Summer Bucket List: Revisited, Deux

So, I wrote a post about my Summer Bucket List on June 3, checked in on my progress in this post, and now I’m checking in again. I feel like maybe I need a sponsor for my summer “to-do” list. I’ve at least earned my 30 day chip!

  • read Nurture Shock (assigned reading for school) I’ve read the whole book and have written 8 blog posts. Need to do 3 more in the next week or so!
  • read two more of Donald Miller’s books I read Blue Like Jazz at Lost Pines last weekend. It’s the book he was making a movie of when he wrote about story in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. This is going to count for my “second book” for work. Yesssss – killin’ two birds with one stone!
  • read some fiction I’ve let pile up, including (maybe) the Twilight series Read the whole Steig Larsson series.
  • eat at some of the new-ish restaurants in H-town that I’ve never been to (The Glass Wall, Reef, T’afia, Little Big’s) Ate at Block 7 on Shepherd just off Washington. Drank delicious sangria.
  • redecorate my mantle Done!
  • purchase new throw pillows for my couch (I am in love with this one from Trina Turk, but I don’t know if I can live with the price!) Done! Ordered two more pillows and a throw half off from One Kings Lane. All pillows and throws purchased for less than the cost of one Trina Turk pillow. Although I still love it!
  • completely redo (w/ exception of the pull-out sofa and the existing paint, light fixture, and window treatments) my office/guest room Still in progress. I got a new desk top – it has a little dent in the middle. Trying to live with it. Will begin hanging organization components and art this weekend.
  • label every last box/bin in my garage Fun project for this weekend!  (Air quotes around the word fun.)
  • get rid of some furniture (tables, chairs, computer cart) – ebay? Craig’s List? garage sale? Done! Will have some lamps and accessories to sell after I finish the office.
  • slipcover the oversized chair that currently takes up one corner of my bedroom  Received swatches from Called upholsterer. Slipcovering is freaking expensive. Reconsidering this.
  • start tutoring business I’ve tutored some, not nearly as much as I would have liked.
  • find “best” time to exercise – early in the morning or after sunset I admit it: I’m a treadmill kind of girl. I like walking inside in the air conditioning and watching TV while I walk. I’ve started training again, too.
  • have Coco over and take her to the dog park Coco’s coming for a sleepover this weekend, so maybe we’ll do it tomorrow or Sunday.
  • go to Discovery Green – I can’t believe I haven’t been there once since it opened!
  • go antiquing on Westheimer
  • hang out in the most NYC/Chicago/San Fransisco-like section of Houston – a little block of West Gray just west of downtown
  • see some summer movies – the best air-conditioned escape from Houston’s heat! Saw The Girl Who Played with Fire, would love to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Kids Are All Right, and Inception. And Toy Story.
  • spend lots and lots of time playing with my darling niece! Yes! I think she likes me now!

I also enjoyed a weekend at Lost Pines, started collecting milk glass, and ran out of gas.

That last one wasn’t really on my list, but I’m giving myself credit for doing it anyway.

And in other news…

  • Mom went to her doctor on Tuesday for a follow-up to last week’s visit. The sponsor of her study drug declined to “unblind” her information, which means we can’t find out if she’s been taking the drug (XL 184) or a placebo. We are pretty well convinced she’s on the drug since she has symptoms that just can’t be explained by placebo effects. So the good news remains: the tumors have not increased in size in six weeks, which is a big HOORAY! The bad news is that she has to continue taking whatever she’s been taking, and (if she is on the study drug) her doctor can’t lower the dosage to relieve some of Mom’s worst symptoms. Bummer.
  • Mom has been feeling pretty well, all things considered. She said she woke up hungry again today and ate two pieces of French toast. Yesterday, she ate two pieces of French toast and two pieces of bacon. Which is, apparently, the same thing Anna Jane ate for breakfast (minus the bacon). That baby can eat!
  • Also, Mom had a procedure to drain the fluid from her abdomen on Thursday (called paracentesis). The doctor took 1.6 liters, which sounds like a lot but is actually less than half of what they got the first time she had the procedure done in April. When she had it done in April, the fluid (cancer produces it’s own blood supply, but the vessels are leaky, so the fluid – ascites – can build up, causing discomfort) had been building up in her belly for who knows how many months. She was really uncomfortable and had a hard time eating because she would get full so fast. In April, she had only been on the study drug for 3 weeks, so the drug probably hadn’t had much of an effect yet. After the first procedure and about 15 more weeks of treatment, the fluid wasn’t as bad and there wasn’t as much of it, so I take that as a sign that the drug is hindering the cancer’s ability to create its own blood supply. Which means the cancer can’t “feed” itself. Which means the cancer won’t grow at an alarming rate (I hope!)
  • With barely a week left of summer vacay, I’m finally getting some of my summer projects done today! Exchanged the top of my new desk at Pottery Barn. It was damaged on the front left corner. The new desk has a small dent in the middle. Trying really hard to let go of my perfectionism. Filling in and painting some gashes/holes in the walls. (Maybe) hanging up the components of my PB organizing system and this great mirror I got from One King’s Lane:
  • I still need to find a desk chair, recover/slipcover the ottoman, and get new pillows for the office. And a new bookshelf, an end table, some new lamps, and maybe a new ceiling fan. And some artwork. Do I have to go back to school?
  • Art ideas from etsy:



