Before and After Brain Makeover

As a designer I LOVE a good before and after makeover. Before I went in for surgery to remove a brain tumour named Timmy, I joked about my brain being closed for renovations. On March 18, 2015 two years ago today I was diagnosed with a brain tumour standing in the hallway of emergency in my jammies. It was the worst day of my life (hopefully for ever).

Today two years later I am fully recovered from my renovations and I must say that my neurosurgeon did an amazing job. He really knows how to use that skull saw, and drill! Because I wanted all of the gory details, I ordered my surgery report and read it with a much needed bottle of wine. Aside from the metal plate holding my brain in, and the three inch scar running down the back of my head I am as good as new.

Timmy took up residence in my cerebellum the part of the brain which coordinates movement. On my one year surgery anniversary I tested my cerebellum with a paddle board yoga class, and although I took a dip in the Welland canal my balance has never been better. I still can’t dance but I’m pretty sure my lack of dance ability is a genetic defect and not brain tumour related.

What I have learned from having a brain tumour, and now being a brain tumour survivor has changed me forever. For the better I think 😉 Plus I have one hell of a scar.

No makeover is complete without pictures, so here is my brain with a brain tumour and 3 months after surgery.

Gryffindor Scarf

I am having one of those “where did the time go moments”. Today is my son’s 8th birthday, and it seems like yesterday that I was swaddling a newborn. I enjoy the independence that he now has, but I miss the baby cuddles. I have traditionally made my kids gifts for their birthdays (and every other holiday known to man). I don’t get many crafting requests from the boys, but this year a certain someone is enthralled with Harry Potter and he requested a Gryffindor scarf.

I have knit a few scarves in my day, but usually they are not worn. It’s a great easy project but when it comes down to it, scarves are not needed here. It doesn’t get cold enough. They do however become handles, bridges, leashes for stuffies and various other tools of creativity. But in Making A Life fashion, if there is a request for a crafty project I jump on board. Plus I sent my son into my craft closet to search for the colours of yarn needed and he returned immediately with the exact right colours, so how could I say no.

Should you need to whip up a scarf, and you are a muggle without magical knitting powers here is the pattern;

This pattern is knit in the round on either US 10 – 6mm circular needles or 4 double points. I started it flat and it started to roll so I switched to knitting in the round. The yarn is Lion Brand Vanna’s choice in Mustard and Cranberry. Also needed is a 6mm or larger crochet hook for the fringe.

CO36 (divide 12 stitches per needle if using double points)
Join for working in the round, and place marker
Knit 20 rows Cranberry
Knit 20 rows Mustard
Repeat Cranberry and Mustard rows until there are at least 11 squares in alternating colours, ending with cranberry
Using a crochet hook add fringe

 

Celebrating my Women on International Women’s day

I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong women my whole life. Women who believe that they are equal and can do anything.

When I was a kid in the 80’s I visited my Nana at work regularly, I remember that she had her own office and an assistant. She was the administrator of an long-term care facility, she cared for the sick and the dying. She also taught at a local university. This was my normal.

My Great-Aunt was an entrepreneur, she and my Uncle started a successful Interior Design company in Toronto. There was no denying that she was the boss (of everyone). This was my normal.

My mom stayed at home with four kids when I was young. With two kids of my own I now think that this is the hardest job ever. When my dad got laid off he stayed home, and my mom went to work. My dad braided our hair, and gave us face lift pony tails. My parents were equals, there were no male female roles. When we were deemed old enough my mom started her own business, and later worked as an Executive Director in a creative field. This was my normal.

When I chose to pursue an education involving power tools and welding, one of the women in my family footed the bill for four years of post secondary education, no questions asked. When I started a job that required time away from my kids my mom said that this would be the best thing for my kids and she was right. From a young age my kids have learned that mom and dad are interchangeable. Dad can do everything that mom can do, and mom can do everything that dad can do. Equality starts at home.

On International Women’s Day I celebrate all the women who have come before me, and who have persevered through inequality. It is because of you that I think that anything is possible, and that I am equal. #beboldforchange

With all my heart

my-valentineHappy Valentines’s Day! I am a celebrator, I celebrate everything. Including Valentine’s Day which my husband lovingly calls a Hallmark holiday.

On a side note, have you seen the price of cards lately? Ridiculous. I pulled out the Valentine’s card that my husband bought me two years ago. I think if you use them over and over again that maybe you can get $5.00 worth. Only three more years to go.

Last year we celebrated Valentine’s day with my parents at the Kennedy Space Station for an out of this world Valentines’ extravaganza. This year the celebration is much more subdued, and will include a giant heart cookie. When I was a kid we would go to the mall and I always wanted one of those giant chocolate chip cookies. Now that I am a grown-up and can operate the oven (most of the time) I figured that I would bake one for the family as a Valentine’s day treat.

I used this recipe but I cut the quantities in half for a medium sizedvalentine-cookie_making-a-life heart shaped cake pan.

LOVE

My youngest wants to decorate for every possible celebration, and I feel the need to oblige him. The day after Christmas he asked if we could decorate for Easter, just like he asked to decorate for Christmas the day after Halloween. Can celebrating events be genetic?

I started making these giant wooden candy hearts late last week for Valentine’s Day. But while I was making them I was disturbed by all of the events circulating in the news. I am not going to go off on a political rant all I am going to say is that we need more love in the world.

