Health, life, mental health

Love. Not Fear.

View at Medium.com

It has been far too long since I’ve published anything but this article is important enough to share. If you allow your fear to spiral out of control, that lowers your immunity and makes you more susceptible to getting sick.

Stay informed, but focus on connection and gratitude. Turn off the screens and get outside. Wash your hands, and stay home unless it’s essential to go out. Stay safe and healthy out there!

❤️ Amanda

life

Christmas: pressures and perspective

So, I was ‘voluntold’ yesterday by my youngest that ‘we’ were providing the vegan gingerbread house kit for her and a friend for the class contest on Friday. Ummm… okay? 🤣

I love that she knows I love to bake so assumed I’d be happy to do it. Happier that it doesn’t occur to her that I’m carefully pacing myself at the moment so I can make it through the holidays without the MonSter rearing it’s ugly head too far. One of the perks of an invisible illness when it comes to your kids, at least when you can…

But it’s always smart to remind yourself, chronic illness or not, that it’s not worth pushing beyond your limits. Everyone owes it to themselves to take time for self-care, to take things off their plate when necessary and to ask for help sometimes.

The whole season should be about being cozy and spending low-key personal time with your people. Let go of the consumer, commercial side of it and focus on what matters. You can only do what you can do, and good enough is good enough. Otherwise, you…

The best thing I’ve started doing since I finally got decent running shoes is getting my butt out the door every weekday for a 20 minute walk. Sometimes it’s a few minutes more, but never too much because in the past I would get back into ballet or yoga and go too hard, setting myself back several steps. So now I’m the tortoise not the hare, and I find I look forward to my walk each day and it sets me up well for the day ahead. There are days when 20 minutes doesn’t get me too far…

But I’ve only missed one day, when the wind was too much for my sensory issues, and then the last couple of days when I needed to brave the crowds to finish the Christmas shopping. Now I will get out there every day if possible because I know it’s the single best thing I can do to make it through our busiest Christmas season ever, and enjoy it.

Finally, chronic illness or not…

Depending on how things go, I may post one more time about the vegan gingerbread house. If it’s a total fail, maybe not, so…

Wishing you all a restful, joyous holiday and a healthy, peaceful New Year.

❤️ Amanda

life

Crafts and chronic illness: A Handmade Christmas

As I said in my last post, crafts keep me sane and help me feel productive in my spoonie lifestyle. So, together with my desire to rid our household of plastic as much as possible, I decided to make the decorations for our tree this year. Oh, an important detail: Our youngest requested that I decorate the living room tree myself this year. She’s all about matchy-matchy at the moment.

Usually we have the schmozzle of family heirlooms on the tree, which is wonderful, and they love to tease me about being Monica from Friends when I encourage them to space out the ornaments. The little twerps have been known to clump all the ornaments as close together as possible, just to get a reaction. Too bad for them, I bite my tongue and stealth redecorate later. 😏

This year, the family tree will be in the basement where we spend a lot of time together, and will wait until our son is home from university to decorate. Upstairs, we’ll have a live tree and I will fully embrace my inner Monica when I decorate. Some of the ideas here may flop, or or I’ll choose to go another way, but here’s what I have so far.

Finger-knit and finger-crocheted Garlands

I only started using garlands on our tree the last few years. When I decided to finger knit the garland, I looked up how much I would need for a 7 foot tree. Ready? 63-70 feet!!! 🤗 1-3 feet per foot of tree, so there you go.

Off I went, finger knitting and crocheting approximately 80 feet of garland. Here’s hoping it doesn’t look ridiculous, but if it does I’ll turn them into something else.

Finger knit and finger crocheted garlands

Clothes peg stars

The clothes peg stars are all over the internet and I just loved the look of them. I made five of each colour; translucent, brushed silver, and rose gold. Then I added the herpes of the craft world: glitter!

Pompoms

My youngest and I had fun making pompoms with super soft, chunky yarn and the same white fluffy yarn I used to finger crochet the thinner garlands. We started off wrapping them around our hands and that worked fine. Then I found a rectangular piece of cardboard with a hole in the middle and it was even easier, and the pompoms became slightly more uniform. Fun to use for indoor snowball fights too!

Diy pompoms

Borax Snowflakes

This is a craft/science experiment I used to do with my first graders. The correct formula is 3 tablespoons of borax per cup of hot water. I was doing these in a big bucket though, and could only do two of the twelve 6-inch silver snowflakes or three of the fifteen white 4-inch snowflakes at a time. This took some commitment as the water has to be reheated each time, and the crystals take overnight to form. You can tell I was free-handing the Borax because of the different degrees of crystallization. Measuring might be an idea.

Wire hanger Star

No wire hangers! Sorry, Mommie Dearest.

I got the inspiration for the star from here but did my own take by adding the yarn around the star macrame-like, a craft I learned from my Great Aunt Ede. Then I added cylindrical glass beads as well as regular round ones. I also kept the pompoms small, more because that’s what I had and I was determined not to spend more money.

How to attach? Not sure. I’ll have to Handy Mandy it. 🤓

So, my version of Santa’s workshop has kept me busy for the past few weeks. Getting crafty allows me to indulge in my Christmas obsession early, without buying into the commercialism.

We have the tree, the lights are on (that’s a whole other story), so I’m off to decorate. After a cup of tea – with a healthy shot of rum. Cheers!

❤️ Amanda

Have you gotten crafty for Christmas? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new things to try!

chronic illness, MS

Crafts and chronic illness

I recently had some surprising reactions to the fact that I’ve been playing around with watercolours and calligraphy. Surprising, as in not terribly positive or supportive.

