This was a tough week that I’m not quite ready to go into about on here… But, on Friday night the family (including my wonderful in-laws who are in town visiting) visited a local park for Movies in the Park. It was absolutely the most perfect ending to a very long week.
I had read a little about movies in the park program and knew we’d go to a park, picnic in tow, and see a little live music and a movie. We picked a local park playing the movie Frozen. It was all of that, but so much more! I was impressed by what the City of Portland and the local sponsors put together for a free evening of entertainment.
Right after my skin cancer diagnosis I had the opportunity to meet the owner and creator of the sun safe fashion line SummerSkin. Summer Kramer (yep, that is her name!) is seriously such an inspirational powerhouse of a woman that has really made a beautiful brand of clothing that can also help protect you. I was fortunate enough to be able to sample one of her creations— the Endless Summer Scarf. The Endless Summer Scarf is just too much fun because it can be worn so many different ways. I got the scarf the week before my surgery and had fun creating 7 Different Days of SummerSkin Style for my Instagram feed. Over the next couple of Curvy Girl Style posts I’ll be sharing some of my favorite outfits from that week! Check out all the styles I did by looking up #mysummerskin on Instagram!
So, my first favorite is actually the first outfit I put together. It is perfect for an easy summer day at the beach. Casual, cool, but still protected!
Outfit details: Hat —Target // White T-Shirt —Target // Bracelets: 1 home made from old shoe straps and the red leather braided bracelet is a favorite from Flourish Leather // Shoes— Payless // Boyfriend Jeans— Old Navy // Scarf: Endless Summer Scarf from SummerSkin in White
Having family visit for this fun three day weekend has just been amazing. And, even though most of us have been working hard trying to get over an icky Summer cold… we have been having a great holiday weekend. Of course, any weekend that starts with 3 hours of my enjoying alone time being pampered at the salon is going to be a good weekend.
After really wanting to go blond for a while Dosha salon sent me an email sharing a fantastic 50% off special for July 4th. Seriously, if you like Dosha then you want to get on their email club list. I’m always getting great deals through it! (Not sponsored- just like a good deal!)
Anyways, Friday morning was spent getting pampered at the salon while the family got everything ready for a potluck holiday lunch with friends. After playing at the park and eating lots of great food we had fun with a few sparklers at home and hit the hay. Kiddo still isn’t a fan of the loud bang of fireworks, so some major cuddling was happening as well.
Saturday was spent traveling Oregon. We started by touring the Tillamook Cheese Factory and heading out to the beach for an easy afternoon. We went out to Netarts, Oregon where we found a small little beach to sit and enjoy the ocean for a while. I don’t know if there is anything as restorative to me than the ocean. The sky in Oregon was brilliant yesterday and made for some great photographs. When I went to post one on Instagram my feed was filled with local friends posting photos of the sky as well!
We stopped by The Schooner in Netarts for dinner and sat at a HUGE outdoor table for a meal. The food was decent, but the presentation was awesome. A lot of thought had been put into the presentation of the meals making for a not quite practical, but fun dinner.
Today we are heading out to a 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration. I’m sure my Instagram feed will be filled with cute little party details. Follow along if you wanna see!
This weekend has been wonderful. My wonderful in-laws are in town and we’ve been spending time together while also attending a couple of Portland events.
Saturday was the West Elm Meet & Make “Crafting a Summer Gathering: Making Your 4th of July Party Pop!” I had the opportunity to teach local crafters how to make some party items for their upcoming 4th of July parties. Look forward to Tutorials and free printables this week!
Connect with the West Elm Portland Facebook or Instagram accounts to stay updated about future events. They’ve always got fun and affordable events going on such as my meet and make or paper flower crafting with Lia Griffith and more.
Today my mom-in-law joined me for a sneak preview of the Portland Flea and Rejuvenation collaboration Sunday Emporium. We shopped some adorable local hand-crafted home decor items as well as vintage decor. I bought an amazing little collection for my kitchen– I will have to share when it’s up on the wall!
Head out to Sunday Emporium the last Sunday of every month from 11 am to 5PM.
