I. hate. Cancer.

My oldest sister Diana was born thirteen years before I was. She married when I was in kindergarten so I don’t have an abundance of memories from when she lived at home. Fact is, we didn’t have a lot in common until I too married and had a family of my own. It was then that the years separating us in age all but disappeared.

Diana and Britt - Simple Sojourns

When my daughter was diagnosed with a non-curable neuromuscular disease at age five, it was Diana that came to be with me. Every day for 5 weeks Diana was by my side at the hospital. She was there for me and for Britt. (She also kept Britt’s toenails & fingernails colorfully polished!)

Cathi & Diana - Simple Sojourns

Diana was a hero. Her goal in life seemed to be making people happy. She always had a joke that made everyone giggle. She always had a smile.

Diana was 45-years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Within five short months she had succumbed to the disease. Diana was gone. I was devastated.

The wind was completely knocked out of me. I couldn’t breathe.

It was then that my hatred of cancer began. It was personal.

Cancer is an equal opportunity disease. It cares nothing of age, race or gender. It doesn’t give a hoot if you have a home or not; have money or not; have been healthy all your life or not. It could be waiting, just around the corner of time. Waiting to jump into our lives. Give us nightmares. I actually feel quite lucky that cancer didn’t shake my world until I was 32-years old. Way too many people have been affected by the nightmare of cancer while still a child, a teen, or whatever age. The statistics are heartbreaking.

David and I have partnered with Cancer Treatment Centers of America to learn what we can do to fight cancer and hopefully eliminate the broken hearts cancer is known to leave in its wake.

Did you know that February is National Cancer Prevention month? And did you know that there are more than 100 various types of cancers, including leukemia among them? I’d like to share a few facts specifically about breast cancer. I don’t want to scare anyone, but some of you may very well need to call your doctor to make appointments for an exam and mammogram. 

CTCA-Valentines-Card final

  • If we as women have a family history of breast cancer (mother, daughter, sister), we are almost twice as likely to develop the disease. We also have the option of discussing genetic testing with a doctor.
  • If breast cancer is found and treated, 90% of us will be cancer-free after 5 years. These odds are in our favor!
  • Those who are under the age of 50 should talk with your doctor about when to schedule your first mammogram. 

I’ve had two mammograms in the last 10 months with results that weren’t ‘normal.’ In three weeks I have another mammogram, along with an ultra sound. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I have no family history of breast cancer. None. And nonetheless, here I am, wondering what’s to come.

I’ve been doing research with Cancer Treatment Centers of America. The website is user friendly and so far has answered all my questions. Cancer Treatment Centers of America have a number of facilities located throughout the country. Their Care Teams follow what they call Patient Empowered Care which helps you get care quickly and conveniently. It decreases the stress of scheduling multiple appointments and ensures that doctors are communicating about your care. Patients get all of their information and questions answered in a single setting. The treatment is for the whole-body, including integrative services such as nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, mind-body medicine, spiritual support, and so much more. They take care of every detail of your visit, from gathering your medical records, to scheduling your appointments, to booking your travel and lodging.

At a fearful and stress filled time in life, Cancer Treatment Centers of America are there to help. To comfort and lend a smile, just like my sister Diana did for me.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of ‘Cancer Treatment Centers of America’ and ‘Mom Select’. The opinions and personal experiences are all mine. 

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Tardis Valentine Box

Our grandson is a huge fan of Doctor Who. So much so that last year he wanted to make a Tardis Valentine Box to collect his classroom valentines in. We think it turned out awesome. Even Doctor Who himself would be proud!

Tardis Valentine Box - Simple Sojourns

First we found the perfect box, gathered the supplies and sat down for some quality time to create and bring a bit of Doctor Who to life. We didn’t plan on writing this tutorial, but we did take a few candid photos. 

Supplies:

  • Rectangular box.
  • Royal blue construction paper 
  • White card stock for accents and drawing/image of the inside of the Tardis
  • Sharpie style black marker
  • Sharpie style royal/navy blue marker
  • Wooden bead
  • White glue and hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • We found the perfect box, gathered the supplies together and together we sat down to create.
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

Making a Tardis Valentine Box - Simple Sojourns

Directions:

  • Use the blue construction paper and wrap the box as if you were wrapping a gift. If you want to have doors on your Tardis that actually open, cut them before you wrap the box. If you have doors be sure to cover them with the blue paper as well. Leave the bottom of the box unwrapped so it can be opened to retrieve the valentines.
  • Using a ruler draw window on the tardis. Cut white card stock and use the black marker to add window frames as Cody is doing in the above photo. Now simply glue them to the box.

