Great Strides 2014


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Team Steppin' Up 2013

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Great Strides walk is upon us! It sneaks up on me every year. But every year Team Steppin’ Up shows up literally and figuratively, and I have you guys to thank for it! Last year we raised a whopping $2,744 – THANK YOU!

This year’s walk is on Saturday, May 17 at 10 a.m. (registration at 9) at the Calder Plaza in downtown GR. We are expecting a smaller group of walkers on our team this year, so it would be a GREAT year for you to come join us!

The research funding that this organization does really impacts my life, and (my brother) Mark’s. It’s not just “helpful”, it’s crucial. And we get more and more aware of how much we need this help every year.

We’d love to have you participate! If you’re interested, you can click here to either donate or join our walk team.

Thank you guys, for your love & support, always. I am so grateful.

Calder PlazaP.S. Let me know if you have any questions, or if you are confused with the CFF website. They’ve made changes with it during the last year, and if you’ve used it before it will probably look a little different. Sorry for any confusion!


Sunday Evening Hello!

Popping in with a few things tonight!

1. Happy Easter! We spent today celebrating at church and with our families. It feels good to be loved by them, but especially by Jesus. I love the meaning behind Easter even more than Christmas. Not that we need to be competing…

2. It looks like spring is finally arriving! I brought in a few tiny flowers from our yard yesterday. Way better than snow drifts. Obvs. Oh, and I’ve worn open-toed shoes at least twice now.

3. Grandpa Brandsen found himself in the hospital last week after hurting his back. He’s in a rehab facility now, but your prayers would definitely be appreciated! He sure would like to get back home soon.

4. I haven’t taken my camera out much lately, but here are a few shots from Mom’s birthday last month. She wanted a family picture, and we hadn’t all been together at the same time since Christmas, since someone was literally always sick. When any of us are sick we stay away from each other like opposite magnets. Was it our favorite winter? NO. Praying for a healthy spring and summer in these parts!

Also, Thomas loves Parrot with a deep, abiding love. And Jane loves Josh with a very similar love these days. It’s VERY cute.

Thomas, Parrot, & L:izardJane & GrandpaMark, Jess, Thomas, & JanePatten Family March 2014

Jane & Uncle JoshMom's Birthday Party

Mom's Birthday Party

You can’t tell in this last photo, but Thomas specifically requested “yavendar” frosting for Grandma’s cake. Jess somehow magically made it happen.

…And, did I tell you we painted our living room and dining room this past winter? You can see a little of it in the photos. We’re loving it.

5. Tomorrow morning I get to spend some time with April, my very travel-y friend. I love it when her travels bring her to MI and we can be together. It’s my fav.

6. Estate sale season has begun. Can’t wait to see what we can cram into the back of our station wagon this year!

What’s new with YOU lately?

P.S. I bought a plastic pink flamingo for the yard. My first outdoor lawn ornament. Very excited, very scared. You know.

It Was Nice To Be Away.


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It was nice to be away for a little while! But I always love coming home. Don’t you love coming home when you’ve been away? Anyway, since I have them, how about a few (unedited, because ain’t nobody got time for that) phone pics from the rest of our time in DC?

I call this “Capitol Josh”. For obvious reasons if you know him, but if you don’t, he doesn’t go the suit/tie route often. As luck would have it, it snowed on the day he was on The Hill. Poor Capitol Josh.

Capitol Josh

We popped over to the Smithsonian briefly one evening, and I found myself missing Thomas almost as much as I did at the zoo, which was a lot. Thomas recently called a triceratops a “Seratopsis” which I can’t love any more than I do. So. Bad phone pic opportunity! Boom.

Triceratops and Me

The gem exhibit, not disappointing. Again.

Natural History Gem Exhibit

One particularly brisk and windy afternoon, I rode the metro to Old Alexandria, and Josh met me there once he was out of work. I loved the area but would have loved it even more with happier weather.

Old Alexandria Trolley

You know we never miss a chance to check out local antique sources, but in this area they were super “antique-y” with that old school east coast vibe, not really our thing. Mostly.

Old Alexandria Antique Shop

There was that one happy hour shop, though, that had barware from the 20’s on up, and oh my .. They had more bar carts than I’ve ever seen in one place before. Jackpot. And also NFS. Which is probably good, because I can totally imagine Josh trying to find a way to bring one as his 65th carry-on piece of luggage.

Happy Hour Shop

Cupcakes at Crumbs bakery. They said their top seller is the red velvet, which is on the top left. FYI.

Crumbs DC

We had a few hours extra on the last day before we had to head back to the airport, & couldn’t decide between the White House (I haven’t seen it since I was little.. Wait, have I ever seen it? Not sure…) and the Botanical Garden. Yup. Not really a question, once I’m looking at it in print. Remember, it was cold. So this was Heaven!

Botanical Garden DC

We didn’t have enough time since we had to go back to the hotel & collect our luggage before heading to the airport, but I could totally spend and afternoon with a book here. Maybe I will someday!

Botanical Garden, DC

There are some more DC pictures on my Instagram account here, so check it out if you’re curious how me losing a bet affected us getting to the airport. I hate losing bets.



