An Engaging Wednesday

Hi everyone. I originally wanted to title this post a “creative”, then “inspired” Wednesday. Both fit, in a way, but neither fully captures the essence of today. Not that “engaging” does, but I ran out of adjectives to think of. I spent the day crafting and watching personal growth YouTube videos and that’s what I want to talk about. Oh, I could just have written “A day spent crafting and watching YouTube videos” as my post title. Then again, that’s too long.

In the morning, I finished a YouTube video in which an enneagram geek talked about annoying things type Fours say and do, then watched another of her videos about things to know before dating an Eight. No, I’m not looking to find another lover. My husband is an Eight and I just thought it funny to learn about all the stupid mistakes I’d made all along. Of course, I could just listen to my husband (that’s the first tip!).

Re the other video, I may write a separate blog post listing all the ways in which I relate to all these annoying things Fours do and say. And yes, I related completely to all but one of them.

Then, when my day activities started, I had my morning coffee, then went for a short walk while it was still cool enough outside. My orthopedic shoes arrived yesterday and I can now actually walk on them without any pain. I won’t get my hopes up, because I have been saying all along that they won’t be ready until 2034 and that’s exactly when World War III is going to start according to a book by that title. I am too superstitious to admit publicly that my shoe problem is over yet.

After my walk, my staff and I drove to the supermarket for quark, which I eat for breakfast. We also both got ourselves a sausage roll for lunch and she treated me to ice cream cones. Of course, I just ate one today and she had one too, so the rest are in the freezer.

In the afternoon, I first used my alcohol inks that I’d bought at Action several weeks ago. I had finally managed to create earring pieces that didn’t have air bubbles in them and was going to add a little alcohol ink to them for some extra color. The pieces haven’t been turned into actual earrings yet.

Then in the evening, I crafted the last of the polymer clay beads I’ll need for the necklace I’m making for the person from the other care home. I’m probably going to put together the necklace tomorrow. Overall, it was a good day.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 6, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Saturday of August. Okay, that starting phrase gets boring, but who cares? Well, me, but I can’t think of any better way to start my post. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I’ve had five cups of coffee already today and it’s mid-afternoon. Want one too? I hope I haven’t used up the whole pot. Well, it’s a virtual coffee share. Let’s have a coffee and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about your weather as usual. Ours has been mostly warm, sometimes hot. On Wednesday in particular, the daytime temperature rose to 31°C. Today, it’s only about 21°C. I even wore long sleeves this morning when going out for a walk.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I discovered a function I hadn’t previously known about existed in JAWS, my computer’s screen reader. When you press INSERT+4, INSERT being the designated JAWS key, JAWS displays a menu with special characters to select from, such as the euro sign, the degrees sign I used above, etc. Before I knew about this function, I’d do a Google search for something that’d pop up the character I wanted, copy/paste it into a text document and copy/paste from that document to my blog. However, if I wanted a character that wasn’t yet in the document, I’d need to do a search all over again. Besides, it’d mean having to open a separate app, in this case Notepad, and copy/pasting from there rather than selecting the character from the menu.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, today, I started on 25mg rather than 27.5mg of aripiprazole (Abilify), my antipsychotic. So far, so good, but I’m not expecting any effects as of yet, as aripiprazole has a half life of 72 hours and the dosage decrease is so small anyway. This is my second decrease out of possibly twelve, each taking three months. That’s an incredibly slow taper, but it’s this way so that any possible changes in my mood and/or behavior can be observed over time.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been busy crafting this past week. Someone from a neighboring care home has her birthday next week and a fellow resident from my care home has his birthday on the 25th. I asked the woman who has her birthday next week what her favorite color is and she immediately understood why. “Ah, you know when I have my birthday!” she exclaimed. Of course, I didn’t reveal anything else. I am creating a necklace with all polymer clay beads for her. I did this for someone else, who had her birthday at the end of January, and back then it’d taken me weeks to create all the beads. Now, I was able to do half of them in one day. The other half is a little harder, because that color of clay is more difficult to work with.

For the man who’s having his birthday on the 25th, I bought a canvas, which I painted black this week and am going to decorate with polymer clay cookie cutter shapes once I’ve finished the necklace. I am doing his name and a car. Since the challenge theme for this month in the Dutch polymer clay Facebook group is mixed media, I’m also thinking of including some other technique, but I’m not yet sure what.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that today, my husband went to get his new-to-him car, a Fiat Panda. He’s coming for a visit tomorrow. We originally thought of driving to some town or city in the area, but neither of us can think of an interesting one, so we may just go to Subway to have lunch.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 18, 2022)

Hi everyone and welcome to my post for this week’s #WeekendCoffeeShare. I hope you’re well. I’m about to have my afternoon coffee, so am going to take a break in the middle of this post to drink that. I also still have herbal tea, water and I do now in fact have my fruit infusion bottle in the fridge. It has cucumber in it. I’d recommend that either alone or in addition to coffee, as it’s quite hot here. It’s only about 27°C right now, but I’m sweating profusely. Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start by saying that this week was okay. Like I shared on Monday, I went to look at my assigned staff’s pet hedgehog. That was fun and helped me keep a somewhat positive attitude all through the week, despite feeling a bit meh.

