"Where there is creativity, there is hope." ~ Donna Karan

Thursday, August 30, 2012

When PMS and death warmed up days collide

On the weekend I had a few I can't do this any more melt down moments. I felt like death warmed up. Post exertional malaise was harder to cope with and I was frustrated with myself. I was moody and annoyed at anyone and anything. Even people's breathing and their chewing food irritated me.
There were more tears than usual. One minute it was all doom and gloom, I hate my life and everybody hates me, I think I'll go eat worms... then I really love my life, things are going to get better the next. I wanted to quit work because the fatigue was just too much for me and then a few hours later it was all I can totally do this, there's hope.
PMS. It's a real bitch sometimes. Especially when it collides with death warmed up days. It ain't pretty. It makes coping with pain and fatigue a million times harder.
But instead of throwing plates, I took my frustration out on my blog. Yep, even my template design unexpectedly pissed me off. So I spent several hours over a few days searching for a new one, but nothing seemed to fit. PMS and persistence payed off though, and I stumbled across this rockin' template. Not bad for a free one, hey?
There are a few minor things that I don't like about it, and it's a lot more pink than what I wanted it to be, but whatever. I do love it, so it's staying. Besides, you can't get any better than this for free. I thought I loved the old template, but I love this so much more. At least now you don't have to scroll down a million miles to leave a comment.
Who would have thought that PMS could be a good thing! Not I.
So, what do you creative kids think? Do you like the new look?
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Seeing Lady Gaga: The Born This Way Ball

It's no secret that I'm a Christian who likes to listen to a bit of Lady Gaga every now and then. I love her, and Jesus does too. Sure, she's created a fair bit of controversy with songs like 'Judas', and her songs don't leave you feeling spiritually satisfied. Okay, so, some of her songs are extremely Antichrist, which saddens me because if it weren't for that, I would enjoy them a whole lot more. Not to mention that getting the lyrics from songs like 'Love Game' and 'Government Hooker', stuck in your head ain't all that great for a Christian gal like me. Why is it that all the good songs are inappropriate?
But she's talented, and I just can't help but like her. She's a brilliant artist, and to have someone like me enjoy most of her songs, buy her albums, and go to her concerts - that's saying something.
Whenever I'm having a really bad day, I'll play one of her albums. Blasting 'Just Dance', 'Bad Romance', 'Poker Face', 'Telephone', 'Marry The Night' or 'Born This Way' - helps. I don't know why, it just does. Apparently this seems silly to other Christians. When asked what music I like, I am constantly met with a horrified face, followed by "You can't like her, she's so bad".
Bite me. We all have something that we like, that another would consider inappropriate. Case in point: these Christians are more than happy to see Magic Mike, a film about male strippers. How is that any better and more appropriate than Lady Gaga? Hypocrites. I digress...
The highlight of my year so far, besides holidaying, has been seeing Lady Gaga in concert on her Born This Way Ball tour back in June.
Having been to her Monster Ball concert, I knew that I would probably want to see her perform again, and since the release of her Born This Way album, I had definitely decided that I wanted tickets to another show.
The tickets went on sale last year, and I snapped some up like my life depended on it. The only disappointing thing was that I got locked out of the ticket site for five minutes, thanks to a traffic overload, so buy the time I could get any, all the good seats were gone. I was just thankful to have tickets though, even though the seats were all the way up the back.
To my surprise, the seats weren't as terrible as what I was expecting. Being side stage view seats, there was still a lot to be seen, and what you couldn't see, the screens more than made up for. I did really want seats in the lower section (as does everyone), but in the end, I'm glad I didn't get any. They were ridiculously priced, for starters, and some of the songs were sang in a castle, so everyone had to look at the screen if they wanted to see her properly anyway, so paying for good seats, in some ways, would have been pointless, and a total waste of money.
I was happy with the people sitting in our section too. Usually, there's always one or two next to or behind you that drive you bonkers the entire night, and seeing that alcohol was allowed in the arena, I really was expecting to be stuck sitting next to or near some drunk idiots, spilling their drinks all over the place. I just so happened to pick the pensioner section - people were more than happy to just sit down and not feel the need to scream like lunatics every few freakin' seconds.
It was worth the money just to sit and people watch before they opened the arena doors. Oh my word, the sights were incredible! You will never see so many different and strange sights all in the one place. I saw everything from cross dressers, to girls that couldn't walk in high heels, to girls that looked like prostitutes, to old women who should not have had their boobs hanging out, to people wearing tight clothing leaving little left to the imagination, and so much more. This year, many more people dressed up in outfits from the music film clips, and some people were way to close to being naked. There were many girls walking around in just a bra, undies and fishnet stockings which were really revealing. Wrapping sections of you hair and tying them around cans seemed to be quite popular, too.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting to enjoy the show. I had a shocking sinus headache, and I was worried that I'd be left disappointed after reading a less than raving review, but I did enjoy it immensely. Although, I couldn't say the same for the pre-show entertainment. I was expecting some bizarre band, not some guy or girl (I couldn't even tell) standing and holding a mask, changing positions every few minutes to strange music. I kid you not. Well, they delivered on bizarre alright but there was no talent in it whatsoever. They could have pulled anyone off the street to do that.
The way the stage was set though, was pretty spectacular. Although, the castle did restrict the view just a little - it was a dark colour, and in the darkness of the arena, it made it tricky at times to tell where Gaga actually was. I must say, I was a little disappointed with her costumes this time, but maybe that's because I've gotten so use to her ridiculous, over the top and outrageous approach, that nothing seems wacky anymore. I mean, how can you top a plastic dress, spiked shoulders, a costume created from blonde hair, and a sparkler bra?
The only thing that seemed to be a little more weird but clever, was the mock womb that she had giving birth to all of her dancers at the beginning of 'Born This Way'.
See sang all of my favourite songs, and that was what I went for. Bottom line, she puts on a really good show. She's different, interesting, and entertaining. Enough said.
Maybe I'll wear a sparkler bra to church next time, what do you think? ;)
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Leopard print and bow french manicure

