Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I recently got to host a Pastabilities party thanks to Tryazon and Pasta Chips.

Tryazon is one of the newer companies that do sponsored/host parties. I love this concept--a company who wants to have their products promoted on social media goes to a company like Tryazon who offers people the chance to apply to host a party, and if chosen, they get a package sent to them with promotional products from said company. (All for Free)

The party for Pasta Chips was the first party through Tryazon that I applied to  host, and I was thrilled when I received the email that I got accepted to host! One thing I really enjoyed about Tryazon was that part of the application process is writing your own little blurb as to why you want to host(or whatever else you may like to say) as opposed to just clicking some buttons and posting on your social media(which is also part of the process) It reminded me of the good old days before my time when women would fill out essays, write jingles and such for sweepstakes and contests, an art that has died out with our fabulous tech age. If you want to see a really sweep and sometimes bitter movie about those times, watch The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Adapted from a True Story, and....well I won't give anything away. Watch it!

Pasta Chips were created in a small Tuscan village, and like the beautiful pastas you can find there, are made from semolina flour and wonderful Italian herbs. 

They come in:

  • Alfredo
  • Garlic Olive Oil
  • Marinara
  • Mediterranean Sea Salt
  • Spicy Tomato Herb
  • Spinach Broccoli Kale

When my Pasta Chips party pack arrived, I was elated. The shipping box that they used was great, it was designed to look like a suitcase, I have never seen anything like it and it made the experience that much better. I felt like a child at Christmas! I personally LOVE presents and this truly felt like one. I opened the box to discover a couple of each variety of Pasta Chips, a cute red Pasta Chips apron, cork coasters(the cork element made me smile and think of some of the good wines from Italy) a Pasta Chips chip clip(super cute but not needed with the Pasta Chips-the bags are all resealable!) discount coupons, recipe cards, and coupons for FREE Pasta Chips, fun mustache party props, and of course, cushioned with fun brown crinkles. 

As excited as I was, I was still (needlessly) tentative about how the Pasta Chips would taste. The first bag I opened to taste test was the Alfredo(delicious), and then the Spicy Tomato Herb(AMAZING and my favorite) Each and every one of the 6 flavors of Pasta Chips is delicious and full of Pastabilities. 

There are so many options of things you can do with Pasta Chips, from eating them right out of the bag, to making companion dips for them, serve as beautiful chips with toppings, making crumbs with them for pizza crust or casseroles. I did all of these for my Pasta Chips party.

My children are what I would call good eaters, but with snack foods it can be touch and go, but they also loved every.single.variety.of.pasta.chips. Amen! Yes, even the Spinach Broccoli Kale, of which both bags went 'missing' and I later found empty. ;)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Kidney Donation Journey Part III

The time finally came towards the end of April for our beautiful transplant surgery to take place.

Yay! (and...whoa!)

This time, my sister Andrea and I got on a plane. A donor is understandably required to have a support person with them, I was very lucky that my sister who is one of my best friends (and also a Nurse!) was able and willing to go with me, aaaand she was generous enough to take time of without pay.

We were greeted at baggage by Kevin and Laure, and then we dropped our luggage off at the beautiful and modern two bedroom apartment that was rented for us for the duration of our trip. (11 days) Afterwards, we all had a lovely lunch out at a nice Irish breakfast place. We were staying in this amazing part of Yonkers that is predominantly Irish! Who knew!?! I don't mean to sound ignorant, but I had no idea that there was a huge population of Irish immigrants in Yonkers, I had always imagined Yonkers to be populated with New Yorkers bearing the thick East Coast accent we see in films. ;)

Afterwards we went to the grocery store to get items to stock our kitchen, and then 'home' to rest up before Surgery the next morning.

We left for the hospital very early and our group were the first to arrive to sign in and sit in the waiting area outside of pre op. I was under the impression that we would get called in soon, but it did not happen for a couple of hours, until the entire area was full. Highlight--getting to watch the sun rise over the beautiful Hudson River.

When my sister and I got to go back into the pre op area I met my assigned nurse, and got changed into my gown. Next up I had my IV started and met my anaesthesiologist. I'm not sure how long we spent in this area until it was time for me to be wheeled to the operating room, the details are a little blurry, but it was not a terribly long amount of time, and everyone was very nice.

Once I arrived in the operating room, I laid down and was given something to calm me down via my IV, and from there......lights out, so to speak.

