Saturday, August 21, 2010

HPV Digene Test

Nobody looks forward to their annual exam. Well, I guess I should say most people don't, and nobody that I know. However, it is something that I've diligently penciled in and RSVP'd yes to each year since turning 18. Now that I'm in the 30+ age bracket, I fall smack in the category of women who are urged to advocate for their own health by requesting the digene HPV test in addition to their regular pap smear. Since 1943, when Dr. Papinacolaou (you always wondered why it was called a pap, right?) developed it, pap smears have helped with early detection and treatment of cervical cancer dropping it from the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American women, to the fifteenth.

QIAGEN has designed the first FDA-approved test that can detect high risk, namely cancer-causing, forms of HPV. By requesting the test to be performed, you're not subjecting yourself to an extra scrape, or more pinches, because the lab is able to use the same sample collected for your pap test. Most offices don't routinely order the HPV test unless a pap comes back with an inconclusive result, so it's up to you to request that it be ordered no matter the pap result for 'extra piece of mind.'

As with any test or procedure you have performed, it's important to check with your insurance company so that you can find out if the test is covered under your plan, if you'll have to pay part of the cost, and if that cost is worth it to you to have a more complete understanding of what your risk for developing cervical cancer may be.

Having personal experience with people in my life who are having to face much bigger decisions after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, I feel that it's important to get the word out to women. Look at the website, arm yourself with information so that when you talk to your healthcare provider, you can make a joint decision that's in your best interest. The HPV Test website is a wealth of information, and is available in several languages.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of the QIAGEN digene HPV test. Mom Central also sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Circular Logic

It's Day Four of Clifford the Big Black Dog, and I feel so relieved. I was getting pretty nervous about the unknowns of dog ownership, but he's a fantastic companion and the hair issue isn't really much of one. If I wasn't swiffering everyday, I'm sure it would build up and be gross, but so far, it's not so bad. My kids love him, Clifford loves J and we're all happy he's part of our family.

Of course, as of night one my 'I'll Never' of having him in carpeted areas of the house was out the window when he spent the night sleeping by my bed (and every night since). He's a great dog and I feel so good about our decision to make him part of the fam.

Now that's all settled, let's get down to business; knitting. Houston: We have a sweater. After starting the Radiant sweater in March for the Ravelry Knitting Olympics just in time for my sister's birthday, I promptly failed to finish and sent her some custom bookplates from the Expressionery instead. However, once we got settled here, I knew I'd need to start knitting again post haste. With the hats for my friend under control and ready to be assembled, I moved on to getting the body of the sweater knitted so that I could attach the sleeves with the new proposed deadline of my dad's birthday weekend to deliver the sweater to my sister. Also, I found out that Walla Walla has a weekly Stitch 'n Bitch at a coffee shop, so I'll be able to have some dedicated knitting time that will double as time to myself.

Here are some pictures of the progress so far; now I'm just working on decreasing around the yoke and, thanks to an in-the-round construction, I have only two underarm seams to sew upon completion.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

(Wo)Man's Best Friend

We're headed over to the West Side for a family reunion this afternoon and when we return, we'll have added another member to our own little family.

For some time now we've been carefully planning, carving out space in our new home, our family and our lives for the newest member. That's right, the HP family is taking the plunge and getting a dog.

We have somehow stumbled upon what I feel like couldn't be a better fit for our family; a friend who has a great, older lab and needed to find a home she felt comfortable with paired with my own lack of interest in having a puppy in a new home or with such small kids. He's gentle, great with kids and a great opportunity to train old Sally on how to be a dog owner. Is he rowdy on the leash? Yes. Is he Clifford the Big Black Dog? You bet. I've never been a small dog person (sorry Coop), so it just feels right. I'm looking forward to the companionship, and having something that forces me to get outside each and every day (in addition to my kids that is) for a nice walk. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I'm also looking forward to the added feeling of security with J's crazy schedule and the very real prospect of deployment.

I've had lots of advice from fellow lab owners on how to control the hair in the house issue, but one of my best friends summed it up for me; you're going to hate the cleaning, but you're going to love him.

Of course, about now I have the same feeling you had when you were nine months pregnant and the cold grip of fear had you in its clutches asking an inch from your face 'WHAT are you thinking?!' But I know what I'm thinking, and I couldn't be more excited. What's one more loud and boisterous boy, after all?! Stay tuned...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Locked and Loaded

I haven't picked up a set of needles since we moved and I'm itching to do something with my fingers other than fold laundry, push a swiffer around the floor and unwrap newspaper from knick-knacks and picture frames.

