About Me

Tallahassee, Florida
I love reading for the sake of learning so I'm an avid researcher. I also love sharing what I've learned which is why I decided to become a blogger. I do not claim to be a writer nor an expert on anything. I'm just passionate about family, food, health, wine, art, gardening and creativity and I LOVE to share! Since my daughters share my passions and love of research and writing, they partner with me to bring you the best from My Urban Pastures!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What I Wish for My Daughter On Her Twenty First Birthday

Today marks a milestone in your life Chelsea...you're 21!  Your dad and I couldn't be happier or more grateful to see the woman you've become!  For a lot of young adults, turning twenty one is significant because it means they can legally buy alcohol, actually get into a club without using a fake ID, or make decisions totally free from any adult input.  I remember thinking when I turned 21: "I'm grown now!"  "Can't NOBODY tell me what to do!" I said with such vainglory!   Man was I wrong! Unfortunately, I wasn't alone in my thought process.  Far too many of us take the blessing of turning 21 for granted.
But for some people, turning 21 takes on a whole new meaning and sadly enough they are usually the ones like you, who've had a brush with death.  Having been right by your side as you walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I know that to you turning 21 is an answer to prayer.  I don't know why it takes something so dramatic to get our attention nor do I think that it has to be this way.  I think that if we are taught from a very young age to revere life we can avoid the pit fall of taking it for granted.  When we approach life with reverence and understand the phases we go through at different ages, celebrations take on a whole new meaning.  No longer do we feel it necessary to get a new car when we turn sixteen or mark our twenty first birthday by exercising our legal right to drink and celebrate our independence.  Rather, we choose to treat these stages as rites of passages and celebrate them as such.

So, today we mark this very special occasion by making several wishes for you:

Never Give Up On Your Dreams

We wish for you to enter this next phase of your life with the goal of living very intentionally. Always remember what I taught you, "It doesn't matter that you didn't intend to do something!"  That only means that you didn't have any intentions.  What matters is that you did it!  To intend to do something means you do things with purpose, deliberately.  If you are very deliberate to do these two things everyday, you'll find a peace in life that nothing else can give you: wake up every morning thanking God for the day, committing to Him that you'll appreciate the day as though it were your very last and intend to lay your head upon your pillow every night having no regrets.      

We wish for you to enter this phase of life with objectives and goals for your future. You have already reaped the benefits of setting goals which is why you find yourself owning your first home at the age 21.  On the other hand, you've also had to forgo some plans as a result of dealing with cancer. I hope the lesson you took away from this was: "When one door closes, another one will open." Nothing is written in stone and nothing is certain but that doesn't mean we shouldn't plan for tomorrow.  Plan to live and plan to live long by setting short term and long term goals.  Since there's not much we're in control of anyway, don't be devastated or waste a lot of time grieving if things don't turn out as planned. Remember, there's a higher order in the big scheme of things.  So, make the necessary adjustments, and keep it moving, not even pausing to look back.

We wish for you to enter this phase of life with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to thrive.  The past 21 years have been packed full of lessons about life skills and academics.  Learning everything from how to walk to how to drive, and now you're learning about marriage.  Most young adults enter this phase of life pursuing a higher education in order to make a living and after that goal is realized they stop pursuing knowledge.  Ah, but there's still so much to learn!  There's a high cost to pay for coasting through life, learning your lessons from your mistakes, or resting on your laurels.  I love the fact that you're expanding your knowledge of cooking by learning about nutrition and gardening.  I love how you're learning how to care for your natural hair by researching. Like me, you too enjoy researching so learning comes easy for you.  We want you to take your love for researching into every aspect of your life.  Expand your knowledge and always STRIVE to do and be better.  Stay informed and don't just count on others to inform you. Take responsibility for your spiritual life and don't get caught in the trap that in order to be a Christian you have to conform.  Remember, being an adult means accepting full responsibility for your choices. Remain humble and don't ever think you've got all the answer.      

Last but not least, dream Chelsea.  Dream big and don't ever give up on your dreams!  Being told that I would never have anymore children I could have just given up.  Except, I knew that wasn't the end of the story.  I refused to accept no as an answer!   I found a fertility specialist, persevered through all the painful testing and had the necessary surgeries.  It was difficult but  never did I give up on my dream of having more children.  Had I given up, you and your sisters would not be here. You are literally a dream come true!

We wish you a very happy birthday and we wish you well!


