Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring has Sprung!

I don't think anyone is as happy as this little puppy right here! 

Now let the fun begin! Hopefully this year we are able to edit some more and get this place's gardens manageable. 

First order of business though: raking, weeding and just trying to clean up a little. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What Spring?

I'm usually not one to complain via social media.. Or about things as small and seemingly insignificant as the weather, but today I'm just grumpy and feel like venting because at some point there comes a breaking point.  

This little guy right here, this little "Spring" chick is the only evidence of spring I'm seeing and I'm so sick of being cold! I'm sick of all the extra crap we have to carry because of the cold. Hat, gloves, jacket, layers, different shoes to wear in the office vs. outside because of the snow and/or mud, extra fleece if I want to go to the gym after work, extra layers I have to wear in the house because the heating bill is so damn high this year because of the frigid temperatures this winter, extra blankets that clutter the living room so we have something to keep us warm while watching tv, the fact that I don't ever feel like doing anything because I literately can't warm up...

Maybe it's because I'm originally from the south so my body literately has a hissy fit if it's too cold for too long.. Or maybe it's because warmer weather will mean we're getting closer to the wedding, or maybe it's the yearly mild depression that never fails to show its ugly face right around this time of year when the cold just won't let go and the change in temperature gets me sick every year with no exceptions.

And I guess the only reason I decided to share my thoughts with you now, is becausel I imagine I'm not alone. 

Especially those of us in the Northeast where we've had one of the tougher winters I remember since moving up here 15 years ago.  And there were a couple of days that lended us some 40 degree weather which felt like heaven, but maybe that just makes it worse.. It's a tease of what's to come, but seems to never come. And tonight... Winter weather advisory... I mean, come on!!! It will be April on Tuesday for cryin out loud!! Who's with me?! 

Here's hoping this will come to an end soon and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (maybe the SUN?!) and hoping our bulbs didn't get eatin up by the moles and our spring perennials come up to show us the color we so deserve after this brutal, no good, very bad, winter! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

No Resolutions This Year.. Just Thanks.

2013 has been pretty crazy.  

I rang in the 2013 year shortly after flying back home after spending a wonderful Christmas with friends and family in the south. In January I enjoyed an annual girls' trip to NYC. In February I broke my big toe while stacking firewood thereby getting out of stacking wood for the rest of the season which was pretty cool, though the broken toe wasn't very much fun. 

I was able to go to a concert in March and also see one of our dearest friends get married in May and was also able to participate in all the festivities of the wedding including a wonderful trip for the bachelorette party.

In September we were able to go to Disney, Sea World and Discovery Cove.  We saw the fireworks at the Castle in Disney and we swam with the dolphins and went snorkeling at Discovery Cove which was by far, the best part of the trip.  They always say Disney is magical, but it truly was, and I'm so happy we were able to take the trip.  


Fashion Flowers and Food
Discovery Cove
Sept 2013

In October I turned the big 30. It's actually hard to believe. I really don't feel 30!   


What some of you might not know, something I've kept relatively quiet on this forum until now, is what has been happening since sometime in April when I took my mom to the hospital because of some severe abdominal pain she was having. 

Though not entirely certain at the time, the doctors said it was possible that she could have cancer.  She had two choices: go into surgery and find out, for sure, what was wrong, or wait three months to see what changes occurred - either for the better, or to see if the symptoms got worse.  She weighed all of her options and bravely decided to take it head on and go into surgery. They discovered at that time that she had fallopian tube cancer.  

She started aggressive chemotherapy right away. An extensive treatment that lasted six rounds with three weeks between each. I watched helplessly as she underwent the needles and the affects of the drugs that, for her, were simultaneously saving and risking her life.  I watched the gradual transformation of her physical appearance as she, first, cut her beautiful hair to prepare for the side affect of losing it. For me, as someone on the sidelines of the disease, and as her daughter, this was one of the hardest parts. It made it real. Tangible. It made it undeniable that my mother was sick.  She was still the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, but then she was different, changed forever in my mind by the affects of these medications.  Throughout the process I saw how brave she was. I admired her so much and have never been so proud to call her my mom. 


