Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Anniversary to ME!!

Quote for the Day:
"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver."
~Mahatma Gandhi


One year ago today, I sat in my primary care physician's office and heard these words, "We need to think about putting you on disability.  Not today, but soon."

I was at the crossroads.  My pain medicine doctor could only offer me radio frequency ablation of the nerves to help with my day-in, day-out back pain.

  • The physician uses x-ray guidance (fluoroscopy) to direct a special (radiofrequency) needle alongside the medial or lateral branch nerves.
    • A small amount of electrical current is often carefully passed through the needle to assure it is next to the target nerve and a safe distance from other nerves. This current should briefly recreate the usual pain and cause a muscle twitch in the neck or back.

    • The targeted nerves will then be numbed to minimize pain while the lesion is being created.
    • The radiofrequency waves are introduced to heat the tip of the needle and a heat lesion is created on the nerve to disrupt the nerve's ability to send pain signals.
    • This process will be repeated for additional nerves.

    Burn my nerve to stop pain impulses???  Ummm...no...thank you very much. 

    My neurosurgeon said I wasn't "bad enough" to qualify for surgery because "we don't do surgery for pain, we do surgery for function"...and I hadn't lost "function"...yet.  "But call me when you can no longer use your hands or fingers, or when you start falling, or lose bowel or bladder control."  

    Ummm...gee, thanks for that encouragement, but that doesn't sound like fun at all!

    By this time I was in my second go-around of physical therapy, but it didn't seem to be helping at all with the pain.  

    I was barely able to keep up with the part-time work load of my Recovery Room job that was 2-12 hour shifts/week.  I was definitely at a crossroads and didn't know what else to do or try for what was, by that point, a three year stint of back pain.

    As I sat in my primary care doctor's office, I told her that I wanted to try one more thing before we gave up.  I had an appointment with a new chiropractor that afternoon.  She told me to try it and see if it helped.

    Later that afternoon, I sat in Dr. Leonette's office at Enliven Chiropractic while he looked over my MRI and x-ray results that I had brought in with me.  He looked me in the eye and told me, "I can help you".  And that, folks, was like throwing a drowning person a life preserver.  He had such conviction in his voice that I couldn't help but believe him.

    He proceeded to do the initial exam, x-rays, etc.,  When he was done he said he would look over the x-rays and I was to come back the next day for my first adjustment.   

    Here it is, a year later, and not only am I NOT on disability, but I am actually working TWO part-time jobs...my Recovery Room 2 -12 hour shifts/week, AND 8-12 hours a week for Dr. Leonette!!

    Cured???  No.  But my life...and health... have been given back to me, and for that I will always be grateful!!  I am once again able to do activities of daily living that most people take for granted...but I never will again!!!

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!!!

    Loretta


    Sunday, September 7, 2014

    Kitchen Renovation DONE DONE DONE!!!

    Quote for the Day:
    "Do not plan for ventures before finishing what's at hand."~Euripides


    Almost 3 1/2 years after we started renovating our kitchen, it is FINALLY DONE!!!  You cannot even begin to fathom how happy that makes me!!!  

    At the end, Andy finally threw in the towel and told me to hire our friend, Jeff, to finish up the job.  I had been through enough waiting that I readily agreed.  The last couple of weeks have been difficult as we lived with a torn-up kitchen...everything out of the pantry and the free-standing cabinet was moved into the dining room and living room so that the kitchen could be finished up.

    The remainder of beadboard was applied to the walls, crown molding added, baseboards replaced, walls painted, and new flooring installed!  My part of the job was to paint the walls and shelves of the pantry before the flooring was to be done, so last weekend was spent doing just that.  After painting the shelves, I covered them with peel-n-stick floor tiles, which has become my modus operandi.  Since discovering that little trick on Pinterest, I now cover all of my shelving with them now.  It makes them very easy to clean and won't need to be changed in my lifetime!  And if anything ever spills on it, a sponge and soap and water makes clean-up a breeze!!  I even cover the shelves inside my cabinets with them...makes it really nice under the sink...if there is ever a water-leak, the wood of the cabinet won't get ruined!  It's like spilling water on your floor...get a towel and mop it up!  LOL

    Okay, okay, okay...twist my arm and I'll show you pictures of my new kitchen!!!

    I'll start off by showing you what the pantry looked like after I finished last weekend with the painting and shelving...



    There were free-standing plastic shelves against the left wall and in front of the window.  Those have been removed and have been replaced by chrome wire shelving units. 

    The peel-n-stick tiles on the shelves...


    Now for the kitchen tour...25 cents please!  :) 

    These are our new counter-tops.  They are laminate, but look like granite.





