Thursday, March 31, 2011

Scars - Maybe It's Time For A Tattoo

I don't know why my photos haven't been showing in the last couple of posts but I think I fixed them. Maybe it was a problem with "Blogger". I hope this works.

This is Alexa in the t-shirt and scarf we brought for her from New York. We got to spend some time with Alexa at Don and Syl's yesterday over one of Sylvia's wonderful dinners. Both she and Mikael are especially busy at this time of year with dance and music. Anytime we seem them in the next while will be on the stage.

I had a kind of crummy couple of days after getting my stitches out. I think they came out too early even though they were in a day longer than suggested. After they were out, the doctor commented that everything looked great but that I should be careful not to lean against anything hard for the next little while. I guess the wound wasn't quite sealed. I asked him about sleeping and he said that shouldn't be any problem. But it was. Everything was fine until I got into bed on Monday night and then with just the little shoulder shifts that happen getting into bed, I could feel some stinging on my back and I knew my wound had cracked open a bit. I hardly slept all night trying to stay still in a position that would prevent it from opening even further. Then I stayed very still all the next day hoping it would heal enough to prevent further opening. Before I went to bed on Tuesday night, Kevin used those little strip bandages that are supposed to act like "stitches" and hold a wound together but I wasn't even settled in bed when I felt the bandages unstick and I was in for another mostly sleepless night. The next morning Kevin rebandaged it but he rebandaged it all very heavily. Lots of bandages and lots of tape to hold everything together. So far so good. The wound hasn't cracked right open. Just a bit but it sure made me nervous that it would split even further. As it is, instead of having a little line scar, I'll have an oval one. Just another scar.

It feels like my body over the past couple of years has more than it's share of new scars all over the place. A mutilated breast and other scars under my arm, where my picc line was, scar tissue inside from the radiation, those danged little blue-black tattooed dots (radiation markers). And now a new one on my back. Oh, joy! If it bothers me, maybe I'll just get a for real tattoo over top of it. Any design suggestions?

Sunshine and melting was very welcome today! It's about time!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ahhh ... A Weekend!

I've been away the past three weekends so to have a weekend at home was WONDERFUL! Not that cleaning one's house is all woohoo or anything like that, but it matters. And, I must say, using my new Norwex products made housecleaning almost fun! I didn't even need to wear a Cinderella gown to rise to the task.

I bought a Norwex moppy thing and I thus proclaim ... all you Swifferers out there ... abandon ye Swiffer and get ye a Norwex mop!! This works SO much better than my Swiffer wet jet ever did and no need to buy any other products. No toxins, easy peasy, it does a better job, and no streaks.

The dusting mitt, too, works really slick! I can get the house dusted lickity-split! I just have to be careful not to swish any breakables onto the floor with my lightning speed ... or carelessness. I almost tossed a much loved ornament and will try to be more careful in the future. The other cleaning cloths worked great, too, with the added comfort of not needing to use any chemical stuff. The cloths, even when wet, kind of wick away moisture from the surfaces you wipe, which is very nice. I'm hooked, Berny! I'll be calling you when I'm ready to try some of the other products.

Luke had a lacrosse game on Saturday so I was glued to the computer screen following live stats. They won. Luke got a couple of goals but just before the half there was a pile-up with him on the bottom and somebody fell on top of his knee causing a strain. Nothing more than a strain, though, by all accounts and he thinks he'll be able to play next weekend. They fly to Fairfield next weekend ... just north of New York. We drove past it on the way to Boston. It's great to feel like we kind of know the lay of the land out there now. Hannah is still having a wonderful time in New York but I think she's eager to get back to Vancouver, her own little apartment, and the people there who are dear to her.

After Luke's game, Kevin and I went to Gardenscape where we saw these amazing garden sculptures! They brought to mind Uncle Norman. I would love to have bought one for him, but after looking at the price sticker, I thought I'd just take a photo instead. They're made by Douglas Walker and you can learn more about them at his website, WaterWorks Garden Sculpture. The only thing we bought at Gardenscape were a few little ferns to replace the ones I killed last year. Mostly, I just loved seeing and smelling all the flowers. The Saskatoon Orchid Society had a stunning display of orchids!

