Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Health Scare

I know it has been quite a while since I have written but I think I have a pretty good reason. I always write about my lifelong love of the water, outdoors and passion about cottages and lakeside living so it was quite ironic that this past December at age 41, I had a melanoma scare. I am 100% Irish and fair-skinned and have certainly had my fair share of sunburns in my life with plenty of freckles, or as my Dermatologist calls it - "sun damage" to prove it. I have been very careful and diligent in the past several years with sunscreen and cute hats and fairly regular visits to the dermatologist for full body skin cancer checks. I say regularly because it had been about 3 years since my last check up so I was not overly surprised that at my recent check-up my doctor wanted to biopsy a freckle that I had developed on the top of my lip that I thought was "just another freckle". I have had 2 biopsies before right in her office for concerns of basal cell carcinoma that both my parents have that came back fine so when she referred me to a plastic surgeon I was a little surprised but went ahead and made the appointment.
I went to see the "best of the best" at Loyola University Medical Center for my appointment and it wasn't 5 minutes in that he told me he thinks I have melanoma and wants to surgically remove the lesion at his soonest scheduled surgery day. Huh? Melanoma? Not basal cell, not squamous cell? Melanoma??? He said "I am very concerned about this" and proceeded to draw with his purple marker the area that he needed to remove as well as healthy tissue / skin surrounding the lesions and that I should expect a second surgery to remove more as necessary if I receive a malignant melanoma diagnosis. I feel like my life just froze at that moment and the next 5 days until the surgery were a complete blur. I couldn't look at my two boys without tearing up no matter how hard I tried to stay strong. My family was amazing and so supportive and I don't know what I would have done without them. Needless to say that after that first appointment with the surgeon this hell finally ended 3 weeks later (7 days for a pathology report after surgery which happened to be Christmas and then the surgeon was out of town-UGGGH) with a BENIGN diagnosis. Thank You God. 
Having grown up with a summer cottage and having fair skin I felt that I was pretty aware of the warning signs of skin cancers but I learned something that I never knew about melanoma. Everything I have heard and read and seen pictures of is the ABCDEs of Melanoma: A-Assymetry, B-Border, C-Color, D-Diameter, E-Evolving but what the surgeon told me after he expressed his suspicion is something I have never heard and more people should know: "You Should Never Have Pigmentation on the Palms of Your Hands, The Soles of Your Feet or Your Lips" and if you do you are in danger of melanoma. Had I ever even heard this before I would have never waited 3 years to get this freckle on my lip looked at! I think now sometimes what if it was melanoma and I gave it 3 long years to spread. I try to put these thoughts out of my head as I am so very grateful to have dodged this bullet and I am just looking forward to living my life to the fullest and continuing to find the beautiful in the everyday - it is truly a gift!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bailey's Pudding Shots

Pudding shots are so fun to serve at parties and are always yummy! I make them several different ways but love to make them with Bailey's for the holidays.  Here is the recipe for the ones I made for a get together with friends at our house last weekend.

1 small box of chocolate instant pudding
1/2 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream
1/4 cup vodka
3/4 cup of milk
1 8oz tub of cool whip

Mix the pudding and milk with an electric mixer.  Pour in the alcohol and continue to mix well.  Fold in the Cool Whip and put into individual serving cups with lids.  Keep in the freezer and let sit out for a few minutes before serving.  They should be the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  Ikea has adorable 5 inch tiny stainless steel spoons that we like to serve them with.

Monday, November 25, 2013

B & A - Chest

I picked up this old chest of drawers at the local Goodwill for $20.00 because I really needed some storage in the Living Room area.

After a good cleaning up and a light sand - it got primed and painted black.
Here it is today in its new home:

 Gotta love Goodwill Hunting!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Painted Brick and Mortar

I have been dreaming of painting the red brick on my home white for some time. I love the look of painted brick and mortar and I am still hard at work trying to sell the husband on the idea. This lovely little house by Harrison Design Associates is a perfect example of how amazing it can look - I already have the black door and the ivy - so I am almost there! 

Now that's Curb Appeal!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

B & A - Black Interior Doors

The exterior of my front door has been black for years and I have finally gotten around to what I like to call Black Door Decor!

 I painted the inside of the front door and the closet in the foyer as well. What a difference - Why didn't I do this sooner?  I added some great glass pulls to the closet doors and I am really happy with the way everything came out!

I am trying to continue Black Door Decor throughout the whole house but for now at least the main level is done and I get to enjoy this:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pumpkin Topiary

I love to make a stacked pumpkin topiary every year for the front porch sometimes with three pumpkins - sometimes with two. Here are the steps I followed to make mine:

  • Large urn
  • fill dirt or gravel
  • 1 large pumpkin
  • 1 small to medium pumpkin
  • Wooden skewers
  • Dried moss
  • Hot glue gun
  • 1. Fill urn with dirt or gravel
    2. Break the stem off of the large pumpkin and position it in the urn
    3. Stick some wood skewers in the large pumpkin with the sharp side facing up - I usually use 4
    4. Position small pumpkin on top of large, gently pushing it onto the exposed skewers. This will stabilize the topiary and hold the smaller pumpkin in place.
    5. Hot glue pieces of dried moss in between the pumpkins for a finished look. You can also use fall garland or raffia.

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013


    Badmiton has been around for centuries and I just love it because it so much easier for me than tennis.  We love to play when we are at the lake, especially in the early fall when the weather is a bit cooler and always have a great time.  Badmiton is said to have been originally played at a garden party of the Duke of Beaufort at his home in the country so we feel a little fancy (but don’t look it) when we are swinging away at that birdie!
    How to play:

    You need rackets, a birdie – also called a shuttlecock, and a net

    Stand on opposite sides of the net in the opposite corners

    The first player serves underhand

    If the birdie hits the ground or goes out of bounds – the server gets the point or the receiver wins the serve

     The first player to get 15 points is the winner
    It's even better if you can find some great vintage rackets.  I am always picking up them up at flea markets when I see them.  Sooooo much fun !!!!!
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