Just For Fun is my way of sharing all the little things I like to do... from crafty things to thoughtful things!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

You Look Mahhvelous, Liebster!

Woohoo!  My friend Steampunk Addie has nominated me for the Liebster Award!  It's a way for bloggers to share the love and link together.

She tells me that Liebster means sweetheart, darling, or beloved in German.  Well, I think you're pretty sweet too my friend.  So much so that the only blog I would have to nominate is, well, yours.  Ha!  (Dear readers, if you have a blog and want to play along, let me know.)

So, I will simply endeavor to answer your questions...

Q: What is your favorite toy ever made?
A. It's funny, I never really thought of the whole wide universe of toys. I really love the technology though... the idea that I can replace my tv, music player, books (well maybe not  *all* of them) with one gadget that fits in my hand and can go with me anywhere?  Epic.

Q. What is your favorite toy you ever had?
A. My grandmother's costume jewelry case.  In fact, I still have it!  I spent HOURS looking at each piece and memorizing every detail... and then wearing it around the house. I might have to wear some today just on principle.

Q. What is your favorite color?
A. Green.. no yellow... no green.   AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!
*sails over the bridge*

Q. What is your favorite scent?
A. Green growing things after a good rain.

Q. What is your favorite moving picture?
A. Mr. Holland's Opus, which reminds us that achievement may have a different definition than we think.

Q. If you could time travel, when and where?
A. So many options!  I think I would travel back 100 years to see my grandparents in their youth.  That means Idaho and Minnesota for me.

Q. If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who?
A. Einstein... I'd love to pick his brain for a while!

Q. What event in history would you change, and why?
A. Slavery? Genocide? Nuclear bombing?  I'm not sure I can choose.  Part of me thinks that all the horrible things the human race has done and experienced over time makes us who we are now, for good, bad, or ugly.  As hard as it is to say, I think we had to do some of those things to learn that we should never, ever do them again.

Q. Are you a geek or a nerd?
A. While I do have a few geeky tendencies, let's face it, I am a nerd! 

Q. What would be your superpower if you could choose?
A. The ability to  manipulate matter, like transfiguring Draco Malfoy into a ferret. *maniacal laugh*  As long as I'm leaning towards magical, let's go all the way because I could use some *accio coffee* too.

Q. What would your supername be?
A. The Transfigulator!  Hmmm... I better get in touch with Edna Mode about my costume.  No capes.

(Apparently youtube is down at the moment, but hopefully this will pop up when they do!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Celiac disease is no joke...

If I hear another person say celiac disease is a wheat allergy or "gluten free" is a fad diet I may scream.  Ok, maybe internally (again), but if you talk about this subject around me and I *do* scream... well.. you'll know why.

I have a lot of trouble with food allergies, if was originally a plant or an animal, I am allergic to it.  I have "I can get away with this once in a while" allergies all the way to "Another bite of this threatens your life".

With my Celiac (also called Celiac Sprue) diagnosis, wheat and all its relatives moved from "I can get away with this" to "threatens my life".  I thought I wasn't having bad reactions, but I was looking for the wrong kinds of symptoms.

When I went to my Gastroenterologist about my acid reflux he felt my symptoms were severe enough to do an endoscopy.  I was surprised to hear everything looked fine and there was no evidence of problems related to acid.

There were however other indications and he took biopsies from several sites - which all came back "consistent with celiac disease".  Huh?

I'm 50 years old and only just this year having digestive issues - you know, acid reflux.  I may over do the wheat allergy now and again but no big deal, right?  Unfortunately it *is* a big deal... and a very good thing I was properly diagnosed.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, which makes it easy for people to confuse with a wheat allergy, or a gluten intolerance - but they are not the same.

Celiac disease - the small intestine doesn't know what to do with gluten, so it gets inflamed.  It calls on the immune system which then overreacts after trying to "kill" the gluten and it actually kills the villi that line the small intestine instead, causing permanent damage over time.  This is what makes it autoimmune disease - the body's immune system attacks the body itself without recognizing that the body is not the invader.  It has a genetic component and cannot be acquired.

Gluten Intolerance - the digestive system has a hard time processing gluten and reacts with digestive symptoms.  The immune system is not triggered, and there are no permanent consequences.  It's the wheat version of lactose (found in milk) intolerance.  Some say these intolerances are increasing because of the way our food products are manufactured.  It makes a good case for organic and farm fresh foods, but that is a discussion for another day.

Wheat allergy - the allergy causing antibodies in the digestive system recognize wheat as an invader and trigger an allergic reaction much like I described above, from hives to anaphylaxis.  However, the immune system does *not* attack any part of the body itself - just the perceived invader.

All three conditions require the removal of wheat, its other relatives and for gluten issues rye, barley, sometimes oats from the diet. 

Next time you're at the market read some labels to see how many items are actually gluten/gluten grain free.  Wheat flour or food starch is found in almost everything from prepared foods to frozen vegetables.  It's not just about bread.  In addition, some gluten free foods are "manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat" - well guess what?  That just disqualified your product from my shopping list.

In addition, not all gluten free foods are actually wheat free.  This is ok for gluten intolerance, but not for those with an allergy.  Careful label reading is the most important thing we can do for ourselves.

For me, even though I have removed all gluten from my diet, I still have significant permanent damage to my small intestine.  It means I can't absorb nutrients properly, and never will. 