Fashion Flowers and Food

It was then that I started this blog. To be a distraction from the reality that was then, and the reason I kept it out of my posts.  It was hard, and I don't wish it upon anyone. It took everything I had to be strong for my mother. And I hope I made her proud during the process.  

I don't know if I could have done what she did.  I don't know if I could have been strong enough to get through the entire process of treatment, as I witnessed her suffer through the side affects.  She is the strongest person I have ever met and she blew me away by the way she conquered it.  

Fashion Flowers and Food
Wright Peak
April 2013

In the months leading up to the decision to have surgery and the surgery itself, she had a choice to make.  To sit and wait; to cancel her plans to climb on her 50th Birthday, which was coincidentally right around the corner, or to go on as normal and get moving.  With the uncertainty of her condition looming over her and her 50th birthday climb already planned, she decided...  


She decided to climb.  

Pain or no pain, cancer or no cancer, it didn't matter.  She did what she loved.  She climbed mountains.  MOUNTAINS!  Wright Peak was first on her list (pictured above) on April 27th, 2013 and then on her 50th Birthday, May 3rd 2013, the day after the decision to have surgery was made, she climbed Phelps.  Kind of a big "F You" to the sickness.  

She was like a fighter, bouncing on the mat eyeing her opponent over her gloves, gearing up for the fight that was about to happen.  That first part of the fight was hard and it knocked her down.  But though, woozy, she was determined and she staggered to her feet.  She endured hit after hit as the chemo just wailed on her at first.  

After each round, she sat in her corner with her doctor and he gave her everything she needed to gain the strength for the next round.  As she started to feel better and gain her strength back, the bell would sound to start the next round.  

At times she was against the ropes, arms up, defending herself from her opponent, taking hit after hit.  Every time she got knocked down, she'd get back up.  But as the fight went on, she got to know her opponent, bobbing and weaving against its swings, and getting her own jabs in.  

Those closest to her rallied around her in the crowd, cheering her on... to come to...to fight.  Those far away, watched the fight from their homes, jumping off the couch, cheering for her to get up... to come to... to fight.  We were all there, cheering, jumping up and down, hands in the air, "You can do it!" For six grueling rounds we all watched helplessly; amazed each round by her strength and determination to keep going... to keep fighting.  When it got bad, she wouldn't throw in the towel.  She came to fight, and fight she did.  


And after that sixth round, she prevailed. 
Her hand lifted at the end as the Champion. 
Cancer free!!  
She kicked cancer's ass!  

During all of it she still came to work, rocked the new bald or "commando" look and the new wigs, interchanging different colors throughout a conference that she helped host, and kept a smile on her face and a sense of humor through all of it; even joking with the doctors and nurses during her treatments.   

In October she completed her last chemo treatment and in December she was declared cancer free!  


Fashion Flowers and Food
October 24, 2013
6th and Final Round of Chemo

2013 has been pretty crazy. 

I rang in the 2014 New Year by kissing my fiancĂ© while sitting on our couch with our puppy watching the Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and then received a text from my mom saying "Happy New Year!"  It was pretty perfect.  We had been at a party right before and we had a blast, but left around 11:30 and we were home just in time to see the ball drop and have a wonderful, low key celebration - just the two of us.

I made a list of resolutions before, but then deleted them.  There are no resolutions this year, just reflection and giving thanks for the happy ending I'm able to share here with you, and prayer for those that have a different story to tell, and prayer for those still in the ring, and the medical staff that are in their corners and the loved ones in the crowd.

I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store.  My mom should be getting back to normal, feeling better and climbing mountains again as the residual affects of the chemo should be wearing off, and I should be throwing a little party of some sorts, and ya know, getting married!  