It’s Snowing. So. (Photo Heavy)


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Hotel Room Flowers

So Josh & I are in DC for a few days.. Him for work and me for play, per the usual. Today it is actually snowing and pretty dang windy (or so I hear, since I haven’t ventured outside yet). I spent my morning in the pool, steamroom & sauna.. so don’t cry for me Argentina. I’ll probably bundle up & visit a Smithsonian museum later, but yesterday is so far a whole lot more photogenic.

Have you ever been to the Smithsonian Zoo? I went yesterday, and aside from the extreme amounts of walking it included, I can’t recommend it more.  It is huge – there is nooo way to absorb all of the information AND see all the animals in one day. But the exhibits were so beautiful.

Plus, a baby panda!!

Panda Bears

Baby Panda & Monkey

National Zoo

National Zoo

National Zoo_0228

National Zoo

National Zoo

And one more, just because.

National Zoo Pandas

I’ll Have Some Spring, Please


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Flowers in the windowIs it spring yet?

With our especially snowy and never-ending winter, I’ve spent the last few months just kind of hunkering down and waiting things out. Not a lot of blog action going on! Trust me, you haven’t missed much. I mean, there have been a few things. But mostly just hunkering.

So last time I posted, I was doing IV therapy & actually loving the progress I was making. Ironically, a few hours after I wrote that post, my PICC line went bad and IV’s were over. Sounds mostly good (to be done), but I do wish I could’ve finished out my treatment. Since then things have been okay, but I’d like to work up to having a little more breathing room. Thank you for your prayers & love this winter! Even though I didn’t do a great job with updates, I very much appreciate your love & support.

Aren’t you guys just so ready for spring? A breath of fresh air and a change of pace sound like the bees knees. So thankful for new seasons. Until then, grocery store flowers. You know.

Pink Roses!


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New Year CardsOh gosh, I’ve been neglecting you guys. Sorry. If you need proof of my existence, I give you my stack of New Years cards, getting prepped for eventual mailing. Eventual being the key word, since really I have at least a couple of months before the year isn’t “new” anymore, right? (Please say yes) (Also, why do half of the people I know move EVERY year??)

Oh, please note the fresh flowers in the background. Roses, actually. Grandma Ryan’s favorite, although she preferred red, and it used to be the one flower I never bought. I wasn’t really into them. NOT SO ANYMORE. Did you KNOW how much happiness fresh flowers roses can bring a person? My WORD. What have I been doing all of this time? Daisies schmaisies. Well okay daisies too, really.

I’ve been on IV’s since NYE. So the holidays this year weren’t exactly ones we’d write home about, but I mean they certainly could have been worse. There have been good days and bad days, but thankfully at THIS point I think/hope I’ll be off by the end of the week. (Glad I’m not superstitious, talking like that) Pray for my brother Mark – he’s on IV’s too, started just days before me, and will probably not be done yet when I am. It’s no picnic.

I haven’t been nearly as sick (the nausea, etc) as I was last spring, & I’m so grateful. I’ve been eating like a farm hand and excepting the six days I didn’t leave the house, my energy level has been pretty good. Of course “being on IV’s” puts a big bunch of separate issues in the same situation, so there is a lot to monitor, process, work through, etc but I am happy to say that I think it’s soon to be over. Very thankful. Living with CF, nothing is known, nothing is certain, or guaranteed. I am grateful for EVERY DAY. And even MORE grateful for the days that I’m free from meds.

Thank you, so much, for your prayers, your thoughtful messages, emails, comments, etc. I love you right back!

P.S. Have I ever told you how much I love my husband? I would marry him every hour on the hour if it was an option.

A Prayer Request


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Circle RugWell, guys, I’ve got a little bit of a health update for you today. After seven months antibiotic-free, I’m back on orals. I have been for 10 days now, actually, and now I’m adding a second antibiotic to the mix because things aren’t moving in the right direction yet. I’m letting you know because I sure would appreciate your prayers! I don’t like it when my lungs feel small or constricted, and even though the rest of me feels pretty good, this is a concern.

Also weighing on my heart today, a childhood friend of mine just found out last week that her six-year-old son has CF. Talking with her, and processing through things mentally, has found a vulnerable spot in my heart and I am having a hard time separating some emotions, if that makes any sense. Pray that I can be a good friend to her, and that the heaviness/darkness that can seep in will be kept at bay.

Also, my brother Mark is on antibiotics. Apparently we like to do this together. Yeesh.

Before you head for the hills lest I come up with something even more Debbie-Downer-y, here’s some encouragment that snuck up on me yesterday. You know how sometimes people talk about how they were reading the Bible and something just “jumped right out” at them? I always wish for those moments. But last night I had my own little moment, a gift of encouragment when I was actually asking for it. I was reading the verses set out for me on my Bible App, and these ones jumped off the screen and into my heart. I felt loved.

Psalm 3:3 (New Living Translation)

“But you, Oh Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.”

And then, Proverbes 18:14

“The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?”

These verses combined = everything.

Aaaand to hammer it home, how about the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir singing it? Our choir sings this in church sometimes and it’s one of my favorites. I hope it encourages you today, as it has encouraged me!

