Thursday, 21 January 2016

2016 Organization

As it turns out folks, real life is hard.  I wouldn't say I expected it to be "easy" when I got out of school.  But when I was ploughing through massive text book readings and had 5 big papers due and 3 major exams, I couldn't imagine being done school as being harder or busier.  Well... I'm just going to go ahead and say something I don't often say: I was WRONG.

Working nearly full time (part time as a floor nurse and part time as an instructor of the care aid [ie: nurse's aid] course) is hard.  Trying to maintain a marriage with a farmer (who also tends to be pretty busy, even in winter contrary to popular belief) when you are gone for 12 hours at a time (plus driving time) to work is hard.  There are some days when the only communication Brett and I get are a quick text at 3PM saying "Hey how's it going?  I am just finally sitting down for lunch."  And then because of Murphy's law and the fact that I am sitting down to attempt to eat, I will inevitably get a call from EMS saying they're five minutes out with a patient.  That all being said, who would have thought not getting lunch until 3PM could actually be kind of fun?  ER nursing can be pretty awesome.

With all that business, it is really important to keep our time organized.  Our house may be a disaster and in desperate need of tidying and vacuuming, but our time has to be organized.  Naturally, tools are required for such a big job.  For me, I have always needed a paper planner.  Some people can just keep stuff in their head or in their phone, these people are not me.  Over the years I have tried a number of different paper planners, and have landed on two that I really feel are a cut above.  Enter Emily Ley's Simplified Planner and Kate Spade's 17-month Large Agenda.

For 2015 I used the Kate Spade agenda and for 2016 I am using the Simplified Planner weekly edition.  As a direct comparison these two planners are fairly similar.  Both have three days per page and start the month with a full month view.  Both use really wonderful paper.  Both lay flat.

What I like about the simplified planner is that each day is split in half (long way down the page) between lines for what you are doing and check boxes for to do's.  The simplified planner also has a menu planning section for each day.

On the other hand, I like how the rings of the Kate Spade planner are enclosed inside the book style spine.

All in all, I don't think I could ever stray from the Simplified Planner.  It really is just too perfect.  That being said, it is a lot easier to get your hands on the Kate Spade planner (I've seen them all over the place).  Simplified Planner can be found at a number of stores around the US, and a few in Canada (check their website), but they sell out fast.  For instance, I waited on my computer for the website to open at 8AM on the launch day of the 2016 simplified planner and the happy stripe version sold out before I could even get it in my cart.  But guys, it is worth it!

The only thing I will do differently for 2017 is purchase the daily version of the simplified planner (which has one page per day).

Now for you phone only planners.  I found the paper-planner-only life just wasn't working for us because my darling husband just wouldn't look at my darn planner!  No matter where I left it in our house.  So, I downloaded the Cozi calendar app.  I particularly like this app because it magically links my phone to Brett's so when I update the calendar on my phone, it automatically updates his as well.  Its pretty slick.

So, if you don't have a planner already for 2016 and are wanting one, now is the time!  It isn't too late!

Are you done with my cheesy/nerdy love of day planners yet?  Yes?  Well, let me just finish with: paper planners can change your life, for real.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

grace, hope and moving on in 2016

I'm not one to sit around at year's end and make resolutions for the year to come or generally dwell on the year past.  

2015 was a different year for me, a harder year than any I have faced.

I've always strived to be an open book, both in my day to day life and on this blog.  If someone asks me something, I answer with the truth, I don't pretend like things are different than the reality.

At the end of April, we lost my Baba.  Despite he fact that it is 100% natural to say good bye to your 92 year old grandmother, this was a hard time for our family.  But we could deal.  Our grief would subside and life would go on.  This is the natural way of the world after all.

A little over two weeks after Baba's funeral, I heard Brett answer his cell in the other room and I could tell immediately by his tone that something bad had happened.  "Your dad crashed his bike", he reported to me.  Five words, each one syllable.  Those five words were about to change my life forever.  As far as motorcycle crashes go, we couldn't have asked for much better.  Dad broke his leg, collar bone, crushed his ankle, dislocated his shoulder.  But was alive.  What we didn't anticipate was what a toll the recovery would take on a man who is so used to being active.  But again, we could deal.  We could all rally around him, he would recover (and has recovered), and we were (and are) all so grateful.

