Friday, January 31, 2014

what I'm up to

I am making stuff, just nothing finished to show yet.  We've been housebound since Tuesday (Atlanta Snowpocalypse of 2014) so it was nice to venture into town this morning and go get my Jazz on. (Oh, it's OK. Go ahead and laugh. There were no leg warmers present though.) Still some patches of ice on the roads, but it's mostly clear. But my poor Thing 1 busted right on her behindy on a stealth patch of ice on the way inside, bless her. You know how fast that happens. Swoop! went her legs and bang! right on her tuckus. Ouch.

Anyhoo, I couldn't resist purchasing this beautiful January fat quarter bunch recently from Anna Maria Horner's shop and now I must make a quilt. Yes, yes, why must you point out that I've said this many times before? But I've actually started piecing this together and we are talking REALLY simple here, basically I cut each fat quarter in half and sewed contrasting pieces together. I will add some strips of white and be done with it. I'd like it to be a living room throw. I'm determined to actually follow through with this so I can build my confidence. I have a walking foot and a vision.

I also made another Wiksten tank, only this one is tunic length. The fabric is Nani IRO double gauze, which is normally great, but unfortunately it sticks like glue to my leggings and tucks itself in my crotch as I walk. Not a good look. So now I am trying to put in a slinky lining after the fact, which is never a good scenario. Still puzzling over that one. I tried to get away with a partial lining but it pulls in an unattractive way, so I may just have to do a full lining and tack it to the shoulder and underarm seams. So now I need to purchase more lining fabric. Ergh.

I'm also working on the Partridge and Pear pattern and testing it with Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy (yes, that's quite a mouthful) thanks to designer Wendi Gratz and her helpful tips. What a fabulous way to do embroidery with no tracing required. This could be life changing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


OK, people, it's true we Suthonas aren't prepared for it and sho cain't drive in it, but we DO know how to have fun with it. Whoo!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I made a top

 (NEW LOOK 6356, view A)

My stash is kinda ridiculous (hearing a distant resounding "YES" from husband). I'm an impulse fabric buyer, so I am trying to redeem myself. I've had this AMH Innocent Crush voile for like ever. The hand is like butter -- it feels so silky and slinky and drapey it's hard to believe it's cotton. The threads are super fine. But it's not see-through, which is a definite plus. I loved sewing with it! And I happened to have a matching zipper too.

I only had a yard of the voile, so the project had to be small. Voila, sleeveless shell. (Haha get it. Voile-lah.) Even so I barely made it. I didn't even have enough fabric left over to make the facings for the neck and sleeves, so I cut them out of some gray shirting I had on hand. I think it looks nice. Actually I cut out two sets of facings because I added interfacing to the first set according to the instructions, then realized it was too stiff and did the second set with no interfacing, which worked fine since the shirting has a little more body than the voile.

Nice little slits in the sides. Now prepare yourself for the next slightly blurry photo. I don't have on the proper underpinning because it was too much trouble and also too cold to switch out of my sport bra to a real one. Also my makeup and hair specialist failed to show, so that part was mercifully cropped out.

The maizy yellow color is not that kind to my skin tone, so I will likely pair this with a cardigan to add contrast. Nnnnot sure why I went for the yellow. But this would look really great on you, Robyn! I should have gotten the purpley one. Ooh, look it's on sale.

Pattern was in my stash too, an oldie. Cheap pattern and I had to do a lot of mods to get it to fit my short waisted, wide shouldered bod. The fit is still not quite right. Something in the back is weird. I'm doing Jazzercise again (stop laughing at once) so maybe when my muffin top gets smaller it will adjust the fit. I can dream. And do not believe the "easy2hour" dangling carrot on the packaging there. Perhaps that would be true if you were on a planet that has 120 minutes in an hour and also you were in a child-proof sewing bubble with snacks. Hey, I just saw this really cute one by little miss gee! I love it on her. Great colors.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

cipro/levaquin awareness

At the risk of sounding like a nutter, I'm going to talk a little (OK, a lot) about a certain antibiotic I was given for a possible UTI. This is pretty off topic, so forgive me, but it's a commonly prescribed drug in the USA and I want as many as possible to be aware so you can avoid what happened to me. If you don't enjoy hearing folks blather on about their medical problems, I suggest skipping the rest of this post. I won't be offended!

Please note: I am not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on TV. This is my personal experience. Ok?

Cipro and Levaquin (and there may be other names/forms) are fluoroquinolone types of antibiotics and are commonly given for bacterial infections like UTIs and sinus infections, among other things. The generic name for Cipro is ciprofloxacin.