If we were having coffee, I would also share that I was successful at being more physically active over this week. I went on the elliptical Wednesday and Friday, both for a little over ten minutes. I also took some walks. Yesterday, it was even hotter than it was today, so I only took a few short walks around the day center.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you all about my dietitian’s appointment yesterday. I am experiencing a slight slip-up with respect to purging behaviors, but it’s not related to binge eating per se. That didn’t make it not worrisome, the dietitian said, but at least it means my bulimia isn’t coming back. Overall, she complimented me on how I’m doing with respect to being able to follow my food plan but also being able to deviate from it in moderation at times. For example, I bought a bag of licorice last week and am having a few pieces of licorice a day most days. That way, right now, I still have half the bag left, while a few years ago I’d consume the whole bag within half an hour or less.

The dietitian also gave me some advice about planning for when I go out to eat for my birthday next week. For example, she recommended I eat a small serving of fruit at like 4PM to prevent me feeling like I’m starving by the time we’re at the restaurant at 6PM. I am not really sure I feel like following her advice though and I’m not sure that’s my eating disorder talking or just my wish to have a good time and not be minding my diet for once.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I am really happy that today we don’t have temp workers at the home at all. Yesterday we did have one and he was assigned to work my one-on-one shift. I really wasn’t pleased to say the least. I don’t do well with male staff to begin with and this was someone I didn’t know at all. I am honestly quite angry that the staff felt like assigning him my shift, because they know how much I struggled with the one regular male staff doing my one-on-one shifts. I feel like honestly my boundaries are being tested a lot lately and, with how clear the manager was that this was the way things worked, I’m not sure I’m able to assert myself.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I’m still working on the perfect pair of polymer clay earrings. It seems baking directly on the ceramic tile is for now the way to go. Thankfully, some people gave me som advice on how to prevent air bubbles being trapped between the tile and the clay, which would create little (or not so little) dents in my clay. If I baked on paper, I would not get those, but my earrings would consistently get curved, which I think is worse than the small dents I got now that I followed the experts’ advice.

I haven’t turned my earring pieces into actual earrings yet, because the ones I decided to keep look better with silver than gold. I would like to report though that I am so grateful, because a staff’s daughter had some silver-colored earring hooks that she wasn’t using and that she was happy to gift to me. How nice!

How have you been?

My First Proper Pair of Polymer Clay Earrings

Hi everyone. I finally have been motivated to actually make something out of polymer clay again. I guess last Saturday I kicked myself in the behind with my post, saying I fully intended to actually be crafting again rather than just looking at crafty YouTube videos. In fact, these earrings aren’t based on a YouTube tutorial at all. That’s honestly because I still consider the YouTube tutorials a little out of my ability range, but oh well.

I say these are my first proper earrings because I previously, about eight or nine months ago, created a pair of “boiled egg” earrings. I think I showed them here too, but anyway, VoiceOver, the iPhone’s built-in screen reader, guessed that they were two halves of a boiled egg. They were rather ugly in terms of color (yellow in the middle, then white, then purple) but more importantly, I’d glued the earring studs to the polymer clay using a cheap brand of jeweller’s glue. Now for those not familiar with polymer clay: most glues don’t work well with it. Only superglue gel will do and I’ve even heard mixed results about that. Don’t bother with E6000, let alone cheaper glues like the one I used. Bottom line: the earring stud fell off within several hours.

Now on to these earrings I created yesterday. First, I decided to roll out a slab of caramel Fimo with my pasta machine. I had to do this several times over because I kept getting horizontal roller lines in my slab. Finally, once I was satisfied with the result, I cut out the flower shapes. I later learned that it is recommended to lay a piece of copy paper over your slab and lightly roll your acrylic roller over it in all directions. This is called burnishing and should even out any ridges in your slab. I then had my staff poke a small hole into my pieces with a bead piercing pin. This is to guide my drill later on.

Then I baked my pieces at 130°C for 45 minutes. (For those reading the Fimo packaging that says to bake no longer than the recommended 30 minutes, this is flat out wrong.) I baked the pieces on a sheet of parchment paper which I’d put onto my ceramic tile. The oven I use is a convection oven where the fan can’t be turned off, so I had to put an aluminum container over my sheet of parchment paper to prevent it from flying all around the oven. Unfortunately, the parchment paper might’ve flown a little underneath the container, as my pieces did turn out slightly crooked. Either that or I should’ve used copy paper rather than parchment paper, as is recommended by some.

