Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BORED...

Yes, that's me.  Bored Stiff!  I am really lost while Ellie is away getting fixed.  I am feeling good today, so I need to be "doing" something. 

I have so much I WANT to do right now and without her I am at a standstill.  I keep telling myself that I can begin cutting the next project, but my mind has a real problem with that.  "Finish what you start before you start something else!" begins sing-songing through my brain every time I contemplate cutting into the material for my next project.  Thus, I sit here like a stick in the mud.  Stuck. 

I have caught up on paperwork in the past few days and caught up on my laundry yesterday.  I am totally SICK of television and reading...I do THAT when my pain or tremor are too bad to do anything else!  I looked at a few recipes, but they are not in line with our new eating habits...so cooking/baking is out. I guess I could purge a few more areas of my house, but that is boring too. 

I think I need to bring my very first sewing machine home from my parents' house.  I gave it to them when my mom started having a harder time sewing by hand and I had gotten another machine.  Honestly, she never actually uses it and just brings her mending to me.  If I bring it back here then I would at least have a machine that can sew a straight stitch, zig-zag and reverse!  It's a good, heavy, mechanical Singer...back in the days when machines were made of metal inside, not plastic, and Singer was a good name in machines.  In a few weeks it will be 33 years old!  Yup, they made them better back then!  Off to phone my mom and see if I can pick it up today.  Let's hope by the time I get it I am still feeling good!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

WHAT'S UP WITH ELLIE?............

It never fails!  Every time I have a sewing deadline, my dear, sweet Ellie (Ellure Plus sewing machine) will throw a hissy fit!

I finished FMQing all of the background of the blocks with YLI invisible thread.  I love the look of the quilting on the cream fabric...truly invisible.  However, I don't like the way it "shines" against the black backing, but there is not much I can do about it at this point.  I will just tell my aunt to forget the back exists, lol.  Since I am getting ready to do some FMQ with 100% cotton thread I pulled out a test swatch and began practicing.  As anyone who has ever tried to teach themselves FMQ can tell you, it takes PRACTICE...and lots of it.  You need to get your body into the "zone" where your machine and your hands are working in perfect harmony.  Too slow or too jerky and you get ugly long stitches.


I was happily playing when suddenly my machine started her hissy fit.  I can be sewing along just fine and without warning there will be 10-12 stitches where I can see the needle going up and down, but there are no stitches!  Then all of a sudden she begins doing what she is supposed to and I get nice even stitches.  I tried rethreading my machine three times and finally got so disgusted I sent an email and this picture down to the store where I bought the sewing machine.  Within no time I had a reply with three suggestions.  If those things don't work I will be driving down to Delaware on Saturday.  I just hope Ellie doesn't have to stay "in the hospital" for a whole week...I want this quilt DONE by the end of July (fingers crossed) so I can work on other Christmas presents, lol. 




To try to calm myself down a bit I reached for this stuff.  I spread a bit on my arms and neck and within minutes the aroma had calmed my nerves.  A few weeks ago my Dear Aunt showed up at my front door with a "just because" present.  It was this tube of Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Stress Relief.  She assured me that it smelled incredibly good and would calm me down when I needed it.  Life has been a bit stressful recently!  Oh boy was she right!  I wish I could invent internet aroma transmission so you could smell it too.  It is a perfect combination of eucalyptus and spearmint (she says as she sniffs her left arm) and feels really cool on your skin.  Hmmm...excuse me while I float in my Zen Zone for a while....



And, speaking of yummy, J has gotten me hooked on Oikos Greek Yogurt.  Mmmm...it is even more yummy than John Stamos (yes, I'm serious!).  This morning I am indulging in a bit of peachy heaven.  Total bliss. 

Well, I guess it is time to check my emails and then change a few things on Ellie's settings and see if she is willing to play nice today. 

Have a great day, everyone!  Toodles...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

HELLLLLLOOOOOOO BLOGGY FRIENDS...

