Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lou Boo Designs

The lovely and talented Meg Walter and I just opened a joint Etsy shop - Lou Boo Designs.  Meg is making darling sundresses and tunics for toddlers, and I'm making notecards and crocheting baby blankets.

Truthfully, could we really call ourselves Mormon women if we didn't operate an Etsy shop?  I think not.  At least, not good Mormon women anyway.  Ha.

One of the nice (i.e. not nice) things about IVF is that you feel pretty crummy a lot of the time.  The medicines I'm on right now are giving me the fun experience of dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and my personal favorite: hot flashes.  If I needed another reason to avoid getting old, I now know how much I'd like to avoid menopause.

But there is an upside to all of this.  While I'm riding the waves of the non-existent deep sea fishing expedition that I feel like I'm on, I've got a great excuse to get lots and lots of crocheting done.  I've made two baby blankets in the last 48 hours.  That's definitely a personal record (and no blisters!).

The only issue I'm running into with these recent projects is that Blake loves each of them and wants to keep them for our (non-existent) someday baby.  An imaginary baby only needs so many non-imaginary baby blankets.  So, off to the shop they go, methinks.  After I take some non-iPhone and sans-Bear pictures, that is.

So if you're feeling so inclined, check us out on Instagram @LouBooDesigns or Etsy at Lou Bou Designs.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A whale for the wall

My parents sent Blake a jig saw for his birthday earlier this month.  He's been itching to use it and has a list of things he wants to make with the wood that the previous owners left in our basement.

Last Saturday we spent the morning at the doctor's office, then rewarded ourselves by spending the following hour at Home Depot picking out a new work table and clamps.  Home Depot is sometimes the best cure for weekend ennui.  You're so busy thinking about all the possibilities that you can't think about anything else.

So after a very helpful employee spent half an hour with us explaining the merits of various work tables, we set out with the Black & Decker model along with a sawhorse and two industrial clamps that look like torture devices.

We also picked up several bags of mulch for good measure.  When we got home we were side tracked by yard work for a bit (the yard has never looked better! Time to enjoy it before the mosquitos take over.)  But once we'd dumped the last bag of mulch and clipped the last climbing vine, it was time.

Blake set up a work space in the lair (the unfinished portion of the basement really does look like a cave/hideout) and got to work drawing out samples on the boards.

Half an hour later and he had a finished whale.  He'd drawn it himself, cut it out, sanded down the edges and sanded off the ugly stain.  Bada bing, bada boom. That's an attorney with some weekend pizzazz.

Originally it was going to be made into a coat rack by adding a row of hooks, but I loved it so much that I convinced Blake that its new home needed to be on the stairwell gallery wall.  I think it goes perfectly over the two Pebble Beach photos that Blake took last year.

Unfortunately we didn't have the hardware on hand to hang it, but I did pick some up yesterday.  Now it's just awaiting the final hanging.  It's a two person job, though, so that I can be sure it's level and centered.  A weekend project perhaps?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dr. Frankenstein

I had a small surgery on Monday, so I've been off my game this week.  I'm starting to feel normal again, and am slowly working my way into the projects I'd planned for the week.

I'm currently Frankenstein-ing (it's a verb) a dresser together for the guest room.  I'm using things left from the previous owners, things I've found on eBay, and paint from good old Home Depot to create my monster - err, masterpiece.  It's turning out really well so far, and I'll hopefully be done later this week and have pictures in hand.

I've got about a thousand other projects on my list right now, but I have a feeling they'll be slowly drawn out through the summer months (and quite possible into the fall/winter knowing my track record).  We'll see how far I get.

On the top of my list is to get a violin specialist to look at my garbage-find violin.  It's 3/4 size and is an E. Martin Sachsen Stradivarius Copy.  Judging from what I've been able to find not the trust interwebs, it may actually be worth restoring.  A friend recommended Potters Violins in Bethesda, so I'm headed there soon to see what it'll take to get this fella in working order.  It's in bad shape now, but isn't it beautiful?

Friday, May 16, 2014


So here's the thing about infertility.  It's an intensely painful and deeply personal experience.  And even though I write a public blog, I do like to keep my personal life fairly personal.  But, along with painful and personal, infertility is also very lonely.

No one talks about infertility.   There's information there if you dig, sure, but it's not something that people are usually very open about. I get that.  It's hard to talk about things when you feel like you're so different from everyone else.  Like maybe everyone else has the secret to life that you just haven't pick up on yet.

I've debated back and forth for a long time on how open to be about my experiences.  Do I share and risk being embarrassed? Or do I keep quiet and perpetuate the loneliness?  Clearly, I've decided to share.  I don't want to be part of the cult of secrecy surrounding infertility.