It means that for my (completely unrelated to celiac) hypoparathyroidism I have to take 1,000mg of calcium carbonate every four hours, round the clock, because my body cannot absorb it the way it should.  It doesn't even recognize other forms of calcium.  Yes, you read that correctly... I have to wake up at 3am to take calcium, every day for the rest of my life (and so does my patient husband).  If I don't, within hours low calcium levels will bring on muscle cramping and tetany and can eventually lead to seizures, heart irregularities and respiratory failure.

All from a little genetic blip and eating my PBJs.

The next time you encounter someone with any of these conditions, please be kind.  If it's someone with celiac disease, try to remember that they might be screaming inside... screaming for understanding about their condition, and about why those wheat toast crumbs left in the butter are serious business.  For us, it is.  Our lives may depend on it someday.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Purple Flower Parasol

I am having so much fun with these parasols!

This one was a challenge for two reasons, the frame I wanted to use has 10 ribs (most of the vintage frames I bought online have 8), and my friend Swati, The Purple Flower, gets migraines so this one needed to be a bit more opaque.

Why does the number of ribs matter?  Only that my "everything must match" frame of mind thinks it looks better.  I want a pattern I can evenly sew to the ribs.  In this case, five petals.

There aren't many patterns out there for sun shades, so I had to get creative!  I started to flip through all my old vintage (1940's) doily patterns.  Who says doilies are out of style?!I found this one with five "solid" petals and I knew this was the one!  I used this pattern from the center to the ends of the petals, lengthening them to match the size of the frame.

Then I did a few mesh rounds to adjust the total stitch count to the number I needed to do a few rows of the edging I like so much from the Filigree Sunshield.

Rather than using two shades of purple, I decided to use beads to outline the petals.  I love the effect.  I also added beads to a row in the edging, Why not use 'em, right?

I love how the central flower "tops it off" so nicely, and echoes the larger flower and leaves. 

Overall, I think it worked rather well, what say you?



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Always Wear Sunscreen

Remember that "song" from Baz Luhrman Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)?  The one based on an essay written by Mary Schmich?  You know...

Well... I have problems with sunscreen.  All the other ingredients they throw in there to make it smell nice or feel creamier.  I have to rely on physical sunblocks... my BareMinerals, glasses, hats, and now these amazing sun shields!

This Filigree Sunshield pattern is in the 2013 issue of Interweave Crochet, Accessories. 

Oh, you noticed the crazy handle there, eh?  It's an old bakelite (?) one-eyed parrot.  What can I say? I'm in my Pirate/Mary Poppins phase.
Basically, you make a doily and sew it to an umbrella frame.  I couldn't find empty frames anywhere so I searched online for vintage umbrellas with cool handles and removed the old fabric.  Here are my projects to be named later!

I also managed to help Ginny Weasley with one for Steampunk Addie.

This week I am working on a Purple Flower shaped parasol with many more in line, so watch this space!


Time flies when you're having fun!

Apparently, when I said "I'll be back" I meant "in a really really long time". 

2013 was a tough year for me medically speaking.  Soon after posting about my TARDIL last May, summer came upon me with a vengeance.  There was quite a list of issues in 2013, but with the exception of a couple of enforced breaks I was still able to crochet.

Here's a parade of my favorites, you can find them on Ravelry in more detail:

Chanson du Printemps
Downton Abbey Shawlette

Hogwarts Tote

Fritillary Shawl
... and a close up of that fantastic beaded edging!
Miss Bennet's Walking Shawl

Ayla Sweater
Happy Hippo
Lainey Monkey
Texture Jacket - who knew this would be so comfortable?
And this one!  The Eldorado Jacket aka 'blanket with sleeves"
Sugar Sparkles Shawlette
Outta Sight
Easy Wrapper - button different ways for different looks
Love is a Rose

The World Needs More Love Letters

I am so excited to find MLL… I’ve been preparing for it for some time now and just realize it.
As a teen, I was involved in a group where we wrote letters of love and encouragement during retreat weekends.  At the end of each retreat, people told me how much they appreciated my letters and that it gave them the encouragement they needed at just the right time.  Later on, I became an adult sponsor for that same group and wrote more letters and received more great responses.  It felt good to know I helped someone.
As a result, I began to look for other ways to change the world.  Not big I can change the nuclear weapons policy in far away countries ways, but in little I can help this person through this crisis ways, I can surprise that struggling family with a holiday basket, I can volunteer my time, effort and friendship.  I believed that if the Universe brought a situation to my attention, it was my responsibility to do something about it.
I soon realized that those *are* the big ways, and that the Universe knows what’s it’s doing.
In recent years, I have been spending a lot of time at home for health reasons.  I spend a lot of sleepless nights crocheting for babies I will never meet, charities, grandkids, and projects simply for the pleasure of making them (and will be posting soon!).  I enjoy it very much, but miss volunteering and interacting directly with people. Last year at LeakyCon (like ComiCon but for Harry Potter fans) I bought several quills and inks and papers… just because I thought they were beautiful.  Later I bought a bag full of note cards… just because I thought they were beautiful.  I thought... I have time on my hands, I’ll just write to people I know and enjoy these wonderful things.  But they’ve been sitting on my shelf until today.
Why today?  Today I took the time to click on karmatube, which took me to Random Acts of Kindness which took me to the 2013 Kindness Challenge Winner, which finally landed me at... you guessed it... More Love Letters.
I immediately wrote letters for all the current requests, and bookmarked the page so I can check back often.  What a fantastic way for me to reach out into the world and connect with people who need a little love.
Well played, Universe, well played.