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Oh geez, I’ve been neglecting the blog again. UGH. Sorry, guys.

I wanted to let you know, though, in case you haven’t heard – Josh has a big job interview tomorrow. He has been working at Grand Valley State University for the Upward Bound program for 11 years now and tomorrow will be interviewing to be the director of the program. (He gets a lot of questions about what he “does”. Right now he spends about half his time teaching/tutoring in two different high schools of Grand Rapids Public Schools, and the other half doing administrative work for this program. To qualify for the program, the high school kids must either be from a low income home or be (future) first generation college students.. Most are both. The point of the program is to support these students and prepare them for college.)

He has been burning the midnight oil for days preparing for this interview, and tomorrow’s the day! So we would greatly appreciate your prayers. Given everything he has done for the program and the university, and the schools, and the students, he should be a shoo-in for the role. (There is a whooooooole lot I could say here, obviously!) He is even the interim director now. BUT unfortunately it isn’t that “easy” and university politics and agendas have a very real chance of taking over. So if you would, just pray for the best for the program and for Josh’s life.

Thanks guys! Interview’s at 1:00 tomorrow (Monday), we’ll keep you posted – hopefully with good news!

Two More Days!


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Hi everyone! Just a quick reminder to anyone who wanted to join us at the Great Strides Walk on Saturday.. It’s only two days away! It’s looking like our team will be a little smaller this year, so if you’ve been on the fence about coming, please do!

Click here to either join the team or make a donation

Thank you so much for your consideration!

We’re expecting a new medication to become available this summer that is a direct result of this fundraising and important research. One of many that have come on the scene just in my lifetime. I love knowing that our $ ends up helping people (myself included). Isn’t that the point?

Let me know if you have any questions about the walk on Saturday!

A Few Days in Florida


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A couple weeks ago I had the chance to spend a few days in Florida with my good friend April. She lives in Nashville TN and I live in Michigan and our times together are far too rare and fleeting for our liking. So we scheduled a few days at her parent’s place in Naples and met up in Florida!


We both almost cancelled at the last minute, for different reasons, and I’m so thankful we didn’t. Some things are worth fighting for, right?!


It turns out that I had just started oral antibiotics before the trip so I actually had to stay out of the sun (HA). We focused on other things like shopping and eating and it all worked out.


Naples has a ton of resale shops for things like furniture and home decor and we went through a bunch of them. There weren’t a lot of things that I would look for personally, but that made the hunt that much more rewarding when we saw something good. Like this mid-century chair (below)! Josh & I love to shop this stuff wherever we are because it keeps us educated about pricing in different regions, and b/c we think it’s fun. So we took this pic for Josh.




We swam at sunset (no sunburn!) and air-dried in the warm breeze – total bliss!



We also did a bunch of shopping – I bought jersey pants (when in Rome – they were EVERYWHERE) and child-size sunglasses for my child-sized face. But can I get a fedora to fit my giant head? NOPE. Figure that one out. Ha!




Aaaand I also bought this set of side tables, which I crammed into my carry-on suitcase for the flight home. Of course I did. In my defense, April told me to. Peer pressure is still a thing in your 30’s. I know that now. But Josh loved his souvenirs so I feel less ridiculous.

Thank you April for such a fun trip! We laughed, we cried, we laughed til we cried… And we probably convinced our Uber driver (on the way to the airport) that we weren’t mentally fit to travel and were more suited to a padded room somewhere. That has been true of us if I’m honest, just not this time.

My apologies to those of you who follow me on Instagram (@suzannebrandsen) since you’ve already seen a bunch of these pictures! Thanks for hanging in there…

Great Strides Walk 2015


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Team Steppin' Up 2014

ONE MONTH! That’s it! That’s all we have until the Great Strides Walk in Grand Rapids this year. The date is Saturday, May 16th, the walk starts at 10 a.m. I hope some of you local pals can join us in this effort to raise crucial research dollars with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Asking for money and/or walkers never gets easier, but every year it becomes more significant in my mind. So THANK YOU to all of you who have ever donated and walked with us. It is always appreciated.

Last summer I never sent out TY notes to the people who donated. I’m sorry! But hey, keep sending the money. That way the new treatments will keep rolling in and I’ll be healthier and more able to thank you properly. UGH HORRIBLE JOKE.

My POINT is that no one knows yet how much these people in the photo above along with MANY other generous folks raised in 2014. Our highest amount ever – a whopping $3445!!