I pray 2014 treats you all well and you are blessed with good health and happiness in your life.  I've taken to this little blog and enjoy sharing my story so I hope to continue that and post more often.  Thanks so much for listening. Till next time... 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our Engagement Story

The morning of 11/12/13 I was completely oblivious to the date, or anything my boyfriend was planning for that night.  I did however; notice that he was in an especially good mood.  He was so kind, not that that’s weird, he was just… different.  I didn't think anything of it at the time.

Eric and I work together.  Not for the same company, just in the same building.  He has always been strict when it comes to PDA in the workplace, but on this day, he was so sweet, giving me subtle, loving touches throughout the day; a brush on the shoulder, holding my hand.  At one point I caught him just looking at me.  The entire day, was almost magical, looking back.  I felt so loved.  I know now, he was so excited and just… happy.  But at this point, while I enjoyed the extra attention, I was still completely oblivious to anything.  My co-worker mentioned the date to me, but I, again, thought nothing of it. 
I left early from work that day to go to an eye appointment; just a yearly checkup and to get contacts.  The receptionist also mentioned the date to me, but still, nothing. 
  
After my appointment I looked at my phone and I had two missed calls from Eric.  Since we live together and work together, we see each other all the time, and if we’re not together we shoot a quick text, so telephone conversations are rare.  I called back right away, with an immediate, “Are you ok?”  He replied, “I’m hungry.”  In Eric’s world, this could very well be an emergency.  I laughed and suggested I run to our local grocery store to get some food to make.  It was a random Tuesday, so whipping something up quick was my first thought.  But he suggested, “Let’s go somewhere.”  That’s odd, but let’s go with that!  I quickly said, heck yea, before he had a chance to change his mind.  A random Tuesday to eat out? Score!  I tried to think of a place.  I made a few cheap, casual suggestions.  I quick bite at a bar & grill kind of place? I quick stop at a pizza joint? Pick up Chinese? What’s he thinking?  “I want Italian!”, he goes.  Italian I thought?! Double score!  “Somewhere around here”, he goes.  Hmm… The only place I could think of was this cute little Italian restaurant, Villa Valente’s right down the road from us, but it’s pretty pricey… there’s no way he’d agree to that, but what the heck, I suggested it anyway.  “Yea, that sounds good. Let’s go.” Whaatttt??! This is awesome!  A random Tuesday night Date Night!  So bizarre, but I quickly agreed, again thinking he’d change his mind, and went from my doctor’s appointment, picked him up and we headed over. 

Little did I know, this was the plan all along, and he manipulated the conversation perfectly to make me think it was all my idea to go to this little place that we'd gone to before for special occasions, one of which was our very first Valentine's Day.

But when we get to the restaurant it's closed.  Bummed out, I look quick and find another Italian restaurant just a mile down the road. Paolo Lombardi's! We had never been there before, but I asked if that would do to fix his Italian food craving and he agreed, so off we went. 

On the way there I had an epiphany.  Our 8 year anniversary was just 2 days before.  We both agreed that we weren't going to get anything for each other and we had a modest, but lovely evening in and cooked dinner at home.  Had I said something to make him feel bad? I must have and this is his way of making up for it! That must be it, I thought. 

We finally arrived, and sat down for dinner.  After ordering a nice bottle of wine, he said I could have “whatever I want” on the menu! I even tested him, “So I can have the filet and the lobster and that’d be ok?!”  “Yup, whatever you want!”  This was very odd, as we splurge every now and then, but we always try to not go too crazy.  I started to get a little excited and the possibility of him asking crept into my mind.  I quickly shook it off though.  After 8 years of wondering, “Is this when he’ll ask?!” and the answer being no, I've learned to try and not get my hopes up.  There was one point in our relationship when it absolutely consumed me, and I was completely obsessed with that question.  But along the way, I realized that there is more to life than one question.  I started living life in the moment, stopped worrying about the future, and I found happiness once again.  Happiness, I decided, meant more to me, than a status change, and that I would wait for him until he was ready and enjoy our lives together while doing so.  But still, I couldn't help but wonder... could this be the night?!  

