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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Turkish Delight Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes a few months ago as a present for Sweet Sister (she loves turkish delight). I've never baked with turkish delight chocolate before so I was really happy to try it in a cupcake.
They are a similar concept to my Cherry Ripe Cupcakes, so I was expecting them to be good. Although, there was a lot of finger crossing going on while they were in the oven!
They turned out beautifully. The moistness and the taste of the turkish delight chocolate throughout the cupcake was magical. Words cannot describe how amazing they really were. These are the best cupcakes I have made so far, and they are also the best I have tasted by far. Holy wow. I think I've outdone myself.  I'm not the most confident person on the planet, but these cupcakes have really given me a much needed confidence boost.
making the batter
preparing the frosting
Everyone enjoyed these cupcakes. They are oh so decadent, and they also make for the perfect christmas cupcake.
This recipe makes 12. You may need to double the quantity of icing to ice all 12, depending on how you choose to frost them.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lady Of Leisure

Nearly two months ago now I made the decision to stop working (again) so that I could solely focus on graded exercise therapy. In hindsight, I realise I went back to work too soon. My body struggled, and the harder I pushed, the harder it got. Every area of my life suffered because of that shift.
So I'm officially a lady of leisure once again.
I miss working, I really do, but in the last two months the number of bad days have decreased. I'm much more happier. I'm able to enjoy doing craft and a bit more writing. I can go out shopping or catch up with a friend without having to worry about coping with work too. I don't sit in a corner of my craft studio and cry, and I'm more positive.
This time I am taking a break until I feel well enough and ready to try again. It's such a relief to know that I have a job to go back to when my health improves. As hard as this is, and as much as I want to keep working right now, I know it's for the best. Even though I'm scared, I know that I've definitely made the right decision. It feels right. Although my doctors would argue otherwise.
I made the decision to go back to work because my doctors thought that it would be better for my health- it seemed to them that my life had no focus or direction. I felt very pressured to take their advice. Every visit they would encourage me to get out of the house and make something of my life. Returning to work for a few hours a week seemed the most sensible option but deep down I knew that physically, I wasn't ready to go back to work. But I went and tried anyway.
Why? Because I felt like I had to prove my pain. If I worked and suffered for it, I thought that my doctors would finally take notice. That maybe then they would finally "get" it and stop hassling me. That maybe then they would show a little more compassion and support.
I only caused myself more heartache.
At my last appointment a few months ago I expressed my unhappiness as a result of everything that I had to sacrifice just to work a few hours. I explained how much I was struggling. I discussed my suffering social life, only to have every word disregarded. Apparently struggling to work three hours a week just wasn't good enough, so my rheumatologist insisted that I look into studying something as well.
I've explained too many times that I'm not well enough to manage the demands of my course and that I don't want to study something that I'm not even interested in. There is only one course that I desperately want to do, and it's just not possible at the moment.
Regarding my social life it was suggested that I just keep in contact with friends through Facebook. Yep, because talking to your friends through a computer is so much more fun than going out for coffee and a face to face chat.
I've never walked out of an appointment feeling more ashamed, frustrated and hopeless.
Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for my doctors and all that they have done for me, but I am fed up with their lack of knowledge about CFS. Even Mr Fatigue Man suggested that I get back to work and my rheumatologist doesn't understand that the drugs I've been given for arthritis only exacerbate the CFS symptoms. The day that my doctors realise that running myself into the ground is not going to get me better will be a miracle.
They are so caught up in thinking the more activity I do, the better it will be for my health. I wish that they saw how much I had to sacrifice to work that shift, and how miserable and depressed it made me. Post exertional malaise got so bad at times that I just wanted to die. How is that good for my health? I wish they understood that with an illness like CFS and Fibromyalgia that I can't do everything and still be able to function. I'm not well enough to manage both work and a social life. I am not well enough yet to manage work and exercise. It's one or the other.
I made the decision to stop working for my health. This is what I wish my doctors would understand.
