Friday, March 28, 2014

Emma's 2nd Birthday

Last weekend we headed out to the Albany area to celebrate the 2nd birthday of out niece, Emma. As always, Emma was completely adorable and so was her brother and cousins.
And as always, the kids had a blast with Uncle Chris.
The big entertainment for the party was a kid's bounce house, which they inflated in the family room. Even Spider-Man loved it.
But then again, who doesn't love a bounce house?
Uncle Chris couldn't resist getting in there and bouncing the kids around a bit. I think they like it just a little ...
Yeah. Just a smidge.
The cake was so adorable sporting the Minnie Mouse theme.
Although I don't think Emma cared what it looked like so much as what it tasted like.
She also had a fun time trying on daddy's sunglasses.
Evan was having a good time checking himself out in the reflective surface of the Mylar balloon.
The day wrapped up with present time. Emma wanted to open up the packaging on every present she received, so of course, Uncle Chris obliged (much to Erin's dismay). haha
And now Emma has sunglasses of her own! Hooray!
Well, sort of.
Anyone else celebrating birthdays? My niece Hadley is turning 4 and I really wish I could be there to celebrate with her. I hope she has a great birthday and enjoys her own bounce house party!

Birthday Pictures

I was planning to put up some pictures of my niece Emma's birthday party, but I realized I never even put up pictures from my own birthday. Oops!

The day before my birthday we celebrated in the office with a giant chocolate cake from Wegmans. Below, I'm in the break room with my coworker Susan.
Then, on my birthday, Google wished me a happy birthday! lol Pretty neat.
That night, Chris took me to Cantina Laredo for some top-shelf guacamole and margaritas.
After that, we saw Kevin Nealon, a stand-up comedian you probably remember from SNL and pretty much every Adam Sandler movie. He was hilarious, of course.
Chris gave me another awesome present: a zombie plan bracelet. Because you gotta be prepared!
I also blew out a candle and Chris sang the birthday song to me. So sweet.
A week later, birthday celebrations continued when Dave and Lisa came out to celebrate with us. They brought the prettiest cake ever.
Thank you to all my family and friends for celebrating with me and for the thoughtful cards and presents. You guys are all so sweet!
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring To Do List

Is it sad that 40-degree weather has me all excited and thinking spring?

Let's just say it's been a pretty rough winter, and even a single ray of sunshine has me in the mood to get outdoors and working on projects. Here's what's on the agenda right now:

  • Do something about the paint spill on the back porch. Last fall I accidentally spilled a gallon of paint on the wood floor. I ran out of good weather before I got around to doing something about it, so that's definitely a priority. Not sure if I'm going to paint the porch floor, extend it out to the stairs and railing, stain everything, or just try to sand it down a little.
  • Take the extra set of numbers off the siding. Last year I painted house numbers on our door and it turned out great. But we also have house numbers on the nearby mailbox and on the siding a few feet away. Talk about overkill. So I'd like to lose one of the sets so keep things simple.
  • Make an herb garden. I often have a few pots of herbs near the back door so I can cut a few pieces every now and then. And I already bought a cilantro plant to use in fresh salsa throughout the summer. But this year I'd like to find one big container or even a raised plant bed with other vegetables. I think it would look really nice.
  • Make a spring banner. I recently received a lot of very pretty spring-y birthday cards and I was thinking it would be a shame to throw them away. So I've been thinking about getting a 2" hole punch and some ribbon to create something unique and colorful.
  • Make or buy a spring wreath for the front door. Kind of like "if you build it, they will come." If I put a spring wreath on the door, maybe spring will actually get here.
  • Clean the windows. Self explanatory.
  • Mulch the garden beds. Haven't done this in a while and it does always look so nice after I do. Maybe black mulch this year.
  • Caulk around the crown molding in the living room. I'm so sick of looking at those gaps and cracks after being cooped up in the house so much this winter. They've gotta go. Maybe even a fresh coat of paint on the walls is in order.
I'm sure there's lots of other stuff that I need to do this spring, but these are the ones I'm most excited about. As always, I'll be sure to post about my progress!
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Monday, March 17, 2014

An Open Letter to All the Random Companies I've Never Heard of that Recently Contacted Me

Dear Recruiter,

Thank you for your recent unsolicited pushy phone calls/form emails where you forgot to fill in all the blank spots. That disruption to my day was much appreciated and made me really happy that I recently updated my resume on a job posting website.