  • The other day, I went to HomeGoods and was in the store for all of ten minutes (didn’t find a thing I liked) and when came out and tried to start my car, it wouldn’t. So I called trusty Triple A, and they came within 15 minutes! I barely had time to read about Brad and Angelina’s solid relationship and Mel’s meltdown in last week’s People before my rescuer, Richard, appeared, with a new battery and a cold bottle of water. He analyzed my battery (dead) and proceeded to install the new one. As I was signing the paperwork, he pointed to my left ring finger and said,

             “You’re not married?”


             “Ohhhh. Single woman! Now you can go out and get wild.”

             Huh??? You mean in my 8 year old, (slightly) beaten up, silver Saturn sedan?

             After I’ve been sweating in the in the parking lot of HomeGoods for an hour?



Really Random Thoughts

Some things I’ve read/seen/heard/done this week:

  1. I saw an ad on Design Sponge for a new (to me) online boutique called Cerulean. I really like this necklace. It speaks to me. It’s saying, “Buy me, buy me!”
  2. I didn’t buy the necklace, but I did buy this decorative coral. I bought one on sale at Pottery Barn earlier in the summer, but when it arrived, it was bigger than a basketball, so I took it back. This one is 6″ tall (the one on the right.)
  3. By the way, Design Sponge is a really cool site. A Brooklyn-based writer started it in August 2004. It features store and product reviews, city, product and gift guides, diy projects, before and after furniture and home makeovers, home tours, recipes, videos, podcasts, and trend forecasting. Whew! A little something for everyone. There are many contributing writers, and there are usually 6-10 new posts daily. Check it out!
  4. Speaking of something for everyone, The Daily Brainstorm is a hub for over 40 different blogs, like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.
  5. There were two articles in The New York Times that caught my attention: Equity of Test Is Debated as Children Compete for Gifted Kindergarten and The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers. My response to the first article: the research (reported in Nurture Shock) clearly shows that tests for giftedness have no predictive validity in kindergarten. And to the second article: right on!
  6. I must be living under a rock, because I had no idea about this site. CSN Stores offers online shopping for everything from headboards to headbands, all in the same place! It’s like going to the mall, only you never have to leave your couch. Free shipping! Free returns! Free window shopping! Oh, wait. That was already free.
  7. I find as I travel across the internet, I tend to lose track of blogs I like, design inspirations, my mind. So I created a tumblr account so I can have a place to put things I want to remember. 40/30 Files. Fortysomething=Forgetsomething. I hope I remember my password.
  8. I have a moral dilemma: Target’s CEO gave $150,000 to an anti-gay, anti-choice candidate for governor in Minnesota. He also gave money to Michele Bachmann. He’ll probably give money to Tea Party candidate for Senator Harry Reid’s seat, Sharron Angle, soon. I have no problem not shopping at WalMart. I do not like WalMart. But not shopping at Target (to support the boycott)? During back-to-school month? With no sales tax on school-related items? ARGH!!!
  9. I bit my lower lip four times today. Once while eating a sandwich, three times while eating delicious Star Pizza.
  10. Anna Jane is really working hard! She is almost walking – took two steps yesterday – and she can say “ice” and “hi”.

Like I said. Really random thoughts.

Worth Mentioning: My Happy Blogs


{MadeByGirl’s Etsy Shop}

This little poster sums it up quite nicely. I really enjoy reading blogs, and if I can do my blog-reading with a Grande, Two Sweet ‘n Low Latte from Starbucks, even better!

