Sparking Inspiration, Creativity & Joy

Hey everyone!  Here we are about to turn the calendar page to the second month of the year.....February, the "Month of Love."  I truly miss the Valentine's Day celebrations of years gone by.       They were simple and not so commercial.   Some of you are too young to remember the shoe boxes that were lovingly decorated with tissue paper, paper doilies, streamers and hand cut paper hearts; and, of course, you wouldn't dare forget to make an opening in the top of the box.  Teachers always made a special place in the classroom for all the pretty boxes to sit on display for several days prior to the big Valentine's Day party.   

The packages of Valentines were all very simple and there was little variation or selection (they were VERY inexpensive, too), but each child would write their names on the card and each classmate's name on the little white envelopes, being careful not to forget anyone.

It was a time when the classroom was festooned with lots of paper hearts and streamers, giving renewed inspiration for learning and creating.  "Room Mothers" (is that what they are called today?) would arrive on party day with jugs of punch and trays piled high with their child's favorite cookies.....Mom had those special recipes marked in her cookbook.   Everyone was happy and excited to open their little boxes and look at each and every Valentine card. There was such joy in the hearts of each child.

Today we seem to be bombarded with TV ads, urging us to "buy" this or that to show how much we love each other.  It makes some of us feel overwhelmed, especially falling so close on the heels of an "overly commercialized" Christmas.  It's often difficult, but perhaps we just need to step back and see the inspiration and joy in simple creations.

Little cloth hearts, simply made with a well-worn kitchen towel that was destined for the rag box.....soft with faded stripes, sparked a creative idea. 

Adding sweet fabric hearts enhances the beauty of nature's bountiful creations.  Even simple grocery store flowers bring joy to your heart and can easily spark creativity.

Bits of lace that had been relegated to the scrap box, all of a sudden has new life and is a reminder of the many paper hearts decorated with paper doilies.

Simple flower arrangements in unexpected places can be a little sweet surprise each time you pass by.....even when you are the one who placed them there.

Simple treasures that have stood the test of time can truly bring smiles of joy.  It's amazing how adding something sweet to look at while doing the mundane tasks of the day (like washing dishes), can bring such joy and love to fill your heart.

I hope each and every day is filled with inspiration, creativity and joy.  Sometimes we have to open our eyes just a bit wider to see what's right in front of us.  Look at today with your eyes wide-open!

Thank you so much for stopping by.  I love hearing from each and everyone of you.  You bring joy to my heart.
 I often party with these lovely bloggers:

Cindy at Dwellings--The Heart of Your Home for Amaze Me Monday
Maria Elena at Our Home Away from Home for Tuesdays at Our Home

Marty at A Stroll Thru Life  for Inspire Me Tuesday

Suzy at Worthing Court for The Scoop

Pamela at From My Front Porch to Yours for Treasure Hunt Thursday
Richella at Imparting Grace for Grace at Home


Living in Eclectic Calm

Hey everyone!  I hope all of you who were affected in any way by "Snowzilla 2016" are safe and warm and maybe starting to dig your way out.  We watched with surprised shock as the snow just kept falling.  Our son and family live in the very northeast corner of VA and got hit pretty hard.  They didn't lose power, thankfully, and were able to look for the fun in it....a 5 & 7 year old make it difficult to do anything else!  I'll take our hot summers any day, over all that snow, and I will try not to complain about it....key word "try!"

Do you ever feel that your mind is in a race with your body, and your body is losing?  That happens to me a lot, and even more so now while my body is in healing-mode.  I make a lot of lists of ideas to appease and calm my mind, and some of those things come to fruition but many don't.  I try to keep our surroundings simple and inviting.  Once the holidays are over, it's always nice to just decompress.

