A week ago I was greatly blessed to be able to attend my local quilt guild’s yearly retreat. With the expense of the treatments for the Lyme, and herx reactions to the treatments, I was not sure how things would work out… I had budgeted the cost of the retreat out of the income from my wreath making, but hadn’t paid ahead due to missing guild meetings from feeling crummy or weather cancellations. Sales of some of my art and a gift from a good friend helped me to pay for the IGenex test that isn’t covered by insurance, as well as the first herbal antibiotic treatments and supplements, so I could start treatment before the prescription antibiotic can be taken (after a test shows something positive). I was very conflicted as to whether I should spend money on the retreat or put it all toward treatment costs, until another wonderful friend (and my best customer) offered to sponsor me for the retreat. Another huge blessing!! My next worry was how I would feel during the retreat. I did put off increasing dosages of the treatments I am on, from Thursday to Monday after I got home from the retreat, which helped lots… the herx reactions lessen in just under a week for me, so things were calmer than usual while at the retreat. Ken drove me up and helped me unload everything which made things much easier than other years. I also took much less “stuff” with me since I was unsure what I would work on (I always dread finding I “need” the one or few things I left home when I get an idea). Since I have been pretty much housebound for a long time (traveling increases fatigue and the horrible headaches), I was feeling like a total hermit. Having a chance to spend time with quilty friends was wonderful. At the conference center our retreat is at, we stay in dorm or hotel rooms in the same building… Very handy… I was sure to take along all my bottles of meds, timer, chart to remind me when to take everything, lots of water from home (we have great water here), and a bunch of foods in case the dining hall had too much I couldn’t eat. I also planned to take regular naps… Between all the support from my fellow quilters, two naps a day and ignoring all the sweet snacks that are always in abundance, I was able to finish a few projects and get some ideas gelled for a few more. I was really amazed that I was able to stay away from all the chocolates, cookies, and other things I would have normally snacked on all weekend in the past. I guess spending a few weeks before that changing my diet helped a lot. I even took along a bag of dark chocolate Hershey Kisses (my former “drug of choice” has been milk chocolate) for occasional treats, and only ate about 5 in 5 days… a major record for me! Being determined to heal as fast as possible can change one’s habits in a hurry…
Dining hall meals were the biggest challenge… I ate so much raw broccoli and cherry tomatoes…. Thankfully, I took a loaf of my homemade yeast free whole grain bread… it worked for breakfasts and even a dinner with alfredo sauce on it on pasta night… I added some chopped up baby spinach to my first loaf to add some more nutrition to the bread. I’m not a real fan of spinach, but it hid nicely in the bread which toasted nicely.
Once I got unpacked and settled on day one, I took a long nap then made up 3 covers for my 10 ounce glass bottles I now use for my plain or lemon water. I made it a short day, then the following days, I made sure to take 2 naps each day, timed so that I could time my meds around meals (many have to be taken on empty stomach and at least 15 min from each other and 30 min before food… what a pain…).
Day two I made a small bag I could wear that could hold my room key and pill box for meal meds. My comfy clothes had no pockets… My first major problem occurred when starting to free motion quilt the plain colored back of the bag… as soon as I got the needle started in the fabric, my brain totally blanked out… All of my “go to” designs disappeared from my mind… Thankfully, I had a bit of cheerleading help from my neighbor quilter who helped me remember my favorite vine pattern and that got done… The front was easier since I followed the sunprint designs… This took all of day 2 to make… Crazy to think that 5-6 yrs ago I could have designed and knocked it out in less than an hour… Wow do things change… just from a tiny little tick!
