Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zane Update

I can't believe that in less than one month, we will be celebrating the one year anniversary of day that God saved Zane's life. One year already! Wow.. when I step back and look at how far Zane has come, it leaves me in awe of God's goodness and faithfulness.

Right now, Zane's neck is still healing up from his last surgery. We were in Boston a couple of weeks ago and had his burn/plastics surgeon look at his neck. The next step is going to be liposuction to remove excess fat from the flap and an advancement of the flap, which is similar to a face lift, only on the neck. It will contour the tissue so that it looks like a normal neck again, or in his surgeon's words, "It won't look like a muffin under your chin". Zane prefers to call it his double chin. :) This procedure can't be done until atrophy sets in more (the tissue softens up and almost becomes "flabby"). We figure it will be a couple of months before this will happen, at which point we'll schedule his surgery.

When we were in Boston last week, we also went to Mass Eye & Ear for another audiology consult. At this point, we know hearing aids are not going to work. Zane's hearing loss is so bad in his right ear that hearing aids only amplify the distortion. His left ear is not bad enough that a hearing aid actually helps. We talked to a doctor about cochlear implants. However, they told us that the implants will only be an option once BOTH ears have dipped to a 60% hearing loss. The doctor told Zane he was at about 50% loss. He also said that it will not get better, and that it will almost definitely get worse over time. His advice was to enjoy what natural hearing Zane had left and follow up every 6 months until cochlear implants were deemed an option. So, rather dismal news, but we're glad he told us the honest truth. We will just have faith and keep going.

Zane and I have continued to have opportunities to share our story with people at various churches and gatherings. It has been a fantastic blessing and we are working on forming a formal not-for-profit ministry. More on that later, but we are super excited about it.

I know I've been lax on updating over the past few months, but things should be getting better now. Thank you so much to those of you who are still following along. Your web "friendship" is encouraging.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Things are Ch-ch-ch-changing!

I suppose it's about time I fill you guys in on what's going on that's had me so busy lately, huh? Well...

That's right! The papers are signed and in a couple months everything will be finalized. I will be the owner of a gorgeous bridal and formalwear boutique. Zane and I feel so incredibly blessed to have this opportunity. He is so supportive of me getting done my job and taking on this new challenge. As we get the site for the business revamped and possibly a blog started, I'll be sure to share!

Monday, August 15, 2011

DIY Pintuck/Knotted Duvet Cover Tutorial: Part 2

Hi guys! I am sooo sorry I've been MIA for the past month! I promise there is a fantastic reason, which I want to reveal in a separate post. But for today, here is the rest of the duvet cover tutorial. I may have missed a few details, so feel free to ask! Again, I did everything in photoshop drawings so it would be pretty self-explanatory.

Monday, July 18, 2011

DIY Pintuck/Knotted Duvet Cover Tutorial: Part 1

Many of you have asked for it, so here it is! I put the tutorial together in visual format because I always like picture directions better. :) The duvet is made to look similar to this anthropologie beauty. The knot idea came from the brilliant girls at kojodesigns. To see detailed directions on the knot, check out their tutorial here. The biggest differences between what they did and what I did were this:
  • The Fabric- they used jersey, like the Anthropologie original. I wanted something a little more wear-resistant & substantial, so I used what I think is duck cloth/lightweight canvas.
  • I added a border to give it a more finished look. The instructions for this will be in Part 2 of the tutorial.
  • They made a quilt. I wanted to be able to wash it easily and I didn't really like the way the quilt laid, so I made a duvet.

Please note that the tutorial is for a queen size duvet. I suggest measuring your own duvet, dividing it into equal squares, adding 5 inches for your pucker, 2 inches for your seams, and cutting your squares that size. The rest of the tutorial will pretty much be the same.

Once you have your rows all sewn together, you have your front side done! The hardest part is over! Tune in later this week for part 2 of the tutorial.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Favorite Things: West Elm Nut Bowls

Just want to take a quick second and thank Kate @ Centsational Girl for the mention on her "Best of the Blogosphere" post. My pin tuck/knotted duvet cover was featured & it made me so snuggily happy. :) Hello to those of you popping over here from her blog, and thank you for your sweet comments.

