Getting Crafty – Burlap Wreath and Drop Cloth Curtains

My daughter, Leah, has inspired me to get back to DIY projects and crafts. She recently made a burlap wreath and gave me a one-on-one lesson as to how it’s done. I also watched a few tutorials on Pinterest which were a big help. I ended up using twice as much burlap (2 full rolls – 20 yards!) as Leah did, but I wanted a thicker appearance. It is easy to do, requiring only a little time, burlap, accent ribbon, and a wire frame. It makes a large wreath which is perfect for a big front door, or you can scale it down if your door is smaller. 
Here is a simple tutorial you can look at to see how its done, and there are many others on Pinterest:
I took a few pictures of mine as I worked on it one day at our cabin and believe me, it isn’t something you can easily mess up. Just make your loops look pretty uniform, scrunching them together as you go, and before you know it, you are done! (I made a different bow after these pictures)
Here is another fun wreath I found on Pinterest that I might have to try next, along with some really pretty burlap flowers I would like to make.
And hey, since it’s Fall, look at this great idea for embellishing plain pillar candles…anything with cinnamon smell is fabulous to me!
My other project was making drop cloth curtains for our new screened porch. The morning sun is pretty intense shining in, and curtains would filter that, and give us some privacy on both sides of our house. Again, my daughter, Leah had made some for her family room, so I followed her lead. I simply headed out to Lowes (or Home Depot), purchased my drop cloths, broke out my sewing machine (which I hadn’t used in about 9 years), and got started. I pre-washed the cloths, laid each panel out on the family room floor to measure, cut and pin, then stitched the hem, ironed them, and hung them up. We found the perfect rods at Lowes that had the clips on rollers in a built-in groove, so they slide open and closed very easily.

There you go! Don’t expect them to be perfect…after all they are drop cloths and the edges won’t always be straight, but they are very natural, fairly inexpensive, washable and easy. Let me know if you have any questions or have made either of these projects yourself!

A Recipe for You – Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Shortly after we moved, our new neighbor, Darlene, surprised us with a warm, delicious coffee cake. We enjoyed it so much all week, that I decided to bake one myself and take it to the kind folks that bought our house. Easy, pretty foolproof, and scrumptious…especially if you love all things cinnamon like me. For those of you looking for a sweet breakfast treat to go with your coffee this weekend, here ya go! I would say it serves 16-20, so it’s a good recipe to keep in mind for a family gathering at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake


½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 cups flour
Topping ingredients (mix together):
¾ cup chopped nuts
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, sugar, eggs and sour cream together with a mixer, adding one ingredient at a time for a fluffier cake. Beat in dry ingredients. In separate bowl, stir topping ingredients together. Grease an angel food cake or tube pan. Pour more than half the batter into pan. Spread with half the topping. Pour in remainder of batter and cover with remaining topping. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool a bit (20 minutes), then remove from pan keeping topping side up. Make your favorite vanilla glaze (confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla) and drizzle it over the cake when cool. Enjoy!
Have a great weekend everyone! I’ll be back next week.

Thankful Thursday – Our First Light the Night Walk – Team Walking with EZ

We are so very grateful to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for many reasons, but especially for their Co-Pay Assistance Program. Honestly, I don’t know what we would do without the yearly grants we have been approved for, that help with insurance premiums and co-pays. Below is a description of the program from their website, and you can click here for more information.

Co-Pay Assistance Program

Dealing with cancer is hard enough without having to worry about its financial burden. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Co-Pay Assistance Program helps you pay your insurance premiums and meet co-pay obligations. We’ll also help you find additional sources of financial help.

Their mission is to “find a cure for blood cancer, and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families”, and they work mighty hard at it! They are also dedicated to funding research, which is critical if a cure for blood cancer is going to be found. Time is of the essence.
We were pretty excited about our first Light the Night Walk and an opportunity to give back in support of the LLS. We got on board late, so only our son, Nick, was able to walk with us, but next year we will be there in full force with lanterns shining! It was a wonderful experience to celebrate life with the many survivors, friends, families, corporations, and LLS volunteers and staff. Thank you to those who gave in support of our team!

It was a beautiful North Carolina Saturday night with an awesome band, delicious food, and great people. Survivors were treated to dinner and a t-shirt, and carried white lanterns. One gold lantern per team was carried in remembrance of those we have lost to blood cancer, and there was a wonderful Remembrance Garden and Ceremony. Red lanterns were carried by the friends and families of those surviving blood cancer. What a sea of beautiful colors lit up the night sky in downtown Durham! It was an honor to walk with such an amazing group of people…especially my survivor. Team Walking with EZ will be back next year for sure. Hope you’ll join us if you are local!

Three Years Post Transplant Appointments…All is Well!

It has been a busy couple of weeks with doctors appointments, but it makes it all worthwhile when the news is good! Both our local oncologist and the team at Duke continue to be pleased with EZ’s stability, numbers and undetected M-spike. For now, he continues with visits every other month to the Cancer Centers of North Carolina to see Dr. Alan Kritz, and the Duke ABMT Clinic to see Dr. Cristina Gasparetto (only once a year now). They both agreed he should stay on 10 mg Revlimid as maintenance.

