Sunday, June 29, 2008

Try something new today...

My sister, my husband, and I seriously enjoy this special oil dip at a local restaurant - Giorgio's. While you are waiting for your meal you get a little dollop of this gorgeous green stuff on your plate along with some crusty bread. You pour your own olive oil on top and eat it all up!

So I finally decided to attempt to recreate my own version of it. I scoured tons of recipes online and mostly found odd additions that I didn't think we would enjoy. Can you say Anchovies?! But the majority of them had bases of parsley and garlic. So that's where I started.

  • 1 bunch parsley

  • 2 heads of garlic

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • crusty bread

Essentially, mince the parsley as fine as you can. I do not have a food processor so I chopped and chopped and chopped! The same with the garlic - except I do have a garlic press so that was much easier. Put those in a bowl and add the olive oil. you really need to let this macerate in the fridge overnight. The parsley will give way and the garlic will really take center stage. This is obviously a very garlic heavy recipe. Use as much or as little as you prefer. Serve it on a pretty little plate and sop it up with your bread. Yes you will smell like garlic! But if your honey eats it too then it's ok! : ) Bon appetit!

PS - If you have your own recipe for something like this dip please feel free to share. I would love to try another one!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Giveaway - Gems by Em

Welcome to my first ever Saturday Giveaway! Starting today you will be eligible to enter to win an extra special treat from some incredible Etsy sellers, myself included.

This week's featured giveaway is from the fancy Etsy shop - GemsByEm. Emily has been so kind to offer up these beautiful sterling silver and pearl earrings.

They can easily be your very own - all you have to do is the following:

  • click on the picture to visit Emily's shop, then return to this post to let us know your favorite piece
  • make sure you are clickable or that I have a way to contact you if you are the winner

The fine print... This giveaway will be held from Saturday, June 28th - Friday, July 4th. The winner will be picked and announced in next Saturday's Giveaway thread. This drawing is open to anyone, Emily is willing to ship worldwide.

Emily and I are looking forward to reading your comments! You can also visit Emily's blog here. Good luck!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Around the house...

One of the things I love having around my house are birdhouses. I am not really sure why I developed such an affinity for them when we moved to this house in New Hampshire. Maybe it is because I have never lived anywhere where there have been so many trees around. Outside you can always hear something chirping, singing, or even squawking. My first few birdhouses I bought at a really cute shop called At Wit's End in downtown Peterborough. After that I started getting one for Christmas every year from my husband. I just love seeing all of the different styles and colors. But the best is when I hear little baby birds yelling for their mama bird because they are hungry.

What do you love having around your house?
My current poll is over, thanks for voting! For my next poll it will fall in line with this post. You have now seen some of my favorite birdhouses around our yard. What would you like to see photos of next time in - Around the House? Vote now!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Buy something new today...

In addition to my "Try something new" posts with recipes I will be doing the buy something new posts as well. I probably shop way more than I should - but now I can share all of my fabulous finds with you too. I thought long and hard about what my first theme should be. Today my daughter, Alayna, wore a gorgeous top in blue and green paisley. And I think I have found 3 things following this paisley theme amongst my fellow talented Etsians. So here we go...


First up is this gorgeous paisley tote from Sewgracious. There are so many beautiful colors in the fabric that you could carry this tote with any outfit and it would be sure to go. And of course you need to have the matching mini wallet/business card case and keyfob too!

Next is this too cute wooden elephant push toy by Cookiedough. It is perfect for children of all ages that is beautiful to display and even better, safe to play with. We love the non toxic finish. The colors are quite modern but it sure looks like it will last a lifetime!

And last but not least... In honor of our own weiner dog, Buttercup! This fantastic onesie from BellaBlu designs proudly wears a weiner dog applique all the way from the front to the back. Made in a sweet pink and olive green fabric your little girl will look adorable sporting this puppy. And just so our lab Hannah doesn't get jealous, look here.

I hope you have enjoyed my first shopping showcase! Check back every week for my latest finds!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A good fit?