Sorry I have been away so long.  I really didn't intend to be, but life has been NUTS!  Between my health, Dear Hubby's health, my Dad's health and all we are trying to do around here, I can't even THINK straight!

This past week we had a contractor here to do a lot of "little things" that have been needed to be done but neither Hubby nor I can do, my dad spent Monday and Tuesday painting decorative pieces for us, between Hubby and I we had a total of SIX doctors in one week and my Dear Dad had a follow up with his lung surgeon who removed his two previous tumors...and the news isn't good.


The contractor came out to install our new storm door.  Our old one was caught by the wind (we have HORRENDOUS winds here) and pulled right out of the wood!  This door has a couple of features that I absolutely LOVE and it was only around $250 from Home Depot.


See that tiny bulge of white on the door closey thingie (sorry, have NO idea what it is called)?  If you open the door as wide as you want and then tap it with your toe it will hold the door open for you.  No more fiddling with the sliding things that always end up covered with grease!  When you are done, simply open the door a few inches more (with your butt) and the door will then close!  Genius, I tell you!


And the best part?  See the clip and the bar right above the tag that I still need to clean that off of the window?  You simply raise the clip a little and lower the top glass section down to the bottom and above the bar and clip is screening!  With our old door Dear Hubby would have to remove a big, HEAVY beveled glass pane (the full length of the door) and carry it down the basement and then bring up the full length screen.  He has not been able to carry it since his fall in 2011, so we have had no cross ventilation breeze since.  All we have had is "fake air" (air conditioning) instead of the "real air" (open windows) that I love.  One more chore that we can no longer do is now ticked off the list!


We have FINALLY removed everything that J was storing in our living room when he moved out.  Well, except for a box of Guitar Magazines that need to be recycled a little bit at a time so we don't go over the poundage permitted for our container (the box is too heavy for Dear Hubby or I to lift so it will stay there as we take handfuls to the bin).


J's big amp, his first electric guitar and his bass are still here temporarily.  He is currently trying to sell his bass guitar, so hopefully that will be gone soon.  There is a strong possibility he and K will be moving into a rental house in September so he may be taking the amp and guitar with him then.  There is just no room in their tiny apartment. 


Our dining room finally looks like a dining room instead of a "catch-all" room.  Well, almost.  The plexiglass panels you see propped against the hutch are for five display cases that my dad just painted for us.  Once the cases are hung I will wash the panels and install them on the cases to avoid dust inside.


The pile of "first floor" garage sale stuff (far from complete) is still sat in the corner.  Next weekend Dear Hubby is going to put up a few tables in one of our two garages and I will begin cleaning, pricing and moving the stuff out there.  I am hoping to have the whole house purged through (twice) for a garage sale the first week of September (depending on Dad's health).


These are the display cases that Dad painted last Monday and Tuesday.  When J was young he started a keychain collection.  I think he has over 200 at this point.  We had these display cases made (yes, two of them are bigger...the guy screwed up, lol) in oak to match his bedroom furniture.  The inside is cork so he used clear push-pins to hang the keychains.  They were filled to the brim with his collection.  Now that his room has become my Expanded Sewing Room, there is no wall space to hang them.  Since we have a large blank wall in our basement, we are painting the wood black to match the basement color scheme and will hang them there.  I can't wait to see them hung.  I will definitely post pictures once they are hanging and the basement is in order again.  Right now it looks like a disaster hit.  Actually, it did.  The burst pipe a few months ago initiated a complete purge through and reorganization.  AND, we are going to have a half bath put in the basement so Dear Hubby doesn't have to walk the stairs to use the facilities when he is working from home.  He just can't do it anymore.  We have two hand rails on the stairs and he literally pulls himself up the steps.  We considered an "Acorn" stair lift, but that would NOT add to the value of the home should we need to sell.  A half bath in the finished basement would provide more equity in the house and we could recoup at least part of our outlay.


