Thursday, December 27, 2007


So my office is closed today due to the inclement weather. It's not really snowing that hard but it is frigid outside. And I mean frigid, 17 degrees frigid to be exact.

I'm not complaining about having a surprise extra day off. I got all of our Christmas presents put away & all of the dishes cleaned up from our Christmas Eve party with my family. The laundry is almost all done. And I have swept & dusted the upstairs. And it is only 2:00.

Unfortunately I will not be able to play for the rest of the afternoon. I have to go outside and shovel the driveway & sidewalk before it gets dark. But once that is done, I will be able to do whatever I want. Not sure if I will sit & read a book or play with my new bedazzler.

Yes I got a bedazzler for Christmas. I am very excited about it. I know that I am a dork, it's OK. I have wanted one for quite sometime, but have never been able to justify spending money to buy it.

Christmas was pretty mellow around here this year. I did not really get into the Christmas spirit until about a week before. We did not even get the tree up until the 16th. And we normally have our up the first weekend in December. We spent Christmas Eve with my family. And we drove through the snow to Greeley to spend Christmas day with Ben's family. It was the first time that I spent Christmas away from my family so it was a little strange for me. But all was well.

Here are a few pictures from our weekend:

Our Christmas tree all decorated. Those were the only presents that made it under the tree before Christmas Eve this year....

Christmas Eve with my dad's side of the family. Yes, the TV is on because the Broncos were playing so the game had to be on.
And Christmas day with Ben's brother's family & his Grandpa Jack & Aunt Linda (she took the picture)

Guess I have procrastinated enough.... I really need to go shovel so I can get it done while it is still light outside...

Monday, December 17, 2007

So I have been eating this super easy, super yummy lunch lately. It looked very appetizing today so I decided to take a picture of it. Green Giant has come out with these frozen veggie mixes that you steam in the microwave. I like the Healthy Weight & Healthy Vision varieties. All I add is the shrimp. The veggies are lightly seasoned too, which makes them very tasty. Now to figure out how to make on my own so I don't get bored with them.... That will probably have to wait until the new year though.

Friday, December 14, 2007

spools and spools and...

I discovered that I have a few spools of black thread. 11 to be exact. (I found 2 more after taking this picture!) They multiple like rabbits apparently when I'm not looking.
This doesn't count the 3 or so that I threw away because the thread was rotten. Nor does it count the black special threads I have. I have black button thread, black upholstery thread and black serger thread too. And I wonder how many more spools I have tucked away in odd places.
Apparently I need to start sewing more so that I can use up all of this thread. And I need to come up with a cool project for all of the empty spools I will have. Right now the wood ones go into a mason jar for decoration but the plastic ones & styrofoam ones go straight to the trash.
Got any ideas of what I can use empty plastic spools for?

Monday, December 10, 2007

6 months later...

WARNING: this is a wee bit long.... It has been 6 months since I read Life Beyond Headaches. It has been 6 months since we found the wonderful Dr. Randy James, the atlas orthogonal specialist, who has fixed Ben's headaches. It has been 6 months since headaches stopped ruling our lives.

833 days ago Ben got the "worst headache" of his life. It came on suddenly on August 29, 2005 while we were folding laundry before bed. Ben grabbed the right side of his head because the pain was so intense. The area above his right eye was visibly swollen. It felt like someone was stabbing a spike through his eyeball. Ben had gotten headaches like this in the past (just not quite as intense) so we were not concerned. He took some medicine & went to bed.

That day we had been working on laying flooring in our condo. It was also the day that Hurricane Katrina hit. Nothing too out of the ordinary that would cause such a horrific headache. But it was the day that his headache started & took control of our lives.

In the days & weeks that followed we went to the ER at least 5 times. CT scan, xrays & MRI all came back clear. The spinal tap came back clear. Nothing looked to be wrong. At this point we did not have a diagnosis. All they did was pump him full of narcotics & steroids.

Our first neurologist called it a "chronic migraine" and only wanted to inject him with botox. But before insurance would cover that, you have to try 3 other migraine treatments. So we tried 3 different drugs, topamax, maxalt, and DHE treatments. None did anything to relieve the headache though. The pain was so bad that Ben could no longer work. Looking at a computer for any length of time increased the intensity of the headache. Being under fluorescent lights increased the intensity.

After the 3 treatments & 3 months, the doctor said there was nothing else he could do except try the Botox. Not wanting that, we researched other options & found the Michigan head pain clinic. The neurologist signed off on it. And we were all set for an appointment Dec 19, 2005 for a 2 week examination. But insurance would not cover it, since it was out of network. We could not afford the $10,000 fee so we were back to square one.

We found a new neurologist who called it "chronic daily headache". She recommended physical therapy & some more drugs. After about a month or so, the physical therapy started to help. The intensity of the headache would lessen. Not go away, but would lessen. With the physical therapy, Ben was able to go back to work.

His physical therapist felt that there was something wrong with his neck though. Every time Ben would come in, the right side would be locked down, like it was protecting the spinal cord. The worse his headache was that day, the tighter the neck was locked down. The body was trying to say something was not right.

So she recommended we go see a neurosurgeon she worked with. The neurosurgeon looked at his MRI, CT scan & xray. What he found was cervical spinal stenosis. And what he told us was that there was nothing he could fix. Yes, his spine was "ugly". But fixing it to make it look pretty was not going to make the headache go away. And he would not do neurosurgery to fix "ugly". (Which we were very thankful for, really who wants surgery especially near the brain if it's not going to make you better.)

So he recommended we go see a pain management specialist. We started seeing him in June 2006. The specialist decided that nerve blocks were the best way to proceed. Se we started the nerve blocks between his C2 & c3 vertebrae. The first one proved to be successful. It was 2 weeks before our wedding. Ben was essentially pain free. It last through our wedding and through the honeymoon. It allowed us to not think about the headache & enjoy our special day. But then pain started to come back. So they did another nerve block. And another. And another. And another. The time between nerve blocks was getting shorter each time when it should have been getting longer. So the PM specialist tried nerve blocks in other places on his cervical spine. But by Dec 2006, the nerve blocks were no longer working & he told us there was nothing else he could do. So again we were back to square one.