Once the pieces had baked for 45 minutes and then cooled down completely, I drilled the holes into the earrings. I had already decided I wanted to decorate the edges with gold Fimo liquid, but this was my first time drilling actual holes into polymer clay pieces, so I was too curious to see how it’d go to wait till I’d finished the project. I did the drilling mostly independently, only needing my staff to hold down my pieces because I needed two hands to drill.

I then sanded the pieces. There was a bit of a bump on both of my earrings, one bigger than the other. I’m not sure it was an air bubble, as sanding it didn’t leave a hole. I think I did an okay job of sanding them away.

I then decorated the edges with Fimo liquid. I needed some help with this, as of course I’m blind and I cannot feel my way to where I’d need to put the liquid or I’d put it all over my fingers.

Then another round in the oven for 30 minutes (which I’m not sure is enough, but my pieces look fine). Then my staff attached the jumprings and attached those to the earring hooks.

I intend on giving these to my sister when I visit her on Sunday. She’s more of a silvery girl than a goldy one, but I didn’t have silver-colored earring hooks.

Other than the earrings having become slightly curved in the oven, I am relatively content with how they turned out. What do you think?

Linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Busy Monday, Love Your Creativity and the Craftastic Link Party.

Jewelry-Making #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone. Welcome to my letter J post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I want to share about one of my crafty hobbies once again, because I thought it’d be an interesting distraction from the more philosophical musings. Besides, I just didn’t have another topic for this letter, ha.

I made my first pieces of jewelry back in the psych hospital in like 2014 or 2015. Back then, I bought quite expensive beads, such as gemstone beads, even though I could only make basic necklaces and bracelets. That is, I did make one necklace with three different wires, but I needed a lot of help with it.

Then, after a while, I stopped making jewelry, because I just needed too much help with it and couldn’t really produce the quality I liked. I restarted about a year ago. This time, the first beads I bought, were simple acrylic beads that weren’t too expensive or precious. I did try to go for shapes I liked, such as butterflies. I also at one point bought a collection of 90 silver-colored, plastic charms for €5,95.

For my birthday last year, I got a surprise package of jewelry-making supplies from a store local to my parents. In this package were a lot of glass beads, which I loved. Thus came back my love of creating glass and actual metal jewelry.

Because most of my glass beads are irregularly shaped, I at first struggled to get each side of the necklace, with the charm or pendant in the middle, equally long. To solve this, I got myself a beading board to be able to count out the length of each side of the necklace. My best glass beaded necklace is one I created about two months ago using this board as a guide.

I also like to make my own beads and jewelry out of polymer clay. I created one pair of earrings back in the early days of my polymer clay journey, but glued the earring posts to the polymer clay using generic jewelry glue. Now some people do use E6000, but even that’s generally recommended against for polymer clay. The best way to attach polymer clay earrings to their posts is to cover the posts in an additional layer of polymer clay. If you want or need to use glue anyway, choose a brand of superglue gel, such as Gorilla or Loctite. I had my staff glue the below brooch to its pin using Gorilla superglue.

Goals I Have in the Area of My Creativity #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone! Welcome to my letter G post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I want to talk about goals I have related to my creative process. Here goes.

First, I obviously want to improve my skill and learn new techniques. With respect to polymer clay, I would really like to learn to make jewelry, such as earrings or beaded projects. I would also love to improve my color mixing skills.

I also may want to learn macrame, although I’m not 100% sure about that yet, as there’s still so much I can learn with respect to polymer clay and I’ve discovered I may not have reached my full potential after all.

With respect to my writing, I want to learn to write poetry that doesn’t look like a teen on drugs wrote it. I would also like to learn more about fiction writing. Of course, practice makes perfect, so I’ll really need to write more.

Secondly, my goal is to share my projects, when appropriate, more than I do now. I may really want to work on creating an Instagram profile. Either that, or I should share my projects on this blog or my personal Facebook profile more often.

I would also someday like to exchange my knowledge and skills with other crafters or writers. Of course, I do so online already, in Facebook groups, but I’d love to join a writing or crafting club or something. I’m not sure I’ll ever fit in with the polymer clay guild, as I need too much support with my craft. However, maybe I’ll someday be able to join in with some crafting workshops either online or in real life. I heard the American Council of the Blind organizes them online. Not for polymer clay specifically, but for crafting in general.

Lastly, I hope to continue enjoying the polymer clay art. This may seem obvious, but it can be quite the challenge, because due to my combination of perfectionism and impatience, I often give up when I don’t move forward in a craft quickly enough for my liking. I also dabble in quite many hobbies at once. Now, I really need to stick to just a few.

Yet Another Goodbye

One of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts this week is to show your readers your most recent photo and to let it inspire your blog post. This might not be an easy prompt for other people to be doing without cheating, but I rarely take random pictures. As such, I do have a clear story behind my most recent picture.