Building a Tardis Valentine Box - Simple Sojourns

  • If you have cut doors on your Tardis, find an image of the inside of the Tardis or draw one of your own. Carefully tape the image/drawing inside the box behind the open doors.

Making a Tardis Valentine Box - Simple Sojourns

  • Cut a slot on top or on the back of your Tardis box for the valentines to be ‘mailed’ into.

Tardis Valentine Box Top Light - Simple Sojourns

  • Use the blue marker to draw lines on the wooden bead depicting the light on top of Doctor Who’s Tardis. 

Tardis Valentine Box Doors - Simple Sojourns

  • We used the computer to make and print out the signs on the door and top front of the Tardis. 

Tardis Valentine Box | Simple Sojourns

Cody had a jolly good time making his Tardis Valentine Box. Fact is, he was super proud and loved it. And the kicker? His classmates thought it was great too! 

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Mom and Baby + Giveaway Prize Pack Worth Over $180!

I have partnered with Hip Mama’s Place to bring you this exciting new giveaway, as well as give you some fantastic Valentine’s Day gift ideas for the new mom/mom to-be and baby!

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Mom and Baby + Giveaway Prize Pack

Monkeys and hippos and bears…oh my! The My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear kit comes with an adorable stuffed animal and a red “heart” recorder. There are more than 16 cute creatures to choose from, all of them crafted from the softest, highest quality fleece-like material and polyfill. My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear makes an excellent shower gift, not to mention a great addition to your nursery décor. Safe for children 3 and older, My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear will also become a source of fascination for growing kids who love to know what they were like as babies!

For skincare that pamper and protect without known harmful chemicals, trust Belli Skincare – the brand that is committed to help women achieve beautiful skin during any stage of their lives: pregnancy, motherhood and beyond. Every Belli product is allergy tested, free of artificial dyes or fragrances and paraben preservatives. Choose from a variety of skin care products that best address your current concerns: skin hydration, acne, stretch marks, dry skin (to name a few). For more on Belli Skincare, visit their website, Facebook and/or Twitter pages.

The Kohl’s Cares Spring collection is now available at Kohl’s stores and online at Kohls.com. With every purchase of these items from Kohl’s Cares, you are helping children’s initiatives nationwide. This new collection includes award-winning children’s books from renowned author/illustrator Leo Lionni and complementing accessories. The best part: these are priced at just $5 each, with 100 percent of net profit going towards a worthwhile cause to help children in need.

Read the full post about these Valentine’s Day gift ideas for mom and baby on Hip Mama’s Place.

WIN IT!
One (1) lucky winner will receive a prize pack containing of products worth over $180, courtesy of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, Belli Skincare and Kohl’s Cares!
Open to residents of the US, age 18+ only.
One entry per household, per IP address.
Void where prohibited.
Winners will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter, and will be notified on 02/25/16 by Hip Mama’s Place.
Winners will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.
Giveaway ends on 02/24/2016 at 11:59pm Eastern Time

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Hip Mama’s Place received a product necessary to facilitate the review. This blog did not receive compensation. All opinions are those of our own and were not influenced in any way. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and any other social media networks mentioned are not affiliated with this post or giveaway. Prize fulfillment and shipment will be provided by the sponsor. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Disney California Adventure Grizzly River Run

One of my favorite things about Disney is the attention to detail. The detail on California Adventure Grizzly River Run will make you feel as if you’re actually on a mountain river riding the rapids. Just before you begin your ascent up the mountain, you’ll pass the old mining operations building. It’s an awesome ‘old’ structure full of character and personality! 

Disney California Adventure Grizzly River Run - Simple Sojourns

Disney California Adventure Grizzly River Run

February 24, 2015 – iPhone 5s

Link up your Wordless Wednesday below!

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Tuesday Giveaway Linky

Welcome to Tuesday Giveaway Linky with Simple Sojourns and A Frugal Friend. Link up your giveaways and find some to enter!

250 Giveaway Linky Button

Join us every Tuesday (giveaway linky will go live 6pm Pacific time Monday) and link up your current giveaways. Easy Peasy! Or if you love to enter giveaways, stop by every week to see what giveaways are listed. Join the party, it’s going to be fun!

Debra’s Giveaways: 

Pop-Star-Minnie-DVD

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Pop Star Minnie DVD Giveaway Ends 2/10

  • Link directly to your blog giveaway, not your homepage.
  • Keep them family friendly.
  • Your link must be a blog giveaway – all non-blog giveaways and/or affiliate/spam sites will be deleted.

Link up below!


