Monday, April 21, 2014

A Year of Thanks

I'm getting this up a few days earlier than I originally planned but I wanted to re-cap some of my health updates and thank some folks for helping with my amazing year of recovery.  So here's a start...
Yeah I know...crazy thing is that wasn't even at my worst.  But there came a time when I just quit allowing people to take my picture.  The above shot is from 2010 (September) on the left and today on the right.

Here is what I looked like before everything just went so wrong...(2006)

Here is one a little closer to my diagnosis and surgery date.  This was May 2012.
It's not a pretty thing.  It's not something people want to show or talk about (thus the "missing years" of photos.)

It also didn't fix itself overnight, here is a picture from August when I felt so much better but was still a long way from where I am now.
Here is one from December...

And again, here is today.
80 pounds later with perfect blood pressure and a new lease on life.  My Cushing's syndrome diagnosis came around mid-April last year and I had my tumor and left adrenal gland removed on May 1st (a long day for friends and family.)  It's amazing how something so small can make you so sick.

But really the point of this post is two-fold.  First I would like to thank the countless people who have helped me this year. 

Thank you to Leslie, my rock, my work-mate, my helper with everything, my best friend.  Who kept his patience when I looked like the first pictures and couldn't do anything and felt like junk ALL the time.  I think if he had heard "I'm SOOO HOTTT!!" one more time he might have freaked out.  I can't wait to LIVE life with you again!

Thank you to my family, who was here to help, who sent cards and notes all the time and were so encouraging even when I felt horrible.

Thank you to my work friends who understood when I was dragging at a meeting or was late responding to an e-mail.

Thank you to all of my friends and neighbors and extended family who sent cards and notes and posted encouraging things on Facebook, they really did help!  My Club Scrap family has been super supportive as well!

Finally thank you to Melissa Johnson, my trainer who helped me when I was sick and for 2 years worked with me even though I was struggling and didn't know why I couldn't lose weight or get stronger.  I think she kept me out of a wheelchair.  She has also been a huge factor in getting my strength back.  I can do things now that I never could have before.  She has been an inspiration and a friend.

The second thing I want to stress here is that I knew something was wrong.  Countless doctors telling me I needed to lose weight or be more active.  People assuming I was a lazy fat person, it can really bring you down.  The last 6 months before my diagnosis I can honestly say I wanted to become a recluse.  I didn't want to see anyone or go anywhere (or have anyone see me.)  I knew I was sick but no one seemed to be able to help me.  A year or so before everything finally went down a neighbor said to me, "You know Janet, I think you have a tumor or something."  I'd like to say thank you to Kim King because she was right.  Leslie's brother Phil said towards the end to him, "You know, Janet just looks bad, I think something is wrong with her."

Maybe if more people had told me they thought I was sick I would have been able to find better help sooner?  I'm not sure.  I know it's hard to confront people about a problem you think they have.  You assume they know something is wrong.  A co-worker even told me this summer, "Well we knew something was wrong with you be we assumed you knew what it was."  I'm forever grateful to a suspicious cardiologist who finally said,"You seem like a healthy person, I think something is really wrong with you."  Also to a surgeon that didn't brush me off and had me scheduled for surgery about a week after my CAT scan.

It hasn't been a super easy year, there have been some set-backs and some other issues associated with my rapid weight loss (what do I do with all this extra skin?)  And I'm trying to hold onto my gallbladder (he's pretty upset with me lately.)  Also I'm still hoping my "red face" will keep improving.  But without this diagnosis and surgery I would have had a stroke in probably a year or so.  Most Cushings patient live 5 years and from the 2010 picture you can see I wasn't that far off.  It is a tricky illness to get help for and I'm just for the rest of my life lucky that some people helped me.  I read stories everyday on support websites where people literally die waiting to be properly diagnosed.

Well I've gone on long enough but there were just so many things I wanted to say...Thank you again everyone. We are headed to Alaska in May to celebrate my new lease on life!!  When we get home I hope to take my medic-alert bracelet off for good!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nailed It!!!

Welcome to the Club Scrap Trees March Blog Hop, otherwise known as the CSTMBH for short.  I bet you just came from Debby's Blog where I am sure she made something amazing, creative and spectacular.  I'm glad she did because that is not what you are going to find here...