During this past week I have not gotten much done on my Aunt's quilt (show and tell later in the post).  I have needed to spend a good portion of the days on the first floor of the house to be available to answer questions from my Hubby, folks or the contractor.  After much thinking I decided I did NOT want to make a "flower" hexie quilt.  So, I added a top and bottom to each of my completed flowers and made diamonds instead.  Yes, I am much happier with this shape! AND, I only had to use ONE band-aid.  I'm getting smarter and have learned to stop when the tremor gets bad, lol.


This mess on the guest room bed is everything we have pulled together from the second floor thus far for the garage sale.  This floor is in no way near being fully purged so I expect the pile to at least double in size.  Some of the things are brand new with tags attached!  I will try to sell those on Amazon or Craigslist before they are relegated to the garage sale.


On Wednesday I did manage to get the FMQ done on four blocks.  I have to FMQ four more blocks and then I can move on to quilting the borders.  I know in my head what I want to do...I just need the uninterrupted time, and body cooperation to do it, lol.


I honesty don't know if I have shown you these before...they are the corner blocks of the quilt.  Considering I am a newbie with FMQ I am fairly happy with how they turned out.


Next I used a stipple on all of the brown blocks...


...and then a cross hatch on the red blocks.  I'm really not to happy with how these came out on the back.  But I will just tell my Dear Aunt not to look at the back, lol.  I still have to do a cross hatch on the blue blocks.

As I mentioned, there have been six doctor visits this past week.  I am pretty much status quo at this point.  My rheumatologist has suggested that we may just have to keep me on steroids permanently.  I guess I am okay with that...I don't really have any other choice, despite the dangers of long term use.  Since I began taking the supplements recommended by my neurologist for presumed mitochondrial disorder my diabetes has been completely out of whack.  Not bad...GOOD.  I joked with her that she may have found the cure for diabetes!  But, too good!  I have been having lots of low sugar spells.  This past week my endocrinologist took away one of my insulins, but the low sugars are still continuing.  And I mean LOW...like 35, 41, 44!  DANGER level.  And that makes me feel SO bad.  Then I shove food into my mouth to try to raise it and I overcompensate and my sugar goes to high.  The doctor told me that he can guarantee when I am that low I am going to overcompensate and go high, but not to worry about it.  A temporary high is much less dangerous than too low. 

Dear Hubby has been referred to see a neurologist since the EMG his EIGHTH orthopaedic doctor  did is abnormal.  Finally, someone listened to his complaint and took it seriously enough to search for a cause.  But, once the doctor saw the results he threw up his hands in confusion and told him to go to a neurologist.  I tried to get him an appointment with my neurologist, but they were not taking new patients.  I had to ask a favor of someone who works in the hospital to get him in to see her.  As is expected in my family, the neurologist is perplexed.  The nerves that are showing NO conduction down his legs on his EMG are not the "normal" nerves that people have trouble with...and his physical exam and EMG are not supporting each other.  She is going to speak with several of her coworkers to see if any of the other doctors have any insight into what is wrong with him.  In the meantime she has given him some meds to hopefully help with his pain and she will do her own EMG on his legs in a few months.  He is still totally unable to stand on his toes AT ALL so he is walking like Frankenstein and going up and down the stairs flatfooted.  It is heartbreaking to watch him struggle to get up and down the steps with no ability to walk on his toes, and the pain is excruciating.  This weekend he will add in the second medication to see if it makes a difference in his pain.  He can then raise both of the medications to more pills per day if he needs.

My Dear Dad has been through the ringer these past four years with two DIFFERENT types of cancer; and it looks like he may be going through yet another lung surgery to remove a cancerous lesion.  This lesion, however, is not on the outside of his lung...meaning a wedge resection can be done.  It is further into the lung and, if cancerous, will require the removal of the whole lower lobe of that lung.  But, it is not behaving as the first two lesions did, so before heading into surgery they are sending him for a battery of tests to determine the lesion's exact makeup.   This week is a PET scan and then possibly a needle biopsy.  Thankfully his leukemia is in remission so it will not impact any surgery needed.  The last wedge resection was harder on him than the first, so I can't imagine how he is going to handle a lobe resection.  He is 81 years old, but surprisingly "healthy" for a man who has had two heart attacks and two types of cancer.  To look at him you would NEVER think he is that age.

