Ovarian Cancer & Endometriosis

Since I have endometriosis, I found this article in today’s Toronto Star particularly interesting. I wonder what type of tests or pre-screening they might develop because of it?

Canadian researchers have isolated a genetic mutation that appears to link two types of ovarian cancer with endometriosis, a common gynecological condition in women.

Endometriosis is the abnormal growth of cells that form outside the uterus, attaching themselves to such structures as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and even the outside of the intestines. Endometriosis often has no symptoms, but in some women the growths can cause pain and lead to infertility.

In a study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the Ovarian Cancer Research Program of B.C. found that a mutation that turns off the ARID1A gene may be a preliminary event in the transformation of endometriosis into one of two types of ovarian cancer.

Those cancers — called clear-cell carcinoma and endometrioid carcinoma — represent the second and third most common types of ovarian tumour, said principal researcher Dr. David Huntsman, a genetic pathologist at the B.C. Cancer Agency.

Together, they account for one-quarter of all ovarian cancer cases in North America and an even higher proportion of ovarian tumours among Asian women. The genetic mutations were found in 46 per cent of ovarian clear-cell carcinomas and in 30 per cent of endometrioid carcinomas.

But Huntsman stressed that having endometriosis does not mean a woman will develop ovarian cancer.

“Endometriosis is a very common condition and there have been (research) papers over the years suggesting that women with endometriosis are at a slightly higher risk of developing clear-cell carcinoma and endometrioid carcinoma,” he said from Vancouver. “However, the risk is low for any individual woman with an endometriosis.”

“One thing we really don’t want to happen is for every woman who has endometriosis to suddenly be terrified that they’re going to get cancer.”

Lead author Kim Wiegand, a graduate student in Huntsman’s lab, first noticed multiple mutations involving the ARID1A gene. In all, the research team sequenced DNA from more than 600 ovarian tumour samples collected from scientists worldwide.

“When we first saw these mutations we were very excited because ARID1A has several functions that made it a potential cancer gene, yet mutations in this gene have never been identified before in ovarian cancer,” said Wiegand.

The detection of the common genetic mutation could lead to better treatments for these forms of ovarian cancer, which are not well understood, said Huntsman, director of OvCaRe, a partnership program between the B.C. Cancer Agency and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

“Our discovery has shown that loss of ARID1A may be a very early event in this transformation (to cancer), and we hope to be able to use the discovery to develop tools to determine which women with endometriosis may be at increased risk,” he said.

“It may be that some women could be treated a little more aggressively to remove that risk.”

Dr. Andrew Berchuck, director of gynecologic oncology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., called the research “a major scientific breakthrough.”

“This discovery also sheds light on how endometriosis predisposes to the development of these cancers,” he said in a statement. “The novel insights provided by this work have the exciting potential to facilitate advances in early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of endometrioid and clear-cell cancers, which account for over 20 per cent of ovarian cancer cases.”

Red Rider

Red Rider. It’s what my husband has started calling me since I purchased my newest love and best mode of transportation: a Schwinn bike! It’s red and curvy and solidly built, so I’ve named her Bettie Page in honour of the 50s pinup model.

The best part about my bike might be how much it cost. A friend of a friend is moving and just had a baby and was getting rid of Bettie for only $75! How could I pass that up? I didn’t even need to see it to know that I wanted it. If I had my choice of bikes I would have picked this bike. It’s big and comfy and has a chain guard so I can still wear skirts when I ride it.

At first I was hesitant to ride it on the road so I took the seawall for the first week until I decided to brave the streets. I’ve even been on a couple of main streets with no problems so far. I’m lucky that I have a larger than usual sense of anxiety as it means I’m probably too careful when biking. I’ll get over that soon enough, but for now I feel safe being a baseball bat length away from cars and signalling at each stop sign I come to and keeping my fingers thisclose to the brakes just in case.

I plan on continuing riding my bike when we move offices in September and I’ve even bought a cute pannier to carry my clothes and things. Now I just need to invest in some rain gear and get a U-lock since I’ve heard my cable lock isn’t the best idea with all the bike thieves in this city. My only regret is that I didn’t buy a bike sooner!

The Cost Of Living

The cost of living staying alive these days is ridiculous. I wish I were just talking about shelter and food and clothing and transit, but I’m actually referring to my medications and supplies. Let me break it down for you:

One Touch Test Strips – $300/month

My glucometer of choice is the One Touch Mini. It’s teeny tiny compared to other models (especially the monster that was my first tester) and it comes in cute colours. While I have pink and green ones I’m currently using a blue one in a black case.