If you are a fan of Pinterest or Facebook you have probably seen the "Nailed It" pictures.  You know when someone tries to replicate something they saw on a creative site and it didn't go exactly as planned.  My personal favorite is the lamb cake one...
Or the Cookie Monster Cupcakes one...

So when I first saw the images for the Trees kit, especially the Stencil and the large stamp collage scene...
I knew I wanted to do something amazing with it.  I came up with the idea that I wanted to make a moving piece of art that had the trees, sun and some giraffes.  The whole scene just screamed "GIRAFFES!" at me for some reason.  My idea was fortified when my mom sent me this photo from an art show near her home.
So I came up with a plan and I made a sketch of what I wanted to create so I could ask a couple people for some ideas (people who tend to be a little more creative than myself.)  Here is the sketch.

As you can plainly see my vision is amazing.  What I wanted was for the trees and sun to be in the background and for the giraffes to be somehow moving across the front.  I thought surely online or at a hobby store or something I would find some kind of gadget that would make the giraffes move...

Well no.

Not to be undone I decided maybe a different route.  My niece has this lamp with moving fish, maybe I could modify an old lamp.  I did some research and found that there were these neat vintage motion lamps by a company called Econolite.  They looked something like this...and when the bulb warmed up the lamp turned.
So I figured I would just buy an older broken or damaged one, fix it up and make my own outside shade with the images of the Trees and Giraffes right?

Well wrong, the lamps are a few hundred dollars, broken.

Dang it, I was getting frustrated.  Finally the time for the hop was drawing near and I wanted to do something so I bought a cheap garage sale lamp from a Facebook friend.
I figured I would just use the largest stamp from the Collection UMs to stamp the Sun and Trees onto the shade and then add my giraffes (which I bought separately since the Serengeti one was way too large.)

So step one unpack Trees kit.  Then realize that my Collection UM Stamp I want to use doesn't come until the beginning of next month since I bundle my kits.  Freak out a little because I'm really getting annoyed by the whole thing.  That's ok, I'll use the stencil, shouldn't be too hard with the lamp shade off.

Except the lamp shade doesn't come off.

Next step involves alcohol and banging head on counter.  Waiting until the night before the blog needs to be posted is now helpful as added motivation.  Additional shots help as well.

Ok so get some paint and the stencil and a foam brush and paint the portion of the stencil you want on your lamp shade, (that is still attached to the lamp.)
Now perfectly smash painted stencil onto lamp for an amazing scene.

Well this sucks.  This is just not turning out as planned at all.

Next step, more alcohol (tequila works) and a paintbrush.

So I used a small paintbrush to embellish the image and I added the stamped giraffes.
Except one of the stamped giraffes has a bit more ink and stamped sort of weird and he looks like a camel.  See him?  Third in line from the left.  He looks like the Geico camel.  But at this point if you have been drinking as instructed it still looks like a giraffe.  Kind of.

All in all it ended up not looking toooooo horrible but it's pretty bad.  It's not moving giraffes.

I shall call it "5 Giraffes and 1 Camel...Walking"

To finish please wash off your stencil, have another shot and stop the cat from eating the flowers...

 I hope you have enjoyed the journey here, it was a rough one.  If you are still standing from the shots you can click on over to Tiare's Blog (iclassygirl) to see what she has come up with this month!  If you get lost along the way feel free to hop back over to Club Scrap Creates to start over.

Happy Creating!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My "Big Deal" Ink Deck

Welcome ya'll!  I hope you are here for the Big Deal Blog Hop...
I'm sure Debby had something awesome for you and now you are here stuck with me.  I have to admit I was a little puzzled (ha) to come with something for this month's hop.  Work has been sucking my life blood right out and has left very few brain cells to come up with creative projects for display.  (Stupid work always gets in the way of crafting.)  

I really wanted to tackle the deck of cards included in the Big Deal Club Scrap kit.  You can buy the blank decks here.  I wasn't sure I could do something with all 52 of them but I got a good start.  You can make your own "Ink Deck" by following my exact and perfectly random directions.

Step One-Remove Cat from crafting chair--"MaryAnne you are in my way!"  If you do not happen to have a cat in your chair you can skip directly to Step Two.
Step Two-Make the Outsides of your deck by following Tricia's Directions found here.  Note that she rounded her corners and her's looks great...
If you will notice on my example above I have not rounded the corners.  I don't have one of those chompers and my regular corner rounder wouldn't cut into the matte board.  And I was in a hurry.

