Recycled Paper DIY Advent Calendar – Part 2 (A Tutorial)

My DIY advent calendar is almost filled! You can click here to see Part I of my Recycled Paper DIY Advent Calendar (Days 1 through 6).

I’m using the customizable advent shadowbox from Silhouette. The 25 compartment shadow box comes with 25 different box templates and 25 different drawer templates that the Silhouette will cut out onto any paper of your choice. You can use them to make a new advent calendar theme each year. See the bottom of this post for a discount code good through November 11th.



It will be so fun to see Boo open up each day in December. I’ve purchased most of my trinkets from Micheal’s craft store in the dollar bins.


Day #7: A simple ceramic Christmas tree for Boo to paint as an ornament:


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It’s been gloomy here all day and the sun is moving behind the mountains. Just peeking in between the clouds it created a crazy, awe-inspiring sunset….had to share this pic:


Photos of the Day: A Simple Thing

I took no pain medicine this morning for one reason: so I could drive the 3/4 mile to Starbucks by myself.  And I did it.

When I ordered my drink the guy behind the counter said: here’s a smiley face for you because you are the first person to smile all morning.

What?! Not one person had smiled all morning? That’s so pathetic! I took off my Choose Joy bracelet and gave it to him and said “well, that’s my motto.”

It sounds so cheesy but I feel like I just need to start carrying a gazillion bracelets with me wherever I go and handing them out when I think people need a reminder. I promise I’m ordering a large quantity and will figure out how to ship them soon so you can hand them out too.




It made me really sad that he’d encountered so many somber people this morning. I should have told him I was smiling because of these awesome 80’s leggings I was wearing. They just make me laugh because I know they look totally ridiculous. I can’t believe no one at Starbucks asked where they could get a pair of their own! (Forever 21 if you are dying for a pair haha).


Coming Home & The Dolphin

I’ve been singing that P. Diddy song all day…’s raining in the desert. It never rains in the desert.

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming

Back where I belong, yeah I never felt so strong
I always feel like there’s nothing that I can’t try
And if you with me put your hands high
If you ever lost a light before, this ones for you
And you, the dreams are for you

I started singing it in the shower this morning because I was so excited that my chemo treatment was being transferred to the Lucy Curci Cancer Center here in the desert…..I felt like I was coming home finally… more traveling to Loma Linda. Loma Linda is a great place…but nothing is better than being able to stay close to home. My sister and I went to see my doctor here and I feel like things will be so much more manageable from this point forward. When Dr. J walked in the room he only saw my sister and kind of did a double take…..and then saw me and asked “are you gals twins?”…..we laughed and said “not if we stand up!” (I’m like a foot taller than my sister).

So….it’s hard to believe that two weeks ago tonight I was on an operating table completely unaware of what was going on. Today was the first time I’d seen Dr. J since he’d referred me to Loma Linda…..and he said “you have a light from above following you, the way things worked out and you are lucky to be alive.” It gave me chills. I lit up a little when he explained how rare the invasive nature of my tumor was and that they might publish a report on it…..I was envisioning some Lil Blue Boo doodles on that report…..but that probably won’t cut it in the world of medical research.

I know I probably give out more personal information than anyone ever wanted to know but sometimes it helps others in the same situation to see what others are going through and what their daily life is like. My huge scar is healing really well….my stomach is just a little lumpy like everything hasn’t gone back to the right place yet…..but I’m starting to look normal from the outside. All the bruising is slowly fading. I feel like a 3-year-old with my questions sometimes to the doctor: so you cut out my uterus…..what’s there now, a big empty space? I guess my intestines have more room now.



The hardest part of everyday is waking up. I’m usually a very early riser but I wake up with my insides burning so I stay in bed until about 9:30 every morning. I dread eating because the movement of my bowels is pretty painful. My chemotherapy is on Mondays… I don’t feel that great the first part of the week but I feel like it gets better as the week goes on…..but then it’s a cycle all over again. I’m a HUGE eater… I am baffled as to why I am not hungry at all. How is it that I can eat a tiny bite of a bagel and not feel the least bit hungry for the rest of the day? That has to be the chemotherapy.

