The Unexpected - and Asking for a Couple of Favors

Saturday, June 22, 2019



Matt and I on our wedding day in 2005, almost 14 years ago! (Photo by Schippert + Martin photography.)

I tried to figure out the best way to convey this information. I feel weird about putting it in a blog post, since this blog has evolved from 'fun art projects with the kids' to 'sales-y fashion and shopping posts', and I have never used it to share any deeply personal information. I thought about just doing a long post in my Facebook group, since that where most of you found me. However, I figured I should make it public and permanent, just in case this information helps others. In the future, this will keep on being a fashion/shopping blog, but I will occasionally post updates.

Up until the end of May, things were going extremely well. Matt and I had a conversation in our kitchen, some time in late May about how things were almost TOO good and we joked that "something bad has to happen now." We had bought a beautiful house that we love almost two years ago, work was going generally very well for both of us, we had just taken an amazing family vacation to Costa Rica in February and Matt had booked a trip to London with his dad and brother at the end of June. The kids were almost out of school for Summer and we had just found out that a couple of our good friends were moving back here (to the Boston area) from the West coast. We were so excited to be able to hang out with them again! (They have two boys also.) Plus all our family members were basically happy and healthy. So things were great and we felt very lucky.

On May 30, Matt woke up with a vein protruding on the side of his neck. It wasn't painful but it looked odd so he googled it and came up with a bunch of bad/scary things. We asked several docs we know and they thought it probably wasn’t anything major, but that he should have it checked out. The next day he took the day off work, went into urgent care and had a chest X-ray. There was something on the X-ray but the doctor couldn’t really tell what it was. She set him up with a CAT scan but they couldn’t fit him in until almost a week later (June 6th.) I was annoyed about that, but Matt had no other symptoms and felt totally fine, so we were not too worried. We guessed maybe there was some sort of blockage of an artery/vein and that maybe he'd need medication or, at most, surgery. On Friday morning, (June 7th) Matt’s primary care doctor called him at work and bluntly told him he had a 9 centimeter tumor in his chest which was compressing an artery (the tumor is about the size of a baseball.) He told Matt to get to the ER as soon as possible.

Matt’s mom died of lung cancer at 54, so when I heard this I was stunned and terrified and thought "my husband is going to die." My one consolation was that the tumor didn't appear to be in either of the lungs. We were immediately seen at the ER and they did bloodwork and more tests. I asked the lead doctor there if she thought it was cancer, and she said yes, she thought it was some type of lymphoma. I was actually really grateful for her honesty. I think at that point Matt was sort of in shock.

Matt was admitted to the hospital that night and on Saturday the 8th a thoracic surgeon went into his chest and took out some of the tumor. She told me it was definitely cancer of some type, and she agreed as we were initially told, probably a lymphoma. On Sunday morning a doc came in and confirmed it was definitely a lymphoma, and that it would take a while for pathology to figure out which type and sub-type. Then we waited two excruciatingly long days for the pathology report to come back. In the meantime, Matt was moved to the oncology ward. We met his team of cancer docs.

On Tuesday June 11th, we finally got a diagnosis, and the news was very good (well, as good as it possibly could be). It is Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and our doc said that in Matt’s case that meant a “better than 90%” survival rate. He does need 6 months of chemo and immunotherapy, and started on Wednesday June 12th. They sent him home on Thursday and the chemo will be on an outpatient basis. So far he feels fine, just very sleepy some days. But he will be taking a 6 month break from work.

Matt is thin, generally in good health, and a non-smoker. He had NO other symptoms other than mild fatigue, a few days earlier he had been out on the court playing an intense basketball game with the kids and felt fine, so this was completely shocking - but Hodgkin's often strikes people a lot younger than Matt (and arbitrarily - this is not one of those cancers you can avoid by getting into shape or eating right. You can read more about Hodgkin's here. And please read about the symptoms, here.

By funny coincidence (okay... not really funny at all), on the day I was supposed to be picking Matt up from the hospital, the school nurse called, to say my son Alex needed to go to the ER. It turned out that Alex has broken two of his toes at gym class and has to be in a boot and walk with crutches for a few weeks. (Agh.)

So... we are very well set to deal with this. My parents live close by and we have good support from our friends and other various relatives. I work for myself, from home and have a very flexible schedule. But I'm going to ask you guys for a couple of easy favors. One is for me - the other one is for you.

First - if you belong to my Facebook group, please message me good shopping deals when you come across them, (and new product recommendations are always appreciated too.) Please use my Facebook profile or info@samplesalemom.com. I want to keep my business going pretty much as usual over the next few months, and this helps me out since some days I won't be able to work much. It also helps your fellow members, since it makes the group so much better. I get a lot of messages and emails so I may not be able to respond to them all, but I really appreciate it when you guys send me deals! (And thanks SO much to those of you who have been doing this already lately. This has been so incredibly helpful guys.)