I want to be available for friends with questions or as a shoulder to cry on (heaven knows I've cried on my fair share of shoulders so far).  I want to make infertility feel less inferior and more hopeful.

That's not to say that every post from now on is going to be medical-related.  Believe me, I'll spare you that.  I'll probably still write mostly about my dog, weird people on the metro, and good garbage finds, but I still wanted to put it out there.

If there are days when I feel like shaking my fist at the universe, you may hear about it.  If there are days when all I want to do is watch funny Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube, you may get an eyeful of those.  Then again, that's what this blog has always been.  A blog about nothing and everything and the things of little importance in-between.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

On Shutterfly and Infertility

Those of you who know me well know that Blake and I have been trying to start a family for a few years.  Those of you who don't know me're about to.

Not getting pregnant is hard.  It's hard after 6 months.  It's hard after 27 months.  It's just hard.

I guess if there's anything I've learned from this experience it's empathy.  I had never understood what heartache comes with wanting something so badly and then being betrayed by your own body.  I feel like I need to personally apologize to all of my friends who have gone through this before me.  I just didn't understand.  And it kills me that I wasn't more present for them.

And so, here we are.  After a year of poking and prodding.  After a cancer sentence and a reprieve.  After countless medicines and doctors.  After false-positive pregnancy tests and un-endurable Mother's Days.  We are here.  Starting IVF.... And alive.  Which I feel like is a feat in itself.

If there's anything to take the wind out of your sails, it's IVF.  It's a very exciting and interesting process (SCIENCE!), but it has made me feel like I'm underwater.   It's been simultaneously worse and better than I expected.  The injections aren't so bad.  Sure, they're a bit painful and I'm running out of un-pricked space on my stomach, but that's probably the least of my worries.

I spent Monday crying all day.  Why?  I have no idea.  I wasn't even sad...I was just leaking tears all day.  Darn hormones getting the better of me!  I've spent the subsequent days waddling around feeling like two sacks of marbles have been inserted into my lower stomach.  I've developed a small beer belly that's as hard as a rock.  And I feel the need to wear stretchy pants all the time.  Ahh. That's the life.

Early in the week I also received a rather timely (except the opposite of that) email from Shutterfly congratulating me on my new baby and asking if I'd like to buy baby announcements.  Thank you, Corporate America, for that slap in the face.  No wonder I prefer getting my goods through the garbage.

Honestly, I wasn't that upset by it...however, the irony was not lost on me.  I wrote a short email to the Shutterfly team asking that they re-check where they are getting their marketing data because an email like that was in rather poor taste.  i wasn't rude about it, but I just let them know to double check so that it doesn't happen to other people in my situation.

I got an email back directly from the Chief Marketing Officer with his sincere apologies.  So there's that - at least they are reachable.  Guess you haven't lost my business after all,'ll live to send me another inappropriate email.

But lest I come off sounding extremely whiney, I'm actually feeling really lucky.  I fall into that small percentage of women with "unexplained infertility," which has been frustrating at times, but it means that the doctor has no reason to think that this won't work.  And that's comforting.

I've got a husband who has been supportive and kind (even on my non-stop crying days) and who encouraged me to quit my day job to do something I love.  He has held my hair back when I've puked from procedures, bought me ice cream when I need it, listened to more information about women's bodies than he's ever wanted to know, shuttled me back and forth to appointments when I've been too stressed to drive myself, and generally been the best husband and friend a girl could ask for.

I've got family that pick up the phone just to let me cry or talk when I need a listening ear.  And family to send me flowers to brighten the days, or clothes as a fun surprise.  And family to share in our heartache and our excitement, and support us through this process.

I've got friends who have brought me meals, offered to drive me to appointments, sent me texts to check up on me, sent me encouraging emails, and forwarded funny videos to brighten my day.

I've got a home that I love in a city that I adore.  I've got a puppy that starts crying when I cry...that snuggles me when I'm sad and makes me happy with his goofy grins. I have the chance to do what I love from home even if it doesn't make much money.

I've got a team of the kindest doctors and nurses I've ever met working with me to help us start a family.

So even though I've had my fair share of bad days in the past few years, for all these reasons I feel lucky.  And blessed.  And hopeful.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The longest ode to garbage you'll ever read

The spring has been very very good to me so far.  I've been collecting so much garbage furniture that I'm running out of storage places and even turned down a dresser this morning on my walk.  Can you believe it? Me?  Turning down free furniture?

It really hurts my soul to see a piece of perfectly good furniture in the trash.  I can't stand that it'll just end up smashed in the back of a garbage truck and then chucked in a landfill.  Sometimes that's the only reason I'll pick up a piece - even if I don't like the looks of it.  But this morning when I looked at the piles around my house I just couldn't justify adding to it.  Not until I decide what to do with some of this stuff.