The surgery went beautiful for both myself and my recipient Laure. I very slowly came to in the recovery room, and then was taken up to my nice hospital room. Coming out of the anesthesia was no picnic, I was incredibly nauseous and throwing up. My advice: ask for an anti nausea med to be put into your IV before surgery to avoid this. I had no idea this was an option and it really would have made things a lot better the first day/night. Andrea, knowing full well how miserable the nausea and vomiting were making me, asked

"Would you do it again?"

I replied "Ugh....ask me again next week."

Yes, I would do it all again, no contest. Totally wonderful and worth it. I was walking the next day, and out of the hospital two days later.

Andrea and I stayed in New York for another week and I had my follow up appointment with my wonderful surgeon, Dr. Sandoval. We also dined out, were shown around New York, and had an amazing time. I still keep in touch with Laure and her family and can not imagine them not being a part of my life.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Kidney Donation Journey Part II

In February I traveled to New York to do further testing to donate one of my kidneys, and got to meet my wonderful Recipient and her Family.

After a quick, uneventful flight from Chicago to NY, I got to meet my wonderful Laure and her wonderful husband, Kevin as I entered the baggage claim area. It was one of the best meetings/hug sessions of my life!

I had the great pleasure of being their guest for dinner that night at their home with their family, which was a beautiful welcome and nice kick off before I had to get a good night's sleep to prepare for a busy next two days at New York Presbyterian.

The following two days were filled with various appointments to meet with my Nurse Coordinator, a Psychiatrist, my Nephrologist, Counselor, Surgeon, and a financial coordinator. I had everything from more thorough blood tests to an EKG, Cat Scan, psych eval, to watching a very informative video on the surgical procedure, health risk data, and effects on pregnancy/fertitility. All of this, in addition to a very detailed account of day of surgery, happenings immedietly following surgery, and days after surgery were explained to me by my team. (Your donor team is completely seperate from the team of your recipient, and they are there for You and Your Needs and Health)

Full disclosure, the two days were exhausting, but you know what? I kept my eyes on the prize. This was not for me, this was for someone else who goes through much much more than a paltry two days worth of medical testing at a hospital.

All that was left now was for my case to be brought before the board and my donating approved so that we could go ahead with the transplant.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Kidney Donation Journey Part I

I am in the process of donating one of my kidneys.  There are several questions that I get asked often about the process and what lead to this point.

A year ago, donating a kidney had never entered my mind. I have never even donated blood, although I have intended to since I turned 30 four years ago, and will be certain to once the donor process is over. (Meaning once I am healed from surgery)

A couple of months ago, back in December 2014, a wonderful friend of mine, Neely, reposted onto Facebook a post from someone's PKD Awareness page. The page belongs to a wonderful woman named Laure who has PKD- Polycystic Kidney Disease. There is no cure or treatment for PKD, the options are Dialysis, or the best option, if one is lucky enough to find a matching donor is to undergo a kidney transplant. If you would like to learn more about PKD, I encourage you to do your own research on PKD, as one should do with anything.  Laure was in need of a match to donate a kidney and this has to be someone who has Type O blood.  I read her post just clicked. I am Type O positive. I am young(ish) I am healthy, I am  happy. This felt right, instantly. It was as though everything aligned, her Guardian Angel was watching out for her, and mine tapped me on the shoulder. There was no hesitation for me, and I understand and accept with love that this is not the case for everyone. I get a little bit misty eyed as I type this. 

I immedietly went and wrote a message to Laure introducing myself, saying that I lived in Naperville, Illinois, and where did she live, and that I am Type O and would love to get tested to see if I am a match. Turns out Laure lives in New York! Well how about that. :) This led to us talking on the phone(the first of many, many times) and exchanging several beautiful emails. 

Okay. So if you decide that you want to be tested to be a match, and become a living donor, things are not just that easy, but I promise, it's not a difficult journey at all! ;) You have to speak with the Transplant Coordinator at whichever hospital your potential future recipient is going through, and then you have to fill out some paperwork. For me, since I am not on the East Coast, I had to have my paperwork faxed in. It's a very basic medical questionnaire, nothing complex. Once my paperwork was sent in, I had to be approved to be tested. First stage of pins and needles as I waited a couple of days for an answer!

And, I got approved! That was great news for us. Next step, a beautiful kit of labels and vials was sent to me via Federal Express, and I went to my local lab to have blood drawn. The draw is for blood typing, and the cross match. Both determine whether or not one can proceed. 

This is where things get serious. It takes about 10 business days to get results. That is going to be hard for anyone, and on either end. To give someone hope that you are going to get tested and may possibly be a match, and then to have to wait hour by hour, day by day is not fun.