So, partly to get it out of my head but more importantly to share the BEST little craft for us spoonies, I decided to pass on another discovery.

First of all, as to the why am I doing ‘weird’ things like watercolour and calligraphy? Ummm…have you met me? Well, most of you haven’t, but whatever. Besides being Handy Mandy, I’ve always been crafty like that.

Handmade candles for 250 at our wedding, many Halloween costumes, school costumes for my students’ annual plays. Oh, and my extended family has always loved getting handmade gifts for Christmas. BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Too bad, it amuses me. 🤓

My happy place

Anyway, the crafties have returned because the writing muses have gone on strike, or fled to a tiny house in Timbuktu. Also, I like learning new things so the rest of my brain doesn’t join them.

And the truth is, I spend a lot of time resting, not by choice. Sitting on my butt reading, watching tennis or skating, because that’s all my body will tolerate.

Fatigue is a son of a bitch. Worse for me in the winter. But even though my body is pretty much permanently conked out so it’s like moving through setting concrete, my mind wants to be doing something productive.

So at the moment, I am queen of the simple crafts. I’m so excited to decorate for our handmade Christmas, but that’s another post. And not handmade gifts, as our children feared when I mentioned it last night. Just decorations people, you can all relax. 😂

Right now, I have to share the best craft I’ve found that I can do with little effort and not even looking – finger knitting! So simple and forgiving but the possibilities are endless.

I had a 6 year old try to teach me in my last year teaching but I was already struggling so focusing on the instructions while multitasking in a busy classroom was beyond me. Boy she was patient as she tried to teach me with so many interruptions and my clumsy brain and fingers tangling everything up. Sweet kid.

Anyway, in the quiet of my bedroom I’ve figured it out and it’s perfect. Here’s the link I used to learn:

https://m.wikihow.com/Finger-Knit

If I ever knit anything beyond a long string, I’ll post it here. 😏 Planning to try for a scarf. People make all sorts of cool things with it though.

❤️ Amanda

Now I found out you can finger crochet too – look out!!

life

Our Happy Place: Our portable, compact vacation property

We finally took the plunge and joined the RV world. Ever since I had my first panic attack while tent camping three years ago, we’ve been trying to decide the best way to make the leap. Yes, we’re both overthinkers, and as I mentioned in my bathroom series we’re also very debt-averse, so it wasn’t a decision we made lightly. Obviously, since it took three years!

But seriously, a trailer, a fifth wheel or a motorhome, a truck camper or a tent trailer, there are so many factors to consider. Ultimately, we decided we didn’t want to deal with another motorized vehicle and the added expense and headache that could create. A truck camper is too small and not my kind of thing so that was easy to nix also. So then we waffled about a trailer, not wanting to store it away from the house but not having enough room to store it behind the front of our house. The bylaws, and some neighbours in our municipality are pretty rigid, so parking it on the driveway is not an option. Not really our thing, either.

Searching Facebook marketplace, a 1996 Jayco tent trailer came up for a decent price not too far from our house. Living on an island we don’t have quite the same access and availability as people on the mainland, so you have to move fast. This seemed the perfect solution, small enough to park in the driveway, but large enough for us to use as a family.

It’s in beautiful shape for a 23 year old camper, so despite assuring each other we would walk away and think about it overnight, we made an offer right away and drove it home the next day.

After a minor Griswold moment that our awesome brother-in-law came and helped us out of, we realized the tent trailer is much bigger than we thought – yes, we measured but that doesn’t give the visual impact that having the actual thing sitting there does, we decided storage was the only option. Oops.

It’s worked out beautifully though, because the storage place is out of town right near where we’ll be mostly using the trailer and we don’t have to haul it through town every time. It’s very affordable, as was the tent trailer, compared to if we had gotten a larger trailer or fifth wheel. Most RVers seem to think a tent trailer is the perfect way to see if you will actually use an RV as often as you think you will, especially if you buy privately and don’t mind a retro look. We can use our trailer without worrying about things getting damaged, or any depreciation – this puppy can only get better!

There are many impressive pop-up camper makeovers on Pinterest, and as much fun as that could be, that won’t be happening to ‘Happy’. I intend to spend my time camping and hanging out with my family and friends, not redecorating a camper that’s just going to get dirty anyway. Life’s too short, and that’s what my home is for. I go camping to get away from all that.

Anyway, we took Happy out for a test night with our youngest last week and she performed beautifully! We thought towing and backing up would be stressful because neither of us has done anything like that before but after researching some tips online (important!), and taking things slowly, it was not a big deal at all. Set up was a breeze, we used a curved leveler that made it so easy, and again, benefitted from the tips I read online beforehand.

We were so pleased with how easily everything went the first day but of course you don’t really know until you sleep in it. What surprised us most was how sturdy and stable the trailer was. With the ends sticking out, I always thought pop-ups looked a bit precarious and wobbly, but it didn’t move at all or make any sound as we moved around. We were all so comfortable and slept so well, we were sad we could only stay one night.

We already had three other camping trips planned but we came home and booked three more, including 5 nights in August which is the longest we’ll have camped since we travelled through Europe together in 1994. We’re excited to do some spontaneous camping too, at some of the first-come, first-served sites.

Now when we head out of town to pick up the trailer, we say “okay, let’s go get Happy.” 😊 On second thought, maybe we should call her “Happier’ -? La vie est belle! 😊

Okay, finally here are some photos.

❤️ Amanda

Raising the roof!

Easy enough for our ten year old to do!