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.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 13, 2022)

Hi everyone. How are you doing? Want to join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare? I’ve had all my coffee for the day, but I’m soon grabbing a Dubbelfrisss (my favorite soft drink). Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by asking how your weather is. Ours has been hot most of the week. Today, the weather institute officially recorded a heatwave, meaning five days in a row of daytime highs of at least 25°C, including three days of at least 30°C. Today, the temperature reached 32°C here. Tomorrow, it may even get a little hotter. The last officially-recorded heatwave was in 2020.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the woman from the care home down the road from mine was very happy with the polymer clay necklace I gifted her for her birthday. I stayed for a while to have coffee and apple pie.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic shoes still aren’t as they should be. I developed two small blisters on my feet after a short walk yesterday evening. Granted, I’d also taken a longer walk in the morning without much trouble, but blisters really shouldn’t happen anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d complain about the care facility’s WiFi once again. Oh wait, yesterday, I showed gratitude for it, but today I’m complaining, because three days in a row it’s now gone out in the evening. I am currently redirecting my iPhone’s mobile data to my laptop because I was in the middle of typing this blog post when the stupid thing went down.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I did start on the green polymer clay unicorn I mentioned this afternoon after all. I’ve decided it’s going to make a great present for the student staff who’s leaving at the end of this month. I so far only made the surface it’s going to stand on, which is currently in the oven. It took me 45 minutes to create a slab for it that was relatively free of air bubbles. Not completely, but enough that there hopefully won’t be huge holes in the bottom of the thing. Not that they will be seen, if they are there, when the unicorn stands on its surface, but well.

How have you been?

Unicorns, Of Course! #SoCS

Unicorns are my favorite mythical creatures. When I saw that this week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “U” – to start your post with a word beginning with the letter “U” -, I of course had to go with “unicorn”.

Not that I know much about the origins or meanings of unicorns. I mean, I love reading chapter books about them, in which they are always described as having magical powers. For example, in the Branches Books early chapter book Bo’s Magical New Friend, a unicorn tries to help discover her friend’s power. In a chapter book for slightly more advanced readers, Twilight, Say Cheese! by Daisy Sunshine, a unicorn has trouble containing her power of invisibility.

In addition to books, I love stuffed unicorns. I have two. One is Sophie/Rainbow, who has two names because two of my blog readers independently came up with names for her. She is a white unicorn with rainbow-colored mane. The other is completely white and I call her Snowflake.

I also love crafting unicorns out of polymer clay, though I haven’t done it much lately because I haven’t found a way to prevent the thing it stands on from bending and/or developing air bubbles. I do really want to create another unicorn soon, but am too busy with the presents for various people to get to that one. I already have the colors I want to use for my next polymer clay unicorn though. It will be three different intensity levels of a bright green.

Gratitude List (August 12, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I want to write a gratitude post this evening. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here are my gratefuls.

1. I am grateful for my husband’s new car. Last week Sunday, he came by for a visit and drove me to Subway for lunch in it. It’s a Fiat Panda. I remember those as really small and uncomfortable cars, as my parents had one from the mid-1980s back when my sister and I were children. This one’s a 2010 model though and much better.

2. I am grateful I was able to finish the necklace for the woman in the nearby care home who has her birthday tomorrow. The Fimo beads did get a little discolored, even the white ones that I’d cured at 110°C. Oh well, according to my husband, the colors do fit nicely together.

3. I am grateful I actually got the money back from the pasta machine I’d ordered and then returned. I wanted to spend it on polymer clay supplies I do want at that same store this evening, but then somehow our Internet broke down.

4. I am grateful for Internet access on my iPhone, so that I wasn’t completely cut off when the care facility’s WiFi broke down.

5. I am grateful the WiFi is back up for now. After all, blogging on my iPhone is still a pain.

6. I am so grateful my one-on-one shift today got sorted eventually. The care home is so short-staffed that no-one could initially be found to work my shift. They finally found a solution that was far from ideal, for the person doing my shift and me, but we got through it.

7. I am grateful for ice cream cones. Like I said on Wednesday, a staff bought them for me when we were at the supermarket. We still had some left today, so I got one again.

