Thursday, February 26, 2015

Colleens Dream

This past weekend was the Gala and Golf Tournament for Colleen's Dream which raises money to find a test for early detection of Ovarian Cancer.  I can't tell you what a treat this has been for me over the past 2 months to be acquainted with such amazing people who are working on something that is so near and dear to my little heart because of having been diagnosed with this silent killer.  There are so many things that this small group of people are working on and I'm excited to be involved.
One thing that was announced at the Gala is that they are going to put gift bags together for women who are newly diagnosed with OVC.  There are many things that I was given and things that I found that helped me through the process of my hospital stay, chemo and survivorship.  I hope that I can be an asset in helping this amazing organization. 

Friday mom, dad and I helped set things up for the golf tournament, checked all the hot golfer's in (they were mostly men) and talked with a family that Colleen's Dream honored at the Gala.  They honored this family because they raised over 60,000 for research and their mom/sister/wife/friend passed away in September from OVC.  This was such a sweet family and one that I hope we stay in contact with for years to come.  We agreed that we will definitely meet up every 3rd weekend in February for this wonderful event.

Friday night we found a restaurant in my area that serves great happy hour appetizers called Zjeja's.  So yes, if you come visit, I'll will be taking you there.

Saturday morning we filled gift bags for the gala and set up the silent auction baskets.  That evening I dressed my little self up and hit the teal carpet!  I loved visiting with Miss. AZ, NFL players and their wives, and many other kind people, all who took time out of their busy lives to give money and time to OVC.

 This is one of the most awesome NFL players I met!

At the beginning of the program, I was humbled to hear my name read among other survivor's. 

After dinner I was picked up by a pretty cute guy who took me to the dance floor, introduced me to several people and I ended the evening eating the most delicious cake balls I've ever tasted.  Will definitely have to find out where they came from.  One of the NFL players wives and I agreed that they melted in our mouths. 

I'm excited to see what will come from this evening and to further involve myself with Colleen's Dream as the hope to find that test which will detect OVC in its early stages.

 Colleens Mom and Sister

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sister's Visit

When my sisters visited presidents weekend we had so much fun.  They arrived late Thursday night and I picked them up in dad's awesome rental car a Volvo S80; my next car for sure!  We unpacked many boxes Friday morning and then I took them to my favorite place for a salad; Oregano's.  We then went to Costco where I bought a TV and a Vitamix.  That evening we met our friends the Sondrups at the very fun Tumbleweed Park, that even the adults enjoyed as it had a zip line and then had wrapped up the evening with BBQ for dinner.
Saturday morning I took them to the farmers market and then mom, Tenielle and I went to help put together baskets for Collens Dream.
Meanwhile dad, Tristen and the girls went to very fun train park that even had a carousel.
Late in the afternoon we met dad and the girls in Old Town Scottsdale where we enjoyed ice cream at the Sugar Bowl.
Sunday we attended church and then had dinner with the Sondrups, where the girls dressed up in their best princess attire.
Monday morning we unpacked more boxes, until it was time to have lunch with our cousins at another of my favorites Liberty Market.

I felt like I went home as we went to visit Aunt Leslie later that afternoon.  Like all of Aunt Leslie's grandchildren do when they visit her, the girl's also got to experience the magic of the grapefruit tree!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grandpa Randy's Funeral

If you are wondering, I've been a bit preoccupied with putting my house together and being without Internet has caused me to get a little behind on my blogging.  But we are up and running and I'm going to catch up this boring blog of mine.  In my unpacking I have come across the many journals that I have kept since I was in first grade when we used that brown dotted paper writing about our favorite things.  I like blogging to journal much better than writing since my handwriting was never much to "write" home about. 
The beginning of February didn't happen the way we expected it, but all is well and good.

It is always fun to be home with my siblings, no matter the occasion even if it is for a funeral, when we can reminisce and remember the good times.  Grandpa Randy's funeral was beautiful.  Dad's talk was the best and Tony and Tanner sang beautifully.

Grandma Betty is having a difficult time, but when you have been with someone since you were 19, that's understandable. We will always remember him, his quiet nature, his words of wisdom and his kindness.
 Kadyn turned 8 and got a turtle.  That little one doesn't sit still long enough for a picture.  Maybe on his baptism date in March I'll get one.
 We made the all time consuming, but so delicious Gumbo.  And mom made a most delicious blueberry pie that we shared with our friends the Metcalf's.

And we had some story time!
 And some snuggle time!
 Kristine and I reuniting after many, many years!
 Tanner took this photo.  He thought the fact that Grandma Betty and I had the same look at the same time, talking to different people was funny.  He told me I wasn't allowed to delete it.
 We made this from his boot, like we did for Grandpa Swensen.  7 Roses for each of us kids.
I loved that they displayed his beekeeper attire.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frigid Temps Mean A Bowl of Soup

Many of my dear friends on the East Coast are experiencing frigid temperatures, record amount's of snow and a little ice.  Even seeing the beautiful snow pictures posted on FB and the fact that they are having snow days, not in the least bit makes me jealous.  I'll take 365 days of sun, blue sky and flip flops to not have to scrape windows, wear a coat and socks or warm up my car every morning.

