Summer Manifesto

Well here we are on the last day of summer (boo!)

I have wedding posts coming, I promise. I even have some craft-oriented posts too. Behind as usual.

At the beginning of the summer I made a Summer Manifesto. I used a photo of a gorgeous New Hampshire sunset I had taken a few years ago and listed ten things I wanted to accomplish this summer – BUT unlike my usual lists, I tried to keep it fun. I did fairly well:

ImageGo to NH three times:

June

July

 

August

Pick Strawberries

Which, while fun, resulted in a fairly tragic jam-making experiment.

Beach Day. Didn’t really happen, despite the fact that I planned to trek down to my favorite RI beach. I even took the day off! I totally forget why I didn’t go and what I did instead. I did spend almost an entire day sleeping on a lounge chair on the dock in New Hampshire, so that’s *almost* a beach day. There was also a day Jam and I moved into my parent’s so we could lounge poolside with booze to beat the heat. That’s like 1/4 of a beach day. Close enough!

Five things off the Day Zero list.

Yikes. The Day Zero list I have is great, but gah, it is NEVER going to be finished by next February, not even close! Doing five things this summer didn’t really happen for me. There are things I probably accomplished, like seeing 30 new birds – that probably happened. There are things I did half-assed, like “learning about my ancestors” – did I really dedicate time and effort to it? No. Did I ask my dad a million questions about his maternal grandparents and why they moved from Ireland and when, how my great-grandfather worked on the Boston Elevated and whether he ever told my dad about the Molasses Flood? Sure. But it was half-done.

And then there was the sort-of. “Go to a book signing and tell the author why you enjoyed his/her book.”

We-ell.

I went to a book signing.

But more than anything, it was because I HAD to see Teresa Guidice in person. I had to. I admit it, I had never set eyes on her cookbook. Though that being said, both Jam and I enjoy her recipes! Who would have guessed?!

There were the reals:

Climb a mountain (or a large hill). I’m pretty sure this falls in the “large hill” category – no surprise, as I actually hate hiking (it aggravates my asthma something fierce). I did this hike because 1. the interwebs assured it was easy and even had stairs in some parts 2. I had to see that view. WORTH IT!

West Rattlesnake, Squam Lake

The other definite accomplishment was “Knit myself a sweater”

YES! 

Read books all day.

Totally did this while sitting on this balcony:

Either Lynda LaPlante or Tana French (or maybe both) are responsible for getting me to actually sit for nearly a whole day in my butterfly chair reading.

Explore by bike or kayak

Bike:

Norwottuck Rail Trail (awesome ride)

Kayak:

Grape Island

More Farmer’s Markets. Yes. I especially enjoyed the Braintree Farmer’s Market where I found rhubarb in abundance and even practiced yoga outdoors on the lawn of the Town Hall one Saturday morning.

Sew a Summer Skirt. Nope. Didn’t happen. Ah well.

Picnic Lunch or Dinner

We combined kayaking to Langlee Island in Hingham Harbor with a picnic lunch atop the rocks. We look like this because it was a thousand freaking degrees and Jam got all irritated that there were bugs around his food. It was kind of a bust and not the elegant event I had in my mind, but hey, we tried!

Pedicure at least once a month. Kinda sorta. Every six weeks is more like it. I would show you a picture of my blue toenails, but I know better that to post anything to do with feet or foot pictures on the interwebs.

Plan an anniversary trip. Done. Not saying when or where, but here is a hint:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Prayer, The Power of Platelets

Has anyone been reading about Ashley’s journey on Lil Blue Boo? I don’t usually get all woo-woo here, but when I read her blog post, I was so happy and excited! I started reading her blog when another crafty blogger linked to her video, and it’s so great to see her cancer responding to treatment. Because I’m a scientist, I have huge faith issues (a whole other story) but I think there’s something to be said about the power of prayer and the power of a whole community focusing their positive energy on a person. It’s a good thing!

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Choose Joy necklace!

Because of all this goodness, I’m going to share something different today.

