Thursday, January 28, 2016

Craft Room Tour and a Chiari Update

Hi everyone! 

    It’s so good to be able to say hi to all of you, even though I’m all snuggled in comfy pajamas and laying in bed. I’m sorry I haven’t posted, but I did not expect my recovery to be so difficult. I’m hoping to do a detailed post next week to explain exactly what has happened and how we are dealing with it. If you follow me on instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen a few updates here and there. If you’d like to read about how my journey began, you can read this post. Today was one of those days where I went from #ChiariWarrior to #BrainSurgerySucks.

     Thankfully, I got the pictures done before my surgery—whew! So at least I can bring you this post. I love having a craft room. It’s my girly room in a house full of 5 males. So when the kids tv or our family tv is on sports or kids shows, I can sneak out and hang out in my amazing craft room. Sometimes women just need alone time. and craft time. or to read a book in bed. I know you know what I mean!

              CHECK OUT ALL OF THE TOURS HERE!!!! 

    This wonderful series is brought to you by the fabulous Angie who blogs at The Country Chic Cottage! She always puts a great assortment of bloggers in her yearly craft room tours. I was actually in a few years back. You can see my old sewing studio here! I was so thrilled to be in the mix again. Since my health decline, sewing was put on the back burner, so I didn’t need my machines out all the time. This new room still has a lot of sewing items in it -fabric, cough, cough. 
This new room is geared towards all my little projects. Then when we realized we needed a guest room for people taking care of the little ones when I was in San Antonio, we had to move in a bed. That kinda threw a few things off! Anyhow, it’s working for right now. I’m just going to show you the basic stuff now, and I’ll update in the future in more detail. If there is anything specific you would like to know, be sure to leave a comment and I’ll tell you where I bought it, etc. So lets get started!

Craft room sewing studio 3

This is the longest wall I have in the room. On one side is a closet and on the other is a window (the view is a fence, so I don’t mind covering it a bit). The bookshelves are not a perfect match to the bottom consoles, but the price was right for all of it. Secretly, between you and I, I’m loving my new television! I know none of the storage containers on the bottom benches match, but hopefully I’ll get some soon!

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Monday, December 21, 2015

My Chiari Experience : Diagnosis and Upcoming Surgery


Truth be told, I’ve gone back and forth about writing todays post. Even though I blog, and am present on social media, in all reality, I’m still somewhat of a private person.  Some of you have been loyal readers for a couple of years, and you’ve seen glimpses into my life. You know I’m the wife of a retired Army soldier, and a mom of 4 boys. I like to craft and sew, and cook it up in the kitchen. These are always the characteristics that somewhat define me. If you were to put everything in a box about me, those would most likely fill it. But life isn’t always that simple, is it?

When a headache isn't just a headache. My personal story of being diagnosed with Arnold Chiari Malformation. I will be undergoing surgery this month in an effort to prevent further damage. #BigBrainProblems #Chiari

The truth is, I haven’t really been able to sew for over a year now. My vision just doesn’t do fine details like it used to. If I concentrate too long on something up close, it blurs and then it’s gone. Remember that coloring post I did last week? I can’t tell you how challenging that was. When this first occurred, I went to my eye doctor. We decided I was just getting old, and I switched to bifocal contacts. It did help, but the over all problem was still there. One day when I was on the computer editing pictures, both eyes suddenly had a black circle in the middle of the focus area. Blinking, looking at other objects, nothing changed it. And within a few minutes that circle started increasing in size. Eventually almost all my vision was gone.

I texted my neighbor who dropped everything to take me to my eye doctor, who saw me immediately. The good news was that my retina wasn’t detached. The eye doctor started asking me a lot of questions about how often I had headaches. He told me he thought this was the onset of an ocular migraine, and that I should probably follow up with my regular doctor. I told him I had had a few migraines, but never with auras or light flashes, or vision issues. The truth was, every single day I woke up with a headache. Somedays it was better than others. But these headaches weren’t migraines. They felt more like a squeezing. Somedays it was pounding. Sometimes if I drank enough coffee, or took enough advil, they would almost seem like they weren’t there. Except they were. An Always constant ache in my head. He urged me to ask my doctor for an MRI. The next time I saw my doctor, we agreed it was most likely an ocular migraine and we’d keep a tab on things. I didn’t lose my vision to that extent for a few months, and I just sort of shrugged it off. That was in the fall of last year.

