Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Christmas Gifts 2022, Gift 5: Hot Buttered Rum Mix

This is a gift that I made for my husband, mainly as a means to make him something special that he wouldn't be expecting.  When he gets sick, under the weather or just is looking for something comforting hot to drink on a cold winter's night, he has liked making himself a hot buttered rum in the past.  I tried, a while ago, to make a mix for him, but it was made with ice cream and came out too rich and just kind of not great.  So, this time around, I searched for a more traditional version of the mix for him.

I found this recipe that worked perfect for me as it called for butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, some spices and vanilla extract.  All of which were things I had on hand.  It was a stupid simple process to put together and it came together really fast, which was a double bonus for me as I need fast things to make right now if I can find them.

This has to be stored in the fridge or freezer, just to warn you.  I put mine in wide mouth mason jars and stuck them in the wayyyyyy back of the fridge, unmarked, so that I can hopefully pull them out and surprise my husband with them on Christmas.  I'll them mark them and move them to the freezer for long term storage (although they'll last indefinitely in the fridge, I still prefer to go the route of the freezer for the sake of security).  

So, if you have all the ingredients on hand and are looking for something fun, with a lot less fake ingredients than the stuff you buy at the store, go and make this for someone.  I doubt they'll expect it :).  

Monday, December 19, 2022

Christmas Gifts 2022, Gift 4: Lavender Sachets

This is a gift to a friend of my daughter's...well really her friend's mom.  Her friend's mom loves heavily scented things, so I thought I'd use the lavender that I had gotten in my CSA box this summer (which I was honestly trying to figure out what to use it for) to make a couple of lavender sachets for her for Christmas and I'd put it in the gift along with some cookies for her friend.  

These things can't be easier to make.  If you have any nice scented things like herbs, rose petals or the like, all you really have to do is make some squares, sew them up until you have just a large enough opening to fit the things in that you want to add that smell nice (like I just left a big enough opening for a funnel so I could pour the lavender buds into the sachets), sew up your opening and bam!  Done!  I didn't fill the sachets super full so that they could be fit into a drawer with some clothes or something without getting in the way of things, but made the sachets big enough and out of bright enough material that they could (hopefully) be easily seen in a drawer if someone needed to move them or something. 

I used the same Christmas fabric I used to make the cup cozies out of and used some other left over bias tape I had around the house to make a bow for them.  Not a super hard gift to make, but hopefully one that they will like none-the-less.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Christmas Gifts 2022, Gift 3: Handkerchiefs

This is one of the those gifts that is totally unexciting, but really practical and useful and, most importantly, desperately needed.  I haven't made handkerchiefs for my husband in a few years and it was definitely showing with how torn, worn and grody looking his handkerchiefs were getting.  So, I decided to make him some more handkerchiefs this year. 

I just used one of his old handkerchiefs to make a pattern from and just made sure to give myself a 1/2 inch seam allowance per side (I just eyeballed it, honestly).  I did find this tutorial that breaks down different dimensions, how to cut the fabric, how to sew the handkerchiefs by hand or by machine if you are interested in making them for someone for Christmas.  Old sheets or pillowcases are great to make handkerchiefs with if you can find fabric on them that looks nice.

I ended up digging out what I had left of my white muslin fabric in my stores to just make as many handkerchiefs as I could.  It ended up making fourteen handkerchiefs in all, which will hopefully last my husband a while before I have to buy more fabric.  

I used some bias tape I had leftover from another project to wrap the handkerchiefs with a pretty bow (still can't find any ribbon).  

So, yay, two family gifts down.  At least I'm making progress!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Christmas Gifts 2022, Gift 2: A Quilted Throw

When it came on what to make for my son this year, it was kind of rough figuring it out.  He's grown TONS this year and is now over six feet.  He LOVES blankets and always has, so I thought that would be a good idea.  I did have to think hard about what I could make a blanket out of as my fabric stores have slowly gotten smaller and smaller over the years (or have gotten buried in my bedroom closet somewhere *sigh*).  I had some fleece, but nothing long enough to make a throw work.  I had some fake lamb's wool fabric that I thought would make a good backing for a blanket, but once again, not enough to make a throw out of.  