When I was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes back in 1988 (when meters were a new thing) test strips cost about $1 each. 22 years later test strips still cost about $1 each, although I can sometimes get them on sale. I find it ridiculous that the cost of them hasn’t decreased, especially since the number of people using them has increased enormously. (The epidemic that is Type 2 has caused millions upon millions of people to rely on glucometers to test their blood each day). In order to determine my blood sugar levels, I test approximately 6-10 times per day so my monthly costs for test strips are about $300. If I didn’t test my blood I wouldn’t have good control so testing less isn’t an option.

Humalog Insulin – $70/month

It’s a bit silly that the thing that actually keeps me alive costs less than the test strips I use to see how to medicate myself, but insulin isn’t that expensive here in Canada. It’s all relative, of course. Adding up to almost $1,000 a year means I’m spending a good portion of my salary on it but at least it’s not as much as test strips. I take Humalog insulin whenever I eat or whenever I need a correction to bring my blood sugar down. Without insulin I’d die quite quickly so this is a non-negotiable in my monthly expenses.

Levemir Insulin – $70/month

Levemir is a new insulin for me, having switched from Lantus a couple of months ago. My endocrinologist took pity on me and gave me a sample pack to get me through the first month so I’ve only recently had to start paying for it, but it’s about the same cost as the Lantus was so I’m not spending any more or less than I was previously. Levemir acts as a baseline for me throughout the day. I take it once in the morning and again before I go to bed. As a “normal” person without diabetes would have little amounts of insulin released into their body throughout the day, Levemir works in a similar way for me.

Levothyroxine – $10/month

 When I was 13 I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, a common diagnosis for those of us with Type 1. Fortunately, since it is so common, I never experienced any symptoms of hypothyroidism, but I’ve been taking levothyroxine to regulate my thyroid for 20 years. I should point out here that all of the above costs include a dispensing fee so, while levothyroxine doesn’t cost as much as $10 per month, when you add the dispensing fee it’s what I end up paying.

Metformin – $20/month

This is my most annoying medication, not because it hurts to take it but because it’s most commonly used by those with Type 2 Diabetes. It means whenever I’m giving my history to a new doctor or a triage nurse and I tell them that I’m taking metformin they try to correct me and tell me that I have type 2 diabetes. It’s very, very frustrating and I wish they’d take time to learn that not only is metformin used in those with type 2, but also in those who, like me, have Polycysitc Ovarian Syndrome. About 10 years ago I started having to use a lot of insulin every time I ate. I was taking about 3-4 times as much insulin as I did a year prior and gaining weight at an incredible rate. I worked with my endocrinologist for 2 years to determine what was causing all of the strange symptoms and once I started taking metformin cut my nighttime insulin from 56 units to 12. It was amazing! And scary to know that I’d been taking such high doses without having a diagnosis. The metformin helps my body use the synthetic insulin that I inject to work better. For those with Type 2 diabetes it performs a similar function, but their bodies do have some insulin so they just take the pills. I could stop taking this medication, but I’d have to take a ridiculous amount of insulin and I’d rather take the metformin than huge amounts of Humalog each day.

B12 – $10/month

I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years or so and a few years back developed symptoms of a B12 deficiency – dizzy, low energy, light headed. A quick blood test revealed that I had a very low level of B12 in my blood and so I began to take B12 pills. My doctor said I could try the pills rather than taking shots to see if my body would be happy with them and thankfully it has. Over the last couple of years I learned that my B12 deficiency could actually be caused by my diabetes rather than the lack of meat protein in my diet. Either way, I do need to take B12 in order for my brain to work, and that’s kind of an important thing.

That takes us up to $480 per month for me to stay alive. It’s a bit crazy to think that even if you took away my home and everything else I’d still need to have $480 to make it from one day to the next – and of course that doesn’t include food.

Thankfully, I do have some drug coverage so I only have to pay about $150-$200 per month out of my own pocket. I also get massages for tension headaches and other non-life saving meds that I take, plus there are other drugs that I purchase less frequently but still require like glucagon and whatnot. I would like to have an insulin pump someday (that’s a post for another day) which means my expenses will increase so I need to have a job that pays well enough before I can embark on that adventure. I am grateful, however, that I live in a country with socialized health care and don’t need to worry about taking trips to the doctor or blood tests or anything else that our neighbours to the south have to factor in to their health care budgets.