However, just because it isn't below zero here in Phoenix, doesn't mean we don't eat soup.  This weekend I went through and threw out cookbooks, but I did hang on to many favorite ones.  One of those cookbooks was one I got from Disneyland several years ago, which I have never used, but has some great recipes.  I of course had to try a healthy, very easy one and boy was it ever delicious.  I've always wanted to try out a black bean soup. 

So for you my freezing friends, try a bowl of this soup to warm yourselves up and be careful that you don't slip and fall on the ice!

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup (Adapted from the Disney Cookbook)

2 T Olive Oil
2 C diced yellow onion
1 C diced red pepper
1 C diced carrots
1 T plus 1 t minced fresh garlic
1C celery
1/4 tsp cumin
dash of dried oregano
2 t paprika
3 dashes hot sauce
2 sprigs chopped fresh cilantro
1 t course salt
dash of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C tomato paste
2 t apple cider vinegar
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans including liquid
2 C water

1.  Heat olive oil in large saucepan.  Add onion, peppers, carrots, garlic and celery until vegetables are soft.
2.  Add spices
3.  Add every thing else.  Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

Top with a dallop of sour cream and juice from 1/4 lime.

Monday, February 16, 2015

We're Getting There!

We have opened boxes, unwrapped and unwrapped and unwrapped and we still have a few more boxes to go through, but we are getting there!  It does kind of feel like Christmas since I haven't seen this stuff for over 3 years.  We have had many trips to the Goodwill and the dumpster.  The good news is that we can finally see the floor and the kitchen is all put together.  There are no pictures on the walls and there are still a few boxes that need unloaded, but eventually we will have them unpacked and pictures up.  I have yet to have gone through my clothes, but that is next which will be a huge project in and of itself. 

I'm so grateful my sisters have been here to help, because we have accomplished much more with their help, especially Tenielle's because she is the organizer in our group.

So yes, I'm still alive, but super busy putting things together.  So until everything looks perfect, there will be no photo's, but soon, oh so very soon!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


My day started at 4:30 when my alarm went off way too early.  I flew standby (because Lee, Grandma Betty's Son is a flight attendant and had passes for 70 dollars) to Seattle which I was happy to get on a flight, even happier that I was able to sleep on the flight, because I typically can only sleep in my bed.

Of course one can't go to Seattle without having clam chowder, so at 8 A.M. I ate the most delicious clam chowder from Anthony's.  I've always been an Ivars fan, but Marlene told me Anthony's was better and it was!  I had a 3 hour layover in Seattle and out of pure luck got on the flight out that I was hoping to get on.

Phoenix is like Summer today!  I love it and am excited for my sister's, niece's and parents to visit this week to enjoy Summer!  (Mom and Dad are currently driving the moving truck through SLC and should arrive tomorrow).

From the airport I picked up the key to my new apartment!  I feel like a college freshman moving into an apartment (I swore years ago I'd never live in an apartment again), but am so excited to have a place to call my own again.  Funny that they made a mistake and gave me a handicap assessable apartment, but I love it because I can reach the cupboards!  They actually told me I could wait until Monday for another one, but I'm good with not having to use a step stool!

I am now enjoying my awesome library across the street from my apartment and shortly will go to book club with my new ward!  I'm excited for this new adventure and chapter in my life to begin!

Monday, February 9, 2015

An Unplanned Week

Last week was totally unplanned, I mean really do people ever die on your schedule, no.  In fact I came to Idaho with only 2 pair of jeans, a sweatshirt that is now in the garbage because someone left an ink pen in their shirt that went through the dryer and my exercise capris; I was only suppose to be here a few days.  I'm so grateful for an unplanned week, because they pretty much never happen.  Last week went something like this:  get up, go to Grandma Betty's, give lots of hugs, play with my nieces and nephews, fix dinner like gumbo and everyone's favorite Mel's Black Bean and Pumpkin chili, go back to Grandma Betty's.

One morning I didn't go over and Grandma Betty called to ask where I was.  They were suppose to have gone to the funeral home that morning, which is why I didn't go over.  So of course I put my shoes on and walked across the street in the rain, because it rained every day last week, except for Saturday when we woke up to sunshine and blue sky for the first time since I've been here.  Oh and how exciting that it has been in the 60's this weekend, in Idaho, in February just doesn't ever happen.  We did get the moving truck packed with still a bunch of space left in only 3 hours on Saturday.  It will be ready to leave the driveway tomorrow morning bright and early to head to Phoenix!

