2015 Here We Come!

I'm on a break from work (a serious perk of my job this time of year) and I have absolutely. checked. out.
Staying up late, sleeping in, snuggling the pup, watching entire seasons of Ink Master with the hubs, the whole nine. And it's been utterly delicious. I haven't even felt guilty about the wrapping paper and bows still being out on the 'wrapping station' (i.e. the kitchen table - that's what happens when everyone else hosts Christmas). But as it's New Year's Eve, it's probably time to call this my last day of lolling around and get going in 2015... tomorrow (unreal).
Do you make resolutions? I don't, but rather enjoy the 'fresh new start' feeling of January 1st. Time to pack away those holiday decorations and start anew.

Hopefully my fresh start comes with a clean house... If we don't find a new series to binge watch until midnight that is.
Happy 2015 friends!


Random Round Up: The Big Five-Oh-Oh

It's only appropriate that my 500th post on this little corner of the world come on a day with 'Random' in the title. Thanks to all of you who have made me feel like I'm not talking to myself over the last few years!
Some happenings from the weekend:
New work buddies: Glasses and Frosty
I'm missing my ugly sweater topper (hosting is hot!), but my work girls are lookin' "good"!
A White Elephant gift exchange for the ages.
Can you believe Christmas is this week? Hint: "No, I'm not ready yet" is the only answer I'm accepting at this time. Cheers, guys!


Random Round Up: Inside and Out

My silence here last week meant lots of to-do's getting done in my non-blog life. And thank goodness that's the case: I've felt so behind this year getting holiday boxes ticked, not to mention a series of annoying home issues (seriously, did all the light bulbs just make a pact to go out all at once?!). Anyway, tried to make time to step away and get some perspective this weekend, as well as the last bit of Christmas shopping.
When a favorite earring falls down the drain... You do what you gotta do. (Side note: EWW.)
Our house is so festive - The only time of the year I love when it's dark at 4:30.
A walk in the park.
Low fog makes for such pretty layers.
Crispy morning frost.
How are you hanging in this season?


Random Round Up: Sights To See

I think I'm finally starting to wrap my head around December and the holiday season. It's taking me a while this year! When I worked at Laura Bee Designs, a good chunk of the year was focused on December holidays, so by the time everything rolled around, I'd been ready for months. Now that I'm not involved with any retail cycles firsthand, I find myself having a hard time detaching from fall and Thanksgiving so quickly. I'm getting there!
A morning-after-Thanksgiving diner run with my parents. Delish!
One more shot of the now-gone snow from our entry way window.
It's official in our house.
My first trip to the eye doctor...
...which resulted in two sets of 'computer glasses' being ordered the next day.
Time for me to hustle on some Christmas shopping. Hope you all can take some time to look around and enjoy the sights of the season in the midst of the hurry this week!


Frost Flowers?

I've seen those viral emails showing amazing sculpture-like crystals called frost flowers, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it phenomenon where the atmospheric conditions have to be just so. They're gorgeous and rare, so you can imagine my excitement when I thought I found some in my own back yard during this past week's snow.
A little research tells me frost flowers may not be what I have here: The internet seems to think they only appear in certain areas of the US (Washington isn't one of them), and are actually attached to certain kinds of plant stems.
The patches I found came straight out of the ground, in an area of our back yard that is straight up dirt/mud (stop judging - we have moss issues in this part of the world). The vertical crystals had even absorbed a good deal of the soil from which they were rising.
So what do you think? What are these pretty little growths I found? They are long gone now that the temp has warmed and the rain has returned, but I'm glad I've got 'em on digital film. Nature is pretty fascinating!


Random Round Up: Catch Up

The Random Round Up is back after it's month-long hiatus, so let's get right down to business:
Time spent in the country - Little House in the Big Woods
Home Sweet Home
My neighborhood in all it's fall glory.
Snuggly Puggle
Hello wind, goodbye leaves.
Woke up to a white and sparkling Thanksgiving weekend.
Started the holiday decorating - Hard to believe 'tis the season already!
Happy December!


Happy Thanksgiving

Hope today finds you happy, reflective, and cozy.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone - I'll be back with a Random Round Up on monday... December 1st. What?!


T1D Tuesday: Get After It

For the month of November - Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Month - my Monday Random Round Up goes on hiatus, making way for T1D Tuesday. 
Let's get educated, motivated, and moving on making Type One, Type None. 
Donate to my cousin Ella's efforts by clicking right here.

I've told you about my reason for promoting research and awareness for Type 1 Diabetes. I've told you about the research being done and the advancements being made. We've talked personal stories and hard science. And it's been great.