We asked the neurosurgeon & PM specialist to recommend a neurologist for us. And we started seeing our 4th neurologist. He diagnosed it as a chronic headache. And had us try a few other drugs. At this point, I also started researching headaches to see what I could find. I found a couple of different drugs (indomethicin being one) that we had not tried & so the doctor let us try them. Still nothing seemed to work. And there were no other headache drugs to try. So after about 4 months, he also said there was nothing he could do, we were going to have to just live with the headache.

Desperate for an answer, we went to the library to see what we could find. I knew that there had to be a why for the pain. And until we knew the why, we were not going to be able to treat the pain effectively. The past 29 months had taught us that much. And that was where I found the miracle that changed our lives.

After 4 neurologists, 3 specialists, countless tests, ER visits, doctors appointments and even more countless drugs I found the why. The "why" was that the C1 vertebrae was at a 45 degree angle. Remember when I said that the neurosurgeon did not fix ugly. Well, this was the ugly. The "ugly" was the cause of the pain. We spent 2 1/2 years treating a headache. And it wasn't a headache at all. The pain was actually referred pain from the vertebrae being off & rubbing nerves the wrong way. The vertebrae being off was what caused the neck to lock down. That was why the physical therapy helped, the vertebrae would slip back into place. And that is why the nerve blocks worked, they deadened the nerve that was being rubbed.

And once we found the why, we were able to quickly improve the pain. Within 3 months Ben was able to function without worrying about the pain. And now 6 months later, we rarely have a time where the pain rules our life. Let alone the days & weeks that it used to. I can't even remember the last time the pain caused him to need drugs or a nap or caused us to miss out on something.

So yes, finding that book & find Dr. James 6 months ago really was a miracle. Because without it we would still be living our life in limbo trying to get rid of the headache. Now we are able to focus on the future. And once the collateral damage the pain caused is fixed in our life, the headache will only be a bad memory.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I love iTunes

I absolutely love iTunes. I love that I can listen to the music of other people I work with. I just clicked on a new person's music that I had not explored yet. And ran across a band I have not listened to in almost 10 years now.

It's a band I was introduced to in college by my roommate Natalie. The band was SonVolt. We went to their concerts together every time SonVolt was in town. I remembered the words to both songs I listened to so far. It brought back some very good memories & times I have not thought about in a very, very long time.

I love that with a click of the mouse, it was all there for me. Gotta love technology sometimes.

Oh, and Beth, when you read this, does it freak you out that it's been almost 10 years??? EEK! It did me when I was proofing this...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Goodbye Heffalump

So today is surgery day for Ben. They are going to repair the incisional hernia by shoving his insides back in where they belong. Woohoo!!!

We have been referring to his growing mass as his heffalump. So last night I made him a t-shirt with a heffalump on it. The head is the actual size of the hernia. (It's a little large, huh?)

He even has a little song that he has been singing (to the tune of "My Humps" by Black Eye Peas):
My lump, my lump, my lovely heffalump.

Side view so can see how far the lump sticks out

Updated 3:06 pm- they actually took him back for surgery on time! Right before they took him back, they gave him the "good" drugs. Boy he as goofy. He was playing with his surgical cap making it into a beret & talking in a french accent. Very silly :)
updated 5:06 pm- he's out of surgery & it went well. They did use the cadaver skin stuff. It's called Alloderm. So his heffalump has now been deflated.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tuckered out

The life of a dog is soooo exhausting. Lily & Sammy played so hard outside, they needed a nap. And of course had to be in the middle of everything, so they napped exactly where I was working. Aren't they cute though?
(The paper shreds are not from the dogs. We were shredding old credit card statements & bills. And every time I emptied the shredder, some little pieces fell out. And they both had to be right there by me.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

1st Annual Blogger Craft Fair

Yesterday, one of my friends at work told me about this online craft fair that her friend was putting together for this weekend. So I re-shot some of my pictures last night & furiously finished up my Etsy page in hopes that I would be included.

I was one of the lucky ones to be picked for the First Annual Blogger Holiday Arts and Craft Fair. Yippee!!! So I will madly be working this weekend adding to my Etsy page in hopes that someone will like what they see & will buy.

So far there the dress I added last night has been viewed 28 times! Not bad for only be on-line for 12 hours. (Of course, who knows how many of those are from people I know, instead of from complete strangers.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Surgery update

We met with the surgeon yesterday. Because the pain has not lessened & the hernia is getting bigger, the surgeon wanted to repair it sooner rather than later. Which is exactly what we wanted as well.

So surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday, 12/4 at 3:00 pm. Instead of using mesh to patch the tear, the doctor is going to use cadaver something-or-other. If the body rejects the mesh at some point, they have to go in and re-do the surgery. So to avoid that, the doctor is going straight to the cadaver stuff. Basically the way he explained it, it is the skeletal system (or latice work) of the inner layers of skin but without any living cells. After it is attached to your body, your own cells start growing on it & supplying it with blood. Then it becomes a natural part of your body. Much better than a forgein object in you.

And they will do the incision exactly where the gallbladder one is so there will only be 1 scar & hopefully reduce the chance of recurrance. Of course, this is my husband we are talking about, so no matter what, there is a good chance of recurrance. The smaller the percentage of something occuring in the general population, the more likely it will happen to him.

So that is what we know for now. He will have to stay in the hospital for a couple of days after the surgery. But the recovery should be pretty quick.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not quite 6 months

Well, we didn't make it 6 months. Monday Ben had a doctor's appointment to go over the results from a CT scan. He'd been having some pains in his side off & on and the spot where his gallbladder was removed was growing.

