Friday, 27 February 2015

Five on Friday

Happy Friday Folks!  Firstly, thank you for your kind thoughts and support on my recent posts.  I really appreciate each and every one of them and they have given me a lift when I needed it most.

Due to my health, I've had a lot more time online this week (as I've not been able to do a lot else).  I've enjoyed blogging a bit more regularly although I've not enjoyed not being able to craft - especially crochet.  The steroids are doing their thing though and I've improved so much since Wednesday.  I'm really positive about this new phase of managing my chronic conditions over time.

Today, I was catching up on some of your lovely blogs and realised that Amy is holding a Five on Friday linky party.  I know for a while that she has been working on doing this type of theme with a range of bloggers but somehow missed her first party last week.  Amy is such a genuine, friendly and supportive blogger I simply had to join in!

As you may have realised, I'm not up to much presently but thought you may like to see my Matryoshka Doll collection - my Five on Friday.  My little dolls I'm sharing here are a mixture of carefully crafted traditional sets and modern takes on the theme.  There is just something about them which I completely love.

Wikipedia  explains a bit of the history - A matryoshka doll also known as Russian nesting doll, refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first Russian nested doll set was made in 1890. 

::  #1

This is probably my favourite set gifted to me by my lovely Mum as she knows I have a weakness for them!

They are much more rotund in shape - wider at the base and smaller at the head than my other sets.  These are painted beautifully; their faces are super pretty and the scene on the middle is wonderfully detailed with highlights in gold.  

There are 8 dolls in the set and the smallest is as small as my finger nail.  

They are currently housed on my dresser in the kitchen and bring me a little pleasure each day. 

::  #2

This set is really colourful - an unusual shade of dark blue as the main colour.  My Mum gave these to me one Christmas - as I love blue, flowers and Russian dolls!!  These are the shapes that are more widely available although I have never seen another mainly blue set.  The smallest doll is tiny and doesn't stand on its own.  I usually keep it inside the larger doll so it doesn't get lost. I especially like their cheerfulness, rosy cheeks and jolly colours.  These also form part of my current display on my kitchen dresser.

::  #3

These were a gift from my sister and actually started life as bottle stoppers!  I knew that I would never use them for that purpose but really liked them.  To make an effective use of them I chopped off the cork stopper bits and simply use the doll parts for display.  These are resin and don't nest but I love the pastel colours and their size is super cute.  The largest one is not even 2 inches tall!!

::  #4

This set I picked up at a charity shop for pennies - mainly because at the time my Littlie's were obsessed with putting my other sets of the dolls in and out of their nesting sets.  I hadn't wanted my favourite set (which is a little more delicate) to get damaged and so picked this up as it was more robust.

I later found that each of the nesting dolls were painted differently - initially I was attracted to the strategically placed strawberries!  I love how the smaller dolls have flowers painted on the top of their heads - so cute.  I adore their simplicity and natural charm.

::  #5

These are my most modern type of Matyroska themed decoration.  I really like them - they are functional and pretty.  The blue and green shades in the background of the two larger tins are my two most favourite colours.  I bought them for myself in a little shop in Wadebridge in Cornwall probably 10 years ago and they are still one of my favourite purchases.

I wouldn't part with any of these Matryoska sets.  Not for their financial worth but for their sentimental value and their suitability to my taste in decor.  I hope too that they will prompt memories of happy play times for my children in the future.

Hopefully next Friday I'll be able to share with you my latest Works In Progress - yes there are currently five of them.  Naughty me!!!  I'm hopeful that my hands will be able to crochet tomorrow given the present level of improvement.  Each project is at a different stage of development but I hope to make some progress in the days ahead!

I do hope you have a wonderful weekend.  Take care, 
J9 x

Joining in with Amy and her Five on Friday Linky Party

Thursday, 26 February 2015

LUPUS - Onwards and Upwards

This year has had a challenging start for me health wise.  Over the last six months I've been having lots of tests, MRI scans, steroid injections into joints and various treatments in order to manage my condition and to establish exactly what is going on with my fluctuating health.

The additional diagnosis of Lupus SLE and Sjrogrens Syndrome recently provided hope in that additional medication may help with managing my symptoms.  Various things have been ongoing since September 2014 which led to this diagnosis.  It is likely that I have had these conditions for well over two years as it seems my initial diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis was incorrect and in fact those symptoms were due to the former conditions.

My health had been going into flare for the past few weeks and the week after the half term holidays (during which I couldn't pace effectively) has left me largely bed bound.  I had another hospital appointment yesterday and am back on a course of steroids and also starting another medicine which hopefully will manage more of the conditions of my Lupus and my current flare.  I'm positive about the potential of this medication.  All of these conditions are thought to have been caused by the trauma of my accident and there is still so much to learn about the connections of our central nervous system / brain and physical conditions.  These are always complicated by my other orthopaedic health issues but an accurate diagnosis and medication targeted to help that should be a positive addition to my medication regime!!!  This new medication will take 12 weeks to take effect during which time the additional slow release steroid injection I was given into my muscles should help ease my symptoms until these new meds can do their work.  