But now what? What can you do?

It's not all about dollars (although, super awesome if you want to support that way). There are tons of ways to get involved and create your own network of spreading the word.
There are JDRF support chapters all over the country (and even the world), and you can find your nearest one right here. Your local chapter can offer personal contacts in the area, local activities, and even a brick-and-mortar office if you prefer face to face info gathering.
Ella at the doc
JDRF is all about being active too: Runs, walks, even bike rides, with proceeds going to fund research and development like what I've described this past month.

So many ways to support and get involved on any level you're comfortable with - Check it out.
And just to make sure we're all passing along quality information, take spin through these common myths about Type 1. Some of them SO common, you will be surprised to find they're not actually true!

Thanks for hanging with me every Tuesday in November, guys. Not only is the topic important, but how often these days to we get to say 'a cure is within reach' and mean it. Really mean it. A girl who is now nine could see a day when she wakes up and thinks "remember when I was diabetic...?"

Past tense is a beautiful thing. We can make it happen.
"I'm going to be a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon when I grow up."


Because, Why Not

How long has it been since you dove headfirst into something brand new? Like, truly never-done-it-before, no-idea-what-you're-doing, new-new.

Putting so much time into slightly mundane house projects (sigh, I love you cabinets, but you sucked out my soul) has left me with a bit of creative stagnation. I needed a jump start.
The inspiration - Which I still like better, but hey. I'm no pro.
Seeing a painting my friend purchased for her home was my inspiration, so one trip to the craft store later I was set up with a giant canvas and six acrylic paint colors to play with. I set up my easel - an old chair on top of a plastic storage bin - my painter's palette - a cookie sheet covered with foil - and of course my artist's brush - an old spackle knife. Nothing but class here, folks.
I spent a couple hours, I left and came back, I added marks as I walked by. There were moments when I hated it and thought I was a fool for trying, and other times when I was pretty sure I should be setting up an Etsy shop immediately so the money could roll in.
End result? I'm pretty happy with my artwork, but trying something new creatively was the best part. So here's what I leave you with this weekend: Try something. Hop on Pinterest or your (other) favorite blog and find a craft, a recipe, a hairstyle, a type of traditional folk dance, what-ev-er, and try it.
Currently living in the guest room, may move down to the powder room... TBD.
Because, why not!


T1D Tuesday: Fake It To Make It

For the month of November - Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Month - my Monday Random Round Up goes on hiatus, making way for T1D Tuesday. 
Let's get educated, motivated, and moving on making Type One, Type None. 
Donate to my cousin Ella's efforts by clicking right here.

Along with filling you in on some incredible new research like encapsulation last week, I want to give you an update on things I told you about last year: Namely, work on the artificial pancreas. If you donated to the cause last year, you've helped advance this crazy-in-the-best-way creation.
Type 1 Diabetes, in it's most basic form, is when the pancreas fails to produce adequate insulin to release into the bloodstream to regulate sugar levels. Right now, the only way to remedy the situation is to monitor blood sugar levels in diabetics, administering insulin doses via shots or an inserted pump, which reduces injections but not monitoring duties. Neither are comfortable, and neither give a diabetic any real peace of mind. They think about their sugar levels all. the. time.

I'm going to let the experts handle the description of the research currently being done, so straight from the American Diabetes Association:
The artificial pancreas system – which includes an insulin pump, software and sensors that track blood glucose levels on a continuous basis – reduced the incidence of nocturnal hypoglycemia events by 32 percent and the duration and severity of those incidents by 38 percent, by shutting off insulin delivery for two hours once glucose levels reached a predefined threshold value (usually 70 mg/dL) the study showed. The threshold suspend feature is part of the MiniMed 530 G system, made by Medtronic and is currently undergoing review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This feature is available internationally in the MiniMed Veo System, where it is called Low Glucose Suspend.
Hypoglycemia is of great concern because it can lead to unconsciousness, seizures and even death. Overnight hypoglycemia is a concern for most patients and family members of those with type 1 diabetes.
The work toward production of the artificial pancreas system is real. Although organ transplants are nothing but serious business, the concept of working around a faulty one with a mechanized version is already in practice. Think artificial heart valves: They replace one part of an organ, becoming a man-made alternative functioning as a part of the internal human body. Living proof? My own mom.

So in the last year, we've gone from working concept to reality-being-reviewed-by-the-FDA. If that's not a happy update, I don't know what is. Again and as always, THANK YOU if you donated last year, and if you haven't yet: What are you waiting for? This stuff is amazing!

Edited to include:
Check out this great article posted on CNN today about what it's like to face the stigma of being diabetic.