Monday, May 19, 2014

To Heroes Everywhere!

I love blogging!  Blogging fulfills two desires for me: my desire to write and my desire to share what I've learned.  Since the seventh grade I've dreamed of being a writer but I believed my dreams had to take a back seat in order for me to be present and in the moment to raise my daughters.  For over two decades now I've kept my love for writing alive by writing in journals so, you can just imagine how excited I was when I was able to post my very first blog post!  I felt as if the possibilities were endless and I had big plans for where I would take this thing!  FINALLY, the possibility for me to pursue my dreams was literally at the tips of my fingers!   Then December 12, 2012 happened and I felt like life snatched my dream from my hands right after punching me in the stomach!  The blow was swift, it hit hard, and it hurt like hell!  I don't think anything could've prepared me for the news.  My 18 year old daughter (Chelsea) had stage 3 (Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma...ASPS) and the prognosis wasn't good.

What is ASPS:

Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma (ASPS) is a very rare, slow-growing tumor of an unknown origin, that arises mainly in children and young adults. ASPS is highly angiogenic: it involves intensive growth of new blood vessels, that connect the tumor to the blood system, and enable dissemination of tumor cells into the blood stream. Those tumor cells can then easily migrate into other parts of the body – typically the lungs, and the brain. ASPS is a sarcoma, and that indicates that this cancer initially arises in tissues that connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body. The term “soft tissue” indicates that this sarcoma does not originate in bone, but in soft connective tissues. ASPS arises in muscles and deep soft tissue of the thigh or leg (low extremities), but many times will appear in the upper extremities: hands, the neck and the head. While ASPS is soft tissue sarcoma, it may spread and grow inside bones. ASPS is a rare cancer. While sarcomas constitute about 1% of all cancers (15% of all childhood cancers), ASPS is less than 1% of all the sarcoma cases. According to the American Cancer Society, about 9530 new cases of soft tissue sarcoma will be diagnosed in the USA in 2006. That predicts only around 100 new cases of ASPS.ASPS may exist in the patient’s body for a long time before being diagnosed. The primary tumor may grow large, gradually pushing aside surrounding tissues, before causing discomfort. Therefore, ASPS symptoms may either be a painless swelling or a soreness caused by compressed nerves or muscles affecting the range of motion in the area. (From "Alveor soft-part sarcoma of the extremity: a case report" by Sidi, Fragandrea, and Koliouskas)
As stated in the above sited information, ASPS may exist in the body for a long time before being diagnosed. In spite of the fact that Chelsea had all of the necessary tests, it went undetected for two years.  The only symptom Chelsea had was breakthrough bleeding. Do you know how many women encounter problems with breakthrough bleeding (bleeding in between your monthly cycle)!?   She ended up being diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance (this is common) and sent home with birth control pills.  Sadly, and yes I say sadly, the birth control pills worked.  The bleeding stopped and then Chelsea decided she didn't want to take them anymore.  She actually said that she didn't feel comfortable taking hormones and she wanted to research to see if there was something she could do that was more natural.  She's always been health conscious.  Something I'm very thankful for and something that could've possibly saved her life.  I don't even want to imagine what the outcome would've been had she continued to take hormones while unbeknownst to us...having cancer.  So, she stopped and a year later the bleeding started back again.  Only this time, it was more frequent and heavier because (as stated in the above information) it had created a lot of blood vessels. Two years, hormones, and a lot of blood vessels later the tumor was BIG and caused her to hemorrhage. Her doctor told us "If I operate on her now she'll die on the table!"  Somehow I knew that but it was still another blow to the gut... double OUCH!

Considering the outcome, I still find it hard to believe that Dr. Morgan wasn't even going to take her case! I don't know why but I couldn't take NO for an answer.   Yes I do, it was God...it was faith!  Don't ever underestimate the power of faith!   Dr. Morgan talked it over with one of her partners and made the decision to send us home (back to Tallahassee) so that Chelsea could have a PET scan.  First things first, they needed to make sure it hadn't spread.  We were instructed to hand carry the disk with the results back to her office. She was planning to present Chelsea's case at the Sarcoma Conference to see what, if anything, could be done.  After the conference she would follow up with us instructing us accordingly. Her exact words were "I think we have some time because this is a very slow growing cancer."  Only, that's not what happened!