It’ll Do.


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Since I can’t seem to pull a coherent post together these days, how about a few snapshots to tide us over?


Nutcracker Jane

Jane was over the other day and we were listening to The Nutcracker in a not-so-subtle attempt for me to brainwash her with Nutcracker Love (and obsession). It hit a particularly peppy number (Russian dancers?) and she made this face. That I had a camera around, and that this expression was caused by sheer Nutcracker delight, is still KILLING ME.


Callum - ThanksgivingCallum was doing his Camburger best after Thanksgiving dinner. Lounging back in his rocker, holding a ball (as one does), and entertaining the masses (which he has completely mastered). This kid is the real deal.


Thomas in his fortThomas turned 5 on December 7. FIVE! He had a Lego birthday party with friends over. Girls, even! Jess told me that I was one of the five friends he said he wanted to invite to the party, and my heart melted PERMANENTLY. This kid, I tell you.

Also, sometimes he orchestrates epic battles between good (pop-bead snakes/Shrek) and evil (dinosaurs/crocodiles).

Dino Battle

I love them all. And they each deserve their own blog post, but for today it’ll do.

P.S. We’re painting the living room. Can you tell?

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Cat Pic!Josh is out shoveling the driveway (whaaaaat?) and I’m finishing up my morning therapy while the cat is stuck in some sort of “parade-face” daze.. We’re celebrating Thanksgiving with Josh’s family soon, and then headed over to celebrate with mine. I love that we can be with both families in one day – in fact it happens often, not just on holidays. It’s something that we are very thankful for!

I hope that you get to spend today with people you love! Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

P.S. Thank you so much for the birthday love last week. It really brightened my already bright day!

A Little Etsy Love


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Welp, shopping season is about to descend upon us, folks. I’m never ready for it, it seems. In case you’re a little more on the ball than I am – or, if you could use a few suggestions, I thought I’d share a little Etsy love today.

For a long time, until I really started exploring it, I thought of Etsy as just a place to buy bead earrings or homemade soaps (pretty sure you could find those too, if that’s your jam! .. Probably homemade jam too). But there is a whole world of handmade & vintage goodness out there just waiting to be discovered.

We love selling with our vintage shop, but I actually buy more handmade items than anything else from Etsy. Here are a few things that I have recently purchased, and loved, from Etsy. Happy shopping!

4-plant garden of realistic crocheted cacti and succulents

This little cacti garden is a perfect gift for the black-thumbed peeps in your life (found here) – looks like they’re out of these for now but they do make them to order…

Spring Succulent pillow made to order

Or, treat someone to this pretty succulent pillow – my new fave! (found here)

christmas print / 8x10 / isaiah 9:6

A little Christmas beauty. (from here)

CHLOE Baby Headband, Newborn headband, Flower Headband .  (Buy 3 Get 1 Free) . newborn photography prop headband

Baby headbands! I cannot stop buying these things. This shop has great headbands and cute packaging too.

Wood Teether Hippo wooden toy natural baby toy

Not into bows & frills? How about a handcrafted teether instead? (found here)

Hamburger Hamburger Hamburger

I’ve even found that if you see something that’s allllllmost perfect but could use a little tweak, many shops will work with you to make it happen. In this case, I fell in love with this sharpie-drawn hamburger artwork (right?!) and the artist did a custom piece for me that looked the same but said “Camburger” instead of “Hamburger”. AND she made it in a smaller size to work with my budget! It never hurts to ask. Hamburger print still available, found here.

Baby Shower Invitation ... Little Ones to Him Belong Baby Shower Invitation - Yellow and Grey Design, other colors available - Item 0105BS3

Another customization that wouldn’t have happened without asking is the invitation above. Often you can choose your own colors for invitations, but in this case the seller also added a few little pumpkins into the design (seen here). Baby shower invite found here.


Like I said, I’m hooked on Etsy for invitations. Bachelorette party invite found here.

Self Inking Stamp - Return Address Stamp - Handwritten Style - Side Tag - Doodle Design Stamp - 1.5" x 1.5" - 1.5 inch square stamp

Another great gift idea (know anyone who just moved?) and something that I’ve bought for our home & Etsy shop is a return address stamp. There are approximately 1.5 billion choices on Etsy, so chances of you finding one that you like are pretty good! Above stamp found here; I’ve also purchased this one and this one.

Undecorated Wooden Refillable 2013 Calendar Holder with Straight top

And last but not least, a calendar makes a lovely holiday gift! Etsy has such beautiful and inspiring options, I’ve completely given up buying calendars in big box stores and am hooked on these. I would recommend searching on “wall calendar” or “desk calendar” because the sheer volume can be overwhelming. But still. Fun.

I landed on this one (above) last year and have been super happy with it. I’ve been meaning to paint some funky white or gold stripes on the top but haven’t done it yet and actually kinda like it as is. All I need to do is buy refills every year and my calendar decision is made. Happy camper.

So there’s a tiny little corner of the Etsy world for ya. See anything you like? What have you bought off Etsy recently? I’m taking notes!

All photos in this post came from the Etsy shops that they were linked to.


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