    This is the north-west corner of the kitchen.  The doorway to the dining room is just off to the right that you can't quite see.  I have strategically cropped out anything having to do with the dining room because of the HUMONGOUS mess in there!  ;)  I still have to apply the hardware to the doors/drawers in this bank of cabinets, but that will get done eventually.


    This is the north-east wall of the kitchen and is where the fridge resides...it was still pulled out in this picture because Andy had to run new water line to the ice maker, which he did yesterday.  The doorway to the dining room is to the left in this picture.  The door that you see on the right goes to the basement.  This picture shows the crown molding and beadboard well.


    Continuing on around the kitchen, this is the south-east wall.  The door on the left is the basement door, again, and the door with the window goes to the side part of the wrap-around porch.  


    This is the south wall.  We did the stonework two years ago, but I just got it sealed last weekend...something that has been on my "to-do" list.  It is called AirStone and was sooooooooo easy to install but really made a big impact in this kitchen.  There is a vintage, metal, free-standing cabinet that usually resides between the stove and the outside door.  It had some rust on it so I sanded and spray-painted it last weekend and it hasn't made it back into its spot, yet.  That will come later today.

    If you continue turning to the right, you will come to this wall...the west wall...


    This door leads to the walk-in pantry that I showed you in the first pictures!  Here it is with the new flooring...


    This flooring is Highland Hickory XP by Pergo.  It is 10mm laminate and has the padding already attached.  However, since we have an 86 year-old house, we decided to go ahead and put down an underlayment anyway to help keep down noise, etc.  I can tell you that this floor feels as solid and is almost as quiet as our hardwood floor that we had installed in the foyer!  This is the first laminate floor we've ever had in a house and I am quite impressed!!!

    This weekend has been spent getting things put back into the pantry in an ORGANIZED manner so that we can actually FIND THINGS when we need them!  What a concept!  LOL

    And now...I have to get back at it...there is so much to do with company coming in on Friday!!  Thanks for taking the tour!  :)

    Loretta


    Sunday, August 17, 2014

    A Tale of Two Floorings...




    After getting the last of our cabinets, sink, and dishwasher installed by Jeff last week, Andy told me to ask Jeff to finish up the kitchen renovations.  Unfortunately, that meant that we were going to need flooring much sooner than I had anticipated...like within a couple of weeks.  However, with Andy's and my work schedules, that also meant that we had limited opportunities to go shopping for flooring.

    An opportunity opened up on Friday evening for us to go looking.  Our first stop was a local discount store that carries discontinued items and always has a lot of flooring.  We found three wood laminates that we liked, so we bought a box of each to bring home and test against the cabinets.  Our next stop was Home Depot where we found some manufactured hardwood DARK "cherry" bamboo that they were discontinuing for a ridiculously low price.  I jumped on that because I thought it would be better than laminate and we bought all that we would need for the kitchen floor.

    However, when we got home I looked up the reviews online of the bamboo flooring and people said that not only did it scratch WAY TOO EASILY it SHOWED DIRT way too much!  :(  Well...since our cleaning schedule isn't exactly what we would want it to be, we decided that this flooring wasn't for us.

    That brought us back to the three boxes of flooring that we had purchased at the discount store.  Andy brought them and we tried each of them up against the cabinets.  We thought we had a winner with one of them when we checked them in the daylight hours.  However, when we "checked one more time...just to be sure" at night, it looked HORRIBLE in the artificial light.  There wasn't enough contrast between the cabinet color and the floor color, so I felt like I was in a really weird tunnel...or on a boat (you know how the inside of a boat is all wood...ceiling, walls, floor...all the same color?)  I literally felt like the walls were closing in on me!  :(




    My daughter actually has a degree in Interior Design, so she has been my guide and counselor through some of this.  When I asked her about putting laminate down in the kitchen, she recommended that it should be at least 10-12 mm thick so that is the "better" laminate and can hold up to more use and abuse.   She didn't feel we'd be happy with the way that 8 mm laminate would hold up in a high-traffic area like our kitchen.  She also gave me other pointers...like keep an extra box on hand so that if anything happens, the bad boards can be pulled up and replaced.  The laminate in the above pictures was 8 mm...so between that fact AND the fact that I felt sea-sick in my own kitchen after the sun went down, I knew that we had to take ALL of the flooring back that we had purchased on Friday and go shopping for more.  For the record, Andy was happy with this flooring...it didn't have the same tunnel/boat effect on him that it did on me.  But then Andy is the kind that grabs something off the shelf, installs it, and calls it good...regardless of the aesthetics!  

