Saturday, August 27, 2011

Emergency Preparedness - Hurricane Irene

With the recent earthquake and the current threat of hurricanes on the east coast... I thought it important to bring up the Emergency Preparedness Kit again. I know I told everyone I know to get an Emergency Kit together a couple years ago so you may have followed this advice? If you did - great. Now it's time to pull it out again and check the contents. Even though the hurricane Irene threats are not going to effect us on the west coast, it's still a good reminder to check your kit and make any changes needed. For instance, check batteries in flashlights and change them out, and make sure that any food/water/meds that you put in there are not expired. Most importantly, check your chargers to make sure they are still working. I do NOT recommend solar powered chargers like I have seen on the news. Obviously these are not going to work at night and you can't be sure how much sunlight you are going to have in a hurricane or other natural disaster. I recommend the hand crank type charger so that you will always have a charge even in the dark. The one I purchased came with several different connectors so that you can charge many different things (many different phones). What you want to check now is that the connectors still work with your current phone. I know my charger worked with my phone three years ago... but I have since updated and I need to make sure the charger has that connector as well!

If you don't have a Emergency Preparedness Kit, you should make one. Here are some tips, links and advice to help you!

Hurricane Preparedness:

Emergency Kit:

Be prepared! Good thoughts are going out to friends on the East Coast who are in the danger zones. Please stay safe!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Breast Cancer is Striking More Women Under 40

My friend Sheila was diagnosed with breast cancer over two years ago. I remember getting the email from her that started with "This is the hardest email I've ever had to write..." and she went on to explain her symptoms, tests and diagnosis. It was devastating to read those words and to hear her terror, sadness, anger and confusion. I could only imagine what she was about to go thru. She was already in the midst of planning her wedding, raising her son, growing her business. Her life was going to change drastically. And it did.

Here is an article she wrote for Seattle Magazine. It will be in next month's issue (July 2011).

Breast Cancer Is Striking more Women Under 40 than Ever Before.
Why more young women are being diagnosed, and what you need to know to keep yourself safe
by Sheila Cain

[Cancer-free for two years, Cain holds one of the wigs she wore during chemo. Image Credit: Hayley Young.]

When I received that fated phone call from my doctor telling me I had breast cancer, all I wanted to do was fall on the floor and cry. But first I had to go pick up my son from kindergarten.

Somewhere between the mammogram and the core biopsy, I had become one of a growing number of young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Statistics show that breast-cancer diagnoses in women younger than 40 have increased in the last decade, possibly because of improved screening methods. In 2010, the American Cancer Society predicted about 207,090 new cases of breast cancer in women; between 5 percent and 7 percent of those women will be younger than 40.

Two years ago, at age 38, I went from being a busy, self-employed freelance writer, a kindergarten reading volunteer and my 5-year-old son’s boo-boo kisser to a stage II breast cancer patient reeling from a mastectomy, 16 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and five weeks of daily radiation treatment. Accustomed to juggling assignments, phone calls and interviews, I had to get used to letting my husband schedule my blood draws, doctors’ appointments and weekly infusions. Instead of cooking meals for my family, I accepted casseroles from friends and neighbors. And after more than 20 years of adulthood, I once again cried in my mother’s arms like a child.

While a breast cancer diagnosis at any age is devastating, younger women face unique challenges. Many of us are just ramping up our careers and raising families. Others are still dating or considering having children. My friend Nicole, diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at age 34 and unable to lift anything after her double mastectomy, had to use jellybeans to coax her toddler into his car seat. Luchie, 33, still hasn’t had a chance to become a mother. She had to abort her fetus when, at three weeks’ gestation, she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.

I met these women and many others like them at the Young Survival Coalition meetings at Gilda’s Club in Seattle, a support group geared toward women younger than 40 facing breast cancer. There, we shared our fears and celebrated our victories with others who had lost a breast, their hair and their dignity—but were fighting like hell to get them all back.

Diagnosing breast cancer in younger women can be tricky. Their breast tissue is generally denser than that of older women. By the time a lump is felt, the cancer is often advanced. Delays in diagnoses are also a problem, because many young women ignore the warning signs—such as a lump or unusual discharge—because they believe they are too young to get breast cancer.