Today Alayna and I headed out to do some shopping and decided to stop into our local Mother & Child store. I have previously bought things from their boutique section where they have cute clothes, books and toys, and organic items that you wouldn't see in Target or Babies R Us. And today was no exception. Alayna got these adorable ladybug hair clips. And these even cuter shoes. While strolling around inside I came across their "handmade" corner and actually recognized some hair clips that I bought for Alayna on Etsy from MayaPapaya! Then while talking to the owner about my Etsy shop, Alayna's Closet, she gave me a business card for her daughter who also has an Etsy shop and a boutique in Boston called OakBoston. It's a small Etsy world!

So anyhow, the majority of their business in Mother & Child is people buying the used items. We went over the specifics of consigning my shirts with them - but unfortunately I don't think it would be a good fit. When I muster up the courage there are several other children's boutiques near me that I will approach and hopefully they would want to carry my designs.

Until then...


Alayna's Closet has been featured in a blog! I woke up this morning and in my inbox was a wonderful note that Sydnei of SimplySentimental chose 3 of my items to share with her readers in her blog.


What a great start to my day! Thank you Sydnei!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rain, rain go away...

This is a picture I snapped while standing in our breezeway today. In the far center of the picture is our apple orchard. In the early mornings and early evenings you can usually find wild turkeys and deer. They also munch on the blueberry bushes behind the orchard. It has rained so much the last 3 days our pool is overflowing - but the garden is getting some much needed watering.

So I was standing there trying to get Hannah and Buttercup (our dogs) to go potty. I'm not sure why I always try to get them to go out when it is raining cats and dogs. I pretend I am going to run out and Hannah usually jumps out because she thinks I'm going too. Ahh, good times.

Today I made a couple of small steps on the business front. I have a box of 100 wooden hangers in the closet of my studio that have been sitting there for awhile. I plan to start carrying them to match the shirts in my shop. I think they will make for cute gift sets. So I have a few ideas in my head how I want them to turn out and today I finally started. I am painting this one the same color of pink as my girl's electric guitar shirt. I haven't quite decided how I will embellish it yet, but I will share the finished product soon.

Hope you have all had a great first day of the week!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Try something new today...

Another thing I love doing is buying cookbooks, trying out new recipes, and watching cooking shows. So you think I would be some awesome chef, right?! Umm, not really. But I do want to share with you recipes that my family really enjoys.

Today it is Goulash! Well the recipe that I originally followed called it One Pot Rigatoni. I make it different each time I do it depending on what I have in the pantry. Besides being ridiculously easy to make, it is fast, easily adaptable to your families likes, and of course it tastes so delicious! Last night's version is as follows:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 large can crushed tomotoes w/ garlic
  • box of pasta (rigatoni, ziti, cellentani, etc)
  • 1 can corn (drained)
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • shredded mozzarella

In a stockpot brown ground beef. You can season the meat at this time. Drain excess fat. Add all the ingredients in the pot, except mozzarella, and stir. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until pasta is tender. Serve on a plate and add mozzarella. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Matchy matchy...

As I have previously mentioned, I am an avid shopper of hairclips for Alayna. There are a couple shops on Etsy that I love and will introduce to you, but tonight I would like to talk about CutesieClips.

Jennifer and I started collaborating with my bubblegum machine shirt. She made the cutest hairclip to match it, right down to the button "gumballs".

Something else that makes a perfect pair - is my girls electric guitar shirt and Jennifer's pink and black skull clip. So sweet, so tough, yet so girly. Don't you agree?

I am sure we will team up again in the future. But until then, why don't you check out her shop, CutesieClips, and see what else you find!

Friday, June 20, 2008

This is where I create...

I would like to invite you into Alayna's Closet. Not literally of course, but where I create everything you see in my Etsy shop and more! I have temporarily taken over my daughter's playroom while my attic studio renovations are on hold. Luckily the nice bright colors I painted are lively and fresh for my shop also.

