The Wednesday HodgePodge (August 17, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge again. Here are Joyce’s questions.

1. August is National Back To School Month…how does that make you feel? Share a back-to-school memory.
I don’t really feel much regarding back-to-school time, as I’m not in school anymore (it’s been 17 years since I graduated high school) and my nieces are too young to be in school. I’m so glad to be out of school though.

A back-to-school memory? My first day at the school for the blind I spent fourth till sixth grade at. We went to church to mark the beginning of the school year, as it was a Christian school. I found it all very strange, having never been to a church before, since my parents are atheists. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep during the service though.

2. Something you’ve learned in “the school of life”?
People who get paid to have any sort of relationship with you, won’t stick around for you, so you have no reason to stay for them either. Yes, I’m referring to my wish to transfer to another care facility here.

3. Three words to describe your current mood.
Unquiet, determined, sad.

4. A summer food you’ve eaten too much of/are tired of? A summer food you haven’t had enough of?
There isn’t any summer food I’m really tired of, though today I turned down another ice cream cone because I’d had three in the past week already. A summer food I haven’t had enough of? Summer fruit!

5. What small stuff do you sweat that you know you shouldn’t?
I tend to get very easily frustrated, so quite a lot, but lately I’ve also tried to solve small problems more rather than just not caring. An example are air bubbles in my clay. The reason that I do try to solve the problem now, is that I know how to (to an extent) rather than just having to wait for my pieces to be cured and then deciding whether they go in the trash or are just about good enough to be displayed. It’s a tricky balancing act of trying not to sweat the small stuff but also trying not to be careless.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Yesterday, we had daytime temperatures of 30°C. It isn’t expected to get this hot again anytime this year. My husband, not surprisingly, started the Christmas prep WhatsApp group with his family. He always does in mid-August. I, too, before we got to discuss this, started reading a winter-themed chapter book.

Artistic As Always #WotW

Hi everyone this Christmas Eve. How are you all doing? I’m doing pretty well. I’m joining Word of the Week again with a phrase (as almost always) and (again as almost always) my phrase of the week is related to my creative endeavors. I’m trying to come up with original phrases to say I’ve been crafting and creating a lot again. Today my phrase of the week is: Artistic As Always.

Truly, I don’t think a single day went by that I didn’t do any creative activity. I mean, I haven’t been blogging as often as I’d like to, but I did a lot of polymer clay work. I created several charms, including a planet, a flower and a rainbow, which is currently in the oven.

I also created my first polymer clay cane. A cane is a log of clay with a design on the inside, which you can then cut into slices to use as beads or to decorate a vase or whatever. I decided to do a flower cane and to make the slices into beads.

I will combine them, some yellow beads I made today that are also in the oven and a flower charm I made last week into a necklace for a woman who lives in the care home downstairs from mine, who is obsessed with necklaces. I still need to create lots of yellow beads, but the woman won’t have her birthday till the end of January.

I also got some crafty supplies in my Christmas hamper from the day center. They are two silicone molds. When I saw them, I did worry they’re a bit too shallow and detailed to use with polymer clay, as they’re officially for chocolate I think. I created a butterfly with one of the molds, which is now in the oven too.

I do worry that the butterfly will be some kind of omen though. You see, a fellow client went into hospital with recurring seizures yesterday and I’m worried sick that he’ll die. Please all pray that he’ll recover.

In addition to creating art itself, I’ve also been busy exploring the artistic community online. I joined several Facebook groups for neurodivergent creators and artists. For those not aware, the term “neurodivergent” refers to people with a neurological or mental health condition, such as autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, etc. I initially worried the term “artist” or even “creative” was meant to include those creating visual artworks such as paintings or drawings only. Thankfully, I quickly found out the groups I am part of are inclusive of all creative outlets.

Lastly, inspired by a conversation in one of the FB groups, I decided to buy the books The Artist’s Way and The Artist’s Way Workbook. I haven’t yet been able to do anything in them, because I read books on my iPhone and using my Braille display only and, since the latest iOS update, these don’t work well together. That is, several times a day, seemingly at random, my Braille display will get stuck and the only way to get it unstuck is to reboot my iPhone. Not ideal when in the middle of a sentence in a book.

Overall, I’ve been really artistic over the past week. It’s been an intense week on other fronts too, but I may share more about that in a separate post.