Second - and this is the important one *Please, please take ten minutes right now and make any doctors appointments you’ve been putting off.* If you have a weird pain, or some lingering symptom, get it checked out. In Matt’s case, he had just had a physical a month ago where they didn’t catch this. But I have another friend who is undergoing chemo right now for breast cancer after finally making a mammogram appointment that she had put off. It's highly preferable to catch these things as early as possible.

Matt and I are optimists and we're feeling very optimistic right now - however, we would feel even better if we could save one of your lives! So get yourselves to the doctor (and if that turns out to have been really good advice, please write and tell me. I won't publicize it, I just want to know that I helped someone.)

On our trip to Costa Rica in February. At this point the tumor was already growing and we had no idea.

The boys visiting Matt in the hospital the day of his biopsy. (Yes... they felt they needed to play doctor and wear the hospital gloves. Sigh...) 

Sofía Vergara Restocks! Cropped Jeans, Tank, Wedges and Cute Straw Bag

Monday, June 17, 2019


This post was sponsored by Walmart and contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.) 

Some nice basics have been restocked in the  Spring launch from Sofía Vergara, available exclusively at Walmart!! Sofía's line is designed to work well for women with various body types. The  cropped jeans (medium wash) are comfy, flattering and a good value for the $22.50 price! They fit true to size. Shown with a basic  cotton blend stretchy tank. (for the tank for SURE go a full size up as they run small. I went with a medium and my usual small definitely would have been too small.)

Also check out some of my other outfits from the Sofía Jeans line  here (jeans and peasant top) and  here (denim skirt and linen blend tee.)  

I found this  cute straw bag to go with my outfit, (comes in three colors!) and I'm wearing it with  these cork wedges (which run true to size.) 


Get this Summer look by clicking the little pics below! Follow me on  Instagram, and come join us in the  Sample Sale Mom facebook group for discussion and great shopping deals on clothing, beauty items, housewares and kids' stuff! (Currently about 97,000 members!)


Three Current Favorites

Friday, May 24, 2019


This post was contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.) 

This is one of my current favorite outfits
- I love all the pieces separately, and how they work together! I'll link to all here, but also check out the Nordstrom half-yearly sale going on now for lots more amazing outfit pieces!!!

Jacket is the "Robyn" by AG, in Blue Cove. You can buy it at Nordstrom, Amazon, or Zappos - all three have free shipping and returns! I absolutely adore it since it's so fitted to the body (which is flattering). I tried 3 other jackets that didn't work for me, all were too boxy (not flattering. I don't want to look like a box.) The Robyn does run on the small side - I'm wearing a small above and I can only really wear it with a dress, light tank or top. Even a light sweater underneath would make it too tight. I also tried the medium, which was too big and therefore didn't have the nice fitted look. It is plenty long in the sleeves, which I really like.


Dress is one of the body con ruched dresses from Leith. I think these look great on a lot of different body types! They come in plus sizes too. The ruching on tummy area is nice. It is fitted on the backside/bum area, so if in doubt, you may want to go a size up. Keep in mind that I'm 5'8". On someone shorter it would come down longer (if I were much taller I don't feel like I could get away with the length since it's already pretty short.) This dress can be dressed up or down, depending on how casual you want to go.



Shoes are Toms and they are so comfortable!!! I know that is unbelievable with a high platform, but the footbeds are so nice and soft. I walked a long way in NYC in these and my feet were not sore at all. You can get them at Zappos too.

Sunglasses are Ray Ban. Similar styles here. Some Ray Ban on sale at Nordstrom Rack right now!!!

Bag is Louis Vuitton. To save money on a Louis Vuitton, check out the pre-owned selection via eBay authenticate or Rue La La. With eBay, make sure to buy ONLY from the authenticate section for high end designer bags. You'll see the blue checkmark on each listing with "authenticity verified".

Come join us in the Sample Sale Mom facebook group for discussion and great shopping deals on clothing, beauty items, housewares and kids' stuff! (Currently about 96,000 members!) Follow my Instagram too!

Two Great Sales on Yeti (Perfect Father's Day Gift or Grab One for Yourself!)

Sunday, May 19, 2019


This post was contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.) 

Update: The two Memorial Day Yeti sales have ended, but stay tuned as I will post more when they come around again!

Stylish, beautiful AND practical, Yeti makes great gifts for almost anyone! Keep your coffee hot, your frappucino cold, take ice water along for outdoor sports, or a whole picnic along for 10 people!!

Yeti sales are pretty rare but currently there are TWO great sales. First, check out REI where prices on most Yetis drop 25% at checkout!! NOTE: They're having their biggest sale of the year right now with lots of other items too. So if you need a tent, hiking boots, off-season Patagonia, or anything else outdoorsy - now's the time to grab it!

