Are your coffee cups mismatched?

Have you ever been to a restaurant where all the plates, silverware and coffee cups are mismatched? Some call it “shabby chic” or “country”. I call it comfortable. I am pretty sure I have never had a bad meal at a place with mismatched dinnerware.

I was cleaning my kitchen one day and putting away all the clean coffee cups. I put the  cute, floral matching cups on display in my cup rack. All of the mismatched cups we had collected from vacations, garage sales or gifts from promotions all go up in the cabinet not to be seen by family and friends. Funny thing about this is when company comes over, they open the cabinet and grab any mismatched coffee cup and help themselves (I wouldn’t have it any other way).

Aren’t we like that though? Do we close the cabinet on our comfortable, authentic self? Do we just show the part of ourselves we want others to see and not the well worn parts of our personality?

I have joined a great group of women to study Comparison by Sandra Stanley.  I talked about it in my Goals for May

What I find intriguing about the study is that there are over 500 women who have joined the Facebook group. This just shows me that we are so much alike with our feelings of inadequacy and fearful of judgment from other women. We are constantly comparing ourselves and are quite critical of one another.

I shared a story of a time when Hannah was in elementary school. I had joined the PTA and was excited to meet other mothers. If you think high school comparison is bad, PTA has that and so much more. I have never felt more uncomfortable than hearing the constant jabs at other mothers. These were grown women who were supposed to set an example for not only their children, but other children as well. I am sure not every PTA is like this (thankfully). I held my head high and tried not to join in with the “clique”. The goal to serve was just as strong for me and I didn’t want “them” to hold me back. What I find sad is that I fear we will compare ourselves to one another all through adulthood.

Just for today, let’s show the world our authentic self. Give yourself grace. Be thankful for all that you are. Set an example for a young woman in your life. I know she struggles in a life of social media and peer pressure and television and magazines.

Just take time to just be you today!

Walk in Faith,

 

 

10 unexpected side effects of chemo

So happy to report that I am at the halfway point in my chemotherapy treatment. I have finished eight treatments and have eight more to go, I am nervous to continue just for the fact that my body is changing so rapidly and I don’t know what it’ll look like at the end of treatment. I am grateful though, to have a chance to heal and most of all grateful for the chance to live. I put together a list of the unexpected side effects of chemo. Some side effects may surprise you!

10. Dry Skin

I look like a lizard. or an alligator. or leather. I have to put lotion on several times a day. I think the chemo must dry your body from the inside out.

9. Sun Spots

I have sun spots in random places. Mostly my arms, but on top of my hands, under my arms and the under part of my fore arms. Its dark and patchy. Most people think it is a bruise. I have been told they will disappear after I end treatment.

8. Thrush

This side effect surprised me. I remember Hannah getting thrush when she was a baby, but it is very real for chemo patients too. My tongue swelled and was very irritated. It was difficult to eat. The only real relief was drinking cold drinks. It went way after a few days. Wayne bought me special toothpaste and mouthwash and that helped.

7.  Loss of Taste Buds

After a few treatments, food tasted different. Some food didn’t even have a taste. A couple of searches on “Dr. Google” and I found I wasn’t alone. Many people complain of loss of taste buds for a very long time. I do find myself salting and flavoring my food more. I don’t have the desire to eat some foods that I used to enjoy.

6. Forgetfulness

Some call it “chemo brain”. I will be in the middle of a conversation and the words just don’t come to me. I can’t even think of what I was going to say. It doesn’t happen often, but it is very frustrating and demeaning.

5. Collapsing Veins

Each week it is getting harder and harder for my blood to be drawn without digging around. It is very painful. I am lucky to have a port inserted for my chemo treatments. I absolutely hate to have blood  drawn from the top of my hand. I can only have  blood drawn from my left arm due to my lymph nodes being removed. Which brings me to number 4….

4. Loss of blood pressure and blood drawn from one arm

After my partial mastectomy surgery, six lymph nodes were removed. When lymph nodes are removed, there is nowhere for lymphatic fluids to drain through. Therefore, any increased pressure results in swelling of lymphatic fluids. For the rest of my life I cannot have blood withdrawn from my right arm or have blood pressure taken in my right arm.