I'm just finishing (finally, finally) the two Newsboy caps I made for my friend Michele, which I'm sure she was wondering if she was ever truly going to get, and saw in my in-box a message from Knitting Daily entitled Enter into Entrelac. Entrelac is a knitting technique that looks as if several pieces have been seamed together to create a basket weave effect, when it was actually created by a single strand (or a few different colors) that have been picked up and knitted from the prior row. There's a baby blanket pattern I've been intrigued by each time I get the Lion Brand catalogue, but I wasn't sure how ready I was to bite that one off.

Luckily, the folks at Knitting Daily not only provided a simple scarf pattern, but also a great video tutorial. After a quick ravelry search, however, I fell in love with the luscious color and look of this entrelac scarf by Allison (pictured above) of Freckles and Purls. Maybe this will inspire you to try a new technique!

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Walk The Line

Looking for a quick project to spice up your kiddo's room without breaking the bank? Slap up some stipes on a wall!

Since H's fifth birthday is this weekend and we've been doing project after project on the house, I decided it was the perfect time to head to Home Depot to get the paint for their walls.

Actually, it was the thought of putting up the two robot prints that I found on etsy (by artist Dianne Sammons) on totally blank walls that spurred me on. I want their room to look put together when the hordes of people come to stay at our house. It's the one room in the house that is pretty much complete, so I wanted to be able to decorate (and take four more things off of the 'to be installed' pile).

My sister was in town, so I didn't even have to interrupt J's unpacking streak. Using a laser level and painters tape, we marked out four stripes of varying widths. Because I'm lazy, I decided to let the tape be the natural barrier between stripes so I had less marking to do.

The good folds at Home Depot saved me a ton of money by recommending that I buy the sample sizes of the Behr Paint plus Primer. I chose four colors: Pencil Point, Marmalade Glaze, Voyage and Elephant Skin.
Because it's a flat paint, they sold me a clear glaze that I'll paint over the stripes in about two weeks. Including buying a separate tray and roller for each color and the glaze, the whole project cost me less than $40.

Once I started painting the stripes, I realized that the two narrow stripes presented a challenge because I had to roll them vertically instead of horizontally because the roller was four inches wide. Also, I didn't buy a paint brush, so we used Q-tips to get the pesky corners. While the orange and dark grey would have benefited from a second coat, the coverage was actually really great, especially for a dark or bright color. And no, they won't get that second coat, because once this girl's done with a project, I'm done.

We did, however, go back over the tiny spots that went outside of the tape with the wall paint that the builders left behind for us...with Q-tips. All told, I think it turned out great. I found cute grey curtain panels at Wal-Mart that are lined with black-out-fabric, so once I get the prints up today, I will have one room pretty much complete. I'm still looking for a great book case or book sling and I can put a fork in it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just Peachy

Last weekend we took my brother and sister-in-law to the Walla Walla Farmer's Market and I got some lovely fruit. Peaches, blueberries and rhubarb...mmm...pie! When I got home, I pulled out a ready made crust, because I didn't have quite enough time or motivation to make my own, even though they're simple. I used a combination of recipes from Joy of Cooking to create what turned out to be a lovely, yummy pie.

Peach Blueberry Pie with Streussel Topping:

3 large peaches
1 pint blueberries
1 9 inch pie crust
3 T sugar

In order to easily peel the peaches, immerse them in boiling water for about 20-60 seconds and then transfer them to cold water (I used a bowl of water with ice cubes in it) so that it can cool and the skin will separate from the flesh easily. Using just my hands I was able to easily slough the skin off the peaches and slice them right into the pie shell.

Add the blueberries and sugar and toss to coat.

Streussel Topping (Streussel II p. 1011 in Joy of Cooking)

2/3 c. Flour
2/3 c. chopped walnuts
2/3 c. brown or white sugar (or mix of the two)
5 t. melted butter
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt

Mix together to form a course crumbly mixture and sprinkle over the top of the pie. (This is also the streussel I use for my coffee cake.) Form a ring of foil (or order these handy little devils from Pampered Chef, of which I have two coming in the mail) around the crust to prevent it from over-browning and bake at 425 for about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temp to 350 and slide a cookie sheet under the pie plate, baking for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the juices bubble from under the crust.

This was really delicious, and was especially good as my breakfast the next morning with a cup of coffee. I am my mother after all.

Now bring on the peaches and pickling cucumbers for canning!