Basal Cell Carcinoma : An Update

Use an umbrella to help keep the sun off of you this summer. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWell, it’s summer.  Which for the last few years has been kind of hard for me in terms of my skin.  In August of 2012 I started seeing a dermatologist.  He immediately started removing moles and marks and such for biopsies.  Very quickly, we found basil cell carcinoma.  You can see my original post about the Mohs Surgery procedure I had here.  But I thought it was time to update that post.  I have had several people find that post and email me that they were about to have the Mohs procedure as well.  And I think my post sort of freaked them out.  Essentially, I talked about the slight depression that I went in to after the removal.  But looking back, I see that there were other personal things happening that clouded that post, like friendship let-downs, etc.  Oh and I also found out that I EFFING HATE STITCHES.  And to most people, stitches are no big deal.  And I can see how they are no big deal.  But to me they are the worst thing on the face of the planet.  So that also played in to that first post although I didn’t realize I was averse to the stitches at the time.  But the two more times that I’ve had to have stitches really drove that home.

An update on the scar from my Mohs Surgery to remove my basal cell carcinoma.  And a super cute necklace. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI joke in my first post that I would tell people I had been in a knife fight if anyone asked me about my scar.  I only had one person ever ask me about it and it was my allergist, right after I had the procedure, because if it was a thyroid surgery I had (which scars in a similar spot) I couldn’t get my allergy shots.  So I didn’t get to have any fun with it.  Looks pretty good right?  You can see the scar, when it was a little more fresh in this post which was about 5 months after the procedure.

How my scar is healing after having basal cell carcinoma removed. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI had the Mohs surgery Thanksgiving week in 2012.  In case you had trouble seeing the scar, here it is a little closer up.  You almost can’t see it.  There was never anything special I did to make it scar less other than follow the rules the dermatologist gave me for immediate care of the stitches.  No extra creams, nothing.  I know that I had a GREAT dermatologist do the procedure and that helped.  But I do try to put sunscreen on it and keep it out of the sun.  Well, really, I stay out of the sun as much as possible.  Gone are the days of basking by the pool.  I try to sit in the shade and slather on the sunscreen.  I’m still struggling with making it habit of putting on sunscreen every day.  My skin is very sensitive and I break out very easily.  This is still my favorite sunscreen though.

My scar from my excisional biopsy  // www.cupcackesandcutlery.comSince my Mohs procedure, I’ve also had to have excisional biopsies.  Luckily (?) they were both in the same spot so I only ended up with one scar.  Where as for Mohs, they do the biopsy and pathology at the same time to make sure they clear the margins, excision is a biopsy where they send the sample out for pathology.  In my case, I had a dot that looked like someone drew on me with purple marker.  Both dermatologists (I have a regular derm and then one who does the procedures who has a specialty in plastic surgery) told me it needed to be removed and that the biopsy would take “a stitch or two.”  No thank you.  So I asked them to do it like they do my other small biopsies where they numb me and cut it out.  Remember I hate stitches.  So initially, it was cut and sent out for biopsy.  But then I got a call.  It wasn’t cancer, but they didn’t like the pathology report as it came back with words like “cloning” and they wanted to get all of the cells out to be safe.  Considering my history, my family history of skin cancer (my dad) and my coloring they felt it was better safe than sorry.  So we scheduled an excision procedure for the week of Thanksgiving 2013.  I ended up with about 10 stitches from the procedure.  But I was done.  Or so I thought.  A few weeks later I got a call that said the pathology report came back and they wanted to take a little more of the offensive area to ensure that they got all the bad cells out.  So about 8 weeks later, I went back in for the same exact procedure.  With a few extra stitches.

Excision biopsy scar healing // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI wasn’t sure how the scar would end up looking considering they had to cut in the same spot.  But looks pretty good, right?!  Again, I didn’t apply any extra creams or anything to the scar.  The only thing I was instructed to do was to massage the scar a month after the stitches were out.  Apparently that helps to break up the scar tissue under the skin and help to get the scar to lie flat.  It could be a touch tender at times, but I tried to massage it as often as I remembered.  And because of the location at the jawline, you can’t see this at all.  And I never even bother with concealer on it.

