Friday, November 30, 2018

Sew Chaotically! ~ Simplicity's 1072 sweatshirt and pencil skirt. Meh. Save yourself the trouble and don't!

As promised, here's my report on Simplicity 1072, a pattern for which I had high hopes as I loved the inserts on the sweatshirt and the wide smooth waistband on the skirt.  From here....
...they look okay right????
I have tried a variety of DIY knit pencil skirts.  My best pencil thus far is a combo of the versions that Mimi G and So Sew Easy have up on their sites.  Still, I've been in search of a pattern that kept the simplicity of those, but added shape and a smoother waist band.  When I found this Simplicity pattern, it looked perfect!!!

Luckily, most of my online fabric purchases have been true to the color I see on my computer screen.  Here, complications started when this striped polyester from Mood arrived with a mustard/orange color palette that was much different from the yellow/red anticipated.  However, the fabric has a lovely hand and was a dream to work with.  Just the right amount of drape and substance.  No rolling.  Even though it was not Roo's favorite color combo, I thought I could make it work and decided to use it in a test of S1072 since I had was planning on using it for a lovely pink moleskin and grey scuba that she really does love.

The first quandary was sizing.  After checking pattern measurements (finished and un), as well as a conference with Ruthie, I cut the 12, which is the usual size I make for Roo in patterns from the Big Four, for both pieces.  It was huge! I had to cut down the skirt waist by 2 cm LESS than the markings for the size 8!!!  And STILL had to put in two darts in the back, before adding the wide waist band using 1 1/2 inch elastic.  A size and finish that I really love despite the other issues.  
Even with those tribulations, I think the skirt will still be a workable piece in Roo's wardrobe.

That brings us to the sweatshirt included in the pattern!  It went together okay.  But, mostly, despite the curves it seems to have in the pattern photo, not to mention a normal sized jewel neckline, it is just shapeless!!!  Roo is convinced that there was a line of clothespins up the model's back for the pattern sleeve photo shoot!!!  Whether that is the case or not ~ I am confident enough in my sewing skills these days to say that there is no way that the pattern, made as printed, will turn out as depicted ~ without significant modifications!!! 
I could have taken in the arms, slimmed and added curves to the side seams, and made the neckline differently (at least on subsequent iterations) but given that Roo was not the biggest fan of the colors anyway = NOT worth it.  SEW!  Do yourself a favor!  Make the Grainline Studio's Linden  sweatshirt!!!  It is awesome every time!

But, guys!!!  Check out that stripe matching!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And though it is much larger than it appears in the photo on the pattern sleeve, the neck band is also perfection!  Roo does have a friend who is a bit more busty, with a love of these colors, who may inherit this top.  If that doesn't work out, I've encouraged Roo to use is as a PJ top or running layer.  Despite everything, I still had fun making it, though it is certainly more fun when the garment turns out to be a real fav!!

All and all, still a fruitful sewing adventure as I got to practice and play.  Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that I will use this pattern again!!  I'm telling you - Linden Sweatshirt - people!!!  For my next knit pencil I'm going to give Lisette B6464 a try.  I've made and love the top and the kimono jacket included in the pattern, so hopefully the skirt will prove to be just what I'm looking for!  Sew chaotically!!! - les

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sew Chaotically! ~ Cake AND frosting!!! #sewfrosting entry #2! Grainline's Morris Blazer

When sewing for Roo, everyday wear can seem like 'frosting' given her love of color and pattern.  Remember these recent additions???  She likes classic pieces zhuzhed up a notch or two!  When she needed a little everyday jacket, the perfection that is the Morris Blazer, by Grainline Studio, came to mind.  I have made SEW many!!!  They are comfiest when made in a fabric with a bit of stretch, like this FROSTING quality print she chose from JoAnn's.  It is somewhere between a ponte and a woven with just a tad of stretch in one direction.  Though not a ball gown, the explosion of color surely qualifies as the perfect frosting for her basic (if vivid pink and yellow are basic!!!) cake!!!
Brilliantly professional, while colorfully true to Roo!!  Morris Blazer Frosting styled with yellow knit B5354, Lands' End pencil skirt that I tailored for her to improve the fit, and purple suede pumps.

