Friday, December 30, 2011


My fellow bloggers are writing year in review posts, so since I'm flying solo tonight I figured it might be fun to look back at what I've blogged about this year. I tried to pick one post for each month, but some of them I had to choose two, and some I didn't have any-when I was recovering from surgery.
Always the first part of the year for us....Supercross. This year we went to the inaugural event at Dodger Stadium. We won't ever make THAT mistake again! Trying to save driving time came back to bite us because Angel's Stadium has a bajillion reasons why they host Supercross better than Dodger Stadium. Now we know! It's always SO fun, we've gone for years and when you're familiar with the riders it makes it exciting even for a girl. ;)
One of my favorite things to do with our extended family...fondue! I hosted a fun Family Valentine's Fondue Night. Why not show the people you love how much you love them?
One night in March, while watching tv on the couch after putting the kids to bed, I got the call I never expected. My dad, who had JUST beat colon cancer months earlier, had died. When people who have been though it tell you to never waste a minute of your life with your loved ones....believe them! I still push it to the side of my mind. I know it really did happen, but I still don't feel like it happened. To have your dad pass away in his recliner in front of the tv because of some sudden killer (stroke, heart attack, blood clot, we'll never know) is too unreal to believe. You may go to bed tomorrow and wake up to a completely different world than you know this minute. Like I said, believe me. I treat his cancer like a gift. That may sound strange, but the only suffering he did was throughout the surgery and recovery. He didn't need chemo or anything beyond removal of the cancer. It was a gift because we all got to say our goodbyes before he went in to that surgery. It was a gift because I got to see him that last time. They never made their next trip to visit me, he died three months before they were going to come to California. I am SO thankful that I went to Ohio for his surgery and got that last hug goodbye the day after his surgery, in his hospital bed, before heading home. I MISS YOU DADDY!

I didn't blog about this, but only a few short months later, my closest friends {literally our families have been best friends since I was 1} also lost their dad in a shocking way. It's still too much for me to bear. I still have his email saved that he sent me after my return from Ohio, offering to do anything for me I needed. Sitting in his memorial I relived our entire lives with our families joined as close as any two families could be. I just wanted to lock myself in my room the rest of the day and cry till I had no more tears left. Hearing taps twice. Seeing the flag folded twice. Gasping for air that cannot get into your lungs fast enough. In many ways our dads were very similar and in many ways they were different. I remember their dad singing to us constantly, not surprising since he was a musician. I remember him tucking us in on any of our 4 billion sleepovers. I think at this point in the mourning process, I can honestly say that thinking of either of them makes me cry the same amount. If it weren't for his family, my family wouldn't exist. It was because of his daughters that I visited California as a teenager (after they moved here from Ohio), met my future husband, and eventually moved here, got married and had kids. God has knit our lives together in such beautiful ways it blows my mind if I think about it too long.

We were blessed by being able to take our annual trip to the happiest place on earth. There is nothing better than Disneyland. (except when the bones in your knee are touching) ;)I decided to build us a headboard after being inspired by The Idea Room's blog. I LOVE our headboard and people can't believe that I made it.
I got the BEST birthday gift ever! My first very own, non-hand-me-down power tool! This bad boy means business! I'm so thankful my dad wasn't afraid to teach me how to use my hands. I still remember being in our basement as a child, my dad teaching me how to solder. Not surprising since he was a welder on the ships in the Navy, and even taught welding classes for them when he was stationed in San Diego. My dad could fix ANYTHING. He instilled the mentality in my head over and over again, that you do something RIGHT, and you do it WELL. If it doesn't work the first time, you try it again a different way until you MAKE it work. My old black box of drill bits and old drill that my mom sent me after he died are my most prized possession of his and I use them ALL the time.
My girlfriends and I were able to sneak away for two nights in Long Beach. I think we may have burned more calories laughing than we ate! And if you knew how much we ate, you'd know that's saying something!
I'm nothing if not determined when it comes to decorating on the cheap. I asked at Restore if they had a pallet I could buy, and they told me I could go to their old location and take as many as I want for free. So, that's what I did...all by myself, heavy, spiders and all. Nothing a pressure washer can't handle.