We had been working since August to get this looked at, but with my new job, that meant new health insurance & we had to go through all of the approvals again. And we weren't too concerned about the bump. So it took until now to get it looked at.

On Sunday the pain started to be pretty constant. So it was a good thing that he had an appointment the next day.

The doctor looked at the CT & checked his belly. Due to the amount of pain he was in & where it was located, they were concerned about appendicitis. So they sent him over to the emergency room to get another CT scan.

We are in the ER enough that the staff remembers us! One of the lab techs remembered us & was showing us his new tattoo of his son's baby foot. It's just wrong that we are recognized.

After about 7 1/2 hours in the ER, they came into to tell us that it was not appendicitis and that they were discharging him with pain medicine. If the pain persisted, we were to go see his PCP. Of course, we were not happy about this as you can imagine. The pain had been constant since Sunday & was getting worse in intensity. So of course, it was not going to go away. And we did not want a repeat of his gallbladder surgery where he was discharged from the ER & the next day he was taken straight from the dr office & admitted to the hospital to have surgery.

We told the nurse that it was not acceptable & she talked to the ER doctor & his PCP. They decided to admit him. So he was taken upstairs at about 10:30 pm for "observation".

We found out around lunch time yesterday that the pain is most likely from an incisional hernia from the gallbladder surgery 11 months ago. But since there is no intestinal strangulation or obstruction, there is no need for immediate surgery. Even though there is significant pain, that's not enough reason for surgery.

Before releasing him, they needed to be sure that he could eat food. So we ordered a yummy lunch of noodles & mashed potatoes. After eating about 15 noodles, he got pasty white & nauseous. So they pumped hm full of anti-nausea medicine. But wanted to "wait & see" how he felt later. This time before dinner they drugged him up to make him eat.

Well, that all went well. So he should have been released last night or this morning. Well, it is 5:00 pm & we are still here. The surgeon already came in to see us around 1:00 & we have an appointment scheduled with him for Monday to discuss surgery. Now all we have to wait for is his PCP to sign the docs to release him. And he is taking his sweet ass time...

Friday, November 16, 2007


A friend shared this about stress with me. I found it to be an interesting way to view the toll stress takes on you. And since I have a tendency to be a stress-monger every once in awhile, it fits me well at times.

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked,"How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. "

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."

"So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New toy...

I finally got the dress form that I mentioned awhile ago. Here is what it looks like with Makenna's flower girl dress on it. Now I have to find someplace in my house to take pictures of it so that it looks professional. (The back door isn't it, at least in my opinion.) Oh, and, I have to actually make something to take pictures of.

I have got a design done, using fabric from my stash. And the pattern to start from. And borrowed my aunt's serger. So now I just have to put the pieces together. And voila, I will have a dress to sell. Stay tuned...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Trying to be healthy....

Sorry I have slacked off on posting this week. I would love to say it was because my life has been so busy & exciting, but nothing like that has happened recently.

The reason I have been slacking is I joined the Biggest Loser Club a couple of weeks ago. And I joined a 6 week boot camp on it that started last Friday. Part of it is reading & posting to the message boards. That has been taking up a significant portion of my days.

But it is definitely helping (I've lost 3 lbs in the last 2 weeks!). My goal is to be to a healthy weight some time between March & May so that we can start trying to have babies. Yes, I know, I am losing weight, only to gain it back. I know it kind of doesn't make sense. But it is what I am doing.

I am also working towards having a healthier life in general. Working for an eco-friendly company & all the crunchy granola people that work here, makes me stop & think about how natural & healthy my life is. Now I don't plan on becoming one of those nutty, crazy natural people.

The other reason I am working towards a more natural life is because Ben has issues cleaning our house. We are finding that most of the cleaners give him headaches. Even the carpet deodorizer I use will give him headaches hours after I use it. A few weeks ago, he was scrubbing the kitchen sink with Comet, had to go sit down, and sat in the sunroom where I had used the deodorizer a couple hours earlier. He had to go lay down because he was feeling so bad.

So I have been looking for natural cleaning supplies or recipes. Gaiam does sell some of the Seventh Generation cleaners so I can always buy them with my discount. I have also found this site and this site which have recipes. And then today I found a post on this blog about another company.

Of course, I have not actually started using any natural cleaners. But the only reason is I am fully stocked on my normal cleaners right now. And we can not afford for me to throw it all away & buy all new. So as I finish a cleaner up, I am going to replace it with something non-toxic.

Then maybe someday my husband will be able to help clean the house again... Oh, and we will be healthier too.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween Part 2

So I was going to post this last night but our internet was down (again). Gotta love Qwest! My goal was to post every day this month; guess I'm not off to a good start :)

Saturday night, we got dressed up & went to Milo's (a bar not too far from our house) with my sister. Milo's was having a costume contest where you could win $300 for best costume. We can always use extra money so I made a few alterations to Ben's costume in hopes he might win.

Last year, we bought him a Spartucus costume for a party we went to. He added his Broncohead to the costume & became Bronco Spartucus. But the sash was red & gold. So this year, I replaced it with an orange sash with blue sequin trim. Again he wore his Broncohead, which was complete with the olive headdress.

Well, unfortunately he did not win 1st place. Which was good because it was a $300 gift certificate to the bar. He did win 2nd place though. And won the beautiful dart board he is holding below. We are going to clean the garage this weekend so he can hang it up. In the end he won the better prize.

The evening turned out to be very fun. And we stayed out WAY past our bed time. My sister's best friend from high school, Carmien, was there. They had not seen each other in about 4 years so they spent time catching up. And Carmien's boyfriend was someone I knew in high school so it was interesting to hear about people I haven't talked to in over 10 years.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! Yes, I am one of those people that dressed their dogs up for Halloween.... I know. I know. But the costumes were just too cute to pass up. So I had to buy them. Lily lasted in hers for about 10 minutes but Sammy lasted in hers for over an hour.