More Morris Blazer Frosting!!!  This time with a vivid pink M6282 knit top, the tailored pencil, and black booties!

This has been a really fun challenge!!  I got to sew AND play with my Roo!  I've had a lot of fun with her recent wardrobe refurbishment I've been working on with her since the spring.  We have a few bits to go, but I think we succeeded in creating pieces she really likes in regard to fit, style, and her current job/life.  Piece of cake, when you sew, right???  Then, we added the colors and prints that make her happy...and STILL made them WORK!!!  Now, THAT's frosting!!!!

Thanks for the inspiration ~ Roo, Heather (@closetcase.patterns) and Kelli (@truebias)!
Live and Sew - Chaotically!!! - love, les

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sew Chaotically!! ~ Let Them Eat Cake!!! Two knit tops!!! M6282 and B5354

Early this month I had a cutting fiesta!!!!

From the top, then right round:  Exploding Grainline Morris Blazer, a foxy flannel Simplicity 8014 shirt dress, Sewaholic's Hollyburn skirt in pink quilted 'satin', Simplicity's 1072 striped sweatshirt and pencil, pink jersey ruched McCall's 6282, and finally Butterick's 5354 in a yellow knit.  And today...only the foxy shirt dress is not complete!!!

You've seen the Pink Frosting!!  Post coming soon on the Morris Blazer as well as Simplicity's sweatshirt and pencil skirt.  Here's a review of the two little knit tops!!!

This was my first make using this pattern and it's great!!!  It went together perfectly and is easy to stitch up.  With my next make from this pattern I will use a bias binding technique at the neckline for a nicer finish, as the facing the pattern uses in the front gets a bit bulky with all the pleats and the back portion of the neckline is only folded under.  
I made a version of this top in the spring here.  There I tried cutting the back on the fold rather than utilize a center back seam, in which the pattern advises placement of a zipper.  As this is a knit with a wide neck, a zipper is not necessary.  BUT - in order to complete the lining neatly and as instructed by the pattern, you DO need to include the center back seam!  In this iteration, I included the CB,  left it open until the lining was complete, and then just stitched it straight up - in a long line with the lining. THAT worked perfectly!!  I used a remnant of the pink knit jersey left from the making of this dress for the outer layer and cut the lining from a smidge of the yellow knit I used in the top above.
If you are in need of a little quick, useful cake in your wardrobe, I highly recommend both of these knit tops!!!  Sew chaotically! ~ les

Monday, November 26, 2018

Sew Chaotically! ~ #sewfrosting ~ Pink quilted 'satin' Hollyburn skirt for Rose!!!

I mentioned that Rose and I might have an entry for the Sew Frosting Challenge in this post:  Sew Chaotically!! ~ Polka dot binding personally produced ~ Possible inspo #SEWFROSTING ~ and Profound Ponderings  And we do!!  TWO even!!  (The second one will be revealed soon!!!)  When I told my Frosting Girl of the challenge she knew what she wanted immediately!!!  Sewaholic's Hollyburn skirt (I had already made her this one:  Sew Chaotically! - I scream, you scream for Sewaholic's Hollyburn!!)  made up in a remnant of the pink quilted 'satin' that I had originally used in making Le Laboratoire Familial's Celestine Jacket earlier this year.

Sew!!  That's what I made.  Sewaholic's pattern is fabulous, as I've noted in prior makes here and here.  But the REAL frosting is Roo ~ and her personal stylings!!!  Enjoy the show...

Frosting styled here with Le Laboretoire's Celestine Jacket, sparkly sneaks, and rtw cropped tank.

Ready for a special night out with Pink Frosting, a silver lame' rtw tee, and purple suede Jessica Simpson pumps!

