Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Today I had hoped to wake up to a world where we had not only elected the first female president, but to a world where we as a nation proved that decency was still the order of the day.  Instead I woke up to a world where hate and fear triumphed.  I’m not upset that the candidate that I voted for lost, that’s actually minor compared to the bigger issue.  I’m sad that I can no longer say to the people that I work with who are here on visas that America stands for justice and equality.  I have a 5 year old nephew, who I fear will now grow up in an America where angry mobs rule, which is what happened yesterday.  Where people who are handicapped are made fun of; where people that have a different color to their skin are villainized; where women are objectified.

As a nation, we have failed.  We have failed to stand for those among us that are different.  And while they may be different than me, they were still made in the image of God. 

We have failed to learn from history.  The irony is not lost on me that the person who sounded a lot like Hitler did won election on the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch.

I had hoped to wake up to a world where intellect and decency trumped hate.  Unfortunately, I woke up to a world where hate won.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Weight loss - Almost to the Finish Line

At the beginning of 2015 I decided to work on trying to lose weight.  At that point I was wearing a size 16, and they were starting to get a little snug.  My goal was to get to a size 8 by September 2015.  Well, I made the original goal and then kept right on going.  I’ve currently lost about 75 pounds and now wear either a 0 or a 2 in clothes.  The cancer treatments did slow my progress down a bit, but all in all, didn’t affect it too much.

There wasn’t any kind of magical pill, or special diet plan, it was hard work and a major lifestyle change.  I’ve had to relearn how to eat, what foods are good for me, and what foods I need to either avoid, or to have only in moderation.  Basically, I count calories.  I base my decisions on what I’m going to eat by how many calories something has.  And let me tell you, when I was starting out, I was really surprised by some of the foods that were high in calories.  I also have a Garmin VivoFit that I wear all of the time.  It keeps track of my activity level and I can “earn” extra calories with it.  Right now I net between 1200 and 1280 calories a day.

A couple of things that I’ve learned through this journey
  • Rice is really high in calories
  • Have a plan in place for when the munchies strike
  • Baby carrots fill you up, without a lot of calories (just make sure to skip the dip)
  • While I can wear clothes a size too big, once they are two sizes too big they don’t look so good J
  • You can’t exercise your way to losing weight – you have to change your eating habits
  • Once you hit your final weight you can’t go back to eating the way you used to or you will gain it back.
  • Make sure to provide room in your daily calories for fun stuff like cookies.
I am just about done with the weight-loss and will be transitioning to maintenance, probably during fall.  That’s going to be a whole different adventure and learning curve.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Web Wanderings #2

A collection of interesting bits that I've stumbled upon while wandering the web.

In this crazy age of body shaming and obsessions with all things celebrity, here's a great post from Jennifer Aniston.

The Pomodoro Technique is a way of organizing your time in chunks of 25 minutes, eliminating distractions, and rewarding yourself with short breaks.

Last spring, Jim and I went to Nashville on vacation.  What we found there were some great, unique, neighborhoods throughout the city that were so much fun to explore.  Our two favorites were the Gulch and 12South.  Read about all of the different neighborhoods here.

It may be summer, but we still have to dress up for work.  Here's some ways to pull off a t-shirt at the office to at least be a bit more comfortable.

First the US had the Food Pyramid, now we have the Plate to tell us how we should eat.  Personally, I like the idea of a spinning top, and that's exactly how Japan does their guidelines.  and they seem to know a bit about how to eat - their rate of obesity is just  3.6 percent of adults (compared to 32 percent of Americans) and they have the longest life expectancy.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Orzo Salad with Mushrooms and Feta

Maybe it's because it is summertime, but for whatever reason I have been craving pasta salad lately.
 Unfortunately, pasta isn't the lowest calorie dish.  The other week for lunch I decided to make a pasta salad with a combination or orzo and chopped, steamed cauliflower.  It gave me enough pasta to satisfy my craving, and the cauliflower gave it the added bulk, without the calories.  Feta cheese and sauteed baby bella mushrooms provided the protein, while cucumbers and green pepper provided the crunch.

Orzo Salad with Mushrooms and Feta

4 oz orzo pasta
1 pound cauliflower florets, steamed and chopped
1 cucumber seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper seeded and chopped
8 oz baby bella mushrooms
4 Tablespoons Feta cheese
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette (I used Ken's)

Cook pasta according to package directions and steam cauliflower until tender.

While they are cooking heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the mushrooms.  When mushrooms, cauliflower and pasta are cooked and allowed to cool, combine all of the ingredients except the Feta cheese.  I ended up using 4 Tablespoons of the vinaigrette, but you can use more.  Top with Feta cheese.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Exercising Post Surgery

Even though I am recovering from surgery it is still important to me to stay active and to keep my weight-loss momentum going (I’m almost to my goal).  Fitness walking is allowing me to do just that.

I am still restricted in what I am allowed to do, but I am allowed to briskly walk.  One of the issues that I have though, is keeping to a good pace.  That’s why I’ve been using the Leslie SansoneWalk at Home DVDs.  I am doing them every day while I am recovering.  Granted, I can’t do some of the moves, but it keeps me active and it’s still fun to do.  

