Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A deeply personal note regarding miscarriage

A year ago today, my fears were confirmed... at just over nine weeks pregnant, I was having a second miscarriage.  That day was one of the hardest days of my life.  I had been experiencing symptoms of the diagnosis for about a week, but the nurses just kept telling me to put my feet up and drink more water when I would call in asking to be checked.  I had just seen the little blip and heard the heartbeat two and half weeks earlier... how could this be happening again?  The next day, I had a D&C and started the healing process.  The physical healing was nothing compared to the emotional and mental mess I needed to deal with over the next few weeks, months, and still even a year later.  "One breath, one minute, one day at a time" became my mantra.

As unlucky as we all were, I was very fortunate to have a strong group of women who helped each other through our darkest days.  We had all been part of a birth group on BabyCenter.com, and as those first few weeks came and went, several of us were given the same heartbreaking outcomes of our babies that would have been born just before Christmas.  Many of us have stayed in touch through Facebook, and many of these women have gone on to have rainbow babies or are due to very soon (and that's why you see so many baby gifts on this blog!)

Anne, Maggie, Stephanie, Melissa, Carrie, Stef, Katie, Patti, Nadine, Janna, Tana, Marla, Megan, Lori, and Felicity, thank you all for the strength you've brought me this year, the hours of talks, the libraries of advice, and the love.  I love you all with every part of my being!

I made a promise to all of you a very long time ago to talk more about this to the people who have been lucky enough to have never had this kind of suffering, and I feel like I've let you down.  I tried, writing a couple of articles for online news sites, starting a blog that I never took public, submitting pieces to magazine essay contests, talking to friends in real life who didn't know.  I think my own... shame, I guess, is still what's held me back.  In your honor as we all come up on our anniversary dates, I share the most read blog I had written with a wider audience.  Hugs to all of you and to those of you with new bundles of joy - lots of snuggles and kisses to your rainbows too!

Originally written on May 15, 2012...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boho Willow Randomness - Week in Review

I really don't feel like I got much outside of work accomplished this week, but when I uploaded the pictures from my camera this morning, they told a very different story. I love Spring and the extra hours of daylight we get after months of dark-before-I-even-get-home-from-work! It started with changing mini blinds to bamboo shades and progressed from there!

I also spent some time last weekend creating a scroll tree for a nursery of a great friend who's expecting a baby girl in August.  This was tons of fun to make and tested my abilities with the Silhouette Portrait and vinyl.  I got this from the online Silhouette store:
... and created this lovely tree with lots of extras - leaves, butterflies, ladybugs, birds, and flowers - out of vinyl:

Can't wait to see photos of it up on the wall because it's very hard to see through the transfer tape.

Monday morning as I left for work, I decided to take my camera with and I got some great photos of Lancaster Co. as I drove through.  The first one is my absolute favorite farm as far as beauty goes.  The field is usually filled with horses as well, but they must have been relaxing in the barn that day.

This spot just begs to be photoed every time I drive by.

You can't drive through town without running into at least one Amish buggy.  If you do, you're not trying hard enough.

I had linked up to the Give Me the Goods link party hosted by Rain on a Tin Roof and 4 other bloggers on Monday, and found this great recipe that had also been linked by Todd & Lindsey, so I had to try it out.  Snickerdoodles are my favorite cookie, and with just a few simple items, yumminess, including my first try at buttercream icing, was born.

I've not made a lot of cupcakes in my life, and I've certainly never worked with a piping bag, but these were OH. SO. GOOD.  Thanks for sharing, Lindsey!

My husband recently started to finish the garage, and with that, he had this pile of 2x4 scraps begging to be crafted.  I got out the sander and went to work!  Still not sure exactly what I'm going to do with them, but whatever it is will be great, I'm sure!

And finally, yesterday, I started a project for my co-workers also using the Silhouette and vinyl.  

We are sales managers in the Northeast, so we've been dubbed "The BEAST" because we all also do pretty well - get it?  My poor boss has five women working for him who he calls "Angels" so there you go - BEAST Angels! If you've read my blog before, you understand that I won't share the finished project until the gifts have been given - but I'll say, it was a first for me, and it's pretty darn cool.

And today, well, I'm not sure what else I'm going to get into today just yet, but using PicMonkey to change up my captions/watermarks was a new project for me so far!  As for the rest of the day, if it's something other than cleaning and grocery shopping - if I actually create anything - you know I'll be sharing!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bamboo shades aren't just for screened porches!

I hate mini blinds.  I always have. They really don't offer any style, plus we heat our house with a wood stove in the winter, so they get especially grimy and you can't clean them easily.  I have pretty bad allergies, so the less surfaces for dust and pet hair to settle, the better.  Sure, there are lots of great commercials for things that are supposed to make it really snappy, but with the wood stove, there was always a layer of grime that a static brush just didn't catch.  Once a year, twice if I felt ambitious, I would take them outside, spray them down with Crud Cutter, and they'd gleam for a few months.