I'm not just bumming around home and doing a bit of baking and blogging here and there. I'm working really hard to get myself better. I'm taking the time out to focus on my recovery. I'm doing this so that I can get some control back and better manage the fatigue and pain levels.
I'm not staying at home because I'm lazy. I'm not staying at home for the heck of it. As much as you might think sitting outside in the glorious sunshine sipping smoothies is fun, it's not easy seeing your family leave for work and go about daily activities with ease. It's not fun hearing about all the things your friends are up to while you're left miles behind. It's not fun living life within four walls. It's not fun watching 6 years of your life pass you by. It's not fun hearing "Oh you're so lucky, I wish I could stay at home all day!".
It may seem like I'm having fun crafting and baking whenever I feel like it, but behind it all is depression and stress.
When am I going to get my life back? Heck, before I know it I'll be twenty five and I've got nothing to show for it. No tertiary education. No career. No boyfriend. What if I'm not much better next year? What the fudge am I going to do, where is my life going? And what do I tell people who ask what I do? Do I make up some bull crap or do I admit to being a stay at home daughter who doesn't go out that much? My doctors are right, I can't just keep staying at home. I need to do something, but what? I can't even cope with a three hour shift once a week at the moment, how am I going to manage anything else? It's near impossible to find a job that is suitable for these unpredictable symptoms and I don't have any qualifications. I feel like a no-hoper.
Living a life of leisure is tough when it's forced on you. It's humiliating having to tell people that you don't work or study when you don't look sick. It's awkward answering the "What do you do all day!?" question. When you tell people that you do a bit of baking and what not, people start asking questions. People start assuming that you're just a dole bludger.
It's lonely, and day time television becomes boring pretty quickly. My self esteem and confidence have taken a battering. I get grumpy and carry on about silly things because I'm frustrated that I can't do everything everyone else does without paying for it.
Living a life of leisure sure does have its advantages though. I have time to discover talents that would have otherwise lain dormant. I can stop and smell the roses. I'm learning that it takes a strong, resilient person to stay at home and not go completely insane. I'm learning things about myself that I would have never known had I been well and living productively. I'm learning that this time that I have is a blessing in disguise. I'm learning that no matter what others say and think, it's ok to go slow. It's important that I listen to my body.
Stopping work and living a life of leisure doesn't mean that I'm giving up. If you took the time to look a little deeper, you would know that I'm fighting harder than ever before. I want my life back. I want it back so badly, and I'm not going to give up on my life.
To some people it seems as though I'm just slacking off, but I'm actually working really hard. I'm trying my darn hardest. I think going back to try a shift at work for the fourth time is proof of that. I'm exercising, I have goals, I have dreams- just like everyone else.
I am taking a break to give myself the best chance of healing and recovering. CFS is not something that you just get over in a few months. It's going to take time, patience, belief and determination. It may take another two, five or ten years- and that's ok.
I am making the most out of all this time that I have. What I am doing to manage these illnesses is good enough, and from now on I am not going to let anyone else tell me otherwise, doctor or not.
I am doing the best that I can, and I'm doing the best for my health.
I am doing much, much more than just lazing around.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Manicare Glamnails Nail Art Pen Review

I recently came across a new nail art pen range while browsing in a beauty store- Manicare Glamnails nail art pens. I had never tried nail art pens before as I was wary about how well the formula would flow, but I took a gamble and decided on trying out Jet Black.
These pens have a water based formula and are quick drying. They are created specifically for drawing designs on your nails with ease and must be used on top of dry polish or a base coat.
I did not find this pen easy to use in the slightest. It took me five minutes just to get the pen working. I had to keep clicking it a few times too many (not arthritis friendly) until the formula started to flow, and when it came, it didn't flow smoothly. It came out all at once, making a mess on my nails and the formula was way too watery. Instead of nice black stripes, I had big black blobs on my nails. The lack of consistency means product wastage.
The only good thing about the formula that really impressed me was how easy it was to remove. It can be removed using a cotton tip without destroying your existing colour.
I don't recommend this product. It doesn't make nail art any easier, you are much better off sticking to nail art brushes and good old nail polish.
My rating: 1/5


Sunday, November 25, 2012

I won something. I'm having chicken for dinner.