Day three, I finally got my February cards made for the Arts in the Cards ATC trade group. The theme was Maps, and I had cut up maps from an old road atlas of PA, NY and Hawaii. Using an idea I got from an art project Andrue brought home from school, I made interactive cards that used hand cut stamps of mountains in shades of green with more hand cut stamps of Mountain Laurel flowers for the fronts of the cards. This represented my home now and where I grew up in NYS. I have always dreamed of going to Hawaii, so the inside of the cards were done with rippled texture to resemble waves, tropical looking flowers and tiny footprints from stamps I hand cut nearly 2 years ago. Paints and stamp inks were accented with metallic ink pens and liquid pearls. Another full day project. Day four, I could begin to play with art quilts… I had to finish the rose quilt at the beginning of the post that was already sold (remember my best customer and sponsor?)… After that was finished, I did some couched yarn work on a couple of my “play” pieces… one from a previous post… Remember this cluttered looking one??
I was given the idea to add black satin stitching between the inner sunprint and the border, so I couched black with silver yarn there and around the outside edge. Thank You Sue K! It does look much better! The colors in the photos aren’t great… the left photo shows it a bit too yellowish, the right a bit too bright white… I may try to intensify the colors of the birds…. Not sure…
This was the next piece to be worked on… For some reason, I didn’t get a photo of it after I added the black yarn couched on, but I did it the same way I did the above Lobelia piece. It was amazing how such a little touch made such a difference. It now has the black around the sunprint and for the binding.
The last piece to be worked on was this piece that has been literally hanging on my design wall for nearly 3 years since I took the photo. I had many comments on it, and decided I needed help to decide what was going to happen next… I guess that is where that was blocked….
I got a few ideas from a few of my quilty friends, and decided that it was time to put things into Photoshop to trial ideas….
These two “Random” WIP’s were pinned to the same little design wall as the Peony, and one friend thought that the way these are pieced would look good around it. I gave it a try… Another friend thought that the “stonework” like I use in my “Stones and Walls” series of quilts might look good, so I pulled pieces of other quilts and played more…
The first version is the one on the left with pieces of the random WIP’s as the border, the right one shows what it would look like with the stone wall type border with a few sprays of applique’d roses in the corners. When I polled everyone i could, these were both tied for favorite… Then I lightened the border on the left version…
This version, above, ended up getting more votes… The stonework border still was liked by some, so I am still not sure exactly which way this will end up…. I have considered making up a pattern to sell for this flower, so I may end up with a second one and do one with the stones and one like the lighter bordered one… Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite version…. It will be interesting!
Even thought this retreat resulted in the least finished work compared to past years, I believe the therapeutic value of getting out of the house and with a number of real live adults to talk to and bounce ideas off of was wonderful and extremely therapeutic and a needed change… I did crash pretty bad the day after I got home, and have had to lay low again due to adding more herbals, little by little, in addition to increasing doses of what I have been taking. With the natural treatments, the dosages are slowly increased daily or weekly based on the herx reactions to keep things from getting too bad, unlike prescription antibiotics that start out at higher dosages right away and can cause worse reactions since they can kill off the bacterial loads faster. The roller coaster continues… At least there are small peaks of better days than I have had in a lonnnggg time… Much better to keep the nasty ticks away and not have to deal with the disease(s) they cause…. Repel those buggers if you plan to wander in the woods or through tall grass…. I will be making up some repellent with geranium essential oil with a bit of vodka and water to make a spray that is supposed to work well for a natural version.
This post is being linked to Nina Marie’s Off The Wall Friday Link-up… Finally some quilt projects to show!
Nearing the end of February, I have had a few days here and there I didn’t do much artful play practice. Some of those days I did help the grandkids to play with art, so I guess that would count for my play too… The kitchen tables have remained pretty piled with projects in progress that get worked on while I watch Andrue and Jenna after school. There have been a few really messy days with a certain little girl splashing herself with paint or glimmer spray puddles nearly hitting the floor, but it has been a great way to keep busy kids occupied, especially on the crash days when I am the “couch grammy”…
One thing I have been playing with, is updating or renovating some of my least interesting sunprint mini art quilts. I used to sell gobs of these when I sold at shows, but still have a huge inventory on hand (see my Mega Art Quilt Sale post to see what I am selling at a big discount to reduce inventory and earn funds for my Lyme disease treatments). The photo here, shows one piece where I have used my Inktense pencils to outline and color in the quilting in the border of the piece. This one still looks like this since I am not sure where to go next. I am not sure I want to go quite as far as I did with the next one…
The other piece I have been working on got a bit out of hand…
The Lobelia Sunprint piece didn’t get it’s first photo taken till I had already added a couple of stamped images. I began with Queen Ann’s Lace images stamped in a shade of blue that is similar to the paint on the piece.
After adding the blue images, I decided to play with a couple of bird stamps I had. I used a new black ink on the upper bird and a Versafine ink pad that I got as part of my Christmas splurge. After adding the bird stamps, I colored them in with Inktense pencils. Next, I began outlining the quilting in the border of the piece with green Inktense pencil and lightly added color to the leaves. This helped to tie the birds into the piece a bit better, but the border seemed to call for more… Looking back, I might have better stopped here, but I AM PLAYING, right??
I pulled out a piece of Speedy Cut (I think that is what it is called…) to cut a flower stamp. I was pleased that it turned out nicely. The #4 version above, shows one flower stamped on… If one looks OK, then more will look Better, right??? Well…. Not sure, but the next photo shows what it now looks like after cutting another stamp for a bud…
I think I went a bit overboard with this… I got a bit carried away playing with my new stamps… Now it looks cluttered and the border seems to look more “disjointed” (the only word my brain will come up with right now) from the central sunprint. I added white centers to the flowers using a correction pen, and the few flowers in the sunprint section nearly hide, but the centers really shine… I even played with a glaze pen over the blue inked images to deepen the color.
I can’t make things any worse, so some over-stamping with some white paint and one of my large stamps all over, or maybe some of the blue in the border, hmmmm….. I guess this one will be good to play with, without worrying about ruining it, but then, learning to play without thinking about the final product being perfect, or even “just good” is my goal here. Randomly stamping, doodling, or even cutting stamps are great ways to help out on those days when sitting upright is a challenge (well, cutting stamps are better done on non-shaky days), and I really need something to take my mind off how I am feeling… Doodling on paper has already helped on some days when my current treatments make me feel like I’ve been hit by a couple trains…
Due to the medical expenses I am incurring and ones that will be coming in the future, now that I am beginning my battle with Lyme Disease, I decided I need to have a Mega Sale- 30% Off regular prices of my Art Quilts, now extended through March 17th, to hopefully bring in some much needed funds. Many of the treatments I will be going through involve natural remedies and supplements that are not covered by insurance, and treatment will be lasting at least 6-8 months or more since things have had time to deeply infect my body. My previous post gives a rundown of what I will be dealing with, if you are interested in a rambling read. After spending 15+ years in varying degrees of pain with increasing brain fog and crazy symptoms that make most doctors think I’m off my rocker, I find myself spending more time in bed than I would like. Not the person I used to be. This treatment is my hope of a better future.
Many of my Art Quilts are available through my Andrus Gardens Quilts shop on ArtFire. Using the Coupon Code: MAR14-30 during the checkout process, the discount will be automatically taken off. The image below shows a collection of quilts from my shop.
Since I used to regularly show and sell my little quilts and gift items at fine art and craft shows, I built up a large inventory, much of which is still not listed in the shop due to the time involved in taking photos and doing the listings. I will be uploading photos of some of those quilts on this post. Keep checking back during the next couple days to see what’s newly added. Please pardon photos that might not be the best… Even sitting with the computer on my lap can be a challenge to find old photos, and getting things so I can take the photos is even more of a challenge. The fingers and brain just don’t work like they used to ;P Prices are listed in the captions of the photos and each quilt has a number. If you see anything you like, please email me (I will try to mark sold pieces as such). I will send a Paypal invoice which will include shipping cost, which usually runs around $2-$3 per item depending on size (you don’t need to join Paypal to pay this way). My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Colors may be a bit off due to different monitors, I try to color correct so they are close on mine.
Each 5″x7″ above, Reg. $25.00, Now $17.50 each plus shipping.
More quilts similar to these can be found in My ArtFire Shop here.
Some quilts from various other series are shown below. If you wish to purchase any of these, just give the quilt’s name in your email. Shipping price for larger pieces will be up to $10, and about $3 for the 8×10″ ones. The Tiny one will ship for $2. If ordering multiple items, shipping will be charged just for what it costs for the group.
A couple random quilts from the teeny, “Tiny Wisteria Window” from my Stones and Walls series, to the much larger “Scattered Foliage and Flowers” from my Sunprints series.
Below are a few small pieces made as Weekly Journal Quilts, Each are 8″x10 in size.
“Blowing Snow above, is quilted with silver metallic and blue variegated threads accenting the snowflakes and adding snowy swirls in the background, the binding is a fuzzy blue yarn. The photo shows the piece before quilting.
Carrying on the snow theme, here are a couple pieces based on the view out my frosty kitchen window with snow blowing outside. “Frosty Window 2″ is a smaller piece, but mounted on a 16″x20″ canvas covered in hand dyed icy looking blue fabric… I should have taken a new photo… if interested, I can send one via email.
Below are a few Fall themed pieces. They each have fused pieced backgrounds of fabrics sunprinted with fall leaves with “silk” leaves appliqued over top. The two 16″x20″ pieces have pockets on each corner on the backs for slats that allow them to be hung which ever direction you like.
“Swirling Oaks”, left, would be great mounted to a 16″x20″ canvas for display, with the various leaves hanging over the edges.
Please pardon the quality of the photos below… All quilts have straight sides and square corners, but the angle I took the photos at make them look a bit wonky… I also left most in their clear archival storage bags, so a bit of shine, or price labels show in some. The pieces in these series were made to be framed, with ivory or white borders to resemble mats.
More quilts in the above series are listed in the Botanical Series section of my ArtFire shop.
More in the above series are listed in the Sunprint Series-11×14 section in my ArtFire shop. I have been playing with some of these more plain pieces as bases for more mixed media type works. Feel free to play with them as you wish…
If you see anything in this post that you would be interested in, please email me- email@example.com and I will send a Paypal invoice for the sale price of the quilt(s) and include shipping. Shipping ranges from $2 (including packaging) for the smallest pieces to $6 or so for larger ones. I will only charge what it actually costs for the shipping and packing materials if applicable. I will try to mark any pieces SOLD, but will email you to confirm availability of pieces. Thanks in advance for any purchases…
This has been an interesting February so far…. This won’t be a very artsy or quilty post, with just a few snowy garden photos. Long and rambling, but therapeutic for me to get things “out”, and maybe someone else might find they aren’t going crazy like I felt for so long. January ended with an appointment with a new doctor who actually looked at symptoms, asked about things, poked and prodded, and more. I left the office a couple of tubes of blood lighter with a clinical diagnosis of late stage lyme disease and at least 2 other co-infections. I also left with a page of things I can and can’t eat, a list of natural herbs and supplements to start on, and a prescription I was told NOT to fill yet. Lyme disease is pretty controversial as far as treatment is concerned unless it is caught right away. Mine has possibly been hanging around for 3-10 yrs or so based on how long I have lived with pain and other symptoms that baffled doctors. I never gave a thought to ticks that could be lurking in the woods, tall grass or other places as I literally crawled around in and through their habitats while working in my gardens. The dogs have had ticks on them, the cats have had ticks on them and we have even found one crawling on our couch, I just never thought about one (or more) snacking on me. Over time after infection, the bacteria multiply and hide out just about anywhere… muscles, joints, brain, etc. even interfering with the immune system, causing test results to be off. Even with nearly all the symptoms, the doctor is not allowed to let me take the antibiotic to treat it without a positive test result… After a week wait, the results were in…. everything “essentially negative”…. Aaarrrggggg…. Not uncommon…. Now I can’t fill the antibiotic prescription until I have another test done through a lab in CA that specializes in tick born diseases… That test is more reliable, but not covered by insurance…. :( At least the day I got the bad news about the tests, it was a pretty day with bright blue sky that looks great with the pure white snow covering the ground. Nature trying to cheer me up
Coming out of that doctor’s office, I had more hope than I had had in a long time that there really was a reason for my increasingly roaming pain and fatigue that sometimes makes it hard to sit even propped on pillows on my couch. I even found that much of the pain blamed on fibromyalgia can be caused by lyme or co-infections instead, which are more treatable. Getting the test results was a huge blow to the hope I had, but at least I had my list of herbal treatments and supplements. I began a lot of online researching and chose what looked to be the best thing to try first since I only could afford one item to start with. Teasel tincture was on the top of the recommended list, and looked to be the best one. I never thought of Teasels as any more than a prickly weed that scratches me as I mow near it, but I might be changing my mind about them. The other thing I have learned from my research and treatments so far is that things will get worse before they get better…. In my head I was thinking, “Yea, right, I can’t feel worse can I???” Yes, I can… I started taking the Teasel a couple days after my appointment, and was amazed at how horrible it made me feel after just one drop of the stuff on day one. The dose is increased very slowly, up to 1 drop 3x per day, then adding one more drop at a time each week. After 2 weeks, up to 6 total drops a day, I was having a little less fatigue and even got the dishes caught up and cooked a few things. Yesterday was an other increase day… So much for the better days… back to arms feeling filled with lead, and lots of tiny twitching, creepy feelings in the muscles… just like the first few doses caused. Amazingly, a long soak in a hot epsom salts made things feel better…. The last epsom salt bath left me flat on my back for half a day… Now I need to think about “Detoxing”, eating well, drinking plenty of water, and paying attention to how my body feels after any change in what I do. Huge change for someone who has spent her whole life just trying to do my best at everything else but paying attention to herself (that’s being selfish, isn’t it?)… Now I am entering the world of trying to figure out if what I am feeling is a flare-up of symptoms, a herx reaction from bacteria die-off, reaction to a new treatment, or reaction to something I ate.
I have know for years that I need to watch what I eat since I deal with low blood sugar. During the worst pain/fatigue flares my sugar levels tend to crash all over the place (and forgetting to eat can make me so sick I don’t feel like eating). I had my two main vices… Hershey kisses- Milk chocolate only, and Diet Pepsi. I used the caffeine and chocolate to keep myself working crazy long hours with barely time to grab a couple minutes to eat real food during the last few years we had our greenhouse business (the chocolate kept the blood sugar levels from crashing). Both also helped me to deal with the increasing pain I was having, after I had used my daily allotment of pain meds, I medicated with caffeine and chocolate. I did limit the Pepsi to one 24 oz bottle or less per day, and one regular size bag of Kisses per week (during the really crazy months, I did up that to the “big bag”) When at home in the off seasons for the greenhouse, I spent every hour I could in the sewing studio working to produce items to sell at shows, or working in my gardens, again using the caffeine and chocolate to keep going. After we lost the greenhouse business and I had to stop selling at shows , I cut back intake of both considerably. I even totally cut out the Diet Pepsi for over 6 months one time, but found it really helped pain meds to kick in faster, so started again with around 12oz per day. I tried to keep the Kisses out of the house, but found myself eating anything and everything in the kitchen during cravings, even cooking up batches of chocolate syrup with cocoa powder, eating it like pudding… I found I abused the chocolate (and food in general) much less with the Kisses back in the house. Other eating habits varied from proper, good meals to stretches of whole grain toast with fruit spread or toasted cheese sandwiches when I felt crummy and nothing looked good to eat. Now I have LOTs of changes to make with my eating.
All sugars, sweeteners, white potatoes, yeast, pasta, and more are on my do not eat list, and has proved to be really hard to deal with. I’m allowed to use Stevia for a sweetener, but that stuff has a really horrible aftertaste! Yuck! Being a farm girl raised on steak and potatoes, dropping potatoes is hard, along with missing my whole grain bread for toasted cheese sandwiches (sandwich wraps are nasty to my taste buds). I did find a yeast free bread recipe I will try with whole wheat flour (gluten isn’t on my bad list… has never caused tummy issues). Dairy, eggs, and meats are on the “good” list for protein to keep blood sugar levels even. Overnight oatmeal with milk, yogurt and chia seeds is pretty good with fruit for breakfast, so my Frosted Mini Wheats aren’t missed too much… (just the crunch). Lots of Lemons are encouraged, so putting them in my water helps keep it a bit less boring, but some protocols want you to drink at least 3 liters of water a day… Yikes! I start gagging on even the lemon water half way through liter #2 or sooner some days. Nuts are supposed to be good for me, but I will have to work on building up a taste for them… Not really a fan. Staying with good varieties of yogurts is no problem for me since I have been a label reader and really picky about them all along. Most yogurt on the shelves is more sugar than protein. I love Greek style with fruit, so I can still eat that and now make my own since it is so expensive to buy. Lots of raw veggies were suggested, but for reasons unknown to me, salads and most raw veggies seem to turn my stomach into knots even taking enzyme tabs. Cooked, they don’t cause as much trouble. I have to stay away from peppers of any kind, cooked or not. Onions have to be cooked only a certain way or I’m doubled over in pain, and garlic does the same (they are both supposed so good for you, too). I do like more types of veggies than I did as a kid, so that is a good thing. I found that subbing roasted cauliflower for the macaroni in mac & cheese is pretty good (in small doses due to the lovely gas causing crucifer) Dropping the chocolate Kisses began causing much distress again, so I tried the Special Dark variety and found they will satisfy the chocolate craving with less sugar. I will have to keep strict limits, but the nasty taste of the stevia sweetener that hangs on for hours is not working for sweets. I am thinking that using honey for a sweetener in limited amounts and popping the random dark chocolate has to be better than becoming so agitated that I need Valium to “chill out”. The hardest thing is finding something to eat when I am feeling my worst, and everything I look at turns my stomach upside down. I know I have to eat, but nothing looks or smells good… That’s when my toasted cheese or toast came in in the past. I hope by paying more attention to how my body reacts to what I eat, I can find the right combos of foods to get this body better without feeding those nasty bacteria.
With all the researching I have been doing online about Lyme and co-infections, I have learned so much… I have dealt with some really spooky, weird, and confusing symptoms that when I mention them to a doctor they look at me as if I’m a total “Looney Toon”… I got so I was afraid to even mention some things due to the “looks” I would get. One site online- Tired of Lyme, has been a super help understanding many of those crazy things I have dealt with. I have long felt I am a “freak of nature”… so many meds do the opposite of what they are supposed to, I get super sick feeling from a shower even if I have eaten before, creepy-numb-itches, random stabbing pains that pop up for seemly no reason, major changes in mood and more… In the many articles on the site, I found ,that I’m not alone and also found ideas to try to reduce some of the symptoms. I found that losing “the old me”, my brain power, and even my creativity are commonly caused by lyme infecting the brain. That gives me hope that when things get cleared up, brain fog should clear, I might get back to the “me” that wasn’t the complete hermit I have turned into, and my creativity should return. I might even be able to dig for more than a few minutes in my gardens before becoming a wilted puddle in bed. The Tired of Lyme site is pretty straight up, no sugar coating what to look forward to in treating this nasty disease… There will be bad days, worse days, and a few good days, but with perseverance, things can get better…. As much as I would love to be back my old self tomorrow, realistically I know that won’t happen… My “word for the year” PLAY, is helping me deal with all this a bit better, and my grandkids are helping me with learning to play again… I have been watching the older two after school and the art supplies have been getting lots of use. (Jenna is shown above working on cards for Valentines Day.) Who better to learn how to play from than a 5 year old… I have to try to get my naps in before the kids get here, and some days I might be the “couch grammy”, but playing with paint, paper and more with them is a good distraction. They even like my homemade yogurt as a snack!