Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's So You! (Giving myself a makeover)

I just got done reading the book It's So You! Fitting Fashion to your Life by Mary Shaheen Warren.

I actually did the exercises in the book (I think the last time I'd read this book I did not adequately apply what I'd learned, and I certainly did not stick with my recommended color scheme.

But this time, I did. I will. I was ruthless.

You see, it all started on Monday, when I decided for myself that it was "pink day". I wore a pink t-shirt (deep mauve color) and a pink sweater over, and a denim skirt and a pink and brown head band. At some point on Monday afternoon I looked at myself in the mirror and went "Yipes! Do I really look like THAT?????" Suffice it to say, my look was frump city and pink is NOT my color. Deep down inside I knew this and in my weaker moments (which are most of them) I did not care.

Suddenly, on Monday afternoon, I cared. Deeply.

So I re-checked the color chart on the back inside flap of this book, and I ruthlessly went to town dumping anything hanging in my closet that was not in the right colors onto the floor. I thought, "I'm not going to have anything at all to wear."

Then, I got to the wardrobe building chapter and read about how many combinations of outfits one can build with four tops and four bottoms. Ok, there's hope. I still had at least that much in my closet.

I got to the part that talked about what sorts of warderobes a stay-at-home mom should have (personal casual and business casual) and I realized that I naturally gravitate towards a business casual style when I have to go out and about; Shopping, doctor's appoinments, Church...that sort of thing.

And there was a section on selecting a color story. That part was easy. Brown is my base color. I'd dumped LOTS of black things onto the floor of my closet. And my very very favorite colors in the world to pair with brown: deep red and teal/aqua. And I had several items in each color, of varying shades. And then I put the red and teal together and realized those two colors are a fun combination and really pop when paired with brown. So, I had my "color story" to use the phrasing of the book.

And I have plenty of it. I laid out my brown bottoms on the bed, and realized I have brown slacks, brown skirt, brown/maroon velour skirt, etc. More than enough. Abundance. And the teal, red, brown and cram tops, sweaters and vests in various combinations...all practically interchangeable, work great with everything. And it was all in my closet, all along.

On a whim, I invested (seven whole dollars) in a brown and teal beaded multi-strand necklace and earrings when I saw the perfect set on sale at the store on Tuesday.

And, I gave myself a hair cut. That was impulsive, I'll admit, and I cut off more than I'd wanted to. But it turned out OK. Curls are forgiving, and they grow.

I also discovered an entire springtime dressy wardrobe with multiple possible combinations in my closet as well. The color scheme is light green, coral, cream and light teal. Again, I was surprised at some of the possible color combinations and blouse/skirt combinations that popped out at me as I was playing with various ideas.

Now, for my "personal casual clothes", I have some denim slacks which I don't loathe, but don't love either. And I have a whole slew of green knit shirts in various shades of olive and hunter. They are on my color chart, but are not my favorites. But they will do for at home on days when I am going nowhere. And there are those ultra-comfy brown dresses I bought last year. Definitely an at-home item at this point.

And oh, the irony! For the first time in my adult life I feel like I have a chance to look "put together" and not too frumpy, and I'm stuck at home with mono!

I'm trying to be very very good, and very very still and restful. The kids are helpful and I did a bunch of shopping on-line that I would ordinarily just grab at Walmart. There is much to be grateful for. I think it's time for some reading and an afternoon nap. And those clothes will all have to remain on the floor of my closet until I'm better.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Mono. My doctor called today and my blood work results are in. Good news: I don't have a host of other things. Bad news: I DO have mono.

Well, that sure does explain my life and body lately! And there's nothing to be done but rest and recuperation. But life goes on. I just have to pace myself.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lace applique cross

Cut from lace and pieced together to decorate the bodice of the baptismal gown.

Infant's Baptismal Garment

As usual, I'm better at sewing than I am taking good pictures!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Back from the Doctor

Well, I went to the doctor. Besides taking eight vials of blood to test me for everything under the sun that might be masked by me having Fibromyalgia (chronic Epstein Barr, Mono, Lupus, RA, low thyroid, etc.) it was determined that I still have that UTI, the bacteria of which were resistant to the antibiotics I was on week before last. Worse than before, of course. So now I have a ten day course of Bactrim to undergo. And doctor's orders to rest and drink lots of water w/ gatorade in it. I think I'll forgo the artificial color in the gatorade and make some of my own electrolyte solution:

1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7 tsp sugar (can I use stevia instead, or is the sugar a necessary component?)
some lemon juice in
2 Quarts of water.

He said this would reduce the nausea that I experience when I drink mere filtered tap water.

So I hope this UTI clears up and doesn't consist of some bugs that are too hideously antibiotic resistant.