Thank you for that. Do you feel thanked yet? Well, I hope you do.

So. For those who are interested in joining in this year, one way or another:

Click here to make a donation or join our team – Steppin’ UP


..too much?

Hope to see you there!

P.S. The GR walk is at Johnson Park this year! So if you show up at the Calder Plaza, you’ll probably end up walking for a different charity. Which, you know, still, good for you!

Design Sponge Home Feature


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Hey guys, guess what? Our home is featured today on Design*Sponge!

Design Sponge Home TourBasically we did a photo tour through our whole house and they selected which ones they wanted to use on their site. It’s been fun and a little crazy to think that a million people could virtually be hanging out in our living room today.

Check it out here!

Two Hours of a Snow Day in February


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Last month I had Thomas and Jane over one morning on a snow day. Usually it’s just Jane because Thomas is in school, so it was pretty exciting to have him too. He even dressed up in part of his Halloween costume (train conductor) for the occasion.

Mom was about to leave on a trip to see family out West, and asked if I had any recent pictures of the kids (not really!). So, this snow day in February ended up being the perfect time to catch up on that and get some pictures together in a book for Mom to bring on her trip. They may be blurry and out of focus but I think you’ll get the idea.

These two goons are SO much fun.

Thomas and Jane

Thomas and Jane

Thomas and Jane

Thomas and Jane

Thomas and Jane

Gumball Machine

Thomas and Jane

Thomas and Jane

Thomas and Jane

Jane and the Piano

Thomas and Jane

… Oh, hey Parrot. Should’ve known you’d sneak in here.


Fun Facts About Saguaros


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  • They can live 150-200 years
  • They can grow to 40-60 feet tall
  • A 10 year old Saguaro can be only 1.5 inches tall
  • They don’t grow arms until they are between 60-70 years old
  • They are exclusively found in the Sonoran Desert
  • And our house.

Saguaro CactusSo, last month we took a trip to Arizona. We did some touring around in the desert and frolicked among the Saguaros. Little did I know that Josh (bless his researching heart) had become really fascinated by these guys. He found one on Craigslist that was an hour away, and well, it’s now sitting in our dining room. This is Mexico (named after his homeland), and he is 35 years old.

If this isn’t crazy enough for you yet, Mexico needs to be re-potted. Just think about that for a few.

What’s the weirdest things you’ve found on Craigslist? I think I need a support group…

My Port, and Some Closet Purging


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Vintage Shop - Phoenix

Did I tell you I had a port placed this fall? If you’ve been reading this blog or heard me talk about it in the past, getting a port – for vein access while I’m doing IV antibiotics to treat lung infections – has been an emotional hangup for years. My veins aren’t great (which is a separate issue from cystic fibrosis) and getting PICC lines in was becoming increasingly difficult. I didn’t want the port for a few obvious reasons.

But I was sick in the fall, and again over the holidays, and I have to say that I’m so grateful for my port. I was placed on meds much sooner with it, I didn’t have to go through the PICC line experience (which was becoming stressful and emotional, not to mention unsuccessful!), and it’s super easy to live with. I’ve had the port for about five months now and it gets two thumbs up so far.

Which brings me to closet purging.

I unloaded a bunch of stuff from my closet that I prob won’t wear again due to the port. It’s somewhat visible (it’s under my skin but you can see the bump on my chest) and instead of wishing I could feel good about wearing certain things, I purged. Best decision, and it was accompanied by self-permissiveness to buy anything that I feel works well with the port! Gosh, I love the way this is going.

My cleaning-out momentum didn’t end with the closet. The clean-out bug bit me big time and I’m happy to say that I have purged all socks with holes, all back-of-the-closet scarves, and the 200 extra things of dental floss that we’ve managed to accumulate. Mismatched tupperware lids and containers = gone. Old boots that need repairs on the sole that I never got around to? Gone. Jewelry that I haven’t worn in years? Gone. Old gallons of paint on the basement shelf? Gone. Purging is so fun, guys.

So things are getting in order, I have a port, life is good, and I am thankful. That’s all for today.

BTW the picture up top is from a shop we visited in Phoenix a couple weeks ago, not my closet. I may have purged, but my closet will never make it to color-coded status. I’m not that organized.

Our Favorite Part of Oregon


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A few last pictures from our time in Oregon today!