Do you have a favorite cozy spot?  A place where it doesn't matter how often or seldom you actually use it, just looking at it makes you feel calm?  I try very hard to live in the "present," and not dwell on the past...it's gone, or worry about the future....it's not here yet.  It's nice to simply be calm and have your surroundings reflect that calmness.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the latest trends and the next holiday or event....always reaching for the "brass ring," so we can be like everyone else.  I've learned a lot about myself over the last six months.  I've gotten quite comfortable with who I am and how I do things.  

Don't get me wrong.....just because I don't jump on every trend, doesn't mean I can't shake things up a bit with a splash of color here and there, and I love trying new crafts and such!  You should look at my Pinterest boards! 

Do you have a decorating style?  I don't know for sure, but I think we are all suppose to have one....it's one of those "trendy" things people talk about.   Have you ever taken one of those quizzes that are supposed to tell you what your decorating style is?  I have taken several of those from different sources, and my style always comes out "Eclectic."  Why oh why couldn't it be something like Classic Southern or Country French?  Eclectic.....really?

Actually, I'm quite okay with having Eclectic Style, but there was a time when being "eclectic" just sounded like "hodgepodge" to me.  Maybe that was because early on in our marriage, we had lots of hand-me-downs and some plain old cast-offs.  It's so funny that now, everyone is clamoring for those "olden" things!  

Back in my early "eclectic" days, as a young wife and mother, all I really cared about was that my babies (and hubby, too) were loved, fed & clean, and that our home was clean and comfortable.  I didn't have the skills to actually decorate a room, and I certainly didn't have the money.

As our family matured, so did my confidence and skills to decorate our home.  Our expendable income increased a bit and we were able to swap out most of our hand-me-downs for things that we truly liked.  I still never felt the need for everything to be overly coordinated or too matchy-matchy....less hodgepodge, more eclectic, I guess!

Today I've really come to terms with my decorating style.  I cherish some olden things we've inherited from loved ones who are no longer with us.  Most are not antiques or worth all that much, but they hold memories.  

I have no problem mixing the old and the new and maybe even throwing in something trendy once- in-awhile.   

The most important thing for me, is that our home always reflects the love that grows within its walls.

Thank you so much for stopping by today.  I'm trying out a bit of a different writing format and hope you enjoy it.  Just thought it would be fun to try something new for 2016.  Now I'm off to watch the big playoff game.  Come on Cardinals...put your bun warmers on and play it like you mean it!

 I often party with these lovely bloggers:

Cindy at Dwellings--The Heart of Your Home for Amaze Me Monday
Maria Elena at Our Home Away from Home for Tuesdays at Our Home

Marty at A Stroll Thru Life  for Inspire Me Tuesday

Suzy at Worthing Court for The Scoop

Pamela at From My Front Porch to Yours for Treasure Hunt Thursday
Richella at Imparting Grace for Grace at Home


"Catching Up" Randomness

Hey everyone!
Isn't it amazing that we are already midway through January 2016?  What's even more amazing is that I woke yesterday, to the first Monday since August that I have not either had chemo or some other doctor-related appointment!  YAY!  YAY!  and YAY!  I took this pic this morning....one week after surgery.  I'm getting pretty good at drawing on the eyebrows, but there is no disguise for zero lashes.  Okay, I know about false lashes, but I'm not going there....that's a story for another time!  I am feeling very good -- no more sore mouth, tastebuds are quickly returning and I'm feeling stronger every day! I did receive a great phone call last Friday from my surgeon....further study of the lymph node biopsies showed NO CANCER, and examination of the lump she removed showed that it had clean margins, which means it had not spread anywhere else!  The Man and I were shopping in Costco when this call came through.....imagine "knuckle-bumping" and the "happy dance!"

My mind has been racing with so many things I want to share with you; hence, the title of this post.  The first is something I've been doing for a number of years now -- choosing one word to think about and make part of my life for the entire year.  I've thought long and hard about my word, blessed and grateful were the top contenders; but those are already a part of my daily existence.  I always start in December thinking about what my "word" is going to be, but there were so many buzzing around in my head and not a single one was the right one.  Then, as my nurse checked me out after my final chemo infusion, she handed me this little package.....