Happy Thursday, Chronic Crafties! Today I am sharing a leopard print french manicure that I did earlier in the year.

I am pretty pleased with how it turned out! I love me some leopard print nails.

For this manicure I used the classic french white as my base. I used 4 coats of OPI Alpine Snow. Then I stamped on my print using the Konad image plate m57. I used a Maybelline New York black polish for this.

To fill in the leopard print pattern, I used OPI Bling Dynasty and applied it using a nail dotting tool. Then I applied two black nail art bows with nail glue.

I do love the look of the bows, but they weren't very practical. They kept getting in the way. The glue didn't hold them all that well either. I bought them off ebay, and they were much larger than I thought they would be, but I think that's what makes them so amazing. Japanese nail art features large bows and what not like these, and apparently they stay rock solid even after hard knocks and bumps. I need to find a better adhesive that will hold these bows better so they don't fall off, but will be easy to get off come removal time.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maybelline New York Shine Free Loose Powder Review

I've tried out a quite a few powders over the years in hopes that they would help set my foundation and mattify my skin, preventing or at least, reducing shine.

My skin at times can be quite oily, and it has been difficult to find a combination of products that help to control oil production and target oil prone areas.

This problem is especially embarrassing during Summer. Sweat and foundation leave my face looking like an oil slick, and it's a real confidence stealer. After a couple of hours of foundation wear, I look like I've just stepped out of a sauna.

So I thought I'd give this powder a shot. I had high hopes for this product, and yet it is one of the many that has failed to impress.

For me, this powder didn't keep shine at bay. I actually think it added to the problem. The only thing it seemed to do was clog my skin up more.

The thing I liked about this product? The packaging. The pot that the powder was in was very practical, and I liked that it came with a sponge, which allowed for hassle free touch ups throughout the day. It's definitely a handbag convenience, so, full points for packaging.

Since trying this powder, I have experimented with several other foundations and products and have found a solution for my oil prone skin. I've had much success with other products that the use of a loose powder now seems unnecessary.

Rating: 1/5

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gettin' Fit {Part 1}

"In my experience, CFS sufferers need to stimulate their bodies. As much as they might feel like spending all day in bed when CFS is at its peak, it doesn't do any good. They've got to do a little something and gradually build up. Even if it's only walking to the letterbox or to the local shops. Patients need to listen to their body: it provides the best guide to the middle ground between enough exercise and too much." -- Alastair Lynch, Taking Nothing For Granted.