Tenielle, Tony, Tristen and the girls drove in late Thursday night and Tanner and Mitch drove in yesterday.  It kind of feels like Christmas having everyone home again. I love when we are all home together.  It feels so good to have us all home or at least close to home under our mom's wings.  Grandma Betty's daughter's step daughter Kristina drove in last night.  I haven't seen her in many, many years.  It was so good to see her.  We are the same age and spent many summers together when we were growing up.  We even talked about when we missed our ferry in British Columbia, Canada just after we graduated from High School, because I had to have an ice cream cone.

We are doing very well, celebrating an amazing man's life and crying very little tears.  I haven't cried a single tear.  I'm not cold, just happy that he has been released from his failing body.  Hopefully the funeral today will be uplifting and I won't cry too many tears.  We have been joking that the funeral will be at a Catholic Church, presented by a Methodist Minister, with dinner at the Mormon Church!

I must get going to make another pot of this for the funeral.

Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili
Yield: Serves 6-8
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15-ounce each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey or 1 pound round steak, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 can (15-ounce) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounce) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large 12-inch skillet, heat the oil until hot and rippling over medium or medium-high heat. Add the round steak (if using already cooked turkey, proceed to adding the vegetables) and brown the pieces lightly. Transfer the meat to a 5-quart slow cooker, leaving oil in the skillet. Add the onion and yellow pepper to the skillet and saute until barely tender, 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute longer. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. Stir in the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Grandpa Honey Bee

Monday afternoon after we picked up the moving truck and as I was walking into the house the thought came to me, "Walk across the street and go see Grandma Betty and Grandpa Randy."  The kids were coming over in a half hour and I thought, "I'll go over in the morning or when the kids leave."   Lesson learned, don't ignore promptings.  Two hours later Grandma Betty called to tell dad and I to come over because she couldn't arrouse Grandpa Randy.  As soon as I walked in the door I knew he was gone because the spirit was so strong.  I went to him as he sat in his chair, felt for a pulse, turned to Grandma Betty and shook my head saying, "He's gone."

They had been at the doctors to have his blood checked a few hours before and he was in good spirits.  Grandma Betty was driving towards home when Grandpa Randy told her that he didn't want to go home, but that he wanted to get a chocolate milkshake at Sonic and a bbq chicken sandwich at Jack in the Box.  He drank his milk shake and because he only nimbled on his sandwich Grandma told Grandpa that he needed to drink a Boost.  He told her he would in 30 minutes.  20 minutes later Grandma took his Boost to him and just like that he was gone.  She had been sitting by him the entire time.  No struggle for breath, no pain and no warning.  What a great way to go, drink a chocolate shake and off to Heaven!

I'm so grateful that I was home and because I'm a PA I was able to call the time of death and the coroner didn't have to come out.  We were going to load the moving truck the next morning and then I was going to fly back to Phoenix Tuesday evening.  We were able to take the moving truck back, switch the days and they knocked $100 off.  I changed my plane ticket and will now fly back to Phoenix next week after the funeral.  I'm glad I was able to stay to be a support to Grandma Betty and she was grateful the coroner didn't have to come out.

 Grandpa Honey Bee was a miracle.  4 years ago he wasn't suppose to make it.  Remember this  post from 2010?  Grandpa Honey Bee was a true honey bee farmer.  He loved those honey bee's and I love them because of him.  He often took us out to the honey bee plant and showed us the honey bee's, but our favorite part was riding the horses that were out at the plant.  I remember the one time my horse started galloping and I fell off, scraped up my legs and him saying, "Get back on."  I was scared to get back on, but he helped me get back on the horse and away we went.  I was never really a honey lover until I was introduced to the very special whipped honey when I was in grad school.  And for many years I ate it every morning on my english muffin.  Whenever I see a honey bee or honey comb my thoughts have always and will always find them on Grandpa Honey Bee.

This man traveled the world, was extremely kind hearted to every soul he came in contact with and loved his wife with the most love for the 66 years they were married.  Grandma Betty told me this week that she didn't know who she was now because she had always been Randy's wife.  I told her that she was still my Grandma Betty.  At this she smiled and said, "Yes I am." 
 The last 2 pictures I have with Grandpa Honey Bee. Mother's Day 2014.
Celebrating 65 years of marriage August 2013.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

World Cancer Day

I'm absolutely sure I never thought I would ever fall under the umbrella as "Cancer Survivor."  I am too healthy, too stubborn and too active for such a diagnosis...NOT.  But I'm proud to take on the title, "Cancer Survivor."  This means that I understand illness better, I'm more patient, I can endure when I want to give up and that I can be a voice for early detection of Ovarian Cancer.

I'm grateful to have conquered this diagnosis, grateful to be healthy and grateful to be moving forward in my life.

Today is World Cancer Day; a day to hope for a cure and early detection, a day to honor those who have gone before, a day to honor those who continue to fight this disease and a day to honor those who have conquered and overcome!