Even when I’m not recovering from surgery, I still use them.  Sunday is my day to do a workout that isn’t as heavy on toning as some of my others and these really fit the bill.

The one that I tend to do the most is the 4-mile Power Walk.  One of the things that I like best about this DVD is that I can do the whole 4 miles, or I can do either a 2 mile Power Walk or a 2 Mile Classic Walk.  I also have the 5 Mega Mile one, but that is harder to modify, at least for me.  Another one that I’m considering getting is Walking Off the Pounds.

This post is not sponsored by Leslie Sansone or Walk at Home and I did not receive any compensation.  All opinions are strictly my own.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Web Wanderings #1

A collection of interesting bits that I've stumbled upon while wandering the web.

One thing that I've been seeing a lot about on the web is Bullet Journals.  At first it seemed like a pretty complicated system, but after a little reading, it seems like it would be a pretty easy system to use.  I doubt that I'll use it, I'm kinda partial to my planner.  Have any of you heard of it?  Anyone using one?  If you want to read more about it, here's an article from the LA Times.


Watergate is back, but not as a scandal.  I think that it would be kind of cool to stay here.

Even though I'm someone who tries to eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, I still found David H. Freedman's article in The Atlantic titled, "How Junk Food Can End Obesity," to be extremely interesting

If you're looking for great summer dresses that won't break the bank, here are 20 dresses for under $50.

Current Events
The US isn't the only country getting ready to elect a new leader.  In the wake of the Brexit vote, The UK is going to have a new prime minister, and it's going to be a woman.

We try and keep Sunday nights free and clear so that we can have a relaxing evening in order to prepare for the upcoming week.  Making Sunday evenings special goes a long way to keeping the Sunday evening blues at bay.  Elsie at Richly Rooted has some other suggestions for dealing with them.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Summer Dresses - Halter Swing Dress

With the weight loss (which is a post for another day), I can finally wear dresses confidently.  So this year I been on the lookout for nice summery dresses.  One of the styles that I'm really liking is the Swing Dress, especially ones that are a halter bodice.

One of the things that is great about this style of dress is that it can be casual pared with a flat or even flip flops, it can be dressy with heals, and with the addition of a cardigan, it would be great for the office.

The other great thing about these dresses is that you can find them at various price points.

I came across this one at Anthropologie.  I really love the color of it.
Anthropologie Swiss Dot Halter Dress

Another one that I like, and actually the one that I bought is this one from Old Navy.
Old Navy Halter Swing Dress for Women

It's very similar to the first one, but at a much better price, which is great if you want to shop the trend, but don't have a huge budget to work with.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cancer Update: Closing a Chapter

This part of my breast cancer journey is winding down and coming to a close.  I had the second stage of my reconstruction on June 17th and everything is healing nicely.  I have three more Herceptin treatments and then that’s done as well. 

The past 13 months have been a journey and a half.  At times terrifying, at times incredible, it has mostly been a time of learning – learning about myself, and learning to rely on God.  I’ve seen God work so magnificently through this, providing me with a peace and a joy that only He can provide. 

Jim has been my rock through all of this.  He has taken care of me when the chemo wiped me out and when I’ve been recovering from surgery.  He has also been my researcher, filtering through information so that I could be informed without being overwhelmed.

The support of family and friends has been amazing.  From cards, to meals, to people taking me to appointments, I have felt so loved and cared for throughout this time.  And knowing that I was being prayed for has brought such a peace.

I’ve learned a lot about myself through this.  I’ve learned that sometimes being stubborn is what allows you to recover quicker and that sometimes even the most stubborn person has to give in and rest.  I’m also learning to approach life and others with grace.  And I’m learning that showing love is more important than being right.

As I move forward, I am also learning to embrace my passions and I am beginning the journey of bringing a dream into the light of reality.  It has long been a dream of mine to blog.  I’ve tried a few times, but have never found my voice.  The breast cancer has helped me with that.  So, now this space will transition from a place where I keep people updated on my health to a place where I write about things that I am passionate about.  I hope that you will join me on my next blogging adventure.

Monday, July 4, 2016

About me

Writing a post to introduce myself has proven to be rather challenging. While I am comfortable in my
own skin and with the woman that I’ve become, I don’t want to seem two dimensional, nor do I want to pigeon-hole myself.

I guess the basics are where to get started. I am in my 40s (that is so crazy to type that), I am married,
and I work at a major research university. The Lord has taken me on an incredible journey, especially the last couple of years. At times I will admit that I was plagued by self-doubt and struggled to know the true me, but I am finally back to being comfortable in my own skin.

I love food and fashion. I am passionate about finding your true style and enjoying every bite. Right now this blog will be a way for me to explore both. You’ll find recipes, outfit photos, ramblings on food and style, and anything else that tickles my fancy. So, while this blog was originally a place and means for me to keep family and friends updated on my battle with breast cancer, now it will be a place for me to share what’s on my mind.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Friday, February 26, 2016


Back in January, I stumbled upon the 2016 Reading Challenge over at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  I haven't done a reading challenge since I was a child, when I used to do one every summer, so needless to say, I was intrigued.  Not only did I find a pretty awesome challenge, I really enjoy the blog in general.  She has a weekly podcast where her and a guest discuss books, which I find so fun to listen to.

