Friday, September 28, 2012

Life is Beautiful

Okay, really, a lot of the time it's not so beautiful. Things are hard and stressful and not so pretty. With our infertility situation I often get caught up in an "it's not fair" cycle. So when we go on our weekly "adventure" drive/hike outside of the city, I am at the point where I desperately need the reminder that hey, life is good and things aren't so bad.

This past Sunday we drove north (like we usually do) and found some interesting roads to drive down. It went from sunny to pouring to sunny again in just a few minutes, and then we came across the most beautiful double rainbow I've ever seen. It was huge and just incredible. At least five other people stopped their cars to get a photo of this.

More than just the rainbow, it was nice to the leaves changing.

We found a trail beside a river and walked along it for a while, taking in all the fall sights and smells.

On the way home we drove past fields of horses eating clover and had to stop to watch this one for a while. She was just beautiful.

I cannot wait to do this again this weekend for another reminder that things are good and we are so lucky.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thrifting with Mom

Now that we've gotten up close and personal with my reproductive organs, I thought I should write a more typical for this place kind of blog post. After the clinic this morning, my mom suggested we go thrifting. We haven't gone together since before the school year started (we're both teachers) and she missed it..awwwwww! I've officially spread my thrifting addiction to my mother. I can't say I feel too badly though because I always find the best stuff when I'm with her. The lady is like thrifting magic! Plus we get to spend some time together.

We hit up six thrift stores, although it wasn't as crazy as it sounds since three were in one plaza and the other three in another. There were a lot of great finds, including some Pyrex! We also found several amazing children's books to use in the classroom, most of them never even cracked. I got a fall coat (just have to sew on some buttons), and my mom got a much needed paper tray since hers is flimsy and falling apart. We're still deciding who gets to keep the apple mug!

Several times now I have thrifted something I really liked and then for some reason or another - mostly space issues or a random cleaning spree - decided to part with it. Most of the time I don't end up missing it, but occasionally I do. The worst case of this was when I sold my yellow daisy cinderella bowls because I wasn't crazy about the pattern, and a few weeks later completely fell in love with it. I did get another set after a few months of searching. Today I was able to replace two of those 'regretted give-away' items - a vintage floral sheet, and this turquoise typewriter. The original had a top to the case with adorable writing by a 6 year old named Megan, but this one works much better with no sticky keys!

The brown sewing box is the same as a cream coloured one I found a few weeks ago. I absolutely love these for storage because of their size and the trays they have. So useful for so much more than sewing supplies! The Little Golden Books are from the 60s and 70s, except for the Shy Little Kitten which is from 1946. Unlike the books mentioned above, these will not be going into the classroom. I have a little stash of 'one day' books and these are going right in there. I love the soft illustrations.

These mid-century teak figures are too cute. They caught my mom's eye, and reminded me of the teak monkey we found. The one on the left was made in Denmark, but the one on the right has no markings that I can see. She does remind me a lot of the characters from Where the Wild Things Are..

(photo from Comic Book Resources)
Do you see it?

A few posts back I mentioned Bar Keeper's Friend (we use the Soft Cleanser), and I am going to continue to declare my love for this stuff. We picked up two little yellow Pyrex bowls today that were completely scratched and looked to be in horrible shape. We found them at a store that never has any Pyrex because the antique dealers always hit it up first due to the low prices, and we both thought the only reason they were there was because of the condition they were in. My mom convinced me to risk it, hoping we could clean them up a bit, and wow did we ever! They are both in almost mint condition after a cleaning with the stuff. I think Lucy would be proud of me for "saving" them. I still have to use it on the Colonial Mist casserole dish, but I imagine the marks will come right off.

I should mention that the marks I'm talking about are silver cutlery marks. They look like silver scratches kind of like pencil marks, and they were all over the outside of these bowls. The cleaner also seems to work pretty well on grease. What it won't help - white scratches that are actually chips in the paint, and burn marks.

Some other finds from today: red suitcase, a few records including Raffi's Singable Songs (one of my favourite albums for kids) and the Beatles' Love Songs album, a Fisher-Price tudor house which was only really bought for the furniture inside, a couple neat thermoses, vintage sheets (oh, my!), a ceramic owl bank (overpriced, so this was a splurge, but I just love it), a couple figurines including a set of Snow White & the Seven Dwarves, and some adorable little frilly dresses that will end up in Lolie Jane Vintage some time soon. The dinosaur came in the bag with the Snow Whites and it just seemed fun. I have a few others hanging around from random packages I've received.

Hopefully we will do this again soon, or even better, visit all the craft fairs and church bazaars that will be starting in early October!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day One

Since I'm opening up a little more about our fertility journey, I wanted to share that Jer and I began our IVF cycle yesterday. Tomorrow morning being CD3 (cycle day 3), as we call it in the infertility world, I will wake up bright and early and head to the downtown office for my base ultrasound (this is the fun one where I have to drink a litre of water for an external ultrasound and have an internal ultrasound afterwards..that's right - the infamous dildo cam!) and blood test. Around 2pm there will be a message in my inbox with my results and further instructions. This is how the cycle monitoring bit works. The stick and poke part feels a bit like hearding cattle. They open the doors at 7am with a line already gathering outside, and in we go. We even get numbers!