I hope if anyone reading this is about to go through a similar procedure, please know that it is really no big deal.  Of course there are varying degrees of the cancer, and it matters where it is located and how large an area is being treated.  Basal cell carcinoma is super common and something dermatologists deal with often.  The one thing I will say is that I think the dermatologists and staff forget to fill the patient in on the after care, before coming in for the procedure.  I was really thrown off, after my Mohs, when I couldn’t shower for 2 days due to the stitches.  Which means you may want to plan ahead and go to the store before your stitches, not plan a big outing, etc.  I also am in really achy pain for the first two days of my stitches so it helps to have someone available to help with the kids.  Could I manage the kids on my own.  Yes.  But it is nice to be able to take it easy for a few days.  Those were things I had to learn on my own which would have been helpful to know before heading in for the stitches.

My main dermatologist tells me that I will have more basal cell carcinoma at some point.  I see him every few months and we monitor areas that could be a problem.  I have enough experience now to know how it all works and I’m not afraid of it.  And I’ll deal with it as it comes.  For now I stay out of the sun, use my sunscreen and rock super cute hats.

DIY T Shirt Designs for 4th of July

DIY spray painted kid's t shirt for 4th of July.  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comFourth of July is coming up quickly!!  Every year we participate in our communities bike parade and so we like to dress a little festive.  For the last few years we have made our own t shirts.  We make DIY t shirt designs and each boy gets a different one.  They are super excited to wear them on 4th of July.  The boys usually continue to wear them after the holiday but we don’t spend a ton of time or money on them.  They are just a fun way for my family to be patriotic and celebrate together.  

Easy iron-on kid's shirt for 4th of July.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy oldest son helped me to design his shirt.  He even fiddled around with Illustrator getting the alignment just right.  This kid sure likes things a certain way.  I wonder who he takes after with that…

Easy kid's t shirts for celebrating fourth of  July.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI found our blank t shirts at Target and both were on sale for $5 each.  Such a great price for the base piece.  I was so glad they had the colors of America in stock. 

Use spray paint for a DIY kid's 4th of July t shirt.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI used my favorite technique of spray painting on my youngest son’s shirt.  I’ve done these before and they come out messy, cool, and not as dark as if you were to use fabric paint.  I first printed out “USA” on a piece of computer paper and then made a stencil using some craft plastic.  

Make a simple stencil from craft plastic and then use spray paint to make a quick and easy 4th of July craft. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.com

I put a magazine in the inside of the shirt to keep the paint from seeping through.   Then I used spray adhesive to adhere the stencil to the shirt (don’t use too much or you end up with some on the shirt when you peel it off!)  I used a plastic grocery bag and tape to make sure the res of the shirt was covered and out-of-the-way of the over spray.  Then I did one pretty heavy spray of the black spray paint.  I let it dry and then removed the tape, bag and stencil.  Grab a simple blank t shirt and add a patriotic design for 4th of July.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYou can see that in some areas the spray paint seeped a little bit.  I think that works perfectly with the tie dye effect of the shirt.  I certainly wouldn’t dream of starting over just to not get those few little spots.  You can also see some of the blue showing through the letters which I think looks kind of cool.  Of course if you want a more finished product, just use normal stencils and fabric paint and carefully paint your design.

Kid's t shirt for 4th of July made easy with a simple iron on design. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnother of our go-to methods for making 4th of July shirts is to use iron ons.  My son and I first created our flag inspired design on the computer and then printed it on t shirt transfer paper for dark-colored shirts.  Then we just followed the directions on the transfer paper to iron the design on.  

Quick t shirt for fourth of July.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI love how this one came out and so did my son.  I can’t wait for them to wear these on 4th of July as we celebrate with the rest of our community!  Do you dress up for 4th of July?

 

Easy and Quick Meal Solutions

This post is sponsored by Fresh and Easy.  These easy and quick meal solutions are all mine.

My tips for making meals that are fresh and easy.

My easy and quick dinner solution is tacos. You can buy everything pre-prepped and just throw them together. My tip is to broil them to get the cheese melty and keep the store-bought shells crisp. #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy mom makes my all time favorite tacos.  All time.  She takes corn tortillas and fries them, using two forks to shape them in to taco shells.  Then she uses the most delicious spiced beef, fresh lettuce that she lovingly cuts by hand, and hand-shredded medium cheddar cheese.  Once each taco is filled, she puts the whole lot of them in to an oven to melt the cheese and slowly dry out the shells keeping them super crispy.  They are crazy good.  But.  There is no way I would ever put that much effort in to making tacos.  I like to keep things easy and quick.  With our busy family schedule, even if I wanted to spend more time in the kitchen doing more of the prep work, our schedule just doesn’t allow for it.  So the way I’m able to get tacos, which can be a pretty healthy meal, on the table, is using pre-prepped items.  Most of the time convenience means processed.  And since I am really trying to take processed foods out of my family’s diet I was starting to feel like I wasn’t going to have to the option of fast tacos.  Then I found these ready-to-go taco shells from Fresh and Easy which are just corn flour, coconut oil and water.  Yeah!  I didn’t know that Fresh and Easy puts a focus on providing fresh, wholesome food that doesn’t include artificial flavors, colors transfats, high-fructose corn syrup and other gross things.  And that they do everything they can (like have almost all self-checkout) to keep it affordable.  THANK YOU!  My fast tacos can continue!  Which is awesome since it is one of the only meals I make that my oldest son actually says he enjoys.