This picture shows a necklace I made this morning for a staff who’s leaving. Yes, yet another staff is leaving my care home. It’s the fifth or so within the past four or five months. At least as many people have looked around at my home to see if they might want to work here, but none do. Thankfully though, my care home has managed to attract a few new staff from internships and the other care homes that are part of my care facility. Overall, it all still makes me intensely sad.

This staff who’s leaving now had only been working here for six months, but I did kind of trust her already. Some staff say this means I can build trust in new staff too, seeing that I could develop a kind of attachment to this staff within six months. The reality is though, I don’t think I want to build trust in another staff, knowing that the reality of the current employment climate is they can leave when they feel like it and no-one can guarantee me they won’t leave within a certain timeframe. After all, originally this staff planned on working here for at least several years too.

I did feel kind of like I had to make something for this staff, so I made this necklace. The round-looking beads are actually hearts. The story behind the beads is also interesting: another staff found them while clearing out a fellow client’s cupboard and had no idea whose they are. They most likely aren’t hers or at least she isn’t able to use them because the holes in the beads are far too narrow. Ultimately, the staff decided to give them to me. I at one point thought I might be able to use them for macrame, but the holes are far too narrow for that too.

The staff who is leaving is the staff who got me Indonesian takeaway food, the best Asian food I’d ever had, last week. She said that, on Monday, when it’s her last shift here, she’s bringing me another meal. I think that’s really kind of her.

Mama’s Losin’ It

#WeekendCoffeeShare (February 19, 2022)

Hi everyone on this gloomy Saturday evening. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I’m right between my dinner and my evening coffee and I cannot offer you a drink other than water right now, as my staff is busy and I don’t want to leave my room. I’ll get to that bit later. So, can I get you a drink of water? Otherwise you’ll have to wait until my staff returns. Anyway, let’s have a chat.

If we were having coffee (or water, in this case), I’d share that we’re quarantining right now, as four or five of my fellow clients are positive for COVID. Four are confirmed and the fifth one can’t be tested but is treated as having COVID too. I took a lateral flow test right after dinner this evening and so far I’m still negative, as are the four other clients supported by the same staff as me outside of my one-on-one hours.

This is the reason the staff are busy, with the staff who care for the COVID-positive clients having to wear PPE and the other staff having to remain out of these clients’ way. It is all rather chaotic.

If we were having coffee, I’d share some of my new clay creations with you too. Like I think I said yesterday, I finally created a cactus on Monday evening.

Polymer Clay Cactus

Then on Wednesday, I created my second-ever polymer clay cane. This one I did using a heart-shaped cutter for the image. I managed to do the reducing all by myself! Then I had my staff cut it into slices, which we then made into beads.

I also created several possible charms to go with these beads. One is a heart which I do kind of like. The other was a unicorn, but I threw that one away. I now only need to make more beads, because, even though I have more than just the four beads shown in the picture above, I don’t have enough for a necklace.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, this afternoon, I have been experimenting with photo editing and meme making again. I didn’t have any success, of course. I mean, I found a photo editing app called Snapseed, which is relatively accessible with VoiceOver, but the one thing I wanted to do, ie. add text to an image, was not. That is, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to enter the text I wanted to add onto the image.

The result of all my experimenting is that now I have eight apps in my Photography folder on my iPhone rather than the four I used to have. And those four already seemed excessive, being that, besides the camera and default photos app, I only use one out of the two image recognition apps I have. Oh well.

If we were having coffee, I’d share about my nurse practitioner’s appointment on Thursday. I am so thankful we were still allowed to leave the home back then, because the appt was really productive. With respect to my new medication, the pregabalin, my nurse practitioner recommended I wait and see another two weeks before concluding it’s ineffective for my anxiety. We discussed my anxiety in a little more depth and also for the first time in a long while went into my diagnosis. He actually said he believes my diagnosis is DID (dissociative identity disorder) or at least some variation of it (ie. other specified dissociative disorder). I quickly talked over it saying it doesn’t really matter, as I know firstly he can’t diagnose me (but then again the psychiatrist can) and secondly I still haven’t had the extensive assessment required for a DID diagnosis in most places here in the Netherlands. That being said, it felt so good to be validated like this! My nurse practitioner also finally will make room for us to discuss my flashbacks at a later appt. He said the reason he didn’t go into it right then was the limited time left in our appt, but he’d definitely like to discuss it with me. That feels kind of weird, but in a good way.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I’m so glad the storms are finally over. Last Wednesday night, I hardly slept at all due to the high winds. Thankfully, last night and the night before that were better. My husband’s and my house did suffer some damage to the roof though. Hopefully insurance will be able to cover the cost of getting it repaired.

How have you been?

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

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