Before I became ill, I felt fit and fabulous. I felt good about myself and I was happy with how I looked. Exercise for me was an outlet. It was an escape. It was everything to me. It was my go to thing when life got tough. It was what helped me survive the stress of my final years in high school. I enjoyed exercise immensely, it was what I looked forward to doing most everyday. Lacing up my girly pink workout runners, and pounding the pavement gave me great pleasure, and after a bad day, a sense of peace.

I was motivated. My muscles were in perfect condition - I was trim and toned. I had no wobbly or flabby bits, and I had a fantastic figure which I loved, worked hard for, and looked after. I had an abundance of energy. Having the time to run hardcore for half an hour was like an indulgence for me. I loved getting outdoors and going for long walks. I was constantly challenging myself and I felt fantastic. Like I could take on anything. Like I was invincible.

That feeling faded pretty fast when Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and CFS symptoms started to appear. Exercise is different now, it has to be. Even the most mundane everyday things, feel like exercise to my rundown body. Sometimes a simple stroll around the shops is a struggle. Even showering can leave me exhausted and feeling like I've run a marathon. A day out with my family can cause fatigue to flare for a week. Sometimes it's the simplest things that are akin to climbing Mount Everest.

I've had to modify my exercise routine drastically. Running isn't an option right now, so I've had to settle for low impact aerobic exercises like a short walk. I've had to switch to more stretching, muscle and balance based workouts such as yoga. I'm no longer exercising for rock hard abs and weight loss, I'm exercising to survive. I'm exercising to avoid deconditioning and prevent my health deteriorating any more than it has.

Nowadays, exercise isn't enjoyable. It has become more like a dreaded chore. I loathe it instead of love it. It hurts, and instead of leaving me feeling on top of the world, the only thing I feel is frustration and fatigue. But I know exercise is crucial for most of those with chronic conditions, and so even at my worst, I push myself to do something no matter how small. And I know that if I wasn't as active as I am, I'd probably be in a much worse condition physically.

I believe exercise has prevented my pain from flaring out of control, and I've noted a slight improvement in joint stiffness, so it is beneficial. It's also important that I keep my muscles conditioned. One thing it hasn't helped though is the fatigue. Some days I wonder if it contributes to an increase. It's counterintutive.

Medical professionals tell me otherwise. I'm constantly hearing them harp on about exercise being the next best thing to a cure. That's what's frustrating. Why isn't it helping me? There is so much controversy surrounding exercise and CFS. Some say that graded exercise (gradually building up) is the way to go. Others are saying that it's flawed, and detrimental to CFS sufferers. It's not black and white. Everyone has a completely different opinion, and no one seems to know what they are talking about - because there are no answers. CFS symptoms are still a baffling mystery.

I am all for exercise, but some days I don't have the most positive attitude towards it. I ache all over, I am fatigued beyond belief, and sometimes I just can't push myself anymore because it will mean spending weeks housebound, and yet I have medical professionals telling me that I just need to get out more, and that if I exercise more, I'll feel better. It's not as simple as that, and believe me, I wish it were. If it were as simple as that, no one would be suffering this strife. Exercising with CFS is tricky business.

A few years ago, before fatigue worsened and went spiraling out of control, forcing me to stop exercise all together for a little while, I was exercising three times a week for twenty minutes as well as working two, and sometimes three short shifts a week. If exercise was so good for improving energy levels, then why did my fatigue suddenly get worse, forcing me to stop moving? Why? I don't understand why fatigue has become so unbearable lately, but I suspect it might have something to do with drug side effects, which would explain why I'm not seeing any improvement from exercise on the fatigue front. Then again, there are people on the same drugs as me that aren't feeling this rotten.

Lately, I've been constantly feeling pressured by medical professionals to exercise more and increase my activity levels. As a result I rarely feel that the effort I'm putting in is good enough. So, I wanted to make exercise a priority this year. I wanted to set some exercise goals and pursue a long term fitness plan that's achievable for where I'm at right now. The ultimate goal was to do something, no matter how small, everyday. I have well and truly achieved this goal and then some.