Now because I am a scientist, one of the things I do fully understand is the power of platelets, even more so because I am a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma researcher at a large cancer hospital in Boston, and so many of our NHL patients require platelets at some point in their treatment. In her post, Ashley mentions that her platelets are low. This is a common side effect of chemotherapy. In the simplest sense (*please remember I am a researcher, not a doctor*), chemotherapy attacks growing cells. It goes after anything that is rapidly dividing. This is great, because chemotherapy can “find” rapidly dividing cells and destroy them, but it also means that it can’t tell the difference between normal cell division, where your body is making new tissue to replace old tissue, and cancer. That’s why people undergoing chemo with certain chemicals lose their hair, and it’s why people become anemic. Some chemotherapy agents are “myelosuppressive” – they slow your bone marrow down, which slows down the production of red blood cells and platelets. Because platelets help your blood clot, having a low platelet count can be very dangerous. For patients undergoing chemotherapy, a simple bump can have serious consequences.

Platelet infusions can make a life-saving difference. That is why I donate at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center every other week.

Chillaxin' While Donating

I don’t want to brag, but I will: I have a kickass platelet count and give a double every time I go. You don’t have to have as high a count as me to donate though 🙂 It’s easy, and it’s actually pretty fun. You get to recline in a warm recliner, get covered with a warm blanket, and watch TV or a movie or read a book. I bring my kindle because I donate fairly quickly. This way I can read, or hook up to the hospital’s WiFi and play Words with Friends or check Facebook.

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Reading a book while donating - this time from the left arm (I switch it up)

The staff is AMAZING. I know people probably think I lie when I say there are people there who put the needle in your arm and you barely feel it, but it’s true. There are also snacks when you’re done. One day, one of the infusion techs brought me a cup filled with Girl Scout cookies from her own stash. It’s awesome. I have also had the chance to meet some New England Patriots:

Punter Zoltan Mesko - ridiculously nice and listened to me blab on about whatever!

And because I have made “Team 20” two years in a row, hubs and I have had the chance to go to Gillette Stadium for a fabulous brunch, where there’s amazing food, a view of the field, and more Patriots:

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Kevin Faulk -also AWESOME and NICE!

I also have a pile of t-shirts, a gym bag, and a huge, fuzzy red towel, just for taking the time to donate. Oh, and once a year I get coupons for ice cream…which I never use because I would eat the whole pint! My point is, if you meet these criteria, get in here and donate. If you don’t live in the Boston metro area, google “donating platelets” and your ZIP code – if there’s a center in your area, it will come up in the search results.

I started donating because I wanted to do something tangible to help the patients on my study. I’m not a physician or a nurse physically treating their cancer, and because I’m a “do-er” it drove me crazy feeling like I wasn’t “DOING” anything (even though our research will save lives!). Donating platelets makes me feel like I’m a part of the force kicking cancer’s ass, and I love it. I didn’t think of it as any benevolent wonderful thing though, until recently, when I told the doctor I work for that I had made my milestone 100th donation. She said “Oh Allison!! Do you have any idea how many people you’ve saved!?!!!” I had never really thought about it until then, but now I do every time I donate. Let me tell you something: It makes me feel so good, like a freakin’ rockstar.

So you should try donating platelets too 🙂

Heartening

Do you ever feel kind of hollow-y and sad? Like, maybe for a particular reason or maybe even no particular reason at all?

I think part of the reason I was feeling that all last week is the winter. It has been so easy this year in Massachusetts. Last year, I couldn’t even walk to the bus without falling on my bum. It was seriously embarrassing (though who is to blame for that – oh that’s right, the people who don’t shovel their sidewalks!). We also had car parking issues in our driveway, a snow pile taller than me in our yard that created more parking issues, and the general feeling of wanting to hibernate in a darkened room until a patch of grass was once again visible in the yard. This year can’t even compare to last – we’ve had but a dusting of snow, mild temperatures, and the weather has been so kind the local birds have ignored my bird feeder altogether as they are able to eat out in the world on their own.

So what’s up with the winter blahs?

Part of it is the fact that we’re all pretty vitamin D-deprived. Yup. I saw a study at work that showed if you live in the northeast it’s basically impossible to get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun if practicing safe sun exposure, which I practice aggressively (see below: honeymoon picture featuring a Very Large Hat). Actually, if you read the NEJM study, we should have a little more safe sun exposure in our lives…but I digress…

The oft-mocked sun hat

Winter blahs: I felt totally helpless to beat them, and I hate HATE being defeated. Hate it.