Why not take a little snooze while you wait?

Here is the happy patient with Dr. Gasparetto (sorry it’s blurry!). She is such a wonderful, caring oncologist and spent real quality time with us:

After EZ’s appointment we took a victory lap down and around the clinic hallways. How well we remember being in the position of so many we saw that day… no hair, feeling so weak and sick, sleeping, receiving stem cells, or harvesting stem cells all hooked up to that amazing aphresis machine! (For a look back on our journey, you can click on the “Stem Cell Transplant” label.) I was deeply touched by a nurse hugging and comforting a wife/caregiver who was in tears in the hallway, out of her husband’s sight. We saw them walk into the clinic, and he was so weak that a staff member followed along behind him with a wheelchair fearing his strength would give out. It brought back memories of a day I felt exactly like her…scared to death! Hopefully EZ can give others hope that they too will be taking a victory lap one day. They certainly are in good hands at Duke!
Below is a look back on what I wrote the day EZ’s stem cells were harvested for transplant on August 17th of 2010:
What a day of celebration this is for us as we look back on all the steps it took to get us here…23 chemotherapy treatments, 22 radiation treatments, 8 months of doctor’s visits, 31 days hospitalized at Rex, 26 days unable to get out of bed, 5 months of walking with crutches or a walker, surgery to have a port put in, surgery to have the port taken out and a Hickman catheter put in, echo-cardiogram, EKG, chest x-rays, 3 bone marrow biopsies, a failed intrathecal pain pump, 2 great physical therapists, brilliant oncologists, long bone x-rays, MRIs, CTscans, and Neupogen injections. But most of all, we are here because of the power of your prayers and a mighty God who loves us and has a perfect plan for us, all in His perfect timing! Here is Ernie with his stem cell harvest after 6 hours of aphresis.
We always have to take a picture of EZ beside his pic on the Hall of Fame in the Transplant Clinic. It is encouraging to see so many survivors on that wall!!
So very thankful that, for now, all is well.

Three Years Post Stem Cell Transplant – Happy Birthday EZ!

August 25, 2010 is a day we will never ever forget. This is the day EZ got a new lease on life with his stem cell transplant at Duke.  We will forever celebrate each year we are given, and never forget the difficulties EZ faced, and overcame, to get here. Click the titles on his One Year Celebration and his Two Year Celebration for a look back.

We had a wonderful, fast paced celebration with the Dew Crew yesterday after church and before Awana. EZ planned the menu of French Dip sandwiches, kettle cooked chips and pretzels, and cookies & cream ice cream pie with Oreo crust. (For all the food critics out there, I KNOW this isn’t the healthiest menu…it was his birthday, so we indulged! Back to leafy greens, veggies, fruit, lean meats, and much less sugar tomorrow:-)

This year we have been heavily involved with downsizing and moving to a new home that requires much less maintenance on our part. We sold our house of nine years, and moved to our new home on August 9th, which is the reason I have been absent from the blogging world. Now that we are somewhat settled, I hope to do alot of catching up. 

Once again we have so much to be grateful for. Here are just a few things that come to mind:

1. No hospitalizations or major illnesses this year.
2. EZ can sit for longer periods of time and we have enjoyed dinners out.
3. EZ flew for the first time! Six hours from Charlotte to Seattle, first class, no problems.
4. We were able to take a cruise to Alaska, courtesy of my sweet mom. Amazing!
5. EZ almost single handedly packed up our entire basement, making multiple trips with his trailer to
    a storage unit to unpack. His physical stamina and ability to build and work on projects has
    greatly improved.
6. He remains on 10 mg Revlimid daily, and continues to be in complete response with no detectable

When you live with an incurable cancer, you never know when the tables will turn, so for now, we celebrate special ‘anniversaries’ such as this, with much joy. Sleep remains elusive, peripheral neuropathy wreaks havoc in his legs and feet, he lives with pain every day, and fatigue hits pretty hard sometimes, but he copes, never complains, and carries on.

(Can you tell Samuel wasn’t too happy about this picture?)
We don’t ever want to take this day for granted and thoroughly enjoyed planning and celebrating! We are grateful to be in our new home, creating new memories, and remembering God’s goodness to us.

(Our daughter, Leah, created this housewarming sign for us!)
Thank you so much for stopping by to rejoice with us!


And Now…Let’s Go To Seattle!