Then we ran a few errands and stopped at Cava Wines to look for some Perini beer. It's an Italian beer that Kevin had at Frankies in New York and he really liked it. I inquired about "Sweet Tea Vodka" but, even though they had quite an extensive vodka selection, they didn't have any and hadn't heard of it. We then checked the liquor store on 8th street and I was thrilled to find Sweet Tea Vodka there! YEAH!! I need to get a couple of other ingredients and then, perhaps, I can perfect that Southern Belle drink I had Five Leaves in New York. I LOVED IT!! I don't drink much but one of those every now and then would be lovely! It could be my summer drink.

Here's the website for Sweet Carolina Sweet Tea Vodka. If you visit this website, be prepared to declare that you are, in fact, at least 21 years of age. HUH???!!! I mean, I know you have to be 21 to drink legally in the USA, but why do you have to be 21 to visit a distillery's website? That doesn't make any sense to me. The website provides this pdf of drink recipes using their various flavours of Sweet Tea Vodka, but none are MY recipe, though there are some that I'll be trying.

Kevin and I tried TWO new recipes this weekend. One for chicken and one for beef tenderloin. They were both in the Flavours magazine that I picked up at the liquor store. The beef tenderloin with rosemary and redwine reduction was very good! Here's a link to the recipe. The chicken recipe - Tex Mex Chicken and Rice Bake ... was in a Campbell's Soup ad and can be found here. It took a quite a bit longer to bake than the recipe indicated but when it was done, it was good. The rice was more like risotto, which was very nice. Next time I would add other vegetables to veg it up a bit more.

Tomorrow I get my stitches out (from that carcinoma that was cut off my back ... ewwwww). I'll be so glad to have the stitches gone! If I don't keep a bandage over them, they get caught on my shirts and they're a bit itchy now.

Have a good week, everyone!


I'd Better Start Sewing!

I have been very lucky at winning fabric giveaways! It's pretty exciting, especially because I haven't actually done any quilting for YEARS and now that I'm quite gung-ho about it ... well, a quilter needs a "stash", of which I don't have much of one. But with a few fabric winnings, I'm developing something fun to work with!

I won this Dream On jelly-roll (designed by Urban Chiks for Moda Fabrics). Visit the True Up blog to see a better picture of the whole fabric line, which was designed with vintage bedsheet fabrics as inspiration. I've never had a jelly roll before. It's all the fabrics from a designers line in 2.5 inch strips. There are quilt patterns designed especially for using jelly rolls so I'll be looking at those (there are some at the Moda Bake Shop). I feeling some Dream On baby quilts coming on! I won this fabric from Jennifer who shares lots of great quilting information at her blog, That Girl ... That Quilt. The fabric giveaway was sponsored by Rita who has an online fabric store, Fresh Squeezed Fabrics.

This bunch of vibrant fat quarters (that's quilting talk for a particularly sized chunk of fabric) arrived just before we left for New York! I won it from the Trillium fabric shop. Caroline, the proprietor, has a blog where she shares lots of great quilting information. These fabrics are from the Andalucia fabric line designed by Patty Young for Michael Miller Fabrics. I don't know what I'll do with these yet. I first have to see what else in my "stash" they might coordinate with. I need new oven mitts. I could make some! With matching potholders? And a mug rug? Here's a mug rug tutorial and here is some mug rug inspiration via Flickr.

Thanks, Jennifer, Rita, and Caroline!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Princess Meghan!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Health Update and Post Treatment Musings

Well, I've talked a lot about how great our trip was and how much I enjoyed time with our kids but I haven't said much about how my body held up on the trip. And to that I'd say I did pretty good all round.

While we were pretty busy, I slept well every single night we were away and there were only a couple of mornings where we had to get up early. We also had a few days where a lot of time was spent being a passenger in a car, plane, or train. Easy! All of our travel arrangements went so smoothly ... just that mad rush in Toronto on the way to Baltimore ... and that ultimately worked out.