Not pictured in this last section of our trip: the whale that I spotted from the road, made Josh pull over for as we raced to the whale observation deck only to find he was the only one all afternoon (it was a moment for me- ha!), getting stuck on the phone in Astoria because of an issue with an Etsy order, and our relatives who graciously hosted us for the last night before coming home – thank you Richard & Marilee.

Just 15 minutes south of Waldport (where we stayed) is Cape Perpetua, home of the best tide pools we’ve ever seen.

We got up before the sun and got ourselves down to the water and climbed around the mussel-y rocks. It was low tide so we could go pretty much wherever we wanted. It was dreamy and almost other-worldly even. A definite favorite moment!

Cape Perpetua Tide Pools

Cape Perpetua Tide Pools

Mostly we saw urchins, anemones, and starfish here

Cape Perpetua Tide Pools

Cape Perpetua Tide Pools

That whole blob of rocks into the water is Cape Perpetua. The tide was coming back in by the time we took this but you get the idea. Such a beautiful place.

Cape Perpetua

Here we are later at Cannon Beach with our friend Haystack Rock. Lots more people here than at Cape Perpetua but it’s so cool to walk around tide pools. They’re the one thing our beautiful Lake Michigan beaches can’t give us!

Haystack Rock Cannon Beach

This is a picture of Josh. Not a seagull. Just Josh.

Cannon Beach

Beach bikers

Cannon Beach


Last shot is from Ecola State Park where we did our final tide pool-ing, and for some reason this spot had waaay more crabs (big ones!) than any others we saw. Also more surfers.

Ecola State Park

And that, friends, is every single picture I took in Oregon this past summer. HAH. No. No it definitely is not. But I’m done posting them now, so there’s that. Anyone inspired to explore Oregon? Or did you notice we missed out on something? (Gosh I hope not)


Another Oregon Top 10 (ish)


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(I realize that it’s super lame to post pictures from a vacation you took almost six months ago, but I’ve been super lame before and here I am being super lame again.)

Having said that, in case you missed my last post, we spent some time in Oregon this past summer. Today’s pictures are from our drive from Portland to Bend, which is a high desert area, and then from Bend out to the coast. Not pictured: visits with cousins (Hi Scott and Anita!), staying with my Uncle Dan and Aunt Nancy in Bend, some of the most beautiful country-side we’ve seen, Josh’s dad’s backpack that ended up in our car instead of his (and was then photographed by us around the rest of Oregon), and a seafood shack on the beach (Rockaway Beach) that served up some seriously good food.

On the drive from Portland to Bend, out the car window

Driving through Oregon

When you stop on the trail and ask a group of high school kids to take your picture…

Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park, where we hiked with U. Dan & A. Nancy – gorgeous! And hot! This family of river otters followed us down that river on the left for most of our walk back. Made our day. Nope, made our trip. They were so fun to watch. And so huge! There is nothing like catching wildlife in its element.

Smith Rock State Park

Driving through the Cascades on the way to the coast, & we just happened upon the most “Oregon” little scene anyone could ever happen upon. I mean.


Seal Rock – our first tide pool sighting

Seal Rock

Lots cooler on the coast. Our thoughts were full of the tide and our Airbnb and finding seals and what types of cheese were available at the local grocer.

Seal Rock

Not sure why I was *so* surprised to find seals on a rock at Seal Rock, but boy was I ever. Check out the guy on the left giving us the “seriously, with the camera?” look.

Seal Rock Seals

Seal Rock again, and a very very cold Josh

Seal Rock

World’s best Airbnb, hands down. Can we please go back, like, tomorrow? (in Waldport, btw)

Airbnb Waldport Oregon

Driving up the coast, this is Newport, and that mural is pretty, and there were lots of people there, and it’s very touristy, and for all of those reasons I’d like to go back.

Newport, Oregon

The biggest question about Newport is this: who barks louder and sounds more obnoxious – the sea lions? Or the crowd of spectators? Jury’s out.

Sea Lions at Newport Oregon

Before we drove north up the coast from Waldport, we took a quick 15 minute drive south to Yachats…

Yachats Oregon

The real reason we did this, and at 7 a.m. on vacation, is to get to Cape Perpetua (famous tide pools, still gagging from extreme love for them) at sunrise. Best. Decision. Ever.

Okay. Just one more 6-month-too-late vacation post because of the tide pools, and then we can move on to real life again. Thanks for hanging in there folks! I mean, you know, if you’re still there.


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