I can't leave out Cami's pink poodle in Paris party. It turned out so beautiful.Ok, I'm STILL in disbelief over this next one. My husband and I, and two of our friends, got to see U2's 360 tour LIVE. I will never look at Angel's Stadium the same way again. When U2 comes on my pandora station (several times a day), I still get butterflies in my tummy remembering how unbelievable the concert was. I may have to cross this one off of my bucket list twice if they ever schedule another tour in California. I'm concert-ruined for life because no band will EVER top this one in my book.
I love this acid mirror that my chivalrous husband helped me with so that I wouldn't burn my skin off with the acid. What a guy. ;)
I bought a Italian table off of Craigslist, refinished it, and refinished thrift store chairs to make a whimsical dining set. Yep, I still love it.
I planned a dessert table for my girls' swim teacher's birthday. These colors are just something I can't get over. I love how it turned out.

During the summer, I did a ladybug themed party for a dear friend. It turned out great, AND it turned out into a family beach weekend since I had to travel for it. Sa-weet!I just really love my rustic shelf and old window frame, and I like how it turned out for fall. ;)
A week before my major knee surgery, I ran around in the heat working on a big rustic wedding. I worked on it for months, and it ended up beautiful.
"The Journey" post was probably the hardest and most time consuming blog post I've ever written. It is the complete, A to Z journey of the most challenging months of my life. If you've ever been in so much physical pain that it temporarily removed your fear of if it actually killed you because it would mean an end to the pain, then you would understand it. I can rejoice in my suffering now, because through it I was able to train deeper in godliness.
My favorite December post would have to be these gifts I made for Christmas. I'm dying to make myself one.
Well, that was time consuming but fun to look back through the year. I don't really understand it when people say "this year has been terrible, bring on 2012!" because this has definitely been the hardest year of my life. Losing my dad, losing the closest thing I had to a second dad, suffering intensely throughout my surgery, complications, and recovery for months. I've never dreamed of a harder year, but isn't it still full of blessings? I don't want to forget this year and what it's taught me. I feel like the steps that I've taken forward could not have been taken had the challenges not forced me to do them. Would I rather have my dad back? Of course! BUT, I don't believe wishing away a bad year makes the next year any easier. It's just a new set of 365 opportunities. Opportunities to grow. Opportunities to show love to others. Opportunities to serve someone else. Opportunities to reach levels of peace you never knew possible. Opportunities to train your body and your mind to be disciplined. It's 365 gifts wrapped up with a big red bow.

Taste of Orange Blossom {Almond Crusted Triggerfish}

Tonight I got to take my two girlies to be my food blogging dinner dates! You'll have to bear with my photos this time...I rely on my hubby to light up the food with his flashlight app while I snap the pics. I've found it's the best way to take food pictures in low lighting. BUT my hubby had somewhere to be tonight, so I worked with what I have. ;)
Tonight started off with my most beloved salad dressing of all time: Orange Caesar! I have to keep this in the rotation to satisfy my longing taste buds. With the three course specials, you can choose from either soup, salad, or the special salad of the day. Any way you choose, you can't lose!
The main squeeze tonight? Almond Crusted Triggerfish and Almond Prawns with Schezwan Sauce. Triggerfish is a moist, flaky white fish caught in tropical waters. It had a perfectly toasted crust of almonds. Yum, yum. I love the way Chef George doesn't just settle for one layer of flavor on anything he creates. It's not just fish, it's fish with a layer of crunchy texture, and bursting with flavor from the sauce. If you've read my blog for awhile, you KNOW my feelings on their Almond Prawns. If I could put a big red heart right here, I would, because I LOVE me some almond prawns!
It was served with Parmesan potatoes {see that giant Parmesan crisp? hello, lover!}, sauteed greens, ratatouille, and garlic bread! Seriously, without my hubby there to help me tonight, I HAD to have a box for my leftovers, it's a lot of food!
I am SO glad I tried the special dessert tonight. When I heard it was a Sweet Potato Tart topped with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream, I thought "huh? sweet potato?". THANKFULLY I know that if it's comin' out of OBJ's kitchen and it sounds a bit funny, just take the leap, it'll be worth it! If I hadn't been told that it was a sweet potato tart, I would have never known. Look, I'm no professional food critic, but I DO know when something makes your taste buds stand up and dance. The tart was warm, soft, sweet, with a hint of cinnamon, and topped with homemade bourbon vanilla? Sold! Seriously, I thought I was too full for dessert, until THIS hit my lips!
I'm so thankful for a place where you are not just cattle to be herded in and out, it really does feel good to go where everybody knows your name.