Mind you, this is December. The way it was timed, there was a possibility that I could get results on Christmas Eve. Laure's Birthday is the day after Christmas. I really, really wanted those results. I wanted to give her the best Birthday ever, the best year ever. Not that wishes and dreams can guarantee a match, but boy did I pray.

A few days after Christmas, I had the pleasure of hearing on the phone that YES! I AM A MATCH WITH LAURE! That feeling. The tears of joy. And the best part....getting to call Laure and tell her.

I have to take a few steps back here and explain that during this process, I had the support of my amazing family and friends, and most especially my fiance Kevin, and my sister Andrea. I really can not imagine what it is like to live with someone like me, and I have to give Kevin a lot of credit. He never really knows what he is going to get with me(in a good way, I promise!) and it takes a good, strong man to be 100% okay with a fiancee who just wakes up one day, looks on facebook and then says "I am going to be tested to donate one of my kidneys. I need to do this." I am sure that being my sister(any one of my sisters!) is just as um....interesting.

From that point, I got assigned my Nurse Coordinator over at New York Presbyterian, and she has been completely wonderful. (As is the Transplant Coordinator). Your Nurse will go over a detailed list of questions with you, some of them are very personal, but it is necessary. It is basically another step along the way where you can be approved, or denied to go any further. I got approval.

Which led to.....another scheduled lab test! Yay! ;) It was fasting blood work this time for a health screening, to see if anything comes up that would prevent me from being an ideal donor/surgical candidate. So, yes. More hand wringing, more pacing, more waiting because the hope that comes could be taken away. I write this to reflect on not just the trivial things the donor goes through, but pause for a moment and think about what it is like to be the person waiting on a transplant. How hard it is to even get someone to be willing to be tested for you, if heaven forbid the wonderful family members that you have are not a match. (and some people truly have no family members to do that for them) That once you have someone willing to be tested, there are several steps along the way that can make it not come to fruition. 

My labs came back with beautiful, healthy results. Once that part was over, we now got to schedule my first trip to New York, to take place in February, where I would not only meet my Nurse, Nephrologist, go through lots more testing, but I would finally get to meet and give a big hug to Laure! I think that both of us were just even so happy and excited about that part.

Details aside, the process to this point has been very easy and very rewarding. I get a lot of "Oh, I could never do that..." but here is the thing, I think a lot of you could! It's the not understanding the process of the before, during, and afterwards, the mystery, that seems daunting.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rock the Lunchbox VoxBox

I joined the website Influenster last month, and was lucky enough to be selected for their Rock the Lunchbox campaign.

The day that my metallic blue envelope arrived in the mail from Influenster containing my free vouchers was a pretty exciting day!

Rock the Lunchbox features Annie's Crackers, Annie's Frozen Snacks, Rudi's Bakery Bread, Applegate Half Time, and Honest Kids.

We love Annie's at our house, so it was no surprise that my children Loved the chocolate chip bunny cookies we picked out. (We've had all of the bunny crackers and cookies before) What was a surprise was their new line of Mini Pizza Bagels and Pizza Puffs. Ummmm.....YUM! I could not get enough and we bought extras.

Honest Kids juice pouches come in a good selection of flavors, I am personally fond of the Grape, my Children chose the Tropical Tango Punch. We enjoyed ours slightly slushy courtesy of some chill time in the freezer.

The surprise star was the Rudi's Bakery Sandwich flats. We all Loved them! I have always been guilty of having very juvenile tastes when it comes to my bread and so I have a bit of hesitancy when it comes to breads of a certain color(read: non bleached) and used to assume that the littles would feel the same. Pro tip: 9 times out of 10 (and sometimes 10 out of 10) if you offer children a healthy option, they choose the healthy option. They ate through the package in no time. 

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

The Buzz

I am....average. I think? Who knows, really, and who cares. That is one of the glorious things about being past 30. ;) (Or if you have been really lucky, maybe you received that gift in your 20's)The confidence that you get in truly being 'you', and the ability to appreciate every amazing quality that others possess without comparing yourself and keeping a tally sheet.

I have read a lot of blogs from women who I find simply fascinating. While I am not sure if anyone could accuse me of falling into that category, I like myself. Truly. Every woman should allow themselves that luxury. (among other things) Some women are specifically into Crafting. Or Style. Or Cooking. Or name it. Then there are the others, like me. I like it all.

Join me as I highlight my pursuits, musings,travels, my life Blessed with Children and Animals, Shops/Businesses I adore, amazing Women, and everything else that comes along, plus DIY projects, meals, deals, freebies and samples, and goals.