Her 'everyday' look!!  Frosting with a rtw Target tank and yellow Converse High tops!
 Loving all her 'lewks'!!!  But this one may be my fav....

Frosting paired with pink kicks and a pieced, cropped Linden sweat shirt I made her this spring. 

The best thing to pair with Frosting?????  A sweet, smart, beautiful girl, willing to play my silly games, who LOVES frosting!!!!

Thanks for all the fun, Roo!  Great pics, courtesy of B!!!  #sewfrosting  #sewandlivechaotically!!! - les

Treatment #3 Update ~ CAPOX, ex-goblet cell adenocarcinoma and the GBD's!

Went to the hospital (well oncology office/clinic that is attached to a hospital) this am.  Had lab done.  Had our meeting with the oncologist.  I do NOT have the enzyme deficiency that can make your side effects to capecitibine (my oral medication) worse.  However, we learned that the test detects only 50% of those with the deficiency!  Reckon that has anything to do with its presumed infrequency of occurrence????? I was pleased to report that my stooling was down to about 4/day, but my onc wanted them fewer.  Oh, well.  Since they are down from 8-9+ per day, I'm pretty happy.  Nevertheless, she was okay with my trying to up the capecitibine to 1 tab in the morning and 2 at night, knowing I can go back to 1 twice daily if side effects worsen.

When she asked about neuropathies and I reported my current status:  Still very tingly in fingers and toes.  Feet burning, even last night.  Difficulty picking up an aluminum bowl from a nested set such that I pinched the crap out of a finger.  Can't hold a needle for fine work.  She felt she should hold my oxaliplatin dose today.  Administer it next week instead.  And then only if neuropathies have resolved and at a dose of 80% of my last two. (A 20% reduction.)  Additionally, my white count was down to 3.9 (which isn't horrible) but is a drop from the 6+ I have had on all my prior labs.  I am to go ahead and start the capecitibine as discussed.  I will also start alpha lipoic acid, a 600 mg tablet from the vitamin shop that my onc recommended to help with my neuropathies.

B thinks this decision was appropriate, indicated, and will have no adverse impact on outcome.  As he (and my onc) puts it....there is no need to risk permanent nerve damage from a drug regimen that is not certain to make a significant difference in outcome for those with my cancer and stage.  Additionally, some studies indicate that capecitibine alone can be an effective treatment.

For my part, I have mixed emotions.  I mean...NO.  I do NOT want permanent nerve damage.  And...truth be told...I would prefer to NEVER have any further treatment of anything EVER EVER NEVER!!!!  Still, I kind of had myself psyched up to get it done today!!!  And, I want to get rid of this whole dang business as soon as possible.  REALLY do NOT want to drag this crap out!  But, those are just feelings and good sense says ~ postpone til next week and see what happens. 

So, there we sit.

But, the view is still good.  Love to all.  Bubbles

Friday, November 23, 2018

Snow White and the One Dwarf

When I was a little girl, we had a couple of Disney record books. For those unfamiliar, these were picture books the size of an old school album cover with the vinyl record tucked inside, so that one could listen to the film's soundtrack while turning the brightly colored pages.  I loved them.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was one of these.  I loved being horrified by the evil queen!  I worried for Snow White as she ran away during the night through the menacing forest and was comforted when the "woodland creatures" surrounded her as she finally slept.  I was thrilled with the little cottage, belonging to the Seven Dwarfs, she stumbled upon next day, and was entertained by their reactions on finding her there when they returned home from their work mining jewels!  "Hi ho!  Hi ho!  It's home from work we go...."  I thought she was seriously stupid (and disliked her squeaky, high pitched singing voice throughout) to disobey the dwarfs admonitions to stay inside, happily looking through the windows at all the forest creatures who still protectively surrounded the little cabin, in order to avoid the evil queen.  After that idiocy, eating the poisoned apple proffered by the evil queen, thinly disguised - even to my child's eyes - as an old hag, seemed pretty much Snow's just desserts to me!!  Especially since she rapidly abandoned the dear dwarfs and faithful creatures to run away with the "prince" as soon as he dropped by with a kiss to waken her from her poison induced slumber.  But, foibles of a silly girl not withstanding, the story was still highly satisfactory!