Check 'em out here!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chalkboards from Cabinet Doors

I've been asked how I painted these to get the distressed finish. I didn't take step by step pictures because I was super busy making Christmas gifts-too busy to blog. I went to Restore (the Habitat for Humanity thrift store) and bought a couple of plain, unfinished solid wood cabinet doors that were dying for a makeover. I'm kind of picky when it comes to the framing that I like. These were each only $5. The metal pieces you see on each side were in the drawer knob aisle, just random metal parts. Some were $0.10, others were $1. They were ugly metal, but I spray painted them black and then took some sandpaper to the edges to age them a bit.I used a paint called Green River for this one. I LOVE this color! It looks lighter in the picture because it was FREEZING outside and it fogged up my camera. ;)
After I painted the color, about 3 coats, I painted 3 coats of chalkboard paint in the center. I let it all dry overnight and then roughed up the edges with sandpaper. Then I took a bit of Valspar's antiquing glaze and wiped it quickly on and off the painted areas. You only do one side at a time, because you want to remove most of it before it gets soaked up. You're just looking to age it a bit, not turn the whole thing black.
After that, I added my metal pieces and the upside down drawer pull to hold the chalk, using Amazing E6000 glue. Keep it flat so that the pieces don't slide and let it dry overnight.
I am totally in LOVE with these, I keep searching for more materials each time I check out Restore. You never know what they'll have since it's all donated.

Taste of Orange Blossom {Smoked Pork Chop with Spicy Apple Butter}

Last Friday night we got back to our normal routine of date night, but with the holidays, I am just now getting around to posting it. We were SO happy to be back where we belong, at our favorite restaurant. We started off the night with Crabcakes. They come with a big scoop of Mashed Potatoes in the middle, and they are fantastic. Crispy edges, and filled with flavor.
The special salad was a Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing. When I say spinach, I mean the real deal, not mini-sized leaves that come from a bag. Look at that picture and TELL me that doesn't look bursting with flavor. I dare you. Ha ha.
I was THRILLED after being away for a few weeks to spend our date nights Christmas shopping and taking care of our sick kids, to see that the Smoked Pork Chop with Spicy Apple Butter was one of the specials. It might just be my absolute favorite! There is no way you can put this thing to your lips and NOT "ooh" and "ahh" over it. You have never tasted a pork chop like this, I assure you. It was served with Ratatouille, Potatoes, Sauteed Greens, and Garlic Bread.
The three course specials always come with dessert. How about a Chocolate Trauma? You can put me in the ER anytime if the trauma involves this dessert! It never, EVER gets any better than homemade ice cream. That's just ALL there is to it!
As always you can check them out here. If you don't have any plans for New Years Eve, call ahead to make a reservation, they're having a special night of live music, and a special menu. I'm sure it'll be a good time at the Junction!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Doll sleeping bag

I decided to try to make sleeping bags for my daughters' dolls for Christmas. I have been too busy to write detailed posts of the instructions, but if you're interested you can email me and I'll send you my measurements. Both the top and bottom pieces are padded with batting, and there is a sewn-in pillow. A doll has gotta be comfortable, right? ;)
They can use it for their 18 inch dolls or their favorite build-a-bear. They will be great for sleepovers! Cami's has fairy fabric on the top and Emma's will have bunnies. They will both have the same pink calico print as the bottom piece. I know they'll love them!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mini Photo Tree

I saw this idea on pinterest {where else?!} and loved it. My mother in law never gets a tree anymore because she's not home very much so it's not worth the trouble. At thanksgiving, my niece Breanna took our family photos and I got them today! I ordered some wallet size prints from Costco and LOVE the way they turned out! I used my glittered clothespins I made a few weeks ago to pin them to the branches. The metal pail is from Lowes. I think she'll love her table top tree, I can't wait to give it to her tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Frosted Glass Ornaments

I was given a couple of boxes of clear glass ornaments and I debated on several different ways to decorate them. I remembered that I still had frosted glass vinyl that came with my Silhouette bundle last year. I also had leftover fake snow from another project. You can also use Epsom Salt, and just use a funnel to pour it in.
 It doesn't get any easier than cut and stick! I used tweezers to place the letters since I used a small, fancy font.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Taste of Orange Blossom {Sesame Crusted Mahi Mahi and Chicken Skewer}

Last night we left Orange Blossom in a food coma. We both had the 3-course special and we were SO full! Yesterday was Sesame Crusted Mahi Mahi and Chicken Skewer with White Chocolate Lemon Butter! We'll get to that soon, but first of all...the special salad! It was a Avocado Salad with a scoop of Watermelon Salsa Sorbet and Smokey Jalapeno Dressing! We were oohing and ahhing over our salads. There is so much flavor in this bowl, it is hard to know where to begin! Those crispy strips are new, and they were delicious!When I walked in and read the special board, I was SO excited because I saw my favorite sauce...White Chocolate Lemon Butter! It sounds weird, but it is SO good! I swear you could put this sauce on sweat socks and it would taste good! Ok, I'm kidding...but it is my absolute favorite!! The sauce is so rich and creamy.