I finally looked at the flannel shirt fabric you see above.  If you are someone who has been reading this blog a looonnnnggg time you'll notice that this is the same fabric I bought back in 2015 that I've been slowly using tiny bits of over the years for this or that, but this was the first really big project I used the fabric on.  I pulled out some batting I had bought with Christmas gift cards from family last year to make a quilt out of and sacrificed it to make him a quilted, extra long, quilted throw to wrap up in when he feels the need.  I used some nice thick cotton batting for the throw as well, so it weighs a bit, which he will like as well.  The material on the bolt was decently wide on it's own, so I decided to be lazy and just went with the width of the bolt for the width of the throw and then just made sure the thing was a bit longer than a twin sized quilt.  Cutting it out in small spaces was the hardest part of the entire project.  With the built in lines on the fabric, quilting it wasn't that bad as I could just follow a straight line on the fabric to sew it (yay for easy).  It was kind of challenging to quilt something so big.  My sewing machine has been moved all over the house over the years due to lack of room and now with the wood stove being put in, it is currently stuck in a space against my living room railing with barely enough room for it to fold down and get plugged in.  So, shuffling the throw around to quilt it was kind of a pain, but it got done!

I just folded it up after washing and drying it and used what little bit of ribbon I could find to wrap a bow around it (I have NO idea where I put my ribbon...I've torn the house apart, but no luck.  I know I'll run across it after the holidays when I don't need it anymore, as is the way of things in the universe).  He's been lying on the folded up throw, so I'm thinking he might like it.  Here's hoping :).

So, family member one off of my list and I was somehow able to get it done in a day.  And now onto the husband and daughter and others on the list!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Christmas Gifts 2022, Gift One: Cup Cozies

So, for our first gifts of this year, I wanted to make something kind of special for my daughter's boyfriend's family.  The daughter and her boyfriend have been friends since they were really little, so we've gotten to know his family rather well and they are super sweet people who give us some fun things every year.  Last year they even gave us some honey from their bees!  So, I wanted to return the favor and wanted to do a bit more than just making them cookies like we did last year.

When I was going through my material I found the beautiful snowflake material you see above and knew this was the year I wanted to make something with it.  I then looked over at a pair of jeans that had torn out at the zipper but the denim was still in really good shape in the legs that I could use for fabric as well and thought, "Bingo"!  I went online and found this free pattern for cup cozies and it had a really easy tutorial to follow.  So, I printed off the pattern and decided to use the pattern for the hair elastic and button version, but instead of hair elastics I had some really thin elastic you'd lose in clothing that I got from my step-mom a while back as I didn't really have the money to go out and buy hair elastics special to use for the project (yup, broke we be :).  I used buttons that I had in my button jar and I used some scrap fabric to use for the batting.  The results were some actually really nice cup cozies that are decently thick and will protect your hands well from heat.  You can even make the cozies wrap around a mug if you fish the elastic through the hole for the handle...it's a stretch but I tried it out to make sure.  

Some quick ways to make these cheap.  One, if you use some thick denim from some old jeans (my torn pair weren't the thickest denim) you could skip the batting piece, which would cut down on time too.  For the top material you could use an old pillow case, old sheet or other materials you have around your house, so long as it looked nice.  So, use your imagination on that one!

So, hopefully they will find the cozies useful.  I made four more than seen above to give to others as well (and have a few more to go).  It is a decently quick project that you can complete in between this and that.  Cutting the pieces of fabric was actually the most time consuming part of the process, but they came together decently quick.  So, I have to say it was nice getting at least one gift down already.  Now onto others!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

December Happenings and Christmas Gifts 2022

This is one of those years where I am counting down the days until it is over.

What a year.

The latest that happened this month was a doozy.  My daughter woke up one morning with her eye swelled up.  This has happened randomly in the past.  We never could really pin down what would cause it to happen, but you would give her a Zyrtec and it would be fine.  

Not this time.