I'm so fortunate to have a wonderfully understanding husband and two children to get up for each day.  It forces me to focus on pushing through many of my symptoms and I rest when they are at school/ work etc yet stops me from giving in.  Pain, mobility of my limbs and clawing of my hands and feet have been a real issue and seeming to increase in severity over recent years and it was the Hubby that pushed me for referrals to more Consultants.  I'm glad he did as it has led to these additional diagnosis which I feel positive about and the opportunity to medicate some debilitating symptoms is fantastic.

A 20 question depression test. Stay Positive #quotes:
Things can always be worse and I know many people have health issues far more challenging than mine but I felt that my health is interwoven into the make up of this blog and is a factor in my everyday and hence, a post documenting these challenges may help someone else suffering feel less isolated.  Remember to be kind to yourselves.  Take care,

J9 x

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Make Me January ~ Ta Dah!!!!

Way back in November, the wonderful Sandra of Cherry Heart posted about her newest pattern the "Painted Roses Blanket".  Right then I knew that I had to make it!  I had been wanting to crochet something for my mum and this was exactly what I had been looking for!

I've shared the process of this creative journey here and here and finally the blanket is complete.  I am so very pleased with it - and my mum was delighted when it was presented to her during the half term holidays.

So... shall I show you?!

Ta Dah!!!

The weight of it is so comforting - with the teddy throw sewn to the crochet blanket.  It provides substantial warmth and is pretty and functional!!

I added buttons to the centres of some of the painted roses - partly because they look pretty and partly because it helped to attach the fleece backing to the crochet front.

This combined with the edging teeny weeny flowers around the whole painted roses squares means the fleece blanket is attached thoroughly.  I sewed the fleece to the red single crochet stitches using red embroidery thread. This meant that the fluted edging is not backed but it frames the blanket well giving a little more drape.

I added a very homemade label to the back - embroidered with 'Made with Love' and Nov - Feb 2015.  I haven't hand sewn in a while and it certainly showed but it held a simple charm - especially with it being a vintage, embroidered coaster originally.

I love it.  And have loved making it.  I've enjoyed every step actually.  I'm hooked again and really want to start my next crochet project imminently!!!

As you can see with the number of photos!!  Before I gave it away I had a real play with photographing it.  The trouble being that there has been very little sunshine here so they were all taken indoors...

Sandra also shared her painted roses cushion made in more muted tones which I really love and is a less time consuming project.  I definitely think I'll make one soon - although I have two other crochet projects already on the hook!  I can't recommend this pattern enough and I hope you have enjoyed seeing my finished blanket.  Take care lovely people, 

J9 x

Monday, 23 February 2015

Half Term Happies

This half term has passed quietly and far too quickly.  I love these days of unscheduled activity where we can do whatever the heart pleases.  My Littlie's are growing noticeably at present - physically and emotionally.  These treasured days together are good for the soul and we tried to balance rest, purposeful activity and catching up with loved ones.

::  Pancake day and Baking naughtiness...

::  A couple days in Cornwall staying with my Mum...

A visit to the Hubby's biggest bro and family in Devon...  Normal family time in the interim moments.  Moments of chaos, calm or creativity.  All so very precious in the fabric of our lives.  It's a pleasure to reflect on these snippets of our simple life and to share them here with you.

I know you lovely people will enjoy the next photos.  This spot which edges a country road in my childhood village is always beautiful for spring flowers.  Initially the snow drops are abundant and later, the daffodils flower in wonderful tones of yellow which are followed in turn by primroses in cream.  I was completely adoring these stunning swathes of snowdrops...

I hope you had a wonderful half term / fabby week whatever you have been doing.  I'm looking forward to showing you my Ta Dah for the Painted Roses Blanket later this week.

Happy Monday Folks,

J9 x

Monday, 16 February 2015

Nearly There...

I'm working on the final round of edging on the Painted Roses blanket for my Mother - my January 'Make Me' challenge.  It has run over a little but the effort has been so worth it!

This has been a complete joy to work on and the end is very near.  Those teeny tiny flowers (found here) have been completed and their button centres added.

The blanket was then blocked and the flowers were added to each of the surrounding plain granny squares.  This added a nice bit of texture and also served to attach the fleece backing to the blanket.  I simply used embroidery thread to fix the flower to the front of the square and pulled it through to the back where I knotted it and cut off the thread to about an inch long.  A bit like some quilted fronts are fastened to their backs.  It was an easy solution and was perfectly functional without being too faffy!

Such joy.

I can't wait to share my Ta Dah post with you!!!  Happy half term folks.

J9 x

Edit - I originally omitted the link of the Painted Roses pattern by Sandra of Cherry Heart so am updating to include that - sorry!!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Happy Moments #2

Morning Lovely people and a big WELCOME to all you new followers and readers.  It's lovely to have you follow along and I look forward to getting to know you all a bit better in the year ahead!