One of the most exciting things about this year was winning a gift voucher from a scratch 'n' win card to spend at one of my favourite craft stores. It seems so silly that I'd get so much happiness from something most would consider no big deal. You're probably thinking grow up and get a life woman. But it's the first time I've won something decent in my life, so I think I'm allowed to be just a little excited.
winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Ok, so maybe I was a little over-the-top-excited when running around the house waving the card, squealing I got ten dollars!! But with this win I could buy a few little crafty things to add to my stash. Ten dollars worth of pretty scrapbooking paper? Don't mind if I do!
Here's what Kaisercraft papers I bought home:
'Charming' from the Magnolia Grove Collection, 'Raindrops' from the Fine & Sunny Collection
'Silver Lining' from the Sweet Nothings Collection, 'Cloudy' from the Fine & Sunny Collection
'Knickers' from the Madame Boutique Collection, 'Luxury' from the Magnolia Grove Collection.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Cinnamon ginger cake with caramel icing

I baked this ginger cake for Sweet Nan a couple of weeks before she went to God. She absolutely loved it, so much so that she even ate the last stale piece! Our last conversation was about this cake. If she were here for Christmas I would have had this cake on the table for her. What is Christmas without a bit of ginger?
This cake was super easy to make. The thing I enjoyed most about making it was the smell that filled the kitchen - the ginger and cinnamon aroma was a nice change. The only thing I was disappointed with was the icing. While it was perfect taste wise, I found it hard to work with when applying it to the cake. Not quite sure why as I followed everything to a tee, but as long as it tastes amazing is all that matters, right?
Although I don't like ginger cake all that much, I didn't mind this. It was an incredibly moist melt-in-your-mouth cake. So don't let these photos fool you into thinking this cake tastes terrible. If you have ginger lovers in your family, this cake will definitely be a Christmas table pleaser.
 (with flash)


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Crafty Christmas Giveaway 2012 (now closed)

It is crazy that there is only five weeks until Christmas. Where has this year gone? It didn't seem that long ago that I promised myself that I would have all of my Christmas shopping done before December, and yet, here I am (again) without even one gift bought nearing the end of November.

Anyhoo, I guess it's about time that I got posting some crafty Christmas posts. I can't promise as many as last year, but you can expect a few.

And to kick off Christmas at Chronically Creative, we're having a little giveaway! Are you excited? Well you should be!

The goodies I'm giving away should help with your cardmaking and scrapbooking projects. Up for grabs are:

Kaisercraft Journal Tags Be Merry Collection (24 sheets of designed paper, 6 designs x4)
Kaisercraft Card Pad 'Tis The Season Collection (20 cards, 4 designs x5)
Kaisercraft 6 1/2" Paper Pad Merry & Bright Collection (2 x 12 sheets designed paper, 4 die cut pages)
Want these delicious papers in your stash? Entry is simple. All you need to do is leave your name and email address (disguised to spammers) in the comments on this post. Alternatively, you can send me an email via the contact tab if you wish.

Entries are open internationally and will close on Friday 30th November at 9pm Melbourne, Victoria EST.

Winner will be selected at random and announced in a blog post on Saturday 1st December. They will be contacted via email.

Happy Christmas crafting!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Heaven is her home

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus. 
~ Philippians 3:20.