The allergic reaction went out of control.  Despite me pumping as many antihistamines as I could safely give her, it just got worse.  She went to bed that night with me a bit worried because she still had a swollen spot under her eye, but it wasn't getting worse, so I prayed that with the medications in her and some sleep she'd feel better.   It didn't work that way.  She woke up with her eyes nearly swollen shut, her face one big raised welt and hives and welts breaking out over her whole body.  We ended up in Urgent care and then the ER that day.  An IV of Benadryl and some steroids and then a prescription for Zyrtec and steroids was the result that day.  Fast forward a week later, after the first round of steroids was done and the reaction came back, although it never went away to begin with.  Finally we ended up at the Urgent Care last Sunday to try and avoid the wait at the ER (if the Urgent Care saw her first and would send her onto the ER the wait was a LOT less we found) and they ended up giving her a shot of steroids and an albuterol treatment because she had a rasp to her breathing they did not like.  

I, during the entire thing, worked on getting ahold of an allergist to get testing and things done so we can figure out what caused this and get it out of my daughter's environment, but no one was returning my calls.  Our pediatrician, true rock star that she is, got us a script for an epi-pen for Armina and sent in referrals with a request to bump her up the wait list due to the way things have gone the last few weeks.  Hopefully I hear from the allergist soon.  The Urgent Care put Armina on a really strong dose of prednisone this last go round, which finally got her face to go down and got rid of the majority of the welting on her body, but the script made her sick to her stomach so she's been working to keep things down this week.  The poor thing has been so miserable.  I'm praying we are over the worst of it for now and that it'll be okay until we can get into an allergist.  Please, pray for her on this.  We need all the help we can get!

Combine that with a record breaking snowfall and then the wind picking up while it snowed again and drifted snow in HUGE amounts.  It's been rough around here.  This was the view outside of my deck door when we got up in the morning...

It was bad.  My husband ended up spending the entire day shoveling 5 to 7 foot drifts of snow off of the deck and roof, after he tunneled across the yard, up the deck stairs one at a time and things first, of course.  He had a really crappy day of snow removal and he still has to shovel off a few more vehicles and things. 

Oh and my washing machine died.  Luckily, we had our old one that my husband was able to figure out the going off balance issue and we reinstalled it in the laundry room for the time being until he can find a bigger machine for me that works (the other one blew it's motor from what my husband was able to diagnose).   

I'm just praying that Christmas vacation for my husband goes well this next week.  We could all use just a relaxing, no stress, break from everything around here right now.  Here's praying.

On the practical side of things, I just out and out told my family that I couldn't afford to send them gifts this year, which was the honest 100% truth.  My mom actually appreciated it as she lost her job a few months ago and her budget on Social Security is pretty tight now a days.  I feel guilty not sending gifts as my brother and younger sister are actually really nice and generous at the holidays, but I knew that if I sent them gifts that I'd have a hard time affording it and now with medical bills coming down the pike (plus hopefully the allergists bills on top of it), it is going to be really tight around here.  I just hope my daughter feels better as this whole situation is just terrifying for her and the rest of us.

I decided to make the husband and kids gifts this year for the sake of the budget, because I actually do enjoy doing it and the family seems to like it too.  It was so crazy around here it is a miracle that I've actually figured some stuff out in that area as we haven't even hung up all of the Christmas decorations yet.  While looking through material and things, I did find some Christmas material that I hadn't used for anything yet and some other remnants and decided to make some gifts for some friends and family that are in the immediate area.  I've found things like making gifts right now is actually kind of calming me down and distracting me, which I'm grateful for at this point.  I'm also hoping to bake a few things for gifts this year as well (aiming for simple there too).  Hopefully things will be calm enough for me to do that.  I'm aiming for things that are easy to sew and bake and projects that are quick as well as that is what I can do in this stage in my life.  I'll share what I do and link to patterns and things as well in case you want to try them yourself (trust me, I'm aiming for free patterns this year, so it'll be affordable for you to do as well) and share some money saving tips on how to make things special, but cheap if I can.