Around the same time, Brett and I started trying to get pregnant.  We were so hopeful in the beginning.  We were both young and healthy (as far as we knew), surely it wouldn't take long.

The negatives didn't crush me in the beginning.  June and July were happy months.  We celebrated weddings, our 2nd anniversary, and started planning our big trip to Europe.

In August I was late.  Two tests later, I had two faint positives and so much hope and excitement.  Because they were faint, I decided to test again the next morning before telling Brett.  Another faint positive the next morning.  I couldn't wait any longer, so I called Brett (who was in the combine... of course).  We were so hopeful.  Until I started to bleed a little.  I made an appointment with my doctor, who fit me in right away.  After a blood draw to test my HCG (pregnancy hormone), it was determined that my levels were too low for this to be considered a viable pregnancy.  Something had happened in my body to keep that little egg from implanting, and so I had lost our pregnancy at about 4 weeks.

Those were the bad months.  August, September, October, November, December all passed in a fog really.  Each "failed" cycle led to me sobbing, Brett feeling helpless.  Nothing makes you feel more alone than this.  Because miscarriage and infertility are things you're supposed to sweep under the rug.  Pretend like it isn't happening.  They're topics you whisper about to only your closest friends.

Why do we do this to ourselves??  Why do we feel like miscarrying or having various conditions leading to infertility are things to hide, to be ashamed of?

This is the reason for my 9 month absence.  I felt I couldn't come back to this space and post about a craft or recipe and pretend like I was fine, pretend like I was happy with how my life was playing out at that moment.  Because I wasn't fine and I most definitely wasn't happy.  Suddenly, I couldn't deal any more.  So I withdrew, both from this space and the people closest to me.  I was too scared to be vulnerable, to really lay out what has been on my heart.

Part of me feels silly, writing about this when we've only been trying for nine months.  People try for years and get less answers than we have gotten.  But in this nine months I've realized, this is something we need to talk about.  We need to talk about it for the girl just starting on this journey, for the girl crying on her living room floor at 2AM when period came yet again, for those who are withdrawing from their friends and family because they feel like they can't talk about this.

I don't know what 2016 will bring for us.  I don't know what options we will need to use to grow our family, or if we will end up needing any at all.  I hope we will receive some answers as we begin to meet with specialists in the coming months.  I hope to greet you all with a lot of honesty.  I don't want this to become an "infertility blog" or for this to be a regularly occurring topic - because its not all that our life is, but it may be something that comes up from time to time.

Overall, I hope to greet the challenges of 2016 with a lot more grace than those of 2015. 

I look to 2016 with both hesitation and excitement.  I am nervous that we may get answers that I don't want to hear.  But we also may get a miracle.  

If you too are struggling with trying to conceive, know that you are prayed for.  I hope that you get all that you are dreaming of.  But I also hope that you give yourself grace in the interim, and allow yourself to talk about it.  There is so much relief and freedom in honesty.

"I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection"  Emily Ley.

"'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord 'plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'"  Jeremiah 29:11.

*It is my hope that this post will be taken for what it is: not us asking for advice, but rather a sharing of part of mine and Brett's story, and a way to put the stigma of miscarriage and infertility to bed. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Saying Goodbye

This is not the happy Friday post I would love to give you today.  However, I have always tried to talk about whatever is on my heart on this blog - be it happy, sad or in-between - and today I need to share what has been happening in my life the past two weeks.  Today we are saying a final goodbye to someone who was so dear to us.

On Monday of last week I needed to go up to my baba's (what we call my maternal grandma - it is Russian) place.  She was having a health crisis and my mom wasn't able to go up right away.  What followed was a week that felt like the longest nursing shift of my life.  We got her admitted to her small town hospital and unfortunately there were a few major misunderstandings and some poor communication.  Those things did not affect her outcomes, and I don't hold it against the hospital.  These things happen.  