Word of the Week linky

My Plans for This Christmas

Hi everyone on this rainy Thursday evening, two days before Christmas. One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to share your plans for this holiday season. For the first time ever, I’m not just dreading the fuss. I mean, last year, I’d just become a Christian and was kind of looking forward to the spiritual aspect of Christmas, but not really either, as I knew I still had a long walk to go in my faith. I’m about the same this year. That being said, with respect to the celebrations with family, I was still dreading those last year. This year, I’m more neutral about them, even slightly positive. Let me share my plans.

Tomorrow, we’re supposed to have day activities like normal. We had our Christmas lunch today and I got half of my Christmas hamper. The other half, my staff will bring tomorrow, as it hadn’t arrived when she left to bring the first half to me yet. The half that arrived today contained mostly treats. The other half, she said, are two silicone molds for my polymer clay. I’m really looking forward to receiving those.

Tomorrow evening, I initially thought we were going to get food delivered. Thankfully, though we entered full lockdown last week, restaurants are open for takeaway or delivery. I was not yet sure which restaurant or snack corner we would be ordering from. Then this evening I found out my staff had planned to prepare a cassrole. Not something I enjoy. I contemplated ordering delivery just for myself. Then after some texting between several staff, it was decided to change the dinner plans for Friday, Saturday and Sunday around and we’re going to have fries and chicken legs.

On Saturday at around 2PM, a ParaTransit taxi is going to arrive to take me to my in-laws. There, I, my husband and my oldest sister-in-law will have dinner. My husband teased me about the food we’d have, because I’m quite a picky eater. Really though, we’re going to have chicken roulade, which I love.

My husband is likely going to read from the Bible at dinnertime. Neither his parents nor his sister are religious, but they tolerate him reading the Bible. I loved him reading Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus’ coming, as well as the Christmas story, last year.

I may stay at my in-laws for a while after dinner and then leave for my and my husband’s house in Lobith, where we will stay for the night.

Sunday morning, which is called Second Christmas here in the Netherlands, we may watch Hour of Power together. Thinking of which, I remember now there’ll be a show on Saturday too, but I don’t know whether it’ll be in the morning or evening.

I will go back to the care facility sometime Sunday afternoon. Sunday evening, we’re going to have Chinese takeaway. This was originally planned for Saturday, but it was my favorite out of the three Christmas meals for the weekend, so I’m so happy the meal plan got shifted.

We’ll likely have more than enough treats to last us through to February, honestly. At least, I got three packages of my favorite Christmas cookies from one of my staff yesterday and another one in my Christmas hamper. That plus chocolate, winegums and Pringles. Yum, but if I’m not careful, I’m going to weigh 200 pounds by the time I’m done with them. Then again, as they say, you don’t become fat between Christmas and New Year’s but between New Year’s and Christmas. In other words, it’s snacking all year round that really leads to lasting weight gain. This being the case, I am happy this holiday season, though it is indeed part about the food, is also about faith and family.

As for my own family, both my sister and her family and my parents sent me a Christmas card. However, I haven’t been at my parents’ house in years and they didn’t invite me. If they do want to see me, I think the spring is a more appropriate time.

What are your plans for the upcoming holidays?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Christmas Crafting!

I have a confession to make: this is my first year ever actually doing Christmas decorations. I used to like them as a child. Particularly though, I liked fidgeting with the little wooden snowmen and angels and Santas in the Christmas tree.

When I left my parental home to go into independence training, it never occurred to me to decorate for the holidays. Besides, I was back with my parents over Christmas. I never celebrated Christmas in my independent living student accommodation and once in the mental hospital, I hated decorations with a passion. During my first year there, I even ripped them all off. I don’t think my husband cared much for decorations during the years I lived with him either. Then when I went into the care facility, for the first two years, apparently I wasn’t feeling stable enough to decorate my room. In fact, I never quite considered it “my room”. Now I sort of do. I consider that a major win, since it means I’m beginning to feel safe in the care facility. Maybe the fact that I started decorating for Christmas, has some symbolic meaning.

I don’t have a lot of decorations. I have a store-bought, simple, ready-made Christmas tree and a couple of smaller decorations here and there. The point is I have something though.

In addition, this is probably the first year I’ve genuinely crafted something for Christmas too. I mean, during the year I did card making (around eight to nine years ago), I did create Christmas cards too, but these were so ugly a five-year-old could have made them. This year, I actually added my very own home-crafted piece to my Christmas decor.

First, several weeks ago, I created a cookie cutter polymer clay Christmas tree charm. I fully intended on finishing it off with gold Fimo Liquid after adding the balls, but decided after it got out of the oven that I didn’t really like the way it turned out after all. I don’t have a picture for this reason.