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Valentine M&M Jar with Printable Tag

Valentine’s Day and chocolate go together hand in hand. Especially when it comes to my husband. NY loves chocolate. Chocolate of any kind. And M&Ms, well, we can eat them by the handfuls or savor them one at a time. Me? I favor the latter. I like to let them literally melt in my mouth. But back to Valentine’s Day. In honor of the national holiday that celebrates love and chocolate, we have a quick but adorable Valentine M&M jar with a printable tag. 

Valentine's Day M&M Jar with Printable Tag - Simple Sojourns

Perfect for your love, your neighbor, the kid’s teachers, or anyone. Make someone’s day with a little jar of chocolate. They just might make you their Valentine!

Valentine M&M Jars with Printable - Simple Sojourns

Supplies: *affiliate links included

  • Small mason jars with lids and rings. I used 4 ounce jelly jars. One large bag will fill 4 jars 
  • Scrapbook paper in Valentine colors/patterns
  • Valentine M&Ms – One bag will fill four small jars
  • Baker’s Twine and/or thin pink/red ribbon 
  • Printable tags
  • Pencil for tracing the jar lid onto the scrapbook paper
  • Scissors for cutting
  • Large needle or something to poke a hole in the heart tag

M&M Valentine Jar - Simple Sojourns

Directions:

  • Wash & dry jars. Fill each with Valentine colored M&Ms 
  • Trace jar lid onto your scrapbook paper and cut out the lid circles just inside the traced line
  • Place the paper circles under the lid rim, on top of the actual lid. Screw the lids on the jars
  • Print out our printable heart tags on card stock paper

Valentine Printable Tag - Simple Sojourns

  • Carefully cut out each printed heart and poke a hole above the little heart on the tag. I used a large needle
  • Cut your baker’s twine or ribbon in 20 inch lengths (We doubled our baker’s twine so to wrap it around the jar ring twice) 
  • Thread your baker’s twine or ribbon through the hole on the printed heart tag
  • Tie the heart tag on the jar lid with a bow or square knot

Valentine M&M Jars with Printable - Simple Sojourns

Happy Valentine’s Day!

All thoughts, opinions and photos are our own and may not be used without written permission.

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Minestrone Soup

Because I’m gluten-free, dairy-free and a vegetarian, it isn’t always easy to make meals that satisfy David, who has no special dietary needs at all. One of our favorite meals, especially during cold winter months, is a big bowl of homemade minestrone soup. Chock full of colorful delicious vegetables, with a bit of pasta tossed in to taste, minestrone soup is filling and a meal in itself. 

Minestrone Soup - Simple Sojourns

It’s easy to make and even easier to adjust to your liking. Add more of your favorite vegetable(s) or other substitutions to your liking. Follow our recipe, or use it as a guide and make it your own soup. Have fun with it and most importantly, enjoy!

Gluten Free Minestrone Soup Ingredients - Simple Sojourns

Traditionally, minestrone soup has shell pasta cooked in it. We use gluten-free pasta which I’ve yet to find in the shell variety. I choose to cook the pasta separate and add it as we serve the soup. I also use fresh herbs and tie them together so it’s simple to remove when the leaves cook off into the soup. 

 Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dry pasta – cooked al dente 
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced and diced
  • 1 stalk celery sliced and diced
  • 1 medium zucchini sliced – slice like discs and then each discs in half
  • 1 large grated carrot 
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic sliced and diced
  • 14 ounce can Italian green beans
  • 4 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 30 ounce can of drained kidney beans
  • 30 ounce can of drained great northern beans
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • Sprig of fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Sprig of fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Small sprig of fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 – 4 cups fresh spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese

IMG_0657

Directions:

  • In a large stock pot, sauté onion, celery for 3 – 5 minutes. 
  • Add zucchini and carrots. Sauté another 3 minutes.
  • Add garlic, green beans, tomato paste and gently stir until mixed.
  • Add diced tomatoes with juice, kidney beans and great northern beans. Stir well.
  • If you’re using fresh herbs tie them together. 
  • Add herbs and spices.
  • Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover with lid and simmer 40 minutes. 
  • Remove fresh herbs that are tied together and the bay leaves.
  • Add fresh spinach and simmer 30 minutes.
  • Serve in bowls with 1/2 cup cooked pasta. 
  • Garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

Minestrone Soup Bowl - Simple Sojourns

Enjoy!