Another Snow White story has been more meaningful in my adult life:  "They Used to Call me Snow White...But I Drifted" (Gina Barreca) as female leads in children's tales, at least up until Mulan, were ever so insipid and wimpy!!!  Their lack of gumption, along with female baldness, inspired this post on Rapunzel a few years ago.  Still, of late, I've felt a bit like Snow White, isolated in my forest cottage with my One Dwarf.  His name is not yet clear, though he certainly could be Doc or Sneezy ~ or even Bashful, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, or Dopey depending on the circumstances or the day.  Though, truth be told, his ferocity and loyalty have much more in common with Gimli!!  At any rate, my One Dwarf, my sturdy protector, has brought not only his many skills to my aid, but enlisted his forest friends to entertain and protect me as well.  From my [his] recliner, I have enjoyed the antics of the ever present squirrels, chipmunks, cardinals, towhees, doves, chickadees, titmice, and wrens, as well as some new and special "woodland creatures" the One has placed under his spell!!!!

Flocks of pine siskins have appeared!
With a couple of these little striped fellows mixed in.
A pair of Red Bellies have determined nuts to be a splendid alternative to bugs!

There have been repeated visits from a singular thrush, whose feathers make me think he is the reincarnation of an ancient Chinese philosopher!!!  And gives more cred to the notion that the One has more in common with Gimli than with the Seven!!!
See what I mean????
And then there are these guys!!!
I like to think that they are the family that hatched out babies in a bird house hanging just above this railing.  As many as 7 at a time have been coming twice daily to feed on the delicious [read - icky] meal worms the One puts out for them!

I may not have a blue bird on my shoulder, but it's pretty close!
And then there was this fellow!!!
Who appeared just outside my bathroom window.  Don't know if he was looking for moose moss to munch or my beautiful sweet peas that I managed to snag only one serving from before SOMEONE ate them down to a nub!!!!  Hmmm.....

So I sit, watching ~ as the One Dwarf's woodland creatures visit and entertain.  And though I may be humming, "Someday, [the spring] will come..."  I am NOT waiting for my prince.  My dear One Dwarf is already here!! - les

Thursday, November 22, 2018

May you enjoy the beauty... small things, today and every day.

Thanks, KF!!!  Small acts of kindness and beauty, last a lifetime.
Much love and thanks to you all. - les

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

I am thankful...

...for ever so many things.  I live in a lovely, comfortable home in a safe neighborhood.  I do not have to struggle to put nutritious food on my table.  My children are healthy, productive adults with good hearts and busy lives.  I can afford health insurance and have transportation to needed care.  I am more than blessed.

Still, my sincere gratefulness for all those blessings is nothing compared to how thankful I am for my peeps!!  Yes, my little world went straight in the crapper at the end of August.  I lost immediate plans, independence, the ability to do many of the things that make me "me", endured surgeries and pain, dealt with the need to examine my mortality and try to figure out if there was a treatment that may delay my demise (for the second time!!!), and continue to endure the nasty regimen I settled on.  BUT!!!  My peeps were ready.  Bentie and Ruth were on it!!  From research to dealing with hospital craziness to wiping my booty.  The kiddo's and dear ones were dedicated visitors to distract and support.  Once home, B and Ruthie cooked and cleaned.  Since then, B has made my care his main focus.  And that's not all!!!

While this mess has droned on for a full 3 months now, dear ones from near and far have continued their sweet efforts to keep me feeling in the loop, loved and entertained.  From sweet cards, emails, texts, messages on IG and melanoma forums, delicious meals on wheels (Dear Kay!!!!), flowers and witch hazel blossoms, to supportive visits - my dear ones have not wavered.