My advice to anyone who has had a traumatic surgery or illness? Do all you can to make yourself feel pretty and normal…..even if it’s in baby steps. Have someone paint your toes or put lotion on your legs. Wash and brush your hair…..and try to get out of the house…..even if just to get the mail. It’s made me recuperate twice as fast as anyone thought I would.

Things I took for granted before are completely awesome now… the bench in our shower. I don’t think I’ve ever sat on that bench before. Today I carefully shaved my legs in increments and sat down on the bench to rest. Then I shaved my bikini line… one will see it but it made me feel just a tad bit closer to normal.

I’m figuring out ways to be more self sufficient and make things work:
:: If I have to bend down to pick something up I try to pull a chair over so I can help myself back up.
:: If I have to sneeze I’ve learned to open my mouth wide and the sneeze comes out fast without using stomach muscles. If I have to cough I grab a pillow and hold it tight.
:: To get in and out of bed I grab my legs like a Pilates roll to keep anything from pulling. I use the wood railing with my toes as a stool.
:: I can hold the very tippy end of my razor so I can reach my ankles to shave my legs so I don’t have to bend over too far. I have go-go-gadget arms….so that helps too.
:: I can use a TV tray table to type on my laptop. I can craft in increments of 10 minutes.

Maybe I’ll write a manual!

A few people have asked what Boo knows. She doesn’t know much. She just knows that Mommy was sick and in the hospital. But daily she says “Mommy, when the baby comes out……” and I have to remind her that there is no baby. Then she gets defensive “I KNOW….but one day when a baby comes out” and I’m not sure how to make it any more clear. It seems like I’m torturing her with each reminder that there is NO baby and there won’t ever be a baby in mommy’s tummy. Today a man asked my husband: are you guys going to have anymore children? your daughter is amazing and you look like you are having so much fun. Brett replied “we can’t” (hello, awkward) and then got choked up in the car. This part will take a while for us.

Yesterday my friend Molly took a Choose Joy bracelet up to the cross where I like to hike and left it for me. It’s motivation for me get strong and healthy so I can get back up there to pick it up. She took this photo for me……look at that awesome view in the background. I can’t wait to get up there!


Right now I can only wear loose fitting clothing and spandex (no jeans which are usually my wardrobe staple) so after my doctor appointment I had my sister stop by the mall on the way home so I could pick up some more leggings. I haven’t worn underwear in 2 weeks…..I’m getting kind of used to it. Maybe I’ll never wear underwear again! Don’t tell anyone. I know every one thinks we are nuts in public because I document every second of my life with my phone:


Perry says there is going to have to be an intervention soon for the tacky leggings.  I mean how often could I get away with wearing these Pendelton-inspired pants? Yes, I bought 2 pairs. Totally 80’s and they rock. Thank you God for my surgery so I can wear tacky 80’s leggings.


Oh my gosh…..we were at a stoplight and this horse was right next to us. He looked straight at me and nodded his head a few times as if to say “everything is going to be okay from here on out Ash”….I felt like it was that moment in the movie bridesmaids when Megan talks about falling off the cruise ship and a dolphin looked into her soul……I had a connection with a horse lol and I giggle hysterically everytime I think about it:

I didn’t…I’m not gonna say I survived. I say I thrived.
I met a dolphin down there.
And I swear to God, that dolphin looked not at me, but into my soul.
Into my {bleep} soul, Annie. And said; I’m saving you Megan.
Not with his mouth, but he said it, I’m assuming telepathically
(from the movie Bridesmaids)



I’m pretty sure things are going to be great going forward…..Perry got pooped on by a bird in the parking lot at the mall…..that’s good luck!



My sister leaves tomorrow morning. She was such a big help and as always was the life of the house singing, skipping, playing with Boo. I snapped a pic of her doing a Napoleon Dynamite-inspired dance for Boo and I one night….it’s a total action shot.


Tomorrow night my mother-in-law Kathy flies in for a while to help. We are so blessed to have so much help. Our fridge has been kept full of food and everyone has pitched in any way they can. I’m indebted forever!