On Thursday we finally confirmed she had had a heart attack and was in heart failure (something that I had suspected for two days) and were able to transfer her to the nearest cardiac care unit.  The nurses and doctors there were truly some of the best I have come into contact with, and the care and kindness they provided to Baba and our family is something that I will never forget.  I can only hope that I can give another family the kind of peace they were able to give us.

On Sunday morning, Baba told us she was tired.  She couldn't keep fighting any more - it was her time to go see her beloved late husband (our Opa) again.  We were so blessed to have her able to communicate with us until about 20 minutes before she passed.  We were blessed that she could tell us what she wanted, that she wasn't afraid, that she was ready, and that she loved us all so very much.

But our hearts ache for our own loss.  As blessed as I know I am, I can't help but think of the gaping hole left in our family.  

I don't know if many other people have the same kind of relationship as I did with Baba.  She really wasn't just a grandparent.  During the many summers and holidays that I spent with her, we developed a friendship - I grew common interests through the things she was teaching me.  I learned to love cooking and baking and crocheting.  I learned the true meaning of undying love when we lost Opa and she kept on loving him just as much as I'm sure she did the day they were married.

I dread the day when I am in the kitchen and have a question, because the first person I would go to is Baba.  I never needed to google these things, because Baba was only a phone call away.  It seems silly, but I think this is where I will feel her absence the most.

But there are things this week that have reminded me of how truly blessed I am, and I would like to give a quick thanks for those now.  I am thankful to have been able to spend Baba's last week with her.  I am thankful for friends who came over the chat and surprised me with flowers.  I am thankful for friends far away who showed me so much support through a very difficult time.  I am thankful for a mother and father in law who invited me and my dad over for a birthday supper while my own mom was away planning Baba's funeral, salvaging what could have been a pretty terrible birthday.  I am so thankful for the never ending support of my husband, who loved Baba and loves my family as much as I do.  I am thankful for my mom and sister who are just as strong as they are tender.  And for the love of my wonderful family.  And I am so thankful for getting to love and know Baba for all these years. 

How lucky I am, to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard (Winnie the Pooh).    

Friday, 17 April 2015

5 Outfits Using Pantone Colors of the Year (Part 1)

Pantone released their colors of 2015 (the colors which are supposed to define what will be in style for the next year) a little while ago.  I am really liking their choices this year, and they are actually colors that I have in my closet for the most part (except for the yellow and orange).  So I put together some outfit inspiration using the new colors.  Nothing makes me excited about new outfits like the start of spring.


You've all heard about my love of tutu skirts, and I particularly love this aquamarine one!

Scuba Blue:

Lucite Green:

Classic Blue:

I love nautical stripes in a classic navy blue.

Toasted Almond:

Have a lovely Friday!  And if you are looking for some fun reading, check out the Oh Hey Friday link-up at September Farm.

Friday, 10 April 2015

A few of my favorite things

Happy Friday!  I hope you have lots of plans for a joyous Easter weekend.  I am looking forward to lots of family time today and tomorrow and I will be spending my Sunday night with some special ladies and gentlemen at the care home where I am currently working.

I thought we could spend this Friday talking about a few of my favorite things (items, things around the web, etc.).  This might become a regular feature post of mine (my favorite blogger over at The Small Things Blog) does something similar called Links and Loves on Fridays, which I always love reading.

On Wednesday I made french bread from this recipe and it is to die for.  As you can probably guess by no picture, it is almost all gone already.  It was super easy and turned out far better than any bread recipe I have ever done.  So you should definitely give it a try.

I am seriously loving this lip treatment (it hangs out somewhere between lipstick and balm).   I like the color rose - which is quite sheer and just gives a little bit of pink - but if you like something a little brighter there are a ton of color options.

Have you ever watched 19 Kids and Counting?  I just started and got super into it before Jessa's wedding.  I am now obsessed.  Brett is pretty sad about this because he is not a fan, but I just think he isn't giving it enough of a try.