Then today...this incredible gift arrived at my door:

A remarkably thoughtful, artistic, entertainment package marvelously personalized just for me!!!  There's a lovely storage box, in a blue that matches my bedroom perfectly, personalized for Bubbles (B's name for me as most of you know!!!) with a tiny dragonfly charm attached!!!  Kazoo's and a shaker included for musical fun.  Bubbles for Bubbles!! That I can't wait to take with me on my first outing along the river walk!!  (You catch that, B????) A gift certificate to a local restaurant!!!  (Wonderfully impressive as this dear one has never placed one foot on Signal Mountain!!!)  There's even a rattie!!!  Where on earth one attains such a thing I can hardly imagine.  And finally, a true work of art, in the shape of a tiny book, covered in dragonfly paper, filled with miniature art that is so perfect and personal that it brought sweet tears to my eyes.  My dear Beth did all this.  For me.  And though we have never met in person, she is my sister.  A dear one.  Who, while dealing with plenty of  difficult things in her life, went to all this effort to shine a light in mine.

For all of you, I am thankful.  My peeps, new and old, have stood by me...again and always.  You have made my load lighter.  You have made me laugh when I didn't think it was possible.  You have babied and petted me.  You have encouraged me to be strong when I felt weak.  Your care made it possible for me to endure the past three months and believe I can make it through the next two.  Your love and kindness have kept "ever burning before my vagrant steps, the kindly light of hope."

By way of Natalie Merchant, this is for all of you:  Kind and Generous

For your selflessness, my admiration
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound
I'm bound to thank you for it

You've been so kind and generous
I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness, I'm in debt to you
And I never could have come, this far without you

Oh, I want to thank you for so many gifts you gave
The love, the tenderness, I want to thank you
I want to thank you for your generosity, the love
And the honesty you gave me
I want to thank you, show my gratitude
My love, and my respect for you, I want to thank you.

I need no special day to know ~ I am thankful. For all of you.
Much love, Bubbles.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ex-goblet cell adenocarcinoma, CAPOX, and the GBD's!!!!

Sitting here among all my sweet mementos, including my mug with my morning cuppa...
Thanks, Tam Bo!!!
I'm cutting straight to the GBD's (The GOODthe BADand the DEETS!!!! ).

  • My energy levels are much better, despite my hemoglobin dipping to 10.6 on my last labs. White counts are holding steady.
  • I have less nausea now.
  • I was able to exercise at day five on the previous cycle.  Not until day 9 on this one...and while that doesn't sound "good" it IS because just now - I can!!!  (Deets on that below!)
  • My Bentie is the best!!!  Look at this handsome hausfrau!!!