Minestrone Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups dry pasta – cooked al dente
  2. 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 onion sliced and diced
  4. 1 stalk celery sliced and diced
  5. 1 medium zucchini sliced – slice like discs and then each discs in half
  6. 1 large grated carrot
  7. 2 – 3 cloves garlic sliced and diced
  8. 14 ounce can Italian green beans
  9. 4 ounce can of tomato paste
  10. 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  11. 30 ounce can of drained kidney beans
  12. 30 ounce can of drained great northern beans
  13. 8 cups vegetable broth
  14. Sprig of fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
  15. Sprig of fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  16. Small sprig of fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  17. 1 or 2 bay leaves
  18. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  19. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  20. 3 – 4 cups fresh spinach
  21. Salt and pepper to taste
  22. Fresh grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot, sauté onion, celery for 3 – 5 minutes.
  2. Add zucchini and carrots. Sauté another 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, green beans, tomato paste and gently stir until mixed.
  4. Add diced tomatoes with juice, kidney beans and great northern beans. Stir well.
  5. If you’re using fresh herbs tie them together.
  6. Add herbs and spices.
  7. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover with lid and simmer 40 minutes.
  8. Remove fresh herbs that are tied together and the bay leaves.
  9. Add fresh spinach and simmer 30 minutes.
  10. Serve in bowls with 1/2 cup cooked pasta.
  11. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese.
Notes
  1. Traditionally, minestrone soup has shell pasta cooked in it. We use gluten-free pasta which I've yet to find in the shell variety. I choose to cook the pasta separate and add it as we serve the soup. I also use fresh herbs and tie them together so it’s simple to remove the stems when the leave cook off into the soup.
Simple Sojourns http://simplesojourns.com/
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Three Daughters of Helios

Next time you’re at Piccadilly Circus in London … look up to the roof of the Criterion Building at the corner of Haymarket and Coventry Street. It’s there that you’ll see the Three Daughters of Helios, also known as the Three Graces. Covered in gold, they glisten in the sun as they seemingly leap from the top of the building. 

The Daughters of Helios - Simple Sojourns

Piccadilly Circus, London, United Kingdom

May 15, 2010 – Panasonic DMC-FP8

Link up your Wordless Wednesday below!

[Read more…]

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Tuesday Giveaway Linky

Welcome to Tuesday Giveaway Linky with Simple Sojourns and A Frugal Friend. Link up your giveaways and find some to enter!

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Join us every Tuesday (giveaway linky will go live 6pm Pacific time Monday) and link up your current giveaways. Easy Peasy! Or if you love to enter giveaways, stop by every week to see what giveaways are listed. Join the party, it’s going to be fun!

Debra’s Giveaways: 

Pop-Star-Minnie-DVD

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Pop Star Minnie DVD Giveaway Ends 2/10

  • Link directly to your blog giveaway, not your homepage.
  • Keep them family friendly.
  • Your link must be a blog giveaway – all non-blog giveaways and/or affiliate/spam sites will be deleted.

Link up below!

[Read more…]

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Brownies with Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries

February is almost here. Can you believe it? Christmas is long ago packed away. Now Valentine’s Day decorations are here and there throughout the house. But Valentine’s Day made me hungry. For something delicious and sweet. So I literally whipped up some brownies with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. I’m here to tell you, they’re delicious, scrumptious, and everything a Valentine’s Day treat should be. Most importantly, they’re oh so easy to whip up!

Brownies with Whipped Cream and Strawberries - Simple Sojourns

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite boxed or scratch brownie recipe – I used a gluten-free mix
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries

Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries - Simple SojournsDirections:

  1. Prepare and bake brownies as directed on box or your scratch recipe.
  2. After removing from oven, let brownies cool completely.
  3. Wash and slice strawberries. Leave a few leaves on if desired.
  4. Whip cream until stiff peaks form.
  5. Spread whipped cream over cooled brownies. 
  6. Arrange fresh sliced strawberries as desired.

Brownies with Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries - Simple Sojourns

The chocolate cake (or vanilla/white cake) can be substituted for the brownies. A variety of fresh fruit can also be substituted for the strawberries. Make it your own!

Enjoy!

Brownies with Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries
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Ingredients
  1. Your favorite boxed or scratch brownie recipe
  2. 1 pint whipping cream
  3. 1 pound fresh strawberries
Instructions
  1. Prepare and bake brownies as directed on box or your scratch recipe.
  2. After removing from oven, let brownies cool completely.
  3. Wash and slice strawberries. Leave a few leaves on if desired.
  4. Whip cream until stiff peaks form.
  5. Spread whipped cream over cooled brownies.
  6. Arrange fresh sliced strawberries as desired.
Notes
  1. The chocolate cake (or vanilla/white cake) can be substituted for the brownies. A variety of fresh fruit can also be substituted for the strawberries. Make it your own!
Simple Sojourns http://simplesojourns.com/
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