It also helps in the process if you have someone double check your measurements.  AJ was happy to oblige.

Step Three-Decorate your covers with whatever you are going to put inside your deck.  If you will notice mine says "Ink Deck".  (I tried stamping it with a font and it looked dorky after 4 tries so handwritten it is!)
I guess I should briefly explain...I keep samples of my ink colors on some random index cards that are in a ring, they are kind of messy, stamped on both sides and old.  See...?
Step Four-Start stamping on the cards in the deck like this...I stamped the first stamp and then a second generation stamp a second time right next to the first.
Stamp out all 52 cards in the ink colors you own.

Or...stamp out about 20 and get tired and quit and save the rest for another time.   It's been one of those months.

It's one of those work in progress projects...I do like that I can add to the deck at all time.  So add your stamped cards into the deck and add the rings.
I wish I had also inked the edges of each card in the corresponding ink, but hey...I can add that later too!

Although sketchy I hope I have given you an idea for that big ol blank deck of cards!  Tune in next month for the "Trees" Blog Hop, where you may or may not see a photo of a cat and I may or may not actually complete the whole project.

The next stop on the hop is with Tiare at iclassygirl.  If you missed any stops along the way head back to Club Scrap Creates!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coolest Project EVER!!!

Welcome to the Club Scrap Graffiti Blog Hop.  I hope Debby had something awesome on your last stop...but you are in the right place now.  Gather your friends and neighbors folks, hang onto your hats and glasses because this might be a bumpy ride...
Ok well not really but we are going to go back...back...back to a project that first floated around the old yahoo groups in I think 2003 and then later I have seen one off and on but it's been awhile.  

When I think of Graffiti I think of a mix of images, blended together to create a piece of art.  Now that might mean art on the side of a building, which my property manager friends don't take too very kindly so I decided to scale my art down a bit and thus we have...the Domino Graffiti Project!

Ok admit it, it's pretty cool isn't it?  Even I was a little impressed with myself when I finshed.  But the great thing is, this project is SUPER easy!  And once I show you exactly what to do (and a couple things not to do) you can whip your own project out in a heartbeat!

Step one is to find a tray or frame and some dominoes (I like this brand in the photo below.)  You'll also need some stayz-on ink.
It would be helpful if before you paint your frame you check to be sure dominoes fit perfectly in it.
Don't be like me...

If you look in the photo below you will see the painted tray with the dominoes in as a test run and the red paper underneath shows that this tray doesn't work well with these dominoes.  It leaves too much space at each side.
So then I selected a 12x12 scrapbooking frame instead and did a test run.
A MUCH better fit.  So the next step is to paint your frame.  I picked black because I wanted an all black and white theme but you could go with any color frame and inks that you would like.  Just remember it needs to be solvent ink so it doesn't come off the dominoes.  I used spray paint but you could use any paint you would like.

By using spray paint you feel more like a criminal actually creating graffiti.  So get it all painted and let it dry.  Then take your dominoes and figure out exactly how many you will need by doing a full test placement in the frame.  Next up take all the dominoes and edge them with the stayz-on ink.  I used a little make up sponge and wore a glove.  It was kind of boring so I did it in front of the tv.  You just need to do the top blank edge as shown below, but go all the way around.
(This was my first one, you don't actually have to go all the way down the sides, just do it like these below.)
You might want to ink up a couple extras in case you might happen to have some stamping "oopsies" later.  Not that I would know anything about this...

Ok so now comes the fun part.  You just start stamping.  You can do one domino at a time or in groups.  Just pick whatever stamps you like.  You could pick a theme, or not.  
I started with some of the text unmounted stamps from this month's Graffiti kit.  Once you stamp them you can start placing them into the frame (don't glue them down.)  This just helps you pick out what stamps and what directions you want the domino groupings to go in.
Just keep stamping and placing until you have it just like you want it!
Ta-da!  Now walk away for awhile and let the ink on the dominoes dry before you come back to glue them down.  (Go watch an episode of Breaking Bad or go pet the cat or make dinner or something.)