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite little things- the lacquered nut bowls from West Elm.

I picked up a couple this winter and since them have bought 6 more. I LOVE them. They're perfect for stashing little objects- let me demonstrate:

Here, used as a fun little candle holder..

And here, as my little bedside stash bowl for earrings, bobby pins, and my wedding rings. (please ignore empty frame)

And here, as my office supply/sewing pin holders.

There was just one problem with these ones... the yellow was a bit too green for me. So.. out came the spray paint.

Much Better!

Do any of you own these? Any other favorite little items that make a big difference in keeping your clutter corralled?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back Home & Things I love

Zane and I came back home on Sunday and laid low for the 4th. He's doing much better. Still not up to par, but he's actually bouncing back much faster than I thought he would. He's already weaned himself off the extra pain meds and is back to just a normal, small dose. His neck is still really swollen, but it's looking good. It's actually starting to grow leg hair... Zane joked that he'd have to start shaving his leg. :)

While we were in Boston, my sister and I had to make a quick run to the Verizon store & I told her she needed to experience the Anthropologie store in Back Bay. She loved it, of course. We picked out these babies to put on the desk I want to make:

I want to make a desk that's a mix of this (please excuse iPhone screen shot):

{from Arteriors}

and this:


LOVE! And speaking of things I love... Zane wants to build me some barstools for the new house kinda like these:

{also from Arteriors}

mixed with these:

Like how we're mashing furniture together today? Thought you might! Anyway, that's a few things I'm loving right now. :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Yesterday was a much better day for Zane. They took him off some of the restrictions so that he could sit up, eat, and function more normally. They changed his pain medicine from morphine to dilaudid, which he's had a much better history of responding to. The change helped dramatically. His pain was better under control and the nausea subsided. When my sister and I walked into his room yesterday morning, he had just eaten steak tips. BIG improvement over the juice and 2 bites of jello he'd had the day before.

As the day went on yesterday, there were waves of pain that would come and go, but overall he was a different person. They took him off the IV and oxygen and he was able to get up to go to the bathroom.

Today was a good day as well. Zane is eating just like normal, and is making jokes again. The pain in his legs is still too intense to do much walking, but he is able to get around a little better. I helped him get into normal clothes today, so he's more comfortable that way too. The doctors have been in several times to check out how the flap is doing, and so far, so good! The dangerous period of time for that flap & vein is over, so they don't have to ultrasound it that much.

Yesterday we noticed some paralysis of Zane's right side of his lips. It affects his smile, eating, and ability to do things like whistle. It's gotten a little better today, but we're definitely keeping it in prayer.

Tonight we took Zane outside in a wheelchair for the first time, and I had a bit of a tough time convincing him that running away early probably wasn't the best option.

(first photo is w/me, second is with my sister)

Tomorrow the dressings on his hand will come down and the wound vac will come off his leg and he'll be discharged. I am so thankful that God brought Zane through this surgery. It was a really rough first couple days, but we do believe what the Bible says- God will not give us more than what He'll give us the strength to handle. God brought all of us through yet another test, another strengthening of our faith. And I believe it will only help us grow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Last night when we went in to see Zane he was in a lot of pain. The positioning during his surgery really did a number on his back, neck, and shoulder muscles. In order to keep good blood flow to the flap, they have to keep his bed at no more than a 30 degree angle and he wasn't allowed to have a pillow behind his head. So, his head was arched back and it was making him extremely uncomfortable. He has some pain in his leg from the donor site, but it was mostly muscle pain that bothered him. We tried everything we could think of but there didn't seem to be much relief. He is on a morphine PCA pump, which means that whenever he's in pain, he can push a button and it will dispense morphine into his IV. He can only get it every 7 minutes so he doesn't overdose, but even the morphine couldn't keep him comfortable. They talked about increasing the dose, but his respiratory rate was low, and they didn't want to risk him stopping breathing. More narcotics would only heighten that risk.

