The Never Ending Story of Cosmetic Dentistry

My mom insists I've done so much to my teeth that they're going to fall out. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY, MOM!
Before I get too far into this post, there's a whole team of dentists to thank for my life-changing new smile. I would wholeheartedly recommend any of them.
  • Dr. Rachelle Shaw with ABQ Pediatric Dentistry (best Albuquerque pediatric dentist)
  • Dr. Carlos Torrebiarte with Cottonwood Orthodontics (best Albuquerque orthodontist - I drove across town to see him and it was 100% worth the drive)
  • Dr. Johanna Romo (best Albuquerque prosthodontist/cosmetic dentist)
  • Dr. Kevin Harrison with Bear Canyon Periodontics (best Albuquerque periodontist)
  • Dr. Mark McConnell (best Albuquerque oral surgeon)
Thank you! Thank you!

I've had a terrible smile ever since 3rd grade, when I fell face-first onto the road and fractured my front teeth. My dentist at the time did the best he could to make them look nice, but dental technology in the early 90s just wasn't what it is today. Fearing the cost, pain, and inconvenience of braces, (not to mention, I was more than awkward and dorky enough without a mouthful of metal!) I went through life with goofy teeth, embarrassed by my high school photos, then college photos, and even my wedding photos. As far as I was concerned, I looked like a hillbilly.

Sexy Nerd and I on our honeymoon, showing my awful, awful teeth.

Working in a dental office, I was finally persuaded to improve my teeth after seeing firsthand the difference cosmetic dental work can make. It seemed like I could have my fractured front teeth jazzed up with a little composite filling material. Quick, painless, and easy, right?

HA!

At my initial consultation, the dentist shared in my excitement that my front teeth were going to look amazing when she was done with them. A little composite was just what they needed. But before she would even consider doing that, it was time for braces.

November, 2011 - Blech! 

When I was in 6th grade, my mom took me for an orthodontic evaluation in San Jose. I've probably embellished this in my mind over the years, re-imagining what was actually said, but I remember the orthodontist insisting that I would need jaw surgery. Specifically, he described the procedure as one where an incision would be made on the roof of my mouth, front to back, the skin would be peeled back, and my jaw would be broken before being stitched back together. I must have misheard, right? My mom and the orthodontist seemed genuinely surprised when I burst into tears.

Truth be told, having braces wasn't as bad as I'd imagined. They're a nuisance, but nothing about the process of having them applied, adjusted, or removed ever hurt very much. Sometimes, I even received compliments on my brace face, especially after discovering the complexion-brightening effect of turquoise bands.

Hooray for brightly colored orthodontic bands!

Of course, there were some embarrassing aspects of having braces. Sexy Nerd and I went out for lunch one day at a Thai restaurant and I ordered a noodle dish. We were having a great time, enjoying our food, when I began choking. A long noodle had somehow hooked itself onto my braces and stayed there, even after I'd swallowed it!

Even worse, (well, okay, maybe not worse than a near death experience, but close) my orthodontist went crazy with the wires (he had to...I hope) and the rubber bands, leaving me with teeth that were impossible to floss, ridiculous to clean, and looked like they were constantly encased in slime.

It's a mandatory rubber band - NOT DROOL!

A little after two years later, my teeth looked like this:

Oooooh.

Now, it was finally time for the original dentist to slap that composite on my front two teeth and call it a day. Right??

(I think you can guess where I'm heading with this.)

Wrong! Next, it was time for a delightful procedure called "crown lengthening", in which the gum and bone are removed to expose more of the tooth. Dentists are sick people, aren't they? Actually, despite the scary-sounding description, crown lengthening is no big deal. I had it done from teeth 6-11 (upper canine to upper canine) and it was painless. The most difficult part was when the dentist and his assistant called out for someone to change to music that was playing. Each replacement song was worse than the last, to the point of ridiculousness "like a rhinestone cowboy", and I was having trouble stopping myself from laughing. When someone is cutting into your gum and your bone, common sense says you do not want to laugh or move in any way whatsoever.

12 day post-operative crown lengthening photo - you can still see where the stitches were. Why did I put up with those wimpy Chiclet teeth all those years?

And when my gums were fully healed, the results really looked great:

Ta da!

My smile was so improved after the braces and crown lengthening surgery that I almost skipped the additional cosmetic work on my front teeth altogether. But after all that trouble, I figured I may as well go all out. I brought the dentist a photo of what I would like my teeth to look like, in an optimistic but surely unrealistic request.

