Sunday, October 30, 2011

A worthwhile, wonderful week.

This week I have achieved incredible things despite feeling like rubbish. In hindsight I've probably taken on too much and even though I'm feeling quite hideous now, it was well worth it. I probably won't be saying this at 12pm tonight but hell, I am getting a life regardless of whether my body wants to cooperate or not. Is this foolish? Probably.

I feel awful and my body is screaming at me to stop but right now I am refusing to surrender because I have achieved amazing things and I will continue to achieve amazing things. Chronic illness may slow me down, but it's not stopping me. I think this dreadful bout of depression has kind of been a good thing in a way because it has made me more determined.

I am getting a life baby! Watch me.

This week I viciously vacuumed and scrubbed my little red car squeaky clean (it was absolutely filthy). I felt like I had run a marathon afterwards but the satisfaction of cleaning my car all by myself brought me great joy. I even ventured to the shops, too.

That's not all, either. I even exercised! Yep. I went for a slow fifteen minute walk around a lovely lake with beautiful swans, birds and dragonflies. I loved it!! Not loving it so much now but mentally, I really needed it. It was so great to have the freedom to do that. Lately I haven't been able to enjoy doing that because I've been feeling so smashed from my weekly workout at the gym but I've been abit naughty and haven't been going these past couple of weeks.

Such a rebel.

Two weeks ago, I just couldn't manage to go as the pain was just too bad and I felt too sick from all the codeine I had to take. Believe it or not, I am still waiting for medicare to process my application and send out my script for humira (yes, my rheumatologist has changed her mind and I'll be trying humira instead of enbrel) and my exercise physiologist never called me back so whatever. I'm over it. I'll just stick to short walks (I'm aiming between 2-3 times a week, but I know that that won't be possible some weeks) because that's all I can manage right now and that is OK. That is good enough.

Today was really special. I met Melbourne superstar blogger Carly Findlay. She blogs over at Tune Into Radio Carly. The rudeness, insensitivity, ignorance and adversity she deals with on a daily basis is incredibly admirable. We had an afternoon of and shopping- drooling over shoes and pretty dresses. Carly is just too darn adorable if you ask me and she has the most amazing fashion sense. The girl has got style! I am thrilled that I got to meet her.

Back pain has been much better to deal with this week and heck did I ever make the most of it. To anyone who thinks that I don't get out enough, that I don't exercise enough, try hard enough and to those that imply that my good enough isn't good enough-

BITE ME.

It is weeks like this that give me hope. Has this week been easy? No. But depression, pain and fatigue aside I've had a wonderful week. Worth celebrating I think! I may even go and buy my favourite mud cake. I think I've earned it.

 
{When searching images for this post I came across this way happy picture of carebears and thought that'll do.}


*** The next time I'm housebound and feeling hopeless, remind me of this post, okay? x

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Crafty Fridays: Cherry ripe cupcakes with whipped milk chocolate ganache



Are you ready to bake yourself the most delicious chocolate cupcakes? Of course you are!


I baked these especially for my dad on father's day and seeing as his favourite chocolate is cherry ripe, I used that as my inspiration for these cupcakes! They turned out AMAZING, if I do say so myself!

Ready to bake!

For the chocolate mud cakes you will need: 125g butter, chopped coarsely. 80g milk chocolate, chopped coarsely. 1 cup (220g) caster sugar, 1/2 cup (125ml) milk, 1/2 cup (75g) plain flour, 1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour, 1 egg, 2 cherry ripe chocolate bars (chopped coarsely).

Fresh out of the oven!

Method: 1) Preheat oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Line 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases. 2) Stir butter, chocolate, sugar and milk in small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Transfer mixture to medium bowl; cool 15 minutes.


3) Whisk sifted flours into chocolate mixture, then egg. Add chopped cherry ripe chocolate bars. 4) Drop 1/4 cup of mixture into cases. Bake about 30 minutes. Stand cakes 5 minutes before placing on wire wrack to cool.


For the whipped ganache you will need: 1/2 cup (125ml) cream, 200g milk chocolate (chopped coarsely), treat size cherry ripe chocolate bars to decorate. This will make enough for one cup. I made three cups for these cupcakes.


Method: 1) Bring cream to the boil in small saucepan; remove from heat. When bubbles subside, add chocolate; stir until smooth.


2) Beat the cooled mixture in a small bowl with an electric mixer and pipe onto cakes. 3) Decorate with cherry ripe chocolate.
 