Can I be honest? Last night was hard. I've never seen Zane in that much pain. He's never had a flap before, and they're much more involved than grafts. And, whenever he's been in this much pain before, they've been able to sedate him. At one point last night he looked at me and said, "I want to cry but I can't". The doctor on call last night told him that he's just have to "tough it out". It is no fun to watch someone you live suffer and know that there's nothing anyone can do to help. It made me sick just being so helpless. As I was sitting beside his bed last night it was like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Courtney, do you believe the words that you say to people all the time? When you're speaking at churches and you talk about faith and belief and trust, don't you believe what you're saying?". It hit me like a ton of bricks. I truly needed to believe that God was going to take care of Zane. I think I knew it in my heart, but, I hadn't really released the situation and given my worries over to God. I looked at Zane and asked him if I could pray. As I prayed, I decided to let it all go... Again. Learning to trust isn't a one time decision. It's a constant rededication, and a deliberate choice to let go. I reminded myself of that last night.

When I came in this morning, Zane was still very uncomfortable, to the point where he hadn't slept all night and was utterly exhausted and upset. His head doctor finally gave him permission to use a thin pillow. We spent the morning massaging his shoulders and feet, propping his arms up, and giving him wet swabs for his mouth. Around 9:30 he was finally able to get a little rest. Since then, things have gotten a little better as time goes on. He's currently sleeping, and we're trying to keep it that way.

Another complication is that all the ICU beds are full in the entire hospital, so we've been in the PAC-U (post anesthesia care unit or recovery area) since surgery was over. That means that Zane hasn't had a room or a TV this while times. The PAC-U is just rows and rows of beds with curtains around them, with very little room. We were a little let down, but tried to see the best in the situation. We later found out that a major infection has been going around some of the ICU's. This seemed inconvenience was actually God protecting Zane from that infection! Later this afternoon, he should be able to move into a regular room.

Zane hasn't eaten since the surgery, other than a couple bites of jello this afternoon, which made him nauseas. They're slowly trying to work him up to food again, but he historically has a sensitive stomach. He should be able to sit up a little more in a day or two , and hopefully that will help with his overall comfort. They flap is swollen, as expected, but is looking good. The vein that they were concerned about is also doing well. They ultra-sound it every hour, and it continues to have a steady pulse. The color of the flap is also great, so once the swelling goes down, it should be a vast improvement.

Overall, I'm once again learning that our God is always faithful. We believe that he doesn't waste one pain, and that any amount Zane is suffering, there is a greater purpose and God will use it for good. Your continued prayers would be much appreciated, as always. We KNOW that they make a HUGE difference. Thank you so much for all your love and support thus far.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another One Down

I just got the call that Zane's surgery is done. The doctor said all went well, they did both the neck flap and right web space release. For the neck, they cut out the scar tissue that's outlined below:

They then took a flap (skin, tissue, and vein) from the left thigh and placed it on the neck. The vein from the thigh flap was reattached to veins in his neck in order to get blood flow in the flap and keep it alive. Dr. Pomahac told me that they were a little concerned because the vein was small, and was at risk of collapsing. They are going to monitor it very closely in ICU to make sure blood flow continues. If it doesn't, they risk having to do everything over again.

They were able to pull the two sides of skin from the area where the flap was taken together and suture it closed. There was only a small section where they couldn't suture it together and they had to take a graft from another area of the thigh the cover the flap site.

They also did several z-plasty's or releases on his right web space, which didn't require grafting. Dr. Pomahac said that he thinks these will really increase Zane's functionality.