And this reading challenge has some pretty cool categories.  There are 12 categories, I'm assuming that's because there are 12 months, and they are:A book published this year

  • A book you can finish in a day
  • A book you've been meaning to read
  • A book recommended to you by your local librarian or bookseller
  • A book you should have read in school
  • A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF
  • A book published before you were born
  • A book that was banned at some point
  • A book you previously abandoned
  • A book you own but have never read
  • A book that intimidates you
  • A book you've already read at least once

So far I am almost done with the meaning to read book.  For that category I'm reading Lessons from Madame Chic, by Jennifer L. Scott.  I'm almost three quarters through it.  The abandoned book that I am planning on finishing is The Secret Garden.  I'm about halfway through it.  If you have a Kindle, it's free to download.

I have a feeling that the book I should have read in school, the book published before I was born and the book that intimidates me will be pulled from the same list.  I am kinda curious as to what books have been banned in the past.  I'm hoping to find some really interesting books in that list.  I also have a lot of books that I already own, but have yet to read.

These books will, for the most part, be read in addition to the books I read with my book club.  The only categories that may overlap are read in a day and previously read.

I'll keep you posted on what I'm reading and what I've finished reading.  And feel free to share suggestions for any of the categories.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Pathology Results and Recovery

The surgery went well on Wednesday.  I have always been super comfortable with my choice of surgeons and the rest of the staff was great as well.  There were some issue with communication, but those were minor and there were also some issues with my hospital stay that were more infrastructure issues.  This makes three times now that I've had to deal with infrastructure issues that really shouldn't have happened (at least in my mind) and if I can ever figure out who to address my concerns with, once everything is said and done, I will send a letter.   I am hoping that my next surgery occurs at a different hospital.

Recovery has been pretty uneventful.  I've bounced back quickly, except for the fact that I have a drain coming out of me.  That has hampered me quite a bit, and has kept me stuck at home.  I will get to go out tomorrow - but only to go to the hospital for my Herceptin treatment.  I do have my follow-up on Wednesday, so I am hoping that it comes out then.  Most of my limitations involve the upper body, I am limited in lifting and I am not allowed to raise my arm above my shoulder.  I am, however, still able to walk.  Yesterday I did 4 miles with a DVD and managed to crack 10,000 steps for the day.  Today I have already done 4 miles, and I hope to do another 2 this evening.  That will put me well above 10,000 steps for today and closer to my pre-surgery goal of 12,000.

I did receive the pathology results.  They did find cancer, but it was DCIS (ductile carcinoma in situ), not invasive cancer, which was what we were praying for.  The DCIS did show changes from the chemo too.  With this result it is now a definite that I won't need radiation and can move on with finishing up the Herceptin and reconstruction.

I am very humbled by the outpouring of support that I've received, both on FB and the blog, and in my regular life.  I have received so many positive notes and cards, and I know so many people are praying for me.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Moving from one stage to the next

I finished my chemo in mid-January, and over the past five weeks the side-effects have slowly left. At this point, I still get the odd, metal taste in my mouth, but it isn’t as strong and it isn’t constant.  I am also still battling swelling in my legs from water retention, and, while the majority of the muscle cramps have gone away, I still have a lot of hip pain.  Now, please don’t think that I’m complaining, I’m not.  I feel very blessed that the side-effects weren’t as bad as some people get.  All and all, I am feeling a lot better and, after a blood transfusion, a lot more energetic.  One funny thing – my eyebrows and eyelashes did great, at least until my last chemo and then they both decided to noticeably thin.  I’m not sure why, but I do find the timing funny.

So that’s the update as to where I am in my treatment.  I’m grateful to God that He provided me with so much strength to get through it.  I’m glad that I entered chemo much more physically fit then I’ve been for probably 20 years.  Other than taking off for doctor appointments and actual treatment, I haven’t had to miss any work.

One thing about my chemo, I didn’t receive it because the cancer had spread.  I received it to help keep it from spreading.  My lymph nodes were clear when I had my first surgery.  However, my tumor came back with the protein HER2, which meant a 1 in 4 chance of a distal recurrence.  To treat for that I am receiving the drug Herceptin which is started with a round of chemo.  While the chemo is done, I still go every three weeks for the infusion of Herceptin and that will continue through September.  It, thankfully, does not have the side-effects of chemo.  Doing this takes my odds of a distal recurrence to 1 in 10.

Next up I surgery, which is scheduled for this Wednesday.  I am having a left-side mastectomy with immediate, two-stage, reconstruction.  The surgery is expected to last 3 hours, 1 for the mastectomy and 2 for the reconstruction and it will involve 2 surgeons, a surgical oncologist and a plastic surgeon.  I have no clue what to expect.  I’m a little nervous, except when I’m really nervous.  Jim has had to deal with a few breakdowns.  The Lord has been gracious though and the verse that I keep focusing on his Psalm 23:4:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for though art with my; thy rod and thy staff

they comfort me.