On my doctor’s recommendation, I started receiving mammograms at age 35, since both my grandmothers had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Even so, I found my 5-cm. lump on my own—despite having a clear mammogram two months earlier. By then, it had spread to two of my lymph nodes. Frighteningly, this type of story is not uncommon among younger women. The mammogram remains the go-to scan, even though the technology is no match for the compact tissue often found in the breasts of younger women. MRI—or magnetic resonance imaging—can detect some cancers readily, but carries a high price tag. Many young women, like me, find their breast cancers themselves, through self-examination.

Though I did self-exams a few times a year, like many women my age, I hadn’t spent time worrying that I might have a potentially fatal disease. Luckily, two years after my diagnosis, I show no evidence of disease. But the fear of recurrence is always there.

It’s often difficult to be vigilant about my health when faced with everyday responsibilities, but it’s worth staying focused. I have a job that I love and a family that depends on me.

And my mom promises to lend me her shoulder whenever I need it.

Finding support: The Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is a nonprofit group dedicated to the issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, a disease that usually doesn’t affect women until their 60s. The YSC Seattle chapter’s support group meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month, from 6:15 to 8:30 p.m. at Gilda’s Club on Capitol Hill, 1400 Broadway, Seattle;

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


(Some very good info from my party planning friend Leasa. I thought it worth sharing!)


A well-stocked assortment of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages ensures that you can quench every guest's thirst. But how much do you really need to keep glasses filled? Keep this guide handy when purchasing beverages.

Ice: Nothing is more refreshing than a chilled beverage, so put ice at the top of your shopping list. Buy 1 pound of ice per guest (or three times more than you think you'll need) and store it in coolers during the party.

Nonalcoholic options: Offer choices such as regular and diet soft drinks, bottled water, coffee and lemonade. Plan on two nonalcoholic drinks per guest for the first hour and one for each subsequent hour. Consider the weather also, people drink more when it's warm outside.

Alcoholic beverages: Stock your bar with traditional offerings: gin, vodka, bourbon, rum and dry vermouth. Expect guests to consume two drinks the first hour and one drink each hour after, and plan on 1½ ounces of liquor per drink. Mixers: Club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, coke, diet coke, 7up, orange juice and cranberry juice. A quart of mixer should serve three people.

Garnishes: Cut limes, lemons, cocktail olives and cocktail onions. Don't forget essential barware: A shaker, strainer, corkscrew, glasses, cocktail napkins, straws and toothpicks make serving drinks a breeze.

Wine and beer: Three to four drinks per person is sufficient for a four-hour party. One bottle of wine serves four to six guests. If a toast is in order, break out the bubbly. For a pre-dinner party, have one bottle of champagne for every three or four guests. For a cocktail party, purchase 8 to 12 bottles per 24 guests.

Remember you know your friends best!! This is based on the moderate drinker, if your friends like to have more fun than the moderate drinker we would suggest an increase in your quantity of alcoholic beverages and of course a hired shuttle service or cab rides home:-)

We hope you have a wonderful and successful party. Please think of The go2girls when you are planning your next party and/or event and want to hire professional help. Please visit our website and "like" us on Facebook for occasional helpful hints, tips and recipes!!

Leasa P: 360-298-0422 E:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Doing Time on The Board (HOA)