My younger brother, Johnny, and I were born in Seattle. My father was in the Army, and my parents were stationed there two different times, with an assignment in Alaska in between. My mother has always dreamed of taking us back to see our birthplace, and she had hoped that we could even find the house we lived in back in the 50’s. The beauty of all of this is that she also wanted to take her three grown children and their spouses on an Alaskan Cruise with her, up the Inside Passage…departing from Seattle! She made that dream come true for all of us, in early May. We flew non-stop from Charlotte to Seattle, spent three days exploring this “City of Seven Hills”, then boarded the Holland America cruise ship, Westerdam, for an amazing 7 day cruise. This was huge for EZ as it was the first time since his diagnosis three years ago, that he would be flying (and for six hours straight!). We had no idea if he would be able to “sit” for that long, but with some extra pain medication and first class seats that reclined a bit, he did great! We were all so excited about the amazing adventure we were about to go on thanks to Mom. We kids hadn’t been together, just the grown ups, since before we all had children, and now grandchildren.
Airplane food isn’t all that bad (yeah first class!)
Look at those mountains!
While in Seattle, we chose to rent a house overlooking Lake Washington, with a view of Mt. Ranier, rather than staying in a hotel for the three days. I am soooo glad we made that decision. It was beautiful, serene, and in a great location. We had two rental cars to explore the city with.
Our home for three days with view of the floating bridge


Oldest son David with wife Shannon

Youngest son Johnny with wife JoAnn

Middle child Linda with husband EZ

Look real closely and you can see Mt. Ranier in the distance (from our balcony)

After a long day of travel, time for pizza with Johnny and JoAnn!
Let the good times begin with Mom, David, Shannon and EZ!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Nick is off to Nepal!

I can’t believe the time has finally arrived for Nick to head to Nepal. (To learn more about this amazing country, click here and read all about it!) He has been planning this trip for about 9 months now, along with four others from the UNC School of Dentistry, and yesterday, off  they went!

Congested Kathmandu

These paragraphs from a fundraising letter they sent out will help explain what they will be doing in Nepal:

Greetings from the fourth annual UNC School of Dentistry Nepal Project!  We ask for your support with this year’s humanitarian project, designed and executed by students and under the supervision of UNC faculty.  Our goal is to promote oral hygiene education and prevention as well as to provide oral health care to those who otherwise would have no access to it.  Over half of Nepal’s 30 million residents are living below the international poverty line, and the entire country is currently served by only 500 dentists.  An overwhelming majority of these dentists are located within the capital city of Kathmandu, making it impractical and extremely difficult for those living in rural areas to seek treatment.

In July 2013, five UNC School of Dentistry students and a faculty member will travel to Nepal for a month, in partnership with the Nepalese Health and Development Society.  We plan to hold dental camps in the Solukhumbu and Chitwan regions of rural Nepal to provide much needed dental care such as extractions, fillings, cleanings, and sealants.  From the Solukhumbu camp we will continue on foot in the Annapurna Ranges, providing oral hygiene education and supplies to villages along the route. 

This is an amazing opportunity for Nick not only to put into practice what he has learned this first year, but to provide education and care to the Nepali people, halfway around the world! As you feel led, please pray for the team…safety, health, compassionate hearts, stamina, skill and lasting impact.  Will post updates as we hear from Nick.

Anne and I will especially be missing this guy!!


More Projects, Then Ready, Set, Sell!

In our ongoing effort to get our house ready, we realized there were a few more things that would really make a difference in the appearance. The deck was begging for a facelift, so we had it pressure washed, EZ replaced the top and bottom railings (with some help from Nick and Kyle), then we had it stained and sealed. Much improved!!

Next it was time for a new garage door…lighter, quieter and no more sagging (failed to get a pic of the old one!).

We never had pickets on the steps leading to our unfinished basement, so EZ built a new railing and added the pickets, making it a lot safer! Glad we never had one of the grandkids go over that edge!

And finally, EZ got me a small pressure washer so I could go to town on the side walkway, patio furniture and gutters, brickwork, and front porch and walk. It is one DIRTY job, but I love the results!

The sign went up, we had seven showings in three days, and got a great offer and contract from a couple in Texas. We were due to close on May 30th, and rent back from them for three months (until August 30th)…perfect! THEN…they terminated the contract on the last day of due diligence. Agh! So we re-grouped, made it active again, and in the first weekend we had two couples look at it and got another offer from a couple moving down from New York. Our due diligence has passed, and we are totally “a go” to close on August 8th and move to our new home. We are excited about the future, and so grateful things seem to be working out. More on the new house to come!

Next…the Mudroom!

One of many things I have loved about our house is the extra large laundry/mudroom/office and 1/2 bath. But for nine years we have looked at rose and cream colored torn vinyl, and it was time to update with some ceramic tile…Carolina clay color. As with the roof, tearing out the old flooring created a big mess, and at one point there was actually a toilet on our deck! At the end of it all we wondered why on earth we hadn’t done it sooner. Isn’t that always the case? Have a great weekend everyone!

New tile
Our appliances taking up our eat-in kitchen area
Pulling up the old

 EZ got in to the action too

Getting there

Toilet on the deck anyone?

A muddy mess…
The floor is done!
Newly painted cabinet doors that EZ added to cover my “stuff”

First Things First…the Roof!

Before we could list our home, there was the matter of some major and minor projects, beginning with a new roof. Our house was built in 1988 and the roof is original, so it was time. I had no idea what a mess it was going to create, but the end result was definitely worth it and we knew it would help in the sale of the house. The architectural shingles were nailed down by hand, so there was ALOT of banging. Four days of banging to be exact. Those men were amazing up there on that roof!

Shingles, shingles and more shingles

The old roof…ugh!

The mess

Off with the old, on with the new (glad they had safety lines, but I still couldn’t watch)
Old on left, new on right

Done…and we love it!