The mahi mahi is perfectly tender and flaky, and the chicken is moist and delicious. I swirled everything in the sauce, that's what it's there for, right? ;)

It comes with a twice baked potato, ratatouille, garlic bread and sauteed greens. Seriously this is a LOT of food! I can tell you these greens are DELICIOUS!! You wouldn't believe it unless you tried it (and you SHOULD try them!). They were buttery and garlicy...SO good!

Here's another close up of the main course...see those onion strings?! Yum!

Check out the special dessert...Mixed Berry Tart with Pomegranate Ice Cream! We totally DEVOURED this in record time! The tart was warm and steamy, and packed with berries. I'm in love with their pom ice cream, and it makes me thankful that it's pom season here in the valley. ;)

As always, check them out here for hours, menu, and directions. The place is especially hopping during the month of December, so you may want to call for reservations. Also, if you're up for it, you can bring a unwrapped toy to put under their tree for their Toys For Tots collection that they do every year. I know it's a cause dear to Doug and Luci's hearts. :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lace tape

I have a new favorite thing... Lace tape! I first saw it on Pinterest (shocking, I know!) and ordered it from
I have been saving it for something special. I used it for the first time today to wrap a Christmas gift, and I'm in lacey love!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Journey

This morning I woke up and realized it is November 30th. That means that exactly two months ago, at this very minute, I was on an operating table, having MAJOR surgery. Half of my knee is now replaced with a prosthetic. I never imagined how hard this journey would be. Thankfully, I am now on the other side (almost) of it.

I woke up that morning, screaming in pain, before I even opened my eyes. All I remember is hearing people hurrying to push drugs into my IV and knock me back out. I don't remember being wheeled to my room, being moved into my bed, none of it. I had opted to not have the spinal numbing meds (which would have made my waking up a LOT easier) because I've had two bad spinal experiences and didn't want to go down THAT road again. I do remember waking up in my room eventually, with my husband watching movies on the hospital tv. I would push the pain pump and go back to sleep. I had heart monitors, oxygen tubes, and pressure cuffs on both legs. I had to take oodles of meds on top of the IV, and the nurse would give me a shot every night to prevent blood clots.

Friends would visit me, and after leaving the hospital I could barely remember WHO came to see me! Yikes! Those drugs seriously mess with your short-term memory. I had five days of great care, through the worst (physically) days of my life. Walking was a different story. The morning after the surgery, they strapped my drain and bucket-o-blood to a walker and got me out of bed. I could only go to the bathroom door and back, it was only a few steps, and I cried the whole way. It was beyond what I could comprehend as pain.

The day after that, I had to walk down the hall, still having the huge drain tube hanging out of the side of my knee, and about a 7 inch incision on the other side. Note to men physical therapists- don't compare anything to childbirth. You haven't done it, and the pain of that didn't come close to this.

A few days into it, the nurse came in my room and told me to push my pain pump (Ha! Like I hadn't been playing jeopardy with it anyway! It was a constant game of push the button and hope you hear the right sound of beep, the one that lets you know it was time, and the meds went through.), that the doctor was next door and he was coming to take out my drain next. Eek! Let's just say there was screaming, crying, and after he took it out, and put in stitches without numbing, he had the nurse turn my continuous dose of IV pain meds back on.

After 5 days of all of this, I finally got to come home. I was SO excited and SO scared. My first day at home brought my first home health visit by my nurse. I had to have her for a month, because that's how long the doctor had me on blood thinners to prevent blood clots. She would draw my blood every few days and call me to tell me what dose the doctor said to take. I also had three weeks of physical therapy at home.

After a few days of being home though, I could no longer take the ITCHING and BURNING happening under my bandage. I wasn't supposed to mess with it until my follow up, but one day I peeked under the wrap to look at the taped up bandage and saw it was green and hard, like a cast. Yuck. I called the nurse line, and they called the doctor and I was given the ok to change the bandage at home. Once I removed it, I'm surprised I didn't pass out at what I saw. I was severely allergic to the adhesive on the steri-strips on my wound. There was a red, blistered, gooey area under and around my steri-strips, that was a couple inches on all sides of the 7 inch incision. Are you doing the math? This is a BIG area. I called the nurse back and she ended up coming out to the house and removing my steri-strips. Another thing I was terrified of, what is this gonna feel like to pull these off of skin that looks like this?

