Monday, June 5, 2017

The year of cozy....

Our Christmas card last year wished everyone a cozy holiday season.   That craving for cozy seems to have followed us into this year!  In January I started reading articles and blogs that mentioned the term hygge:  a Danish term defined as "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being."  I realized I wasn't the only one craving cozy.    For my birthday in April my friends gave me a "hygge" birthday themed gift complete with a cozy blanket, a mug, a box of tea, a new candle and a wish for a hygge year ahead.   They said they got me a blanket because with a spring birthday I probably don't get blankets as gifts very often.   I month later I texted them and jokingly blamed them all for the lousy weather that has made me need that blanket every night since!!    I still enjoy cozy but am certainly craving some sunshine and warm (or even hot) days outside where I don't need to curl under a blanket every night!

Duck Head cottage is already quite cozy.  A 1940's cottage it has small rooms, cozy fireplaces, small beds, and little spaces.  This winter/spring we've made a few changes that made it even cozier, if that's even possible.  We opted to get a small sectional for our living room so we can all cozy up together as a family when we watch movies.   We only have one more year with Kelsey home before college and we want to fit in as many movie nights all squished on one couch as we can before she goes!  Sniff sniff!

It fits in perfectly albeit a little squished between a heater we don't use on the wall and the kitchen doorway.   We are planning to remove the heater to make a bit more space for it to make the room feel a little less squished.  But it fits us all and is quite cozy.  I got a striped turkish blanket too which feels a bit more summery for cuddling.  

We decided to keep the leather couch we already had in the living room and put it in the front entry room adjacent to the dining room table.  We had a more casual futon there and while it provided more sleeping area I didn't always love the look.   Our nephews often have snacks in this space so the leather couch is more durable.   It's also the perfect spot for morning coffee with views of the lake in this cozy corner nook.   I call it my coffee couch because it's where I usually choose to sit when I wake up earlier than everyone else and come downstairs to have coffee and enjoy the stillness of the lake.  

This area is off the front hallway as you enter Duck Head.  There are hooks everywhere in the hallway for bags, coats, ski stuff, etc.  It's the perfect mudroom/entryway for the cottage especially for multiple families sharing the space.  It gives us storage space to tuck things out of the way so we can enjoy the main living areas.  

This is where we live when we are the lake.   With two sitting areas, a large farmer's table and the propane stove we spend the majority of our time when we are inside the cottage in this room with views of the lake.

The lake is like a mirror most mornings.  So still that it reflects the opposite shore and Gove Hill perfectly! 
We spent the weekend celebrating these two.  150 years of combined living.   My dad turned 80 yesterday and my step-mom turned 70!   We celebrated with all 5 of their kids, their spouses and their 13 grandchildren.   My brother and sister-in-law's cottage was filled with 3 families -13 people and 2 dogs.   We had 12 and two dogs at Duck Head.   It was such a fun weekend with 25 of their family members all together for the weekend to celebrate them.  Their smiles said it all.  They were just so happy to be surrounded by all their kids and grandkids for their joint celebration.   You'd think it would have been hectic but everyone chipped in and helped plan and cook different meals and helped with clean up.  Rod and I really felt like we were on vacation too because we were in charge of one meal for the entire group and after that we were able to relax and enjoy our company the rest of the weekend.  What a treat to be able to relax while hosting!

This delicious cake was dairy and gluten free and I had a HUGE slice!  

We also enjoyed homemade ice-cream which is a bit of a tradition with my dad.   We've made it together for years and it only seemed fitting to have some to celebrate his 80th birthday.   Rod, Haley and my dad mixed up the ingredients and we all took turns cranking it on my brother and KT's dock while he made homemade pizzas for everyone.   We made vanilla and M&M ice-cream and it was delicious! Especially with that cake!