Boy was that ganache hard to pipe! I tried my best, I think it's just going to take some practise but at least they taste damn good!


 So there you go, stop drooling and go make some! You won't be disappointed!





Todays Creative Blog


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Poetry & Praise: Numb


I have been quite down in the dumps lately. I think there have been a few contributing factors to this recent bout of depression- frustration, isolation, and generally just feeling like a failure. I think six months of unresolved back pain has just pushed me over the edge. I guess depression was inevitable and inescapable considering the circumstances.

I guess it would be abnormal if I wasn't depressed. Being in pain all the time, unable to work and struggling to socialise would get anyone down. Throw interrupted sleep and heavy pain killers into the mix and it's a recipe for disaster. I think I've managed pretty well all things considered.

During this past week I've been miserable and moody and to be honest, I just don't see a way out of it. I'm trying my best but that doesn't seem good enough anymore. It's getting to the point when enough is enough... I need to do something about feeling horrid, but what? Do I see a counselor, do I find a local support group? I'm really frustrated because I don't even know how to help myself sometimes.

Maybe I just need to get out more. You know, go get a life. Whatever a "life" is anymore I don't know but I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve sitting at the kitchen table rolling my headband back and forth for entertainment. Yep, that's how bad things are. I've tried this whole getting a "life" thing and it would be much more wonderful if it didn't involve paying the high price of pain afterwards.

I had a fantastic afternoon with friends on the weekend and as a result spent the majority of that night awake taking pain killers and cuddling a heat pack until I won the fight against fibromyalgia pain. I felt less than fabulous the next day. Fibromyalgia is a bitch. Just sayin'.


I go out, I try to enjoy myself, I do what normal people do and then the pounding pain starts, reminding me that I am far from "normal" and this causes me to feel down. If I stay at home, I become selfish, self absorbed, I pity myself, I feel guilty, ashamed, useless and worthless; and these feelings lead to depression also. See the vicious cycle I'm in? Well, I can't seem to break it. I just can't seem to climb out of this big black hole.

So in my quest to save my mental state, I've looked through some old journal entries I've written from when I was first diagnosed. My goodness golly gosh. Pages upon pages filled with hope, heartbreak, happiness and sadness. I came across a poem that I wrote back in 2008, written after I had to withdraw from my university course, that expresses exactly how I feel right now- numb.

Numb

I cannot feel a thing
I am so numb
I don't know what to do
Or what to think
I cannot feel
I cannot see
I am so numb.
I cannot move
I am struggling to be
I don't know how I got here
Or know where to run
I am so numb.
I am tired
I don't want to
do this anymore
I am tired of being numb
I want to feel
I want to see
I want to move
But I don't know how
To even break free
I am so numb.
All that I can do
All that I know how
Is to sit here and wait
To hold onto hope and
Breathe just breathe
Until I am no longer numb.

© 2008 by Emily Ruth


I know, pretty heavy stuff, right? This journal entry brings me comfort and hope though. I can look back on it and see how far I've come. I got through that tough dark time and I know that by the grace of God, I'll get through this one too.



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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blab about Beauty Tuesday: U little beauty dinki-di day cream review


Product description: dinki-di day cream is a moisture replenishing cream which contains kakadu plum extract, the worlds richest source of natural vitamin C. Packed full with herbs, seed oils and flower extracts, and enriched with jojoba oil, this cream helps leave your skin feeling light and silky.

Product directions: Apply daily to clean skin. Leave to soak in before applying makeup.

My thoughts: I tried out this cream when a sample tube came with a magazine I purchased and fell in love with its nurturing natural organic ingredients. It's SLS and paraben free which means that I can use it on my sensitive prone skin daily. It has a calming and soothing herbal fragrance and it leaves my skin feeling soft and silky. Personally, I found this cream slightly heavy for a make-up base and day time wear. I much prefer it as a night time cream. For a 75ml tube, this cream will set you back around $25 which is a steal considering its organic properties. At the moment, I'm just using this cream 1-2 times a week after I exfoliate just to cut back on costs. The only thing I don't like about this cream is that it contains cetyl alcohol which can contribute to blocked pores in sensitive prone skin. So far, I haven't found this ingredient to be a problem and considering that it's low on the scale in terms of comedogenicity, I continue to use it because 1) the other ingredients are so beneficial, and, 2)  it's far better than using neutrogena which has loads of skin damaging chemicals.