We did a lot of walking, of course, and the weather was usually on the cool side, though not nearly as cold as here. I do think the cold weather effects my joints a bit and probably all the walking did, too. My hips and the bones in the front of my feet ... mostly where my big toe connects to the rest of my foot ... cause me the most trouble. Most people wouldn't know they bother me and they don't hurt badly most of the time. What it does mean is that I have my limits when it comes to distance walking. It also means that the longer I walk, the more likely I am to limp and have trouble getting going again after I stop walking for a bit. Some of my joints seem to lock for a while if I've been walking for a long while. And when I stand after sitting for a while, I have to go slow and take my time before I start moving again. I have to wait until my hips let me stand fully upright and then settle in before I take my first steps. I feel this way most of the time to a lesser degree and I have ways of hiding it so people don't notice but it's much more bothersome after I've been on my feet for a while.

I hardly ever have trouble with my other joints but every now and then, for no reason I understand, I'll have very achy finger and thumb joints ... elbows and knees. I don't get it. I don't know if it's still after effects of the chemo and/or Arimidex or from the Tamoxifen. Whatever it is and annoying as it is, it doesn't much impact my quality of life, so I'm not complaining.

Last week I had that creepy carcinoma removed from my back and I get my stitches out on Monday. No biggie ... now that it's gone! I had my annual physical this week and it went okay ... nothing new to worry about. I love hearing the Doc say, "normal" ... "normal" ... "looks normal". Normal. Normal is good. Even my bloodwork went well. The nurse got it from my arm on the first try and it didn't hurt! And no bruising! In two weeks I have my annual mammogram and it had better be normal, too. Or else!

I know my hair doesn't fall under "health" but it does impact how I feel about myself. It's much more important to me than I could have anticipated. It's silly, really, but it's just so visible. If I'd come out of all of this with a hairy back or zebra stipes on my butt, it would not have been nearly as bothersome just because not only would other people not see it, I wouldn't see it much either. But my hair is just so ... OUT THERE! And some days it's more out there than others. As it grows longer, which is a good thing, it just seems to grow bigger and yet when I hold a mirror up to see the back of my head, I still see a lot of scalp. It's pretty thin back there. I try to straighten or at least smooth my hair some mornings but parts of it ... most noticeably my bangs ... snap back to curl mode at pretty quickly. A single drop of sweat from a hot flash is all it takes to invoke curl. Alas, I remind myself that it's better than no hair at all but I tell you, wearing a wig was easier and looked better.

Speaking of hot flashes, while I still have them, in general they're not as bad. I rarely have those ones that make me feel faint and sick to my stomach. They're much more tolerable than they were. I read that as people adjust to Tamoxifen, hot flashes can become less of a bother.

My weight. I gained a few pounds back while I was on holiday. I think that was mostly from when Kevin and I were managing on our own without Hannah's restaurant guidance. I must work to lose those few pounds because, of course, the goal is to lose more poundage yet. I need to be more active but I'm confident that will come as the weather improves. Walking, biking, and maybe some swimming would be good for me. I'm considering some yoga or even some pilates to help with my shoulders in particular. I'm going to book some appointments with Pat Fitchner, my extraordinary massage therapist who I haven't seen since last May. Why? Mostly because I started working full time in June and it was just too hard to fit even more than my medical appointments into my life - I was so frickin' tired!

My energy levels in general are improving, which is a relief. What I know now is that I went back to work too early. I realize now that my body was not ready ... that I needed more time to focus on getting well ... to getting rest, eating well, exploring therapies to help me deal with my shoulders and joints and other other side effects of breast cancer treatments. How does one know if they've gone back too early, though? By the time it's a decision to be made, you've forgotten what normal feels like and after feeling as crappy as you've ever felt in your whole life, even small improvements feel monumental. More guidance in that area would have been helpful in making a more informed decision. At the time I was feeling some of what I would call passive-aggressive kind of pressure from human resources and insurance to return to work - not from my office, though I know they were eager to have me back. But it is what it is and now that I'm feeling more able to manage full time work, I look back and wonder how I even made it to and from work those first months. I'm so glad that I'm steadily feeling stronger and closer to normal.

I was so sad to hear that Elizabeth Taylor died.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Great Entertainment in Warman

On Friday night I went with Pat and some of her friends from work to the play Carol directed in Warman. We had dinner at the Knotty Monk (a restaurant/pub in Warman) and then went to the play - Opening Night by Norm Foster.

