Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Baring all today

 Wonderful Wednesday 59 - Free In Bloom pattern by Jess Wariorka as featured by floresita on Feeling Stitchy

First of all, I want to thank all of the readers who have found me here - I know this sparsely populated personal blog will never have the same reach as the lovely multi-person blog I contribute to, Feeling Stitchy, but I am comforted and encouraged all the same by the people who take the time to read my posts here. I did a post on Feeling Stitchy to account for my frequent quietness and absence lately from the blog, you can view it here. In it, I featured a lovely pattern by Jess Wariorka on the DMC site, because I thought it was a lovely way to "unveil my scars" and bare all, so to speak, you can find the free pattern here.

The long and short of it is, I have breast cancer. This is my second time around with hormone-positive (HER2 negative) breast cancer. My first time, in 2015 was relatively easy, in comparison - I had a lumpectomy on my affected breast and since it had not spread to my lymph nodes, and was caught early, all I had to do was 6 weeks of radiation, and no chemotherapy.

In truth, it was a confusing time - I found myself feeling at times, that I had never had "real cancer" because I was constantly reassured by doctors and other cancer survivors alike, that I had the "best cancer", the most curable cancer, a slow growing cancer that was very unlikely to kill me.

I felt like a fake cancer patient, like I didn't have the right to be frightened or worried, and I did my absolute best to plow forward. I was open with my diagnosis, but that backfired on me many times, as people, confronted with the knowledge that I had cancer, had so many intense reactions, and I found myself having to comfort them, and hear their stories of grief and loss, as they inevitably mentioned people they loved who had lost their fight.

As a result, I began to choose more carefully who I would share this information with, as I didn't want to cause distress to others (and by extension, myself). That was the primary reason I chose not to share my diagnosis online - that, and my desire to remain as private as possible.

My second time around, I simply felt it was time to share my diagnosis with you, and I think the turning point came when I began doing research for wig videos on Youtube. I discovered so many brave women, sharing one of the most intense and frightening battles of their lives, with courage, humor and grace. And their bravery and honesty brought me courage. There were so many different kinds of stories, and just as many different kinds of treatments, but the common thread was their positivity and their unselfish desire to do at least one thing to help calm the fears and worries of another person who is also facing this diagnosis.

Another common thread in these videos was the theme of trusting yourself, being persistent with doctors who are not inclined to diagnose you with cancer, knowing your body, and being aware of when it changes. I experienced the same thing, and I am glad I was insistent, as it would have been easy to accept the "all clear" if I hadn't been in touch with the differences in my body. I had numerous checkups with my surgeon and oncologist, and 3 clear mammograms since my last diagnosis. I had to literally point to the lump I found, otherwise the surgeon would not have noticed anything amiss in what looked like scar tissue.

My second time around I am experiencing what is called a recurrence - cancer in the same spot it was in last time, and cancer in 2 lymph nodes. I had a mastectomy on my affected breast a few weeks ago, and next month I will need to start on 6 months of chemotherapy. I won't lie, I am afraid - I have seen at least 1 person in my family go through chemo, and 1 close friend, and I am not looking forward to it. But I am confident that God, who has brought me safely to this point, will bring me safely through it.

So again, I wanted to thank you, however few you may be, the readers of my personal blog for keeping up with me over the years. Your comments and support and interest have meant so much to me. I'll chime in when I can, here or on Feeling Stitchy, do tune in there, if you haven't already.

And I just wanted to say, if you are fighting this fight, or have fought it as well, you are not alone. Sometimes, there are people like me, fighting it right alongside you, and you aren't aware of our presence. In the same way, God stands by you in your fight, although you can't always sense God's presence. My love and hope to all of you, my blog friends!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

China Obsession

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I have a new obsession to report and it is china. I stumbled on this obsession by chance when planning a birthday party for my sister, who adores Jane Austen. I thought, why not a tea party theme, with authentic British china?

And down the china rabbit hole I plunged!

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I initially thought, quite erroneously, that it would be easy to find lovely teacups in my local Goodwills and thrift shops. Perhaps it once was, but I'm afraid the vintage teacup craze has resulted in there not being much out there to find. And when you do find it, you must buy it immediately, as there's no chance it will be there when you return.

I tried to find lovely pieces that were well-crafted, and that had some historical significance. These pieces were all created in a Blue Onion type design, which originated in the 1740's. There are actually 3 different china patterns up above, you might pick them out stylistically, but I think they blend nicely with each other.

The lovely teapot is a Winterling design that I think was made to look like Meissen and/or Czech Zweibelmuster designs. I can't pinpoint the date exactly from the mark, but it could be anywhere from the 1930's-60's. I love the blue rose finial on the lid.

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The teacup is Blue Danube, made in Japan, while the saucer and plate are Noritake Fair Wind - I scored a set of 4 saucers and 4 plates at Goodwill, for $6:

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Although it's a thrill to find lovely old things at cheap prices, I really enjoy just looking at all of the items, turning them over in my hands and learning to tell quality items from cheaply made, mass-produced ones.