Although I have a few friends in real life who blog, most of the blogs I read are written by complete strangers. I like getting a glimpse into the lives of people I never would have “met” if not for this newfound obsession. I have many of my favorite design/lifestyle bloggers in my blogroll, but there are a few blogs I’ve come across lately that I want to highlight. Some are in the house/design category, some in the humor category, and some are just unique expressions of people’s creativity. People are just so clever, and I’m amazed by the many ways in which these writers channel their passions and their gifts into something that makes me smile each day.

This new mom imagines what her daughter is dreaming about during naptime and creates photoshoots that capture whimsical little moments:

{Mila’s Daydreams}

Neil really turned lemons into lemonade with this blog about appreciating the awesome (thanks, Sarah P. H., for pointing me in the direction of this one):

{1000 Awesome Things}

Then there’s the perennially funny Cake Wrecks. Jen and her husband John not only track down the best wrecks in the business but also add snort-worthy captions to boot:

{Cake Wrecks}

I wish I were as clever as Molly, who writes this newish blog about the exciting lives of the people who live in our catalogs:

{Catalog Living}

Julia has a wonderful website dedicated to all manner of houses, but my favorite category on her blog is the one about bad MLS photos:

{Hooked on Houses} 

Do you have any sure-fire pick-me-up blogs?

Happy reading! 

{Linking to Melissa’s Inspired By party}

Good News!

I went with my mom to a doctor’s appointment today. Mom had a CT scan on Monday – part of the protocol for the study drug – and the appointment was to find out the results of the scan. Since Mom has not been feeling well lately, I was worried that the cancer had spread and was causing her symptoms instead of the study drug.

We had to wait while they measured the size of the lesions (why didn’t they do that  before her scheduled appointment???) but when Dr. W came the room, she smiled and said that the lesions hadn’t changed in size in the last six weeks! Mom’s labs were good; all the elements (calcium, creatanine, potassium, etc.) we were concerned about in the spring were fine and within normal range. Her tumor markers were elevated, which is a concern, although if the cancer hasn’t progressed, I’m not sure why the cancer markers are higher.

Dr. W said the elevated cancer markers should be enough data to get the study drug sponsor to “unblind” Mom’s information so she can determine whether Mom has been taking the study drug (XL 184) or the placebo for the last month and a half. If Mom has been taking the placebo (which we doubt because of the symptoms she’s been experiencing), then Dr. W will put her back on XL 184 at the dosage she was taking at the end of the initial 12 week treatment period (60 mg). If Mom was taking the study drug, Dr. W will prescribe a lower dose – 40 mg – with the hope that Mom will experience a decrease in symptoms. Dr. W said the drug isn’t necessarily less effective at a lower dosage.

I asked the doctor about a surgical option. When we first went to MD Anderson, the doctor we saw was a gynecological oncology surgeon, and we discussed the possibility of doing a surgical “debulking” (where they go in and try to take out as many of the tumors as they can) followed by some sort of drug therapy. The doctors decided that surgery was not the best option because they didn’t know how Mom would respond to the follow-up treatment. What if Mom had surgery and then the drug regimen didn’t work? She basically would have had surgery for nothing.

{I just wanted them to go in and TAKE THE MONSTERS OUT! But, lacking a medical degree, I didn’t get a say.}

I was hoping that since the drug is obviously working, maybe they would do the debulking now. Dr. W said surgery still wasn’t an option because of how diffuse the cancer is in Mom’s abdomen. The goal is to keep the cancer from growing and for Mom to maintain a high quality of life for as long as possible.

Mom and I celebrated by driving straight to Moeller’s for some delectable baked goods – a chocolate raspberry roll cake (it tastes sort of like a petit four with a little raspberry filling), some giant daisy sugar cookies, and some fruit danishes. We had a nice lunch at the French House. Mom wanted gazpacho, which is weird because it has so many ingredients she can’t tolerate, but, that was what sounded good, and we shared a chicken salad sandwich on French bread. Then we went home and took a little rest.

I feel good about the report, especially since Mom has been in the blind study for the past six weeks. It is still hard to comprehend that we’re not talking about a cure, just keeping things from getting worse. I can’t imagine what it is like to have something in your body that is making you sick that you cannot get rid of no matter how hard you try. I imagine most people go into battle with cancer hoping to win, meaning the cancer will go away and not come back. Our “win” is that the cancer will just hang out for a while and not do too much damage.

So I guess we can put another tally in the “win” column for Mom and XL 184. Which is definitely good news!