Next get some glue, I would use something like this...
My bottle was kind of old and the glue was like a thick paste and I had to dig it out of the bottle with my finger but I wasn't going to run out for more so I just dealt with it.  You'll probably want to use fresh glue.  One by one take the dominoes out of the tray, smear glue on the back and then mash it back down.  I'd start in one corner and work out.  If you do them one at a time you won't lose placement and forget where they all go.  Not that that happened.

Let it dry.  Then have your cats tell you which stamp is their favorite one.  It seems they like the Bookshelves stamp the best!

One more note, you might want to be sure your frame has a sturdy "hanger upper thingy" on the back before you start if you plan to hang your work.  If you choose a tray you can put a seal coat of clear spray paint or any other kind of sealer. I wouldn't use it to actually serve food though-just a disclaimer.

And with that you are done...sit back and admire your finished piece!

Oh and for those wondering I used a total of 56 stamps from the following 33 Kits.

Short sleeved pants
Old south
Take wing-5
Big city
Bon appetite
Tie dye
Fire and ice
Lock and key-4
Tiny treasures
Cape cod-3
All that jazz
Mirror mirror
Bold blooms
Spring chorus
Wild flowers

Oh and I did find a photo of the older one I did (which I gave away as a gift.)  
See that little hole on the bottom right?  Someone had to cut a domino in half with a saw finally to finish the project-yikes.

Well I hope you enjoyed this (slightly lengthy) stop on the Hop today.  If you want to view all of the stops for today you can head over to the start at  Club Scrap Creates.  Your next stop is with Tiare at iclassygirl.

Thanks everyone!  (I can't wait to see some of you try it!)

Love, Janet, AJ and MaryAnne

Thursday, December 26, 2013

From Trash to Treasure-Aspen Blog Hop

Howdy and welcome to the Club Scrap Aspen Blog Hop...
I'm doing this post a little ahead of time so I'm not 100% sure where you hopped from but you can always head to Club Scrap Creates if you need some blog hop direction.

This month I was lucky enough to be asked to create some cards as the Guest Artist.  I was really honored to do it and tried to come up with a couple tricks and ideas for you.  One idea was to use the "leftovers" from the Embellishment Cut-Outs to create some accents for the cards.

So I used this...

And I cut them like this...

Now you can see they aren't all perfect, that's ok, I just worked with what I had, covered up any areas that were a little out-of -whack and I used them like this...

Such cute accents for something that usually would have ended up in the garbage!

AJ and MaryAnne were too content on their heated blanket with a Packers throw on top of it (that my mom made) and they didn't want to help out, but they did eat my leftover cut-out scraps...just to be sure nothing went to waste.

Merry Christmas and Happy Blog Hopping...I've really enjoying being involved with the hop this year and can't wait to see what next month brings!  Now it's time to head over to Tiare at iclassygirl.

Love, Janet, Leslie, AJ and MaryAnne

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Health Update

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (covering all my bases here.)

I just wanted to post a brief update since I know it's much easier to put this here than to tell a bunch of folks specifics.

So the good news is that my right adrenal seems to be "woken" up and is functioning perfectly.  All my bloodwork came back as "normal" including my Cortisol, my Blood Sugar and even my liver levels that were a little off 6 weeks ago.  So this means I should be able to come off the steroids in the next few weeks, I can also come off of some of the other supplemental meds I was on.

I'm struggling a bit because I still just don't feel great.  I'm hoping it's just the end of the year stress of work stuff and the fact that while my levels are good I'm technically supposed to give it a year before I'm totally "cured".  I'm also STILL suffering with anal fissures as a result of lack of appetite and too much weight loss in a short period of time.  If you don't know what these are I pray you never, ever, ever find out.  (Unfun!) I also have a slight tremor in my right hand that has been acting up since an Adrenal Crisis on the 4th of July.  I'm hoping this also will eventually go away.  It's mostly only noticeable when I hand write something.

It's been a crazy road but I'm hoping to continue on the road to being "healthy" again!  I'm down 60 lbs with about 30 more to lose to get to what I feel like is my healthy/normal weight.  I'm hoping in the New Year I can get back to working out, more walking etc.

I just wanted to thank everyone so much for the prayers, cards, visits and well wishes.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog...including the upcoming Aspen Blog Hop on Dec. 27th!!