets and has been created by the Ultimate Bundles team (I’ll tell you more about them this weekend). It’s delivered entirely over email and only takes a week, so you really have no excuse!

The course will help you figure out what you enjoy creating, how to find the time to do it, how to not feel guilty about indulging in your creative pursuits, and how to distance yourself from that dreaded ruiner of fun: Perfection.

If you want to take part, just sign up here.  Then come back and let me know what you think.

Resizing Adult T-Shirts

Resizing An Adult T-ShirtDo you have a t-shirt you love, but it just doesn’t fit quite right?  Maybe you found it at a thrift store and thought it would fit.  Maybe you lost some weight and it looks frumpy now.  Maybe it’s just stretched out a bit, but still has lots of life left.  No matter what, resizing adult t-shirts is pretty easy.

First you need a t-shirt that fits nicely.  This will be your pattern.  You can see here how the shoulders are too long and the sides are just a little too wide.

Resize A T-Shirt Sleeves and Side Too Big

The next step is scary.  You have to cut the sleeves off.  Cut as close to the seam as possible and don’t cut into the sleeve.  You’re going to reuse them after slimming down the body.Cut Off SleevesNext, line up the neckline and mark where the sleeve seam is.  I put a pin at the shoulder and side seams.

Mark CuttingDraw a line (either real or just eyeball it) and cut the new line leaving room for a seam.

Mark New Sleeve Line

The sleeve hole is going to look really big because first we need to take the sides in a bit.  Pin your new side seam based on your nice fitting t-shirt.  Sew down each side and serge it if you want.

New Side Seam

Now you can pin your sleeves back in and sew them back on.  Make sure that you put right sides together.  I normally do this by having the shirt wrong side out and the sleeve right side out.  Then I tuck the sleeve into the shirt.  Line up the underarm seams.  Sew and serge if desired.

Now, try on your “new” shirt.

Resized T Shirt

 

Recycling A Tank Top

Recycling A Tank Top

My husband has several shirts that he doesn’t wear anymore.  They were in really good shape and I hated to just send them off to the thrift store.  I decided to try and remake one of them into a tank top for my boys.  It turned out to be very easy!  All you need is a shirt to use as a pattern.

Lay the small tank top over the larger one.  Line up the  necklines of the two shirts.  Trim the bottom off remembering to leave enough extra for the hem.

Trim the shirt down to the right lengthTrim the sides the same way.  I used the piece from the first side as a pattern to cut the second so that I cut the same amount off both sides.

Trim the sides the same way.

Trim the shoulders the same way.

Trim the shoulders the same way.

Sew up the side seams and shoulders.  If the back shoulders are wider, just stretch the front a little to make them line up.  The hem can be sewed or serged depending on your preference.

Voila!  A new tank top.  Doesn’t my model look thrilled?

Sew the shoulders and side seams.  Hem the bottom.

IMG_6165

IMG_6166

Pop Up Camping – More of What to Pack

Pop UP Camping

I talked before about what we pack for camping.

There are a few other things you might need to consider packing.  Plates and silverware?  Cooking utensils?  Pots?  Pans?  Garbage can?  What about bedding?  I don’t know about anyone else, but sleeping on the three-inch-thick mattress that comes with the camper isn’t exactly comfy!  Where do you store all this stuff?

Eating

We bought some cheap silverware at our local big box store.  I have enough for 8 place settings and a couple serving spoons.  I also bought some plastic plates & bowls.  We bought some cups and used some extra mugs from the house.  The dishes are bright and colorful and it doesn’t take long to wash up a few dishes after each meal.  Paper plates and plastic ware are also good options.

I actually had extra pots that I could use for camping – we take two small pots, a frying pan, and a pancake griddle.  We had a tea kettle from tent camping that we use to make hot water for coffee.  One thing we forgot on one of our trips was a hot pad to get the kettle off the fire…we used a sock.  :)  I plan meals that only need two pots max (since the stove only has two burners).  We try to eat at the picnic table as much as possible.  There’s more room and if something gets spilled, it’s not a big deal.