Then, last week, I found out how to make an actual three-dimensional Christmas tree. I made it using the same color (Fimo soft Emerald) I’d used for the cookie cutter charm. It’s a shame Fimo doesn’t offer Christmas tree green! I added two colors of balls (Indian Red and Metallic Gold) and added a Metallic Gold star for its top.

Later that week, one of my staff told me about a project she’d been working on in which she’d used a metal ring, a part of a tree trunk, a string of lights and some washi tape to create a Christmas decoration. I thought to myself, how fun would it be to glue my polymer clay Christmas tree onto the tree trunk and work from there.

On Friday, fully having the tree trunk and metal ring project in mind, I created a polymer clay snowman too. That was a bit harder, because it had to be smaller than the Christmas tree and of course the snowman includes more intricate features.

On Saturday, when the staff who’d talked about the tree trunk project came by, she showed me the tree trunk. I think here’s where my concept development is a bit lacking, as I had absolutely no idea how huge a tree trunk would be. In my mind, I had imagined a small piece of wood, but it was the actual trunk of an actual, large tree. Yes, she’d said a tree trunk, right? Needless to say my Christmas tree, which isn’t even 10cm high or 5cm wide, would be invisible when used on this trunk.

Instead of the trunk, we decided to use a small piece of cardboard to stick the Christmas tree and snowman onto. I am not sure how well they will remain secured, as I’ve heard mixed messages about glue and polymer clay. The fake snow we used to spread around the tree and snowman, also hardly stuck at all, but for now, it’s in its place.

We decided to use a much smaller ring than the one my staff had had in mind, because of course the large ring would again drown out my polymer clay sculptures. Since the string of lights was meant for the large ring, we couldn’t use that, but we could use some mini Christmas balls and washi tape.

I couldn’t do much in creating this final project, as most of the parts had to be glued together using a glue gun, but I don’t mind. I like that I at least did the polymer clay crafting.

Do you usually do any Christmas-related crafting?

Linking up with Inspire Me Monday and #LifeThisWeek.

Hobbies I Could Turn Into Christmas Gifts

Hi everyone. As regular readers of this blog know, I have a lot of eBooks on journaling. One of them is a collection of 31 Christmas-related journaling prompts and one of its prompts is about turning hobbies into Christmas gifts. The prompt asks us to think of ten hobbies that could be turned into Christmas presents. They don’t have to be physical presents. In fact, the explanation behind the prompt was about a little boy coming to greet Jesus and, rather than bringing riches like gold or myrrh, he brought his drums and played little Jesus a song. Today, I am going to share some of my passions that I could turn into Christmas gifts. I am pretty sure I won’t make it to ten, but that’s okay.

1. Storytelling. Some kind words can mean the world to someone. I am not too much of a wordsmith in terms of poetry or fiction, but I can definitely share some of my positive thoughts with someone I care about this holiday season.

2. Soap making. Okay, I can’t find my Christmas tree mold as I write this, but I could still create a soap in festive colors. After all, I do have gold and red mica powders.

3. Aromatherapy. Related to the above one, I could obviously add a Christmassy scent to my soap or other DIY bath and body care product. I have a ton of seasonal essential oils, including white fir, cinnamon and orange. I also am pretty sure I have a Christmas tree fragrance oil.

4. Polymer clay. Of course. I recently created a polymer clay Christmas tree and am going to buy white Fimo soon so that I can create a snowman too. I have a few Christmas-related cutters, but I prefer creating sculptures.

5. Jewelry-making. I don’t have that many Christmas-colored jewelry-making supplies on hand right now, but if I wanted to, I could purchase them. I can definitely make a holiday-themed keychain or bracelet. If I am going to use my polymer clay to make jewelry with, I do have Christmassy colors.

6. Reading. I could read my fellow clients a Christmas-related children’s story.

7. Baking and cooking. I am not a great cook or baker, but I could with some help from the staff definitely whip up some seasonal treat. I love looking up recipes.

Well, I can’t think of anything else right now, but I am pretty content with how I did on this list.

How could you turn a hobby of yours into a Christmas gift?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

An Unexpectedly Productive Monday

Today, I’m feeling better than I was expecting when I woke up this morning. I mean, I didn’t sleep well last night. I was ruminating a lot into the wee hours of the night and then kept being woken by a fellow client’s screams. This client can’t speak or use any form of alternative augmentative communication. The staff think he was in pain, but they couldn’t figure out what was bothering him. Thankfully, he seems calmer now. I hope he actually is.