Ingredients: aqua, chamomile flower extract, cetyl alcohol, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, macadamia ternifolia seed oil, stearic acid, glyceryl stearate, glycerin, jojoba oil, avocado oil, decyl olivate, tocopherol, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, lavender oil, sodium PCA, kakadu plum extract,bentonite, xanthan gum, squalane.

Size: 75mL RRP: $24.95

Would I purchase this product again?: Yes, unless I find something better.

My rating: 3.5/5




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Monday, October 24, 2011

Card Making Monday: You are simply One of a Kind


I finally have another card to show you! Yay! This one was so simple to make- just a whole lot of cutting, layering and sticking, but I love how classy and sophisticated it looks. This is definitely a great card to make for craft on a budget- the materials cost approximately $5.


For this card I used a pre-made card in white and then layered my chosen papers. The papers I've used are Isabel from the Ebony & Ivory Collection and Beginning from the Chapter One Collection by Kaisercraft.


The flowers I've used were cut out from Cabbage Patch White scrapbooking paper by Kaisercraft.


For the message I used a pre-cut paper tag, affixed my chosen rub on and decorated it with some black satin ribbon. Originally I had planned to have the message in the center of the tag but I decided it looked too boring and plain so I couldn't resist adding some ribbon. I finished off the card with two black rhinestones.


I'm really happy with this card, it's quite different to what I normally make. I usually love creating with pink but I think the different colour choices are nice for a change.





Todays Creative Blog

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Friday, October 21, 2011

What I'm Wearing #4


This is going back a couple of weekends now, that's how far behind I am in blogging. Blah.


Need a tan much? I shall blame my paleness on panadiene forte. I cannot believe I am wearing winter clothing in the middle of October, it's suppose to be spring dammit. Anywhoo, I wore this outfit a couple of weekends ago to lunch with my family in Sassafras. We went to Flippin' Pancakes. I had pancakes topped with strawberries, icecream and maple syrup, of course. Because that's what you do when you go to a pancake restaurant, you order pancakes. I had a bowl of hot chips too, but we shared those- I'm not that much of a pig. Wait. I am. I could have easily polished off a whole bowl myself, but I didn't. I have self control. Sometimes. Ok, now I'm rambling. See, this is what panadiene forte, back pain and blogging at 9.30pm does to me. I need a life. Unfortunately I don't have any lovely lunch photos because I forgot to take my damn camera, didn't I? Moving on...


The jumper is from Barnikins. It's my favourite jumper purchase of the year. I got that huge ring from Target for $3. Yeahhh I'm a thrifty bitch. And my handbag is from a craft market in Tasmania.


These jeans are from Valley Girl and the cute black boots are from target. The earrings are from Diva. I think. Erm, I have too many. Those earrings have a gorgeous black pattern on them, my ring has black in it, my handbag is black, the boots are black and the red jumper balances everything out. What can I say? I am one coordinated chick!



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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Nail Files Thursday: BYS Cracked Finish Red Manicure


Finally, another post for all you nail art lovers! I recently tried out crackle (or shatter, whatever you wish to call it) polish! Here are the results:


The brand I used was BYS Nail Enamel. After seeing it reviewed on a blog, I loved the results and wanted to try it out for myself. I purchased a red cracked finish kit which contained a french white base coat, the cracked finish and a clear top coat.


I'm not totally sure of this one, the colour combination just didn't appeal to me as much as I thought it would. I think I need to try out some other colour combinations and have a play around and add some nail art. I have just invested in some OPI shatter polishes so I'm really looking forward to seeing how they turn out. I've noticed that just about every nail polish brand has now jumped on the crackle nail polish bandwagon. I'm really happy about this because I want it in every single colour! Addict much?


Over all, I adore the concept of cracked polishes. This manicure was so easy and the polish was a dream to apply. The only negative thing I have to say about this polish is that some of the cracks didn't form properly on some nails, so I had to remove it and attempt application again- I'm not quite sure if it was me or the polish but I think it turned out ok in the end. I'm excited to experiment with other colours- I can see how amazing they will be!



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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Arthritis: More than just aching joints


A common misconception about arthritis is that the condition is just some sore joints that can be controlled by simply popping some ibuprofen tablets and suggested supplements. This couldn't be further from the truth. Arthritis is so much more than just some aching joints.