Giada De Laurentiis
(She has had a lot more work than the cheap composite buildups I was getting.)

The dentist acknowledged that it would be a challenge, but said she would try her best. While working on me, I could tell that she and her assistant were becoming more and more excited about the results they were seeing.

MY FABULOUS NEW TEETH!

!!!!!!!

It took two visits and six hours and I would gladly have come in a hundred times if that's what was needed. I love my new smile! For the first time in my life, I finally look like a grown up.

 
This is my "Can you believe these are really my teeth?!" face.

I still can't believe it. I've been smiling at everyone, probably looking insane, and I'm not going to be able to stop anytime soon. Would it be completely unreasonable for me to retake my college graduation photos? Maybe I can convince Sexy Nerd to shoot a wedding "update", gown and all, if it means going back to Hawaii...

CanvasPop Coupon and Giveaway



Sexy Nerd and I have a tradition of turning our travel photos into canvas prints for our home. We lounge in our loft across from a photo we took underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Our guestroom greets visitors with a colorful print of the picnic lawn and duck pond near my favorite museum. As far as a souvenir goes, you really can't top it. However, when you travel at every opportunity like we do, your trip photos can quickly outnumber your wall space (and budget!)

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 2014

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, 2014
(Or was it at the Grand Canyon?)


This was taken...ummm...somewhere, 2014
(in Utah, maybe...?)

As you can see from my ramblings above, it's crucial to organize your travel photos while the trip is still fresh in your mind. Before my location details got any sketchier, I ordered a photo canvas from canvaspop.com to surprise Sexy Nerd.

I've used several photo canvas companies over the years. The thing that makes CanvasPop stand out in my mind is the assortment of creative layouts available. I was able to order a canvas that showcased more than a dozen photos. I also like how foolproof their online software is. When I attempted to use a low resolution image, there was a warning that it probably wouldn't turn out well with the layout I'd selected. How disappointing would it be to receive a blurry, pixelated canvas? Oh, it would be the end of the world!

Doesn't he look thrilled with his surprise? It arrived last week and the timing couldn't have been better, as I was sick in bed with the plague flu. It cheered us both up.

Thank you, Mace.

When I was feeling better, I added details about each photo to the back of the canvas.




I had the perfect spot for this latest canvas.

Before
(Why does that wall need so many light switches? We never even use any of them!)

After
(Much better!)

See how vibrant the colors are? The photo canvas brightened up the entire hallway.

We love our CanvasPop item so much that I asked if they would be willing to sponsor a giveaway for my readers. They agreed and also threw in a special coupon code. If you place an order, use LAMBAROUND35 to save 35%. I've searched online and the closest promo code I could find was only 30% off - it's the best deal out there!

Of course, you could always save your money and just win one instead...

CanvasPop Giveaway
Prize: 16x20 canvas print with a 0.75 inch frame, shipped for free

Note my strategic photo placement. In the upper right, Sexy Nerd is dumping his Great Sand Dunes sand all over the other photos. Not to worry though - I'm on the lower left, aiming my London cannon to stop him!

Rules and Ways to Enter
Multiple entries are welcome (leave a comment on this post for each entry method you complete).
Entries will be accepted through midnight on Monday, April 6, 2015.
The winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be notified by email.

Entry options:

  • Leave a comment on this post
and/or 
and/or
and/or
  • Follow me on Pinterest (especially if you enjoy photos of pretty houses!)
and/or
Good luck, everyone!

Cheesy Chicken Ramen Recipe


If you love boxed macaroni and cheese, but agree that it takes too much effort to make (yes, I am unbelievably lazy) and that it costs too much money, (cheap frugal too!) this is the Ramen noodle recipe of your dreams.

All you need are 4 ingredients...and really, you could make do with only 3 by substituting a second packet of noodles for the baggie of pasta.


Cheese Chicken Ramen Noodles
Serves 4
  • 1 packet of Chicken or Creamy Chicken Ramen noodles
  • 1 bag of Moderna Vermicelli, 7.05oz (or, if you don't have this, just a second package of noodles - this Ramen tweak makes an already budget-friendly meal even cheaper though!)
  • 3/4 C milk (I've made this with almond, soy, skim, 1%, and 2% - just use whatever's on hand)
  • 1 C shredded cheese (again, whatever kind you have is fine)
1. In a 1.5 qt or larger glass bowl, add the Ramen and vermicelli with enough water to cover. Microwave on high for 6 minutes, stopping to stir halfway through.