As a fair and freckly skinned individual descending from a family of red-heads, I have always been aware that the sun and I aren’t the greatest of friends. I’m the girl that will wear nothing less than SPF 30 and will consistently re-apply sun cream throughout the day and annoyingly remind others to do the same.
But last summer, my awareness of just how dangerous sun damage can be to a human became even more heightened. Unfortunately my lovely Dad was diagnosed with and subsequently died from a malignant melanoma, the most fatal of skin cancers.
I knew about skin cancer of course. I knew to wear sun cream, I knew that you should check moles and I knew that skin cancer could be removed. What I thought I knew about skin cancer, was what I knew about Basal Cell Carcinoma, a common skin cancer that is terrifying for those who are diagnosed but can be treated if caught in good time. I didn’t understand malignant melanoma and I didn’t know that it was deadly. Not only was I upset about how ignorant I had been about the disease in general, I was upset about how ignorant everyone seems to be about the disease.
I was surprised by how little research has been done into any type of skin cancer and the lack of treatment choice that there appeared to be for my Dad and the type of skin cancer he had. Having so many friends and relations with fair skin, our family wanted to do what we could to make sure that this changes for the future. We raised money in memory of Dad for The British Skin Foundation’s Skin Cancer Appeal, which directly supports research into this ‘Cinderella’ (or poor relation) cancer. It is the only UK charity to do so. (I’m pleased to see that in the US there is more than one charity supporting skin cancer research.) Since supporting and following the British Skin Foundation, I have far more appreciation for their cause. They are getting some good exposure across the national media, but they rely on others, like my family, to help them spread the word too.
Sun safety is more than just putting on sun cream. It’s about raising awareness of the dangers that can come with exposure to too much sun. If we all know how to act, what to do and how to protect ourselves from the heat, perhaps cases of skin cancer will be reduced and the more support there will be for finding a cure.
Thank you to Laura Farrar for sharing her story of why sun safety is important to her and her family. This post is a part of an ongoing series here on A Well Crafted Party in honor of Skin Cancer Awareness. I’d highly recommend checking out Laura’s great blog Farrars Further Afield for updates on her fabulous adventures including her home updates and recipes.
Connect with Laura on Instagram and congratulate her on her brand new baby!
If you would like to be featured in this series please email me the reason you care about sun safety to jenni[at]awellcraftedparty[dot]com!
Tomorrow, June 21, is the official first day of Summer! While some parts of the country are probably already HOT, HOT, HOT… it still feels like the late Spring here in Portland. The sun is beginning to come out and I’m sure we are well on the way to enjoying a gorgeous Summer season. I’ve been daydreaming about my Summer bucket list and wanted to share a few of my Summer To Dos for 2014.
After finally making the decision to see a dermatologist things moved really, really fast. Two plus years of waiting and making excuses and suddenly I was in the dermatologist’s office waiting for her to tell me I’m silly and that I was all worried about an infected zit or something. Because while deep down I knew I had skin cancer… I really, really wanted to be wrong.
Instead of telling me I was silly the conversation went something like this:
Her: “So, you’ve got a problem spot I hear. Tell me a bit about it.”
Me: “Well, I discovered it about two and a half years ago…” (well, you know the story)
Her: “I see you’ve covered it up with a bit of makeup. I don’t blame you at all… but, I gotta be the bad guy and take your make up off just a bit here.”
See, she was really nice and pretty funny. She set me at ease entirely. To the point that I too was joking back and forth with her. I was all… “Hi, I think I have skin cancer and now I’m gonna make you laugh.” People freak out in all kinds of ways. That day, I chose jokes at my expense.
After cleaning off the spot she looked at it for about a millisecond before saying:
Her: “I’m going to go ahead and do a skin biopsy today. I am pretty sure you have skin cancer.”
Me: “Yep, I thought so.”
Her: “But, I’m also pretty sure that it is basal cell carcinoma which is the least scary types of skin cancer.”
Me: “Oh, that’s good.”
At this point I shut off all words… basically the only words I really heard were CANCER and CARCINOMA. Seriously, aren’t those the scariest words ever?
She had me lay back on the exam table and prepared me for what she was going to do. It was a simple procedure that included her giving me a shot of numbing goodness (which hurt like hell, but made it to where I couldn’t feel a thing) and then shaved off the mole. She then put it in a sample container to go off to the lab.