    We live in a rural area without a whole lot of choice...at least not for us that have limited budgets, so we decided that on Sunday we would get up VERY early (for me, on a weekend, anyway), return the flooring that we had bought, and then head up to Pittsburgh (100 miles away) to the nearest Lumber Liquidators store where, hopefully, we could find some flooring that suited me.  The agreement between us was that the next flooring purchase we made was going to be the final flooring purchase, so better come prepared!  

    This morning, bright and early, we took a cabinet door off of one of the cabinets (so we could put it up against the flooring we were going to look at to see how they would go together) and we returned the flooring to Home Depot.  After we did the return, I headed back out to the car to wait for Andy because he had to go to the OTHER END of the store to pay for one little item he needed.  When he got back to the car he told me about some flooring that they had stacked near the checkout registers that he thought looked "nice" and was 10 mm thick.  I kinda did an "eye roll" because I know that he and I rarely agree on what is "nice"...or even "okay"...but when he said it was 10 mm, I agreed to go back in and check it out.

    So, cabinet door in hand, we went back into the store.  When we put the door up against the flooring display, I think I almost gasped in astonishment!!!  It was PERFECT!!!  And exactly what I had envisioned all along...a darker floor to contrast with the cabinets, but not too much grain to conflict with them...and not too dark as to show dirt and scratches!  



    It is Pergo XP Highland Hickory and we ended up buying what we need for the kitchen, plus extra to keep on hand in case of a water accident, etc.

    What is funny is that the cabinets are hickory...which has a lot of grain lines, so I was looking for something that didn't have much grain line so they wouldn't "fight" with each other.  However, this flooring is hickory, too...just a darker stain!  Totally surprised me that the best flooring to go with hickory cabinets is hickory!  Who knew??

    Anyway, both Andy and I are extremely relieved that we didn't have to go all the way to Pittsburgh today to try to find flooring!  Instead, we went out to breakfast and laughed and joked and had a good time, now that all the "stress" of the whole flooring debacle was over!   We then came home and he installed a cabinet organizer under the sink and I proceeded to put my cleaning supplies away in my nice, new, slide-out basket organizer!  :)

    Loretta

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    FINALLY!!!

    Quote for the Day:

    "I want a house that has got over all its troubles; 
    I don't want to spend the rest of my life bringing up a young and inexperienced house."
    Jerome K. Jerome

    Over three years ago we started renovating the kitchen in our 1927 Victorian home.  We are novices and did what we could, but every time we came to a "bump" (meaning anything that stymied Andy), work came to a standstill...sometimes for months and years at a time!!!

    We have been down to removing the sink and metal cabinet for a while now.  We are replacing it with an "L" shaped cabinet, new sink, and a built-in dishwasher...all of which is new do-it-yourself stuff for us, even though Andy is GREAT at plumbing.  Cabinetry and countertops??  Not so much.  

    But, as luck would have it, a friend that has worked construction posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that he was looking for some jobs to do.  Well....I jumped right on that puppy!!!  He came by and saw what we needed done and agreed to do the job!!  

    This past Wednesday when I left for work, the section of kitchen in question looked like this...


    Why, yes...that IS a hole in the wall behind the dishwasher where the pipes and electrical run!  

    For three days our friend, Jeff, worked on the kitchen installing the cabinets, countertops and sink and this weekend it looked like this...


    Why the pillow??? 


    Andy spent all of Saturday installing the faucets, drains, and plumbing!!!  By Saturday night, I once again had a sink and running water in the kitchen!!!


    Such a beautiful site!!!  And do you see that little faucet over to the far right???  After 15 1/2 years I now have filtered drinking water directly into the kitchen!!  We used to have a spigot with filtered drinking water in the basement and had to go down and fill up plastic 1 gallon jugs to get it to the kitchen!  *heavy sigh*  Oh the inhumanity of it all!  

    I'm so happy that we are finally on the "home stretch" of the renovations with this last major hurdle.  Next is finishing up the beadboard and then onto the flooring.

    In the meantime, the less glamorous part of remodeling...everything that is normally put away is now all over the kitchen table, the dining room table, and the dining room floor!!!



    I will be a very happy gal when I can finally get my house put back together!!!

    Loretta

    Saturday, July 19, 2014

    A Quilt Finish!!!




    I've been working on a "Rainbow Baby Quilt" for a friend of my daughter that is pregnant with a baby girl and is due this month sometime!  

    My daughter told me that her friend had seen this quilt online and really liked it.  However, the free pattern on that blog was for a much smaller baby quilt than I like to make AND it was missing the INDIGO of the rainbow.  You remember the ROYGBIV of the rainbow, right?  Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, INDIGO, violet.  My kids had to memorize that for school and to this day I can recite it with ease!  LOL

    Anyway, I could have just made the free pattern and made the blocks bigger to make a bigger quilt, but that still would have left out the indigo part of it.  And if I added three rows of indigo, it left me with a white blob over to the left hand lower corner.

