Success!: Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm happily exhausted from the fundraiser I hosted last night to benefit the mission of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. The event was a success by any measure: many people attended, many people actually shopped, and most importantly, I think most had a lot of fun! I haven't been able to tally the total yet but I think we (me and my fabulous vendors) raised about $1,000, which isn't bad considering I planned it in about a month's time. Of course, after doing a post-mortem with my friend Christy later in the evening, I already know all of things I will do differently for next year's event to make it an even bigger success and to hopefully at least DOUBLE the amount of money we're able to donate.

Below are several shots from the event set-up so you can all see what beautiful and unique items we had on hand. I was too busy greeting attendees and selling drink tickets to take any shots of all of the folks who came but I'd like thank each and every one of them. In particular, I'd like to thank the man who came by with his second wife to tell me, with tears in his eyes, about his first wife's six-year battle with ovarian cancer. She happened to be treated by one of Dr. E's partners. I'd also like to thank the woman who attended who told me about her mother's courageous battle with the disease and how much she appreciated me doing the event. Oh, and I'd like to thank the endometrial cancer survivor who came to thank me for the holding the event, made a large donation, and put out literature about the upcoming inaugural Gyncological Cancer Foundation's Race to End Women's Cancer, which I'm participating in on Sunday, November 8. And finally, I'd like to thank my Aunt Annie, who happened to be in town for business, who surprised me by stopping by with my Uncle Chris (who also shopped for his wife) and purchasing a fabulous (and expensive) necklace from my friend Paula.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the team at Food Matters for their great food and service; to all of my sweet and talented vendors for participating; and to all of my friends, family, and complete strangers for turning out and shopping! You have no idea how much it means to me.

I did a little play on words for the drink tickets. Clever me. I know...not really so clever.

Brooke and Christy figuring out the best way to display all of Brooke's stationery.
(PMC)2's beautiful silver jewelry. Thanks to Paula Coupe for participating.
I love Simple Terms' handmade cards and gift tags. Thanks to Brooke Harris for participating.
Walton Street Stationers has the best selection of cute personalized stationery, napkins, gift enclosures, invitations, etc. Thanks to Nancy Smith for participating and for her constant generosity.
All Dolled Up's unique stone earrings are fabulous! Thanks to Marlea Hebert for shipping her stuff down from Philly for the event and thanks to Brooke, Christy, and Greta for selling it.

I love Wendy Jarmol's stone and gold work creations. Thanks so much for participating, Wendy!

Fall FUNdraising: Thursday, October 29, 2009

I can't believe it's been almost a week since I last wrote. I suppose that this shouldn't surprise me anymore -- it's just another positive sign that I'm feeling great and am not at home as much (at all?!?) to find time to write. Here's a quick update on what I've been up to over the past week: Friday evening I had a fun and yummy dinner with Shannon and Alison at The Majestic's bar. I don't love the atmosphere in the restaurant (think stark diner) but Alison and I always have a fun time at the bar so I wanted to Shannon to try while she was in town.

After I dropped Shannon off for a visit with her parents on Saturday, I headed down to Richmond for another fun evening with my Richmond friends. We ended up staying in and cooking (seared shrimp and scallops with butternut squash risotto...yum!) in my friend Kindra and Karl's new kitchen, which is gorgeous. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera on me to take pictures but you can check out the ALMOST finished product at Keeping Up with the Kirkebys.

I came home Sunday evening and was treated to a delicious dinner of mushroom and leek quiche and salad at Alison's while we watched the first episode of Mad Men. We've decided that there's too much good buzz about the show to miss out so we've started a Sunday night viewing dinner party series for this fall and winter. Thank God for Netflix!

So, that was the weekend, which was pretty fun. Monday was much less fun as I spent a good portion of it fasting and then in the hospital waiting to get my chest port removed, which should be my last procedure of the year (and hopefully, many more years). Yay! I still have a series of diagnostic tests to endure in December but I consider any appointment that I don't have to fast and/or get IV drugs for a piece of cake.

I spent much of Tuesday running errands, including getting "Brenda" washed again, and continuing my upstairs organization project. I'm pleased to report that it's mostly complete and I'm feeling terrific now that I can see the floor in my study and my bedroom closet. Now I just have to tackle all of the paperwork that's still on top of my desk. Ugh!

And it's another busy, busy day today. I'm preparing for that first of what I hope will become an annual event: Shop for the Cure at Food Matters. I'm so grateful to the five jewelry and stationery vendors who have agreed to participate and donate part of their proceeds to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and of course to my friends Christy and Tom for hosting the event in their private dining room. We'll see how it goes and what I need to tweak for next year!