Kitchen Kompleted

I can't even tell you how happy it makes me to write this post. No more scrubbing, sanding, priming, painting, drilling, wrangling..... DONE.

I showed you the bottom half completed here, but now: The really big show (thanks, Ed).

Hard at times, dirty often, extremely time consuming work, but totally, completely, entirely worth it.
Top: Move-in day. Bottom: Now.
Purchased this cute contact paper on Amazon.
Of course, my brain goes to 'what's next'... backsplash, for one. But I'm trying to take a minute or two every day just to stand there and realize this portion - this big portion - is DONE. And that's a pretty enjoyable piece of time.


Clean, sand to bare wood, wipe down with liquid deglosser, prime (dry completely), paint - 2 coats (dry completely between each).
Measure, create a jig, measure, measure,... measure, drill, attach handles, re-hang/install.
Put lining in drawers.

Electric sander, stain-blocking primer, liquid deglosser, Benjamin Moore Advance paint (Decorators White).
2" handle angled paint brush, foam roller, vinyl bumpers.
New hardware (from here)

Time frame:
Can you devote all your time? Days.
Do you have things to do? Weeks. Yes, plural.

Absolutely Necessary:


T1D Tuesday: Encapsulation

For the month of November - Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Month - my Monday Random Round Up goes on hiatus, making way for T1D Tuesday. 
Let's get educated, motivated, and moving on making Type One, Type None. 
Donate to my cousin Ella's efforts by clicking right here.

I can't even come up with a cute title for this post, because this concept just blows my mind.
The image above sounds wonderful, right? But the really exciting stuff is in the details: Encapsulation is basically a synthetic material being created to - you guessed it - encapsulate the cells in the body that produce insulin. These cells could then be transplanted into diabetics, allowing them to theoretically live like they are diabetes-free for two years.

Did you hear that? Allowing them to live like they are NO LONGER DIABETIC. Mind: Blown.

Here's a more science-based summation, direct from the JDRF website:
This protective, semi-permeable shielding will be designed to allow beta cells in islets to sense glucose and produce insulin, but be protected from immune destruction by two types of attack-autoimmune attack that caused diabetes in the first place, and the alloimmune rejection of foreign tissue transplanted into the body. 
This incredible step bounding leap of an advancement needs more time and money and brain power put in to make it truly successful, but the science is real and the idea is actively being tested. Last year JDRF was able to fund a 4.3 million dollar research project on encapsulation alone. And if you donated to the cause you were a part of that. Thanks!

Want to be a part this year? Click here to donate to my cousin Ella's fundraising efforts. A nine year old diabetic herself, encapsulation is a real possibility to have an effect on her life. Science is incredible.


Selfish And Proud Of It.

Because sometimes, it really is all about me.

I know how bratty that sounds, but every once in a while you need to focus inward, figure things out, and make some changes. Challenge yourself. Grow. All the Dr. Phil words.
image and ordering
My path was to commit to P90X3, an intense 90 day workout program executed by using a set of DVDs, very little equipment, and an ocean of sweat. And... I did it.

The P90X system also recommends (that's the kindest word I can come up with) that you change your eating plan; a little by eating healthier (good.) and a lot by adding their vitamin-packed blended drinks called Shakeology. I'm all for healthy eating, but in my little world, buying bags of powder and replacing meals with them is not a sustainable program. So my decision was: If I can't continue with it, why start. I've seen others who've gone all-in on the workouts-and-Shakeology program get mind blowing results... Only to come crashing to earth when they start eating real food again. No thanks. I'll take less impactful results I can maintain and improve upon.
And speaking of results, I got some. And I'll be honest: My brain has been swayed by the slick editing of shows like The Biggest Loser and before-and-after snapshots from P90X superstars. I was expecting more. But when I think about it, that's silly. I wasn't in hideous shape before I started, and I'm so. much. stronger now. The difference I feel is incredible. Plus - bonus - I lost 3 pounds and 2.5 inches overall. What, you were expecting 13 pounds? 30? Me too, admittedly, especially after I dropped four in week one. But like I said: Silly. Inches are HARD to lose, and I lost more than 2 of 'em. My clothes fit better, my muscles are considerably more defined, and I have energy for days.
This is the one time you're not going to see me post a before and after on this blog. Here comes that Dr. Phil again, but for me, this ended up being more about the journey and not so much about the end product. Working out for 90 days in a row sucks. There are days when I just flat out wanted to throw a tantrum. But I did it. Every. Damn. Day. And you know what? It was my first day off yesterday and I couldn't wait to come home and jump on the spin bike.

Something changed in me. And isn't that the whole point of a challenge anyway?