What a great night of entertainment! We thoroughly enjoyed it! It was very funny and, hands down, the best community theatre I've ever seen! It was very professional and would give Persephone a run for its money. Comedy, I think, requires incredible timing and these actors were SPOT ON!! The play was so well cast and so well acted. We were very impressed! Carol directed and, knowing her as well as we do, we could see her touches in the performances. Carol's daughter, Alyssa, was the stage manager. What a resounding success for everyone involved! They must be very proud.

I hope you were lucky enough to see it!
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Fish Tacos - Recipe

I haven't even written up my February recipe yet and here I am with my new recipe for March. If you recall, I have committed to trying at least one new recipe per month for 2010.

I'm a reluctant eater of fish and when I do eat fish it has to be VERY fresh with NO fishy taste. These fish tacos were VERY good! Kevin LOVES them. He says they're better than the ones he likes at Las Palapas. We'll make them again.

Fish Tacos (As adapted from the Canadian Living recipe)


    1/2 cup shredded carrots
    1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
    1 tsp lime juice
    1/4 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
    1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
    1 green onion minced
    8 small flour tortillas
    1 plum tomato diced
    1/2 avocado peeled and diced
    1 lb whitefish fillets (tilapia, catfish, etc. - we used good old Saskatchewan pickerel -FRESH!!)
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper


  1. On a plate, combine oil, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper; add fish and turn to coat. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill, turning once, until fish flakes easily when tested, about 5 minutes. (We just pan fried ours - it only took a few minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine carrot, red onion and lime juice.
  3. In separate small bowl, combine sour cream, cilantro and green onion.
  4. Break fish into chunks; divide among tortillas. Top with sour cream mixture, carrot mixture, tomato and avocado.



Friday, March 18, 2011

A Modern Art Gallery in New York ...

... that I would have liked to explore. Maybe next time.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bedford Road on a Sunny Afternoon

Bedford Road is a busy commercial street a block from our loft. On this sunny, Saturday afternoon it was so busy with people happily meandering in and out of shops and eateries. There was lots to see. I really enjoyed the little gourmet cheese (and more) shop as well as this fabulous book store. There were many other little places we poked our heads into.

I can't remember the name of the beautifully curated vintage clothing shop we stopped in to that was only a couple of blocks from our loft. We bought Hannah a stunning, long, indigo linen jacket that, as the proprietor suggested, looked like something Virginia Wolf would have worn. It looked like it was designed for Hannah so we bought it for her. While there, Hannah met a writer/editor who is interested in seeing some of Hannah's work so they exchanged contact information.

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A New York Dining Paradise with Hannah

Hannah is of the mind that if you're going to spend $5 (or any money, for that matter), it might as well be on something exquisite. I love her philosophy and she really does live beautifully yet frugally. She took us to so many reasonably priced places to eat in New York. None of them are places we would have found on our own and we would certainly never have walked into them if we'd passed them on the street. We saw a much more interesting New York with Hannah than we would have on our own.

For anyone visiting New York, I strongly recommend that you arrange for Hannah to be your tour guide.

We had lunch at the Roebling Tea Room one day (only a few blocks from our loft) and then met up with a group of Hannah's friends one other evening for drinks and desserts after which we all went to our loft for more drinks and fun. It was nice to meet some of Hannah's and Dani's friends. Rumour has it that Bill Murray's son works at the Roebling Tea Room.

We had an excellent dinner at the Diner in Williamsburg (right in our neighbourhood). It doesn't look like much from the outside but what a hoppin' place and it's really good! The menu changes daily (or at any given moment) so there is no printed menu. The waiter tells you (with individual flair) all the details of the rather extensive menu, writing keywords on the paper tablecloth as he/she goes. By the end of the menu, your mouth is positively watering! Everything sounded so good and our meals were fantastic! There's another associated restaurant attached right next door, Marlow & Sons - they share the same kitchen, and we went there for drinks and oysters one day. It was also very cool. They have a little shop where they sell nice things such as locally made artisanal chocolate ... mmmmmm. They have their own butcher which specializes in locally sourced grass-fed meats and they make their own signature sausages. Good stuff. You should go there.You should go to all the places I'm talking about here.