Okay, I'm off to finish cleaning up my running shoes. Why? I managed to step in dog s--t this morning while out on my walk with loaner dog. As if I needed another unpleasant task?!? Oh well, I suppose it's retribution for all of the times I don't clean up his s--t when I walk him in the dark of night. Below are some shots from the weekend. Enjoy!

Shannon, me, and Alison enjoying the bar at The Majestic in Old Town.

What's prettier --the fall foliage or my loaner dog? I couldn't resist making him pose for this shot.

And then I let him have some fun with a branch he had no chance on conquering...

Recessionista: Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm finally finding some time to write in the midst of a few busy days. My college roomate Shannon, who lives in San Francisco, is visiting right now. She's been in town for work and was staying at the new W hotel downtown this week so I met her there last night after a delicious vegetable curry dinner at Christy's. Apparently, the folks at the W rooftop bar royally screwed up her reservation the night before, so we were treated to prime seats and a great bottle of champagne. It sure does pay to complain (nicely) sometimes! While the W lobby is a bit of a scene, it's kind of worth putting up with that to experience the view from the rooftop bar on a nice evening.

We've had a great day thus far today. I used one of my fabulous Sugar House gift certificates this morning for a 50 minute massage (Shannon had one, too) and then Shannon and I went on a three mile walk down the GW Parkway. This week is peak foliage around here and it was so great to see it all on the trail. We had lunch at Restaurant Eve's bar and took advantage of its "Lickity-Split" $13.50 lunch special. I chose a delicious roasted beet salad and the risotto. Yum!

After lunch, we hit Alexandria's boutique district for a little retail therapy. Two of the spots we hit are my favorite consignment shops: Diva and Mint Condition. I've become quite a fan of the consignment store in recent months. Not so much to buy things but to sell things that either don't fit me anymore (never thought that any of my size 6 pants would ever be too big but, alas, they are) or that I'm just tired of and are too nice to just donate to the TWIG thriftstore. Anyway, I highly recommend these stores to any of you who live around here are looking good for a good deal on designer duds. I can't wait for the money to start pouring in so I can...go buy more new clothes (or, pay some more medical bills...drat!).

Speaking of paying medical bills, I have quite a few pending. Given this, and the fact that I still need to pay for half of my upcoming New Year's trip and a few other things, I'm thinking of getting to my babysitting roots and putting the word out that I'm open weekday evening sitting. Seriously. I mean, I enjoy spending time with my friends' kids and at $12-15 per hour, it may be just the way to cover cancer bills, Christmas shopping, and cocktails in the BVIs. Hmmm...have to think about it a bit more.

Here are a few kind of blurry shots of Shannon, me, and our friend Keira at the W last night. Check out the view in the background of the shot of Shannon. Okay, off to dinner at The Majestic in Old Town.

Celebrate Good Times: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today marks four weeks since my last treatment (my official first borrow a term coined by Krista and Michael Friday). Ahhh. It feels so great to be done and focusing on other celebrations! The past several weeks have consisted of many of those, including one birthday, two post-cancer treatment parties, one wedding, and one baby shower. Here's a brief recap of all of the fun events:

Last IP Chemo Treatment at INOVA Fairfax: Wednesday, September 23

Dr. A, who is Dr. E's current fellow, came by to say goodbye during my last IP treatment. Dr. A and I got off to a rough start (I flipped out on him the morning after my hysterectomy when I discovered he and Dr. E had stapled by incision instead of stitching it, as I had requested for my first surgery...) but became fast friends. He redeemed himself by bringing me fantastic pathology results the second morning he came for rounds AND somehow he knew that I have a huge weakness for trail mix and brought me some every time he came to see me during my IP chemo sessions. Isn't he kind of dreamy? He looks a bit like George Clooney, right?

Okay, this is kind of funny. I took this picture of Dr. A discussing women's...uh...grooming habits and body art with two of my favorite nurses, Sue and Christine. Basically, he's become an expert in predicting what things will be like "down there" based on a woman's age and socioeconomic background. Feel free to reach out if you'd like to discuss offline. Trust me, it was a very amusing conversation.

Time to for the bubbly! That's Dad pouring the sparkling wine at the end of the day.

Grandad joined us for a toast in the hospital room and then treated me, Mom, Dad, and Aunt Annie, who was in town for work, to dinner at Sweetwater Tavern after we left the hospital. It was nice to have him here to celebrate.