Well, that’s my update for now. Thank you for reading as always. I think I rambled a little in this post but I had a lot of stuff to cram in.  Yes I don’t wear underwear and I think a horse looked into my soul…..thank you for not judging either. I think my medication makes me a little loopy. Much love to you all and have a wonderful weekend!




I’ve linked all the posts about my recent health “adventure” and the loss of my father here. Thanks for reading…..I hope my stories will help others that might be going through similar experiences.


Lil Blue Boo in Babiekins Magazine

I was asked this month to contribute a tutorial to Babiekins Magazine! Here is Issue 7 of one of the cutest magazines around:

The theme was “The Little Things” so I made these little hand painted dolls:



You can check out the full tutorial in the online Babiekins Magazine issue on page 134! Click the image below to view the magazine spread and tutorial:


Booism: Tangent

Mr. LBB and I often lay in bed at night waiting for Boo to fall asleep and her conversations down the hall just entertain us to no end:


Boo: Tomorrow I’m going to tell everyone why Pluto isn’t a planet anymore.
That sounds great. Why isn’t Pluto a planet anymore?
I don’t know yet.
Daddy will Google it in the morning for you. Goodnight.
HEY, I’ve got a great idea, why don’t you make me a polka dot dress?
Ok. Goodnight.
A dress covered in dots like my blankie.
Sounds good. Goodnight.
I’ll wear it to school and everyone will say “that’s so soft I want to eat you.”
Great idea.
I’m so glad you bought me a flashlight with no batteries. I don’t have to put batteries in it.

Click here to read more Booisms!



Photos of the Day: Bobbie Socks and Bows

These photos brought tears to my eyes! Look at all the white bows and bobbie socks that resulted from our Bobbie Socks and Bows Drive!

Shannon Hoffman from Three Angels Haiti sent these photos from today at the school! Thank you to everyone who participated from the bottom of my heart. The small things are so special…..white socks and bows just brightened these little girls school days a little more!




Work of Art: Kitschy

My favorite show on TV right now? Work of Art. I’ve decided to play along at home when I feel up to it health wise… bear with me because I’ll be a few episodes behind for a while.

The first episode the artists had to use pieces of “bad” or “kitschy” art and use it as a basis for their own piece. Funny….I actually really liked some of the art that they deemed “bad” art….beauty is in they eye of the beholder, right?

I decided to make my own version of “re-done” kitschy art. My goal was to use some old thrift store art we had in our garage and not spend any money on new supplies. Here is the original art:



I transformed them into these fun pieces:



First, I traced the  images with tracing paper……



…..and used transfer paper to put the image onto another piece of canvas:



I used black liquid acrylic to sketch out the images:


Now just a doodled outline of the original:


I spray painted the 80’s gold frames into a bright red:


A new modern look:


Of course I just love making things that are pretty….I don’t think much about meaning or what the audience might think. I never had any interest in art history either….so the judges would rip my stuff apart!


But I love a challenge!



If you haven’t watched Work of Art check it out!  I drool over the studio they get to work in…..all those materials and the creative minds at work. I dream of being in an environment like that and I love the weekly challenge!  So fun!


Recycled Paper DIY Advent Calendar – Part 1 (A Tutorial)

I love this customizable advent shadowbox from Silhouette! The 25 compartment shadow box comes with 25 different box templates and 25 different drawer templates that the Silhouette will cut out onto any paper of your choice. You can use them to make a new advent calendar theme each year. See the bottom of this post for a discount code good through November 11th.



I can’t keep up with my usual crafty pace right now but I was able to finish compartments 1 through 6 yesterday! I chose a palette of brown paper, white, gold and gilver (goldish-silver).


For the boxes I’ve used plain brown paper and paper shopping bags:


My new Silhouette machine can cut a 12″ piece of paper:


Here is one of the boxes cut straight out of the machine…..I used double sided tape to put it together:

A finished box:


I bought a bunch of small, inexpensive trinkets to fill the boxes with. Some are generic Christmas themed and others have to do with the Birth of Jesus:


I used a basic stencil and a champagne silver spray paint to add my numbers:


Box #1: I cut a tag and spray painted a stenciled number on it to embellish the box. I filled it with a Christmas light necklace.


