A Beautiful Fall Wedding

Last weekend, we went to out nephew's wedding.  I wanted to make part of their wedding gift.
Jason took Jess to Paris a year before and proposed to her under the EIFFEL Tower.  They love all things Paris and French and  pink and decorate their home that way.
              I was wandering the aisles of our Hobby Lobby and came across this picture.  PERFECT.
I uploaded pictures from their wedding/engagement site and printed them out in black and white. I then added phrases in French.
At the Eiffel Tower, there is a fence where couples can buy a lock and write a message on it and place it permanently on the fence. The top right phrase says "The greatest gift in this world is to love and be loved."  The phrase on the left says. "Love does not mean gazing at each other, but looking together in the same direction."  I added their wedding invitation in black and white as well. It was encircled with pink flowers, so I rummaged through my stash and found some near identical pink ones and applied those.  With more little embellishments, it was finished.  I covered it with about 8 layers of Modge Podge. The few relatives that saw it before the wedding thought it was perfect for them.  They went back to Paris and Italy for their honeymoon.
        The wedding was held outdoors at an old farm that is only used for weddings and other events.
                                Little bistro tables were setting around for guests to visit.
  This was the guest sign in.  Delightful idea, but unfortunately the ribbon was old and the names did not print enough to show up.
                    These large jars were later filled with lemonade, water and iced tea.
    The acreage was covered with nice old trees where many candleabra's hung.  They were lit at dusk.
 Dinner was served at this long table.(many tables pushed together and a variety of old chairs and china were used.  This table held 75 guests.
 It was an absolutely perfect fall day, with fog and clouds opening to sunshine right when the bride walked down the aisle!
 My brother married his son and bride in a refurbished chicken coop.
 I have 7 siblings ..we are all still living....one brother couldn't make it.  Here we are with my Mom.
Moi on the far right.  First time we have been all together since my father's funeral, 9 years ago!
My Mom turned 86 the day before the wedding!  We range in age from 66 down to 48 and are scattered around the United States.


National Invisible Ilness Week

So this is National Invisible Illness Week.  Interestingly enough, I have had my illness an entire decade. Ten years this past June.
John and I had a major discussion/disagreement just last week concerning how I see this RSD/CRPS(Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or ChronicRegional Pain Syndrome).  I get upset when I think he expects too much out of me when I am having a bad day and just moving from place to place is all I can do.
Me:  I have had this crap for ten years why don’t you GET it? (not the disease—the fact that I can’t always do what is necessary or what I want to do.)
He:  How am I supposed to GET it when you don’t ever let me know what is really going on?  
He:  You are the ONE who doesn’t get it.  You say you have accepted it but you still have NOT.
Me:  Sadly---he is right.  For ten years I get up each day, and let me tell you, many days I can barely muster the IDEA of getting out of bed---let alone doing it.  But I do. 
I happen to be one who has progression of the disease.  Familiar symptoms appearing in a previous unaffected area used to freak me out.  Now I just sigh with frustration.  There is little to do or say.
Rsd will NOT kill me but there is no cure.  You are supposed to ‘treat the symptoms’.  While on L and I, I HAD to take any and all medicines thrown my direction.  I developed allergies and terrible side effects to many of the drugs.  The long list of intolerances is appalling.  I laugh that I would not make more than a few days on street drugs.   One drug, Cymbalta, at high doses, did help the unrelenting burning numb pain.  It was like a miracle drug.  The longer I was on it, the more fearful I grew to try my life off of it.  I was slowly losing my mind-----I couldn’t retain anything.   I love to read----I could read a book one month and pick it up and reread it a month later and not realize I ever read it before.  I would hear things coming out of my mouth and think “what the hell was that about?” My weight ballooned, another blow to the ego, and my cholesterol really shot up. I rarely had an overly emotional response to anything.
This past December I weaned myself off of my drugs…..some I have had to restart.  I have remained off the Cymbalta and have found my real brain again.  I have fewer memory lapses. When my pain levels are way up there, I am tense and more stressed and that causes a vicious cycle.  This last blood test, my cholesterol had dropped almost 100 points!!! I no longer feel like I am in la la land and actually have more emotional reactions to things.
There are times I wish I had had an illness that people know about and can understand.  That is just silly on my part.  I want my family and friends to “JUST GET IT.”  Many still don’t and will never even try or care to ask.  When I show up yet again in an air cast or crutches or both, I often get, “What’s wrong with you NOW?” kind of responses. 