So overall, good results. We just have to pray for his neck, that that vein will stay open and strong. We've already had many prayers about it here, and would appreciate yours as well. We have total faith that God is in control and will watch out for Zane's every need. No matter what the outcome, HE is faithful and we will choose to be people of faith ourselves. I will be able to go to the PAC-U and see Zane in about another half hour. Praise God for One more surgery going

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back to Boston

(Zane and my sisters last weekend)

Zane has surgery tomorrow morning, so we're on our way to Boston again. We shared our story in southern Maine tonight so we got a bit of a late start, but we should make it to the hotel by midnight. Zane goes in at 10:15 in the morning to get his neck worked on. They will be cutting out some of the thick scar tissue from his neck and taking a flap from his thigh. The flap is more than a graft- it includes all the layers of skin, some underlying tissue, and even some small blood vessels/capillaries. They'll have to attach this to the neck and then repair the thigh by either suturing the edges together or taking a graft from the other thigh and placing it in the area of the defect. They are also planning to release the web space between his right thumb and pointer finger as long as the neck part goes well. They expect the surgery to take 6 hours and that Zane will have to spend a day in the ICU afterwards because of the seriousness of it.

He'll spend 5 days in the hospital for recovery and we'll fly back home next weekend. We sure would appreciate your prayers for this surgery. We're totally putting it in God's hands again, as we know that He's been more than faithful to take care of Zane thus far. Hopefully by sometime tomorrow evening I'll have an update ready for you all on how the surgery went.

Also, thanks to Brooke @ Inside-Out Design ( for the mention she made on her blog about my knotted duvet cover & thank you to her readers for stopping by. As soon as we get back from Boston, I'll get the tutorial together!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Event Planning: Green & Pink Garden Wedding

Thank you all for your sweet comments on the duvet cover! To answer some of the questions, yes, I did make the headboard too, and I do have another post coming up on how I made the duvet cover. But, in the mean time...

Katie emailed me a couple months ago about designing her husband's & her wedding this coming August. She's a fellow DIY-er & had a good start on what she wanted, but needed some helping creating a cohesive design scheme and adding a little pizazz. She started out with a simple design board, but we came up with so many ideas & enjoyed working together so much that she ended up going for full design assistance.
This is the design board that started it all. Making the switch to full design service meant I'd provide her with sources, directions on all the DIY projects involved, photoshopped versions of her ceremony and reception venues to show my design plan, diagrams, invitation & centerpiece help, and a face-to-face meeting to talk everything over. And I can tell you, it's been a blast.

We're planning a fresh, organic, and pretty affair that still remains very casual and fun. She had already picked pink and green as her colors, and we just injected some natural elements like wood, burlap, and jute. We're still working on tying up a few details, but it's shaping up to be a gorgeous wedding! I can't wait to see the finished product!

If you want help designing an event of your own, please email me at!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

DIY Pintuck/Knotted Duvet Cover

What I'm about to show you is for sure the most time consuming project that I've ever taken on. I've questioned my sanity several times over the course of creating this thing.. I've never tried to do something quite this large on my own. So crazy, yes.. but I venture to say that it just may have been worth it.

That stack of fabric I showed you before was 64 squares that I individually measured, cut, traced, stitched, puckered, stitched some more, pinned together, sewed, pinned some more, sewed some more, measured again, cut again, sewed, and sewed, and sewed.... and sewed. And eventually... it became something a little more like this:

I'd seen many duvet covers and quilts that I liked.. but they were all going to cost me between $100 at the low end and $400 on the high end. Not exactly in the budget right now. :) I have this problem, you see.. Zane likes to say that we have a different set of bedding of bedding for each month. While that's definitely an overstatement, I did have 3 or 4 comforters in our first year of marriage.. so I decided duvets were the way to go. And then I started to collect duvets. :) I think the resolution would be to start designing other people's homes so I don't have to make manifest all my ideas in my own home. But, until that becomes a feasible option, I thought making my own duvet would be both economical and a challenge. It ended up being both.

I bought something like 15 yards of fabric for around $30 at a local surplus and salvage store. I chose a white duck-cloth-like material (not totally sure what it is officially). It had a few holes in some spots so I talked the manager into a 50% discount. Not too shabby! A few more dollars in LOTS of white thread and some snap closures for the top (and of course many, many hours), and I had a gorgeous new duvet for under $40.