If you would be so kind, I would sincerely appreciate any prayers, virtual hugs or healing thoughts you could send to my Dear Hubby and Dear Dad.  They have both been through WAY too much suffering these past 3-4 years.  More than anything I want them to be out of pain and able to enjoy their lives.

So, as you see, life has been NUTS.  Hopefully I can get to spend a bit more time here on the blog as things move forward from the healthcare standpoint.  Talk to you soon...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

QUILTING A PANEL...


The quilt for my Aunt is the first time I have ever attempted to use a panel in a quilt.  I considered an all over meander quilting, but I really wanted to highlight the shoes.  Sooooo....maybe biting off a bit more than this beginner in FMQ could chew...I started outlining the items in the panel.  Surprisingly, after practicing a bit on a scrap sandwich, I was doing pretty well.  Surprising myself, if truth be told.
So I began working on the "real thing".  For a while it was okay, but then my tremor started.  And in addition to my tremor, I started SHAKING!  The result...not so pretty.


The black lines on the beige of the shoe look horrible...but my shaking has not stopped and I don't DARE pick up a seam ripper!  I had discovered that the slower I stitched, the more eyelashes I had on the back.  Setting my speed control in the middle and then putting the pedal to the metal seemed to eliminate all lashes.  Unfortunately, when I started shaking and lost control...the line was there before I could adjust! 

Additionally, I had been practicing with quilting over a pattern drawn on Golden Threads Quilting Tissue and had forgotten to enlarge my stitch length when I began on the quilt.  So the stitches are 1.5 and TINY.  Now is definitely not the time to try to pick out such teeny tiny stitches. 

I showed the quilt to my mom and dad yesterday and they both feel I should leave it.  My Dear Aunt knows my difficulties and she would not expect "perfect"...and the "mistake" will just remind her that I struggled to make her quilt...an expression of my love...even when my body didn't want to cooperate.  I'm taking their suggestion under advisement, lol.  As they said, it is the love behind the quilt that matters. 

This week has Just. Not. Been. Good!  In addition to my normal intention tremor, I'm SHAKY and SWEATY and I feel like a cat on a hot tin roof!  I'm antsy and everything is aggravating me.  Yesterday when the lab faxed over copies of my most recent bloodwork, I found out why!  I am HYPERTHYROID!  Since having my thyroid removed, I have to take a significant amount of levothyroxine (Synthroid) every day.  Sometimes it is a balancing act to keep me in the normal range and not on too little or too much medication.  It has been several years since my TSH has been this low (indicating HYPERthyroid).  The last time I ended up in the hospital with arrhythmia caused by the hyperthyroid.  Guess I had forgotten what the symptoms felt like and it never dawned on me that the feelings of agitation, sweating and shakiness were telling me my body was running too fast! 

This morning the doctor's office called me and told me how to adjust my medication.  Hopefully my body will slow down quickly and I can once again work on her quilt.  Sometimes I get frustrated that I can't sew every day because of my health, but I try to remind myself that I still CAN sew and that is all that matters! 

So, silver lining firmly in place again, I'm heading off to read a book.  Not much danger in that...well except for paper cuts, lol. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A PRACTICE PIECE TURNED PILLOW...


Today is a ME day.  There are no doctors today (5 this week) and Dear Hubby has to go to a dinner meeting after work.  So I can stay in all day and don't have to think about anything other than my Aunt's quilt!  Good thing, too, I really need to pick up the pace if I am going to accomplish everything else on my Christmas Gift List!

I have finished the walking foot quilting (parts were a BEAR) and I may try to perfect my FMQ straight lines so that I don't ever again have to fight with turning a quilt through the small throat of my machine!  After a while I started pulling the quilt out and feeding it in the other way, but it is EXHAUSTING! 