Her: “How old are you again? (Jotting things down on a chart.)
Her: “Oh, that’s young.”
Next came the cauterizing… this time it did hurt. But, as soon as she heard me gasp she gave me another shot.
Me: “I handled child-birth, I shouldn’t be such a wimp!”
Her: (After a chuckle…) “All done! So, do you want to see what it looks like now, or wait til you get home and take off your bandaid?”
Me: “Now, I think.”
What I saw wasn’t a pretty picture. My tiny mole suddenly was a crater in my head. (It really wasn’t THAT big.) The cauterizing made the wound seize up and make a divot. Today, around 4 weeks later, it is a small slightly shiny patch of healed skin. No big deal.
Her: “So, you’ll hear back either way in two weeks or less. If it is cancer you’ll get a call, if it isn’t you’ll get a letter in the mail.”
I was smiling when I left the doctor’s office. Then, as soon as I reached my car, it all hit. Words like “cancer,” “carcinoma,” and “young” floated around in my head. I wanted my mom and dad. I didn’t want to be an adult anymore and I didn’t want to be dealing with this at all. Basically in about the 1 minute it took me to get to my car I became a blubbering mess.
I knew things could have been MUCH worse. Maybe the break down was partially in relief that it wasn’t worse? Maybe it was all my adrenaline finally letting down. The nervous pit I’d had in my belly for a year or more was finally calming a bit? I don’t know. But, going back to work that day was not easy, nor entirely productive.
I calmed down after that first day. Well, I thought I did, until the first time a number I didn’t recognize came up on my cell phone. I was in the middle of giving a presentation when I noticed out of the corner of my eye my phone light up and the number flash across the screen. Suddenly my palms were sweaty and my heart was racing. I was SAD. The tears came all over again when I finally got around to listening to my message and finding out that I had photos to pick up at Walgreens.
Over a week went by without a phone call and I thought *maybe* just maybe the doctor was wrong. But, the call came.
Random stranger from the office giving me life altering news: “Yes, Jennifer? We got your results in and you have Basal Cell Carcinoma. We’d like to schedule a Mohs Surgery right away.”
Random stranger: “Really though, if you have to have skin cancer… this is the one you want to have. You’ve got a great surgeon and the surgery is really successful.”
Me: “Okay. Thank you.”
That is a lot to share up there. It is a lot to read. I don’t even have pretty photos to break it all up. Thank you for letting me share my story with you. I promise I have loads of fun things coming up soon. (Fun like party DIYS, recipes, and fashion posts!) But, I feel that I need to share this story of my life in my space here. And, if it helps one person go get checked, feel like they aren’t alone, or bring more awareness to skin cancer then it will be totally worth it.
I’m excited to be sharing my DIY Sunscreen Station with Today’s Creative Blog! It is a totally customizable station that you can put up near the door of your home so that you are reminded to put on your sunscreen before leaving the house!
I’d like to gain as much Skin Cancer Awareness as possible this month. Hopefully, people all over will take some precautions when it comes to sun safety and save a whole generation from going through skin cancer in the future.
I know… the title is pretty bold. Yes, really my dermatologist and my upcoming surgery will likely be the things that actually save my face. However, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to go into the dermatologist if it hadn’t been for one lovely lady at the Aveda Institute in Portland.
*Please note that I am in NO WAY suggesting going to a salon for a facial is in any way equivalent to a professional opinion. But, I wanted to tell my story about how one facial moved me to going to get my face examined by the dermatologist.
I actually discovered my new frienemy about two and a half years ago. It was sometime after my little one was born that I noticed a mole on my forehead that I had never noticed before. I wasn’t concerned. I am covered in freckles and moles… I thought perhaps it was a sign I was aging. To me, it looked like a clear, slightly raised bump on my forehead. It was nothing a little makeup couldn’t cover.
I did mention the new mole to my general practitioner when I went in for a check-up. The doctor wasn’t concerned at the time. (Admittedly, I came in with a laundry list of things I wanted him to check and he gave each item his attention, but focused on the items that were causing me the most distress.)