So the reason for this post is that I had an adverse reaction to Cipro and, most importantly, I didn't clue in that I was having one right away because the symptoms are not normally associated with antibiotics. I confess I had started the medication without reading the entire paper insert that came from the pharmacist. (Yes, that is dumb.) After two days on Cipro I had:
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • feelings of depression
  • feelings of anxiety
  • strange/irrational thoughts
  • tremors in my hands
  • charley horses in the night, with sore calf muscle the entire next day
I started to worry about it, especially the tremor in my hands. I decided to put it all down to too much caffeine and my hormone cycle. After another couple of days on Cipro with the same symptoms, I had to get out of the house and get some sunshine to get a handle on my blues. So I took a brisk walk through my neighborhood, about a mile and a half. As soon as I got back, my shoulder started to throb. It was quite painful, and a complete mystery since I had done nothing strenuous.

As I sat on the couch icing my shoulder and feeling a wreck, I read the insert that came with the drug and realized what was going on: not only was I having the adverse neuro side effects, I now had tendinitis in my shoulder. I had already taken the evening dose and felt a little panicked about that, but resolved to call my doctor the next morning and not to take another pill.

I also noticed that suddenly all my joints started to pop and crack with every movement and my muscles felt tight. Shoulders, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. All popping continuously. I thought, 'this can't be good'. 

That night I searched the internet for some advice on how to counteract the adverse reaction I was having to the drug. I read in several places that Cipro can leach away too much magnesium, so I immediately downed two magnesium supplements. I've been taking magnesium every single day since then, and it has helped a lot. My compounding pharmacist also recommended taking Vitamin C, which I did and do. (Now, remember that note about how I'm not a medical doctor? You need to ask yours before taking supplements.)

I called my doc and pharmacist in the morning to let them know about my adverse reaction so that I am never prescribed a fluoroquinolone antibiotic again. My doc told me to definitely quit taking the drug. It took me several weeks to get back to mostly normal. The mental craziness went away pretty quickly. Now, six months later, I'm still dealing with intermittent joint/tendon pain and tightness, and I'm much more prone to injury when I exercise, but it is mostly better overall. I do still have a tremor in both hands, but only when I move them in a certain way. Pretty weird, and may be permanent.

Since then I've spoken with several friends who have all had various adverse reactions to Cipro or Levaquin. Which is why I'm writing this post! Because these rare side effects don't seem to be that rare, nor does it seem to matter if you have taken it before with no problems. My MIL took Cipro for a UTI recently and even though she's taken it many times, this time she developed unexplained shoulder pain.

Even some doctors are not aware of the risks. One friend from church said his knee started killing him after five days on Cipro for a sinus infection and he called his doctor to ask him about it. His doctor told him there was no way it was the antibiotic and advised him to continue taking the full ten-day course. He followed his doctor's advice, and almost had to have knee surgery afterward.

I think in this day and age of overstressed and overloaded doctors it's helpful to be your own best patient advocate. For instance, Cipro has been given not one, but two black box FDA warnings, one of which talks about the risk of tendinitis/tendon rupture. The possibility of tendinitis is not just in the Achilles tendon - it's every tendon in your body. (Late note: I've just read that the FDA is requiring a new warning on the label of fluoroquinolone drugs regarding "possibly permanent nerve damage". Is the risk really worth it?)

Two more notes: even though my doctor never mentioned it, I found out from the insert that while taking Cipro you should stay away from:
  • NSAIDs (including common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds like Advil, aspirin and Motrin) Now this seems particularly ironic, since those drugs are the first thing most people reach for when they have tendinitis or joint pain. I took one for the pain in my shoulder before I realized.
  • Caffeine (doh!) as it can make the crazy nervous system side effects even worse. Hello, me and coffee? I wish I had known.
Ok, sorry about the long post that has absolutely nothing to do with crafting. But! If this post saves even one person from suffering all the side effect super-crazified-weirdness that I did, my work here is done. If you start having any adverse reaction, my hope is that you won't wait and wonder, like I did. Call your doctor right away!

What isn't the moral of this story: to avoid antibiotics altogether. I'm not anti-antibiotic. There are other classes of antibiotics that do not have these types of risks. Also, I'm sure that many folks do take Cipro and Levaquin with no adverse least I hope that is true! The moral of this story is to be properly informed before you start taking any Rx meds, including Cipro/Levaquin! Read your drug inserts! Be your own best patient advocate.

The end!

Friday, January 17, 2014

tiny things making me happy, part four million and one

This is Mr Owl and Mr Bear. They fit nicely in your pocketses. Mr Owl is 3 1/4 inches tall and Mr Bear is an inch taller. They were designed by Ingela Arrhenius, whose happy, vintage-style illustrations I admire a lot. Let's see what's inside.

 Mr Lion.

Mr Green Owl. I wonder if you know the other Mr Owl?

Mr Tiger.

 There you are, Mr Otter.

 Don't be shy, Mr Penguin.

 Wait a minute, you open too?

 Hmm. You are empty. It's a mystery. No matter. Nice place to hide a jelly bean.

 The whole zoo family.

 Now for Mr Owl. What's inside?

 His brother, Mr Owl.

 And his brother, Mr Owl.