Speaking of which, no, I do not believe you have recently reviewed my resume "on line" because if you did, you would have noticed that I am a copywriter and am, in fact, not looking for a full time sales position (there's supposed to be a hyphen between "full" and "time" in that instance, by the way). And if by some far stretch of the imagination you actually read my resume and realized that I was a copywriter, I must admit it scares me and does not make me want to work with you knowing that you do not realize that a copywriter would not make a good sales person.

Take a moment to consider this, if you need to.

I'll give you a hint: I prefer to communicate in writing. Getting there? No? While it's not a universal truth, you can generally assume that people who spend a lot of time perfecting the art of the written word are not spending that time talking to strangers they don't know and convincing them to buy things they don't want to buy. Personally, I'm a bit awkward at times and sort of a recluse. I have cats. Plural. So yeah, probably not a great fit. I always wanted to be a writer so that I wouldn't have to interact with a lot of people all the time. I don't like phone calls, (thanks again for that second follow-up call to tell me about why I should reconsider a promising career in sales), and I don't like talking to people I don't want to talk to. (Pause for emphasis).

I also don't own a single business suit. Again, I'm a writer, so I mainly dress in leggings and oversized sweaters. Lots of scarves too. I just got a Zombie Apocalypse charm bracelet that I've been wearing a lot too. If that actually is acceptable attire for your sales position, please let me know because I will give you a big thumbs up and tone down the snootiness a little.

But no, even then, I still wouldn't want to set up a time to discuss an opening in your corporation (is it just me or does that sound like a serious medical condition?). I know you weren't asking; you brazenly told me that you are willing to interview me for that coveted sales position and tried very hard to imply that I would be lucky to work for you. Sadly, that was not the message I inferred.

I wish you all the best as you continue to prey upon innocent people who are trying to better their lots in life and find new career opportunities. You're right. It's their own fault for thinking generic job posting sites are a convenient way to apply for jobs they are actually interested in. You showed them.

Kudos for trying to make your company look legitimate, though. In my younger days when I was fresh on the job market and eager to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I actually fell for it once or twice and made it to the "interview" where you try to convince a group of naïve recent grads that they'll make so much money if they work for you ... but you don't actually pay them. You only get paid when you make a sale. So for me, you never get paid. But at least you opened my eyes and helped me learn what I don't want to do with my life. Thanks for that.

Best of luck in continuing to waste everyone's time.


Ms. Copywriter
Not a Sales Person
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Office Kitchen Makeover

The day has finally come! After completely my first paid design/contractor job making over the half bathroom in the office where I work, my bosses mentioned wanting to hire me to fix up the office kitchen as well. Unfortunately, things slowed down for a while at work and they didn't have it in their budget. But now that things are picking back up and I'm finally mostly recovered from my surgery, the time has come to start the kitchen renovation.

And as you can see, it needs a lot of work...
Excuse the poor quality pictures. I was told I could begin work on the kitchen yesterday at the end of the work day, so I snapped these with my cell phone before I left. I'll bring in my real camera to document the room better before I begin.

It's a pretty small space. There's a break room just across from it where we all eat, so it only needs to serve as a place to prepare our lunches and make coffee. But even those simple tasks are not being performed all that efficiently right now.
For starters, that table sticks out so far that there's not a very big isle between it and the fridge and microwave. When the fridge door is open, you're pretty much trapped in that little space back there.