See what happened was: (where did that come from...you know..."see what happened was" ?)  We ended up in the emergency room that very same night because she started hemorrhaging again.  Though the hemorrhage stopped, she had lost a lot of blood and the ER doctor told me that if she started to hemorrhage again they would have to Life Flight her back to Shands Hospital in Gainesville.  There was nothing they could do for her at our local hospital except stabilize her.  Then she said something that I needed to here...she said "What's protocol? There has to be a protocol."  We needed a plan!  By the grace of God we managed to make it through the night but the very next morning the bleeding started again and this time, she fainted. I remembered what the ER doctor said so I contacted the oncologist (Dr. Morgan) at Shands and repeated what the ER doctor said.  Within a matter of 15 minutes I received a call back from Dr. Morgan's office informing me to get Chelsea there STAT!  By the time we got her there she had lost so much blood that she required 6 blood transfusions and they had to perform an embolization to cut off the blood supply to the tumor.  Suddenly, we had a plan...a course of action.  From the time we had left Dr. Morgan's office she had contacted 15 other doctors in order to come up with a course of action.  Though it wasn't a sure thing, it was something, and that gave us all hope!  The plan was: cut off the blood supply to the tumor (stop the hemorrhage), five weeks of radiation to try and shrink the tumor as much as possible, surgery to remove it from the vaginal wall, a radical hysterectomy, and the removal of her bladder.  Triple OUCH!!  The embolization worked (bleeding ceased)  radiation was a success (the tumor shrunk) and though she did have a radical hysterectomy, she didn't lose her bladder.  The tumor had not spread and there were no cancerous cells in the surrounding tissue.  PRAISE GOD!  I'm still doing the happy dance!  

That brings me to the purpose for this post.  I learned a very important lesson from my daughter and everyone I came in contact with who were dealing with life threatening illnesses. I learned that it's not enough to have a dream unless it's a dream that really matters.  Life is so much more than our dreams.  What good is a dream if you don't have anyone to share it with?  What good is a dream if you come into this world, fulfill your dream and leave this world without having made it a better place?   What good is a dream if you've never touched someone's life?  My daughter's dream wasn't to get cancer but she got cancer and she dreamed that she could be a better person and make this world a better place as a result of having cancer.
She never complained...not one time!  When she cried, she cried for us, her family.  When she worried, she worried about us, her family.   She reminded me about what I know to be true...dreams aren't important...people are!  If writing is just about me, I would rather go write in my journal. But, if by some small chance I can bless someone else, inspire someone, or make a difference, then I'll continue to blog. I'll pursue it with joy and passion, dedicating every post to something worthy of our attention!

So this, to me, is really my first official REAL blog post because it's about something that really matters. Cancer and everyone who's battling this life threatening disease are worthy of our attention! So, I dedicate this post to my hero, Chelsea Daniel and all the other unsung hero's who have managed to teach us what's really important!  This post is for all of you because: in spite the pain, frustration, loss of appetite, sleepless nights, chemical burns, loss of hair, loss of energy, surgeries, procedures, and countless other things you continue to smile when it's dark!  You learn somehow to dance to a new beat enjoying life and taking it as it comes. You teach us that we can stand tall and still be strong when the storms of life come, and if by some small but real chance we get knocked over...getting back up is easier than we think.

                                 Thank you Chelsea Daniel for teaching me how to really dream!

If you or someone you know have been diagnosed with ASPS here are just a few resources we've found to be helpful:    CureASPS.org
                                    American Cancer Society
                                    A Global Initiative
                                    A Case Report

Because Chelsea is only 1 year post treatment there's still a lot that we don't know about this disease so we're only able to answer questions according to our limited knowledge.  Follow up appointments are every three months so we'll continue to share information as we receive it.  


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

This time last year we were celebrating Christmas at the Ronald McDonald House in Gainesville, Florida.   The Ronald McDonald House was beautifully decorated as I'm told it is every year.   As if that wasn't enough to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, every morning we woke up to some new treat.  Cakes, cookies, brownies, and pastries; it was the kind of stuff that could spoil a girl if you know what I mean. Though I appreciated the efforts of everyone to make a difficult situation bearable, my heart still longed for home.  See, there really is '"no place like home for the holidays" and unfortunately, it became all too real to me last year!   So this year I made it my personal mission to appreciate and savor every minute of my time with the people God has so richly blessed me with.  I'm grateful for the small things like: waking up in my bed this morning, doing some last minute shopping yesterday with my daughter, the fact that my friend Laura has a special gathering for the girls and spoils us with her delightful cooking and hospitality every year. These are just a few of my favorite things. It really has nothing to do with gifts under the tree or even having a tree. In fact, we opted not to put one up this year because I would much rather enjoy kissing and hugging my grandson than chastising him because he's just doing what any normal 8 month old would do...pulling ornaments off of said tree.  I've finally learned to pick my battles with the 'littles' and a tree does not a battle make for me (lol)!   So, Mitch and I went all Pintrest and did the next best thing...