Oh, and I guess this will be a good time to continue gobbling the yogurt and sauerkraut, and any other live-culture foods I can think of.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I've Been Sick

Feeling weird and sick, really. I came home from a very busy day last Thursday and was utterly worn out. No surprise there. Often the fibromyalgia kicks me in the rear after a busy day with lots of errands. I thought a good night's sleep would fix it. Usually does. But on Friday I still felt bad and could barely run the one errand I had to do safely. I did not feel good driving the car, but had to anyway. Mercifully, I made it. Friday afternoon found me in tears on the phone with Wes. Would he take the girls to AHG that night? Of course he did. I slept and rested. Saturday I got up, full of hope that I'd be better. I took Maia to get new glasses and that did me in. I came home and found myself crying again, feeling ill, trying to make a lunch and not being able to muster the energy.

That's when I officially put myself to bed for the rest of the weekend. And the weekend extended to yesterday, since Wes was off and I was still feeling ill...AND it was my birthday. Nothing definite, just ill and no energy and aching all over.

Other than a really low grade off and on temperature, I'm not running a fever. Certainly nothing definite. But I ache, ache, ache....right through the middle of my body, in my lower back area. And I'm having pain in my left back side. And I'm wiped out.

Today I got up and got dressed and did stuff, a little bit. I washed the dishes (our dishwasher is waiting on a part to be repaired), microwaved some leftovers and did some laundry. I sewed for a little while. And that was enough. So I rested. The ache is still there. I suspect that my UTI from a few weeks ago has not really cleared up yet and gotten worse. When I called the nurse at the clinic today she told me to STOP taking the extra antibiotics that were in the bottle they gave me for the UTI a couple of weeks ago (I suspect they are the reason I started feeling a wee bit better yesterday and today) otherwise it would obscure any blood or urine testing. So, no more of that, I guess.

Tomorrow I go see the doctor. Hope he can find out what's going on in my body.

Here's a nice prayer I've been praying:

A Prayer of a Sick Person

O Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Physician of souls and bodies, who didst become man and suffer death on the Cross for our salvation, and through thy tender love and compassion didst heal all manner of sickness and affliction;

Do thou O Lord, visit me in my suffering, and grant me grace and strength to bear this sickness with which I am afflicted, with Christian patience and submission to thy will, trusting in thy loving kindness and tender mercy.

Bless, I pray thee, the means used for my recovery, and those who administer them.

I know O Lord, that I justly deserve any punishment inflicted upon me for I have so often offended thee and sinned against thee, in thought, word, and deed. Therefore, I humbly pray thee, look upon my weakness, and deal not with me after my sins, but according to the multitude of thy mercies. Have compassion on me, and let mercy and justice meet; and deliver me from this sickness and suffering I am undergoing.

Grant that my sickness may be the means of my true repentance and amendment of my life according to thy will, that I may spend the rest of my days in thy love and fear: that my soul, being helped by thy grace and sanctified by thy Holy Mysteries*, may be prepared for its passage to the Eternal Life, and there, in the company of thy blessed Saints, may praise and glorify thee with thy Eternal Father and Life-giving Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Weighing in on the Tucson Tragedy

In all my reading of the sad news story this past week after the massacre in Tucson, one thing stands out to me: The fact that Loughner was mentally ill, and somehow fell through the cracks. He was kicked out of his college for erratic behavior, but that seems to be as far as any sort of intervention when on his behalf.

Was it because he was of legal age? Can a mentally ill person only be committed and get help if they commit themselves to medical care? (I think the answer to that is yes, unless they make a suicide attempt, or kill someone).

There as a clear line in the sand between sanity and insanity and this young man crossed it months ago. His community KNEW he crossed it.

And yet, the people nearest to him were unable to help him, I guess.

It is often very difficult for the people who are closest to a mentally ill person to really see what's going on. Sometimes it's glaringly obvious, when there is a crisis. But when the situation with that person is not a crisis, or has not yet reached a crisis point but has been subtly getting worse for a while, it's easy to be in denial, or to really not know what it going on. I think it's normal to want to withdraw, mentally, from the possibility. It's too much to contemplate or consider, or realize and ackknowledge.

I remember being out on a walk by myself, years ago...when B was only about 11, wondering if she were mentally ill. And worrying about it. And then having that withdrawal reaction. I was seeing the signs...the very beginnings of trouble brewing, but I did not know what to do with that information. So I shut down. But not completely. I did call a doctor and got her some help. The beginnings of help. But things got so much worse from there. But I digress-only to say that I know what it's like to be in the parents' seat.

But here is Laughner, spinning downward, out of control into sociopathic thinking. He was not being silent with his sociopathic thoughts, either. No, he was posting them on youtube and on myspace, etc.