3. Dry Mouth

My  mouth seems constantly dry. It may have something to do with decreased moisture from the inside of my body to the outside similar to having the dry skin. I keep water with me constantly even at night beside my bed. At least I am getting my water intake each day.

2. Diarrhea

A subject not everyone wants to hear about, but very much a reality.  Because of the increased risk of infection, i have to limit my exposure to germs which in turn means I limit my time at grocery stores, public places, restaurants, etc. Every meal usually results in diarrhea. Another great reason to drink a lot of water. (See number 3)

1. People Reaction

The number one unexpected side effect of not just chemotherapy, but of cancer in general, is of people reactions. I have found people fall into two categories, those that completely embrace you & step up to encourage you and those who put a wall up when the word “cancer” is brought up. I have had some very close friends who do not talk about the cancer, do not call or visit or become very nervous around me. I don’t blame them. I think sometimes when people are faced with mortality, they are scared. I try to give them  the space they need to absorb. I often find I am comforting them and I am okay with that. Who better to reassure them that God is in control than me? It takes me “outside” of myself to comfort others who may be uncomfortable.

My second half of treatment starts tomorrow and I am ready for the challenge. Wayne and I are going to take a little overnight trip to the beach this week. I think it is just what the doctor ordered!

Step in Faith,

  

10 Ways To Make Eating At Home Fun & Easy!

So I shared my monthly goals HERE and my top priority for May was to rein in our spending for the month on eating out. I am happy to report that a week into “No Spending Month” we haven’t deviated from our plan and I only spent $183 for all of our groceries FOR THE WHOLE MONTH. (Sorry to yell, but I was really excited about this!)

Here are 10 ways I make it fun and easy and not the boring and dreaded “cook every night same meal kinda thing”:

1. Freezer Crockpot Meals

About once every three months I will make freezer meals such as spaghetti sauce, chili, taco meat, etc. There are a ton of lists and recipes available online. Grab a friend or family member and make a day of it. Here are a few suggestions :

12-easy-freezer-meals-2-hours

Freezer Meals On The Cheap

7 Meals In 70 Minutes

30 Summer Freezer Meals

2. Plan your menu a week or month in advance

I have planned our menu for the whole month for at least 15 years now. It makes grocery shopping so much easier even if you go shopping every week, every two weeks or once a month. I take inventory of what I have on hand and plan the menus around my pantry and freezer and fill in with meals as needed. This saves time and money and takes some of the “what should we have for dinner?” thinking out of my day.

3. Snacks & Movie Night

We usually have snacks and movie night on Saturday or Sunday nights. Some nights its chips and dip and veggies with rolled lunch meat. Other nights I make something more. Calling it snacks somehow makes it seem like less work!

4.  Breakfast for Dinner

Enough said. There is something to be said about having pancakes for dinner!

5. Soup & Crackers

Or tomato soup and grilled cheese or soup and sandwich or soup and salad. You get the idea.

6. Bits & Pieces

AKA known as leftovers, but cut into smalls bits and pieces and served buffet style. Add little sauces next to your leftover bits of steak or meatloaf. Add a little cheese to the broccoli. My daughter loved bits and pieces night when she was younger. I think it was fun for the smaller bites and a variety of food.

7. Picnic On The Patio

A change of scenery from the dinner table always helps the meal seem more special. I love using the grill too. Saves with clean up. Everyone fixes their plates and brings it outside. A picnic on the patio is sometimes what is needed to just enjoy each other’s company without distractions.

8. Make It A Family Affair

There have been many nights when I just don’t want to make dinner (a lot lately) and I have just had to ask for some help. Let each family member pick one item to prepare and spend time together in the kitchen.

9. Salad Bar 

Many nights, especially in the Summer, its too hot to cook. You can pick up many pre-chopped, pre-sliced items at the grocery store. Often it only takes a little time to slice and dice and prepare a small salad bar with veggies, meats and cheeses. This way everyone gets the salad they want. Plus less heat in the kitchen.

10. Remember why you are doing this

I hung up a sign on the refigerator with our financial goals. It will all be worth it!!