As you are standing in the doorway you face my shipping table. A gorgeous thing I found at my local HomeGoods. I keep my mailing envelopes, labels, tape and other supplies here. Also you can see my fabric stash in the clear containers.
To the left of that is my ironing board where all the magic happens. I cut out all of my designs here. On the tall bookcase is various bins for scraps and receipts and folders for my patterns and invoices. In the photoboxes towards the bottom is my grosgrain ribbon collection. And of course my little radio. I jam out to 93.7 Mike FM in Boston while I work.
Next up is my comfy leather chair where I stitch all my shirts and totes. It does double duty as a reading chair before Alayna's bedtime. We both enjoy a good Dr. Seuss book.
This storage unit was actually in my kitchen for the last 4 years. I used the towers in a craft show I did about a month ago and decided to use it in my room upstairs. It does a great job of holding all of the plastic bins that I keep my shirt inventory in. I have a wide range of sizes for both boys and girls and many colors to choose from. Right now I probably have about 150 shirts in stock. But you can see I still have a couple open spots - so I will keep an eye out for more cute styles!
And finally a little space that isn't filled with something that I use as a back drop for my product photos. I recently ordered a pinnable mannequin and a plastic half form that I love! They defintely help to show my items better and they don't run away like Alayna does when I try to take a picture. : )
And that closed door you see is the stairway up to my in the future studio. Can't wait!

Thanks for joining me in my little space of creating heaven!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some sort of cohesion...

I decided to start a new blog. The blog you are currently reading was opened with the intentions of it being used for my business, Alayna's Closet. But family matters came tumbling out very fast and the only way I could keep up was to start posting info here. But now, here is where you can see updates on Paul and the goings on with us in New Hampshire.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Etsy shop...

Alayna's Closet is back open for business!

Today is my first official day back open for business and it is also my birthday. To celebrate, I will be offering free shipping on all orders placed on June 18th. To receive this offer you must type in the code HB31 in your notes to seller upon checkout.

Can't sleep...

It's Paul's first night home and all three of us are having trouble sleeping. Paul is hopped up on his steroids he has to take and they forgot to give him a prescription for a sleep aid. He only has to take them for the next couple of days though. Paul was able to come home with just a few restrictions but he is still very weak and gets winded easily. This is a nice little break we get together at home before going in for his transplant.

Today a visiting nurse will be coming to our house to check on Paul's PICC line and to show me how to flush it. Then I have to go and pick up the rest of his meds from the pharmacy as I cleaned out what they had yesterday.

And then I am left with the decision of what to have for my birthday dinner. So far I am thinking my all time favorite - Olive Garden. I was just remembering that we received a gift card to Olive Garden from our friends Heather and Coy. Heather dropped it off on Friday, May 23rd, in the afternoon. She and I were talking about how Paul was not feeling his usual self and had just called in sick to work for his next trip. It is really odd - but I can recall everything that happened that day. All the way up until the doctor called back at 10:30 that night after his appointment to tell him to go to the hospital. My memory has been really poor over the last couple of years, but the clarity of that day is still there.

My favorite poem seems quite fitting.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

~ Robert Frost

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Paul is coming home today! Atleast I am pretty sure he will be. They have stopped giving him an injection that boosted his white cells and his body has been making them on his own. So they have been watching the levels the past 2 days and will check them again today. If they stay as they have been - he will be released from the hospital about noon. He will still need to go back down to Dana Farber on an out patient basis 2 times a week for his chemo. This Friday he will also be having another bone marrow biopsy to check for any cancerous cells.

I just got back from taking my parents to Logan airport. They had been planning on staying for my birthday and then a few more days, but they both had gotten sick while they were here. So now I will be spraying Lysol everywhere this morning before Paul gets back. But having him home again is the best birthday present I could get!

Friday, June 13, 2008

uh oh...

Paul was just getting ready to get in the shower and came out to show me some small clumps of hair in his hands. There haven't been any signs of his hair falling out yet - but this may be it. The doctor said it mostly affects actively growing hair. We will see if more follows. Today Paul has more chemo scheduled and another round of platelets. He will also be taken to see how his pulmonary functions are doing and to a dental clinic for x rays. A busy day compared to his normal ones. Dr. Fogerty stopped by to see how everything was going. She is Paul's favorite doctor. I really like her as well. She is very sociable and takes the time to explain everything in non doctor language. She remarked that Paul is "sailing" through treatment and is doing better than expected. That is good news to hear.

Paul is done showering and we are off for our morning walk. Take care everyone and have a fantastic Father's Day weekend!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More than halfway home...