Salsa is a great side option for a taco dinner. I look for one in the refrigerated section for a fresher flavor. And chips, in moderation, are always a good idea. #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWhen I can, I make my own salsa but this pre-made version is a really great alternative.  Salsa from the refrigerated section usually means that the ingredients are fresh and the flavor will be vibrant.  It is the perfect thing to go along with the tacos.  It can be used as a condiment or for chips.  Luckily my kids enjoy salsa so I know they are getting in some good nutrients from the tomatoes and I love that there is no extra sugar added.  I don’t have a Fresh and Easy store close to my house so the other day I headed to the next town to see what they had to offer.  I was pleased that although the store is small in size, you can find everything you need to put good, healthy meals together.

Caprese salad makes an easy and healthy snack. Add some pasta or chicken to make it more of a meal! #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI’m kind of addicted to basil.  You’ve probably noticed that I’ve used it in the last several food or drink posts.  One of my favorite snacks is a bite sized caprese salad.  The fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella are just perfect altogether.  Sometimes I skip the cheese and just do the tomatoes and basil for when I’m really trying to keep away from dairy.  These ingredients are super versatile and you can make them in to more of a meal by adding a bed of arugula.  Or take it up one more notch, even, by adding in some shredded chicken.  A light drizzle of a good olive oil, maybe a little aged balsamic vinegar and some Maldon Sea Salt and you are set.  This is a perfect dish to take on picnics or even your kid’s baseball practice when you need to eat on the go.  Cherry tomatoes are a good snack for kids as they tend to be really sweet and it seems like kids really like sweets.  They might not really enjoy the basil but it is important to get them to try it again over time.  I find that my kids will finally give in and decide to like something after months of saying they hate it.  So don’t be discouraged if they turn their nose up at the basil at first.  Basil is a great bold flavor and you can use it in more than just a caprese.  Add this to your turkey sandwiches in place of lettuce, and tossed in with your normal salad greens for a pop of flavor.  I have a little basil plant in my kitchen that I can pull from which makes it really easy to keep around.

My go-to salads have lots of nice protein to keep me feeling more full for longer. #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnother great idea is to purchase pre-made salads and then modify them to suit your dietary needs or flavor preferences.  Fresh and Easy has great options of pre-packaged meals, some organic like the salad above, that you can easily add to your meal plan.  This salad would work great as a lunch for myself, or I could share it with my family as a side dish for dinner time.  Don’t be afraid to use items in different ways.  Although it is packaged as a salad for one, consider how you might be able to use the ingredients separately or what you can add to make it more your style.  

I make an easy and quick store-bought salad feel more homemade by putting it in a bowl and using a little bit of my favorite olive oil and a fresh squeeze of Meyer Lemon juice. #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI’m really watching what I put in to my body at the moment so I knew I wouldn’t use the caesar dressing that came with this salad.  I grabbed a large bowl and started transferring the pre-made salad in to it.  By doing this I was able to really see what was in the salad and take out when I didn’t want.  I left the sun dried tomatoes which added a nice flavor even though they were probably packed in oil at some point.  Then I removed some of the parmesan cheese so I felt like it all balanced out whatever oil may have been left over.  To make this more to my liking, I added a drizzle of my most favorite olive oil and squeezed some fresh Meyer lemon juice all over it.  I gave it a quick toss and then added some fresh ground black pepper.  So good!  I have to say that the ingredients in the salad were some of the best looking and freshest that I’ve ever seen in a prepackaged salad.  It surprised me.  I should have grabbed a few more of these! 