Step in faith,

May Goals {Free printables}

Hi Friends! A long absence, I know. This chemotherapy treatment is not for the faint of heart. I never knew how hard and debilitating chemotherapy could be. I have finished the strongest chemotherapy treatment and am now on a weekly regimen with a drug called Pacitaxel (Taxel for short). The side effects are few (dry skin, bone pain and diarrhea…just keeping it real, but they are bearable).

Nonetheless, I have renewed energy and excited to continue on with some sort of “normal” life with writing my book, writing this blog, and running our business. In that spirit, I decided to make some goals for myself and share a few free printables so you can be inspired to set your own May goals.

Business & Finance

  1. May is a no spend month for our family. We have had several no spend months. Some successful, but even the not so successful end up being okay because we end up spending less than normal.  It has been really easy for us to eat out because of my lack of energy and “don’t care right now” attitude while undergoing chemotherpy. I am going to give our family some grace on this because Wayne works so hard at our business and Hannah works full-time and is a student full-time. We are doing a study at church about “Breaking the Yolk of Debt”. Its a reality check for us though. If we want to reach our financial goals, we must stick to a plan. We will use cash envelopes and only spend from the cash we have in our envelopes for our essentials. I have made our monthly food menu and eating at home is the main agenda.
  2. This blog needs some love. I am scheduling a couple of hours a day to devote to sharing and inspiring! I have so many ideas to share with you. I hope you will stick around and connect! I will be starting a new series called She Can Do It! I will show you basic skills such as writing a budget, changing a tire, sewing a button, simple glazed cookies. We will have fun learning new things!

Family & Relationships

  1. I am so blessed for the family and friends that have supported me throughout My Breast cancer Journey.  Without their help, I would be lost. I have spent a great deal of time one on one with each of my family members. I am just going to love on them this month!
  2. I have a story that needs to be told. It is about my Dad and his untimely death. His death is heart-breaking, but I am determined to share his story so that it may help others. I am in the process of writing a book and will share the first chapter here on the blog this month.  I hope it will inspire you to write a Last Will & Testament/ Trust and an Advanced Care Directive.

Health & Fitness

  1. I am not setting any exercise or diet goals this month. My doctor  wants me to watch what I eat, but not deprive myself of any certain food. I have NO energy for exercise. My doctor wants to me to conserve all the energy I have. My goal this month will be to keep my positive attitude in check.  My prognosis is good and I want to do everything the doctor tells me to do.

She Can Do It!

  1. I have set a goal to read two books this month and I will share my reviews with you here. I am excited to read Unashamed by Christine Caine

 

and Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

  1. I am doing a Facebook Bible Study with Unskinny Boppy,  Jennifer Rizzo, Stone Gable, and At The Picket Fence called Comparison Trap. Looking forward to sharing all I am learning about comparing myself to others and how we can stop this trap we all fall into.

Now on to the May printables! I would love to hear about your May goals!  We are here to Share. Inspire. Connect.

 PRINT HERE

PRINT HERE

PRINT HERE

Step in Faith…

 

Happy Spring {and a few updates on Life}

Hi Friends,

The last 10 days we have had glorious warm weather, but today is overcast and chilly. I am not going to let the skies rin my excitement for the first day of Spring!

My posts have been sporadic, but this chemo is kicking my butt. I thought I would give you a few updates about what’s been happening.

Chemo / Breast Cancer

I have had three chem treatments so far. They are spaced two weeks apart. My doctor tells me my cell levels will dip low at about two days after chemo and he has been right on the mark. The first day of treatment, I tend to take a nap in the afternoon. The next day, I am a little tiresome with muscle aches. The third day is very hard. My Mom is here for the full day while I am resting on day three. The hardest part of this whole experience is not being able to do the things I want to do and not going to the places I want to go. Its a small sacrifice for saving my life, but quite depressing nonetheless. I will share the whole chemo experience with you soon.

Vision

I visited my Retina Specialist this past month. The chemo will affect my eyesight in the worst way. However, my doctor prescribed me anti-inflammatory drops three times a day to keep the swelling at bay while i am going through treatment. I haven’t noticed any worsening in my eyesight except for my cataracts. I am very used to my eyesight being poor and I adapt to seeing differently.