We also dressed up. Just not tonight. Hopefully I will have pictures to post tomorrow of Ben & me in our costumes. Tonight we had about 10 trick-or-treaters. Not too bad considering there are no children on our block.

Here are a few more pictures of the dogs:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My office

I have been working on making my part of the basement a more workable office. One thing I was lacking is somewhere to hang my inspiration & trend photos. Normally I make trend boards on foam core but I have no where & no way to hang them up. So I had to come up with another way to display.
When we moved to our new building at work, each person with an office got a full wall of cork tiles. So they had a bulletin board the size of an entire wall. So I thought about buying an over sized bulletin board to hang up. They were more expensive than I wanted to spend, but I found cork tiles of my own. Perfect!
So I bought some & hung them on the wall above my desk. Of course, the sticky pads they came with didn't work. The tiles kept falling off. So I finally glued them to the wall last night. And, presto! I had a reusable trend/inspiration board.
And yes, I drew the pictures hanging on either side of the board. The desk is an old student desk. It came from the elementary school my great-great-aunt went to. And my grandfather painted it blue. Some day I plan to strip it & stain it back to it's original color, which was a dark mahogany/cherry color. Someday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wedding Quilt

So my dear, sweet sister-in-law, Ellen, made us a beautiful quilt for our wedding. We got it during their visit in July. We have been using it for a few weeks now that the weather is cooling off at night. I finally got around to taking a couple of pictures of it this weekend. So while the bed was made & there were no animals on it, I tried to figure out how to get the best shot.

It is a difficult quilt to take of picture of that does it justice. It fades from light at the top to dark at the bottom. But since our bed literally takes up the whole room, it was hard to get the effect. But, trust me, it is a beautiful piece of work.

And she took the time to add 2 calla lilies appliques at the bottom corner. They are my favorite flower, so it was quite appropriate. The quilt pattern is a cool, funky swirl pattern which also fits me perfectly.
So thank you, Ellen, for the beautiful wedding gift. We really do love it & really are using it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


So we have a little football pool going on at work. Each week we pick who will win a game (normally the Sunday night game) and how many points total scored. The winner gets a non-alcoholic drink of their choice.
So the game we bet on over the weekend was the Steelers vs Broncos. I was grumpy because I can not go against the Broncos, being the die-hard fan that I am. And after watching the embarrassment a couple of weeks ago by the Chargers, I was sure the Broncos were going to lose this one too. But I had no choice, I had to pick the Broncos.
Miracle of miracles, they actually won the game! And so the oh-so-beautiful trophy landed on my desk. It consists of a candlestick, bundt cake pan & football wrapped in foil. Isn't it lovely? Aren't I lucky to have it on my desk all week? I bet you are jealous :)

Free Beer

So Saturday night Ben, Margaret (my sister) and I went to see one of my favorite bands, Jackopierce at the Soiled Dove Underground.

The Soiled Dove is a really great place to see a concert for grownups. They have tables to sit at & a bartender that brings the drinks to you. Very chic. We of course sat up front because I did not want to be back with the talkers.

After the opening act, Creede Williams (who was hilarious & decent music too), the waitress brought me 2 extra beers "from the band". I freaked out for a little bit about why I got the free beers, since I was sitting there with my husband, but my sister suggested that it was because I was sitting front row center. And that made sense to me.

The concert was absolutely awesome. Jackopierce is my favorite band to see live. It is all acoustic but there is still so much energy. And they love Colorado, it's like a 2nd home to them. I knew every single song except for the new one. I was probably pretty funny to watch because I was literally bouncing in my seat, clapping, screaming & singing every word along with them. You know you have seen a band a few too many times when you can tell which song they are going to sing before the 1st words come out of their mouths :) This was my 11th time seeing them. (Most of those times were while I was in college though.)

Every semester they would come play at The Blue Note around finals. You had to buy tickets the day they went on sale otherwise it would sell out. I saw them every semester except for 1st semester my freshman year. There was always a bunch of us that would go & inevitably we would run into others that we knew & have a huge group up front. The concerts are some of my most memorable times from college.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New shoes

So I have a slight problem. I either have flip flops & sandals or boots to wear. I only have 1 pair of plain old shoes to wear. Which sucks right now because it is too cold for flip flops but not every day is boot weather.

So I went out last night to find a pair of shoes to add to my collection that will work during the fall transition time. And I found the most comfy new pair. Normally when I buy shoes, I end up with a blister or 10 on my feet by the end of the day. But not with these shoes. Not a single place being rubbed wrong or a single sore spot. I love them!!! And want them in every color! I totally recommend them.

(if you click on the picture above, it should be linked to more info about the shoes.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cleaning & other business

Our weekend was spent mostly cleaning & working. We desperately needed to clean since it has been a little while & I can not stand the clutter & dust any more. I even moved an old dresser into the kitchen as temporary additional storage. We desperately need more drawers because we only have one drawer for all our cooking utensils which was overflowing. You often have to shake it to get it open or closed. But now I have space for all the utensils, the kitchen towels & even a place for our napkins & place mats. Hopefully soon I will be able to find a bakers rack or some kind of hutch that a) I like, b) is not an enormous piece of furniture and c) don't have to pay out the nose for.

The other part of the weekend was spent working on Ben's new business. He & his father have been discussing for some time now about going into property investment & management. And finally on Friday they decided to go for it and put an offer on a house. The house is a 3 bed 1 bath in desperate shape. We looked at it on Saturday & I wanted to cry when we were done. The outside doesn't look too bad. The yard is dead & littered with trash. But the inside was horrendous. I still can not believe that people live like this. The entire house was stained & filthy. Paint was splattered all over the living room (even on the TV). There were so many flies in the house that there was fly tape hanging in the dining room. In the kitchen, there were gnats all over, eggs sitting on the counter & about 1/2 the cabinet doors were missing. And the back door does not have a door knob, only a deadbolt.