Inside was a little bell on a beaded cord, but that wasn't the real gift.  The true gift was what was written on the little card:  
"You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have."(no author)
Truer words have never been spoken, so STRONG is my word for the year.

Not long into chemotherapy, my skin (face and body) became very sensitive, so I had to do some playing around with different lotions and potions to find out what was going to be the best for me.

A sweet friend of mine sells Jafra Cosmetics and sent me this Royal Jelly Body Complex and the Shower Gel.  The gel is great, but this body cream is amazing.  It has a nice light scent (I was very sensitive to odors, too), and gentle enough to use on my bald pate!

There were many, many days when I was "house-bound" by choice.  Those were the days that I chose a scarf or knitted cap, and just wanted my face to be clean and moisturized.

These two products have become my BFFs!  I had already been using the Neutrogena cleanser for a couple of years, but it also served as my shampoo once my hair was gone....it is that gentle!  The OLAY Regenerist Nighttime Moisturizer has become my "anytime" moisturizer.  It has the most amazingly silky feel and is not heavy or greasy.

I don't know if it's vanity (probably), but I never wanted to go to chemotherapy without makeup.  I've always worn makeup (since my teen years), even when I know I'm staying home....unless I'm sick.  It just makes me feel better, and that was even more important over these last six months.  My facial skin changed during chemo and became reddish, so I had to find a shade of foundation that would tone-down that red, but still felt good on my face.

The Loreal Visible Lift has nice coverage and doesn't feel heavy, but it does stay a bit sticky unless I set it with the Neutrogena Mineral Sheers -- I just use a great big fluffy brush, because it doesn't take much.  Something you might find interesting -- we (meaning women) all have fine hairs on our faces, but chemo takes those away just as it does the hair on your head and other body parts.  For me, this has left my face feeling as soft as a baby's bottom.....see, I'm always looking for the upside!

As my strength has returned, so has my desire need to get our house in order....meaning decorated!  It took me so long to get the Christmas decor collected and packed up, so I sat in the midst of "bareness" everywhere for quite some time.  All that time, I was thinking and making copious notes about what I eventually wanted to do.  I always seem to decorate my foyer, sitting-dining room areas first.  I guess it's because those areas are the first ones seen when you walk in the front door, and I see them many times a day as I walk back and forth through that area.  I have a few other things I want to do, but I thought I would share my redo of the china cupboard.  Do you say china cupboard or china cabinet?  Anyway, here are just a couple of pics.

I kept a lot of things on the top almost the same as it was for Christmas and just switched out some berry branches for some sticks....I literally cut those sticks from our backyard!  I even kept a string of twinkly lights on top, because I like how it looks at night.

I moved this mug rack from our coffee station, and I'm loving these sweet little teacups 
displayed on it!

Sweet, right?

Anyone want to join me for a "spot of tea?"

As I've mentioned before, I am a self-taught crocheter, and have made myself quite a few caps to keep my noggin' warm.  I also made some and donated to the "Boutique of Hope" shop at MD Anderson.  Crocheting was very therapeutic when chemo caused neuropathy in my hands.  I became a bit bored with making caps, so I experimented with some patterns.......

and made baskets!  I've made quite a few (more than I'm showing here), and find them so useful.  These are in my craft room, but I also have them in my bathrooms and closet.  
These are great "stash busters!"

I've also been doing quite a lot of reading.  Here are a few books that I have going right now.
Joan Lunden and I share the same kind of breast cancer and even in the same breast.  There was a lot of good information in this book.   

If you read very many blogs, then you have heard about this book.  January is when everyone gets the  "urge to purge," and Marie Kondo offers a unique approach to cleaning out and organizing.  

I've had this book for awhile but haven't opened it yet.  What?  I've been saving it for when I'm closer to 100% of feeling good.  Why?  I know it's going to fill my brain with a gazillion things I want to do around our home, so I need to wait just a bit longer.

I have just a few more random things to share.....see, I told you I had lots of stuff racing 
around in my brain!