Speaking of entertainment, have you seen the commercials for the movie The Longest Ride coming out on April 10th?  Brett is supposed to be taking me on a date to see it.  I think he is hoping seeding will miraculously start before next Saturday so he can have an excuse not to go, but since we just got some snow yesterday (what the heck), I think I will be in luck.  In any case, I just read the book as well and it was wonderful.  I am a huge Nicholas Sparks fan and he did not disappoint with this one.  I would definitely suggest it (and keep a box of tissues handy).

Last, but not least, this was a great post from The Small Things Blog yesterday about getting three days out of your hair.  Her tips were super helpful.  Because I have extremely dry hair, I try to make three days between washes - but it isn't always easy.  If you have a similar issue, or if you just don't have time for hairstyling every day, you should definitely check that post out.

I hope you have a lovely weekend and get to spend it surrounded by the things and people you love!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Currently - April 2015 Update

Easter pictures with my mother in law and grandma in law.
Baking: This pecan pie for Easter suppers last week.  Yum!

Drinking: Lots of ice cold sweet tea.  I am officially obsessed, especially with all of the night shifts I've been doing.  There is just enough caffeine to get me over that 3AM slump.

Reading: I've read a few really good books lately.  I finished the first Outlander book by Diana Gabaldon and it was wonderful.  I am now half way through the second, it started a little slower but is really picking up now.  I also just finished The Longest Ride by Nicolas Sparks and cannot say enough good things about it (I'm pretty sure I finished it in about two days).

Wanting: Warm weather!  We had a little shot of warmth last week and just yesterday got snow.  I am ready for sun and warmth and skirts and no more winter jackets! 

Looking: For a dress to wear to our upcoming weddings this summer.

Sewing: Something special for a new addition to the family (more on this in a few weeks).

Enjoying: Being done classes and not having any papers to write.  It has been such a relief to not have any due dates hanging over my head the past couple of weeks.

Wearing: Nothing but scrubs lately.  I've been filling my time with care aid shifts now that clinical is over and I can't work as a nurse yet.  Grey's Anatomy brand scrubs are a particular favorite of mine.  I've even been wearing clean ones to sleep in occasionally.  I think Brett is starting to worry about my ability to dress myself in regular human clothes.

Waiting: To get my marks back so I can work as a grad nurse.  I am so excited to start my career after five long years of school.

Loving: My time at home.  This is my first spring that I haven't been in the city in school and this time spent at home with Brett has been wonderful.  Life finally is feeling like it has a semi-normal (as normal as things get with shift work) rhythm.

Anticipating: Summer weddings!  Only 2.5 months until the first.

Smelling: Fresh air.  Despite the latest cool weather, I have had the windows open at every opportunity to get some of that lovely spring air in the house.

Praying: For a prompt start to seeding and a brief reprieve from precipitation so we can get the seed in the ground in a timely manner.

Feeling: Blessed to have had such lovely time with our families this past weekend for Easter suppers.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Pecan Pie Recipe

Are you still looking for a dessert recipe for this weekend?  If so, stop what you are doing and get ready to make this super easy and delicious pecan pie recipe.

In terms of effort, this is by far the most simple and quick pie I have in my repertoire.  Including making the pie crust, this pie took me only 30 minutes to prepare (from start to in the oven).

The recipe card:

Helpful Tips:

1.  If you want this to really be easy, you could just buy a pre-made pie shell (just make sure it is unbaked).  If you want to use my recipe, you can see a recipe and tutorial here.

Yum!  Essentially a big bowl of liquid sugar.
2.  When whisking everything together, I suggest melting the butter in a glass measuring cup, then using that same cup to measure out the corn syrup - it makes the corn syrup much easier to pour out.

 3.  After arranging my pecans on the bottom and pouring in the egg mixture, I gently folded my pie crust so that it was straight up and not folded flush with the curved edge of my pie plate.  You can only do this if you make your own pie crust, but it allows it to shrink down a little nicer when you bake it (this is really for looks only - it will taste the same no matter what).

Edge of the crust is folded from where I trimmed it after putting it in the plate.

Here the edge is unfolded and sticking straight up past the edge of the pie plate.

You are done!  I love that this pie seems fancy (I always get comments on how "fancy" it seems) but it is actually so easy to make.  Enjoy!