There were 4 kids left home alone. All probably under the age of 9. The front door was unlocked. And no one told them we were coming over to look at the house. But they were not worried or scared there were strangers walking through the house.

And the worst part was there was a bright, shiny new truck in the driveway. These people were taking better care of a car then a house where children lived.

I felt amazingly blessed for the environment I grew up in & live in. And sad that there are children being raised in that environment. I can not fully explain the disgusting state this house was in.

But, we find out in about 2 weeks if the bank accepted the offer. If so, I will post some pictures so you can see what it looks like.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Brand name

So my business needs a new name. Another woman has already taken susu designs & is using it to design Greek wear. So I have to come up with something else. And this time get it registered so it is mine.

So I have posted a poll to see which one of the options you think sounds best. If you come up with something else that is not listed, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Thanks for your help!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Big Step

Ok, so remember the whole reason for me starting this blog? Well, I obviously have not done a very good job of working toward it, have I?. I keep letting life get in the way.


I have now taken a big step to start working on my own line. I have purchased a dress form!

I bought the smallest one in this picture. One of me reasons for procrastination was not having a professional way to photograph my clothes. I found these on ebay for only $80 (including shipping). It is something to help me get started; I will get a fancier one when later when I have made a little money from my business.

So there will now be more posts about my designing & links to where I am selling.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Before & After

We have spent the last couple of months working on our front yard. We had a total of 13 evergreen bushes, some of which were dying and some were too big for the space they were planted in. Oh, and Ben & I are not big fans of THIS many evergreens.

So here is a before picture that was taken on August 19. Notice the abdundance of green bushes, but brown yard :)

And here is the after taken this morning. I wanted to wait until my mums had started to bloom so there was a little bit of color. I love how you can see the rocks now. Before, the bushes were so big, you could not see all the beautiful rocks. Oh, and look how green our yard in now all thanks to the fixed sprinkler system.

We still have some more work to do before this project is actually finished. We have 30 years of needles to clean up in some places still. And all of the beds need to be cleaned out & re-edged. The yard needs to be re-seeded with drought tolerant & super sunny grass. And I need to plant some bulbs, flowers & other plants to add some color to the yard.

I am going to plant bulbs in the next week or so & the rest of the project will probably have to wait until spring time. Stay tuned for pictures in the spring of all the tulips, daffodils & crocuses in bloom.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"new" sewing machine

A couple of weeks ago we stopped at a estate sale & found a vintage sewing machine. I was debating on whether or not to buy it when the lady said she would sell it to us for $30. I didn't need it, but couldn't pass it up for that price. Could you? So I added it to my small collection of machines. 4 sewing machines & 1 serger.

It has been sitting in my car since then waiting for me to figure out the model number & when it was made. Finally today I did some research at lunch contacted Singer, and discovered it was manufactured on February 18, 1914 in New Jersey. Unfortunately, it is not a much-coveted featherweight (which weren't made until 1933), but is a model 66.

I did find out some interesting facts about it too:
- originally it was a treadle machine & later was coverted to electric.
- the model 66 was introduced in 1900. It was seen as the machine for the new century due to the high arm style.
- it was also the 1st machine to have a fully enclosed needlebar, round bobbin and a horizontal oscillating hook. Most modern machine still use this principle.
- the decoration on the machine is Eygptian designs which was very popular at the time.

A couple of other interesting facts I learned were:
- In 1850, Singer made the 1st practical sewing machine by changing the direction parts moved. And also used the treadle instead of a hand crank (which was how all other machines were run at the time).
- the first Singer sewing machine cost $100 (in the early 1850's!!!).

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Being in the fashion industry, I am often asked why the sizing of women's clothing varies so much. Why it's not more standard like men's.

I checked out some books from the library for work on how to grade patterns. Grading patterns is how you take a pattern that is one size and either increase or decrease it to the next size. Since I am responsible for the fit of our sizes, I want to get it as right as possible.

Well, anyway, in reading one of the books, it talked about how sizing came about & I found it interesting so I thought I would share in case you might be interested.

Women's clothing was originally based on your bust measurement, like it is in Europe. When clothing was first manufactured in America it followed this system, so if your bust measured 36", you wore a size 36. Then in the 1920's, there was a need for a younger looking garment, which was called "Missy" and adopted the 10-20 size range to differentiate itself from the women's sizes.

A California retailer of better apparel decided to change the labels on their clothes to one size larger around this time. So a size 16 was labelled a size 14. When women were asked what size they wore, the reply became "a 16 in a cheaper dress, but only a size 14 in a 'better' dress."

And this has continued to today where a size 8 has about the same measurements as a size 16 did when the size range was first introduced.

What I found the most interesting is how long ago this trend of up sizing started. Listening to the media, you would think that it was a more recent trend. But really is has been going on for almost 90 years.


So yesterday I got the best massage ever. My chiropractor recommended I get massage therapy to see if loosening the insane knot in my right shoulder would reduce the pain when I look over my right shoulder.

I was a little nervous going into it because I have always heard that massage therapy is nothing like the "spa massages" I've had. Supposedly theraputic does not equal relaxing especially if it a really deep tissue massage. But this was better than any one I've ever had.

The massage therapist happened to be blind which may have helped, I don't know. But she knew exactly how much pressure to use; never once did I wince in pain. (And she did use quite a bit of pressure.) And I was completely relaxed when she was done. This morning I felt fine when I woke up, no muscle pain. And since I drank water like a fish yesterday, I didn't even have a headache or feel sick from all of the toxins. Oh and I can look over my shoulder with only a little pain now.

It was amazing to say the least. And the other amazing part. It only cost me $20. Yes, $20 for a full hour. My "alternative" health insurance covers 50% for 10 visits a year to a out of network provider. (I love my job!) Even when all of my insurance is used up, it's only $40. Which is SO worth it. I get to go back Monday for another hour long massage. Ahhh...