I bought some of that beautiful, award-winning chocolate at Marlow & Sons - Mast Brothers Chocolate. Hannah was going to take us for a tour of the place where the chocolate is made but we didn't have time. I would love to see it if we ever go again. The packaging is so beautiful, I can't bear to open it. Again, this fits with Hannah's philosophy. Just read about the various flavours and see if your mouth doesn't start watering. See how beautifully they're packaged! *sigh*

We stopped for coffee (Kevin), tea (Hannah), and hot chocolate (me) at Cafe Gitane - apparently a hip place - see who was spotted there. Look at my hot chocolate! How cute is that?!! I read that the food there is very good and there are some specialties to die for! It was certainly a busy, little place!

Hannah took us to this quaint little place called Bakeri where they made these beautiful and delicious scones and cakes. It was such a charming little place! Another similar place she took us to that was also very nice was Radish, which was a couple of blocks from our loft. I also can't remember the name of the little cafe that Hannah took us to that's famous for its soup. And the soup truly was the best I've ever had.

Another FABULOUS dining experience was the lunch we had at Frankies. We were at the Manhattan location. It was phenomenal! Our lunches were delicious and beautiful (as per Hannah's philosophy). They sell they're own commissioned organic, extra virgin olive oil (first cold pressed) from Partanna, Sicily. It's made with Nocellara del Belice olives. It tasted SO GOOD, Hannah bought me a litre of it to take home with me (for my birthday). I've never tasted an olive oil I've liked so much. Dani's Mom took a couple of bottles home with her, too, when she was last there. They also sell a raw, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. Their cafe on the other side of the restaurant sells the Stumptown Coffee Kevin wanted to buy. Very convenient. Hannah once brought Kevin Stumptown Coffee from New York and he really liked it so she bought him more for HIS birthday while we were there.

We didn't eat at this restaurant but we had a good laugh at the sign. If you can't read it, click on the photo for a better view.

We had a STUPENDOUS meal at Five Leaves - again, not far from our loft. The place was SO happenin' and even when it's quite cold, people will sit at the outside tables with their wine while they wait for a table. We went quite early and were lucky to get this corner table after only a 20 minute wait. Dani joined us. The food is fresh and everything we had was EXQUISITE! So tasty! So delicious! I had a drink that was so good, I had two. It was called a Southern Belle and I am going to try to reproduce it ... somehow. I haven't done any research yet.

Five Leaves is the restaurant Heath Ledger had made his pet project before he died (read here). It opened after his death. It's a rustic but warm, inviting place ... loud but not so loud that you can't talk over the noise. It just feels like a great party. Luke would know right away that is "smells like fun". The music they played was great, too. Again, loud but not too loud. We had SUCH A GOOD TIME THERE!

If you want a heavenly gastronomical experience for a reasonable price, just take Hannah with you. I've never eaten so well in my life ... delicious AND healthy!! Exquisite!!

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Happy Hour at Freeman's

On our first day in New York, Hannah took us to this cute little restaurant called Freemans. We sat at the bar and had a drink. The restaurant is situated at the end of one of the few (only?) back alleys in New York ... or that part of New York, at least. What a little, tucked away treasure! If you're interested, you can read a description and some reviews here.

The waitress was very friendly and when we said we were from Saskatchewan she at least knew where it was and, in fact, she said they had some people on staff who were originally from Calgary and Edmonton. For no particular reason, she just out of the blue recommended some good yogo studios to Hannah - ones very close to our loft. I found that very interesting because that is exactly the kind of thing Hannah would want to do while visiting another city ... find a nice yoga studio.

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Art and Oppulence

Hannah took us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was FANTASTIC! We didn't have much time there so we just got a taste. This first photo is just the main part. There are massive additions to the building on either side and I don't know how far back it goes. The place is massive. Hannah has been there 7 different times and still hasn't seen it all! I look forward to seeing more of it one day.

The security people herded visitors out of the museum and toward the main doors. I was amazed at the flood of people leaving the building at once. What a busy place!

I took some photos of the fancy schmancy places across the street. I associate those awnings over the doors, extending to the street, with New York just from movies and television shows. Notice the one is "Park Avenue". The other one just said "one". I thought that was peculiar.

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