2. When the noodles and vermicelli are tender, drain any remaining water. Add the milk, stir, and microwave again for another 2 minutes.

3. Do not drain the milk. Add the shredded cheese and Ramen seasoning packet, stir, and enjoy the chicken-y, cheesy goodness.

Who needs Kraft when you have Cheesy Chicken Ramen?

And, of course, don't forget to try my popular Chicken Curry Ramen Recipe.

The U.S.S. Sexy Nerd

A few years ago, Sexy Nerd decided he needed a boat, desert living be darned. Not just any boat, of course - he planned to create a homemade, folding boat! Google "How to Build a Folding Boat". Not many results, right? Only my husband is crazy enough to try such a thing.

Here he is, attempting to paddle from the shore:


When you're the captain of a folding boat, a lifejacket is a must. Who cares if the water is shallow? 

Here, his dad tries to give him an unexpected, helpful push:


Here is Sexy Nerd, caught off balance and falling (almost) overboard:

 Whoops!

So, did Sexy Nerd's folding boat sink or float? Take a look:

video
For the record, I thought my music choice was mean and only played it to Sexy Nerd as a joke, but he loved it. He embraces his redneck ways.

I'm still impressed...but have to point out that, many years later, the time above is still the only time this folding boat has ever been taken out of our garage. Thank goodness it doesn't take up a lot of space!

Wood Chandelier (How Did They Know?!)

My lovable, wacky boss finds it concerning that the internet knows so much about all of our lives. Google a product and suddenly ads for the exact same thing appear on every website you visit. If I search for something at work while logged into my boss's Gmail account, it affects my browsing when I go home, though I'm using a completely different account on a completely different computer. The internet even knows who-knows-who.

Well, my boss is going to be FREAKED OUT by this one.

I was browsing through old design magazines last night, trying to get ideas for the house we're building. I was reading an old issue of Country Living, from 2007 or so, and came across a photo of a kitchen with the most amazing wooden chandeliers. Where a typical chandelier would have dangling, sparkly crystals, this one had wood hanging from each light. They were perfect for our mountain home! The article detailed where to buy everything in the house, from the valences down to the throw rugs - everything except the darn light fixtures!

I opened my Gmail this morning and found a link to this:

Yes, it's the exact same one from the nearly decade-old magazine.

My boss may burn her computer after this.

P.S.
The chandelier of my dreams? It's on sale for $1,240.00. So much for buying a dozen of them.

Washi Tape Ideas

My favorite blogger, Heather Spohr, is always knocking my socks off with her seemingly effortless crafts. She'll hand make an assortment of scarves, wreaths, and from-scratch party supplies, all while conjuring up red carpet-worthy hairstyles and posting on her blog every single day. I barely have the patience to think up the blog post, let alone photograph and document every step.

Which is why this is right up my alley...


Staples recently mailed me a $10 off a $10 purchase coupon (yippee!) so I found myself browsing through their store this morning, trying to figure out the best bang for my (their?) buck. Washi Tape was on sale and there were dozens of sizes and designs to choose from. It's one of those products that seems to be everywhere lately, so I decided to see what all the fuss is about.


Not a blue cookie - sorry, Pica!

Washi Tape is popular for a reason. Not crafty? No patience? Can't draw a straight line to save your life? Washi Tape is the home decor product you've been dreaming of! Within 10 minutes of coming home today, I'd found a use for all 3 rolls of Washi Tape, all within the same blue guest bedroom.

Before:
Super dull door.

After:
A fun jolt of unexpected color - surprise, guests!

Before:
My super long shelf looks super booooring.

After:
"It must have taken you hours to paint that shelf!"
*Wink*

With my newfound tool of awesomeness, I was unstoppable.

Before:
The tags on this hula hoop have always made me wacky. They won't come off.

After:
Jazzy!

In fact, the Washi Tape is so easy to use that I took a page our of Heather Spohr's handbook and abandoned my lazy ways, painstakingly covering the entire hula hoop in Washi Tape. I alternated between green and blue tapes in 3" sections, which I carefully premeasured to ensure equal amounts of each color consistently throughout the hoop.

 Yeah, right!
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