Monday, September 24, 2007

143 days

So my husband made it 143 days without having to visit an ER!!! For him this is a good streak. We visit the ER every 3 or 4 months or so. His last visit was in May for a vasal reaction.

Well last night we paid the Porter ER a visit. After eating a few ginger snaps for dessert, Ben's tongue started to itch, then his throat started to itch. Thinking it was allergic reaction, but not a big deal, we went to King Soopers to buy some Benadryl. As we are leaving the grocery store, he gets really dizzy & disoriented. He ends up sitting on the curb waiting while I go and pull the car up. By the time we get him in the car, he is starting to have a hard time swallowing & breathing.

They pumped him full of Benadryl, Pepcid & prednisone along with 2 liters of fluids to stop the reaction. The dr said the back of his throat was swelling & we would have ended up at the ER last night no matter what. And after 5 hours we were finally allowed to go home.

He is feeling better today, just tired. And he has to take the prednisone for 3 more days while his body finishes processing whatever he is allergic to. Now to figure out exactly what he is allergic to so we can avoid this in the future...

I have asked him if we can try & go at least 6 months this time without having to visit the ER. I know it's going to be hard since he loves the ER so much, but 3 visits in one year already seems like enough, don't you think?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Military Neck

So I went to Ben's chiropractor on Tuesday because my shoulder has been bothering me for a few weeks. I have been talking about going ever since I started my new job. I have alternative health insurance (in addition to regular) that covers chiro work, acupunture & massage. Ben finally made me an appointment after listening to me talk about it doing if for almost 2 months.

On Tuesday, the chiro looked at my back & took some x-rays. Yesterday I went back to find out what the diagnosis was & get my first adjustment. I found out that I am competely out of whack. I have what is called "military neck". My neck is perfectly straight but should be curved like a banana. And my spine is twisted to the right at about my shoulder blades. And my right hip is twisted forward. Basically when I am laying on my stomach my right leg doesn't lay as flat as the left one. Ben could even see it.

So I am officially out of whack. But luckily it is all fixable. And it should help relax the muscles in my back so I don't feel quite so tense all the time. I had my 1st adjustment yesterday. It is a very weird sensation. It doesn't exactly hurt but is not the most comfortable thing in the world either. He pushes & twists with a good amount of pressure. My shoulder felt better as soon as he was done. And my leg laid flat too.

I used to not believe in chiropractic work because of all the bad stories you hear, but I am now a believer. After what it has done for Ben in a matter of a few months & what it did for me after 1 treatment. I look forward to seeing how I feel in a couple of months when I am all back to normal.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Sammy Lou!!!

Sammy is our new puppy. She is a 3 month old Border Collie mix that we adopted from the Boulder Humane Society over the weekend. We were not intending on getting such a young dog, but the other dog we looked at did not get along well with Lily so we ended up with a puppy. Lily & Sammy get along great. They chase after each other in the back yard. And Sammy follows Lily around wherever she goes. The cats ignore her for the most part & she hasn't completely figured them out yet.

Lily spoiled us because she was already pretty much house broken when we adopted her (thanks to the foster family she was with until she was old enough to be adopted), but Sammy needs a little more work. When she has to go, she will just go but it won't take too long to train her to go outside.

Here's another cute picture. So far we only have 2 pictures of her since she moves fast & doesn't sit still for long.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What the hell is that?!?

I'm sure you are asking yourself that same question. What the hell is that crazy looking thing? It is a dragon fruit. When I am in Vietnam it is one of the things I like to eat most, but I have never seen one here. So last night, I was very excited to find them at my grocery store. I was almost skipping through the store to show Ben. Of course, I was not so happy to find out the price ($6.99) but I decided that it was OK this one time since there was not one single item of un healthy or junk food in the cart.

So what does the inside of this fruit look like?
Normally the ones I eat are white inside with the seeds, but this type is fuchsia. All you have to do is peel off the outside layer & then you can eat it. The flavor is slightly bland, so it is better with other fruit. (Kind of like a kiwi, but a little more bland.) In Vietnam, I normally ate it with oranges or pineapple.

So I made a yummy fruit salad of pineapple, kiwi, raspberries & dragon fruit. I bought a whole pineapple & cut it up too! It was a pain until I remembered the really cool knife my stepmom gave me fore my birthday, which made it much easier. And the other cool knife. Doesn't it look tasty?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

White pants

So I did something last night that I have never done in my life.... I bought white pants. Really they are long shorts (the ones that hit at the knee). I have not owned white bottoms since I was allowed to choose my own clothes (which was middle school-ish).

Why did I suddenly buy white shorts then? Saturday morning we are going to play golf & I have no golf-appropriate attire. The only shorts I could find that were remotely flattering & in my size were white. They were on sale, so I bought them. Now the question is, will I wear them any time other than playing golf????

Friday, August 3, 2007

Why do I love my new job?

This is why I love my new job. Yesterday I came in to these flowers on my desk. My boss just wanted to show me how happy she is I am here. Now mind you, she tells me this at least once a day, every day. But she went out of her way before work to do something nice for me.

The job itself isn't really much different. I am still fitting garments & telling the factory how to change them. I still sit in front of my computer almost all day. But the difference is the amount of work. It is 1/2 what it was at Spyder & because the product is simpler, I can spend more time going into incredible detail on it. I am able to do my best now, not just whatever-it-takes to get the work done. And the other difference is that I am appreciated & respected for what I can do.

And the office is nicer looking and clean. My trash is emptied every day. My cube is vacuumed every day. The bathrooms are cleaned every evening AND during the day. There are plants everywhere. All of this makes you OK with coming to work. I don't dread walking in every morning.

Oh yea, and there is the benefit of yoga twice a week. And since I don't feel so overwhelmed, I can do the yoga & go for walks the other days. I actually now take the time to breathe & walk away almost every day. (It's a hard habit to break though, some days I have to force myself still.)