Aunt Kathy's 50-something Birthday: Wednesday, September 30

"Brenda" needed a wash and style before Ali's wedding weekend so Mom and I ventured up to the dreaded Silver Spring on Aunt Kathy's birthday to get the wig washed and treat Kathy to lunch at Christina's, which is a great Italian restaurant around the corner from Amy's of Denmark. We were actually able to celebrate with Kathy two times this year. We spent the previous Saturday in Baltimore having lunch and visiting Ladew Topiary Gardens, which were breathtaking, with Kathy and her daughter, Heather. It's always fun celebrating anything with Kathy!

Post-Treatment Celebration at Food Matters' Pasta Night: Wed, September 30

Later that night on the 30th, I met up with about a dozen girlfriends for all you can eat pasta night to celebrate the end of my treatment. My friends were so great to surprise me with balloons (in the appropriate ovarian and GYN cancer awareness colors!) and toasts about "what they love about Jennie besides that she beat cancer." Of course, I totally *hated* hearing all of the great things they had to say about me. From left to right: Joey, Kelley, Alison, Layla, Julie, me, Kristin, Michelle, Christy, Melissa R., and Melissa S.

A close-up shot of the fantastic Alexandria Pastry Shop cake that said, "Jennie Won, Cancer 0" and the extra special teal ribbon sugar cookies that Christy's manager, Mary, made for me. They were delicious!

Ali and Pete's Wedding in Quechee, VT: Saturday, October 3

Rehearsal time! That's me (maid of honor), Ali (bride-to-be), and Millsie (matron of honor) before things got underway. I met (and fell in love with) Ali during our first year of college; Ali and Millsie grew up together in Hingham, MA. Millsie, who is also a cancer survivor, is currently getting her Master's in genetic counseling at Stanford. Needless to say, both of our crappy genes gave us a lot to talk about!

Ali about to practice her walk down the aisle.

The entrance to Murphy Farm, which is where the fun and yummy rehearsal dinner was held.
A shot of the gorgeous fall foliage and its reflection on Lake Pinneo.

Approaching Murphy Farm.

The pretty entrance table filled with the place cards.

The most important element: the bar.

The dining room where the dinner was held.
A close-up of the festive centerpieces.

The guest of honor: Pete and Ali. I think Pete kind of looks like a brunette Woody Harrelson. Agree?

Two of Ali's NYC friends: Christina and Julie.

Christina and me. We've been friends since the 7th grade when she introduced herself to me in Mr. Kennedy's social studies class. I introduced Ali and Christina to each other when Ali moved to NYC. Have you read The Tipping Point? I'm a connector.

Time to get pretty. Pete's mom and sister with Ali in the salon.

Ali's sister-in-law, Suzanne, and her daughter, Olivia, who was the flower girl.

Time for make-up!

Finishing things up.

Picture time! Obviously, I'm having trouble loading the vertical shots AGAIN. The gray overcast skies made for great light for the pre-wedding photos.

I couldn't resist getting a shot of the groom and his men relieving themselves during the photo session.

I think the photographer's shot of this will turn out great!

Just Married! Ali and Pete in their limo on the wedding to the reception at The Quechee Club.

Millsie and her husband, Steve, at the reception.

Our gorgeous flowers and centerpiece.

The Brooklyn hipsters: Christina and her husband, Andy.

So much love in the air!

Time to cut the cake! Ali's mom, who is a fantastic baker, baked all of the desserts, including brownies, cookies, and the wedding cake. Everything was delicious!
Jori and Baby T's Baby Shower: Sunday, October 11

Getting the tables ready at Kristin's great new house, which is where the shower was held.

One of the gorgeous centerpieces Jori's sister, Kristen, made for the shower.

The fantastic cupcakes Kristen also made. She blew up images from the invitation and stuck them in the cupcakes. Isn't that a great idea?

The centerpiece and the lox and bagels. I love me some lox and bagels! The fall brunch menu included: two egg stratas (one with meat and one veggie; delicious!) , lox and bagels, roast asparagus, roast potatoes, mixed greens with cranberries, goat cheese, and toasted pine nuts, pear tarts with carmalized onions and swiss cheese (delicious!), and cupcakes.
A rather blurry shot of the napkins I got in honor of Baby (Boy) T.

The bar.

Jori opening one of her fantastic gifts.

Jori with three of the five co-hosts. Unfortunately, S'Nokes and Mary Morgan couldn't be with us but were so generous to help from afar. From left to right: Kristen, Jori, me, and Kristin.
So, that sums up what's been going on post-treatment....for the most part. Stay tuned for picture of the Sigler's oyster roast and other upcoming fun October events. Off to continue my major organization project before spending the rest of this gorgeous afternoon with my friend Thomas.