Luckily, there were plans for the weekend that made it impossible to be sad…Smithie plans. Plans that included dinner, a party, and brunch…and art clubs and baking and food and talking until 3AM….

I have been so tired and worn out and maybe even a little bit bored….and maybe a tiny bit sad too…just feeling BLAAAAH.

And then there was this:

Smithies and Sig. Others Brunch!

I had a mimosa and ridiculously hot and fresh coffee. I had french toast that almost killed me (it was amazing, but I thought for about 30 seconds I would perish from all of the deliciousness). We talked and laughed and were a little loud and rambunctious, and all of the sudden I figured out that I would be OK. I would survive the winter and my vitamin D deficiency to see another spring! I got what I needed to turn my mood around, and instead of being all “ugh it’s February, then March, then maybe I will have warm hands again,” I started focusing on the next couple weeks in a different way, and thought about impending birthdays, a brunch I have at Gillette Stadium, a Winter Farmer’s market I’m going to with my mom and sister. Things seemed a little brighter, a little nicer. Gloriousness!

Yeah, I’m still a little blah (but think I am getting sick, boo), but there’s nothing like friends. I needed that reminder this weekend – thank you, Smith ladies…I love knowing that you’re there to get my butt in gear (even when you don’t know you’re doing it)! I am heartened, and it is good.

OK – enough about me. Wanna read about someone who is 10x more badass than me and is “choosing joy” while she kicks cancer’s ass? Read this. Try not to be inspired to choose joy. Buy the necklace. Get your tissues and watch this. This woman is truly amazing.

A Bit More Work Than Anticipated

When I decided I’d revamp the wedding blog, I thought it would be easy.

Wow. I was way off on that one.

My goal was to get rid of the irrelevant. Done.

Another goal? Categorize everything. Done

Change the appearance? Done…though not convinced I love it yet.

Then I wanted to add all of the wedding posts and how to’s I meant to add months ago, and then move forward with the day to day blogging. Uhhh. Woah.

While it was easy to delete and edit, the adding posts has been slowing me down. I have lists of things I want to blog. Part of me thinks “no one CARESSS!” but there is a part of me, my former bride-to-be self, that thinks “someone somewhere will find this information useful” so I’m planning to power on. I’m hoping that the next few weekends in February will prove to be fruitful on the blogging front!

In the meantime, Superbowl Sunday is upon us here in the USofA (USOFA – can we make this happen? I kind of like it..). Grandma has summoned all children and grandchildren not otherwise engaged to her domicile to watch the big game. I’m excited and anxious, as the last Patriots-Giants Superbowl did not go so well for us in New England. At the end of the day, it’s a game and there’s always next season, and that’s what everyone needs to keep in mind. In addition to watching what I hope will be some great football, I am excited about the FOOD. Has anyone seen skinnytaste? There are a lot of “alternative” apps on there, and I plan to do a bit of pre-Bowl cooking and try some of these out.

Also, I wore my Patriots shirt to work today under my sweater. It just felt like the right thing to do.

I normally mock sparkly glittering items masquerading as "women's sports apparel" but this T from Victoria's Secret is suuuper comfy

 

Stayed Tuned for 2012!

Well hey readers few and far between – what’s new.

I haven’t been blogging at ALL. The thing is, work and life caught up with me big time. I haven’t even had a chance to blog in my old blog space. Sigh.

The thing is, I kind of miss it. I loved sharing ideas and photos with the interwebs. So I started to think about how I could resume blogging – do I want to finish up all my wedding posts? YES. Do I want to then switch gears to more personal life stuff, more crafting, cooking, everyday life-ing goodness? Yeesss! Do I want the blog-o to be a little less secret than my old ranty random blog? Definitely.

So.

I’m going to finish up the wedding oriented posting here. I’m going to clean up the rant-y irrelevant posts as well (or maybe edit a few so they’re less snarky and more helpful). Then in 2012, we’re going to start afresh in this space. This will be my new blog…well…sort of my old blog with a new feel. Yeah. Something like that.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for wedding-oriented biz, feel free to swing by and see if I’ve made any strides in wedding blogging. If you’re a friend from the ol’ Allison Wonderland blog, sit tight, stay tuned, see you soon!