we put the tree on the wall.  Problem solved for all future grandchildren!                                                                                                                
I wish you all the best for this coming new year and hope that if you're reading this blog post you're taking a break from the cooking and not taking precious time away from your loved.  Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, and enjoy this holiday season because the best gift you can give yourself and the ones you love is this present moment!

Happy Holidays from our family... 

to yours! 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Beginnings

Welcome to my new look and new outlook!

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since my last blog post!  My, how time flies!  So much has happened that it's hard to know where to start.  For now, I think I'll focus on my #3 daughter (Chelsea).  I'm overwhelmed with excitement as we prepare for her wedding which is less than three weeks away!   It was a rough year for her which, I think is putting it mildly!   In December  of 2012 she was diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer.  I'll share the details of her battle later in another blog post but for now,  we have cause to celebrate and I'm going for it hard!  If it's one thing I learned from watching my daughter battle the disease of cancer it's: celebrate your life because you never know... !  So, that's exactly what we're going to do...CELEBRATE!

We're in the process of putting the final touches on the remaining decorations and it all just seems so surreal to me!   It finally hit me last week that we have three weeks left before the big day and I hadn't put the final touches on the lingerie shower invites.  I fell in love with an invitation I found on Pinterest so, I decided to do them myself instead of letting the Bridesmaids handle it.  Every now and then a girl wants what she wants right!  No more time for procrastinating, it was time to roll up my sleeves and "get her done"!   So, guess what I did?  Yep, I got it done...at least the lingerie invitations (lol).   Not only did I get them finished but I got them in the mail on schedule.  Yay me!  I can post some pics since I'm pretty sure all of the guest have received their invites.

Isn't it just the cutest thing ever!!   I must confess, I love a good handmade card.  My friend Dee makes some of the prettiest "Stampin' Up" cards that I've ever seen and I always feel so special when I get one of her cards or, a handmade card from my friend Laura.   Before I forget, let me give credit where credit is due. Here's the link where I got this cute idea: http://weddbook.com/media/1910219/diy-lingerie-bachelorette-party-invitations-unique-and-creative-bridal-shower-invitation-el-yapimi-ic-camasiri-seklinde-seksi-bekarliga-veda-gecesi-davetiyeleri   As usual, I had to put my own flare on it!  More to come so stay tuned!

An Urban Pastures wedding!



Monday, November 19, 2012

A Reason to GiveThanks!

I have so much to be thankful for this year!  If I had to make a list of things I'm thankful for it would probably stretch a few feet.  I hope your's would too.   This year I would have to add Pinterest to my list of things I'm thankful for.   Yep, Pinterest!  Prior to this year I felt as if I was in a creative slump.   If I had to describe the feeling I would say it was like being overwhelmed with possibilities. If by chance I found myself in a craft store I would leave feeling somber because I couldn't even come up with a project let alone utilize the products!

I couldn't quite put my finger on it but, when I found Pinterest I knew exactly what I had been missing.  I was missing the art of living!   What I failed to take note of about myself was how much joy, peace, and satisfaction I feel when I'm expressing myself creatively.   I had forgotten how much I enjoyed decorating and how much I had longed to one day have a garden.   To make matters worse, I had valuable skills worthy of passing on to my children that were dormant.

That's not the case any longer!   Now when I walk into a craft store my options are endless!   See why I'm so thankful for Pinterest?!     This year for Thanksgiving and Christmas my family gets to oooo and ahhhh over my inventions and not something I brought home from the store.  Let me tell you, it makes a difference!  It certainly makes a difference in how I feel because: rather than wishing I could make something, I'm now making everything!  So, among the many things I'm giving God thanks for this year, Pinterest is one of them. I know, Pinterest seems like such a small thing to be thankful for, but the small things really do make a big difference!  

Here's a little something for the boards, from the boards. :0)

Fall wreath with initial.

An Urban Pastures original, a table cloth made from a drop cloth.

