A Bountiful Bevy

Yes, it has been almost 3 months since a post last appeared here. What have I been up to? Let me tell you! ūüôā

First and foremost was school, school, and more school. Now that I am done for the semester I have a few weeks to breathe. Most recently, and most exciting – I finally got my spinning wheel! Here is a photo:

Meet Jean Louise

She is a Schacht Matchless, and her name is Jean Louise. She was born on 11-20-2009 and was the first wheel made that day! She is named after the narrator in my favorite book, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. In the short 3 1/2 weeks I have had her, we have been quite productive, see:

Group Photo

A Bountiful Bevy of Beauty

There is 30 ounces of lovely goodness in that photo! They are shown in order spun, first to most recent. While I still love my spindles, I find I can get more done with my wheel, and that my yarn comes out better.

I leave you with a few photos of my most recent project. I just finished the first 2 ounces of this last night – a lovely Merino / Silk combination that will be a beautiful lace weight yarn when completed.

Iris 1

Merino / Silk in Iris

Iris 2

First 2 Ounces

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Adventures in Birthday Land

First of all, let me just say that so far, I have had the most amazing birthday EVER! I say so far, because even though the day is technically over, the celebration continues and I will be spending time with friends every day the rest of this week and Saturday. It honestly doesn’t get better than that. The fact that I am surround by people who genuinely like me and want to celebrate with me, just a wonderful thing!

I also need to note that the elimination diet is no longer. I lasted a week and a day. It was worth a try but just too much to deal with right now.

Originally, I had planned to stay home and do nothing. Zip, zero, zilch, nada (guess you get the idea) all day long. However, this morning my wonderful friend Flame asked me if I wanted to meet up for lunch. Of course I did! We met at TGI Fridays and had a fantastic experience. I was upfront with the waiter and told him I had Celiac disease and could not have gluten. As soon as I said gluten, his face lit up. Get this one……he actually knew what I was talking about. How terrific is that. I asked him for suggestions and he willing provided me with some very tasty options. I chose a yummy grilled steak, no sauce or seasoning and a side salad (which he even understood could not have croutons on it!). When I asked if they would clean the grill prior to cooking my steak, he said of course they would! Yippee!!! The meal was great and Kate and I had a wonderful time celebrating each others birthdays (hers was the day before mine) and our friendship. She gave me a wonderful necklace that I will cherish.

After our fantastic lunch, I went over to a chocolate store in the plaza that Fridays is in. I was seriously bummed to see they were out of business. I decided to walk over to the health food store instead and see what goodies I could find. I walked in and started to look at their lotions out of¬†curiosity. I picked up a coconut one, flipped it over to start reading the ingredients, and noticed in big, bold letters; vegan, gluten free and wheat free. Not only did that make me happy, but I became even more giddy upon seeing that the lotion had a companion coconut body wash. Mmmmmm….I LOVE the smell of coconut bath products. This stuff smells great and feels great on. Not at all greasy and very moisturizing! While there, I also found some gluten free chocolate truffles. Score 2 for the birthday girl. ūüėÄ

From there, I proceeded to mosey on over to Starbucks to get myself some coffee, knit, and munch on my truffles. I was contently doing all three when I looked up and saw the skies darken dramatically. I grabbed my stuff and got out of there in an attempt to beat the storm. As soon as I got in the car, the skies opened up! On the drive home, the highway was actually starting to flood because it was raining so hard. Everyone was going really slow too, including me. I was thankful to get near home and drive into clear, blue, sunny weather.

I came home and enjoyed the rest of my coffee and chocolate. I worked on my current lace project some more and was very happy when it was time for my man to come home. We had a nice relaxing night here at home. Dinner was oooey, gooey, chocolaty, and ridiculously good home made and still warm, gluten free brownies. Add a side of delicious ice cream, and a candle, and what more could a birthday girl want?!

I will try to take photos of the awesome birthday gifty goodness that I have been the recipient of and post them later this week or on Monday. I am off to bed now to rest up for another wonderful day tomorrow!

That’s Life

Just when I think I have this all figured out…a new issue has surfaced.¬†

I was getting ready for bed and decided to put on some Bath and Body Works lotion. Ah, it smelled so wonderful and I love the way their scents pamper my skin. I was winding down and relaxing, and then…..boom. My skin started to itch. I started to get little red bumps all over. My skin started to turn red and burn/tingle a bit. What in the world?! Oh carp, I was reacting to my lotion.

I acted as quick as I could, still in disbelief. I took a Zyrtec, washed off the offending lotion very well, and now here I sit. Still a bit itchy and uncomfortable. I have been using their lotions for many, many years now, and I have NEVER reacted to them like this. While they are not gluten free, because they do have oats in them, I saw no problem in using it. I wasn’t going to EAT the lotion after all.