For example, while I think this tiny (2 cup) Blue Willow Sadler teapot is gorgeous and glossy in person, I notice its little defects. There are little gold smears on the inside of the lid, and a raised dot or two.

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In its defense, it is lovely in person - the glaze plays tricks on your camera and makes outlines look rough, when in person they're quite crisp and nice.

There was a small chip on the underside of the spout which the Ebay seller didn't mention, so I unfortunately won't be using it. But I think it was a steal for the price and it is lovely to have around.

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Adorable, isn't it? Do any of you have a china collection? I'd love to hear about it! :)

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Knitting Retreat

Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog

I've just returned from a knitting retreat, it is my third year going and each time has been something special. This year was misty and grey each morning, a bit cool, perfect for walks and quiet times of solitude.

Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog

I worked on 2 hats, the first in a nice gray alpaca wool for my husband, and the second in this marvelous Liberty Wool in a shade called Painted Desert. It was donated by a local yarn shop, in the hopes that we might make something they could give away, which I did.

I cast on 88 stitches on size 6 and 7 needles, and as I knit pretty tightly it was rather small, hopefully perfect for a child's hat.

Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog
Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog

I really loved the unique colors in this yarn!

Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog
Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog

It was such a marvelous gift, watching these ladies knit, and spending time with them in quiet and sometime raucous and silly talk. :)

Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog
Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog
Knitting Retreat photos by floresita, from her blog

As I always say, I can't wait for the next one!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Baby Hats for my godson

baby hats for my godson, by floresita for her blog

We had an unusual cold snap in early January, and all I could think about was my little godson's tiny head - yes, I'm sure his parents had prepared for winter, but as cold as it was, I knew he needed wool. I finally put to use some beautiful wool my dear friend Amanda had sent me when I was recovering from surgery over 2 years ago - this alpaca yarn was so divinely soft, I knew it must be for a special project:

baby hats for my godson, by floresita for her blog

I couple of my dear friends in NY sent me that adorable ribbon, and it was perfect for this little gift.

baby hats for my godson, by floresita for her blog

I used the free Very Basic Baby Beanie pattern on Ravelry and lo and behold, it was a perfect fit!

He also seems to find the wool quite tasty, added bonus. :)

dear Teddy, by floresita for her blog

Saturday, September 9, 2017

On the perils of keeping poisonous plants

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Although I'm fairly sure I've driven off most of my readers due to neglect of this blog, I'll ask a question of the ether: what are your feelings on keeping poisonous plants?

That beautiful Dieffenbachia plant above was so inviting in the plant nursery that I bought two, one for my mom, and one for myself. The label seemed to have all the pertinent info about it - the temperatures it likes, amount of sun, how often to water, etc.

Nowhere did the label mention: extremely poisonous plant. And yet it is!

I felt so guilty giving my mom that plant that I immediately called to warn her. It's the sap that's poisonous, not the leaves, so gloves and skin covering (and eye covering) should do when cutting in, and no getting it near eyes and mouth. I'm fairly ok with keeping this plant on the balcony, out of reach of my cat (and with no small children in my house).

This one, I'm not so sure about:
Euphorbia tirucalli

This cute, spindly cactus-like plant was a gift. Likewise it came with a nice, descriptive label which I ignored, and began hacking into the extra stems I wanted to prune off. My sharp shears caught on the stems, and in the process I got a mess of very sticky white sap all over my arms and hands. I was lucky I was wearing glasses, and I resisted the temptation to rub my eyes just in case. Also I think I was lucky in that my arms were covered with potting soil, which showed me just where to scrub - since the sap dries clear and colorless, like glue.

Of course, nowhere on the label of the Euphorbia Tirucalli did it mention how poisonous that sticky sap is. The nickname "firesticks" gives you a clue, though, as my Google research told me the sap can make your skin feel like it's on fire, and cause temporary to possibly permanent eye damage. I thoroughly scrubbed it off after thoroughly freaking myself out about it.

No reactions occurred until the next day, when I scooped up the clothes I was wearing to throw them in the wash. My arm immediately broke out into a hot, raised rash with tons of tiny blisters. All I did was touch the clothes for a second. I can only imagine what prolonged exposure would have done.

So I find myself very on the fence about this plant - I'm clumsy, and can easily imagine myself tumbling down on it. Would you keep a poisonous plant?

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Honeymoon of Plants

My caladium

Oh boy has it been a long time since I wrote here last, and in that time, I've gone absolutely bonkers for plants.

Another caladium

I'm not sure quite when it happened. Somewhere after the hubbub of moving into an apartment with my husband, newly married, enjoying the quiet of this new shared existence, I was drawn to plants like I've never been before.

Begonia rex

Don't get me wrong - I have always loved trees, flowers, and being outdoors. But that's where it generally ended - outdoors. Something about seeing plants in pots never gave me a thrill. Until recently.