Also, the server and other computer equipment are not exactly improving the view in the corner. All those wires! It looks like my living room, actually. lol Oops.
Just past the kitchen is the doorway to the newly refreshed half bathroom. And next to that is a very underused cabinet with tons of potential. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get my hands on that, but I sure hope so!
This small area is currently being used for a lot of purposes, but it's not doing a great job at any of them. So hopefully, I'll be able to make the space more functional and make it look fabulous too.
I still need to talk more with my "client" (aka my bosses) to find out what they want for the space, but here's what I'm thinking we'll need at this point:
  • Paint the walls and trim
  • Cover up the server area with something decorative (but keeping them easily accessible)
  • Get rid of the extra microwave
  • Get a narrower counter to free up space
  • Hide the trash and recycling bins (possibly under the above-mentioned counter?)
  • Find a place for the mop and broom to live
  • Maybe add shelves to get stuff up off the counter/table?
  • I would love to do an accent wall for that back blank wall but we'll see if I can get them to sign off on that one (took weeks to get them to decide on the right shade of grey for the bathroom)
  • Possibly add storage and organization to the nearby built-in cabinets
  • Would love to add some pretty artwork to the walls (haven't managed to convince them to do that in the bathroom, so again, we'll see)
I do know that I can rearrange the space as needed, so the fridge doesn't need to stay where it is or anything. My initial thought is roughly rendered below. That square with the asterisk is the fridge, so it will be on the opposite wall, next to the server, which will be inside a dummy cabinet of some sort (maybe like this?). On the opposite side, I'd like to have a long, narrow cabinet that the microwave and coffeemaker will sit on. Above it, I'd like shelves to store frequently used items. This picture and this picture are super cute little coffee stations, so maybe something like that? This is another fun inspiration pic.

All the other items (including trash and recycling) will be able to go in the cabinet. And in the built-in cabinet near the door, I'd like to house the mop bucket and broom, if possible. If not, they may fit in the dummy cabinet under the server.

Just looking at this rendering, I can see that it might be nice to have that long narrow counter be a bit shorter so we don't run into the corner. Or have some sort of rounded edge on it. Also, I made the hallway to the built-in cabinet way too long. Oops.

But you get the idea. I think the solution is simple and will meet our needs. Of course, a tall, repurposed storage cabinet opposite the server with a short table next to it could also fit the bill. And then I could incorporate a really fun unique find like this. (Spoiler alert, they'll never go for that color! lol)

Obviously still in the brainstorming phase, so let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions. I want to have some good stuff to present to my bosses clients!
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Girl's Night: Candle Making Party

Last Friday, since Chris was out of town for a ski trip, I decided to have some girls over for dinner, wine, and crafts. I had always wanted to try making container candles, so after scouring the local craft stores for all the supplies I needed, we were ready to get melting.

Let me preface this first picture by saying candle making is MESSY. There are a lot of supplies you need, and wax gets everywhere, and of course that wine bottle is essential too. Just want to make that clear in case you're thinking of trying your hand at this fun craft. It's really cool and I definitely recommend trying it, but be prepared to make a mess of your kitchen!
Kristen and Rhonda brought some cute vessels to fill with wax and we all basically just figured things out as we went.
There are plenty of online resources for making candles, so I won't go into the full details. But basically you have to use a double boiler to melt the wax. A little tip if you don't have one or don't want to get wax on your good pots and pans - buy a couple metal pans or bowls from a thrift store to contain the wax. That way, if the pans don't come clean, you can just throw them out or save them for candle-making use only.
To keep the wick straight, we used chopsticks. The wicks had metal in the center, so we just had to wrap it around the chopstick a couple times for it to stay.
Another tip - if you don't have a doctor around that got stuck at work way too long who wants to take out her aggression on a solid block of wax, I recommend trying to buy the wax chips or wax shavings. The solid block was a lot of work to break apart.
It was pretty fun to see how the wax dries and how different amounts of dye and types of wax ended up different. In the picture below, Rhonda was trying to get the two candles to be the same shade of lavender, but as they were drying, it looked like she hadn't used enough dye on the one on the right.
But once they were dry, they were almost the exact same shade of lavender. That yellow looking one in the mason jar ended up looking like a nice, opaque cream color.
I ended up buying about 10 pounds of wax and we probably used 6 pounds to make 15 - 18 small/medium-size candles. I still have a lot of leftover supplies, so I'll be able to make a bunch more sometime too.
I even filled a wine glass that my sister-in-law gave me for my bachelorette party. Seemed appropriate for this girl's night. :-)
One thing that was interesting was that some of the wax ended up dipping down in the center after the candle dried, but some didn't. The ones that had a slight dip still looked fine, but I had a couple that had a huge gaping hole around the wick. So the next morning I had to melt down some more wax and pour it on top. This fixed it for some (although it was difficult if I had already trimmed the wicks) but two of them got even weirder. Although now those green ones are perfect for Halloween. They look like zombie brains. haha
I tried making one coffee candle in a mug. It looks awesome but I haven't burned it yet, so I don't know how strong the smell will be. I used actual coffee beans and grounds, which stayed at the top and look really sweet. I think I added a little vanilla and cinnamon scents to give it a boost, as well.