We continued our lovely evening, and had a delicious dinner, great conversation and even shared a desert and some more wine. We wrapped our leftovers, got our check, and were out the door.  As we left, that little thought crept into my mind again.  “I guess that wasn't it.  It was just him making up for our anniversary, like I thought, and it was absolutely wonderful.”

As we walked out of the restaurant and down the sidewalk, he grabbed my arm.  I turned around.  “You know this whole night was on purpose, right?”  I looked down to his hand.  There it was.  A beautiful, breathtaking, diamond ring.  

“Will you, will you marry me?”

I couldn't speak.  I nodded.  I was completely shocked.  I don’t even think I took a breath.  We continued to walk to the car.  I buried my head in his arm and cried.  We got in the car, and he put it on my finger.  I stared at it for the longest time, trying to realize that this was real.  I could barely breathe.  Finally.  It happened.  

I don't think I have ever in my life been as happy as I was in that very moment, sitting in my car, in the parking lot of Paolo Lombardi's, looking at my ring and the man that gave it to me.  

We sat in silence for a few minutes, both of us just taking it all in.


Then… screaming, “I have to call my mom!  Can we call Tina!? OMG I have to post to Facebook! I have to tell the world!!!!”  He just laughed, and said, “Just hold on, just enjoy this moment a bit longer.”  and we went on our way.  

He had Champagne waiting for us at the house, and we called our parents, my best friend, his siblings, and we stopped by both of our parents’ houses to spread the news and show everyone the ring.  He hadn't told anyone except his parents, so everyone was just as surprised as me.  He was the one that posted it on Facebook and we were completely shocked at the response.  Everyone was rooting for us for a long time for this to happen I guess!  

Well, it finally happened!! 11/12/13!! We’re engaged!!!!!!       
Fashion Flowers and Food
     

Eric later told me that he had planned this day for quite some time.  And even with our special little restaurant being closed, I think it worked out better that way, since this is a new chapter, and we ended up at a new restaurant.  He also told me that he had originally thought he was going to ask me inside the restaurant, but then, when the moment came, he was afraid I'd scream.  He's probably right, and I probably would've screamed and done cartwheels and caused a huge scene!  The way it panned out, outside when I had just thought the night was coming to an end, was beyond perfect, and I'll never forget it. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanks!

 Fashion Flowers and Food

 Fashion Flowers and Food
 Fashion Flowers and Food
 Fashion Flowers and Food
 Fashion Flowers and Food
Fashion Flowers and Food

Coat: New York & Co.
Scarf: Pashmina
Boots: Rockport
Necklace: Lia Sophia 
 I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! There is so much I am thankful for this year, I don't even know where to begin.  It has been such a roller coaster of a year and I'm so happy to be able to say that it has ended on a very high note as of this Thanksgiving.  

With everything that has happened this year, one of the many things that I'm thankful for, though small, is this little blog right here.  It served as a distraction in the hardest of times, and continues to be one of my favorite hobbies.  And I even ended up having a few readers at the end of it all, so to you, Thanks! :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Snow Fall!


Blazer: Worthington
Boots: American Eagle
Jeans: Target
Scarf: Johnstons
We had our first snow fall yesterday. It's already gone today but I'm sure there's a lot more where that came from and I can't wait to go skiing this year.  If I'm lucky, Eric said we might be able to go out west!  All in all I think it's going to work out to be a pretty awesome Holiday Season.  I hope you have a great one too! 
 
Well, I'll leave you with this little fortune that I got yesterday that I think we can all go by. :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Summer Dress?

fashion flowers and food
fashion flowers and food
fashion flowers and food
Dress: JC Penney
Blazer: Old; Macys
Blouse: Old; Express
My goal this year has been to maximize the use of everything in my closet.  This "summer" dress is no exception.  Usually it's worn with a white belt and some sandals or stilettos, but all it takes to winterize it is a little bit of layering, some black sweater tights, black boots and a black belt to finish the look.  What items would you dare to ware all year long that you normally wouldn't? Oh, and did I mention it gets dark at like 4:30pm now?!