Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Post - Journeys With Joshua

Hey blog friends!  I want to introduce you to a great friend of mine!  Christine started blogging just over a year ago after her second child, Joshua was born.  You can find a link to her blog, Journeys With Joshua, on my sidebar.  Here is her story...
Joshua, one-year-old
Journeys with Joshua is about a very special little boy that I'd like to introduce you to.  He was born in May of 2010 with a very rare, and surprising, congenital defect known as a Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus.  I say surprising because it cannot be detected in utero, and thus was discovered at birth.  The basic definition of this condition is that it is a large birthmark that has a heightened risk of developing melanoma.  But it's much easier to see what it is...

Joshua, 11 days old
This was shocking, to say the least.  As you can see, the birthmark runs from Joshua's lower back to his upper thighs, covering everything in between.  It also wrapped around his waist just slightly.  The smaller spots you see are called "satellites," which are areas of pigmented nevus cells as well.  They can develop throughout life, but have no known health risk.  Joshua developed around 80 of these smaller spots after he  was born.
Over the past year, Joshua's family has gained momentous amounts of medical information and has met other families worldwide dealing with the same condition.  Because this is such a rare phenomena (1 in 500,000 babies born have a Giant CMN), most doctors do not know anything about it.  Joshua and his family actually find themselves teaching the doctors!
The good news is that, in conducting their research, Joshua's family discovered a surgeon who is literally the best in the world in treating this condition, Dr. Bruce Bauer.  They feel extremely blessed being able to bring Joshua to Dr. Bauer, particularly because Joshua lives in Arizona and Dr. Bauer is in Chicago, IL.
The treatment most widely used to treat CMN's is called Tissue Expansion.  Dr. Bauer surgically places "expanders," which are like balloons, under the skin, and Joshua's family slowly fills them with saline on a weekly basis to help the skin "proliferate" (grow).  After 12 weeks of doing this, Joshua returns to Chicago for removal of the expanders, nevus and nevus tissue, and the new skin covers the removed area.
Joshua underwent his first surgery in Chicago when he was 8-months-old, when he had his first tissue expanders inserted.  Unfortunately, Joshua developed a rare bacterial infection, and his first round of expansion was cut very short.  They had arrived home after a 16-day surgical trip, only to return to Chicago 48 hours later for emergency surgery to remove the expanders.  This was disappointing - especially  because it meant that 1) Joshua's treatment would be delayed until wounds from these first two surgeries had healed and 2) Joshua would undergo 6 surgeries to remove his nevus instead of the originally planned 4.  However, Dr. Bauer was able to surprise them with removal of a small amount of nevus in the emergency surgery, so it was a positive twist on a negative turn of events and a glimpse into his medical future.

A few weeks after the emergency surgery with partial nevus removed
Currently, Joshua is 6 weeks past his third surgery, which went off without a hitch.  This round of expansion seems to be going successfully.  His expanders have 370 cc and 270 cc of saline in them (right and left, respectively), and the goal is to reach 700 and 500 before the removal surgery scheduled for August 4.
Right expander wtih 370 cc
Left expander with 270 cc
If all goes as planned, Joshua will have 3 more surgeries (including the one on August 4) to remove his nevus.  This is believed to reduce his risk of developing non-environmental melanoma.  As he gets older, he will likely need one more revision surgery with Dr. Bauer.  His family is extremely grateful for the support they have received from others which have helped them achieve this miracle.  In an effort to offset costs of travel to Chicago, deductibles, and co-pays, the family published a cookbook and is selling it as a fundraiser.
If you would like to learn more about Joshua, follow his progress, or order a cookbook, please visit his blog at To learn more about Congenital Melanocytic Nevi, please visit the Nevus Outreach, Inc. website at

Monday, June 27, 2011

Let's Do Some Necking!

There is a cutie, cute girl at church who has the best sense of style!  Her name is Sammie!  Sammie wears great outfits that are accessorized perfectly.  I have admired one particular necklace from afar for quite a while.  Finally I decided that I simply must recreate Sammie's pink necklace.  Once I got started I made several versions of the Sammie necklace because they are soooo easy to make.  (You could seriously make this in about an hour.)  Here are my versions of the Sammie necklace...

Well, what do you think?  Which one is your favorite?

They completely simple and totally fast to make!  (They would be perfect for a quick craft night.)  Here is what you need to make your own Sammie necklace...

6" of lightweight gauzy fabric (I don't know what it is called)  I know, shame on me!
10 clear marbles
A button or other embellishment
A needle and thread
Some sort of flame
Maybe some fabric glue or hot glue (I didn't use this.)

Here are your materials!  I went a different direction and didn't use the vintage earring in the foreground.
Use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut the material into two pieces:  one 4" wide, the other 2"  each the entire length of the piece of fabric.

Take the 2" piece of fabric, fold it in half, and sew it into a long tube.  Then set it aside for later.

You will definitely want to pin the edges because this fabric is slippery. 

Count out 10 marbles and grab the 4" piece of fabric to make the necklace.

I think the marbles look really cool in this photo!

Divide the 4" strip of fabric in half lengthwise.  Wrap a marble at this spot in the fabric strip and tie a knot close to the marble on each side.  Alternate sides and add the marbles one at a time until all of the marbles are tightly wrapped and knotted into the fabric.