This morning a close friend asked how IVF went, so I thought I should explain that an IVF cycle is actually two months long. The first month begins with a round of birth control pills. It seems so counter-intuitive to begin this way, but these specialists have to gain complete control of my ovaries before they can pump me full of hormones to make me begin to release 20 eggs in one month instead of the usual one egg. Because of my low AMH levels it will probably be a lot lower than 20, but we're hoping for more than 5 or else our cycle will be cancelled.

With any luck, at the end of it we'll have a few of these..

photo swiped from wikipedia

oocytes, or as I like to call them, potential babies. One or two go back in and if it works, 9 months later we get our baby! It sounds easy enough, but I'm leaving out the hard stuff like the heafty bill, the crazy hormonal person I will become, and the terrifying reality of having a giant needle stuck into my ovaries to suck out all those eggs. Eek! I do get sedated, but I'm almost more nervous about that than the what I imagine to be searing pain part. It'll totally be worth it though, right?

Reading over all of this, I realize that we sound almost insane for doing this, especially since there are other options out there that avoid all the medications and egg sucking with giant needles. We are not going into this lightly of course. At this point, after weighing all our options, we've decided that this is the best option for us. We have received a lot of criticism over it (which is part of the inspiration for that 'what not to say' post I'm working on), but at the end of the day we're the ones that have to live with it. So here we go!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weekly Favourites

1. pretty vintage tin plates

2. cozy wool throw

3. adorable vintage holiday ornaments from Japan (I know it's too early, but I cannot help it)

4. super cute Fall decorating ideas. Toadstool pumpkins/gourds? Yes, please!

5. are we sensing a theme here? Out of all the holidays we celebrate, I have to admit that Halloween is probably my least favourite. This year I'm actually excited about it for the first time since I was a child. I finally convinced Jer to do a matching costume thing and we're having some friends over for a viewing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. We're retiring Lola's hotdog costume in favour of a Snoopy one.

6. cute vintage Fall coat.

7. Loving this Fall gourd garland and wishing I had a wooden fence to string it from.

8.Still giggling over the hilarious Westie races from the Westie Walk. I cannot wait until Corrie gets the slideshow up.


9. Colourful fall leaves.

10. Bright and cheerful vintage Pyrex fridgies. I have started three new 'rainbow fridgie' sets for a few friends.

sources: 1. oldetymenotions; 2. pinkshirtsncarwrecks; 3. rswvintage; 4. Martha Stewart; 5. paper piggy; 6. my soft parade; 7. Martha Stewart; 8. Westies in Need; 10. pinterest, although I think this may be one of Jeni's pictures. Please let me know if you find the original owner of the photo so I can give them proper credit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On Infertility

I have wanted to share a little about this topic for a while now, but I never know where to start. I've hinted here and there, but never really shared our story. When I think about it I am just overwhelmed with everything we've been through so far, and to be honest, I feel a little vulnerable putting it out there even though it's mostly friends and family who read this blog. There's just so much. I figure the basics are a good place to start. Six years ago we knew something was wrong, one year ago we started fertility treatments, four months ago we switched specialists after we found out our first had neglected to run the most basic of tests and lied about our test results, and in a few days we will start our first IVF cycle.

Our issues are not completely clear, but are a mix of PCOS and extremely low Anti-Mullerian Hormone, or AMH, levels (basically my ovaries think they are 48 years old instead of 28) - which is a very strange combination (normally women with PCOS have AMH levels that are off the charts) - and although Jer has what our doctors like to call "Superman sperm", they may have a bit of trouble penetrating an egg. When we do IVF we are doing something called ICSI, where one sperm is injected directly into an egg.

So far there have been a lot of procedures, a lot of tests, a lot of needles, a lot of heartache, and a lot of judgement - often with good intentions. We have been through six Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) cycles. Three using a medication called Femara, and three using injectible medications. Although we've had a "perfect cycle" each time, neither protocol has worked.

Not everything has been negative. It sounds strange saying that, but I think we would be lost without trying to find the good in a bad situation. During a time where it would be easy to fall apart, our relationship has only grown stronger. We have learned so much, although I do think we have learned all we can and can this just please work already! I have met an amazing group of ladies in an infertility support group, and sharing our stories and lending support has helped keep me grounded. Although I hate that they are going through something similar, it has been such a blessing to have a group of women who really get it. We also have hope. As hard as it is after a year of disappointments, and previous struggles and losses, we do have hope that this will still work and we will be parents.

I also found ways to channel the pain and discomfort into something beautiful - wedding planning (think of all those little flowers) and I began hand sewing a hexagon quilt during one especially painful cycle. I discovered working with my hands was a good distraction.