I forgot to share this during December.  This cacti had already bloomed for Thanksgiving and bloomed again for Christmas!  No magic....the last time I repotted this plant, it broke in half, so I just planted both into the same pot and they bloom at different times!  
Sometimes they also bloom for Easter.

We get some really beautiful skies here in the AZ desert.  My grandmother always said, "red sky in the morning, sailors' warning, red sky at night, sailors' delight!"  This was a nighttime sky.

I know I've shared before how I love using some kind of daytimer/organizer and have had some kind of system since my children were very young.  I'm less into the rigidness of some planners at this stage in my life, but have discovered the perfect planner for me.

This is the MAMBI (Me and My Big Ideas) Happy Planner!  I really like this company, too, because they contribute a portion of sales to "The Cure for Cancer."  This is a combo planner, journal, & scrapbook, which equals loads of fun while still being organized!


There are tons of extras, like sticky notes, fun stickers, & inspirational quotes to add so you can personalize the Happy Planner any way you want.  I even added the Home Planner Extension Pack to personalize my planner even more.

You can decorate the pages as much or as little as you like, and the spaces are big enough to write down tons of things.  My Happy Planner makes me HAPPY!

And just for fun and cuteness......

How often do you see a barefoot princess beckoning other princesses to join her in the kitchen?

Whew.....this was a longer post than I had planned, but you should be used to that by now!  
It feels good to feel good.

I hope you all have a great week!


Health Update_Phase 2 Before & After

Hey everyone!  I wanted to do a quick update before my Oxy kicks in!  Surgery was yesterday and everything went very well.  My incredibly sweet hubby was with me the entire time until they whisked me to the operating room.  He even chose not to eat anything until I did....I insisted he have breakfast at least!  Yep, he is definitely a keeper!

This is just after I checked in at noon.....feeling good, but very hungry and thirsty!  Everyone thought my little cap was cute (crocheted it myself), and they let me keep it on until just before going to the operating room -- didn't want me having a cold bald noggin!

I cannot say enough good things about every nurse I had....they were all so attentive, kind, caring & just plain NICE!  The Radiologist who injected my boob with the Nuclear med was super-nice, too -- the numbing cream worked great, so this procedure wasn't bad at all!

My Anesthesiologist was fantastic!  Because I had had some bad experiences with anesthesia before, he said he would do everything he could to not let that happen this time....he was successful!  He was also really cute!

My surgeon got delayed with some complications on the patient ahead of me, so my 2:30 scheduled time ended up being 4:00.  I would never complain about a delay like that, because had I been that previous patient, I would have wanted my surgeon to take as long as needed!  

Off to the OR!

Part of my surgery was to remove a lymph node under my arm, which was then sent immediately to Radiology.  If that showed indicators of cancer, the surgeon would then do further biopsies of additional nodes.  It came back clear.....YAY!  My surgeon also removed my Port, so I won't have to go back for another procedure.....again YAY!  The actual cancer removal was guided by Ultrasound and the Nuclear Seed that was planted on Monday.  The entire surgery took about ninety minutes.

Just out of recovery (still kind of drowsy) at about 7p.m. and totally enjoying a cup of ice chips!  Once I was more awake and all my vitals were good, The Man helped me get dressed, and we went home!

The Man made me some chicken noodle soup (I had mostly broth), and we kind of waited for the pain to kick in.....it didn't!  I slept really well for 9 hours (amazing for me!), and awoke VERY HUNGRY!  I had a nice warm bowl of oatmeal and some coffee.....those simple foods never tasted so good!  I didn't experience any pain until about 30 minutes ago and took my OXY....pain is gone and sleepiness is creeping in.  I will sign off for now, but first I just want to thank all of my sweet Blog friends, FB friends and family (Hubby is at the top of the list) for all of your kind comments and prayers.  You are all just the BEST!

Phase 1 and 2 down, Phase 3 is next!

Warm hugs to everyone!

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