I am still not sure what I reacted to in it, but after that, it is quite clear that I can no longer use their lotions. Talk about sucking big time! I love their products and have quite the lovely selection to choose from, scents to suit every whim of mine. Ah well, nothing I can do about it, best get over it and move on. Guess I need to start being careful about what I put on my skin too.

I am going to go lay down, pout a bit, and hope the Zyrtec kicks in soon.

I’m Still Here

I have things to post too, newly finished projects, and pretty skeins of yarn. However, these last two weeks have not been good for me. I am still reacting to something in my diet, part of that reaction is listlessness and it makes me feel just blah. Zaps all of my motivation to do anything at all. Thus, my lack of posts here.

I am tackling this darned food issue head on! I did go gluten free and have been very successful with it. It appears that I may have other¬†intolerances¬†though since I am still reacting. In order to figure out what is going on, I have started an elimination diet. I am ready to feel better and to be able to live my life more fully. I am tired of always being, well….tired. Intolerances are sneaky and annoying little things. They don’t always make themselves as clearly known as an allergy does. They tend to cause more physiological symptoms and can mess with you in a big way. A typical reaction for me includes:¬†migraines, nausea, digestive problems, my face flushes bright red and burns, I get shaky and dizzy, I feel like I have medicine head on steroids (aka brainfog). I can’t focus, concentrate, and become forgetful. Then there is the¬†exhaustion…sheer and unending, like I haven’t slept in years. I also get muscle cramps and aches. Sometimes I get only a few of those symptoms, and other times I get them all. Needless to say, this is not a fun experience!

I am on day three of the elimination diet, and I am doing well so far. While I feel terrible due to withdrawal, I know that it will pass and I will feel immensely better. My tummy is already doing better on this diet, and it only took one day for that change. I have already lost some weight too! Nice side effect there. I am actually eating better than I think I ever have. Very healthy, well rounded meals!!

The diet consists of eliminating:  wheat (and any gluten containing grains), corn, eggs, dairy, peanuts, soy, nightshades, shellfish, beef, pork, refined sugar, caffeine.

I am sure that sounds like there must be nothing left. However, there are still yummy things to choose from. For dinner last night, I had catfish with sweet potato, and green beans. For dessert, I had a pear. For breakfast today I had cold, leftover chicken, brown rice, sugar snap peas, and a nectarine. I am working on a crockpot recipe that will have rice, black beans, chicken and veggies in it so that I can make something that will get me quite a few meals.

At this point in my life, I think I can handle just about anything if it means I can feel better. I am so ready to leave my zombie days behind!

Fiber Friend in Need

Thanks to Ravelry, I am getting the chance to know people I may not have otherwise met. People who are as crazy about their fiber as I am, which makes it even more awesome. One of those people, is Lisa, of Poppy Flower Fibers. Not only does Lisa have great talent as a fiber artist, she is a kind, caring person. 

Unfortunately, she is faced with a difficult situation at this point in time. Her sweet dog, Poppy is very ill and has been for a few months now. This is after Lisa spent money on her other dog who was sick, and she lost earlier this year. As any pet owner knows, vet expenses are, well…expensive.¬†

What was amazing to hear from Lisa, was that the fiber community is supporting her more than some of her “real-life” friends. We, as a whole do seem to be a great community. Thus, my blog post about Lisa and Poppy. She was encouraged by a friend to start a raffle to help raise some much needed money for Poppy. I think this is a great idea, and have already purchased two tickets myself! I believe in doing anything you can to save your animals. I would for mine. If it was really dire and was likely to cost thousands, I would want to be as lucky as Lisa, and have people out there willing to support and help.

Tickets for the raffle are a mere $5.00 and you get a chance to win, 8 oz of 80% Superfine 19.5 micron count Merino/20% Mongolian Cashmere. Yumm, how luscious does that sound?

Good luck to anyone who buys tickets, it is a great giveaway! My continued love and support to both Lisa and Poppy! May you get some answers, may Poppy heal very quickly, and may you have many, many more years together!!

Here are some links:

This one is to Lisa’s blog.

This is a blog she put together for people to track Poppy’s progress and her fundraising efforts. She also showing documentation from her vet here.

Here is the link to purchase tickets in the raffle.

A Good Night, A Bad Night

Tonight saw me heading out to knitting. It all started out so well. I felt really good most of the day today, at least much better than I had after my last reaction to gluten. I even thought maybe the reaction had passed. Boy was I wrong, that thought all ended when I got to the cafe. When I sat down, I was shaking, my face felt like it was burning and was bright red, I had a nasty headache coming on and just felt BAD.