It was this time last year when I really started to get back into exercise and giving it a good go. I saw an exercise physiologist for several sessions after Mr Fatigue Man suggested that it would be helpful. I decided on trying one that was close to home. Although I ended up throwing in the towel because they seemed a little out of their depth, and because I didn't have the pain in my back under control, it got me started.

Once my back pain was helped by Humira, I started going for short walks around a lovely lake once, and sometimes twice a week. From there, I've been slowly building up.

I've made a lot of progress since then, especially this year. I saved up and bought a Wii Fit and invested in a treadmill. Both have been a great success, and a source of motivation. My workouts vary from yoga to short walks and 800 steps on the Wii Fit board. I'm even beginning to enjoy exercise again too!

It's official, I am the owner (well technically part owner as I split the cost with Mumma) of a brand spanking new treadmill once again. Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Here's a rough sketch of what I've accomplished and managed to do some weeks:

Monday - 20 min walk + 2 min on exercise bike
Tuesday - 30 min yoga and muscle workout + 2 min on exercise bike + 10 min walk
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - 30 min yoga and muscle workout
Friday - 10 min step + 2min on exercise bike + 10 min walk
Saturday - 30 min yoga and muscle workout + 2 min on exercise bike + 10 min step
Sunday - 20 min step + 2 min on exercise bike

That's more than what some healthy people do. I was even aiming to increase those times even more because I thought that I was managing quite well. That was until I started back at work. At my last appointment with Mr Fatigue Man, I mentioned my success with yoga sessions and walking. He said I was doing enough to see results, so I kept going. I even took his advice and returned to work for one afternoon a week too. And that's when things started to go pear shaped.

Since starting work post exertional malaise has become much more problematic. I've had to modify my exercise routine to allow for more rest. I still exercise when I can but some weeks I manage very little. Things have gotten so bad this last month that I ended up calling Mr Fatigue Man because I was just feeling too ill. I've been so fatigued that I've been feeling nauseous.

He believed it was because of the exercise, and decided that I shouldn't exercise on my own anymore because I need specialised help to get the balance and intensity right. I agree and at the same time, disagree. I think work is making exercise unmanageable. I was coping fine with the exercise before I added work into the mix. I know my own body, and I know my own limitations, why can't doctors respect that? On the other hand, fatigue is just becoming harder and harder to deal with, that it's consuming every single aspect of my life - and I need help. Desperately.

Lately my exercise routine looks a little something like this:

Monday - 5 or 10 min walk
Tuesday - 30 min yoga and muscle workout
Wednesday - work
Thursday - rest
Friday - rest
Saturday - 30 min yoga and muscle workout
Sunday - 10 min step or rest if needed

Of course some weeks I hardly follow that if work has knocked me for six. I am proud of my progress, and am pleased with what I've achieved. I feel stronger. My muscles are conditioned and my wobbly bits are less wobbly. I feel less puffed after walking uphill or up a flight of stairs. I feel more positive about exercise and I feel more confident in my ability to become more active.

I want to continue improving and I want to get the exercise balance right. I want to learn to manage the fatigue better and I want to put myself in a position that will allow me to become as well and healthy as I can possibly be. It's time to try something different. I need to try something different. It's time to seek a different treatment plan. So, I've decided that I'm going to see a more specialised exercise physiologist that Mr Fatigue Man has recommended.

I have made my first appointment, and they sounded lovely. I'm actually looking forward to it as it will be interesting to see what the program involves and how it can help me. I don't know if they will have any solutions to the issue I have with work leaving me smashed, but I am willing to give this program a go. Although I do have some hesitations, it can't hurt to try. If I don't like it I can stop, but I'm hopeful that it will be of some help.

I don't always have the best attitude and I'm often feeling fed up and pissed off - it's tough when you feel bone-weary every second of every day, and there are so many professionals with different opinions who don't really seem to know what they are talking about and have absolutely no understanding of how brutal CFS can be.

But from what I've read, so far the clinic and their program sounds excellent and well worth pursuing, so I'm going to try and have a good attitude and an open mind. I'm on my way to gettin' fit, baby!