Since I am no longer so mentally exhausted when I leave work, I now have the time & energy to go out with friends that I have neglected for 4 years. I can clean my house & do yard work in the evenings so I can enjoy my weekends more. I am able to relax over the weekend & feel refreshed Monday morning.

I am still trying to break the horrible habits I developed while working at Spyder. And it is hard now that I have spare time because I don't know what to do. I have to rebuild friendships & remind myself that it is OK to focus on other non-work things.

But coming into to flowers yesterday made me really think about how much better my life has been this last month. All because I changed my job. I wish I had realized how bad it was before & done this sooner!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Am I a dork? You decide...

So today I had to bring a bunch of books into work. Cade is using my backpack for day camp, so I had to find another bag that would work. Grocery bags wouldn't work because they are heavy textbooks. So I went to my closet to see what other bags I own that might work. And what would better to use than my old Esprit bag?

Yes, I have kept my Esprit bag for 16 years now. It is black with lovely 80's multi-color lettering. It was the 2nd one I owned & is still in pretty good condition. My 1st one was fuchsia with white lettering. The last time I used it was in 8th grade when they were the "cool" thing to carry.

So now you get to decide whether or not I am a complete dork for keeping it. And would I be an even bigger dork if I started using it for my excersise bag???

(Oh, and in case you are wondering, Esprit still makes the bag, go here to see!)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today is Cade's 7th birthday. When asked to smile for the camera this morning, this was what I got. Yesterday we had a small party for him, a friend from day camp & few family members. The theme was, of course, Spiderman. He even had a black spiderman head pinata. The cake unfortunately was not very good. We ordered it from Whole Foods, because Ellen had really good cake from there a couple of weeks ago. The cake was only about 3/4" thick & had about 1/2" of frosting on it. We will not be getting a cake from there again.

Today at day camp, Cade took cupcakes to share for lunch. And while having his afternoon popcicle, the lead singer from Papa Roach joined them for their snack. Why he was there, we're not really sure. Cade said he was bringing his son to the pool. Very random.

And tonight for dinner we had Noodles. (No, I did not choose it, he did.) He even passed up going to Dave & Buster's to go to Noodles. I know, he's a little strange.

Here is his favorite present: And he also got some decals to add to his bedroom wall. So now he has glow-in-the-dark buildings with Spiderman flying across them. Now I think I need to add some webs to the wall...

I will get our website updated in the next few weeks with more pictures. (First, I have to figure out what my husband did to get his real estate page there instead of our personal page...)

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm going to hurt tomorrow

So one of the cool benefits I get at work is weekly yoga classes at lunch. They are Wed & Fri. (Pilates is on Mon, but I'm not up for that yet.) I did my first yoga class today. Fridays the class is held outside by the lake. Luckily today it is not too hot, only 86, and there was a little bit of a breeze the last 15 minutes or so. The class was small only 9 people and the instructor.

I forgot how much I enjoy doing yoga. I love the relaxed, yet energized feeling that you have at the end of class. And the teacher was fabulous. She was one of those spiritual, earthy teachers. All through class she was talking about how these poses were tying us to nature, pull the energy from the sun & ground ourseleves in the dirt. I used to think teachers like her were crazy, but after having peppy cheerleader-type teachers, I found I enjoy yoga better with the crazy teachers.

Of course, since it has been 4 years since I regularly did yoga, I am going to hurt like crazy tomorrow. Guess I will just have to get up & do one of my videos.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


So my genius husband never blew out our sprinkler system. One cold December day the back flow valve broke & we had a slight geyser in our front yard. So I have spent the entire spring & summer without a sprinkler system.

Since it takes about 4 hours to water my entire front & back yard, it didn't happen very often. So now I have a very lovely dead grass/dandelion yard. It really a joy to look at :)

We were finally able to bring out the sprinkler guy. After only $161, we now have a sprinkler that works again!!!

AND he says if we start watering it daily then it should actually get green again THIS year. I don't have to wait until next spring to have a green yard again. Yippee!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sick Kitty :(

Last night we came home from dinner to a house that smelled like shit. Literally. I thought that I has smelled something when I came home from work, but couldn't find anything so I figured it must have been outside.

While Cade was getting ready for his bath, Ben found the reason for the smell.... Poor Bailey did not feel good & had gotten sick on the dressing room floor.

After getting the room cleaned & the litter box cleaned, I headed to the grocery store for some fresh litter, an additional litter box & some of those cat wipes. We tried to use the wipes to clean Bailey, but she HATED it & hissed and clawed until she wiggled away from us. We both have the marks to prove how much she disliked it.

Since she still was not clean, I decided she needed a bath because there was no other way to get her clean. It was the first time I had ever given a cat a bath. Having heard horror stories, I was ready for the worst. I suited up with my cleaning gloves & Ben went to find the kitty. Miraculously she did better than expected. As long as only her back paws were in the water, she didn't squirm much & I was able to get her clean. I had the faucet on the whole time & she even played with the running water a little.

And since Ben held her so she could not see me cleaning her, I was able to dry her off with ease. She felt safe & happy that she was out of the water.

Since no blood was drawn during the bathing experience, I will now be torturing my kitties with baths a couple times a year :)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Happy Anniversary to me, Happy Anniversary to me...

Today was Ben's and my 1st anniversary. So what does one do on a one year anniversary? Well, I cleaned the house & Ben did an open house. We did have fun in the afternoon though. We went to the driving range & spent about an hour hitting golf balls. Then we got ready to go out to dinner.

Not very exciting I know. We plan on celebrating in August after Cade goes back to Delaware, though.

For dinner, we were originally going to go to our favorite steak restaurant, Steak House 10. But they are not open on Sundays. So we went out for Italian instead. The restaurant that we went to is called Gaetano's. It has been in Denver since the 1930's. The food was very delicious.