And yet, it's always someone else's problem, isn't it?

Have we, as a society gotten to the point where we can't call someone to accountability when they are clearly sociopathic...until it's too late?

Wedding Dresses On My Mind

One of the aspects that I love about making wedding dresses is that I get to immerse myself in the challenge of it.

One of the dresses I'm doing this year is fairly simple and straight forward. The lace will be doing all the work. I just have to put it together.

The other one, however...oh. my. My happy brain is going non-stop on how to copy and be inspired by a famous designer dress, and get the look for less money for this bride. At first I said "There is no way. I can't do that." But then I got to thinking, and I came back and said: "Actually, I can do that." And so I will. After all, sewing is a three dimensional puzzle with fabric. Nothing more and nothing less.

So I now want to put a dress form on my wish list.

I would love to be a money-earning seamstress about 30 hours a week, and a homemaker the rest of the time. As my kids grow up, perhaps I can make this dream come true. Meanwhile I enjoy the short bursts of business that the occasional baptismal gown and wedding dress brings my way.

I wish I could post pictures, but I try to respect the "surprise factor" of the brides I'm sewing for. So I just ruminate instead.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Song Lyrics

Stay with me Lord
by Alana Sheldahl
adapted from a prayer by Padre Pio

Stay with me Lord
I must have you present
So I do not forget you
or abandon you,
Stay with me Lord

Stay with me Lord
because I am weak
I need your strength
so I don’t fall
Stay with me Lord

Stay with me Lord
you are my life
and without you
I am without fervor
Stay with me Lord

Stay with me Lord the hour his late
and the day is drawing to a close
Stay with me Lord for death approaches
Oh how I need you in this night of exile
Stay with me, Jesus, I must have your presence
this alone I ask of you: Stay with me Lord
Stay with me Lord, stay with me Lord

Stay with me Lord
you are my light
and without You
I remain in darkness
Stay with me Lord

Stay with me, Lord
and show me your will
So I can hear your voice
and follow You
Stay with me Lord

Stay with me Jesus let this Eucharist sustain me
Your body and your blood: Joy of my heart
Stay with me Lord It’s You alone I look for:
Your love your grace your spirit heart and will
Stay with me Lord because I love you
I ask no reward but You
and to love you more and more
Stay with me Lord, stay with me Lord
stay with me Lord....

...the hour is late..

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Trying New Recipes...part of my New Year's Resolutions

God blessed me with plenty of energy today, and I was able to get my kitchen deep cleaned and re-organized. Now, instead of having plastic containers and lids and measuring cups stored in the cabinet above the sink, I have serving bowls up there. The net result being, of course, that it won't rain sliding plastic lids down on my head every time I open that cabinet. This is the result, for you organized types who can't picture it, of randomly shoving various sized container and lids into a cabinet shelf without taking time to stack, and by tidy. I'm bad about stuff like that. It's best to randomly shove things down low where they can't fall.

I also did some cooking and am looking forward to trying the Argentinian Chicken recipe that's currently cooking, and the green beans. I used two new recipes today. One was for a gluten free/low carb chocolate cake made with BLACK BEANS, of all things. Shhh, don't tell Eric. We shall see if he eats any. The recipe has rave reviews. It is sweetened with stevia and xylitol this time.

My younger two kids (11.5 and 12.5) are impossible to keep fed these days because they keep getting HUNGRY. So, in addition to the Chicken and french bread and green beans, there will be a pasta bake on the dinner table that my youngest helped make so she could have a pre-vespers SNACK. That's how it's going with food around here. Mass quantities...all the time. How blessed I am!

Here's the chicken recipe:

7. Anne Louise's Argentine Garlic/Cinnamon Chicken (Strict)
1 whole chicken (skin on)
Ground cinnamon
1 whole head of garlic (don’t let this scare you, it doesn’t taste like garlic when it’s done)
Oil to coat the bottom of a large pot with tight-fitting lid

Season the chicken inside and out very generously with salt and pepper and ground cinnamon, in equal amounts. Brown the chicken all over, using wooden spoons to turn it, so you don't break the skin. Seperate the cloves of garlic and peel them, then toss them all, whole, into the pot. (I promise, it doesn’t taste like garlic when it’s done).

Pour in a juice glass of white wine. Put the lid on, and turn the heat down as low as it will go. Simmer with the lid on for an hour and a half.

The wine, the olive oil, the chicken fat, the garlic, and the cinnamon make a wonderful sauce. In Argentina they put the chicken on a platter and surround it with cooked broad noodles, with the sauce drizzled over them, and it looks sort of like a whole chicken sitting on a nest. I make it this way for company, but skip the noodles for myself.