I will share more about our journey, in more detail in future posts. I'm thinking of a 'what not to say' kind of post next.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Jer and I have been trying to get up North to my cousin's cottage all summer, but it just hasn't worked out. I've been without him, but we wanted to go together. At the last minute, this weekend just happened to work out so on Friday evening Jer, myself, and my cousin Annette piled into our car and headed up. It was cold and rainy, and we were concerned about our packing jobs which were all light on the sweaters and warm socks, but once we got out of the city the skies cleared up and we were surrounded by a dark, star spotted blanket. I know it's enough to make some people cringe, but I love driving down a dark, deserted highway at night. The Sunday late night commute under the stars was one of my favourite parts of my year in Peterborough for this very reason.

We pulled up to the cottage just before 10 and were greeted by a pair of deer outside the front door. We turned off our lights and waited until they fled into the forest behind the neighbour's. After unpacking the car, we started up the fireplace, made some hot chocolate, put on a movie, and cuddled up for the night.

Saturday was cold, but beautiful. After relaxing a while, Annette set herself up with hours of homework and Jer and I went into town to get out of her way. I was excited to see the earliest of the changing leaves (have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE Fall?). We followed the signs for an advertised Fall Fair, which took us on a long and confusing journey which ended with a tiny parking lot carnival with an $8 fee to park. We decided to skip it in favour of a walk by a river, some antiquing, and lunch at a local restaurant.

Sunday morning Annette was back at her pile of homework and Jer situated himself with a book on the deck. I decided to go exploring. Even though I know the area well, there are always new places to see. Down a side road I found a wooded trail, so I texted Jer to let him know where I was and spent an hour or so wandering around (and even spotted a deer!) before I let the story of a neighbour's recent bear sighting scare me into leaving. We've never known there to be bears in the area, but this neighbour feeds the deer (even though it's frowned upon) and found a bear at her 'feeding station' one morning.


The rest of the day was spent relaxing, collecting some acorns for crafting, and cleaning before heading back to the city for a family dinner to celebrate the Jewish new year (we are a culturally diverse family!), a recent retirement, and an even more recent engagement. I'm so glad we were able to get away this weekend. It was the perfect break from the city.

(the Pyrex was an antique shop find from Saturday)

Some views from previous cottage trips can be seen here and here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vintage Sheet Quilt

You got a sneak peek of this project in my last post.

A while back I received several vintage sheet fat quarters from a friend. I had intended to start an Oh My Stars quilt using them, but I kept putting it off because I knew it would be a big project and I have several of those on the go already. A few days ago I was craving and quick and simple project, so I decided to dip into that stack.

Using a queen sized vintage flat sheet as a backing and a thin cotton batting in the middle, I made an easy patchwork quilt. It's the perfect weight for warm nights, and is just thin enough that it's easy to roll up and take along for picnics.

I only used 20 squares total for the quilt top. To keep things simple, I didn't use any binding. I just stitched wrong sides together with the lining on top, flipped it right side out, and closed up the hole with an invisible stitch (or blind stitch). I also didn't do any actual quilting. I tied pieces of yarn through the layers at each corner to help keep things together. In total it took about three hours from start to finish. Cutting and laying everything out was what took the most time.

I'm still planning on making an Oh My Stars quilt, but it may have to wait a while longer.

We got to test this quilt out this past weekend at the Westie Walk, and we just loved it! It was the perfect size for everyone to sit on during our picnic (my parents come to the walk with us so they can participate in all the events with Lola while I'm running around and snapping pictures) and the perfect size for two to lay down on and stare up at the clouds. Well, if everyone is willing to share that is!

Lola also approves, which probably means this will be another quilt claimed by her and Charlie.

Aside from the fat quarters I had, the rest were cut from vintage sheets found at thrift shops. If you have trouble finding the perfect sheets, there are many options on Etsy. I sell full sheets in my shop, which work great if you want to keep to a few patterns. For fat quarters, my favourites are thought and found, vintage sheet variety, ironsea, and happy notions. If you do a search, there are many more shops with beautiful sheets to be found.

Even though the weather is shifting, I'm hoping we can get several more picnics using this quilt in before the end of the season!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Westie Walk

Ever since we got our little Westie, Lola, we have been attending the Toronto Westie Walk each Fall. This was our fifth year at the walk, and my third year volunteering to take photos. The first walk was held many years ago with just 7 dogs in attendance. This year it has grown to 320 Westies! It has become one of our yearly traditions that we look forward to every September. Jer and I are hoping that next year we will be able to begin sharing this tradition with a little one of our own.

The walk itself is a short trip around the park and down the road where passers by stop and stare at all these white dogs walking by. Dogs and families make their way around the park in many different ways.

After the walk there is the Parade of Rescues to honour all the special rescued dogs (many of them from Westies in Need, the organization who puts on the Westie Walk), and then lots of fun and games, including our favourite - the Westie Races.

This last one was Lola's race. She's second from the left.

During the raffle there is always time to relax and admire the tiny ones. There are prizes for the oldest and youngest Westies in attendance, the family that travelled the furthest, and those who raised the most money..this is the resuce's main fundraiser after all!

I don't remember Lola ever being this tiny!

After a long day, families begin heading out, however they arrived..

After thanking Corrie (the wonderful lady who runs the rescue and does all the planning for the walk) for a wonderful day, we always lay out a blanket and have a picnic lunch, enjoying the early fall weather, before we leave.