I had four more blocks where I had wanted to put an embroidered/quilted shoe.  Nothing colorful or detailed, just a shoe used as the quilting in the block.  I learned the hard way (don't ask) never to do anything on my good piece until I have tried it on scrap material and know that the size, shape, color, etc. is exactly what I am expecting it to be, lol. 

So, as usual, I drew out blocks the size that are on my quilt and did a few samples.  It turned out that I liked the sample piece so much that I added some more embroidery  and a bit of FMQ.  I just pulled it out of my machine and I AM LOVING IT!  I still have to wash out my markings, iron it and make a back to turn it into a pillow cover but I'm thrilled...and I'm becoming more and more comfortable with FMQ!

So...what do you think? 



I love the way the tight FMQ almost gives it a gathered "ribboned" effect.  Had I known I was going to make a pillow with my practice shoes, I probaby would have alternated the colors.  But, I love it just the way it is, and the parts most likely to get dirty from resting her head on them are the darker color.  The picture really doesn't do it justice...it sorta looks all fuzzy, and grayish etc...which isn't really the case in person.  It's a solid dark black!

Oh, in case you don't know (or don't remember) my Aunt's quilt is named, "Call Me Imelda", hence the royal shield in the center, lol. 

I think I am going to try to do a tiny bit of FMQ on the quilt after I am done eating dinner.  Leftover Chinese for me...no prep, which will get me back to my sewing room quicker!

Have a great evening!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ASKING FOR PRAYERS...




As many of you know, Dear Hubby has been having Orthopaedic problems since a fall down two steps in October of 2011.  After a lack of examination and incorrect diagnosis in the ER, he was finally diagnosed two days later with a 95% tear of the left quad tendon and sent urgently into surgery.  The doctor fixed his quad tendon, but he has been left with additional problems not addressed at the time of the fall due to the severity of the quad injury discovered.  At this point we have been to seven, yes...SEVEN, different orthopedic specialists.  None of the first five have been looking at the "total picture" and as a result, Dear Hubby has been suffering for almost 3 full years.  Because of extreme compartmentalization in medicine, doctors now "specialize" in specific body areas.  But, ummm..., isn't the whole body connected???  Shouldn't issues in multiple areas, that all started after a fall, ring a bell that MAYBE the problems are interconnected?  Since that fall he has been going steadily downhill in terms of motion, pain and swelling, etc.  Shouldn't somebody have listened?

We have told at least five out of the 7 doctors seen that since the accident Dear Hubby can no longer get up on his toes.  We have questioned "why" he is having this difficulty and all but the last two specialists have totally ignored us.  They have simply looked us right in the eye and IGNORED the question and moved on.  Can you now see why we are on our SEVENTH doctor?

Dear Hubby played catcher in baseball/softball for 21 years!  And if you picture a catcher, he spent ALL of that time in a squat position...ON HIS TOES!  He is probably as comfortable on his toes as any ballerina!  But, since the fall he cannot get up on his toes AT ALL.  It isn't pain or weakness that stops him...his body will not do it!  Which means he is walking flatfooted like Frankenstein.  Picture doing that up and down steps!  Not only is it incredibly difficult, it is incredibly painful!  His gait is totally different than it was before the fall and no matter how many times we have stated such, it has been ignored.   

Fortunately a month or so ago a friend of Hubby's suggested a doctor that he had seen for an ankle injury.  We set up an appointment to see the man and he is the FIRST doctor who really EXAMINED more than one body part.  He immediately suggested an appointment with one of his partners to have an EMG done.  We saw his partner who suggested Hubby have an MRI of his pelvis and when we came in to review the MRI results an EMG would be done.  Of course our insurance refused to authorize the MRI until AFTER the EMG is done!