Sleeping

What about bedding?  Our daughter sleeps on the dining area bed and she uses a sleeping bag.  The bed is an odd size and we set up the dining area each morning so it’s easier to just roll up her sleeping bag and then toss it and her pillow on the boys bed.  The boys sleep in the smaller of the two pull-out beds.  I put a padded mattress pad on it and then a sheet.  They each have their own blanket to cover up with so there’s no fighting over covers.  John & I have a pillow top and then a mattress pad and then king size sheets on our bed (we don’t fight over covers so much).  The pillow top is pretty bulky and takes up some storage space, but for us it’s worth it!  I tried leaving it on the bed when we closed up the camper, but it was too bulky and the top didn’t close right.  So, I roll it up and bungee it together and put it on the floor towards the back of the camper.  Sheets get stored under the sink & stove for traveling.

Misc & Storage

We bought a small garbage can and we use plastic store bags as garbage bags.  Most campgrounds have a dumpster to toss trash in so we just toss it as go by on our way out (either to check out or just going out for the day).  A small cleaner like a dust buster or a broom is also a must, especially with kids!

There is actually a lot of storage in a pop-up.  The trick is figuring out how to maximize it.  Dishes go under one of dining benches (the one w/o the electric cord) along with towels (5 – one for each), wash clothes (just a couple), and hand towels (3 or 4).  Food goes in the compartment by the door and extra drinks go under the sink.  The fridge usually has enough stuff to get us through 3 days.  I cut egg cartons in half so they fit.  We take a cooler full of ice & soda/water.  Silverware and other utensils go in a lidded plastic container that goes under the sink too.  I also fill the aisle with stuff – the gray water tank, cooler, pillow top, pillows, suit case.  You get the idea!  If we’re only going for a weekend, we put wood in the back of our tow vehicle (Ford Explorer), otherwise, that’s more storage space for another suitcase or two and any other overflow.  Our theory is, if we forget it and we can’t live without it, we can buy it when we get there.

What’s your storage trick?  What else would you take along?  What would you leave behind?

Punta Rassa : Looking for Florida History

Punta Rassa FL

This post contains affiliate links.

One of the books we read this year as part of our Florida history is A Land Remembered Volume 1 and Volume 2.  I knew that the town of Punta Rassa was real, but didn’t realize that it is relatively close to us.  So, since we were going to be heading in that direction today, I decided we would take a side trip to see if we could find it.  A little research showed that Punta Rassa is basically a ghost town.

We took a wrong turn (actually my phone gps lead us astray) and ended up at the entrance to a gated community.  I explained to the guy at the gate that we were looking for Punta Rassa.  He had no idea what I was talking about.  He did let me through so that I could turn around.  Just down the road I found what we were looking for (makes me think the guy at the gate wasn’t a local).

There is a fishing dock and some high-rise apartments there, but nothing like it must’ve been in the 1800’s!  I was hoping to see the remains of the old buildings, but the only parking I could find looked like it would cost $10 to park.  I wasn’t willing to pay that.  There wasn’t really any parking along the road either.  We found what we think is the remaining part of the old telegraph building nestled among the high rise buildings.

Old Telegraph BuildingWe were bummed that there wasn’t more to see.  We were really hoping to be able to get out and walk around and make it more of an educational experience for the kids.  I think they were looking forward to seeing the place the book was about.

When we got home, I decided to take a trip on google maps.  I should’ve done that first!!  We were so close to the old ferry boat office!  I’m too easily deterred by signs that something is private and only residents and their visitors can enter.  If I’d looked on the other side of the road, I would’ve seen what we were looking for.  Now I’m contemplating going back at some point in the near future.

Have you read A Land Remembered?  Have you ever planned a trip based on a book and not had it go the way you thought it would?

This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure policy here.

Make Time for Your Kids

I just wanted to watch one show.  One show – 30 minutes.  I guess you could say it’s my one guilty pleasure.  We only get the local channels so, for me, there’s no temptation to watch TV.  HGTV is my channel – I used to watch it every night, but since moving and downsizing, I haven’t.  However, I really do like Rehab Addict and my mom (who lives around the corner) is happy to let me come watch it.  Theoretically, the kids are all in bed and my FIL is willing to stay home while MIL and I go.  Tonight though, my daughter needed me.  She volunteered to make cookies for tomorrow’s school party.  I know that she won’t always want my help with making cookies (she’s actually perfectly capable now).

Baking Cookies with My Daughter So, I remind myself that I can catch up on TV shows when they show reruns or when they show up on Netflix or Hulu, but I can never have a do-over of this moment.  So, even though I know it’s my fault the cookie baking is happening after bedtime, it’s OK.  We did this earlier (when we should’ve been baking cookies) and it was totally worth it!

SunsetAtTheBeachSometimes the fun stuff still gets pushed aside, but we’re trying to make sure it happens more!