Happy 70th & 80th Grandpies & Gammie!!
This man usually is dressed for the day as soon as he gets up but I caught this chance to get a picture with both of us in our pjs on his 80th birthday morning!  Nice hair dad.  I guess we know which side you slept on ;)

Rod has apparently taken on my anal quality of organizing the fire pit area!  ;)  It looks like a smile!  
The weekend was filled with shared games.
Shared meals
Cousin time

Good conversations

Lots of outdoor time at Myles Away
Lots and lots of dock time!

A boat escorted couple of swims across the lake as well.  And lots and lots and lots of fishing!
What looks like a proposal but was actually Sam helping Lindsay put her worm on her hook. 
And even some naps
A end of weekend chat caught through the kitchen window with our youngest, our two labs and Grandpies.

A break from packing up to watch friends graduating through Skype
We left P & P at Duck Head for an extra night to enjoy the quiet (& calm) after we left!
We'll be back soon!  Looking forward to more summer days at the lake!!
Hopefully they will be a little more sunny but still just as cozy!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Reverse Bucket List

Remind yourself of all you've already accomplished.  #reversebucketlist #tobecontinued #livelovelife

Sometimes we are so busy writing to do lists and making plans and thinking about the future that we forget to write our done lists, to be grateful, to reflect on our accomplishments, to appreciate what has already happened.   If you haven't started yours yet put down your phone or laptop and start it now.   Attach a picture in the comments if you'd like to share.  Enjoy the ride!  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I might be oversharing, but.....

For those that follow me on Facebook, Instagram, twitter or on my blog you probably already heard that April is IBS awareness month.   Again.  And again.  And again.   I might be oversharing for the cause but it is only because it is something I'm passionate about!   I am feeling so much better than I did a few years ago ( ).  I do believe I'm still on my "getting healthy" journey and will be for a long time but I want others to know there is hope too!  I want others to know they are not alone.

I can't remember the last time my doctor asked me about my bowel movements.  I honestly don't even know exactly when things went amiss.  I just know I started realizing that certain foods were not good for my belly and I gave up gluten and dairy and then I've spent the last few years figuring out exactly what else is bothering my belly.  Low Fodmaps were the key.   If you don't know what they are go check out Kate Scarlata's wonderful blog with a huge assortment of food lists and blogs about the topic.   Part of my journey also involves SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and it can't just be gotten rid of with healthy eating and exercising.   You need to bring out the big guns!   Rifaximin is prescribed for people who get a bad case of traveler's diarhhea dierreah  diarrhea (you'd think I'd be able to spell it by now!) and it's $1000 a pop.   I've taken three rounds of it!!!   Thank god my insurance company approved it.   Many don't.

Many doctor's don't believe in SIBO or have never heard of it before.   It's supposedly a new fangled disease.   The new popular diagnosis.  What people in the know actually think is that the majority of people who have been suffering all their lives with IBS actually have an underlying case of SIBO.   They've been told by their doctor's that it's chronic and to just deal with it and this is how they will live out their days.   In one international survey of IBS patients they determined that people with IBS would be willing to give up 25% of their remaining life to gain access to treatments that would provide symptom relief.   That is a scary statistic.   That makes you realize how much people are suffering.  This is not a disease that allows people to stay in bed or have a lazy day on the couch.  This is a debilitating, isolating, awful disease that makes people feel quite literally like SHIT!

And research for IBS and SIBO is completely underfunded.   20% of the global population suffers from IBS and the majority are women.   Yet is one of the most underfunded research out there.   IBS Awareness month and Kate's campaign #IBelieveinyourStory is critical for getting the word out and for educating health professionals and individuals suffering in silence about SIBO and IBS.

I will keep talking about food with random people, I will keep helping people figure out what is wrong with them, and I will keep talking about poop (much to my kid's chagrin!)  It is embarrassing but it is important.   Every person deserves to live their best life.  To feel their healthiest.  To find the tools to help them feel better.   To know they are not alone.  To know we are all in this together!
A sampling of #IBelieveinyourStory pictures and quotes posted on instagram with the #

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hoppy Easter to my Peeps!