RSD causes ME unrelenting pain---burning, aching, throbbing, stabbing, echoing, numbness, tingling, etc.
It destroys muscle and bone and tissue. It can affect organs.  My entire right side is the most affected, although I have symptoms on the left.  My face and tongue are the worse.  My entire face and tongue feel like Novocain is just starting to wear off…………..that numb, tingling, can’t feel your face sort of feeling.  Then you add sharp jabbing electric jolts through it and that is pretty much it.  Even the right side of my face droops from loss of muscle tone-----NO not that aging type----ha----.
My joints swell with over use and get stiff with underuse.  There is a fine balance between the two.  The old adage “Use it or lose it” is very true when it comes to this illness.  If you don’t use your affected limbs or digits, they get stiff and useless.  Swimming is a wonderful gift to me.  I have always loved the water.  I can still swim and it causes relief in a lot of my joints/muscles.  I haven’t been in the pool since January.   Surgery on my Big toe joint ceased that, then the ankle sprain.  Now I have to have surgery to repair a major tendon coming off that ankle……..just am so weary don’t want to set the date just yet. Our own pool installation is going very slow, with a few unforeseen setbacks.  We hope to be able to swim in it before we have to button it up for the winter months
When I am around my children and grandchildren—even John, I pretend everything is normal.  I don’t want to NOT be able to do something.  A very few times, I have had to stay away from an event or an activity.  I rarely let that happen.  I am active and jump into whatever is going on.  I don’t want to let anyone know I am in pain or the reason we don’t do something.  I am my worst enemy that way.
I am still trying to find a balance between letting them know what is really happening.  I am afraid.  I am a coward.  I don’t want to have them look at me like I am handicapped or less than I see myself.   I know that this isn’t healthy behavior.  When we are over visiting them or they are here, I do everything anyone else can do.  But then a week later, I am still hobbling around on a still overly swollen knee and opposite ankle or literally ‘down for the count’.   I see myself being weak if I show pain or talk about it.  Who wants to hear that?
I admire others living with a chronic illness who seem to have it all together.  I know I have a very long way to go.  Now that I am off my Cymbalta, I am interested in my art again.  I am trying to make a renewed attempt to get back into it.  It really helps keep my focus off of the pain. 

If you know someone who has a chronic illness, give them a call.  Just tell them you love them.  Accept what they have is NOT them.  Encourage them.  Root for them.  Small things mean so much.


Local Flavor Swap

This past week I took part in a Local Flavor Swap hosted by Beth and Miss Angie @ Chaotic Goddess  Swaps
I happened upon their blog while blog hopping a few weeks earlier and signed up.
I was partnered with Cindy in Indiana and am so happy I was.  She is such a sweet person. 
I opened this card, made by Cindy.  It is done in purples--one of my favorite colors--(not known by her)-- She chose her theme as "country living"since they live in a small farming community in Indiana.

The fabric these jars are on lined the box.  Can you say Home Canned Goodies?

 This is a mini John Deere Tractor and is so adorable.  Our only grandson is 4 and he fell in love with it and had it out hauling pebbles and dirt around the pool!  We agreed to keep it on a shelf in Oma's studio so it is always here to play with when he visits!  That way I can always think of Cindy when I look at it.

 We opened this up for Sunday breakfast when I made homemade blueberry/coconut waffles.  We did share this with our kids and kidlets---all together we number 15.  Everyone 'oohed and aaahed' over it.

 The other hit at the table was this pear butter.  We all had to sample both.  These were made right in Cindy's home state.  John and I will be enjoying these in the weeks to come.  They remind me of my grandmother' and mothers' home canning when I was growing up.

 I forgot to pull these out when we had a Hamburger barbecue on Saturday.  But the kids are coming back over the first weekend in October so we will share them then.  We love pickles and tomato anything so these look pretty darn good!

This bag of root beer candy is one of our favorites and we haven't had any for years.  I hid it away so that after all the company left this morning, we can have it all!!  Sorry kids!

 Cindy included these magazines and brochures of Putnam County--where she lives and the Country Woman magazine.  I have had a few minutes to look through them but will get to read every detail now that the house is quiet and it is just John and I. (sad face). Their area is known for covered bridges and I love the pictures of them. We do not have any around our neck of the woods.

 She also included this sweet Basil and flower seeds and a plant food pack.  I am going to plant the basil indoors and already have a pot.  I want to use it in my cooking.  I will save the other seeds for spring and put them in one of the flower beds to enjoy all summer.
Thank you Cindy for such a fun swap.  I have enjoyed getting to know you and learning about your area. I am most excited about making a new friend in Blogland and learning more about all the men in your life! (she is married with three sons--hee hee).

We seemed to be perfectly matched---we are both nurses, we both love are families so much and neither one of us remembered to take pictures of the swap items we sent to each other.  However I went to her blog and snagged this picture she took of my box sent to her.
I wanted to represent the waters of our state as well as the mountains and our Spokane vicinity.  We are surrounded by lakes and rivers and mountains.  The smoked salmon is found in fresh water rivers in our state as well as the Pacific ocean off our west coast.  The huckleberries grow in the higher elevations all around us and are soooooo yummy.  I sent it in the form of honey.  I then included a few postcards from the area with special memories and facts about where we live.

This was a great swap and so much fun.  You should visit  Chaotic Goddess Swaps for their ongoing Swaps and join right in.  I know I am going back to sign up for more.