So Paul has been in the hospital for 3 weeks now. But the good news is he should be going home in 2 more weeks! It is really a small victory as he will have to be back in the hospital in a couple of months after that. But we are eager to have him home.

I have received several emails and calls of concern after my last post. I am sorry it seemed like such a downer post. The way things have happened is the first day hearing the news is the worst. We take some time to cry and absorb it, and then the next day we accept it and move on. But of course we still hope and pray Paul will be healthy and live as long as his dad - if not longer! (by the way, for those of you who don't know - Vinnie just turned 90!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

2 steps forward...

I am staying the night in the hospital with Paul and I can't sleep. This cot they let me use is not the most comfortable thing in the world and there is actually some guy a couple doors down moaning and crying. That is pretty much how I feel right now but thankfully Paul is still asleep.

On Tuesday evening we were visited by Dr. Koreth who is the head of the bone marrow transplant team. He came to really fill us in on what they hope to accomplish with the transplant and the risks. Unfortunately there are so many risks it is too depressing right now to list them. The biggest obstacle will be infections and what is called Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD). GvHD is where the donor's cells start attacking Paul's body because it doesn't recognize it. They search for the best match possible but not everything would be exact which then causes issues. Dr. Koreth's prognosis was disheartening and not exactly as high as we would have liked. He said there is about 50% chance of survival and coping with the issues of GvHD and then 50% chance Paul would not make it. But all of the doctors agree, this is his best chance at long term survival. If they didn't attempt the bone marrow transplant the Leukemia will certainly return and would become resistant to the chemo.

They are going to begin searching for a match and would like to get the transplant done within the next 2-3 months. He will be in the hospital for another four weeks during that time. We have received many wonderful offers from family and friends to test to be a match for Paul. The doctors say they have millions in their registry now and have a 70% chance of finding a good match for Paul. If we have enough offers (50 -100) of people willing to test they can hold a bone marrow drive for us. If you would truly be interested please email me at Thank you so much - and please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, June 9, 2008

More platelets please...

Today was another gloriously hot and humid day in New Hampshire. Did you catch the sarcasm - it is dripping - like all of us here. It was around 98 degrees and over 100 with the heat index. I keep telling Paul how much I miss the dry heat of NM and Phoenix, but he always laughs at me. He doesn't think there is a difference, but I know there is. Luckily I picked my parents up at the airport this morning and my dad installed the a/c.

Meanwhile, Paul is enjoying his nice, cool hospital room. Ok, maybe he isn't enjoying it and would rather be sweating it out here with the rest of us. But I digress. The doctors are trying to boost Paul's platelet levels before starting the chemo today so they gave him 3 bags of them. His chemo treatment today is one that is injected on his behind. He is still eating really well and keeping his energy up. I noticed his hair is getting long too. He is due for a haircut but wants to wait until it falls out. My sister said 2 friends of hers from work had chemo and their straight hair grew back in curly. We joke about Paul's doing the same. : )

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A great find...

Before I started selling on Etsy I was a buyer. I mostly found hairclips and bows for Alayna that I couldn't live without. My first clothing purchase was this tank top:

Jen specializes in working with organic materials using her own design for the earth logo. She not only sells clothes for kids, but also men and women, and even a cute shopping tote. Our tank top arrived in a cute little bundled package using recycled materials and even a coupon for organic laundry soap. I really love this tank top, and as you can tell - it looks so sweet on. The quality of her work is excellent and I will definately be buying from Jennifer again.

I also want to say that Jen has been a very important friend to me lately. She is the most sweetest person with so much love and passion in her heart for everything in her life. I am lucky to have found this cute shop and such a great friend as well. : )

Saturday, June 7, 2008

2 weeks ago...

It has been 2 weeks since we found out Paul was sick. It really seems so long ago. That is probably only because so much has happened during that period. I do hope the next 3 weeks passes more quickly.

It took me a little more than 2 hours to get to the hospital yesterday. There was extra traffic since it was Friday and tons of people and cars by Fenway. I hope the Red Sox go on another road trip soon. I brought Paul down a package he received from his cousin's Jeff, Lisa, and their girls - chocolate! He loved it and dove right into it, so thank you guys. : ) He started back up with chemo yesterday and is already feeling sick this morning. It is amazing how fast it knocks him back. He is still sleeping right now but we should be ordering breakfast soon. And then I think it will be a quiet weekend. There are no more treatments scheduled so he can just relax.