Box #2: I added lobster claw clasps to some angels to turn them into charms. I embellished the box with a similar angel button strung onto elastic thread:


Box #3: I made Christmas-themed elastic hair ties.

Box #4: A small toy donkey to represent how Mary rode to Bethlehem. The #4 was stenciled in gold glitter spray paint.


Box #5: A gold and silver earth charm to represent “Peace on Earth”.

Box #6: I spray painted the top of the box with gold glitter. The box was filled with a “Grow a Santa” toy.

Now I’ll start working on the rest of the boxes today!



Answered Prayers

Warning: another scary photo of my stomach in this post.

Yesterday, Brett and I woke up at the crack of dawn and drove to Loma Linda for my post op appointment and another round of chemotherapy.

The desert is gorgeous at sunrise and you can see the windmills in the background too….it’s a peaceful drive. I love long drives with my hubby because we get to talk about so many things we don’t get to on an everyday basis.


First, Dr. R removed my staples and then I got my chemo shots (sorry no more butt photos):



My battle scar! It’s looking much better……and I still have a belly button….woot woot (it was hiding under the staples)!  My belly button is about a half inch off center now…..hey, not many people can say that! The smaller incision was from the laparoscopy. The incision itself doesn’t hurt but it just feels like they took a baseball bat to every organ on the inside. I was in a deep sleep… maybe they did!


So here’s my update!

We weren’t able to get the blood results from yesterday until this morning……but it was the best phone call ever. My HCG levels are at 7,800…..they were at 17,000 right before my first chemotherapy injections. Before my hysterectomy they were 123,000!  What does this mean? It means the chemotherapy is working! God is good!

Two months ago I’d never even heard of a molar pregnancy but that’s how all of this started. My family and I learn something new about it every day . Basically, a molar pregnancy results from over-production of the tissue that is supposed to develop into the placenta. The placenta normally feeds a fetus during pregnancy….but in my case it was feeding a tumor. The tumor became invasive and grew through the wall of my uterus which is what eventually caused the uncontrollable pelvic bleeding.  I’m still in shock that I had a 4″ x 6″ tumor in my uterus…..but I think I’m even more in shock at how quickly it was able to metastasize to my lungs and liver. The good news is that these cancerous cells are very responsive to chemotherapy.  I’ll continue chemotherapy until my HCG levels come down to zero and remain at zero for three consecutive treatments. Then I’ll have another CT scan to see if the spots on my lung and liver have gone away (because we are assuming those spots are from the molar pregnancy) and we’ll pray that is the case!

The biggest challenge right now is keeping weight on. I haven’t wanted a donut in weeks. Since my body thought it was pregnant, I weighed 158 when I was in the hospital. I’ve lost about 15 pounds since then (5 of which was probably poop). I’ve been mostly successful eating small bits of sourdough bread dipped in balsamic vinegar. I still don’t know what symptoms are from surgery and what is from chemo. I guess I’ll start figuring that out in the next few weeks.


Highlight of the day yesterday: I sat at my computer for the first time in a few weeks!



My mom leaves tomorrow. So sad! But she’s been such an great help this past week…, grocery shopping, picking Boo up from school and getting her ready for bed……not to mention waiting on me hand and foot. So many friends have been bringing meals to help out which has been amazing.

My father-in-law is my angel. He has coordinated care and chemotherapy here in the desert at the Lucy Curci Center so we won’t have to drive to Loma Linda anymore. It will make things much more manageable over the next few weeks.

Now all I can think about are things I want to make! My list is getting longer by the day. I’m feeling more inspired than ever. I feel like I have 3 moms here: my mom, Lisa and Gicela. Anytime I get up and try to make something they say I’m overdoing it…..and usually they are right….but I’m so bored! I’m resting all day today so maybe I can finish up a fun project I’ve been working on tomorrow. Baby steps, right?

Thank you for your continued prayers everyone.  My family and I appreciate you more than you could ever imagine. I am so overwhelmed at the outpouring of support still.

I’ve linked all the posts about my recent health “adventure” and the loss of my father here. Thanks for reading…..I hope my stories will help others that might be going through similar experiences.