And for dessert we get to have wedding cake. The place we got our cake from gave us a free 1-year anniversary cake so we do not have to eat freezer burned cake.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Fireworks & Work

We got to see an amazing fireworks show last night! We went to Progress Park again. It's a small park in Arapahoe County, right by Pirate's Cove. We were watching a show a few miles away when all of a sudden there was a HUGE boom behind us. I jumped about 3 feet into the air & the show began. We were so close that the shell casings & carbon bits were landing on us. When you are that close, the fireworks are amazing!!!!

I started my new job today. It is going to be a much more manageable position where I can actually do a good job, not just whatever it takes to get the job done. I have the world's smallest cubicle for the next month until my dept moves into a separate building. So far it seems good...

And here are a few pictures of the floors now that the furniture is all in place. The dining room floor still needs the gunk cleaned up & to be polished. But otherwise, I am happy with how they turned out. The added bonus is that the front of the house is no longer 8 million degrees; it has dropped to about 5 million degrees! That's what I get for having a west-facing house. though :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

It's legal

I am now legally Susan Edna Grisinger. I spent the morning at the DMV & Social Security office getting my name changed. The DMV wasn't too bad. I won't know how the picture came out until my new lisence arrives in the mail....

The Social Security office was another matter. I was not there for long, maybe an hour, but it smelled bad, the air conidtioning was barely on & everyone was complaining about how long it was taking. When I came home all I wanted to do was take a shower.

In other news, both bedrooms to our condo are now painted. We chose a very nice neurtal called "Antique White". It looks great with the white trim & cherry floors. We had a couple look at it last night to do a lease to buy option. Hopefully they liked it & do not want us to paint the rest of it. But we are offering to paint it all in the antique white if needed. What do you think of the color?

On Sunday, we went 4x4 in Georgetown up Saxon Mountain so that we could get out of the heat. The car read 107 degrees on our way up!!! It was an easy trail with many tight switch backs so that my sister could work on her 4x4 skills. We made it about 1/2 way up the trail before Cade was feeling sick so Margaret (my sister) turned her Jeep around so we could head back down.

Here is a very pretty view while we were stopped so I could unlock my seat belt. Riding on a rocky road in the back seat while being busty is not fun. I have a bruise on my shoulder from the seat belt. This was about the only picture that came out clear. It's kind hard to hold a camera steady while driving over rocks :)

These are 2 rocks that my sister expertly maneuvered around without getting a single scratch on her beautiful red Jeep.

And here is where we took a right instead of a left & had to turn the Jeep around. The road became even too steep for the ATV'ers that came up behind us. They helped Ben turn the Jeep around. Where the guyin the white shirt is standing is pretty much the edge of the cliff. I didn't think to take picures of the steep hill or how high we were until we were back on the highway home. After a 12 point turn or so, we had the Jeep turned around & Maragret drove us back down the mountain.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The floors are done...

well almost done. We still have the 2 hall closets & both bedrooms to tackle at some point. But the majority of it is done.

There was only one minor freak out when I started pulling up the carpet in the living room & found raw wood. The carpet was already cut, so it had to come out no matter what, so we started ripping & found the raw spot was about 1x3 feet.

I'll post pictures tomorrow after I get the floors mopped again & furniture in place. They were NASTY!!! For 55 year old floors, they look pretty darn good though; much better than the "realtor beige" carpet we had before.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What to do on vacation?

So Friday was my last day at Spyder. I worked like crazy, didn't take lunch & got almost everything I planned on done. There wasn't much said about me leaving on Friday. My big boss even left without saying goodbye. A few of us did go out for drinks after work, which was fun & relaxed me a little bit. But it wasn't until today that I was really excited about my new job & stopped being quite so stressed.

Saturday night Cade got here. Here's a picture of him on Sunday morning:

Yes, he has a mohawk. AND, the it is red, like red red, not hair red. We were both a little shocked by it. He really loves it & doesn't seem to mind people looking at him. And since he is a really shy kid, that's a good thing.

So the question everyone has been asking me is: what are you going to do on vacation? I've been asked if I am going to just relax or maybe do a little sewing. I, of course, have a laundry list of things I would like to do in the next 9 days (besides get my house clean & spend time with Cade & Ben):

  1. rip out the carpet in front part of our house
  2. paint both bedrooms at the condo (and possibly the whole thing, we haven't decided)
  3. organize my laundry room
  4. organize my garage
  5. go to Social Security & get my name changed
  6. get a new driver's liscence with my new name
  7. finish a baby quilt
  8. weed my rose garden
  9. organize my closet
  10. get Quickbooks set up for Ben's real estate

So far, it has started out great. After we dropped Cade off at day camp, Ben came home & worked while I began on the carpet. The carpet was brand new when we moved in a year ago & I have already cleaned it 2 separate times. The old owners had a "sick" cat that had peed in the house, and since the carpet padding was not replaced, the anilmals could smell the urine & would sometimes pee. I have cleaned the carpet 2 separate times to no avail, so since I had the time off, it was the 1st priority on the list.

Here's a couple of pictures before:

Here is the hallway after it was all finished. We found a bunch of nails hammered in one area. We think they were trying to prevent the floor from squeaking. (didn't work, it still sqeaks!) We are debating whether to remove them & fill the holes now or wait until we refinish the floors & fix the holes then .

And here is the dining room partially done. We had to stop because the sun was setting & it was too hot to work in the there. (Our houses faces west, so it was broiling!) Only dissapointing thing we found was some residue by the kitchen door. It looks like something was glued to the floor, like a rug. (Guess I now need to add to my list to remove glue from floor.)

Tomorrow we plan on tackling the living room & finishing the dining room. And by we, I mean, mostly me because Ben has a doctor's appointment tomorrow & has to do a bunch of real estate stuff. But he will help after that is done. So tomorrow there should be pictures of my clean, lovely hardwood floors.