Occasions

I love celebrating occasions. They don’t need to be what the world typically deems “special occasions”. They just need to be something different, something beautiful – a warm evening, seeing friends you haven’t seen in a while, moving the couch to a new location in the living room. These are all reasons to celebrate. In the theatre world, there’s a lot of celebrating of occasions. Some of it rightful, some of it silly, all of it good.

A few weeks ago I was invited to the opening night of a show that a lot of friends were in. Opening nights are always special – for the cast, the crew, the director, sometimes the writer if it’s a new show – and therefore deserve a good dose of celebrating. So what’s a wannabe housewife to do but bake?

Out came the sugar cookie recipe (recipe below) and the food colouring and off to work I went. The show in question was Hair, so I decided these particular cookies would need to get their hippie on. Even though it’s best to add the food colouring to the wet ingredients before blending them in with the dry ingredients, I opted to make the dough first before separating it into five pieces and then adding the food colouring. I did this as I didn’t want to have to figure out the math behind halving the recipe and well, truth be told, I’m lazy in my baking ways. It all turned out fine anyway, so if you ever decide to make this recipe and want to add different colourings just go ahead and make the dough completely first. Little Miss Malady says it’s okay.

Here’s the point where any good blogger would post a photo of the ingredients pre-mixing, or the dough wrapped in cling wrap chilling in the fridge, or heck, even one of the sexy mixer. But you’re stuck with me and my iPhone photos. (What? Have I not told you that all of the photos you see on this blog are from my iPhone 3GS? Well they are. If you have the money to buy me a DSLR I’m in the market for a free one). So instead of taking photos of the process you just get photos of the final product.

I decided on red, green, purple, blue and yellow – nice, bright colours. The yellow could’ve used some more food colouring as they ended up looking not dissimilar from non-coloured cookies. Other than that, I was happy with how the colour came through even after baking. I even ended up using the leftover bits from each dough and smushing them together for a tie-dye effect. (While I do believe you can go overboard on a theme I hope you’ll forgive me for stretching the boundaries this time and indulging my need for more hippie). For the wording, I decided to go with quotes from the show as well as a “happy opening” message. I chilled the dough for 24 hours before cutting out the shapes and stamping them. Chilled dough is the secret behind crisp lines so don’t work your dough too hard or you’ll get misshapen cookies. (The good thing is you can always throw it back in the fridge if it starts becoming too soft). I chilled them again before baking, too. Again, this helps with crispness.

No good sugar cookie (especially one for hungry actors) should go undecorated, so after letting them completely cool for an hour or two I used my Williams Sonoma decorating pens to ice these beauties. The pens are really handy and easy to use. They start out solid so you immerse them in hot water for 5 minutes or so until they liquify and then they’re ready to use. I do find them quite expensive, though, so hope to find a good hard icing recipe to use in their place. I’ll still use the pens, I’m sure, but my frugal ways can’t justify buying two pens at $5 each anytime I want to make a couple dozen cookies (even if they are delicious and simple).  And voila! Happy little opening night cookies.

Just as no good sugar cookie should go undecorated, no good gift should go unwrapped. I’m all about the presentation. It’s the thing people remember when giving edible gifts. (Or maybe that’s just me). I bought a few craft boxes from Michael’s for $1 and $2 each and decided to incorporate the cookie designs into the boxes. I used my handy set of typewriter letter stamps and two ink pads (one in turquoise and one in red) and individually stamped the letters to spell out my chosen message: “Let The Sunshine In”. (Which should be “Let The Sun Shine In” but it was 2am at this point so get over it). I added a sweet flower stamp that I’d used on our wedding invitations to fill up the space and add a little pretty.

Then it was time to place the cookies into the boxes. I tucked some parchment paper into the bottom of each box and then lifted two stacks of 10 or so cookies into them both. They looked so nice all layered in their stacks that I knew no one would ever see.

For a final touch I added a homemade card by taking a piece of card stock, stamping it with the same message as on the box and using my corner rounder to give it some personality. I used twine, wrapped asymmetrically, to bundle everything up and to give it one last bit of whimsy.