Unfurling caladium leaf

Caladium leaf unfurled

There's something so fascinating and so pleasing about watching plants grow. Such a thrill in watching a leaf slowly unfurl. To notice a stem or a leaf has turned towards the sun. I can't describe it, I guess. But it's addictive and wonderful.

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And there's such a beautiful, wide assortment of plants, and in my climate, luckily I can grow them almost year round. Each day the balcony gets a new friend.

Pineapple plant

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Potted succulent head

Right now I'm taking supreme joy in watching a cane begonia my mom gave me sprout slowly from its roots:

New leaf

Where will it end? Who knows! So far, I've been having a lovely time with my new friends!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Vintage Wedding Inspiration


So, I have a problem. I live in the wrong decade for bridal wear. :)

One of the reasons I find it so hard to get excited about wedding dresses is... they just don't do it for me. After a few searches, my Pinterest account became hijacked with images of modern bridal wear, and I realized I don't like any of it.

But after a few searches for vintage bridal dresses I realized I love wedding dresses, just not the ones from this century. :)

So as I go to get fitted one more time, for a wedding dress that still doesn't fit right, enjoy these lovely bits of bridal inspiration from previous years, all pinned to my Vintage Weddings Pinterest board...

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bride and Groom

Finished Bride and Groom hoops!

So I haven't been around here too much lately, but I have a very good reason for that - I'm engaged! I finally found the perfect person, and I couldn't be happier. But I've been plunged headfirst into the odd world of wedding planning. I feel very out of my element - I've never been the "plan your elaborate wedding since birth" type. I like things simple, but lovely, and I like things to be a certain way. And I also know I want to DIY as many things as I can without it looking too silly or taking on too much to handle.

As a result, I've started planning a few simple projects along the way, which I'll post monthly to Feeling Stitchy. The first project is up above, a free pattern for two Bride and Groom hoops. The design is very simple - just the lettering, but you can adapt it in just about any way possible - with beading, fabric, and wrapping your hoops in a decorative way.

I opted for our wedding colors - navy and ivory, using a navy linen I've used in previous projects. I also used DMC Snow White for the bride hoop and DMC 822 (an Ecru shade) for the Groom hoop. I wrapped the hoops in ivory and light grey bias tape to give them a neat look. I also love the Chantilly lace on the bride hoop and delicate stitches on the groom hoop.

Did you DIY anything for your wedding? Would you like to see a DIY project in particular? Let me know! :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"Secret" Embroidery on Feeling Stitchy

Taupe fabric background
Well, I finally posted the results of my "secret" embroidery project.

The project was a wedding embroidery for my cousin, AND a review of the new DMC Stitchable Mesh fabric. The finished post is on Feeling Stitchy: http://www.feelingstitchy.com/2016/12/review-dmc-stitchable-mesh-and-pattern.html

floating

Stitching on the mesh was a wonderful experience, but it did have its challenges, all of which I go into in my post.

flower detail

My favorite part was probably the sheen of it - it makes everything look like it's glowing - and layering fabric underneath creates an added "floating" effect.

mesh detail

Here is my finished project - a lovely wedding hoop:
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detail
glow

I'm doing a very special giveaway on Feeling Stitchy - if you like the pattern I used for the embroidery, I'll create a custom pattern, with the names of your choices, for two winners!

I haven't gotten a lot of entries so far, but I'm still very excited to create a pattern for the people who have responded. Please add your name to the comments, if you're interested!


What do you think of the mesh and my project? Please leave a comment to let me know. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's better


Here's a preview of the pattern I'm featuring tomorrow on Feeling Stitchy for Wonderful Wednesday - this lovely free pattern was tweeted to us last week by Modern Folk Embroidery, and to me, it speaks volumes.

I'm going to be totally honest - these past few weeks have been hard. Every day, I find myself re-assessing where I am, and how I am to respond. The acts of hate I have seen out there don't belong in the country I love, and yet, they're there. There is division in families, friendships, workplaces and churches. I find myself asking each day "what can I do?" What can I do to stem the tide of hate, what can I do to protect the people in this country who are afraid, who are being attacked, and who are vulnerable?

It's taken some time, but here's my answer: every day, however I can, I'm going to do what I can do.

Every month, I've decided to donate to a different organization, even if it's just a small amount, to protect the rights of people that are being threatened in this country, and protect the fundamental freedoms of this country which make it truly great. This month, there were quite a few, so I started off with more than one, and I'll continue as my budget allows:

To protect the freedom of the press and ensure that no president may threaten a free press, I subscribed to:

To support publications that write things I am enriched by, write challenging articles that are rigorously fact-checked, and make me want to learn more, I subscribed to:

To hold the governing bodies of this country to their highest standard, I donated to:

These are all small things, the mere lighting of a candle, but each time I can, I will do what I can. Where my budget will not allow, I'll do my best to help with my hands and my feet.

But above all, when I see people being threatened, or who are being hurt or are afraid, I will stand up for them, however I can. As my favorite prayer says, I will do all of this "with God's help."