I've had such good luck lately, in fact, that everything I've been thinking of purchasing has shown up on the neighborhood listserv within the next couple weeks. For example, I've been lusting after a paper shredder for ages, but haven't wanted to buy one. Those ugly suckers can be expensive and there are so many other things I'd rather spend my money on.  Our "to shred" pile has been growing ominously lately (I did a file cleanse a couple weeks ago) and it was time to bite the bullet and buy a shredder.

The day after I'd come to that conclusion, what should show up on the listserv but a like-new paper shredder.  For free!  Blake and I put the Bear in the car and drove right over.  I spent the rest of the evening (I think it was a Friday night - how's that for nerdy?!) gleefully shredding my pile and oohing and ahhing over the efficiency of the shredder.

I had also planned to buy new toilet seats that weekend to replace ours because it was just time.  The day I was going to head up to Home Depot someone from church emailed the listserv saying they were re-doing their bathrooms and had a bunch of extra still-in-box toilet seats to give away.  I think Blake questioned my sanity when I told him I was going to pick up toilet seats from our neighbor's front porch, but now I'm set with brand new toilet seats for the foreseeable future.

The moral is - ask and ye shall receive.  Or think lustfully and ye shall receive (wait, that doesn't sound right?).

So, without further ado, here's some of the other garbage I've hoarded the past few weeks:

- A brass and pewter lamp straight from the 1950's.  With a more modern shade to contrast the ornate scroll-work I think it could be really awesome.

- A 1970's cane-sided recliner. The rust colored velvet (velour?) upholstery is in great shape even though the color isn't really my jam. I'm debating whether to recover or sell this sucker.  It'll take a heap of fabric because it's a recliner and there's a lot of detail work in the welting and tufting.  We'll see if I feel like I can face project.  Maybe I'll get lucky and find 10 yards of great fabric at a yard sale.  You know what they say about the power of positive thinking...

- A hand-quilting frame.  My neighbor (who is a member of not one, but several quilting guilds) had an extra one and I snatched it up.  For now it's hanging out in my front window.  Gorgeous, I know.  It's not for me, of course, but to donate to the church.  We do quilting service projects a couple times a year at church and only have two frames, so it'll be nice to have another one on hand.  And again: FREE.  You can't beat that.

- And last, but not least, is a brand new Atari gaming system for the iPad.  I think I'll probably give it to my nephews, but am keeping it on hand until after my parents come visit in June. I think they'll get a kick out of it.  I'm not much of a gamer, but I do think it's cool looking and it takes almost no space to store, so for now it stays.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nosh and Celebrate

A look at last week's dinner menu:

Blake was out of town for work, so I just ate odds and ends.  I tend to do that when left to fend for myself - usually meals consist of vegetables dipped in hummus and bread with cheese.  It's simple, but it keeps me happy.

Spicy Sriracha Chicken & Quinoa Bowl

*Verdict: This is quickly becoming one of our favorite dishes. It's quick and delicious and fairly healthy.  It is great the next day as leftovers for lunch, too, which adds to its appeal.

Caribbean Jerk Salmon Bowl with Mango Salsa

*Verdict: WOW. I'm adding this to our rotation for sure.  It tasted light, fresh and extremely flavorful.  I think it's the perfect way to use an inexpensive (frozen) piece of Salmon.  The jerk spices take away any of the fishy taste that a cheaper piece of fish may have.  Win-win!

Avocado Chicken Enchiladas
Spicy rice and beans
Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Verdict: The Avocado Enchiladas are at the top of Blake's list and he requested them specifically for his birthday dinner.  I'm not sure if that says something about how good they are, or just how mediocre the Mexican restaurants are around here, but either way I call it a success.  I substitute plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream in the sauce and you can't tell the difference.

And ok.  This dark chocolate sorbet?  Run, don't walk, to your nearest grocery store to buy the ingredients.  It's the most chocolatey dessert you'll ever taste - Blake declared it his new favorite dessert of all time.  We served it with fresh raspberries and Heath Bar pieces.  It is decadent to the extreme.  I wish I'd taken pictures because it turned out beautifully, but we ate it all before I thought to do so - it was that good.

On another food-related, but not cooking note: I wanted the birthday celebrations to start out nice and early, so we started the morning off right by having Blake blow out candles on a stack of donuts.  There's nothing quite like waking up to a chocolate donut pile, am I right?

And because we wanted it to be an even 20,000 calorie day, we met up for lunch downtown at Taylor Gourmet for a Race Street and a bag of jalapeƱo chips.  It doesn't get much better than that.  A day full of food and celebrating my Blake.  That's my idea of a good time.