Boom Chicka Pop popcorn for a fast and easy snack. #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI mentioned before that I can’t quit the popcorn right now.  I usually pop my own in the microwave but it is nice to have a bag ready to go in the pantry with no extra ingredients.  Fresh and Easy has tons of great products with their name on it but they also carry other brands as well.  I was delighted to see so many great, healthy options throughout the store like this popcorn from Angie’s.  Popcorn has really helped me get over my after dinner snacking habit.  The crunch is just what I need to feel satisfied.  And I add a ton of fresh ground black pepper for flavor.  I’m almost as addicted to black pepper as I am to basil! 

Always fun to peruse the wine aisle of a new grocery store. Especially when you don't have your kids.  #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI love a good wine aisle and was so excited to be able to take my time and check it all out.  I don’t know about you, but while I don’t always love to do the grocery shopping, there is something super relaxing about shopping alone.  And I feel like wine is one area where a lot of the makers really go all out on label design.  It is fun to look at the labels and see what brands different stores carry.  On this day I didn’t have my kids with me so I could take my time and really browse.

I heart CA wine from @FreshandEasy. I adore the colors and label design. Fingers crossed it tastes good too! #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comFresh and Easy has a store brand wine in a ton of varieties.  I decided to pick up a bottle of the I Heart California Sauvignon Blanc to see if it tastes as good as it looks.  I’ll keep you posted on that one.  But for now it looks cute in my wine rack.  And if all else fails, you can elevate any meal you are serving just but serving a glass of wine along with it.  My best friend’s parents growing up used to do this.  And while I am sure that they were not trying to instill a life lesson, I totally remember them getting out the red wine to drink with their meatloaf.  There are nights when your quick and easy meal is not going to be glamorous.  So open a bottle of wine and roll with it.  

Look for @freshandeasy stores for great easy and quick meal solutions! #ad #freshandeasy // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYou should absolutely be sure to check out a Fresh and Easy store in your area (stores are located in CA, NV and AZ).  I think I will make monthly visits so I can check out even more of their store-brand products…I will tell you, there were tons of amazing looking ice creams in their freezer section that I will happily check out when I fall off my healthy eating wagon.  I SO wish this store was closer to my house!  In eating more fresh fruits and vegetables I find myself at the store quite a few times a week.  My normal grocery store is so large and has so many options that it takes forever to navigate around.  Fresh and Easy stores make it quick and easy to get in, and get out and get right back to being with your family.

*Thanks for supporting the brands that keep Cupcakes and Cutlery going.  All opinions are always my own.

 

 

Cool Minecraft Party Ideas

Dude.  It's your birthday.  Have some cake. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comHow is he 8 already?  It’s crazy.  My husband and I can still remember my water breaking plain as day.  I mean, you don’t really forget something like that.  Of course back then, I wasn’t sure what was happening and made my husband google it.  Oh the laughs we had about that.  But enough details about fluids.  My oldest turned 8 and of course he wanted a Minecraft party.  I didn’t want to throw a big party this year and you know how quickly themed parties can get out of control (ahem, Lego Dance Party complete with kid discoteque…).  So instead, I billed this as a playdate and had him invite just his cousins and a few school friends over one Friday afternoon.  It worked out really well.  It was small, but still really fun and I know some of you are probably looking for cool Minecraft party ideas.       

Coming soon, the coolest shirts ever.  Put whatever you want on them! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis kid.  He’s super awesome.  But gone are the days when I really get total say over his parties.  He definitely has a point of view and I really have to sell him on some of my ideas.  Oh, I kinda also waited until the last minute to pull this together so color me surprised when I figured out that none of our local stores really sell any pre-made Minecraft party stuff…Time to get creative. 

Minecraft inspired birthday party decor // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI looked on Etsy but didn’t really have enough time to order any party decor.  So I purchased some Minecraft themed digital papers and created a super simple Minecraft birthday banner with brads.  I tell you what.  No one else has that party decor so he thought that was pretty cool.  I’ll tell you something else.  Kid’s don’t really understand what Happy Cake Day means.  But “birthday” was far too many letters for me to cut out.  And saying Happy Birthday is just like, so cliche. 

Cool Minecraft posters make party decor hip and original.  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI knew I needed to add in more Minecraft touches.  So I spent some time online browsing.  I came across these cool Minecraft propaganda style posters and knew they would be perfect.  I printed out a bunch of them and tacked them to the wall.  The kids thought these were pretty awesome.  And when the party was over, I let my boys move some of them in to their rooms.  I felt like their graphic design was good enough to have it be art on their walls.  