I have lived with the pain of arthritis since I was eighteen and my joints don't just ache- they throb and then some. Pain knows no boundaries and it comes in many forms- sharp or shooting, grinding or grating, and burning. Pain doesn't discriminate. Arthritis can affect all joints in the body and it's impossible predict which joints will be attacked. Joint pain usually occurs simultaneously (on both sides of the body).

For me arthritis effects more than just a few joints. At present I have troublesome pain in my hands, wrists, toes, ankles, knees, rib cage, shoulder blades, my spine and sometimes elbows. On bad days the pain of arthritis can feel overwhelming. Sometimes all I can do is sit and sob and wish that my hands would just stop hurting for one minute. Some days it hurts to walk and there are times when the pain has altered my ability to do household tasks. Often I feel more than just achy- I feel extremely fatigued too.

My painful and sometimes stiff joints (I'm blessed to not have swollen joints at this point) are a result of rheumatoid arthritis; an autoimmune disease. For some reason, my immune system has gone haywire and is attacking itself, my joints the target. Basically, my immune system has set up camp in ShitVille. I'm not just dealing with arthritis, I am defying disease.

My pain is not something that is fixed with an over the counter pain killer. I take various drug cocktails (aka a crap load of anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressent drugs) and still receive no 100% relief. Although my medications come with copious amounts of side effects, I am thankful that they slow down the progression of the disease and aid in preventing joint damage.

Especially during this last week I have experienced how debilitating this disease can be. Last Wednesday (12th) was World Arthritis Day and I failed to produce a post for the occasion because pain flared ten fold. I've had to take double the amount of pain killers and have been waking up most nights with pain coursing through my chest. I haven't been able to blog and I have struggled to do the simplest of tasks- just doing a load of washing and making my bed sends pain searing down my spine and raging through my ribs.

Regular readers will know that I have been struggling with arthritis in my back for the last six months. It was just last year that I questioned when/if my arthritis would get worse, and little did I know the hell I'd go through to get that answer. I can handle joint pain in many joints- but arthritis in my back just takes things to a whole new level. It's a whole other world of pain that I can barely describe. It's like my ribs are being crushed by a corset. Some days the pain is so profound, I wonder how one of my ribs could not be broken. I have never felt pain like this in my life.

The effects of arthritis include much more than just the pain aspect. Pain can limit leisure activities, physical and social aspects which can strain relationships and lead to depression. I've had to alter my life drastically due to pain and fatigue, and I've experienced a roller coaster ride of emotions. I often feel scared, frustrated, sad and sometimes angry. Arthritis is the reason for my current state of doom and gloom. Some days the pain poisons my personality and positivity.

There is no denying that I have been quite dismal lately; my recent posts prove this. This blog is all about living creatively and positively "in spite of" and I certainly don't want to drag everyone else into the pit of despair with me. I try my best to blog with balance but having said that, I like to keep it real and honest here at Chronically Creative- and right now I am struggling. Really struggling.

Often I feel like I have to hide how I am feeling- so much energy and effort goes into acting the part of "I'm fine" because most young people don't understand how difficult it is to be on disability, hurt from head to toe and look a hundred percent healthy. This blog is a great outlet I can come to and be completely honest about how I am really feeling. I can take out my emotional trash and feel better for it.


I can't always be positive and happy, I don't want to "sugar coat" chronic illness. I take pride in writing honestly. Along with chronic illness, comes unfortunately big black times when I severely struggle. Writing a blog about life with chronic illnesses means not just sharing the good, positive, happy and joyful times- often it means sharing the bad and often ugly. I'm not sharing my story for your pity, I'm doing it to help others who are also suffering. I blog for the countless people who need comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their suffering and struggles; that they are not alone in feeling overwhelmed and overcome by their circumstances.

I would love to be able to say that I'm going great guns, but I'm not. Truth be told, I'm in the throws of another gripping depression. I'm miserable. I am hating life at the moment. Unrelenting back and rib pain is entangling my emotions. Everyday is a drag. I'm dangerously down in the dumps and I don't know how to dig myself out. I took a wrong turn somewhere and now I'm completely lost, wondering in the wilderness.

I am not enjoying life- I hate it. My support network sucks. Invisible illness is so isolating. Sure, I have great friends and my family are extremely supportive but during these tough six months it hasn't been enough. I feel like I've been abandoned, expected to cope and deal with this on my own. I hardly see the friends I do have because they are all busy living life- like they should be, but I can't help but feel left out and left behind.

My church doesn't have much support for people like me, I know they try their best but sometimes I just get so sad- I don't even have a good christian friend who I can call when I am finding it tough because I struggle to attend enough to even form friendships. I don't even enjoy church anymore and this causes me to sink into the depths of depression even further.