Once others started to show up, I tried to push how I was feeling out of my mind. I did the best I could, but I was having trouble focusing, thinking, and staying put mentally. I have a hard time when I feel like this. I know that it can come across that something is wrong with me. I try so hard to hide that I am sick / not feeling well, because I don’t want people to¬†pity¬†me, or see me as weak. I HATE that something I cannot even see, a stupid little protein, can have such a great impact on me. I do think that maybe my eyes glazed over once or twice, and I apologize if this happened while anyone was talking to me. I can’t control it.¬†

Getting ready to leave….well, things just got worse. I started to shake again, feel very nauseous, more spacey. Another headache started to come on, and all my joints started to ache. Did I mention how much I hate this? It was hard to drive home, and I am thankful that it is not too long of a drive. I almost had to pull over more than once because of the nausea. I made it home safe and sound, and am getting worse as I type this.

I think my other greatest reason for not sharing when I don’t feel well, is that I don’t want to be accused of being dramatic or¬†negative. That is something that I fight from being a child. Showing sickness just was frowned upon as¬†unnecessary. I promise though, there are no dramatics in anything I talk about when it comes to reacting to gluten. Just simple, honest, truth.

I wish I could change how this happens. That I could take a pill, and it would all go away. It just isn’t that simple, and this is something I have to learn to live with. It is a struggle that I have been fighting for a few years now, and it doesn’t ever get any easier.¬†

On the plus side, the good side, even thought I felt awful, I had a GREAT time. I laughed, and laughed, and laughed. I was surrounded by friends, both new and old, and we all just had so much fun. That is what I love about knit night, the fun. It is so nice to spend time with other woman who aren’t petty, catty, mean, nasty, or snobby. We all just get along, and that is awesome in my book.

I was also, miraculously a bit productive. I finally finished spinning that half of my shetland I have been working on for ages now. I will try to get pics up soon. Now I am debating if I should finish the other half right now, or ply what has been sitting done for a bit. I am not sure yet.

So, in some ways, it was both a good night and a bad night. I am so glad I went, even though I didn’t feel my best. Laughter is great medicine and I had plenty of it tonight! ūüôā

In Memory of Jasmine

Today I took Morgan to our unbelievably awesome vet for his 6 month checkup. 6 months ago we didn’t know if he would live or die. He is a miracle and a wonderful cat. I am so thankful that he made it through. Our vet told us that not only is he out of the woods, but he is so far out we can barely see them anymore!!! I almost cried on the way home, and realized that I have been perched on a thread these last six months waiting to see which way he was going to go. Now it is OK, he is OK — I can breathe and enjoy that he is with us and will be for a long time to come.

This has me reflecting on everything our family has gone through in the last year. It has been quite a year for us here. It all started in late August / early September when our darling little Jasmine suddenly got very ill. Ill enough that we had to rush her to the very expensive emergency clinic one night. I don’t remember the entire series of events. No surprise there as it was very stressful. I was in school full time and dealing with a very ill cat. It drained me beyond measure. She got better for a few weeks and we thought she was going to recover….and then one day she just dove downhill again. That was the day we lost her, at a mere 6 years of age. It was a terrible day and a terrible decision to have to make. I never wish that on anyone. We could have tried to save her, but it wasn’t likely to do much other than prolong the inevitable. She was so very sick and we knew that it was time. Our vet is so wonderful that he was almost crying with us when we were in the room as we said goodbye to her.

Closely following that, while my head was still swirling with all we had just gone through, Morgan became ill with the very same disease that took Jasmine’s life. The day I brought him into the vet and saw how yellow his skin was, I almost lost it. I probably did loose it actually. I had to leave him there and he was going to be there for a few days. I left him and as I walked out I remember sobbing so uncontrollably that I could barely breathe or see. I felt like I was being dramatic then, in retrospect I know now that it was what anyone would have done in my situation. I can’t even describe what I was going through then, but I know it was terrible.

He made it through 3 days of iv fluids and meds at the vets office and came home on Saturday. They wanted to see how he would respond to being home with us. The hope, of course, was that he would do better with his family than in a cage at the vets office. We set up his sick room, our bathroom, just for him. We piled a corner with the most comfy blankets we could find and topped it with one of my husbands shirts (he is very attached to him). I poured everything I had into him. I fed him, by hand, a special blend of food via syringe since he wasn’t eating. I sat with him and did some healing and energy work. I talked to him and loved him, and even sometimes cried. It was so horrifying to me to walk in that room and see the skeleton that had once been our baby boy. I could literally see death hanging around him and I was doing my best to keep him here, with us. Keep in mind, I was still in school full time and still reeling from the loss of Jasmine. I think I was probably just a shell of myself at that time. Knowing he needed me desperately is just about the only thing that kept me going. I was not going to give up on him, and dammit I was going to fight with everything I had to get him better.