So, yeah, that is the update for today.  I'm hoping to start the Christmas Gifts for this year tomorrow if I can so you have time make some of them if you want.  Barring anything else happening *knock on wood* I'll see you then.  And Happy Holidays.  I hope, even though most people are keeping it simple this year (us as well) that you can find the holiday spirit and wrestle some fun from this season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

An Emotional Hobbit Hole: Where I've Been

Please enjoy the shot of last winter as I totally didn't have a good image to put at the top of this post.  Sorry.

The road of a special needs parent is not an easy one.   It is kind of hard to explain what happens over time.  You get into this weird headspace over time as you watch your child not hit benchmarks that other children are hitting.  You kind of go through the grieving process over and over and over again as the years progress.  When something really not great happens, you just deal with it.  You really want to lean on someone, to share what is going on in your life, but at the same time you have this extreme sense of subconscious guilt.  There is always someone who is worse off than you are.   There is always a parent you see in the store or in passing where you realize just by looking at their situation that you have 100% nothing to complain about because your situation could be so much worse.  Then you feel worse for feeling bad that this or that happened and you just kind of clam up and just try to keep stoic and strong inside.  You watch people with kids who can do more than your child can and you want to cry some days, but there is always that voice saying, "It could be worse" and you just keep taking one day at a time, working with the limitations your child has been given and you do the best damn job you can by that child and loving them.  You celebrate THEIR successes, ignore what others do, work repeatedly to help them get past as many limitations as you can and you pray every night that maybe, by trying something new that God will help you find that you can get your child to a point they can live a somewhat independent life.  

It is the parent's way.  

Sometimes, though, things happen that just pull the rug out from under you and you feel like you are trying to keep your feet in quick sand and it just takes all of your emotional and physical energy to cope.  That's where I had to go this last month.

The new medication changes with Alvah were a mistake.  A bad one.  Alvah seemed like he was doing pretty well on lower doses of the new meds, so the doc and I talked about it and we decided to up his meds just a little bit to get him into a good spot and hopefully get his sleep patterns normalized.  What ended up happening was my son going completely off the rails when we upped his med, and I mean completely.  It is the worst he's EVER been and that was a bar I hoped to never have to surpass.  He punched holes in the walls of his room when you had to do something like drink a few sips of water or go to the bathroom and he started to eat the drywall after he had punched the hole.  His self harm went through the roof as well as him hitting other people.  I, in all honesty, was scared to death that I was losing him to his autism and I didn't know what I could do to help him.  I, as quickly as I could safely do, got his medication back down to really low levels, but it did not help.  I finally didn't give him any medication for 12 hours and then started him back on the Risperidone and Clonodine like he's been on for years.  That stopped the severe violence.  Thank God.  My husband, myself and my daughter felt worn torn after that long weekend...I can imagine how poor Alvah felt.  I still can't believe it was just a few days.  It was more than enough, though.  Since then, it has been a long month of getting his Risperidone where it needs to be, trying to get him sleeping okay (for him) and trying to come off of one heck of a adrenaline high from his erratic behaviors.  

He's getting better.  Thank God.  It is slow, though, as we need to get his bio chemistry leveled off and back on an even keel.  I started giving him a topical melatonin supplement that I just rub into his skin the morning and that has seemed to be helping, along with his roll on magnesium supplement I found.  I've been working with his swim teacher, a family friend, who has taken a bunch of different nutrition courses and things and has worked with special needs kids and adults for years and she's really been helping me to figure out more creative ways to try and get him some nutritional needs to help him as much as we can through non-medication means and help to level his mood off that way.

My husband spent a good week running around town trying to find enough wood paneling to hang in Alvah's room so we don't have to worry about him going through a bad pica phase and eating more of his walls, which was fun with the supply chain issues going on.  We finally have enough to get it done, so my husband is hoping to work on that starting this coming weekend.  

But, yeah, it hasn't been a good time.  

I'll report more on day to day things around here in the next post.  Honestly, just writing all of this out kind of exhausted me.  I'll get back to blogging here soon.  I just need to start getting caught up on everything around here so I have something to report.  So, stay tuned.  Hopefully the next post I'll have better news to report.