Disability

Do you know that Stage 3 Breast Cancer and Low Vision still do not qualify for Social Security Disability? I applied last year when I lost part of my eyesight and was denied. I applied again in December and have not heard a decision. I am so grateful to have a business that can sustain our expenses. What do others do in this same situation?

State of the Blog

I have so many ideas  running through my head of ideas to share, tutorials to teach and encouraging stories. I just have to find the energy right now to write them down in posts. My goal is to teach, inspire, share and connect. I will update all my series pages this week and freshen up the blog. I will do my best to try to be consistent, but the ultimate goal is to live. AND live happily. I will be sharing a tutorial this week on how to make my sugar cookies with glaze. Just in time to gather your supplies for Easter cookies. I hope you will stick around! I love having you here!

Book Review {The Magnolia Story & A Trip to Magnolia Silos}

One benefit of going through chemotherapy is the downtime. Whereas before chemo I didn’t take time to read books, I am now able to read a little more. One book I have wanted to read for awhile is The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper on HGTV.  I love their show and their enthusiastic spirit working together. It reminds me a little bit of me and Wayne as we have worked together on our businesses for over 8 years now. Albeit, Chip and Joanna have taken leaps to expand their business and their dreams. I give them a tremendous amount of credit for working hard, but still keeping their values intact.

 Their book was published in October, 2016 and I am just now finishing it. It took me a minute to figure out the writing style. They both wrote the book from their different perspectives and the font changes when one or the other is writing. Joanna writes the most and Chip provides excerpts and thoughts throughout.

I try to look for books that can inspire and this one fit the bill. The book takes us from each childhood throughout their time dating. They speak of what their families are like and how they were raised.  The bulk of the book shares how they started their business and what steps they took to finance and design and collaborate. They also speak of their faith and what inspires them to move forward in achieving their dreams. They are two very different people, but they do balance each other’s personalities. I respect their value system in making their family number one priority. Definitely a good read.

It just so happened that on our trip to Texas last October,  we were able to visit Magnolia at the Silos. I had been looking forward to visiting the market and the Silos Baking Co which had just opened earlier in the Summer. Waco, Texas was not what I expected. It sort of reminded me of an old town which had seen better days and  a better economy. There are a lot of run down areas in town. I got the impression Chip & Joanna Gaines have fueled a lot of income into this town and it is revitalized.  I often wondered when watching the show, why the prices are so low on these houses. I believe property prices will definitely go up with the added tourist connection and I am happy for the City of Waco.

Magnolia at the Silos was not too busy when we pulled in. However, parking is very limited and we had to park about two blocks away because there is no parking lot at the Silos. Many people parked on the street and a trolley is available to transport.

We were greeted at the door by Market employees who were very warm and friendly. The atmosphere in the Market is casual and the setup is beautiful. It wasn’t stark or cold and the items were displayed for easy access. I found a ton of cute, decorative “stuff” to bring home, but a lot of items seemed very expensive. I did buy a few things and when we checked out we were given a cute postcard with a thank you note and picture of Chip and Joanna. I thought it was a nice touch.

We visited the Magnolia Seed Supply which was a small building off to the side of the silos. The building was almost as small as a shed and didn’t offer a lot of merchandise, mostly t-shirts and “fairy garden” items. The garden outside of the Seed Supply is beautiful and quite large for the space. It was very well laid out and looked like an “active” garden space.

Our last stop was the Silos Baking Co. The line to get in wasn’t long for us and I think we were fortunate to visit at a slow time. There was a greeter at the door who handed us an order form and explained what the seasonal baked good was. We wanted to taste a selection of items so we ordered 2 cookies (which were large cookies) and one of each of the flavors of cupcakes. They were packaged beautifully and I was impressed with the attention to detail on each cupcake. Later that night we cut each cupcake into small bites and spread them on a platter to share after dinner. I didn’t think they were the best I have ever tasted, but a good cupcake. I think they are displayed creatively, but I think they must charge so much for each cupcake to pay for the packaging. I think the baked goods were a little pricey (but I could just be frugal?)!

I applaud Chip and Joanna Gaines for the awesome way they have created their business. I think they have created many jobs and increased the economy for Waco. They set a good example for families everywhere and I respect their values. I am inspired by their story.

If you would like to read their story, pick up their book here