*** Postscript: I've had my first session with a specialised exercise physiologist, and so far, so good! I am really happy with them and they actually sound like they know what they're talking about. For the first time, I've actually walked out of an appointment feeling much more positive and a little more hopeful about the future. Progress already, I say!

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

My wardrobe looks more like a war zone

Happy Saturday, Chronic Crafties! Today, I am sharing my wardrobe woes and my plans to create a stunning shabby chic style wardrobe. And yes, you should feel very special that you get to see the shameful state of my wardrobe because you rockin' readers are the only ones that get to.

This wardrobe was home to my clothes and shoes for a couple of years, squished into a corner of my bedroom which has now become my craft studio. It's a crappy IKEA wardrobe and it was nowhere near suitable enough to store everything that at our previous house fit perfectly in a DOUBLE built-in wardrobe.

See what I mean? It was quite an accomplishment to shove everything into a wardrobe that is even smaller than a single size built-in robe. But at the time, this wardrobe was the best solution. Papa Bear suggested getting rid of half my clothes, but I would hear none of it. Since living in this house, I have become quite talented at fitting everything into small spaces.

Prior to moving into this house, I got rid of all my old furniture as it was old and outdated. I had no storage for folded items (nor did I have any room to put the storage), so I had to use these baskets instead, which was not ideal, let me tell you!

As you can see, the hanging space isn't adequate. And don't get me started on the lack of shoe space!

When I moved my bedroom to the shoebox room upstairs, I was excited to have a wardrobe with some decent space again. That was until I realised that the new dresser drawers I bought for the room weren't going to fit, and that the wardrobe doors needed to be taken off so I could put the drawers in the wardrobe, leaving me even less room to hang clothes than the crappy IKEA wardrobe!

This is the view from my bed. It's an eyesore. My wardrobe looks more like a war zone.

Not everything fits in those new drawers either, they only hold so much. Ahh, first world problems. So now I'm back to square one with insufficient wardrobe space. My IKEA wardrobe that's in my craft studio which was supposed to be used for craft storage, is still being used to store some clothes.

So I kind of have two wardrobes now and I'm getting sick of the unorganised chaos. I just can't cope with it much longer. Things obviously have to change, because this whole forcing things to fit isn't working for me anymore. For starters, I'm thinking of getting rid off the majority of my wardrobe seeing has Humira has me stacking on the weight, and nothing fits me anymore. As much as I hate  the amount of weight I've put on, it's kind of a good thing as it forces me to throw stuff out and make more space.

I've also decided to rearrange my craft studio (I'll post on that soon) so that I can put the dresser drawers in that room. I've also got some space saving ideas thanks to Pinterest that I plan on trying. And I also want to turn this wardrobe into a functional, gorgeous to look at shabby chic style wardrobe. I'm thinking of still leaving the doors off as they were ugly anyway, and putting up a pretty curtain. I'm also going to wallpaper the inside!

Does your wardrobe look worse than this? Please, make me feel better. x

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Friday, August 3, 2012

blueberry and chocolate chip muffins

Ah, Friday at last! Post exertional malaise has been really tough to deal with this week, which accounts for my lack of blogging. But here's some exciting news - I checked out the Craft & Quilt Fair last Sunday (which unfortunately has partly contributed to my major fatigue increase this week) and oh my gosh, was it incredible! I hope to blog about it soon, but seeing as I'm feeling like crap, today I am sharing my favourite muffins that I like to bake when the going gets tough.

Nothing beats freshly baked warm blueberry and chocolate chip muffins, right? Right! Consider this recipe my cheer up gift to you. Can't say where I got this recipe from as I have no idea, but I can tell you that they taste divine.

Muffin Ingredients:

425g blueberries (canned or fresh)
75g unsalted butter
240g milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups self raising flour
icing sugar

Muffin Instructions:

Melt butter in saucepan. Add half the chocolate with sugar. Stir over low heat until smooth. Remove. Whisk in milk, egg, vanilla and flour until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and remaining chocolate. Cook in moderate oven for 20 minutes. Cool and dust with icing sugar.

Pretty simple for something that tastes so good!

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