My parents are flying out here from New Mexico tomorrow on the red eye and I am really looking forward to seeing them. They are also bringing my youngest niece and nephew with them. Eden and Alayna will love having the extra attention and company. And I believe we have some 90+ degree weather coming our way so they can all cool off in the pool.

I hope that you all have a nice "cool" weekend as well!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Had a bad dream...

They always seem to happen when Paul is gone. So I woke up scared and couldn't go back to sleep. I finished watching a movie I started the other night but fell asleep during. That should have been a clue because it was pretty boring. And while I love Sandra Bullock - The Lake House is not her best movie. Then I put away some laundry that has been piling up and finally came downstairs.

You may have noticed some changes to this page. I am still super new to blogging and I don't know how everything works yet, but I have been playing with it. Now it is nearly 5am and my alarm is going to go off at 6. Definitely not enough time to go back to bed. Darn.

Today Alayna and I may go out shopping. I don't know where we will go but just anywhere to get out of the house. And then tonight I will get to go and spend the night with Paul at the hospital. They should be running another set of labs this morning and if everything is ok they will resume chemo about noon. He has received an enormous amount of blood so far. Although I hate needles, I am the same blood type as Paul so I will be donating very soon.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

We are waiting...

So I was able to get some good info while I was at the hospital tonight. Through some chromosome testing they confirmed that he has Leukemia for sure. His chemo is on hold for a couple of days while they try to get his levels up to a good starting point. Today he had more transfusions of everything. His levels were down too low so they had to add more back in. Typically there is some sign of where the blood is going, either out through some orifice like the nose or something. But Paul isn't experiencing that and he isn't bleeding internally which is good. They said his blood must be getting destroyed and breaking apart. So they will run more labs in the morning and hopefully resume chemo on Friday.

We also got more info on the bone marrow transplant when the time for that comes around. The actual transplant is quite similar to the transfusions he is getting now. Paul and I both had some misconceptions in our head about what actually happens. So that is a relief to know it wouldn't be another major thing to deal with.

And the last bit concerns his future after he is in remission. Leukemia is an aggressive cancer and will keep coming back - quite possibly even after a bone marrow transplant. So Paul will be on medication for the rest of his life to keep all of his platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells copacetic and living happily together in his body. Paul wasn't very thrilled about that - but I will take it as long as he is here with us.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

You have to be there...

Today I am feeling slightly frustrated. I want to be with Paul as much I possibly can be. But I also miss Alayna when I am not with her and feel torn. Add in the 1.5 hour drive to and from Boston and I am missing so much of the happenings at the hospital. The doctors seem to come around whenever I am not there and I am lost as far as understanding what they have done and what they are going to do lately.

The last couple of days Paul has received two transfusions of blood, one of plasma, and one of platelets. He was scheduled for more chemo tonight but they are postponing it a day to see if his levels rise. From what Paul has told me his body is attacking the new blood going in. The doctors told him this happens sometimes and it is not necessarily worrisome. Of course I worry about everything that is going on down there because I wasn't able to hear it first hand. Tomorrow I plan on talking to Dr. Wadleigh to see how I can be in the loop when I can't be there.

Overall, Paul is doing well. His nausea is under control with medication so he is able to eat and hasn't lost much more weight. He has the beginnings of the mouth blisters but they are not bothering him yet. And everyday he walks around the pod and in the stairwells. He is catching up on some reading and just resting. His blood pressure has never been so low.

We are being shown some very generous acts of kindness that is really helping to ease our minds and let us concentrate on getting Paul better. Thank you Chris & Lynda for taking care of our dogs, Hannah and Buttercup. Thank you to Heather for watching Alayna for me a couple of days last week. And Heather's dad just mowed our lawn and did some weedwacking! Thank you! We just received a lovely gift basket from Anita and her family. And there have been many inquiries to test to be a match for bone marrow for Paul. My memory is horrible lately and if I have not mentioned someone I am so sorry! Just one big thank you to our friends and family for being there for us. : )

Amanda, Paul, & Alayna