I'll share a little more later, but I hope it was worth the wait!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Breaking The Silence

*crickets chirping*

*fingers tapping*

Whew! That was quite the period of silence over here wasn't it? I have finally been sassed enough for not posting that I've decided to come up for air from my busy life. The past month has probably been one of my busiest. From Zane's surgery at the end of April to a couple speaking engagements and guests visiting, there has been very little down time.

So, first things first. I know everyone wants an update on Zane. His surgery went well. In case you need a refresher, he had 3 releases on his right side. Which means, they cut the skin at his wrist, elbow, and armpit, stretched the joints to the range they should have, took skin from his thigh, and grafted it into those spots. Before the surgery, he was unable to get his arm very high over his head or straighten his elbow. Now, he can do both. It's still not perfect, which is where therapy comes in. He's still getting 1-2 hrs of therapy per day, 5 days per week. He's building a lot of his lost muscle back up and is only about 5 pounds away from his pre-accident weight. The grafted skin is still very tight because it's continually contracting as it heals, but he kinda likes the tightness on his belly.. He's shown off his six-pack more than once. :)

May 14 I had the opportunity to speak at a women's retreat through our church in New Hampshire. I presented 4 hour-long segments over the course of that Saturday, sharing our story and all that I had learned about faith. I pretty much ate, slept, and breathed retreat prep for the couple weeks leading up to it, but I loved it. I think it went quite well, and I definitely grew a lot personally from it. I went back to our room that evening once everything was over, looked at Zane and said, "We were made for this. We are called for this."

We had another speaking engagement doing double services at a local church last weekend, and a couple days before it, we made a decision. We want to start pursuing ministry actively. So far, we've shared our story quite a few times, but have never sought out opportunities ourselves. But, we're starting to feel convicted that we need to dedicate our lives and make an attempt to share what God has done with as many people as possible, far or near. So, if you would like us to share with your church or organization, we'd love to talk to you about the opportunity. My email is on the sidebar.

I have plenty of updates to come, including a wedding I'm helping to design, what I did with that leaning tower of fabric, and those painted stairs you've been asking about. I promise I won't leave you all hanging for another month! :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Successful Surgery

Sorry for the delay! The hospital experience is a bit different this time around. With Zane being much healthier, he's more active than before. But anyway, on to surgery news.

Zane had his right armpit/shoulder, elbow and wrist all released. They basically cut each area open, stretch it, and place new skin in that area.

Zane's upper right thigh was the donor site for this surgery. They took a pretty large area of skin, but it's not a really deep cut so it should heal relatively quickly. His right arm is all wrapped in wound dressings and ace wraps. Now, I'm probably identifying myself as a nerd by going into detail about all this but I know some of mom's nurse friends read this, so let's pretend it's for them and not just cuz I'm a nerd. :) They used THE COOLEST dressing on Zane's armpit release. They call it a wound vac and basically it's a big sponge they put over the grafted area. It's secured down with a clear adhesive sheet and there's a small tube attached through the sheet to the sponge. When the machine connected to the tube is turned on, it applies negative pressure, kind of a light suction on the area. That way, all of the blood and drainage doesn't just seep into a dry dressing, but is extracted away from the wound.

Okay, so how many of you did I just lose or gross out? :) sorry about that. I used to hate this stuff. I wanted nothing to do with medicine... And here I am just eating it up. Go figure. :)

Anyway, Zane is doing really well after surgery. He's dealing with some pain of course, but that's expected. His doctor has told us that he thinks the armpit and elbow release will really help, but that the wrist release probably won't do much for him. He thinks the restriction in the movement of Zane's wrist is mostly muscle and tendon tightness and not skin. So, that's something that Zane will just have to work on in therapy. It's been neat seeing all his old nurses. They put him back on the floor he was on previously, so there are a lot of familiar faces.

We are praising God for such a great surgery outcome. We waited in the recovery area for 8 hours on Monday and were getting a little antsy when we found out the reason it was taking so long was because they were getting Zane a private room. Does God take care of His children or what? He is so faithful.

Here's a look at Zane before surgery..

And after...

And lastly, here are a couple from today. We got him back in a t shirt and outside for a walk.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone