Thursday, November 19, 2015

A "Colorful" LIfe with Crohns, Cushings, Cash and Kids.

Mirror Babies- 3 inch stars using colored mirrored glass
Kurt rolled out some sparkly star babies, on his etsy store:piggy &dirt- all stars on post will be theirs.


    Boy, have I missed you!  Being locked out of the blog and being under the weather made it hard to get to you! So many things have happened that amazed, phased, and dazed me.

Where do I start?? 

How about with Sandy? She was the team lead service rep for Kohls call center, located in the Philippines, that took my phone call about a mistake Kohls made when I shopped one of their big sales. I have learned a valuable lesson.

Always, always check your receipts, watch the item go through and see if it adds to you total for good OCD measure, AND, when they say the money has been put back on your card- they may mean their card as a credit. Not your card/card you used to pay it off right after using their to get the deal.
So PAY ATTENTION or PAY through the NOSE!
*mirror and mercury decoration stars... sigh. Creativity for the Nativity never Ends!

Why? It takes two weeks to cut you a check for your return. AND if you didn't even buy the items the cashier accidently put on your card- you STILL wait two weeks.

I guess cause they use checks from over in the Philippines where 'Sandy' took my call. And where my cousin is living. She is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (

"I am not convinced, in this day and age, with the technology that we have, that Kohls can't put the money they essentially stole from me because I never chose to buy the expensive, non- on- sale Kohls card sale-shoes I brought to the counter to see if they were.  Can I talk to your supervisor?"

1st Rep- "Uh, let me talk to my supervisor."

me: in bed with an infection. and trying to unravel this mess. Hair matted. Facing west looking at my bed cane and biting my right ring finger nail down. I thought I'd broken that habit last week.

Readers, I wasn't being mean on the phone. Firm? Yes. Kohls had my money, which was substantial, card "credit" which I had failed to read would happen to me in their fine print. Side note here- I never do store credit cards. When they ask and I say: "I have never found a card that ever saved me money." It usually stops the sale tactic.

If it doesn't I just say: "I know you have to push this and I can appreciate having to do your job, but no thanks. "

 I worked at Fidelity and had sweat burn down my face as I tried to place a hard trade one minute before the stock exchange closed.- I know how it can be to serve customers and empathize with their concerns and also feel for those who have to take the heat when we are the consumer with a problem.
And problems that deal with cash bring A LOT of stress to a person.

(Like this awesome GOLD star of Piggy & Dirt's etsy account.)
Back to the story....


New Rep named Sandy: "Hi, I'm Sandy. I'm a team lead. Can I help you with your problem?"

Her English was more fluent and she didn't seem to be reading any set line of things. This is when I figured out the call center was out of the US.

She listened. I went into more detail on why this needed to be figured out and pronto. And then I was done. Close the account.

Then something amazing happened. We started just chatting.

Sandy: "You played sports before you became sick?"

ME: "Yes. I loved them! They were my life. I considered myself an athlete. This changed all that."

Sandy: "What was your favorite? I love volleyball!"

ME: "That was my favorite! There is nothing like the feel of worn leather in your hands or being able to serve it to a place on the other side of the court. What position did you play?"

Sandy: "I didn't play it. We just watched it on TV. Yeh, we were too poor for teams."

Silence.  (from me)

Before we'd been off the record, I'd asked for details about who I was talking to, check numbers, location of the call center; all the details I would need if the money wasn't back when it was said to be back and I had to place my 6th attempt at getting to the bottom of this. That's when I learned she was in the Philippines.

My cousin is there, like I said. I looked back about how I mentioned the situations my cousin had dealt with- the poverty, dirt floors and metal shanties. Food messing with her insides. Washing clothes in a bucket. Was this her story?

I felt guilty for talking up all the things that are wonderful about life when you are healthy and traveling. She mentioned the great beaches there and wondered if my cousin was going there.

ME: "Uh, no. We don't go over to vacation. One day a week is off but that is hard to make a jaunt to anywhere but the supermarket and get our clothes cleaned."
Sandy: "Your life seems so colorful."

Me- I blinked a few times as I lay in my bed in the dark. I looked around my room at the stars lit up by my Starry Lights put on at 30%. I was in the dark but I had to admit, I had a ton of color around my room.

My Fall wreath and Autumn window decorated in Piggy & Dirt Stars.


 Pictures by J.

With my words  I wove a few words, that, to Sandy,  in a 3rd world country, was a story and life

  full. of. color.

Sandy continued concerning color in life: "I want to try to make my life more like yours; more colorful." 

ME: Jaw drop.

I am still fighting this infection. I still have Crohns. I have Cushings Syndrome. I am a C. Diff survivor.

She doesn't know the extent of the last twenty years worth of the whole battle, I don't know hers, either. But it doesn't matter. Yes, there has been suffering on both sides.

But, like these mirror stars Kurt came up with to sell, I have a choice to allow my mind to focus on the dark or the light and mirror that to others. I can give them something to look to. The cause of why I have this light is Christ. Period.

Silver Stripes- 9 inch mirror center and lacquered paper on glass  points
It takes turning His light on in our lives; whether by a string of lights or an inner light and the reason why we can find the strength to do that in the midst of darkness due to whatever  happens in our life, i

Thank you to my friends who have texted and talked into the night with me as I have battled. It has taken me awhile to get on here and post. I hope that it helps someone. Please, Sandy, write my PO Box! Thanks for helping me hold on another night. You hold on, too.

So, Sandy, it seems that may be her "work name", did a GOOD job of helping me to not be as stressed out as I was toward Kohls. It is too bad I couldn't base my decision as a card holder based on my chat with Sandy.
If the company were Sandy, I would have stayed. She deserves the kudos.

Holidays are Here.

We have the op to celebrate the reason for our LIGHT!

Christ's Birth!
I am sorry and feel for those who are suffering right now due to evil people that have no light.
 I lay here and feel grateful that I have gone through some experiences that can help me understand their suffering in some small degree. We can show evil that we won't stop believing in a Savior. And they can't take away our light..... which is really shown in the polka poppy stars that Kurt and Becca have made at piggy&dirt etsy store.


Lately, I have been telling J. to quite hiding his talents. Mom's have a right to be hypocrites!

"J. You sing better than most of the people on the radio Why do you not do choir?"
 P.S. I read a page of a book I won't be able to finish but it solidified what I knew in my heart.
J. ruled as an athlete in football, basketball, track. And then he hit an age where he started to choose other sports that he wanted to do.

Picture courtesy of Best Made Co. Thanks, Nick. I am still trying to 'Stay Optimistic!'
J: "I sing while I work. I'm not doing choir. Band, maybe. Like the Trumpet. We'll see. "
Other recent Jaden-isms I need to chronicle for myself since I haven't journaled it.

J: "I love the sound of a two stroke" - ME: 'Wah? " Him: "dirt bike, mom."/ I love the sound of a chainsaw. it sounds like a motorcycle."

ME thinking: what is it with guys and motors?


We are blessed to be here.  I have a hope that my son will help others in the world as he develops his talents, hones in on his school work.  He's trying but told me he is only human.

Oh, I looked at the last post and it comes off looking like I DIDN'T vote. I did, Readers. I almost didn't. It can be tough to get there. So if you didn't and haven't in your life, let it go, and just start somewhere. I think we can all make a small difference.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Election Day

I forgot about my local voting, despite seeing signs for a select few around town.
When you don't feel great that is the last thing I recall to do. Which meant I should have voted absentee or early but that closes the Thursday before the elections.


I will have a treat of a couple more posts today that have been in the wings.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Tips, New Traditions & Cushings Zits

Shimmer Twine- Gold, Red, Platinum, Blue,Gunmetal, Matte Black, Green,Purple, Copper- 240 yards full spool
* Shimmer twine that is super cute along with honey bees and the color of the leaves right now in Idaho. Found them on the etsy site, Piggy & Dirt.

Finally! It has been some time since I have written you all. And FINALLY this month will be over!

Not that I have not enjoyed decorating the front window, basement, etc. for the grandkids and neighbors. It has been rough physically and for some reason my mind must think that a new month means a re-start on the health monitor! I was glad I followed my impression to get started on the holiday decorating early because I wouldn't be able to later. Needed to save my strength!

( I will update those of you with Crohns, Cushings, and Prednisone tapering later on in the post. )

So Halloween will come and it will go!

Thankfully the colors have still been here for me.

I only had to look out the window and see the gorgeous yellow leaves still clinging to the trees in the front and feel an excitement stir as the holidays approach. (despite it hailing the other morning here in Idaho, those leaves held on for dear life and seemed to be just for me. This cute twine above and below are just some samples of  what Kurt and Rebecca's site: Piggy & Dirt have to offer.

 I love to wrap twine around gift boxes, include it in bows or hang the stars from that you can find at the site too.  You can get creative and use some found in the gardening sections of certain stores as well.

I had J. help me hang some from the ceiling using the tea cup screws and then invisible, thin gauged cording from Wal-Mart's craft aisle for cheap. The stars look cool floating from the ceiling and catch the sun if positioned just right.

Back to this week; Halloween; and scary stuff (like acne after you've been through puberty)....

 It is feeling cozier with the weather getting chillier. I notice the heater clicking on in the mornings (because I am already up) I am truly grateful for a good bed, warm sheets, and Padre to look after the temperature settings. And fix the broken dryer. It's tough being a stay at home daughter and breaking that kind of news to him after he has been fixing things for the last two weeks, especially when one sees him happily using his retirement time.

(random palette of winter colors I think are cute)

The other day up to the table eating breakfast and sprawled across half of the table were various sized black hooks or something. I know they are tools but forget their name.

Using a magnifying glass to read the numbers, Padre, also eating ad multi-tasking, peered through the round glass trying to read the numbers on each tool, then he'd place them in some designated place on the table.*  I think he was actually trying to detect whether any were missing, find the perpetrator, and get all his tools back into his garage.

Grateful I wasn't guilty or the culprit of using those specific tools; I broke the news to him.

ME: "Uh, Dad. I know you fixed the water heater just recently and you have a problem with serial tool borrowing children, but the dryer is making a weird screeching noise. On and off it will just sound like ri-ri-ri."

He looked up at me like Doc off of Back to te Future: Wide eyed and surprised.
 I wonder if he saw the Cushings acne, and the ruddy complexion that comes with it, better with the magnifying glass still in front of his one eye as he contemplated his next fix-it job.
 (more on that scary zit business and 'plethora' in a second.)

Padre: "What?" he asked in a slightly perturbed, Padre-ish mood as he put down the magnifying glass. " I might as well just keep my tool belt on! If it isn't blah, blah, bleep, then it's blah, blah, blue."

I nodded in agreement and helped him put on his tool belt.

Mid cereal crunching I wondered if I should have just bought a new dryer and not even told him about the screeching it was making.

However, he has been on a roll with fixing things here, at his Dad's, and other family member's over the past couple weeks. Everything around us is on a roll breaking down, I guess. Either way, it's a good thing Padre knows how to fix stuff and is easily reached by phone.

Speaking of his phone-

He texted me in the middle of the night and gave me a run down of how he'd fixed the dryer. Or thought he had fixed it. He gave a good effort; dismantling it was no easy task. I forgot all the details but is in the text if you need to reference it, Readers.

Unfortunately, as I type I am hearing the dryer turn over and it doesn't sound right. Readers, this will be a tough one to break to him tomorrow morning.... If you think those Raptors were scary in the first Jurassic Parks you should see Padre trying to wrestle a new age dryer.

BACK to Halloween and other, equally scary things......
*below is an example of the sad things that happen when too much cortisol is in the body and isn't as fixable as a dryer.
(Not me. But a picture of someone that had the endocrine disorder, Cushings and the sad acne, darker pigmentation around the jawline, etc.)

 The new weather necessitated hrows/blankets over me while I have had to sit in Buck, my recliner, and take in the new movie: Jurassic Universe. Or World. Whatever.

Along with the blankets I have had to pull my "traditional" warm clothing out of hibernation; I've reached for those leggings to layer with my Mu' u Mu'us. You can get this lovely one from Hawai'i I believe.

Mine are from the Vermont Country store so they aren't too paridise- ish and they are paired with my wool Haflinger Slippers.

The Haflinger has great arch support along with being warm. And the tropical bag dress is nice if you have a huge buffalo hump on your back.
 It's quite the look; a Muu-Muu in the beginnings of Idaho winter.  But if you have Cushings- you don't care if the dress you are wearing has no shape to it;tropical looking; and is paired with slippers rather than flip flops.
Yes, I wish I were twenty years younger and still in Hawai'i and knew about the Future because I'd have gotten several Muu-Muus in my current size from Hilo Hattie.
 I guess I could go ahead and just fake pregnancy and tell people due dates. Amazingly no one has asked me yet. Asked if I am pregnant that is.
Probably because no one recognizes me!
 I passed by the mirror in the bathroom, some in the house and even in Wal-Mart and been shocked at the stranger staring back at me.
So no worries, people who have not recognized me in Wal-Mart as well.

 Despite the health problems of October and assuming they will leave once it is November and Halloween is out of the way,
I love that it is still fall.

The esophagus dilation happened again that I couldn't get out and enjoy the last of Indian Summer but I was able to look outside and drive around and see the fall colors.

My nephews have been thrilled by the decorations. Not necessarily just mine. Probably because folks now decorate as elaborately for Halloween as they do for Christmas.

 To those who entertain little ones like that- THANK YOU!

It is almost like the traditional Christmas Eve drive to Grandma's house and seeing Lights along the way when I was young. Back then, it was having to go drive clear to other counties to 'find' the best decorated or most clever. You'd see them from a mile away because not EVERYONE decorated like that.

Now the bar has been lifted and people do amazing Halloween lights. Even music is set to the blinking, choreographed decorations.

Now... about those zits that accompany Cushings..... they aren't your "normal" zits. Because your face is the equivalent of whale blubber; a huge layer of water and fat house there.

I think that 's enough frightening for today. More later!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Homefaking- Fragrant Pomander Recipe

(It's a great time to get one of these ORANGE Piggy & Dirt stars to celebrate with the leaves.)
It's Fall in Idaho Falls, Readers. A warm FALL.

                                The sun:

thank you, thank you, Sun;
came out and warmed us Idahoans today.

We have actually been blessed with an Indian Summer- which is warmer and less windy than in the real summertime in Idaho, so the Indians must have branded it with that name because it sounds cool.

(Polka Dot stars
Kidding. It actually has just a bunch of speculation like:

The title of Van Wyck Brooks' New England: Indian Summer (1940), suggests inconsistency, infertility, and depleted capabilities, a period of seemingly robust strength that is only an imitation of an earlier season of actual strength.

We did have a stint of gloomy, rainy, "England-ish" days during their tea times but over all..... wow!
It's been good enough for American Tee Times. Which is at gold courses for you non-golf playing persons.
After another esophagus dilation........  

(Piggy & Dirt's Bone Head star with burnt orange points...eeesh...)

that sun felt so good on the body. During that time I came across this recipe for helping your home smell like the Holidays!
-So even if you aren't having a holiday

I was duped into buying some cinnamon smelling pinecones, that must be last year's because they don't make the house smell like opening a Christmas present unless I am nose to cone with them.

So I put them in a vase, scattered some around the hearth, and put then in an open wire bin.

(when a million of them are in a huge bin outside a store; it is magical and enticing. And they [the store] got me with a sale on them. Dang it.) I went in search of the perfect smell, was lured, took the bait, and bought them with the wispy, notstalgic feeling anyone would have when the smell something cooking/baking on the stove as you walk in the door.

I think what I am doing is called "homefaking."

It feels vaguely like I have been baking. I put some time and effort into it.... I should just bake and we'd have that nostalgic smell of the holidays.....but this way all you have to do is smell the pinecones

Katy Star- Juicy Orange Star-- 9 inch lacquered and stained glass star
  walk to the table, sit down and you find Christmas, on a decorative plate, right in front of you,  Right?

Or Thanksgiving.

Sadly, no.

In my Christmas Smell Search I encountered some things that made me wish I was more motivated. Such as the Pomander recipe below.

Then there was a tangerine peel wreath that looked simple enough...... only because you have to peel the fruit to eat it and instead of throwing it away, just put it on a string and it dries out.

Orange Clove Pomander

Fragrant Orange Clove Pomanders
  • A medium-sized thin-skinned orange (As many as you plan to make)
  • 1/2 cup whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup orris root powder *(What is this????????????????? - inserted by me, Amanda.)
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • fork to pierce skin of orange
  • Ribbon
  • Rack for drying

Small oranges and whole cloves.
Small oranges and whole cloves.

Source: Sandra Mireles
Orange pomanders ready for spices.
Orange pomanders ready for spices.

Source: Sandra Mireles

Whole cloves
Whole cloves

Source: Sandra Mireles


Source: Sandra Mireles


Creating these pomanders is a very simple process. The most important part of the process is deciding on the design of the cloves on the oranges. You will need some nice festive ribbons as well. Mix the spices before you get started. You can make many designs with the cloves lined from top to bottom. You can criss cross the pattern, or cover the entire orange with cloves before dusting with the spice mixture.

Instructions for Drying Pomanders

These pomanders will keep for months when properly dried. If you want to keep these pomanders for use in closets and drawers it will be important to let them dry up. This usually takes two to three weeks.
  1. They will need to be placed in a box with holes in the bottom to allow air to get to the oranges and speed up the drying process.
  2. You will need to roll them in the spices occasionally.
  3. This drying process is very important because if the air cannot get to the oranges they will get moldy and at this point you will have to discard them and start over.
  4. Once they are dry these pomanders will last for many years. You will be able to freshen them with spices or essential oils and they will be good as new
Yup, this looks way too hard.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Piggy & Dirt Halloween but ready for the other holidays in case....

Kurt and Becky, over at the etsy store, can make some of the cutest, SCARY stars, Readers.

Mercury Skull 9 inch stained glass star with mercury glass skull center. Limited edition
uh-ah! See!These scared me!

I have not always been a "big Halloween buff" because I hate to get scared.... Even though I liked dressing scary one year and subbing at J's elementary. And telling the college mouse story, where I trapped it, covered it in a high quality Nike box and then found it had bit its leg off to escape.

The mouse missed his classes and then was presumed dead when we found a three legged mouse in the food storage room in my basement apartment. eeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Skulls were cute when J. was in little grades.

So, for the fearful, they have the "Amanda Friendly" Halloween stars. Like the fat Jack up above which is blown glass as well and only 5 left.
I thought it was made of plastic til I read the full info. and it's glass. Not user friendly with the crazy crew of grandkids but dang, it's so cute and If I had a deep bay window above my sink; I'd put it in there.

Side note here-what is hilarious this, and contradictory to other years, is that I was looking up silhouettes of the wicked witch of the west to put on my green star,

She is easier to see close up so she is down stairs on my Halloween mobile. Which is another work in progress......

Putting a paper plate skeleton behind one of my wreaths to go with a bit of left over polka dot fabric left overs from the Madsen's craft bin to make him "not so scary, " to the Grandkids. Because it's a cheerful "bow" on the suit of this happy skeleton. Right? Picture coming soon. Still waiting on the bow. But here was the inspiration:

I used an older wreath which is in gray hues so it's good to repurpose things even though I really dig this black and white.

Family Dollar had a skeleton, with few hinges, hence the dollar, and plain on the back, another reason it is just a dollar; to put up in the window.

Added to it: my star constellations- which sort of evolve.
I look through what I have, what would look cute. And found that the matte stars STAND out. Sure my see through ones are cute but they don't "pop" when you look at the window from the curb or street.
And that's the whole point: Conveying Well, Hello! with that pop to neighbors, friends, and strangers.
(Candy Corn Star. Pretty harmless.)
I took J's bubbly black star, with his name in the middle and given for 6th grade graduation,
and put the back- which is gray- facing outward. It looks great and can be seen clearly from the street.
Little Sugar Skulls- 9 inch black stained glass star with little sugar skull center
It was custom made and so the points were wider and that bubbly glass is AWESOME.

Playing dinosaurs with my nephew , I found a bat that would be perfect in the center of one of the stars.
But the smiling fat pumkins above are too cute and they made me smile tonight. Which I really needed.

This carved pumkin could care less about the crow (he's worried about Magpies, I bet) or he's just a positive Jack.
If you follow Kurt on instagram you get the low down on sales and flash sales. And see some pretty cool orders others make and they give you flashes of creativity ideas.
Like Susan Branch's art, and her books. I just have to open a page or look at her calendar and I am making something out of something on hand.
Why is it that I have the need to create? or Decorate?
(these Clementine wreaths would smell wonderful wouldn't they?)
I think for me it is the desire to make it cheerful for those who come here.
And to keep me cheerful as I taper off prednisone, deal with the dumb esophagus ordeal, etc.
You have to have something to keep you from becoming idyll. Or this disease will break ya down even further.
As you can imagine it makes for some fun times trying to communicate with J. With anyone, really.
It takes a tremendous amount of mental fortitude to lie here and let my body recover from being on prednisone for so long. To wait for those moments when my body creates cortisol by itself!
And then I am up and able to do some of the things I love. Or finding new things to try out. Like that Clementine wreath above or scenting some pine cones or
What a compliment when my nephew asked to play dinosaurs this evening, with ME. And downstairs he emphasized.
It is getting cozier by the minute as I add things here and there.
For instance after staring at the army puke green deco mesh I found on sale last spring- I realized it did go with my caramel tree. AND it does go with some other colors I was afraid of.
Funny how that is- to be afraid to even try colors.
So anyway, I stuck on the scratchy bows in places that needed it and voila! It is just fine.  
I hate snakes. But this striped milk snake star is perfect to tuck into the left side of my Dr. Suess -ish  Thanksgiving Wreath
 Re-purpose again!
 (And the center star is a custom Piggy & Dirt star. I wanted certain colors and the over all feel to J's room is a mix between a cowboy riding off into the sunset or hiding out in Mexico territory.... Mixed with the custom bulls eye and arrow I requested and is on Kurt's site.
The word "FALL", Readers, is a fun one-those letters are cardboard that I painstakingly cut from some Amazon box years ago and wrapped, in comparison, an expensive, yet coolest ombre yarn.
*I had a yarn year and it's spilled over to this year.
Today, I sadly found one of my stars broken. Either it fell from the space it was placed or a grandkid nailed it and it fell from above the FALL sign. 
Kurt Knudsen's teal points and lemon yellow center. 5.5 of sweetness. If you buy anything off their etsy site- this is a sweetheart. It brightens your day. Put it where you wash dishes and life will be better.
Must have been the sign: FALL that did 'er in.
 Kurt can fix it. I just have to mail it to him. It is a favorite. And may just need to be replaced for all the cost. Who knows.
I do know that when I am sick and trying to "recover" it helps to stay busy. I can start a cheap craft and stop to rest. No pressure. However, I get big ideas and that means soliciting some help if I am sick and then that makes for a happy family!
Or better yet, I start the project and Padre has to finish it. Thank, Dad.
Today, being indoors and weak, I found myself wanting to pull down the cool drift wood stick hanging on J's wall and
hang fake snowflakes from it. Again from Family Dollar.
 Even his antlers seemed a cool idea for a blizzard of snow flakes hanging from mobiles.
Is it my way of doing the Indian dance for the snow prayer?
(See Salomon Free Ski TV for the latest installment of waiting for snow. It almost had me biting my nails but I have painted them so that has helped. Not helped it snow. But kept me from biting them.)