About a YEAR later my mole began breaking open and bleeding. This should have been a dead giveaway to me. It wasn’t. I assumed I just scraped it hard with my towel when drying my hair. It would heal up, I’d forget about it, and then it would break open again.
At one point I was out with a friend during a photo shoot and she told me about her experience of skin cancer. She described what was happening on my face to a T. I didn’t tell her I was concerned about my face. I didn’t show her my mole. But, I knew I had skin cancer. I still didn’t go in to see the dermatologist. (I’m shaking my head too right now.)
To see a chart for your skin self-checks visit the ABCD’s of Melanoma from the Melanoma Foundation. My skin did not have the same color as the ones in this chart. Also, gross.
Does it matter? It was stupid! I had a thousand and one excuses… “It’s too expensive.” “I don’t have time.” “I can’t take off of work right now.” “It’ll be 6 months before I can even get an appointment.” Etc. Etc. Etc.
This year for the Portland Fashion Week Style Collective I had the opportunity to try the Aveda Institute’s student-led spa facial. I had never had a facial before and was looking forward to it. I really didn’t even think about my mole being a concern. The student did an amazing job. She was professional and explained the process to me as she went along because I asked her to. She evaluated my skin so that she could suggest the types of products and skin regime I should follow for my skin. It was great! And then she happened upon my mole…
“Can you tell me more about this spot on your forehead?” she politely asked.
“Yea, it breaks open every now and again. But, it is fine.” I lied.
Later her teacher came in and checked her progress. She too was professional and explained things to me as she was working. She too asked me about the spot. I told her a little bit more.
“It is a mole of mine that breaks open every now and again. I know I need to get it checked. I have an appointment next month.” I TOTALLY LIED AGAIN.
“Oh good! It is looking a little abnormal to me and I definitely think you should get it checked out. When is your appointment?” She responded. (Did she know I was lying!?!)
“I think in two weeks… I don’t remember.” I lied again.
I’m not a liar. I don’t like lying. I am BAD at lying. So this little lie stuck with me all night long.
The next day I called and made my appointment. Surprisingly enough I found a dermatologist near my work, that accepted my insurance, and had an appointment open just three days later.
So, that lovely lady and Aveda student really helped make me go in to get my skin check and begin my journey to healthier skin. And, bonus, they also suggested some great tips for my skin type that have really improved my skin. But, that is a post for another day (soon!)
A few weeks ago I shared on Instagram about going in for a biopsy on my face. (See bandage above.) I recently received the news from the biopsy that I do indeed have skin cancer. I’ve been mulling the news over for a while before deciding to post about my experience.
I’m a pretty even-keel person publicly. While I am privately very much an advocate for different topics and causes, on-line I keep things pretty neutral. Live and let live. I don’t typically get on my soap-box for things. But, life sure does have a way of changing things quickly, doesn’t it? I got this diagnosis at the end of April and low-and-behold, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. (See me stepping up on the soap box now?)
I’ve decided to share about my experience and focus on Skin Cancer fairly often this month. It won’t take over every post, and some of it will be a lot of fun. But, know that from now on… I’m an advocate for sun safety and skin care, and I won’t be neutral on this topic.
Throughout the month I’ll be sharing about my biopsy experience (no pics!), more information on skin cancer, crafts for sun-safety and some great sun-safety products.
I think it is pretty easy for a person to forget that they aren’t the center of the universe. Watching my toddler grow up I’ve been reminded over and over again that some things feel like they are going to crash your entire world. Sometimes it feels like your problems are the most important. Sometimes a tantrum is just the thing to do.
I keep using the terms “they” and “your” here because it is hard to admit to being the one that sometimes gets lost in my own little world, to placing myself at the center of the universe. Bitching, complaining, getting angry, or even just feeling sorry for myself is often a little too easy.
Living in a very connected world, I easily forget how BIG the world really is… While I can easily engage with people from all over the globe—read personal stories of people I’ll likely never meet, connect via Twitter, or even Skype with family living abroad—there is an entire plane full of people lost somewhere out there in this gigantic planet we have. It baffles me. It even scares me at times. In this case it saddens me greatly. But, mostly, it makes me feel small.
— RSomY7 (@SRanJ7) March 14, 2014
(A tweet I read & shared that hit home.)
Feeling small isn’t a bad thing necessarily. Sometimes it can be a good thing. Have you ever been outdoors, surrounded by a sky full of stars and suddenly felt tiny? Have you stood in awe looking up at the trees in a forest reaching as high as you can see? I’ve often searched out that feeling… that moment of realizing that the world is larger than me and my life. I tend to use it as a reminder to center myself, breathe, and remember that my problems aren’t quite as large as they feel. Sometimes I celebrate the moments that I have the opportunity to feel small.
I am sure that countless innovations have come from that feeling of being small, of stepping back and thinking about how to solve problems, bridge the gap, and find the planes that go missing. As I feel small in this moment I am trying to gain perspective on what really matters, take the time to put effort into those things I value, and make my world a little bit bigger in the process.
My thoughts are with the families, friends, and those who are searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. I hope that the world can get a little smaller, connect, and bring news of what happened to the flight. I also hope that this makes others feel a little small, that innovation may happen, and that people may step outside themselves for even just a few moments.
I’ve been struggling with finding balance between my work life (which I love) and my home life (which I love) and my blog life… which, you guessed it… I love.
I’ve decided today that the work week should be a four day week. The hours don’t have to be only eight… but, I am pretty sure that a 3 day weekend is the answer to everyone’s problems. 😉
1 day for play
1 day for necessary chores & errands
1 day for relaxation
*Pictures above are from my very busy and fun weekend visiting Whole Foods Market for the “The Crack Heard Around the World” and attending the Portland Bloggers Speed Dating event. More about both these events soon… and, a $75 Whole Foods Market Giveaway!
The past few years for me have been back and forth and all over the place when it comes to work and family. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to take time to develop my blog and freelance work to really benefit myself and my family. It wasn’t easy on my husband, son, or finances living the freelance life. I’ve appreciated that I’ve had so much support these few years though– I mean, how many people get the opportunity to really work on their dreams?
In September I was offered a full-time position as a Social Media and Marketing Specialist at an amazing company that is really doing good in the community. My freelance work and my blog had finally gotten to a place where it was being profitable and I was getting closer to my goals right before this opportunity presented itself. I knew that in accepting the full time position I would have to really step back in many areas of my life. Basically, I was at a fork in the road and I decided to just battle my way through the obstacles in my path rather than deciding to take one road over the other. A whole jungle of opportunity and challenges in front of me and there I was staring it down with my machete no where in sight.
I am disappointed in the way that I handled the transition from freelance to full-time. I let some people down and I certainly let my blog go in the process. Since September I’ve felt like I am in a constant state of juggling priorities. My health has suffered. My state of mind has suffered. My friendships have suffered.
I’m just now at a point where I feel like I am getting a handle on life again. I’m learning to say no (even when I don’t want to) to opportunities that come my way that I don’t have time to do properly. I’m working on focusing and prioritizing. Heck, I’m working on learning how to have a day off!
More than that… I’m teaching myself to blog again! I’m trying to get back to the roots of why I began blogging and what I want to get out of blogging. I’m working on regular postings and clear goals for the year.
In my desire to re-focus and prioritize my blog I thought that perhaps others out there may need to work on their focus a bit. So, I created the below printable for bloggers looking to get back on track for their blogs.
This worksheet coordinates with my Free Blog Planner Printables– check back
later this week soon for new and updated blog planner printable pages!
When I was a child I loathed taking family photos. Everyone had to get dressed up in nearly identical clothing and head to a stuffy studio where we posed awkwardly and pasted smiles on our faces. Even if we had a great photographer, the experience was never too amazing. I’m glad we have those photos. But, I’m even more glad that today’s “family photos” have an entirely different feel to them.
This year, as a gift to our parents and siblings, we hired Macey from Motormouth Studios for our family photos. It was freezing outside, but we had a clear and beautiful day to work with as we took our family photos in SE Portland. I gave everyone a loose color scheme to work with and asked them to join us for an hour of taking photos. SO much better than family photos when I was a kiddo.
I couldn’t be more thrilled with these photos. Each day when I wake up and drink my coffee before I head off to work I look around at the photos on the walls of my living room and smile big.