 And his other brother, Mr Owl.

 and his other other brother, Mr Owl.

 And his littlest brother, Steve.

 Hey, Steve. You do not open. I've tried.

All the Brothers Owl together.

These are made of sturdy plastic instead of painted wood so they are kid friendly, but I'm having a problem sharing my toys. You can see more nesting dolls Ingela has designed (and other cool stuff -- the plates!) right here.

You may have noticed I have a little fixation on matryoshkas. I have a board dedicated to them, if you would like to look!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Paper to Petal. Thanks, Mom!

I'm a December baby and my mom knows what I like. She took me out to have coffee and look at books! It was a tough decision between this one and the new Ree Drummond cookbook, but in the end paper crafting won out. No surprise there, really.

This book is just luscious. Carefully styled and gorgeously photographed. I dove right in and started reading all about crafting with crepe paper, which I know next to nothing about beyond stringing up the occasional twisted garland for a party. I think it will be fun to work with. There are helpful resources listed for each item needed for the projects.

Look at that gorgeous peony! There's a huge section in the front with photos of all the different flower projects contained in the book so you can dive right into all the possibilities.

Then the latter half is step by step how-tos for each style of flower. Each tutorial is as carefully styled and photographed as the beauty shots of the flowers.

I may start with something simple like this. Then I need to locate some supplies and some time. Mother's Day is coming and pretty sure I know what my mom is getting this year.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I like calendars

I like a nice calendar. My theory is that if I have to look at something every day for a whole year, it is worth it to buy one that is pretty and makes me feel happy. My schmoopie dearest feels that the best calendar is one that doesn't cost more than $1.99. Or better yet, comes free from your insurance agent. So I ordered these two early in December to cut him off at the pass. The pretty Rifle Paper one (above) is more for looks than practicality. But I lovety love it so. The paper is nicely heavy and the colors are so rich. It's like joining a Gorgeous Art of the Month Club.

Annnd I was so happy to find one of my favorite picture book mementos in the form of a calendar! This one is the practical write-onable one that lives on the kitchen bulletin board for all my appointments, parties, classes and deadlines.

I love the vintage feel of the illustrations and how they stray down inside the calendar grid.

 Makes me want to go back, Robyn!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

handmade gifts 2013, part 3

I hosted a mommy's night out craft party for my local friends in December and we made these paper stars while chatting, laughing, and eating lots of things that were bad for us. We'll have to do that again soon! You can spy mine hanging up as part of my Christmas decor in this post. It was really satisfying to put them together once I got the hang of it, so I made a bunch of them to give to my extended family at our Christmas gathering.

If you would like to make some of your own, I used this Finnish Star tutorial at A Cherry On Top. Modification: I used 1/2 inch x 12 inch strips for my largest stars and loved how airy they looked. I also used this Simple Paper Stars tutorial at Merry Brides. She uses pretty origami paper, and so did I, but I also tried scrapbooking paper (shown above) and it worked great too. I used 6 inch, 4 inch and 3 inch squares for the stars you see above. The 3 inch squares make a nice ornament-sized star.

That sums up the handmade parade for Christmas this year, because you've already seen the Wee Princess Pea ornaments I made for my girls and all the color samples of Snow Birds, which I gave to my mom and sisters at our family Christmas gathering.

What? Oh, yes. Did you think I'd forgotten about the Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments I'm supposed to be making for my dear friend? Due to a creative block and overscheduling I owe her numbers 5, 6 and now 7 and 8. Three of those are sitting in various states of doneness in my sewing box. But I have until April to get those together, so no sweat. Right, Bob? April. EEEEEEEE!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

handmade gifts 2013, part 2

This year I gave the girls two ginormous craft organizer thingies to keep all their stuff in, and more importantly, keep them from borrowing my stuff. Who knew glorified tackle boxes could be so pricey? I'm glad I had a coupon plus a sale.

Anyhoo, to go along with all their spiffy new color coded sewing and crafting supplies (Thing 1 =  pink, Thing 2 = purple), I made them each a T.O.U.C. pincushion with a tiny attached strawberry cushion for needle parking.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

handmade gifts 2013, part 1

Two pinecone elf ornaments for Tucker and Darcy. Haha, Robyn, yes, I copied you! We really love the pinecone elf ornament you made for us, so when I was trying to think of something sweet to make for the girls' little cousins, I kept going back to this.

I've wanted to try it for ever so long, and I even had all the materials in my stash. You can follow Martha's tutorial to make your own, although I should mention that I made some modifications. I made the hat larger to fit further over the bead, and I made the mittens and shoes smaller. I also widened the top of the shoe pattern so it would not be as flat after it's sewn together. And I added some floss hair because it's cute.

I'm glad to say that I didn't burn myself even once with the hot glue gun this time! Almost.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 in review

(In no particular order.) Goodbye, 2013. It was a great year! Thank you, dear readers, for following along. Happy 2014!