It's been a mixed week in my part of the world.  Lots of good things and a few good challenges thrown in for good measure.  I was reading a leaflet on one of my newly diagnosed conditions last week and literally laughed out loud.  The one and only symptom in a long list that I didn't have was weight loss.  It seems the good Lord has a little giggle sometimes and thinks - ahhh, she can handle it but something she wants...nope!  Due to this diagnosis I've had to cut out caffeine and reduce sugar intake so perhaps the weight loss in future could be a by product of this.  It's strange how my will power (which has been so lacking in the last few months) has become cast iron in resolve since needing to do it to help with my symptoms.  Good strange though.

There have still been many things to be grateful for in my simple life.  Here are a few of the happy moments I've been thankful for in the last 10 days:

::  Signs of spring slowly becoming apparent.  These snowdrops were sheltered underneath an oak tree on a sunny bank.  Spring flowers are among my favourites and snowdrops just make my heart sing.  Whilst I don't hate winter, I do find that the cold and lack of sunlight exacerbates most of my symptoms.  I understand why so many people in their retirement winter in warmer climates!!  Still, these lovely flowers bring great joy.
::  Wonderous textures in our countryside.  The bark of some of these trees was gnarled and curved.  It created beautiful shapes and textures which just needed to be captured.  The bracket fungi growing on one tree was really prolific,

::  Precious moments with Little Lady as per our 'plan'.  Looming of 3D objects is the current obsession.  So many patterns identified through books and some through YouTube.  The cute picture is of a pink banana.  She has also made peas in a pod "Percy, Pat & Paul" and cheesy chips in a cute carton - very creative.

::  Grateful for medication that keeps me going and the ongoing care of Consultants new to me (through those recent referrals).  New diagnoses produce mixed emotions but also bring hope.  I start a new medication, which takes twelve weeks to start working but hopefully when it does... it could relieve some of my symptoms.

::My lovely 'little ones' playing along with "The Voice" on Saturday night.  They rigged up a system next to me in bed where they could press their makeshift paper button and turn around for the acts which they too found enjoyable.  I know I'm biased but their giggles were more entertaining than the show.  Little Man could do a great impression of Sir Tom Jones! 'Yeeaaah'

Hope there were many Simple Things to make you happy this week.

J9 x

Monday, 2 February 2015

Pretty Me Progress ~ January

As promised, I'm writing today to show you my progress on my January Pretty Me commitment - My Stairs and Landing.  Firstly, I must confess that I have failed to finish the project in the month of January.  It's not far off but due to my health I'm going to take all of February too.  Unfortunately, I found that I could not paint the walls and thus the Hubby and our kind neighbour have stepped in with their rollers.  I'm hoping I may be able to catch up with my personal Pretty Me blogging challenge in future months with a couple of smaller, more achievable targets I've got in mind.

I think I hinted in my original post that any decorating needed to be done on a small budget.  Well if I said minimal budget then that would have been more accurate.  I'm naturally quite thrifty and a little inventive I guess in using things for different purposes.  Recently this has become more trendy - but that's not why I do it.  I like that reusing things means less damage to the environment (and with me not working and having not yet won the lottery) a more frugal approach is beneficial!

We are fortunate that some filler and paint were left following our extension last year (to add a downstairs toilet and shower) which has meant paint purchasing has not been necessary.  The original stairs walls were in a bit of a state with cracking and uneven surfaces but I really tried to smooth these out a bit with the leftover filler.  A couple of similar colours mixed together (different hues of duck egg blue) meant that there was sufficient paint to complete the task.  Frugal indeed.

The original blackout blind had to go - it had been up since we moved in 8 years ago and was actually in our spare room in our last house.  It needed to be replaced despite serving us so faithfully as it had succumbed to the damp window.  I have a new blind which I purchased a couple of years ago in a charity shop (with the view that it would be useful at some point) and although it's not a great colour match, it tones in well enough.  I plan to add a few trims and maybe some buttons to it anyway to add a bit of interest.  I'll share that once I'm done.

I've been slowly working my way around the wood work with undercoat.  The last time I decorated I clearly thought it was a good idea to paint the railings an eau de nil colour and therefore I have to cover this with undercoat!  For the top coat I'm reverting to brilliant white this time with a satin finish.  I'm taking my time and having days off in between but I aim to finish the doors and railings by mid February - there are five doors and door frames on the landing.

I took down all my photo frames ready to paint the wall.  I like them up there even though it makes the space feel lighter with them down.  Photographs are such a major part of our home so they will go back up.  I may well update some of the pictures in the frames and I'm thinking I will paint the frames white to unify them a bit more.  They should stand out nicely against the pale duck egg blue once that is done.  You can't see the colour of the walls in this picture on the right - I'll try taking one earlier in the day to give a truer idea of the actual colour when I post the completion post!

That's my progress this past month.  I have really taken my time on this and tried to pace myself properly.  I've still had most of the usual stuff to do (although I've let lots slide) and my pain has spiked uncontrollably at times meaning that I've had to down tools for days at a time.  Progress has been slow but I feel positive about continuing this week.  Slow and steady... ticks on a list.

The Hubby is going to finish painting the walls as this has just proven beyond me physically at present - even with pacing and rest days.  Anyhow, the most important point is that it gets done and completed.  I will tick it off my list - just give me til the end of February to do it!

I have made much better progress on my Make Me challenge for January.  I'll be back with a Ta Dah soon!!

J9 x