8. I am grateful for a tiny bit of weight loss regardless. I didn’t really mind my diet over the past week and it was too hot for exercise, but still I lost 0.2kg.

9. I am grateful getting blood drawn wasn’t painful yesterday. I went to the doctor last week because my IBS-related symptoms seem to be increasing and changing. The doctor ordered bloodwork just to be sure it’s nothing else and I had to have it drawn yesterday. I have really thin veins, so usually it’s real trouble, but not this time.

10. I am grateful for books, music, YouTube videos and podcasts to entertain and inspire me.

What are you grateful for?

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?

Gratitude List (July 31, 2022) #TToT

Hi all on this last day of July! Today I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) for a gratitude list. I’m rather late to the party, but better late than never, huh? Here goes.

1. I am grateful for some good phone talks with the care facility’s behavior specialist this week. She gave me some useful advice on how to handle my frustration with respect to my recent care review with her and my nurse practitioner from mental health.

2. I am grateful my nurse practitioner gave the get-go for me to lower my antipsychotic again. Next week, I’ll be starting with the slightly decreased dose.

3. I am grateful for a nice visit from my sister and her family. I am so grateful Janneke, my oldest niece, was really friendly with me. I tried to show her how to make a play-doh unicorn, but she may still be a bit young for that and/or I wasn’t engaging enough.

4. I am grateful I got to hold Wolke, my youngest niece, who is just two-months-old.

5. I am grateful for the belated birthday gifts my sister and her family brought me. I got four sets of cutters and a set of texture sheets to use with my polymer clay.

6. I am grateful for a delicious salami pizza with added olives and red peppers. Yum! We ordered pizza (and fries for Janneke) last Monday when my sister and her family were here.

7. I am grateful for a good visit from my mother-in-law on Friday too. We went out to have lunch, which was delicious.

8. I am grateful for no mosquitoes last night or the night before. This hopefully means my anti-mosquito device, that I’d bought last Friday when in town with my mother-in-law, is working. Either that or none had been in my room at all. I don’t really care which, as long as the critters aren’t bothering me.

9. I am grateful my pasta machine isn’t broken after all. I had experienced it’d crumble several colors of polymer clay. Even after a deep clean session, it still did this, so I thought it must be broken. Thankfully, one of the most knowledgeable people in the Dutch polymer clay Facebook group took a look at a picture I’d taken and said it wasn’t broken. Apparently it’s the clay.

10. I am grateful the new pasta machine I impulsively ordered online when thinking the current one was broken, can be returned. I will probably ask my staff to drive me to the PostNL pick-up point tomorrow. When I have my refund, I’m going to order supplies I really do need from that same store I now ordered the pasta machine from.

What are you grateful for?

Joy in July

Hi everyone. It’s nearly the end of the month and this means it’s time for me to update you all on my word of the year. As usual, I’m joining the #WOTY linky, as well as Lisa’s One Word linky. My word of the year, as I’ve said before, is “JOY”.

Early in the month, I had a horrible setback, as I got the news that my now former assigned staff would be quitting her job at my care facility. This caused some major sadness and emotional turmoil in me, but after a while, I was able to channel it into something good by creating something for her – a polymer clay hedgehog. I enjoyed the creative process and the smile I brought to her face when I gave her the gift.

Overall, I did find that my joy or lack thereof was more than in the previous months tied to my material success, in the sense that, if I felt I was failing at a crafty endeavor, I didn’t enjoy it either. The same goes for my blog: I was ecstatic when reading all the positive comments to the poem I wrote last week, but didn’t enjoy writing when I had the idea that I wasn’t “successful” in my blogging.

Similarly, my joy is also more tied to material possessions than it used to be. For example, the day my former assigned staff left, I ordered a stuffed dolphin for comfort. While this did help me, maybe at other times I would’ve been able to seek joy without having to spend money. I am not saying spending money on comfort items is necessarily bad, but ultimately, they aren’t material things that will bring me joy.

Joyful experiences included a visit to the trampoline on the last day my now former assigned staff worked my one-on-one shift, eating out with my husband and a visit from my sister and her family. While they involved material things too, in the sense that we spent money on the dinner and my sister gave me some beautiful belated birthday gifts, the experiences themselves were truly great.