She came out and used saline soaked gauze to soften them, by the time she peeled them back, it all came off in one big piece, my skin and all. I could now actually SEE what was bringing me to tears all these days with itching. Parts of my flesh were actually "burned" off from the adhesive. It was awful. But, the saline felt soooooooo good. I've had bad hives before, but this was a level I'd never imagined. What followed was a round of steroids to help it heal, and thankfully after a couple of weeks it did. It grew all new skin, and all of the damaged stuff flaked off. Now you can only just see the outline and see that the new section of skin is a slightly different color. BUT, because all of the blisters kept popping and rubbing against the bandages when I used the CPM (machine that bends your knee), I wasn't allowed to use it for a week. It sat on the floor, and I was to focus on healing the wound.

Unfortunately this caused my knee to form scar tissue and not allow me to bend it more than 70 degrees no matter how hard I tried. I would cry and cry, and try as hard as I could everyday. It led to painful, disappointing physical therapy visits. There were days when I thought HOW in the world am I ever going to be able to _________________ (walk normal, lift my leg, bend my knee, not use a walker, etc.). I would put my bible app on read aloud mode because I couldn't even see through my tears to read it, but it was the only thing that would calm me down.

In the midst of this, I had noticed while taking the steroids that my mouth was irritated, and my lips started peeling a bit. One day, they started looking big, kind of like Angelina Jolie. My husband loved it. Ha ha. The next morning I woke up and they looked like they were about to explode. We instantly called his mom to watch the kids and he took me to the ER. It was SO embarrassing. Walking with a walker, I couldn't even cover my lips with my hand. I KNOW the people in the waiting room must have thought I had a bad lip enhancement surgery or something.

It was ANOTHER allergic reaction. It was more than I could bear. They gave me a shot of benadryl, and sent me home. I couldn't eat, because my lips were HUGE, and "dead" feeling. Kind of like the numbness from the dentist, but they weren't numb, because if food touched my lips they would feel like a million bee stings, and start getting worse. My friends brought me smoothies, and ensure drinks, to drink out of straws. I ended up being told to go back to the ER again from the home nurse, because they were getting worse and worried about my airway closing up. Walk into a waiting room FULL of people staring at your enormous duck lips- that's a confidence booster...NOT!

More shots at the ER. The lips lasted 5 days. I took the maximum dose of benadryl every six hours for each of those 5 days. It slightly helped with the itching and burning. I had to set my alarm in the middle of the night, so that I wouldn't miss a dose. What does benadryl do? It dries it. So now I had SUPER sandpaper lips that I couldn't put ANYTHING on. Anything I tried to put on them I had to immediately wash off because they would swell up again. Finally on day 5, after they were normal size, I bought plain old chap stick. It worked.

I'm still afraid to put anything else on them now.

Back to the knee. Is 70 degrees all I will EVER bend it again? I'm only 29. The doctor said I had a "stuck knee" and asked me if I wanted him to bend it for me. Say what?! It's called a manipulation procedure, and they put you to sleep and bend it to break the scar tissue, which is what is preventing you from bending it. I said yes, but I was terrified. The last thing I wanted was to experience what I felt when I woke up from anesthesia last time. For days leading up to the procedure, I would wake up at night and try to bend my knee in bed. I thought I was waking up from anesthesia, that's how much it was on my mind.

The day came, and it all felt too familiar. Only 6 weeks before, I had done the same exact things. Been driven to the hospital in the dark of morning, check in, surgery prep with the same nurses, IV, nausea patch behind the ear, etc. I couldn't keep some tears from falling in pre-op. I. WAS. SCARED.

I prayed and prayed, but I was SCARED.

When I woke up, I had an oxygen mask on and the anesthesiologist was standing next to me, writing in a chart on the rolling stand next to my bed. I instantly moved the blankets off of my leg and bent it as far as I could. His eyebrows raised and he stopped what he was doing. I started crying happy tears and saying "thank you Jesus" over and over and over again into my oxygen mask. The doctor looked at me like something was wrong and asked if everything was ok. He couldn't hear what I was saying, so they moved my mask and I told him, "I said THANK YOU JESUS, I can bend it!!" He started laughing and went back to writing in his chart. I have never in my life felt more relief than that moment. I never want to forget that day, that even though it was a bit painful, it was one of the best days of my life.

My trial made me stronger. One of the verses that got me through those weeks was Hebrews 12:11 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
BUT what really got me, was what happened to be the next 2 verses... "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."

I feel like it was put there for me. For such a time as this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

North Pole Breakfast

I saw on Pinterest, that a blogger had surprised her children with a Elf on the Shelf breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving. It looked like a fun morning! Here's a little look at ours...