Second, if you're not finding the exact item/color you want at REI, check out Backcountry, where Yeti prices drop 20% with code TAKE20MAY (you'll only be able to use the discount on a single item.) Cross-check their prices on other items/gear too as they may in some cases beat REI's or have different selection.

With either site you'll get free shipping at $50+!

Come join us in the Sample Sale Mom facebook group for discussion and great shopping deals on clothing, beauty items, housewares and kids' stuff! (Currently about 96,000 members!) Follow my Instagram (and see the Yeti giveaway going on there now)!!


Spring Mom & Boys Coordinated Outfit Picks

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


This post was sponsored by Walmart and contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.) 

I always see mommy & me outfits for moms and daughters, but I wanted to do a coordinated look for my sons and me (not too matchy, but in the same color family.)  I LOVE how it turned out! (and they love it too! How cute are my guys?) Starting with my outfit – my tee and jeans are from Ellen DeGeneres' collection, EV1 (Check out more of Walmart's affordable lines for moms & kids here.) My 50 states tee runs on the small side, so I sized up to a medium. Super soft and comfy! The jeans I'm wearing are the EV1 Maddy, but I also got the Preston style - both are extremely similar in terms of fit and run a bit big. I sized down to a 2 in both. Both are higher waisted for better belly-coverage.



Another jeans option, if you like distressing, is the Alex style. Unfortunately they are often out of stock, but try for your size here. Again, you may want to size down one as they run generously. See the Alex pair in the pics below.


Cork wedge shoes shown in the pic above are here and run true to size. Pictured below are my EV1 quilted bag (only $16.99 in black or navy!!!) and metallic slides (various color options, rose gold is mostly sold out but silver currently available). Both great, affordable basics.


The boys' outfits are here. Love the contrast-pocket tees! These sets come with a tank top too and the three pieces combined are only $14.49! The boys' shoes are here in the blue and here in the brown. (but NOTE - the brown ones are men's sizes... my 9 year old has big feet!)


Shop our look by clicking the little pics below! Follow me on Instagram, and come join us in the Sample Sale Mom facebook group for discussion and great shopping deals on clothing, beauty items, housewares and kids' stuff! (Currently about 96,000 members!)


Recent Home Finds (Rae Dunn)

Monday, May 13, 2019


This post contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.) 

I got a couple of deliveries this week that I especially liked (and Felix did too, as you can see!) I just found out that TJ Maxx carries Rae Dunn home decor items for less! This is great but... unfortunately you cannot search by brand name on the site, they don't come up. So you have to hunt. I'll link to a bunch here to make it easier though, plus the other items pictured!

Shown in pic above:
1.) Bonsai Tree (from Amazon, this one is also cute and on sale too.)
2.) Sand + Fog candle
3.) Pet bowl sets - Lots of new designs added here! (Not searchable so look through.) 'Nosh' is here. And 'Tasty' is here. 

Unfortunately the Thrive Pot and Rae Dunn notebook pictured above are currently sold out. Want more? See below...

1.) Relax blanket
2.) Family pillow
3.) Spread cheese board
4.) Bon Appetite tray
5.) Share baker
6.) 'Cake' baker here (not shown.)
7.) Homemade cake stand
8.) Love pillow
9.) Gardening tools
10.) Stay awhile pillow
11.) Nosh Nosh pet dishes
12.) Today pillow
13.) Jars here and here and also here.
14.) Various plates here and here and here

For more great online finds, follow me on Instagram, and come join us in the Sample Sale Mom facebook group for discussion and great shopping deals on clothing, beauty items, housewares and kids' stuff! (Currently about 96,000 members!)




Spring Shopping for Less with eBay!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


This post was sponsored by eBay and contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.) 

eBay is a great place to grab any shoes you missed out on from a previous season (for less!) Often you can get current line shoes for a steal too, especially pre-owned. I got these pretty red Toms for under $30 shipped, and the Boden dress I'm wearing for only $26 shipped!!! (Note: you can grab the exact items I'm wearing from my LTK page here.) I've found Boden dresses to be consistently sized, and the quality/materials are wonderful! Note though, Boden is a British company, so sizes are often listed for both US and UK - make sure to grab the right one!


Note that most items on eBay now have a 'buy it now' option, so you do not have to wait around until the end of an auction to "bid". Also, many items now offer returns. I actually returned one other dress I bought, it was super easy and I got my refund within a couple of days! (There is a checkbox on the menu for this, so you can opt to see only the items with free returns.)

Love this dress - so comfy and it even has pockets!!! The shoes run a little small in the style I'm wearing, so I'd go up half a size.


Get this look by clicking the little pics below! Follow me on Instagram, and come join us in the Sample Sale Mom facebook group for discussion and great shopping deals on clothing, beauty items, housewares and kids' stuff! (Currently about 96,000 members!)