I had a pretty productive day today. In the morning, I went to my GP. I had to discuss how I’m doing with respect to my abdominal discomfort now that I’m on one magnesium tablet a day. Together, we decided to leave it at this for now. I’m not totally well, but I’m as well as possible.

I also asked him to do a breast exam, because I’ve been feeling some discomfort. I felt okay with a male examining my breasts, after all he’s a doctor. Thankfully, he found no abnormalities, but he referred me for a mammogram just in case anyway. It’s been scheduled for this coming Thursday, which I consider really early given the state of healthcare and the pandemic and all.

In the afternoon, I decided to sort through my polymer clay stash to throw out the clay I can no longer work with. I mean, I know all clay can be made workable if conditioned enough, but I just feel that it’s too much work for me given how totally crumbly some of them are and how some of them literally get shredded by my pasta machine.

In the evening, I went for a walk, made another polymer clay unicorn and decorated my room for Christmas. Yes, I’m early for someone from the Netherlands, as most people don’t start decorating until after St. Nicholas, but I won’t be celebrating that anyway.

How was your day?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 21, 2021)

Hi everyone. Today is a rather mixed Sunday weather-wise. We had sunshine almost all morning and early afternoon, but now we’re having clouds and rain. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had a late afternoon coffee (I normally have them at around 2:15PM and it’s almost 3:30 now). I am likely to skip my soft drink, which I normally have at around 3:30, and have some water again when my one-on-one comes on at four o’clock. If you’d like a drink, you’re welcome to grab a soft drink or water or get a Senseo in the kitchen. Let’s catch up.

I already shared on Friday that this week was a rather meh one. So, if we were having coffee, I’d try to focus on other things. I’d share that I’ve been trying to pick up the polymer clay craft again. Yesterday, I finished three labels with “Bedankt” (Dutch for “Thanks”) on them for the three staff who are leaving soon. I still need to cure them in the oven and add glitter glue for decoration. I’m probably going to do that this evening.

I will still need to make real presents for each of the three staff, because I don’t think just a simple label, even if it’s hand-made, is enough. One of the staff is leaving at the end of this month. The other two aren’t leaving till the end of December, so I still have time for those.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been oohing and aahing at some polymer clay supplies I want to get for Christmas or St. Nicholas (December 5). You need to actually pay for your own St. Nicholas presents, but I agreed with my assigned staff that she could spend around €15 on them and I’d send her a wishlist which she could pick something from, so that I’d still feel a sense of surprise. We do get a small Christmas hamper from the day center, so I told my day activities staff she might talk to my assigned home staff about ordering from the same company as to save on shipping. Some things on my wishlist include cutters, pushmolds and texture sheets.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I bought a new essential oil diffuser. I couldn’t seem to clean the other one properly anymore, so all scents were starting to smell the same. I made a note in my Reminders app to clean this one each month, but with how often I’m currently using it, I’ll probably make that every other week. The new one has a remote and two mist settings for normal and strong mist.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that my husband came by to take me out to lunch this afternoon. We’d talked about going to a particular snack and dine place we’d been to two years ago and I’d looked forward to it all week. It was really good back then. Now, not really. The burger we ordered was okay’ish. Not very bad, but not good either. In addition, we had to wait forever to place our order and the staffer really was quite curt. This time, we were asked for our CoronaCheck code, but not our ID, as is required. Oh well.

How have you been?

A Good Enough Tuesday

Today is November 2. It’s a Tuesday. A good enough Tuesday, mind you. I didn’t dwell too much on it being the anniversary of my crisis in 2007.

I didn’t really get stressed out about the prime minister delivering another press conference, one in which he’d be announcing new COVID-related restrictions, either. If I’m correct, the press conference is happening right now or has just finished. When I passed by the living room, where the television is, I heard the prime minister say something about “strongly recommending” us to social distance again. Well, whatever. If it’s just a “strong recommendation”, it’s a suggestion, so no-one will do it. Masks are similarly “strongly recommended”.

I didn’t do too much today. Had my blood pressure taken this morning, which was within the normal range (112 over 77) even though I had already been up for a bit. I normally ask that staff check my blood pressure first thing in the morning, because it’s usually up a little when I’ve been active. Not this time though.

I also went to Action, a budget store, to buy some Christmas decorations. I won’t be putting them up till early December, but I wanted to be early buying them to make sure I still had a wide selection to choose from.