This spring my headaches seemed to come on stronger and harder. The coffee and advil weren’t cutting it as well as it used to. I was exhausted all the time. The pain never seemed to go away. In June, I was diagnosed with  pneumonia. One of the things that always makes the headaches worse is coughing. When I had pneumonia, I could not stop coughing, and my headaches were beyond severe. I can remember thinking if I could just drill a hole in my head, it would feel so much better. The pain caused vomiting, and my vision loss started up again. I would get the almost total loss of vision several times a day.

When I went to my doctor to have the X-ray to confirm the pneumonia was gone, I told her of my concerns. We decided it was most likely migraines, and I could start some medicines to prevent them and to try to get them under control. She thought it would be the best if I had an MRI to rule anything out, but assured me she thought it would all come back normal.

In July, I had my first MRI. I was relieved it was over and figured I’d be able to start medicines the following week. Two hours after I got home, my doctor called. I knew immediately it wasn’t migraines. I remember thinking, please don’t let it be a brain tumor. Please don’t let it be a brain tumor. My doctor told me that surprisingly enough, something did show up. She told me I had what was known as an Arnold Chiari Malformation. She told me that she wasn’t really qualified to treat me for that, and that she’d put in a referral to a neurologist or neurosurgeon for me.

Mri's diagnose Chiari

Of course the first thing I did after hanging up the phone was to google search Chiari. (This site has good info for those of you who are wondering) Suddenly, little odd things made sense. I had seen an ENT earlier this year for the constant ringing in the ears, and feeling like I was losing some of my hearing. I had also been monitored by a cardiologist for the last 2 years because I have dizzy spells. Several times a day, the room will suddenly shift. If I am standing talking to you, most likely I will have my hand on a table, or wall. My husband had commented a few days before that my left foot seemed to be off balance a bit.

The first doctor I saw was a neurologist who spent about 5 minutes with me and told me it was migraines. He assured me that Chiari doesn’t cause symptoms and that if I started some of the medicines I would be just fine. My doctor called to ask me how it went, and when I told her, she told me she thought it would be good to get a second opinion. It was my brain after all.
The second doctor I saw was a neurosurgeon. We had a much longer appointment, about an hour long. There were a lot of questions. Things like, “what sort of things trigger it or make it worse?”. Coughing always made it worse. Laughing. Bending over. Those things always increased the pain, but the pain was constant. We also had a physical exam where he checked a lot of reflexes. My left side didn’t pass a lot of the tests. My reflexes were over reactive. I had numbness and loss of feeling in a few spots. There were several other neurological deficits present. We did more MRI’s. We ruled out aneurisms, and tumors. This neurosurgeon was the first to mention intracranial hypertension. He suggested to surgically place a shunt to increase the flow of spinal fluid.

It was at this point in time that I really put my google search into high gear. Chiari is still somewhat rare (with more MRI’s performed it is increasingly becoming less rare). There are not that many doctors that deal with it. I decided to see someone who dealt with it more than my local neurosurgeon does. My search lead me to Dr Jimenez in San Antonio. After a my first appointment, it was very clear that surgery is my number one option. Every case is different, but at this point, my rate of decline is such that I need to do it now (once you have the nerve damage, it is possible you may not get them back).

So on the 28th of December I am having the posterior fossa decompression surgery to alleviate my symptoms. There is no guarantee with the surgery. It will not cure me. The hope for me is that it will prevent any more damage. The greater hope of course is that my spinal fluid flow is restored, and I will get relief. My recovery will be a long one, and I’m not really sure how it will affect my blogging. The first few weeks may be recipes I’ve taken photos of and never posted, some travel posts, guest posts, or general updates. I’m simply going to try to go with the flow.