And there you have it! An inexpensive, pretty way to celebrate an occasion.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
185 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
food colouring (optional)
Method
Sift together flour and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed for 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, slowly add sugar and beat for 2 minutes. (Here’s where you add your food colouring, too). Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed. Add the remaining flour and continue beating until all flour has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 (or more) equal balls. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. (You could also kneed the food colouring in here if you want multiple colours). Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let stand for 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 3/16 to 1/4 inch. Cut out with cookie cutters – dip the cutter into flour before using. Refrigerate the cookies until firm – about 20-30 minutes. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown around edges. Let cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to completely cool. Decorate. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Pretty Little Things

I have a confession to make. If I could, I’d be a housewife. I’d stay at home and make pretty things and have a beautiful home and would volunteer at the local children’s hospital and walk dogs on Tuesday afternoons at the SPCA. Instead, I work too many hours at too many jobs (although just one this summer – hurrah!) and I struggle to find the time to do the home-y things that I love. This morning, that included making cookies for one of my staff whose birthday is today. I love making things for birthdays especially. I’m a big advocate of living life to the maximum on your birthday and being spoiled like mad. I hope Sarah will indulge my beliefs and enjoy her cookies.

The awesome cookie cutters, which come with 7 pre-made messages that you slide into the cutters, also come with individual letters to spell out whatever you like. Oh, the possibilities! If you’re looking to get some of your own head on over to your nearest Williams Sonoma. They retail for $19.99 US or $29.99 CDN. (Which is a bit of a grumble for Canadian me, but they’re still worth it). I have a feeling I’ll be giving lots of decorated cookies as gifts over the next little while. Do you have a go-to hand-made gift that you love to give?

Bloodletting & Breakfast

My husband, J and I made a date for yesterday morning: we’d wake up stupidly early on our day off, get our blood reqs done and have breakfast. Not a conventional date, really. But we don’t like conventional. I hate having blood drawn. Even after having it done every 3 months for the last 22 1/2 years (plus many other times for surgeries, hospital admittances, weird symptoms, etc.) it makes me anxious… and it hurts!

I don’t know about your veins, but mine recoil at the thought of being punctured. They flatten themselves and hide. My ginger-ness probably doesn’t help, as I’ve heard redheads have trickier veins. Getting an IV started is the worst. When I had surgery for my endometriosis a few years ago they tried three times before getting a good vein in my hand for the IV and it felt very uncomfortable. Once they’d wheeled me into the OR the anesthesiologist discovered that the catheter had slipped out of my vein and my hand was filling up with fluid. He saved the day (and my nerves) by giving me a local anesthetic in my hand to relax it and then started the IV. So, as we were heading to the lab yesterday at the ungodly hour of 8am (on my day off – have I mentioned that yet? Yes? Okay, move on…) I was an anxious mess. Well, maybe not a mess, but I was panicky. And I was also relieved to have J with me. Because I knew he’d be a brave little soldier and so I would have to be, too. (I’m just that competitive).

Sometimes I’m somewhat relieved that they can’t find a vein. Like I think they’ll say, Sorry, we can’t find a vein to stick our needle into. So we’re going to get out the machine we save for special people like yourself. It shoots a warm rainbow across your body and a little, happy cloud will pop out and embrace you in a soft cuddle. And then we’ll be able to run the tests we need based on the data collected by the happy cloud. But that never happens. Instead it’s:

Me, wincing: “I’m a big scaredy cat. Sorry.”

Vampire Lady: “No worries.”

Me: “Oh, you prefer the right arm?”

Bloodletter: “No, whatever works for you.”

Me: “Um, it’s just that it’s hard to find a vein there usually.”

Needle Wielder: “You’re right, no vein here. Let’s try the left.”

[Switches arms. Poke, poke, prod.]

Me, hoping for that rainbow/cloud machine: “Any luck?”

Paingiver, cheerfully: “Yep, I’ve got one.”

Me: “Oh.”

I should also have prefaced this by saying that yesterday’s battery of tests required seven vials of blood. Seven. And I know that’s nothing compared to you good folks who donate blood, but it’s torture to me. (The only plus-side of having diabetes is that I can’t donate blood, thus negating any guilty feelings I’d have of not donating if I could. My mom has donated over 100 times. You should too. Save a life.) Anyway, she found a vein, and it must’ve been a good one because the needle went in and it barely hurt. This has never happened, my friends. Never. And the seven vials were collected rather quickly. Less than 2 minutes, I think. I once had to have just 5 vials taken and it took almost 20 minutes. I personally think they’d gone through the vein or didn’t have the vein entirely, but 20 minutes was torture. But I digress. 2 minutes and 7 vials later, we were just about done. My brave husband had his three vials collected (he’s a good bleeder, despite also being of the ginger persuasion), I peed in a cup (TMI?) and off we went.