I enjoy decorating and getting ready for holidays but truth be told I enjoy it more with the kids around.   They are busier and busier these days as are all tweens and teens and we haven't found time to decorate until today.   And we are hosting.  

It's been a busy week and somehow all my to-do's got piled up into yesterday and today!  All good things but busy just the same.  This week our town Neighbor Brigade collected items for the food pantry and people delivered breads, chocolate bunnies and paper goods to my house so I loaded them up and brought them over!  Our town is so generous anytime we ask for help with anything!  I love coordinating and participating in drives like this around the holidays.  So important to give back and to teach my girls to do the same!!

I got my license today, nothing like leaving it till the last minute as my birthday is tomorrow! While there I confirmed something that I already know about myself.    I truly am an extroverted introvert.   I left for the registry with sopping wet hair and was annoyed I'd be arriving there during the lunch hour rush.  I quickly got in line and filled out my paperwork figuring I'd have a long wait after for my number to be called.  I met a grandpa in line whose birthday was today and he and I were joking and laughing and wishing each other a Happy Birthday.   I was heading straight and hadn't even looked at my number when they announced a number.   I looked to see how long a wait I was going to have and realized they had just called my number.   So much for applying lip gloss and running my fingers through my hair so it didn't look wet.   The first picture she took I looked like I was rolling my eyes at the woman because I moved before it flashed.  She and I were laughing and chatting away.  It was quicker than I could have hoped and then I was done.   On the way to the bathroom after I saw someone who I recognized from town  Didn't even say hello or act like I knew them.   Cringe.   I can be so friendly with people I don't know and never have to see again but god forbid I have to make small talk with someone I sort of know.   Something to work on in my 46th year.  Or to just accept about myself.   I'll have to decide.  

After school I decided it was about time we got in the Easter spirit around here!  Tomorrow is my birthday and Saturday is clean the yard and house and bake and cook day so today was the day.   I convinced my youngest daughter to help since her sisters were off with friends and took her to Starbucks for an afternoon pick me up.     She tried the "Cadbury Cream Egg Frappuccino" that she had read about and had to look up the recipe on line for them to make it for her.   A little sweet she said but she liked it!

Haley helped me collect the Easter decorations from the attic and bring them down and then decorate the egg tree and the house.  It's finally looking like Spring outside with the forsythia and daffodils and hyacinths in bloom and now the inside of our house feels ready for Easter too!  

Simple and easy and such a fun Easter statement.  Branches from outside
with a few plastic eggs with ribbons to hang them.  
Chalk board and bunnies Haley made.  
My favorite Easter bunny picture.  I think we stopped going after this year! Haley was NOT happy!
Some wooden eggs, chicks and a wooden bunny add to the holiday spirit. 
More chalk art by Haley and I and a garland the girls made last year.  
All my chicks come in 3's.  
With a birthday so close to Easter I always got bunnies for my birthday.
This glass one is from my childhood.

Saturday we'll be baking and spreading more flowers around the house and the patio to make it feel even more like spring.  It was a long winter this year even for me!  Try this recipe by Haley for some homemade chocolate and peanut butter deliciousness.   (We can't make them too far in advance or they'll all be gone by the time our guests arrive!)

I've been busy helping Kate with her campaign "#IBelieveinyourStory" to make people aware of the number of individuals with IBS and SIBO during IBS Awareness Month, to give people a chance to share their stories and to raise money for IBS, SIBO and FODMAPS research.   To learn more about the campaign head to Kate's site.  IBS and SIBO are very isolating diseases and this campaign is giving people a voice and an understanding that they are not alone!      This is something I feel passionately about as I was misdiagnosed for years by my doctor until Kate finally suggested I get tested for SIBO.   One of the goals of the campaign is to post inspirational quotes on Instagram.  Below are some of the quotes I have posted.  On a daily basis I meet someone that is "intolerant" to certain foods or suffering with belly issues.   Gut health is so important to our daily satisfaction in life.    Let's hope they come up with a cure soon!


Saturday, April 1, 2017


I was sick for over a decade. I looked healthy but had so many strange symptoms that made me feel broken, like my body was failing me. After my 3rd daughter was born 12 years ago I suffered from post-partum depression but also had a lot of other strange symptoms. I was cold all the time and exhausted and just didn’t feel like myself. My friends Laurie Nealon and Kathy Piche encouraged me to have my thyroid tested. After scheduling the test I found out that thyroid disease runs on both sides of my family. I found out that I had Hashimotos Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune thyroid disease.  

After being on the thyroid medication for over a year I still didn’t feel like myself so I asked my doctor if I could be tested for anything that had to do with depression and exhaustion. It turns out I had stopped absorbing Vitamin B12 and vitamin D from the food I ate. At that time I was misdiagnosed with pernicious anemia (another autoimmune disease which inhibits the body from absorbing B12 from food) and my husband, Rod MacLeod, has given me bi-monthly B12 shots for the past 10 years to counteract the utter exhaustion I felt without those shots. Unfortunately my symptoms persisted and even got worse.  

I gained weight despite training for and running a half marathon at 40, regular exercise and eating healthfully. My joints hurt to the point of tears. Simply doing the laundry became a task that I could barely accomplish without pain. My joint pain seemed to move around my body from my wrists to my ankles.  No one could figure out what was wrong with me. I saw numerous specialists who said I had tendinitis of the achilles tendon, tight heel cords, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, the start of rheumatoid arthritis, permanent neuropathy, but none of these diagnosis held up and none of them explained all of my symptoms.   At the end of each appointment my doctor would simply tell me to keep working on losing weight. I was at my wits end so I tried a functional medicine doctor. My inflammation levels were high. He suggested I give up gluten and dairy and even chicken and my inflammation levels significantly reduced in 6 months.  

But I still didn’t feel quite right.  My hair was falling out to the point that my hairdresser was extremely concerned. At one point I even had a small spot of alopecia, bald as a baby's bottom. I cried. I knew I was sick but now I was losing my hair too? My eyes were extremely dry and I needed to start using eye drops and wearing glasses as my vision was getting extremely blurry from dry eye.  I started having diarrhea on almost a daily basis. Some days I couldn’t leave my house because truthfully I couldn’t leave my bathroom. My white blood count was low and I was exhausted ALL THE TIME. My friend, Kate Scarlata, who is also a registered dietitian, suggested I get tested for SIBO. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth? But that’s what really sick patients have. And then I realized, I am really sick! When I was diagnosed with SIBO I took the medicine prescribed to me and started following a low-fodmap diet and FINALLY started feeling relief from ALL my symptoms.  

Just a few letters but they interrupted my life for 10 years.  
I also started doing Beach Body work outs at home thanks to the encouragement of a high school acquaintance, Wendy Schmidt Dartt, who is now someone I consider a friend and is a daily inspiration to me and so many others. I am now on the path to healing. I have lost the weight, my joints don’t hurt and my body is absorbing nutrients again. I don’t feel broken anymore and I am stronger than I have ever been!  

I believe in sharing my story because if my friends hadn’t believed in mine I know I would still be sick because truthfully no matter what I said to my doctor she just wasn't hearing me. #IBelieveinyourStory because I don’t want anyone else to suffer in silence or to think they are alone! Share a quote or message of solidarity with the tag #IBelieveinyourStory if you have a friend or loved one who suffers from #IBS or #SIBO for IBS Awareness month in April. I feel fortunate to be working behind the scenes with Kate to get this campaign off the ground. I don’t want other moms, daughters, relatives, volunteers, colleagues and friends like me to feel broken and unheard any more. Please also consider donating to help make a difference in IBS/SIBO/FODMAPS research. "Research funding for IBS & SIBO is almost non-existent. For a condition that impacts 15% of the global population, this needs to change." Visit Kate's site for more information about this campaign or to donate to the cause. 
Together we can make a difference for so many!