I have been wanting to craft too, but that will have to wait till tomorrow. After all, then one of my more creative one-on-one staff will be there for my day activities shift. I will finish the polymer clay owl I’ve been working on.

I did struggle a bit with attachment issues and emotional flashbacks today, but both were manageable. Overall, like I said, it was a good enough day. And that’s totally okay.

Gratitude List (December 26, 2020) #TToT

Hello everyone and a belated merry Christmas to you all! As usual on Saturdays nowadays, I’m writing a gratitude list. I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Enjoy!

1. I am grateful for Jesus! I’m so grateful I became a Christian this year and this time hopefully for real. I say this because I’ve been a progressive believer for many years but hardly took my faith seriously at all. I still could take it more seriously and I’m praying God will open my heart and mind to him even more.

2. I am grateful for my family. My parents sent me a Braille-typed Christmas card and my sister sent me a card too. This reminds me that, even though we don’t have the closest relationship, I still matter to them.

3. I am grateful for my husband and in-laws.

4. I am grateful for great Christmas meals. Yesterday, my husband and I made use of the fact that people can legally have two (actually three on Christmas and boxing day) visitors and celebrated Christmas with my in-laws. We had a delicious dinner.

Also, the bakery in a nearby village sent the entire care facility a Christmas lunch of freshly-baked buns. Normally they give it to the day center in that village, where the clients help package their goods. However, that day center is closed due to COVID. Most clients from my care facility don’t work at the day center there, but some do and the bakery was so generous as to give us all the lunch.

5. I am grateful for my psychiatrist. As we wrote on Tuesday, she completely validated us. I haven’t yet needed my new PRN medication.

6. I am grateful the days are getting longer again. Ugh, how I hate the dark days!

7. I am grateful for the motivation and focus to be able to read again. I’m reading a middle grade novel, but that’s okay.

8. I am grateful for uplifting, Christian music. My husband has some on in the car and I discovered some on Spotify.

9. I am grateful for sausage rolls this morning. My husband joked that he was going to eat them all if I didn’t make it downstairs soon enough. I guess I did though.

10. I am grateful for a lie-in this morning. My husband didn’t get up at 7:30AM like usual on Sundays (maybe because it’s Saturday today), so I slept in longer than usual too.

I hope you all had a very happy Christmas. What have you been grateful for lately?

Something Between Me and God

So Christmas is over. My own family doesn’t care about it much. We didn’t visit my parents this year. My sister, brother-in-law and three-month-old niece saw our parents for a few days before Christmas. My husband had to work, so we didn’t have time to come over then. We could have come over today, but I personally don’t like visiting my parents if my sister and brother-in-law aren’t there too. All of us live in different corners of the country and my sister and husband both work irregular hours, so ideally we find a day when we can all be together. That doesn’t have to be at Christmas. It helps that my family aren’t religious. My parents are both atheists.

I am not an atheist, but I prefer not to subscribe to organized religion. Yes, I derive meaning from reading Christian devotionals and listening to Christian music. I also sometimes pray. I no longer attend church and never attended regularly. I take the Bible with a large bucket of salt. Yet I feel very touched by the nativity story.

Recently, when going through my Facebook profile and privacy settings, I chose to delete my religion off my profile altogether. It listed “progressive Christian” up to that point, but really I think it’s none of my 500+ friends’ business. My husband says religion is something between him and whatever higher power he believes in or not. It is not that I don’t want to share – I am doing that now -, but I don’t want to label my belief system. Maybe in some respects I’m still a seeker.

And yet, sometimes I wish I subscribed to an organized belief system. I mean, I love to connect to spiritual and religious bloggers, but it’s hard to find this connection without sharing their doctrine. Am I truly being honest when I tell a Christian blogger that I agree with their spiritual message even though on fundamental matters of doctrine, we most likely strongly disagree. I mean, my husband at one point read me the Nicene creed, on which all Christianity is based and I didn’t agree with some points.

Then again, it’s not up to the humans who wrote that creed to judge me at the end of times. They may kick me out of their blogging communities, but they won’t ultimately decide whether there’s an afterlife and if so, how I get to spend eternity in it.

I love to derive meaning from all sorts of spiritual sources. Most are either Christian or New Age-based. I don’t think believing in God and Jesus contradicts belief in one’s inner spiritual power. I don’t think I need to take the Bible literally or even semi-literally to consider myself religious. Like I said, my spirituality is something between me and God.

I’m joining in with RagTag Daily Prompt, for which the word today is Spiritual.