It is such a relief to know that I don’t have to do it again until October (barring any unforeseen circumstances/sketchy results). I know I shouldn’t get so worked up about it. It’s probably one of the reasons why it ends up hurting, but it’s hard to control when you’ve had such bad experiences in the past.

Even This Makes Me Queasy

When I was little and had to get my blood drawn my dad (or whoever had taken me to my hospital appointment) would always take me to breakfast right after. It was partly a reward for having bloods done, and mostly because I always have to fast when I get my blood taken. The breakfast joint du jour back then was McDonald’s. I know. Ugh. I think it’s because I actually hated eating breakfast back then, but could stomach a hashbrown and some pancakes. Despite feeling the same way about having my bloods done, my palette has thankfully matured. And so we headed to The Naam – our favourite local vegetarian restaurant. The husband opted for the full breakfast, and while it always seems so tempting, I know neither my stomach nor my blood sugar can handle it. I settled for scrambled eggs, toast and potatoes. And camomile tea. We marvelled, at 9:30am when we’d finished our breakfasts, that we’d already accomplished so much. We hadn’t, really, but for people who don’t like the morning me it seemed that way.

How are you with blood draws? I’m especially curious to know if those with red hair fare better or worse in the area of phlebotomy.

Wedding Gifts

We’re coming up to our first wedding anniversary. I can’t believe the year has gone by so fast. I’ve suffered a serious case of post-wedding blues and if I could do it all over again I would – every year. I truly had so much fun planning our wedding. The week leading up to it was incredibly stressful as we had a destination wedding (we live in Vancouver and got married in Toronto), so it might be better to say that I’d do it all over again with a few tweaks. One thing I wouldn’t change is any of the gifts that we registered for and subsequently received.

The one item that I was most apprehensive about registering for was the KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. Apprehensive because it cost so much and I wasn’t sure how often I’d use it. I didn’t want someone to gift it to us and then for it to sit and collect dust. As our wedding happened in another city we didn’t end up receiving many hard gifts but rather came back home with some gift cards and money. When the husband and I started talking about how to spend our gift cards (our money all went to an unmentionable caterer who charged us twice as much as he’d quoted) I brought up the beloved Stand Mixer and how I’d pined for it for years and felt it was a good investment to sink our gift card money into. And he agreed!

I’m an impatient one, so we rushed over to The Bay to pick up the little beauty. It truly was love at first site. The only difficult part of buying it was that I coveted so many of the gorgeous colours it came in. Buttercup, Pistachio, Ice… they were all so beautiful and each would work in our red-walled kitchen, but I finally settled on Empire Red.

The Beautiful Machine

I was still somewhat wary about how much I’d use it. Had we I just tossed away $400 on something just because it was pretty? At first I made a concerted effort to use it at least once a week. I’d bake cookies or muffins or cupcakes just to ensure what we’d bought didn’t go to waste. But if I kept up that routine we’d be gaining 5 pounds a week. So I stopped worrying so much about it. And yes, I’m sure there were a few weeks there that it sat unused (but never unloved), especially during the Olympics when things were insanely busy, but lately I’ve found that I go to use it every few days. This past week, for example, I’ve used it to make the dough for pasta, extract the pasta itself (by using another wedding gift card-related purchase – the Pasta Attachment), make cupcake batter and icing for said cupcakes. It is a timesaver, a helper, a cheerleader (I’d never made pasta before but felt confident in doing so with my little KA friend) and a work of art. I really do love my mixer.

Another item we purchased with gift cards is the KitchenAid 5 Speed Blender. While we don’t use this as much as the mixer, the husband enjoys making smoothies and it’s useful for other things like hummous and other dips. I’m sure when I have more time to experiment with cooking I’ll have more opportunity to use it so I don’t regret the purchase, I just have to find ways to incorporate it into our daily life.