My husband will tell you that Valentine’s day is a hallmark holiday and maybe he is right. But this year we need more love circulating so I plan on celebrating Valentine’s day by spreading love. Are you with me?

I made these from pre-cut wood hearts (from Michaels), craft paint and letter stamps. I happen to have a set of alphabet stamps but it would be easy enough to stencil or free-hand the letters.

Surprises in the Mail, Part 3

Every once in a while a package from my mom arrives with a surprise inside for the kids. Once it was these little cuties, and another time it was Star Wars and Paw Patrol finger puppets. This past week it was a cute Christmas scene complete with its own box. I know that I can thank my dad for that contribution because it looks like one of his cigar boxes. My mom has some serious talents as she dreams up these little figures. I appreciate the up-cycled cigar box for the environmental aspect as well as the storage of this little set. My boys are very lucky to have such a talented grandma to make them toys.

Yoga Socks

yoga-socks-4_making-a-life

With every new year comes resolutions and I seem to make at least one similar resolution every year. Last year I resolved to listen to more music, and be more active. These resolutions went well together, and I did become more active while listening to music. This year I resolved to become a better listener, and to continue to be more active.

My resolution to be more active required the making of Yoga socks. I have been doing yoga in my living room but I end up with little people crawling under my downward dog. They also like to participate with me (really really close) by holding hands or sitting on me. My workout space is in my garage and it’s chilly, so I am thinking that if I wear socks maybe it won’t be so bad, and I won’t get interrupted by my little people. If you happen to have the same issues here is a pattern for yoga socks.

I was asked “what are yoga socks and why would I want them” by a follower the other day. In case you don’t know what, they are, they are socks designed to do yoga in. They come in a variety of forms but the main objective is allowing your toes to separate, and prevent you from slipping. You might want some if you are doing yoga in a cold space, or you really like to wear socks. I have a little issue in that my toes are attached, and the toe version of yoga socks will not work for me, so this is my solution.

Materials:

  • Fingerling weight #1 yarn – 3 stitches per inch
  • set of 4 double points and or 22″ circular needles – US 3/3.25 mm
  • large needle

Pattern:

  • ROW 1: CO64
  • ROW 2: Join and K2 P2* repeat to end of row
  • ROW 3-15: Repeat ROW 2
  • ROW 16-38: Knit desired length depending on the size of your feet (24 rows for my size 10 feet)
  • ROW 39: K2 P2* repeat for 32 stitches, K32
  • ROW 40-45: repeat row 39 5 times
  • ROW 46: K32, Cast off 32 (heel opening)
  • ROW 47: K32, Cast on 32
  • ROW 48: K64
  • ROW 49-63 : K64 – 15 times
  • ROW 64 : K2 P2* repeat to end of row
  • ROW 65-103: repeat row 64 38 times or desired length
  • ROW 104 – Cast off
  • Cut yarn leaving a long enough tail to weave in ends with a needle

This pattern is intended for personal use only. I offer this pattern for free but I request that you do not sell it or any product made from it.

Listening

As a student and a mother, I am often studying in odd places. I am regularly in the local recreation center studying while my kids are in an arts or sports program. I try and find a nice quiet spot, and failing that I put on my headphones and crank up the tunes. This day I got all setup when a group of 5 people sat at the table next to me, and the group quickly expanded to about 30. But it was quiet. With large groups often comes noise, but not this day.

I was quite distracted by this group and they were making almost no sound. It was fascinating to watch the intimate communication shared among this group. They were looking at each other, bodies facing each other as they read lips and signed to each other. I was sucked in by the excitement and emotion being expressed as this group greeted each other.

I can’t remember what I was studying that day, but it was something boring in comparison. It was a good reminder that words are not the only form of communication. We do speak with our bodies, some of us better than others.

listening

The next time you are speaking with someone try putting down your device or knitting and really look at the person you are communicating with. Look at their eyes, their face, and their lips moving. Pretend for a minute that you can’t hear their words. What are they really saying? What is their body telling you?

I like to talk, a lot. I am not the best listener. I get distracted. I get excited. I disengage. Watching a group of people communicate silently was inspiring. This year my New Years resolution is to listen more and talk less. Wish me luck because I am going to need it.

listening-3

listening-2

 

 

Caron Cake Cookies Cream Shawl

When I decide to knit, or crochet a new project I can be inspired by an image on Ravelry or Pinterest or by the yarn itself. Believe it or not, I am known to wonder the aisles of a craft store, so much so that I am known to the staff. One of them even thought that it would be a good idea for me to get a job there because I was in there all the time anyway. It’s logical I will give her that. While wondering I always check out the sales on yarn, and this is when I picked up a Cookies Cream Caron Cake. I know it sounds like it should be in the cake decorating aisle, but it’s yarn. Inspired by the yarn I decided to knit my first shawl.

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Christmas Crafting – Day 12

On the last day of Christmas Crafting my sister made for me…a Messy Bun Hat. Right now there is quite the knitting trend happening, with the creation of the messy bun hat. My sister sent me a message a few weeks ago hinting not so subtly that she might like me to make her a messy bun hat. So I did. There are a few patterns floating around on Ravelry (a knitting pattern site) but not many. When I can’t find what I want in the gauge or size I need I make it up. Here is my messy bun pattern if you wish to whip one up.

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