Where did I go wrong?

I'm depressed because of pain and fatigue, I'm depressed because I'm unable to work. I'm depressed because I don't want to wake up tomorrow in pain, I'm depressed because I don't want to take drugs that suppress my immune system- I don't want to have to stick myself with a needle. I'm depressed due medication side effects- my skin is an absolute mess and I'm putting on weight. I'm depressed because there is no simple quick fix for this pain. I'm depressed because this isn't what I want for my life- I don't want to deal with this another day, but I have to, I have no choice. I feel demoralised and I'm depressed because most days are spent alone. God feels so distant.

Heck, I even come home from my weekly work-out with an exercise physiologist drained and depressed, not just from exertion but conversation too. Having to tell someone that I don't have any plans for the weekend, sucks. Having to acknowledge that I didn't do much during the week because managing the pain some days was all I could "do" makes me feel pathetic. I know these are stupid insecurities I need to ignore, but it's really hard to admit that your life is less than. I feel so ashamed. What can I say? Slapping on some hooker red nail polish is an enthralling conversation. After some sessions, I get straight in my car and sulk. It's not my trainers fault, it's just that chronic illness makes me feel like a loser sometimes.

Think arthritis is just some achy joints? Think again.

I'm not writing this for your pity or sympathy- that's the last thing I want. But I am writing this for awareness- arthritis, although a common ailment, surprisingly still has many misconceptions. I've lost count of how many times I've heard "Have you tried fish oil?", or "Here, I found this supplement you can try" and "You're too young to have arthritis!". The latter one really gets under my skin.

Arthritis is not something that you can just get over and it require immense strength to live life well "in spite of". I like to think that I'm a better person because of this experience. Arthritis has taught me to be a more positive person- I am constantly learning new things about myself. I don't take anything for granted anymore, I'm learning to be more assertive and I am stronger because of it.



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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shabby Chic Saturday: Bathroom Renovations Part 1



This is my bathroom pre renovations:


It's the main bathroom downstairs. Well, technically speaking it's not really mine, I share it with my brother but I use it much, much more than he does! Oh it would be so great to be in and out within five minutes, but no, I live the live of a high maintenance woman.


In the two years that we have lived here I have only used that spa bath once. The taps are impossible to get to without climbing in and it is terribly uncomfortable. So the horrid thing is going and we are getting a new white bath instead. I cannot tell you how excited I am about getting a new bath! I used to soak in a bath of Epsom salts whenever the pain got bad and it really helped. I've missed having a bath terribly these last two years.


No, the bin does not usually sit on top of the basin. I moved it there so the spa could get knocked out and failed to remove it for the picture. There is supposed to be a top drawer but I took it out while the spa was getting removed as it contained all my bathroom essentials. I would really love to meet the person who designed this bathroom- I know lets put the bath taps out of reach so we have to climb in to get to them, it's a brilliant idea. The gap between the basin and the shower is just silly, and the shower right in front of a sliding door? Seriously stupid. This person has issues.


Oh the problems we have had with this shower in the last month. The drain has been getting blocked and we've been showering with water filling up to our ankles! The shower has been out of use for the last few weeks as the water started leaking through the wall into the living room! So all five of us have been using the upstairs shower.


The walls are currently painted light blue but I think that is going to change. I've heard dad taking about floor to ceiling tiles which would be good! We're getting a new vanity which will be going where the shower is and we'll be getting a new shower which will go where the spa bath currently is. Exciting!


This is the current state I am now living in. Yuck. Dad ripped up all the tiles as the floor needs to be re-done due to water damage. There are holes in the floor boards too as we just got all the plumbing fixed.The plank in the middle of the floor is covering a big hole. The floor feels so unsteady now, I'm a little scared I'll fall through! The plumbing was actually running uphill, which is why all the water from the shower was leaking through. What a dodgy job some silly plumber did! Now that it's fixed, I can use the shower again but I've decided not to use it until temporary flooring goes down as the floor is just so disgustingly dirty. At the moment I'm just using the bathroom to wash my face and do my hair and makeup (with shoes on of course!).


The spa bath has been ripped out and we just have some boards covering the massive hole revealing yucky things under the house. There are hundreds of snail carcass and mouse droppings in that hole. Eeew.


So that's the progress so far. Next edition I'll show you our newly fully renovated kitchen!!




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