Makes the best smoothies

Lest I sound like a KitchenAid pusher, I’ll switch gears and tell you about the most frequently used item that we received for our wedding. Our Henckels knives. Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir with this but, when you can afford it, get yourself some good knives. Even one knife. I’m by no means a chef, but I know that it is the one tool in your kitchen that will change the way you cook. I’ve lusted after Henckels knives for as long as I can remember and when it came to registering for gifts they were probably the first things I put on the registry. Wait. Let me go off on another tangent here for a moment…

When we decided to start registered for things we I decided that it made the most sense to purchase good quality, last-us-until-our-50th-anniversary kind of items. We’d both lived on our own for more than 10 years and had a decent collection of kitchen things. The husband less than I, but still, we basically had everything we needed. So we decided to make fill our registry with everything we wanted. It also made more environmental sense to purchase one thing once in a lifetime than to purchase one thing several times due to it breaking down or wearing out. Hence, our registry became full of rather expensive, high quality items. We hoped people would pool their money together or give us gift cards. And that’s exactly what happened. Now back to the knives…

Originally, we’d only put a couple of knives on the registry. Again, I was originally somewhat apprehensive about people seeing the items we wanted and getting sticker shock, but then we decided that if someone didn’t want to purchase something, they wouldn’t. We wouldn’t compromise on what we wanted just to make it work for our guests’ budgets. Plus, registries are there to guide those who want to give a gift. Not to say, “Buy us stuff!”

We were gifted with two of our knives from my parents who bought them deeply discounted on a trip to the US. The other two, plus a knife block and scissors we bought with gift cards. We opted to go with the Henckels TWIN Cuisine series which I highly recommend. I really like the way it sits in my hand – the weight and the grip combined offer excellent control.

The chef's knife is the most frequently used in our home

In addition to the chef’s knife we have a paring knife (also used at least once daily), a peeling knife, a bread knife and scissors. I especially like the scissors for herbs, cutting up pita and berries.

And now back to KitchenAid. What? You didn’t think that I was done with them yet, did you? When we registered for cookware I’d actually picked out a few individual pieces and then one big set – opting to see how things would pan out. (Oh dear. No pun intended). I haven’t been around the big department stores much in the last couple of months, but I know last summer cookware sets were 60-75% off. Maybe this is something that happens every year around wedding season? Whatever the case may be, we lucked out and were gifted a 12-piece KitchenAid 5-ply, full cap, copper base cookware set. (Sadly, I can’t find any pictures online to show you their beauty). While the pans do tend to be rather heavy, I’ve found them to be easy to cook with and they can go from stovetop to oven with no worries. We use the steamer set a lot more than we used our bamboo steamer (although we do still use it) and they are easy to clean. Having gone from $25 a piece cookware to this has changed the way we cook and the way we care for our pots and pans. We also tend to do a lot more cooking at home now that we have the right tools.

And finally, my brother gave us another hotly coveted item. The Le Creuset French Oven. Need I say more? Let’s just enjoy its beauty.

Yes, more red

We were given other things, too, but these items are the standouts. (No offence to the other gifts, of course). If I could’ve removed things from our registry after the fact, I would. We received a lot of towels. A lot. That may have been in part because my aunts and bridesmaids decided to give me a surprise “Bath & Boudoir” wedding shower. I think we had registered for two sets of two towels, a bath mat, a soap dispenser and a soap dish in terms of bathroom items. And we received them all. I love all of these items, but I shouldn’t have put them on the registry because they weren’t on the top of our wants list.

We ended up buying all of our own dishes because no one purchased any of them for us. And who can blame them? I guess buying a place setting isn’t terribly exciting. Since we ran out of gift cards buying our luxurious mixer, blender and knives we decided to spend our own money on the dishes when they were on sale. We chose a white Sophie Conran (for Portmeirion) set. Simple and elegant and should stand the test of time. We lucked out when we went to purchase them and got 4 free pasta bowls included. We also managed to find a 12-piece set that only included dinner plates, salad plates and cereal bowls instead of it including a coffee mug or tea and saucer. We felt we didn’t want to spend the extra money on mugs or cups that we would so infrequently use.

Ours didn't include the mugs

We were also given a few other Sophie Conran-designed pieces: a roasting pan/lasagna dish, an oval plate and a creamer which we use for salad dressings and sauces. I think there is a trend in couples registering not so much for the flowery, gold-rimmed tableware of previous generations, but of simpler, less expensive, more practical pieces. Maybe we all assume we’ll inherit those flowery dishes from our parents?

I’m thrilled with the items we registered for and do put all of them to use at least a couple of times a month (and much more frequently for most). I did spend a lot of time researching the products that we selected and lest you think I chose everything myself, we do have a Panasonic flatscreen TV in our living room that the husband picked out all on his own.