Our house faces a fairly busy road too, and because of that, we also catch some road grime on the front of the house when we have the windows open.  Not covering the windows wasn't really an option, and though I like wood blinds, I would have had the same issues with cleaning.  So, I decided on bamboo shades.  Hopefully they'll be a little easier to wipe down, plus, they bring some beautiful texture to the rooms.

I didn't grab my camera in time for a "before" in the bedroom, but I did get a "during"!  Hubby had to help me, only because he's still not sure about trusting me with putting holes in things, particularly the window frames, but they were really easy to install.  You just attach the brackets to the blinds, hold it up to the window to mark the spots, and screw them into place.  Then you hold the blind up, use the wing nut to attach to the brackets, and viola - loads to charm and texture!

The living room especially has a whole new look.  The shades have their own valance, so I decided to take down the fabric valances, though I do love them.

And in the bedroom, I lost a layer of curtains that frankly, were a pain anyway.  They had to be ironed (I'm that person that just restarts the dryer 3 times to get rid of wrinkles), and because mini blinds lack in total protection, they were starting to fade a bit. The room looks so much brighter and airy now - even though the blinds do offer substantial room darkening and privacy, even without a liner.

The only thing that needs to happen now is moving the curtain rod up a bit in the bedroom, but that's just going to have to wait for the day I decide to wake up and repair and paint.  Next up, though, is refinishing that TV cabinet in the living room!

What do you think?  Are you a fan of bamboo?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lancaster's Central Market - A True Gem

I have said before that driving in downtown Lancaster (Lancaster City as it's known around here) is a bit like playing Frogger.  With the two lane, one way streets lined with parked cards that aren't always parked on the side, rather, right in the flow of traffic, the pedestrians that ignore the proper way to cross streets, and the constant construction, most residents that don't live within city limits - that I know, anyway - of Lancaster County, avoid going "into the city" as much as we can.  However, three days a week, there is something that's worth playing the game and it's right in the middle of the hustle and bustle - "going to Market" at the Lancaster Central Market.  

Central Market has been around since 1730 and as such, is the country's oldest farmer's market.  Market has been in it's current building since 1889, and the architecture alone makes it worth a visit.  But, it's indoors, so it's open year round with over 60 vendors who sell everything from fresh produce, smoked meats and cheeses, several ethnic delicacies with prepared foods, fresh flowers, crafts, breads, coffee, tea, spices, of course Amish wares, and even dog treats - and I'm sure I've barely scratched the surface.  The current directory of vendors can be found here. Many of the choices are organic as well - which is a huge plus.  A number of these businesses have brick and mortar locations and websites, but they still come to Market for the many loyal customers that visit each week.  On Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, the market is a wonderful place to grab lunch, prep for dinner, or just do your grocery shopping.  I recently visited Market on a very quiet day - you usually can't even move through the aisles without saying "excuse me" every 2 seconds - and took some photos to entice you to visit Lancaster County, and when you do, you must visit Central Market.  (Picture heavy!)

The main entrance is along a cobblestone walkway and tucked into the middle of the block.  I wish this truck hadn't been parked where it was...

Once inside, there is a balcony tucked into a corner that you can see the entire space from above.  The first thing you see is the pride in the Market and reminders of it's charm.

My first stop is usually for a cup o' joe at Lancaster County Coffee Roasters...

I pick up some produce from Barr's Farms, incidentally, the actual farm isn't far from my house.  I believe this stand has been operated by generations of the family, as many of the stands are.

Just across from Barr's you'll find horseradish being ground on site that's used in a number of products at Longs Horseradish.  It always smells so good and you can't find anything better than this!

I usually pick up something for dinner at Country Meadows Farms where they offer local, organic, free range meats and poultry:

 I love this stand as the offerings change up based on season and freshness, and it's just so darn cute! 
        The goods at Sweet Annie produce:

Across the aisle from Sweet Annie is one of my favorite stops - The Herb Shop.  They offer many different spices, herbs, teas, salts, sauces, and rubs... the list goes on.  This stand always has a long line, so plan ahead!

There are several bread stands, but I picked up a wonderful loaf of Italian bread from Thom's Bread last trip.  Get there early before they sell out!

Buster and Mati get to enjoy some gourmet treats from Lancaster Pet Bakery every now and then - lots of yummy flavors to choose from!

What's a Market trip without some fresh flowers?  The hand picked goodies from Roher Family Farm Flowers always fit the bill.  Right next door is Tulip Tree Hill Farm where organically farmed heirloom salad fixin's are sure to please. 

And then, before I leave, I grab some lunch. There are many choices for prepared foods throughout the market. This is just a small sampling of the German, Greek, and Italian stands.  You can also find Thai, African, Middle Eastern, seafood, salads, and much more.  Oh - and of course, Pennsylvania Dutch! 