In some good news, I did do some Bible reading everyday again this week, while I’d hardly done any over the rest of the month. It is causing me a lot of emotions.

Overall, the month of July was filled with some high peaks but a lot of deep lows too. I must say though that, considering the impact of my staff leaving, I was expecting much worse. I really hope the month of August will be better.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 23, 2022)

Hello everyone on this fourth Saturday of July. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. It’s been a few weeks. Let me share what’s been going on.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask how your weather is. We haven’t had an official heatwave here, as we had only three days of daytime high temps above 25°C. Then again, on Tuesday, the temperature reached 39°C. That’s not a record, for your information: the Netherlands’ official all-time heat record was reached three years ago and it was almost 41°C.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, on Monday, I took a trip into town with my staff. I had to get some toiletries and new baby wipes (which I use for cleaning my claying supplies). I also went into Action, a discount store, actually looking for origami paper. I didn’t find any, but did buy some clear stamps, a stamping pad, blank cards and alcohol ink. As it turns out, I will most likely only be able to use the alcohol ink for my clay, and I’m not 100% sure how, as it contains glitter. I mean, that may damage my pasta machine rollers, so I may need to only roll by hand when I’ve used this alcohol ink. I might find other uses for the other supplies. I was thinking of starting up simple card making again. Now my past self is laughing and telling me “No!” in a firm voice at the same time, but I’ve already decided not to invest any more money into it. If I can’t do this at all, that’s €4,95 wasted, but some people at the day center may still be able to use my supplies.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve been loving coming up with some ideas for my polymer clay. I’ve also been watching a lot of YouTube tutorials. I’m still not actually crafting much, but that will hopefully change soon, as I managed to blend three different intensities of the same color green that I intend to use for a unicorn. Let’s hope this unicorn turns out great!

If we were having coffee, I would share that I really need to mind my food plan again soon. I am still just overweight as opposed to obese, but I do need to watch out that my weight isn’t creeping back up. On Monday though, my sister and her family will be here for a belated birthday visit and we’re going to order pizza I think. That will be the fourth time in a month that I’m either eating at a restaurant or ordering takeout. After that, I’ll seriously watch my diet. I’m already trying to make sure I’m not having too many treats. For instance, yesterday I was hungry mid-afternoon and decided to have some carrots rather than going for my licorice. I think that counts for something.

If we were having coffee, I would resist the urge to rant about my appointment with my psychiatric nurse practitioner and the care facility’s behavior specialist on Tuesday. It was really frustrating, but I’m not ready to share the details. I would instead refill your cups and ask you how you are.

Something I Couldn’t Do This Time Last Year

A few days ago, I came across a prompt in one of my dozens of collections of journaling prompts that asked me to share something I can do now that I couldn’t do this time last year. I wasn’t so sure, but I’ve been thinking and, really, this time last year I think I hadn’t started polymer clay yet.

Then again, how hard is it really to craft with clay? My nearly three-year-old niece can craft with clay, albeit not polymer clay. Is this truly something I have learned?

When I looked at my attempt at creating earrings today – my first attempt at baking them on cardboard after the random star turned out pretty well -, the first thing I noticed was their crookedness. That, even after I’d laid them under a heavy object for an hour or so. However, my husband said they looked fine and that impefections are normal for a handmade product.

Honestly, when I look at my sculptures in particular, I do see some progress. I still do create most from YouTube tutorials, but I do more independently than I used to even six months ago. Below is the bunny sculpture I created for my sister-in-law. I sculpted every part except for the mouth myself.

Polymer Clay Bunny
Polymer Clay Bunny

I threw two failed carrots in my bag with scrap clay before finally settling on this one. Something I learned too, is to collect scrap clay. Not that I have so far found a use for it, but people in the clay community told me never to throe old clay into the trash.

In a sense, I wish I’d kept my first pair of polymer clay earrings, but I threw them away. Then at least I’d have something to compare the ones I showed my husband this afternoon to. Then I could’ve seen that, maybe, I did learn something.

Besides, even from failed projects, I learned something, namely what doesn’t work with polymer clay.