The BAD:
  • Over the past few days, diarrhea has been a bit worse, despite having improved when my capecitibine dose was decreased to 1 tab (rather than 2 or 3) twice a day, showing that effects are indeed cumulative, and the week "off" is not so that you have a break and feel great during it.  It is so that side effects can peak and wear off a bit so that you can resume treatment afterwards!  At least that's my interpretation so far!
  • The development of brown, dry, skin lesions following the appearance of a flat reddish mark on my hands, forearms, neck and face (that's where I've noted them thus far) are for real - not a figment of my imagination.  Slightly disturbing for vanity's sake and super disturbing for a MELANOMA patient, y'all!!!  Taking a lot of slow deep cleansing breaths!  Interestingly, some of the new lesions, on my right forearm near my initial oxaliplatin infusion site in particular, are being surrounded by hypopigmented patches.  More vitiligo?????
  • The jingy jangy neuropathies to fingers and toes, which were much worse this time, are a bit better now, but still present.  In addition, over the past 4 days or so there is burning with redness to the soles of my feet.  Present more often than not.  Hmmm....
  • Also, over the past week, I noticed that my eyes were more goopy and irritated than usual, but didn't think too much about it.  By Thursday they were very red, irritated and burning.  "B, can you get conjunctivitis with this shit?"  Sho nuff.  You can!  B did his Meerkat research and determined that moisturizing eye drops were the best treatment and got me some.  They have kept it down to a low roar.  The more you know, right?????
  • We asked about checking for dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency via a blood draw before starting CAPOX, as folks who are lacking in that particular enzyme can have an increased response/side effects to capecitibine because their body does not excrete the drug as quickly as peeps with an adequate supply.  (Yep.  My Medical Meerkat knew about that.  I'd never heard of it!!!)  Here's a link that covers what that is and what it can mean:  Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency
  • Lots of oncologists check this enzyme as a matter of course before starting this medication.  We were told we would "see what happens".  Well, what happened was, though I hung in there and completed 3 tabs twice a day for two full weeks, on my week "off" in the first cycle, the abdominal pain was such that B feared I was dealing with another obstruction.  And, despite decreasing my dose to 2 tabs twice daily, I was still having 7+ stools per day.  SO ~ when I returned to the office to have labs checked on week 2 of this cycle, we tried to get this test ordered.  We made this request via an uninterested tech ? (nurse ?) to the providers who did NOT appear to discuss anything with us.  Of course, lab called me back before we had an answer.  Their solution was "No problem, I'll just go ahead and draw it and they can order it if they want."  Trying to be helpful, yes.  But, not a solution I really liked.  Nevertheless, we informed Uninterested One why it mattered, what we wanted, and that lab had already drawn it.  She would check.  On calling back to see what happened 4 days later via my onc's nurse (who is actually good and smart), the answer was NOTHING!  No, they hadn't run the test.  "Lab doesn't always tell us when they draw extra blood."  Right there, I was like, "Oh, no.  We're not throwing lab under the bus!!  I told Uninterested One that it had been drawn."  "Oh.  I see that in the note.  Hmmm...."  Finally, the point was made and I went in on Thursday to have that lab, along with my standard labs that I would have had done today, drawn.  Hopefully, the results will be back when I return for my consultation and infusion on Monday.
  • Now, this condition is pretty rare.  Given the side effects I have had, B figures I have about a 20% chance of having the deficit.  But, I think it is important to know one way or the other going forward.  If I do NOT have a problem, then I think that perhaps I can try to go back up on the capecitibine to something like 1 tab in the am and 2 in the evening.  However, if I do have a deficit in DPD, that would obviously be unwise.  I don't know.  As we were told, we'll see.
  • My exercise report: When finally feeling that I could exercise (day 5, first round - day 9, this go) on Wednesday, I did the elliptical 10 minutes for 0.9 miles (whatever that means per my machine).  Thursday = 10 min/1 mile.  Friday = 15 min/1.4 miles.  Saturday = worked in the yard trimming my blueberry bushes into submission so that I can reach the fruit next summer.  Sunday = 15 minutes for 1.2 miles with push-ups, sit-ups, and planks on the floor.  Today I did the elliptical for 15 minutes/1.4 miles with 15 minutes on the floor. 
Morning work-out realness.  Yep, that's a PJ top, underwear and slippers. I ain't yo' J Lo! 54 years.  2 babies.  2 cancers.  2 1/2 years immunotherapy.  2 rounds chemo (with 2 to go).  2 abdominal surgeries in September.  9 surgeries total.  Yes, I've always exercised and eaten my veggies!!  Lost = hard won muscular definition through Barre, especially to my thighs after 6 months of peptide vaccines.  Gains = at least they (along with other parts) aren't sagging to my knees as they were at hospital discharge. Probably more than you wanted to see or know.  Just Keep'n it💯!!!
Despite all my kvetching (which I prefer to view as sharing my truth with my peeps!!!) - I have much to be thankful for.  The fact that I can do my lame exercises.  That I have an elliptical to use at home.  That my B takes such good care of me.  That all my dear peeps do all they can to support me.  And that's just the surface of all that I am blessed to have in this crazy life of mine!!!  So, to all of you, my thanks! - les