Somehow, someway, he slowly started to get better. I don’t think that I believed he was really making progress at first. I could see the numbers from his bloodwork, but they meant nothing to me. I was terrified that he was going to turn like Jasmine did. How could I not be? In fact, I realize now that I have been waiting for that turn for the last seven months! Part of me will probably always be hyper-sensitive to him and react anytime he shows signs of being ill. Maybe even overreact. It still all just seems so very surreal. He is OK. I have to keep telling myself that.

Now, it wasn’t all bad. I made it through school, with decent grades. Add to that, we added a new cat to our family as well during that time, our sweet Callista. Never mind that we brought Calli home the night we checked Morgan into the vets for three days! A bit insane? Hell yeah, and we knew it. However, when we first met her, we knew she was family. You don’t leave family behind in a cage no matter how rough life is. She has been a great addition, and in some ways has helped me cope and deal with the loss of Jasmine. She is so beyond loving and sweet and seems to know just when I need some kitty loving.

So phew! All of that in about 7-8 months. I have taken a lot from all of it too. I am stronger from it, and I learned to trust my instincts, because they are always right on. Morgan and I became closer and formed a bond we just didn’t have before this. He is an amazing cat, all of our cats are. He was just always more attached to my husband. I am thankful for that new closeness with him. He loves to snuggle with me, and does it more now.

I also learned just how dangerous it was for a cat to stop eating. Never would I have imagined that it could cause so much damage so quickly! I always thought that they would eat if they were hungry and that is so not true! A cat who stops eating is in serious danger within 24 hours. Both Jasmine and Morgan developed Hepatic Lipidosis, or fatty liver disease. When a cats body starts to break fat down, their liver cannot process it like a humans can. It all builds up and can cause liver failure. It is so very scary to watch a cat decline so rapidly. It is a terrible disease and one that can so easily be prevented.

This post was a long time coming. I feel relieved, a bit numb, sad, happy, elated, so many things all at once right now. Because of the series of events that occurred, I didn’t get much time to mourn Jasmine. I do still miss her sometimes and always will. I also know that she led us to Calli without question. This post is made in her honor, her memory. Because of her Morgan is alive today. I knew what to do and how to save him. I was better equipped and we were much more familiar with our vet.

It is with this I end, in memory:

Jasmine

Jasmine

Blah

Warning: this post may be fragmented as that is very much how I feel today.

Today is the second day in a row that I have woken up¬†exhausted. I know that I am likely to take a nap sometime soon — for an hour or more. I shouldn’t need this much sleep. I am sleeping at night. I also feel kinda zombie-ish again today. Just not totally with myself, as strange as that may sound. It is a very difficult space to be in as it makes it hard to focus, and to really do anything. I don’t like feeling this way at all.

I have to say, I have come a long way though. I started on medicine for my depression back in October. I am a very different person than I was then. I am not angry all the time, I don’t explode constantly, I am putting myself out there and doing things I never would have done before. My husband is a great help as he is honest about my behavior and lets me know if the meds are not working. He complimented me this morning on how impressed he has been that I have been going out and doing things without him. This is something I NEVER would have done before. I am enjoying it too — who knew?!

I know that in order to continue healing I need to put on my big girl panties, stop making excuses, and start doing what I know will help me. One of those things is food. Food is such a struggle for me and really always has been. I love to eat, and I really love to eat crap. I have been doing a lot of that lately, and I know that it does not help me at all in my fight against the depression. If anything, the things I have been eating are working against my meds. The two biggest culprits that I struggle with the most are sugar and gluten. I eat a lot of both and they both make me feel like complete and utter crap! I have lived without them both and when I have succeeded in that, those were the times I felt the best. I was much more with it, more focused, had more energy, and was sick/had headaches/migraines less often.

That said, I am putting this out there for all to see. As of today, I am going to work at being as sugar free/gluten free as humanly possible. I will allow myself the occasional treat as I also know that deprivation does me no good. I am doing a week of phase one on South Beach. I have followed this plan before, and I always have¬†tremendous¬†success on it. This will help me purge the evil sugar from my body. Once I do that, it is easier for me to stay away from it. This isn’t about weight at this point in my life. It is about being a better me, a healthier me, one who is more present in my everyday life and is able to fully move past the depression.

I started the day out right already and had a nice, nutritious broccoli¬†omelette. Never mind the fact that as I sat down to write this, the omelette slid off the plate and landed between my side and the arm of the couch! The fact that I didn’t get all shades of pissed off over that is¬†definitely¬†proof that I have come a long way. The old me would have totally blown a head gasket. I just calmly cleaned it up, was able to salvage most of it, laughed a little and moved on with my morning.

Knitting has already been a big help too. I have actually noticed that on days like this, when I feel like I have medicine head from hell, if I knit, it does help me focus a bit more and bring me back to myself a little. I am looking forward to the long term benefits of this as time goes on.