I bought a condo a couple years ago. It was my first purchase, my first home. I love it! I feel so grown up by having it and I take great pride in keeping it neat and nice. Now I am not a negative person, but I do like to think about worst case scenarios, just so I can prepare for the worst. Being prepared takes some of the sting out of unexpected events. I was aware of the downsides of home ownership because I had heard all the stories from friends. So I knew that repairs and emergency issues could come up and could cost a lot of money. I felt like I was going to be able to handle it. I had a stable job, a few bucks in the bank and my inspector had told me that my condo was in good shape and probably wouldn't need any major repairs for a while. Whew, looking good. What I was not prepared for was THE HOA BOARD. I knew these things existed and I knew the premise of why they were needed. I also knew from friends that I should avoid being on the HOA Board at all costs. They say "It's an unpaid time suck and no one is ever satisfied." So, you can imagine my apprehension when I was approached by the HOA President and asked to consider joining the HOA Board. He said there was a position to fill and it would only be until the next election which was coming up soon. I was intrigued because I have a strange desire to organize things, educate myself, be in the know, have a say in how things work, voice my opinions, lead. Being a new home owner meant I had a lot to learn. So I thought maybe a short stint on the Board would help me understand the condo association, info about my building, and be a good way to meet my neighbors? Maybe I felt honored because he said I was smart, organized and responsible and I would be a good addition to the Board?? Maybe I am just a sucker? Whatever happened, I accepted the position. I took the position of Treasurer and got to see the budgets, the income/expenses, the past assessments, who owes what and more. I worked with the President on such issues relating to repair, landscaping, old legal issues, parking and the like. Interesting stuff. Nothing too major. I learned a lot. Mission accomplished. Fast forward two years and a half years and I am now in my second term as President. How did that happen?? I must be a glutton for punishment because no one in their right mind does this. Let's remember that the real estate market has taken a dive. So while my short term as Treasurer was all about general maintenance issues around the building, I am now having to deal with the all the repercussions of a bad market. Major issues like late dues, collections, foreclosures, bank repos, utility shut offs, lawsuits. I am still learning a lot, but now I am learning all the bad, negative stuff. It's kind of like dating someone who is getting divorced. You go into the relationship thinking everything is new and exciting. You are hopeful and positive and wanting everything to work out. You dream about being together forever. Then you find out that the other person in the relationship is negative, bitter and jaded, and thinks the relationship will fail like their last one did. It's hard to have a forward moving relationship with someone who is moving backwards out of theirs. You realize it's best to just end the relationship before the blaming, name calling, and regrettable outbursts happen. Unfortunately for me, I can't break up with my Association. And I don't want too. I still want to feel like I am helping to make our living experience better. Don't get me wrong, most of my neighbors are great and there are no problems. But there are a few out there who have become bad seeds. Owners who get behind on dues and blame the HOA for being to expensive. Or they treat the HOA like we are some sort of free service, no-interest bank service and they can pay here and there, whenever they feel like it. Some owners simply don't want to pay their dues or assessments - and think they don't have to. It's not optional you know, it's not like deciding you don't want to pay for cable anymore. You knew the deal when you bought the condo! Lately there are some owners who walk away from their units and trash the place causing the HOA to have to spend more money in repairs. It's getting bad! Yes, I do understand that the economy is in a downturn and property values have dropped. I understand if someone can't afford their mortgage anymore and needs to walk away. That is between you and your bank. What I don't understand is people who start punishing the HOA too. By making accusations or judgements against the HOA for their personal financial misery. Or skipping out on their HOA dues along with their mortgage. HOA dues are not part of the mortgage, and they aren't paid to some nameless, faceless corporate entity. They are the fees that pay for the common ground (landscaping, utilities, cable, repairs). Our HOA charges the very least that they can to pay the expenses that everyone wants and votes on. Trust me there is no stock pile of cash sitting in an account somewhere. I think sometimes owners don't get that. Don't they realize that skipping out on dues means you are skipping out on your neighbors. The expenses still need to get paid. The neighbors end up having to make up for it by paying more? It's unfair to expect your neighbors to make up the differences when they are themselves feeling the budget crunch that everyone is. Here is the thing. If you have to walk away from your mortgage, you have to. But please have some respect for your neighbors and Board members and don't make it harder on them. We are all hard working people who are trying to be responsible and give our time to this Association. We "work" for free on HOA issues, in addition to our already busy work & personal schedules. We are just home owners like you, we are not lawyers, real estate agents, accountants or bankers. We are your neighbors and we are just trying to do the best we can for all of you. Please don't blame us for your financial troubles, threaten to sue us, vandalize our property, or verbally slander us. Please know that we never wanted to be on the Board either, we just did it because someone had to. The ultimate goal would be that everyone take their turn willingly. A stint on the Board would give everyone the understanding of the responsibility at hand - and maybe association members would start to appreciate the Board. Whew, glad to get that off my chest, sorry for the vent!