Black, green and white is the perfect color combo for a Minecraft party // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI thought about the creepers (do you know Minecraft? There are these things called creepers.  and they are shades of green) so I used their color scheme in my kitchen area for the plates and cutlery.  It really just helped to play up the Minecraftedness of the party…

 

ice cream sundae bars are where it's at for kid's parties.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWe also decided to forgo the cake in favor of ice cream for the party.  We used the black, white and green color scheme over here too.  I did create a wall hanging above the table of what I thought were squid…but all the kids thought they were endermen.  Either way.  It was Minecrafty and it worked.  I didn’t get a photo of it though.  

No cake needed.  We made ice cream nachos for my son's birthday party and they were a big hit!  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWe could have done just normal ice cream sundaes but we decided to do ice cream nachos instead.  I mean, really that is just an ice cream sundae but my mom made waffle cones and we broke them up in to pieces and those were the chips.  I also made mini chocolate cupcakes as a topping because how often do you see cupcakes as a topping for an ice cream sundae? 

Timed skittles game is easy, cheap and a great activity to play at kid's parties!  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comBut how do you keep kids entertained?  My husband and I watch Jimmy Fallon just about every night (well we tape them because we are too old to stay up late enough to watch them when they are really on) and he plays some really amazing games with his celebrity guests.  So I tried to figure out which ones we could modify for the kids and to fill in any gaps I searched for “minute to win it” style games.  These kept the kids really engaged and because each one was done in heats, they all hung around to cheer each other on.  Another great part was they were super inexpensive!  I presorted Skittles for the game above and two kids went head to head and had to separate them by color using only one hand.  The first one done, wins.  It doesn’t really seem like they would be that in to it but they seemed to really enjoy it.  

Kid-friendly flip cup for a fun birthday party activity. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comYeah, we played flip cup.  So?  Ok, so not the traditional drinking game flip cup but a more kid friendly version.  I thought about using soda for a split second and then just realized we didn’t need any liquid.  AND we started preparing them for their college years…

Jimmy Fallon inspired water wars game is perfect to play at kid's birthday parties.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comBut the most fun game was water wars.  I saw Jimmy Fallon play it with Li Lo and just knew the kids would love it!  On the invitation I asked everyone to bring a change of clothes or swim trunks.  I bought a cheap deck of cards (in case they got ruined from the water) and used plastic cups.  All you do is split the deck and have two kids face each other.  Each kid turns over a card at the same time and whoever has the higher number gets to throw water in the other persons face…so funny right?!  I think my husband had them do best of 3 and then that winner advanced to the next round.  

Water war is a super fun game to play at a kid's summer birthday party //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI can’t wait to do this again!  I ordered some pizza for dinner (which I’ve never done before and it was SO easy!) and then it was time to send the kids home.

Easy and inexpensive kid's party favors from Target // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI had thrown around some Minecraft favor ideas with my son (like cool Minecraft socks!) but he was not in to it.  So instead we went with these fun mustache glasses party favors from Target and a small water gun.  

Go Pro is the PERFECT gift idea for little boys.  It provides hours of enjoyment for the whole family and also helps teach responsibility. //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAll my son wanted for his birthday was a Go Pro.  And he got one.  I really wish he would have had this before his playdate.  Just think of the footage we would have had of the water wars!  So I guess this is the least Minecrafty party you could possibly have.  But it worked and still looked pretty cool.

 

Beer Floats

Banana bread beer floats are a refreshing treat for summer.  And dessert too.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comDo this.  For real.  Beer floats are kind of amazing.  And this one, with banana bread beer(!) is super yummy.  I was thinking these would be fantastic for Father’s Day celebrating.  Or a man’s birthday.  Or Saturday.

Banana bread beer floats!! YUM!  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy local supermarket has been carrying craft beers for the last year or so, so I didn’t even have to go track this down any where fancy.  They also have a chocolate stout version (which I used here) that is GOOD.  There is no recipe for a beer float.  Add scoops of ice cream, pour beer on top.  Drink. 

Make a beer float this summer!  This banana bread beer is perfect.  Or try a stout with chocolately flavors!  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comIt’s dessert and adult beverage in one.  I don’t see why you wouldn’t have one of these on a balmy summer night.  Have you ever tried a beer float before? 

Beer floats are perfect for summer.  And Father's Day.  And any other manly holiday. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comJust like a regular float, the beer foams up when you top the ice cream.  But please drink responsibly, and by that I mean make sure the kids know this is not a root beer float.  And don’t drink and drive.  And don’t drunk text.