Here is where the directions get a bit sketchy.  I was working on this project while my kiddos were in their swimming lessons so I have no pictures of the creative process.  Just take my word for it, this is EASY!

Tie the selvage ends of the fabric together in a knot.   Singe the raw edges of the necklace above the marbles with the flame to keep them from unraveling.  Set this aside for now.

Pick up the tube that you made earlier.  Take threaded needle and loosely gather the fabric tube.  Stitch along the sewn edge and gather.  Shape the gather into a cute design.  I made a different design for each of the necklaces.  You can see the designs in the photos below.

Hold the necklace by the knot to determine where the design will go.  Stitch the design onto the side that has lower marbles.  That is a funny-sounding sentence!  The fact is, you are using an even number of marbles and starting in the middle makes them come out in uneven lengths in the end.  So just sew the design onto the lower-marbled side.  (You can flip the necklace around to put the lower side of marbles on either side of the necklace.  Doing this will put the finished designs on different sides of the finished necklace.)

Embellish your design with a decorative button.  Either hand-stitch the button or use glue.  And......

Voila!  Here is your new Sammie necklace!  In pink...

Here is the pink one!  The center of this design is the same button as here.
In white...

This design is made by gathering and twisting the 2" piece of fabric.  Then attaching the two ends to make a  circle.  I attached the circle to the necklace and then the rhinestone button to the design. 

Here is the white one!

Here is a close-up of the design:

This necklace has a double twist. 
And in ecru...

This design is made by gathering the 2" fabric and then shaping it into a figure eight.  I attached the "eight" to the necklace (again on the lower-marble side) before attaching vintage buttons from my collection.  I chose these because they were the same design but different diameters. 

This one is off-white.  Do you recognize the button from here?
This design is a double ruffled circle.  I decided to use this fun textured brass button from the button box of my Grandmother.  It adds a little bit of pop to the center of the design and therefore accentuating the asymmetricality of this necklace.  I think it's a fun addition. 

Remember before, I was talking about making these necklaces while my kids were in swimming lessons?  Well, Sammie is their teacher.  Her mom saw me with a finished necklace and instantly recognized it.  She went upstairs and brought down the actual necklace I had been trying to recreate.  So... after I finished making my knockoff, I actually got to inspect the original necklace!

Here it is....

See!  This necklace is awesome!  It is totally knockoff worthy!

Upon further inspection, I definitely did some things differently that the original, but  I like what I came up with after only a few fleeting glances in the church hallways.  I will make a more accurate knockoff someday.  But for now, I will be happy with these...

You can tell that the one on the left is off-white in this picture.
I also made this one for my cousin.  (Notice that the design is on the opposite side on this necklace.)  I'll update this post if she sends me a picture of her wearing it.  For now, this will have to do.

My cousin's Sammie Necklace.
I gathered the 2" piece of fabric up the middle with the needle and thread so the edges of the design are raw.  I singed the raw edges to keep them from unraveling. 

I wore the pink one to church yesterday.  I got a lot of compliments again.  Hey!  I like it!  I would love if you made a Sammie necklace of your own!  Send me a photo and I'll post it on my "You Made It" page.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Do You Want Another Egg Recipe?

Okay, I have told you all how much I love Pinterest, but I just have to say it again, and again, and again.  Last week I was perusing the delightful ideas pinned by some of my friends.  I saw a fleeting glimpse of this before running to take care  of some random thing my children needed.  I was hooked by a mere picture.

Cyclops Eggs, English Muffins, fresh blueberries.
That evening as I stood in front of the fridge deciding what to make for dinner, I realized that I was looking at eggs, and a big bell pepper.  Eureka!  The light came on!  I decided to recreate the meal from the photo...This is what came out of my kitchen:

Here is what you need to make what I am calling Cyclops Eggs...

Cyclops Eggs
  • 1 large orange bell pepper sliced into 1/4" rings (mine made 5)
  • eggs (one per slice)
  • Canadian bacon slices (one per pepper slice)
  • 2 T. butter
  • finely minced chives
  • salt & pepper
Melt 1 T butter in a large frying pan.   Put Canadian bacon slices in the pan and top each with a ring of bell pepper. (My pan held three.)
Canadian bacon and bell pepper.
Crack one egg into each pepper ring, and season with salt and pepper.

Crack the eggs.  They will spill out the bottom a bit.

Don't forget to season.
Here I will insert a bit of my personal preferences.  I never flip eggs.  I worked as a waitress back in college and learned that basted eggs aren't flipped.  The chef splashes a bit of water on the cooking egg and then quickly covers it.  The eggs steams until the white is cooked, and the yolk is still soft.  I LOVE my eggs cooked like that.

At home, I don't use water, but I do use a lid.  Turn your heat down to medium-low and cover your eggs.

Medium-low heat and cover the pan. 
Set a timer for 90 seconds and check your eggs.  I needed to add 30 seconds more for a total of only 2 minutes.  That was one FAST dinner!

Repeat with the other remaining ingredients.

Sprinkle with minced chives and serve.

I served the Cyclops Eggs with toasted English Muffins and fresh blueberries.  YUMMY!

This is my son's plate.  It is a small one. 

Here is a Cyclops Egg close up!
All I can say is YUMMY!

Later that night I got a chance to go back to Pinterest and actually look at the original recipe.  I definitely made something different, but I am so thankful for the inspiration!  Have I mentioned before that I LOVE Pinterest?  :)

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