When I first told my brother, I explained that it wasn’t so much that my skull was just too small and malformed, it was obviously because my brain was just way too big for my skull. Obviously, right??!!! Because of this joke, I’ll be using the hashtag #BigBrainProblems when I post updates, in case you’d like to follow along.
Follow My Chiari Experience. My personal story of being diagnosed with Arnold Chiari Malformation. I will be undergoing surgery this month in an effort to prevent further damage. #BigBrainProblems #Chiari
I so love all my readers. There have been many days that blogging gave me a reason to fight through the discomfort. I’ve been stretched in ways I never imagined this year, and I am forever grateful for my online community. I felt it was only fair that you see the “not so pretty” behind the scenes and that I be open and upfront with you. I appreciate you all so very much! Pin It

Friday, December 18, 2015

5 More Ways To Welcome Guests


5 more ways to welcome guests
    Last year, I wrote a very popular post about welcoming your overnight guests for the holiday season. This year I decided to expand on this idea and have it cover all your holiday guests. Whether they are little kids or adults, overnight or just dropping by, here are the essentials you need to make them feel at home. I try to cover all my bases and stock up early. My grocery cart was full before Thanksgiving! The truth of the matter though is that these should be year round essentials. So what are my secret weapons? Keep reading to find out!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

American Singing Lily Plus How To Get To Know Your Neighbors


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias

    I’m sure your reading that title and wondering, Who is this Lily she is talking about? Why is she singing? I have no idea. Singing Lily is apparently the name of a British dessert my mother grew up with, although she called it Currant Cake her entire life. Now are you really confused? My grandfather was born in England, but raised in America. When my mother was growing up, her British grandparents lived with her. She remembers her grandmother making this as a big pie like dessert, always using dough scraps. This past spring, when we visited England, one of the first thing my mom asked my cousins was how to make this recipe. HA!

    It turns out people do a million different versions, with a million different names. In fact, in a Facebook group dedicated to the  the area her grandparents were from, posters banter back and forth on what they should be called. Although some said Eccles cakes, they were shut down pretty fast with, “no, those are made with puff pastry”. Some said Chorley Cakes (which is where my great grandparents are from), Bolton flat cake (another nearby town), or Singing Lily. Singing Lily seemed to be the most popular, and hey, it’s pretty catchy. So American Singing Lily this dessert shall be!

American style Singing Lily. Looking for a new holiday tradition? Try Singing Lily! Learn about this British Dessert as well as easy ways to get to know your neighbors. Give them treats in Holiday Rubbermaid TakeAlongs! #ShareTheHoliday #cbias #ad
There are really only 2 main components of this dessert: Pie Crust and Currants.
My Great Grandmother used pie scraps, but I made a whole pie crust so that I would be able to make this dessert alone. I pie crust yielded 9 cakes.

Singing Lily

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Quilt Inspired Coloring Cards

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Prismacolor, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #relaxandcolor  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

DIY Coloring Cards  Tags
     If you follow me on Instagram, you might have caught a quick peek at this project. Maybe you’ve noticed the adult coloring books for sale around the stores lately? It is all the rage right now. I loved to color as a kid, and I still love to color as an adult. It didn’t take much for my kiddos to convince me to sit down and color with them when they were little. The good news is now I can find more complex patterns and pages to color than I could back then. I’m a big fan of geometric patterns.

     My mom has been a quilter for as long as I can remember and I attended so many quilt shows with her. She also enjoys coloring, so I decided to gift her some DIY coloring cards. They are perfect for gift giving! Create as many as you want— wrap them with a bow, and your recipient is free to color them whatever color they choose! I’ve included several sizes, and styles. Most are intended to be cut out and pasted onto a blank card. Some can simply be folded over to create a card. And some are perfect for using as tags.

DIY Coloring Quilt stationary

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