Table runner made from a drop cloth.

Fall leaf project  from Ginger Bread Snow Flakes

Happy Thanks pinning, I mean giving!  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Homemade Lemon Scented Wood Polish

Here's another money saving homemade product that's environmentally safe, works, and easy to make.  It took me all of 15 minutes to make a jar last night and most of that time was spent waiting for the water and oil to get nice and hot.

Lemon Scented Wood Polish

I love this stuff!   A 4ounce jar will last me at the very least 6 months.   I call it my sunshine in a jar.  It works great to condition wood and can be used on any type of wood.  It only requires three ingredients, or 2 if you skip the essential oils.

Here's what you'll need for 4 ounces:

12 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (this is for a firm consistency) 16 if you want it less firm
4 tablespoons of beeswax beads or grated beeswax
Essential oils if desired.  There are a few that smell great in this wood polish recipe, Texas Cedar wood, lemon and orange.
Heat resistant jar.  If using 16 tablespoons of oil you will need a jar larger than 4ounces.


I like to warm my oil up in my jar at the same time I'm heating up the water.  First I put just enough water in a pot to cover about 2inches of my jar.  You want just enough water to heat the contents of the jar.  Too much water and you run the risk of getting it into your oil.  This will ruin the polish.  Put the water in the pot, the oil in the jar, and the jar in the pot of water and heat it all up on medium heat.  Wow, that just rolled off my finger tips!

Once the oil is nice and hot add the beeswax 1tablespoon at a time, allowing the beeswax to melt between each tablespoon.  Once you add the last tablespoon it should look like this:

I like to use a Popsicle stick to stir the remaining beeswax beads in.  Once all of the beeswax has melted remove from heat and stir in 12-16 drops of essential oil.  I know, I know, that's a lot of essential oil for only 4-6 ounces!   That's because the scent of olive oil is heavy, so in order to really smell the essential oil you'll need to use enough of it to mask the smell of the olive oil. 

To prevent condensation from building up (this will ruin the polish) allow polish to cool completely before placing the lid on.

That's all there is to it!  Once the oil cools it should look like this:


Three ingredients, 15 minutes, 6 months of natures beauty!!   I Pledge to never buy another can of polish so long as I live (wink,wink)!

Check out the original recipe and take a look at some before and after photos Here  

Beeswax beads were purchased locally at New Leaf Market
Lemon essential oil was purchased locally at Earth Fair Market  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

DIY Hideaway Storage Unit

Anyone who lives in tight quarters with a family can attest to the fact that organization is a challenge.   Especially when you downsize and lose valuable space like kitchen cabinets, large closets, and a nice sized pantry.  So, it's always a blessing when I run across ideas that are not only useful and simple to implement but ingenious.  That's exactly how I would describe the 'can food organizer' I found on Classy Clutter's blog...ingenious!   Never in my wildest dreams had I envisioned using the space along side my refrigerator to park a storage unit, but take a look at this:


Without a doubt, this food storage organizer has to be one of the best organizational tools I've come across in a long time.  I was able to free up quite a bit of room in my pantry with the creation of this storage unit.   Of course I've added more to the shelves since I took this picture.

Thanks to our wonderful friend and neighbor Joe, we were blessed with the perfect piece of wood to make this project a breeze!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the before.  That is the "before" my hubby got started on it.  This is what it looked like after he took out many, many nails, removed 4inches, about three or four shelves and added the dowels:

Now it's ready to be sanded.

I wish you could've seen it when Joe brought it to us...it was a hot mess!  I took one look at it and knew immediately what to do with it thanks to Classy Clutter!  

Once this baby was sanded, dowels added, and caulk applied to where the hole were drilled to add the dowels, it was time for a coat of primer.

Next step: a coat of paint, add the casters, attach the handle, and the backboard.   My hubby handled everything except the backboard and that's when my 'mini me' Chelsea stepped in to offer her assistance.  We wanted a similar design as Classy Clutter but instead of painting it we wanted to see if we could get a similar effect using tape.  Yep, that's duct tape on the backboard and it actually turned out pretty nice.  

Not bad for a piece of wood found on the side of the road huh?   See how it blends in on the side of the refrigerator:

The blurring is intentional but the storage unit shows up nicely! 

 In this case, I definitely have to say with a little sprucing up, "one man's junk is another man's treasure"!

Interested in making this storage unit or viewing the tutorial?  check out Classy Clutter blog spot for more information.