A variation of this that is easy and always popular as finger food is to use chicken wings or drumsticks, and toss them in salt and equal parts of ground cinnamon, ground pepper, and granulated garlic, and then bake them.

And here a link to the chocolate cake recipe!

Now it's time for Vespers and then a nice family dinner.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Annual January Stress

It's that time of year again. New health insurance. My husband's company likes to try a new plan each and every year. Sometimes I don't blame them if the plan from the year before was wretched (like last year's plan), but what it means for me is that each and every January for the past several years, I have had to scramble to find a new psychiatrist.

So here we go again. It's not easy to find a psychiatrist in this town, let me tell ya! Not easy to find one anywhere, really. So it's the endless rounds of phone calls, leaving messages, etc.

And if I'm lucky, after making a couple of dozen calls, I might find someone in-network who is taking new patients and who sees teenagers.

Continuity of care is not a high priority for our current health care system, which is most definitely catch-as-catch-can.

And this year's plan is the sort where you have to get pre-authorization for mental health treatments. I'm always afraid with that, that they will cut us off.

I want to crawl in a hole and cry. Not really about the insurance stuff...that's just icing on the whole mental health cake. No, actually, about all the stuff that is the reason we need this sort of medical care in the first place. The unbloggables.

Pray for me.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Vespers Bless the Lord

I have this in my head this morning. Thought I'd share. I love how snippets of the divine services get stuck in one's head.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Susupicious about Gluten

So, last night the power went out again, and instead of being able to eat the pork and green beans that were in the crock pot, we took ourselves off to Pizza Hut to, ostensibly, celebrate my name day. In order to eat at Pizza Hut I had to go off my diet. This was not the type of Pizza Hut with a salad bar.

So we ordered Pizza. And cheesy breadsticks.

I'll admit I enjoyed them. But I could. not. eat. as much as I used to eat when we would go to Pizza hut....not that I've ever considered myself to pig out there, or anything. It's just that I didn't eat the normal amount.

And driving away I was nauseous. Very nauseous. And I stayed that way for quite some time, until I had a biblical glass of wine to settle my stomach. And even then...semi-yech.

Was it the carbs?

The other things that I wonder is if the nausea might indicate a gluten issue. Because the other thing I've noticed is that even while counting carbs, if I am eating carb-controlled gluten or wheat containing products such as low carb tortillas, or carbquick bake mix, even while staying within my carb limits, I don't lose any weight.

In fact, I tend to gain. Is it water retention? Is is actual fat gain? Who knows???? But the scale goes up and stays up and does not go down again...even with the carb totals being OK for the day.

Between that, and the nausea last night, and the fact that heretofore, things made of wheat flour are my very favoritest things in the whole wide culinary universe..bread, pasta, cake, cookies, just makes me wonder.

Today I'm so glad to be back on the straight and narrow. My motto is that every experience, especially the set backs, are learning experiences. And I can go forward from here.

And the scale still hates me. But I hate it, too, so we are even.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

We Give Thanks To Thee, O Lord, We Give Thanks...

I'm in a super grumpy/depressed mood this afternoon, and therefore I shall make a gratitude list:

1. For the Body and the Blood of my Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist this morning.

2. That dinner is in the crock pot.

3. For friends who ask me how I am and really want to hear the truth and who will listen to me vent for a few minutes.

4. For meeting people IRL whom I first meet with in the bloggosphere.

5. For solving two domestic furnishings-related problems with some simple re-assignment of various furniture items to different spots in the house.

6. For St. Juliana and the good example her life set for mine, and for her prayers on behalf of this sinner.

7. For the sun shining through the window.

8. For a husband who plays games with his kids, even though it means he's currently ignoring me.

9. For being ignored (I like my personal space much when I'm in this kind of mood).

10. That the neighborhood-wide power outage was solved by the time we got to Church and that there was electricity there. It must have come back on while we were driving to Church, because it was off when we left, and there was electricity at Church when we got there. Others say it was dark for Matins.

11. That we live so close to Church.

12. For my sewing machine.

OK, there it is.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Project

Pray for me, friends, as I endeavor to record the Psalter into my computer this year. This has been a project that has been on my heart to do for a long time now, and finally today I started. After I read the first Kathisma (Psalms 1-8 in the Septuagint) the program I was using unexpectedly shut down before I could save it and send it to my iTunes file.

I did get those Psalms re-recorded, as well as the next set. I want to be able to have the psalter to listen to when I'm driving or sewing or knitting...whatever. It will just take some faithfulness and consistency to get it done. It's not hard, per se, and I have all the technology I need. I just have to do it.

I'm posting this here as a means of accountability.