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is my love letter to Central Market, and really, Lancaster County.  When you leave Market, even out the back door, the view is just as charming as when you entered!

 What's a blog about Lancaster without a horse?

Linked up  at Alderberry Farm and Sumo's Sweet Stuff.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

FREE Studio file series - April 2013 (Mother's Day tags)

Shout out to my fellow Silhouette fanatics!

Welcome to the first FREE Studio file of the month!  With Mother's Day right around the corner, I'm offering a set of Mother's Day tags ready to print and cut that you can download by clicking on the download image below. 
I love the Print & Cut feature of Silhouette. Something about being able to create exactly what I'm seeing in my mind's eye and a short time later have whatever it is perfectly colored and cut is so... Well, you know!

I have included two sets - one with text included and a matching set without so you can enter whatever text you wish.  These work best on smooth cardstock and the 8 labels are formatted to use just one sheet.  I'd love to hear from you if you download them and that all the moms out there get some wonderful gifts of appreciation using these tags!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Project: Baby Gifts

So, as previously shared, I am part of a wonderful group of women, and most of them are either preggers or have newborns now (three rainbows and a foster baby so far!)  I have enjoyed making some special gifts for these little bundles of joy, especially with the way the relationships I have with their mamas came to be.

I got confirmation that the first of these gifts was delivered today, so I can finally share!  The first-born was Baby Gemma, and she kind of helped me kick this whole thing off.  Today, she got the package, and I got a gift!  I adore this picture, so with Mommy's permission, I share the joy with you:

Is this not the cutest smiling baby love picture ever?  

4/15 - updated with Mr. Harrison :)

Loads of inspiration

I was invited to link up to this week's Link Party hosted by Jenna@Rain on a Tin Roof and 4 other awesome bloggers.  Check it out for lots of great ideas, tips, and how-to's from these 5 awesome bloggers as well as over a hundred link ups!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fun calendar with Silhouette

To be real, this could be done with index cards, a simple word processing software, minimal scissor skills, and some ink, but if I have a machine that will cut things, I'm going to use it.

I always have to search for the date. Sure, I could just look at the bottom right hand corner of my computer screen, but that's just not pretty.  So, I found an online calendar for 2013, downloaded it in Excel, and reformatted it to make this cute little easel calendar.  I got to play with fonts and use initials and other fun abbreviations for holidays and events too!

Once the calendar was complete, I printed it on cardstock and then cut the shape on the Silhouette.  I hit the edges with a paper towel run across and ink pad, set them in the easel, and viola!  A cute, customized  way to know what day it is!

Linked up at Under the Table and Dreaming's Silhouette Project page

Friday, April 5, 2013

Baby boom! *UPDATED PHOTO!!**

I have a group of very special women in my life that all came together through a series of tragic events, or rather, a shared tragic event that we all experienced at pretty much the same time.  Almost exactly a year ago, we were all part of a "Women over 30 expecting babies in December 2012" group on babycenter.com.  Around the 5 - 8 week gestation time, several women started experiencing losses in that group, and then when I did too, I started a "Should have been mommies over 30 in December 2012" group.  There are about 15 of us who have continued to stay in touch, moving from BBC to Facebook.

We've been through one of the most difficult things a woman can go through, but we've been through it together. I have a bond with these women like nothing I have with even my oldest and dearest "real life" friends.  We've had more pregnancies, more losses, more heartbreaks month after month, and we've done it together.

It's not all sad and unhappy where we are.  Many of these women are expecting babies this year, two have had their rainbow babies, and one who has been wonderful foster mom to a little boy just welcomed his bio sister to her home as well.  Anyway, because of this baby boom we've got going on, I've been in super creative mode to come up with something for each of these angels - using my nifty Silhouette Portrait, of course.

I can't share all of the photos just yet, they'll be arriving to the giftees in the coming days, and then I will, but this one... this one has been my baby for the past week or so.  I share the backstory so that anyone reading this can understand just how much love and appreciation for life went into each of these projects I will be sharing. I've worked along with the mama on this one, so it's not a surprise like some are (and will be.)

This guy is just over 4' tall and had to be cut in 9 pieces just for the trunk... plus there are about twenty-five 5" - 6" leaves and I am just so stinking proud of myself for getting it done!  

One day I signed into Facebook and in my newsfeed, I saw that one of the ladies in my group had sent a message to someone about a tree for the wall in her soon-to-be-born baby boy's room.  I immediately asked her if I could make one instead of her buying it, and I'm so glad she allowed me to!!  It's been such a great challenge and learning experience!  Now I can't wait to see it installed - and I might just have to make the 3 hour trip to help her get it done so I can see it myself in person!  (Plus I'm a little scared to ship it!)

As much as the way these women came to be so important to me just plain sucks, I can't imagine my life today without them in it.  And I am so happy that there will be all these new babies in the world that I get to give just a little piece of creativity to!

****Updated with the tree installed!!!****

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