I was trying to follow my usual morning routine last Monday morning (November 12) when my mother came up stairs to tell me that Sweet Nan had gone to be with God. Relief swept over me knowing that it was finally over, yet, as quickly as that relief came, was it suddenly replaced by overwhelming sadness.
For those first few minutes breathing seemed harder. It felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the room. Never before have I felt such heaviness, never has my heart hurt so much. It's the deepest pain I have ever felt. The news was a kick in the guts. It felt like I had been winded by a soccer ball to the stomach. I was finally forced to believe what I didn't want to.
I wrote this in my journal a week before she went to God:
Monday November 5th 2012
"Sweet Nan went into hospice care on Saturday. I woke up yesterday morning with tears streaming down my face because I had expected her to go during the night, but she has made it through the weekend and now it seems she'll be sticking around a little longer. This dragged out process sucks. Because she is still here I find it difficult to believe this is really happening. Part of me hopes that she won't die - that she'll make some miraculous, medical astounding recovery. It's hard to believe that she has gone to hospital to die. It's hard to believe that she won't be coming back home. It's hard to believe that I won't see her again in this life. She's still here, and I don't know how to feel. When she does slip away, I'll be forced to face the reality of this situation and that scares me because I don't know how I'm going to do that. Right now it's difficult to grasp reality. It's just too hard to believe. It's just all too hard."
I knew this time would come eventually, but I just couldn't imagine it. I liked life the way it was and I wanted things to stay the same. In this week since her passing I've realised just how much I wanted Nan to stay here with us. I longed to keep her.
I wrote in my journal again the day that she finally left us:
Monday November 12th 2012
"Beautiful, Sweet Nan is gone. Gone. Not coming back. I can't call her house and hear her voice. I can't drive up and drop in for an afternoon visit to watch the cooking shows with her. I can't show her my nails anymore - and I still want to do all of these things. She's not here to tell me that the top I'm wearing is pretty and ask me where I bought it from. I'm finally forced to believe that Sweet Nan won't be around anymore, and it's so damn hard. I knew it was coming, but it's still a shock. All these emotions are attacking me at once and I don't know what to do. Do I feel angry, upset or relieved? Do I scream, cry and hide away from the world for a while? Do I sit in the darkness and surrender to the sadness until I can cry no more? Or do I busy myself and welcome distraction? My heart feels so heavy. Oh Lord, it hurts. Oh Lord, it hurts."
Accepting that I'll never see her again in this life makes me ache deep inside, but I am reminded that this life and what we have here on earth is oh so temporary. I understand now more than ever that we were made for so much more and there's no doubt in my mind that there is life after death.
I've been listening to Heaven Is Here by Jesus Culture a lot this last week. The lyrics are powerful and they remind me to hold onto the hope that is heaven.
‘Cause Heaven is here now
He’s all around us
Heaven is Jesus
It’s the moments we need

Wake up the normal life
You can do whatever You want to
Shake up eternal sight
Because we want You
How wonderful it is that we are promised eternal life and everlasting love in God, and that nothing can ever separate us from Him.
I find comfort in knowing that Sweet Nan is right where she belongs now - in God's presence. Heaven is her home. And I know that I'll see her again.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the sadness, I'll remember how much she loved worshipping God. I'll think about the huge celebration taking place in heaven and how happy she must be walking through the streets of gold (although my human mind will never fully comprehend it). I'll focus on the goodness of God and His promise of the indescribable place He has prepared for her (and for me one day). I'll live with the mind blowing knowledge that she is free of pain and sickness, perfectly whole and perfectly at peace now.
Heaven is her home.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mode and Birthday Babe glitter french manicure

Today's manicure is a winter one from a few months ago. The bad photos don't capture how stunning the colours really are. I must have been having a bad day when I took these photos as I didn't even realise that I forgot to clean up some of the edges and that I had fluff stuck to some of my nails. Oops.
Anyway, this manicure was so simple to do. To begin, I started painting my nails with a plum colour - Mode xoxo. As you can see, I like the line for my french manicures to be thick. After four coats of this colour, I then used a nail art brush to paint a silver line where my plumb coloured line finished.
I used OPI Birthday Babe for this and did a few coats.
Finally, with a dotting tool, I dotted some silver glitter on top of my silver painted lines to make the manicure pop.
 This manicure really helped brighten a dull and dreary winter's day.
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