    So I drafted my own pattern and went with it.  :)



    All fabrics for the front were pulled from my stash...no new ones were purchased for this quilt!  YIPPEE!

    I love scrap quilts, but my daughter told me that her friend doesn't really care for "scrappy", so I only used one fabric of each color instead of scrapping it up!  However, I did decide to bind with a scrappy binding using the leftover fabric!   Hey, you can only hold me back just so much!  LOL  A scrappy-quilting girl's gotta do what a scrappy-quilting girl's gotta do, right?  

    I machine quilted this quilt on my new Juki TL2000Qi and boy does that machine sew fast!  It made short work of this quilt and it was pretty easy to keep my stitches uniform!  



    For the backing I used a yellow and white striped 100% cotton sheet from Pottery Barn that I found at a thrift store while in Tennessee!  People often ask about using sheets for quilt backs and I tell them that I ONLY use them if the quilt is going to be machine quilted.  They are just too tightly woven to hand-quilt through.  They do make a great backing for a machine-quilted quilt, though....especially for a baby quilt as sheets hold up very well through all the washings that baby quilts go through.  I don't use sheets all the time, but I do keep my eyes out at thrift stores, yard sales, etc., for sheets that are 100% cotton, in a neutral print (I love stripes for this reason), and are in good shape without any fading.


    Despite the issues I had in the beginning trying to design this quilt and figuring out just what size to make all the pieces to get it the size I wanted, I really like how this quilt turned out.  :)  I hope that mom and baby are both happy with it, too!  



    Loretta

    Sunday, July 13, 2014

    A Gardening Tip...



    The weekend before we had to make our emergency trip to Maine in June for Joe's funeral, I had planted a small "container" vegetable garden in the walkway that runs along the side of the house. 







    While we were on our trip to Maine and then our vacation to Tennessee, our neighbor kept it watered for me.  :)  I have very nice neighbors!  :D

    I now have baby green tomatoes, a couple of banana peppers, and lots of sweet basil!  The zucchini are having trouble because something keeps eating the leaves.  I think it's a ground hog because we have trouble with them here.  The hot peppers aren't doing great, either, so I moved the pot so it gets more direct sun.  I hope that will help.

    Yesterday I dried some of the basil, so I thought I'd do a post about that.  :)

    Instead of just pulling of the leaves, I actually cut the top half of the stem off, brought them inside and washed them under cool running water.  I patted them dry with a towel to remove the excess moisture...


    I plucked off the leaves and placed them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper...


    I had read of two different methods using the oven...one you just turn the light on and use the heat generated by the bulb to dry the basil.  The other hint was to turn the oven on, let it warm up, then turn off the oven and just use the residual heat.  I did a combination of the two...first I turned the oven on for a few minutes to warm it up and then turned the oven off, but left the light on.  I placed the cookie sheet with the basil inside the oven.


    I left it overnight and this morning I had dried basil!!!


    After crumbling it up...


    ...I placed it in an airtight jar for storage.


    All that I need to do now is to label the jar!  And I now have dried basil as well as the fresh basil that is still growing outside!  :)

    I'm going to start growing more of my herbs.  I'm planning on putting some shelves on the inside of my kitchen windows so that I can grow things indoors in the winter!  Eventually, I'd like to have something like this going on in my kitchen...


    Loretta

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

    Starting Off Healthy...




    We are currently in Tennessee spending time with Erin's family and our newest grandson, Clark!  He is sooooo precious!  :)

    Today was Erin's first post-partum chiropractic adjustment, so I went along to meet her doctor, Dr. Nicole Zyla-Herrera in Franklin, TN.  Last fall Erin asked me to ask my own chiropractor if he knew of any good Atlas Orthogonal chiropractors in her area.  He recommended this particular doctor and Erin started going to her.

    Her office has an open adjustment area so I was able to watch the doctor do an adjustment on one of her patients and I was very impressed with her thoroughness.

    After Erin had her own adjustment the doctor adjusted Clark....




    Birth is a very rigorous activity and if you think of what the baby's body has to go through to get out of the birth canal, you realize how important it is to get a newborn adjusted!  

    Clark had been fussy and crying the during the 40 minute car ride to the chiropractor's office, but as soon as she started adjusting him he became quiet.  Then the doctor put a couple of dabs of lavender essential oil on the padding on his car seat straps and he proceeded to go to sleep and slept all the way home and even during a stop at Joann Fabrics!   :D

    We are enjoying holding and spoiling the newest member of the family!

    Loretta