If you have the time, I recommend buying supplies online. I had a hard time finding scents and color blocks to dye the wax at our local craft stores. A lot of them were out of stock or had very limited supplies. Also, I really liked the soy wax chips, which were not at Michaels or JoAnnes (I found them at Hobby Lobby, but they were more expensive than you could find online).

All in all, it was a lot of fun just to hang out with my friends and play around with the candles. But I also think this could be a really neat idea for personalized gifts for friends and family. Just pick out some really neat vessels and the recipient's favorite scent or color and it's a really thoughtful present.
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Surgery Update

Over two weeks ago, I had laparoscopic surgery. I mentioned it a couple days before in a blog post about my last surgery, which was an appendectomy that had a lot go wrong.

I'm happy to say this surgery went pretty smoothly. No ileus. No ruptured organs. No extended hospital stay. The doctor was able to remove the cyst from my right ovary and get me patched back up. The neat thing about laparoscopic surgery is that they don't have to make any large incisions. Just three small cuts, only one of which needed stitches. And thee doctor actually made them in the same spots as my appendectomy, so I don't really even have new scars. Then they pump the abdomen full of carbon dioxide so they have room to get their tools in and see what they're looking at. It's pretty crazy.

That said, the results of the surgery are turning out to be less wonderful. They sent the cyst out to get analyzed and so far, the pathology report says it's a "mucinous borderline ovarian tumor." In other words, it's not cancer, but it's not not cancer. The cells were neither benign nor malignant.

Who knew such a thing was possible?

Well, probably all doctors and lots of other people, but certainly not me. So now my doctor is going to present it to a tumor board to get opinions on what to do. Then we may send it out to other specialists to get more opinions before we decide. But the end result may be another surgery to remove the right ovary and check my lymph nodes.

Three weeks ago I thought I was fine. And now all this. Sometimes life is a rollercoaster you don't even know you're on.

While I'm anxious to find out what's going to happen, I'm actually not freaking out or anything. It could be because there's a chance I won't have to have another surgery. And it's super likely that even with the worse case scenario, I'll get through this fine.

Or maybe it's because I've been distracted by the pain of the surgery.

I woke up in pain. I didn't remember pain like that from the last surgery. I had expectations about what I would feel, and this blew me away. And the pain didn't really go away, even with pain medications.

The day after the surgery was also pretty awful. Not only did my abdomen hurt because of the cyst removal, but I also was suffering from severe pains caused by the carbon dioxide. It moves through your body and causes pretty terrible aches and pains.

The night of my surgery the carbon dioxide was around my lower ribs, and when I tried to reach the nightstand to take a pain pill, the stretch caused the CO2 to shift and it was like someone had tightened a thick belt around my ribs and was just tugging and tugging. I could barely catch my breath. Every time I breathed in, it hurt worse, causing my breath to rush out of me. And then of course I was terrified, so I started crying, and that certainly didn't help matters. Chris woke up quickly and rushed around the bed to get the pain meds. Then he just had to rub my arm and try to help me calm down. That happened a few times over the next day or so. It was very scary and very painful.

Eventually, the carbon dioxide moved up to my shoulders, where the doctors told me it would sit for a while and then eventually just go away. It was a bit like I was being stabbed in my shoulder blades. Fantastic. And the pain medication just wasn't cutting it.

After a day or so of that, the pain lessened, although I was still pretty sore in my abdomen. It got better each day though and six days after surgery, I was able to return to work. I did a short day and took it easy, but ... the next day I felt worse again. And the next day.

Like I said, rollercoaster ride. Seven days later, I was up to trying to go to work again. Finally I was able to go a couple days in a row, just for shorter days. I wasn't worse. I just wasn't better.

I'm happy to say I'm finally starting to feel better. I'm not 100%. Not even 90%. Maybe 75%. But that's better than nothing. For some reason I'm having pain a lot longer than is "normal" for this type of surgery, which my doctor can't explain, but I seem to be healing ok.

So now we're just waiting to hear from the doctor to see what the tumor board had to say. Hopefully we're due for some good news and there won't be another surgery. But no matter what, I just want to say thanks to my wonderful husband for taking such good care of me through all of this, and my family and friends for their concern. I'm lucky to have such caring people in my life.