So yesterday we went to the doctor and he had an EMG...which was REALLY abnormal!!!!  Because of my walking difficulties I have had at least 5 EMGs.  I know what the little screen is supposed to look like, how the body is supposed to react, and how it is supposed to sound during the test.  As the test was going on I was getting more and more nervous because none of the "expected" was happening.  Adding to my upset, the doctor was OBVIOUSLY concerned.  Twice he got up from his seat and went to the computer to look at Hubby's records.  The look on his face was worried. 

When the test was over the doctor told us that Hubby's EMG is abnormal.  He wants Hubby to have the MRI to see if he could have injured his pelvis (he landed on his butt on a metal threshold) in a way that could have pinched the nerves, or if he could have actually stretched or torn the nerves themselves.  If the MRI is not helpful he wants Dear Hubby to go to a neurologist. 

I know after so many years of working in the medical field that I automatically jump to conclusions when people I love are sick or injured.  It's in my nature, I can't help it.  But I, personally, am the one who recognized Hubby's diabetes, my diabetes, my mom's sleep apnea, hubby's sleep apnea, and my dad's lymphoma/leukemia.  Not the doctors...ME.  It was only because I asked, nagged or down right "fought" with the doctors to have tests done that the diagnoses were ever made and treatment begun.  I am scared to death that the issues Dear Hubby has been dealing with for almost three years now have caused permanent nerve damage as a result of lack of diagnosis and/or treatment.  And if there is permanent nerve damage, or could be even more progression, what is it going to mean for Hubby and his future?  We have always looked forward to when it was "fixed".  But what if it is too late to fix it?  Or it can't be fixed?  Obviously, we will do whatever it takes to make things easier for him.  I will sell this house in a minute to get him away from steps, but what about work?  It has been harder and harder for him to handle working in such a large building.  And, if we do decide to move sooner rather than later....how are we going to be able to do it?  Neither one of us is worth diddly from a physical standpoint!

Sorry to be venting here, but my mind is whirling in 30 different directions.  What we really need are prayers.  So, if you pray...please include him in your prayers.  If you don't pray...if you could send healing vibes his way I would really appreciate it.  I know we will get through no matter what it is...together.  But, a little help along the way would be appreciated. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SPOONFLOWER...SMOOTH...............




Have you guys heard of Spoonflower?  It is an online design company.  You can submit your own personal designs/photos/drawings and have them printed on fabric (multiple kinds), wallpaper, decals and wrapping paper!

It has probably been a year or more now since I submitted a couple of designs.  Just on a lark, nothing I had intended to purchase yards and yards of at that time.  And so my account, and my designs, have sat all this time.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email offering me a sample of their new "faux suede" material.  I could pick any design I wanted (mine or others) to have printed in the faux suede.  After a bit of trouble finding my password (told you it's been a while, lol) I ordered a piece of my "Heat Wave" design.  And then I promptly forgot all about it until my sample arrived a few days ago.



This FABRIC is gorgeous.  I love the feel of the faux suede.  I wasn't too happy with my "design" in person...it wasn't "quirky" enough, lol.  But the fabric?  Oh My.   I LOVE IT !  I keep running the fabric over my cheek.  It is just so SMOOTH, and somehow...comforting.  Maybe it is taking me back to the days of soft flannel receiving blankets when J was a baby, but this fabric could become permanently attached to my face if I don't control myself, lol. 

So last night when I couldn't sleep I signed onto my Spoonflower account and changed up the design a bit.  Definitely more "quirky".  Wanna peek?

  http://www.spoonflower.com/spelunks?type=designers&view=designs&shop=designers&q=jusmom1&x=14&y=15

I think I am going to order myself another "swatch" of the new design in faux suede.  I could use a new pouch for storing sewing notions and I think the two 8 x 8 swatches should be enough fabric for the outside.  Although a faux suede eye cover for keeping out the light when my migraines are bad would sure be nice.  Decisions.  Decisions. 

Oh, this is FUN!  I only wish I was better at using computer technology to get the ideas floating in my head onto the Spoonflower website.  Maybe some day!