Finding rusty old junk is fun! Nevertheless, I have found that no matter how much "stuff" I find and collect, only God can fully satisfy my heart. Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Better Late Than Never : Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and

Update: August 2013--- Diagnosed with late stage neurological Lyme Disease. Brain MRI showed white matter disease,  attributed to Multiple Sclerosis, advanced complications from Lupus, or possibly from the Lyme Disease. Any of these (or all three) can all cause the problems I have been dealing with.

Dear blogging friends, before we get to the post,  I would like to take the time to explain my two month hiatus. How I have missed blogging! I have been extremely ill with my Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Fibromyalgia since Christmas. It has been so bad that I have had a hard time functioning in daily life. Even speaking and writing has been difficult. I managed to go to work (barely) and when I got home I couldn't even stand to look at a computer, (much less think or spell), and for the first time in my life, decorating, junking and cleaning were not even on my to-do list. I was having a hard enough time making it through the basics of life---eating, getting myself showered and dressed, etc. I had wanted to at least st post an explanatory blog about my absence but I kept thinking that surely my symptoms would lesson since they have waxed and waned for many years, so maybe I could get a real post in, but the symptoms only got worse as the winter progressed. This has been the longest and most extreme flare-up I have ever experienced and I am just now able to attempt a post. I am sure there will be typos and grammar errors here, as I am certainly not back to "normal," but I want to try to get a post up while I feel like it.

 Over a year I go I had already commited to being the Musical Director for The Wizard Of Oz at our local arts theater, but it was a real struggle to go through nine weeks of evening rehearsals in addition to my job as a high school choir director. There were times I really wanted to give up, (on everything) but at the same time I have a wonderful and understanding theater family who brings me a lot of joy (and my sweet little boy was a munchkin in the play) so that made it tolerable. Just when I thought I couldn't make it another day, miraculously, about a week ago when the schedule was the roughest ( three nights of tech rehearsal until 11 p.m and six shows in three days) I started to feel slightly better. At first I thought it was the adrenaline and maybe most of it was, and I figured I would crash and maybe even end up in the hospital, but I didn't! I even enjoyed the whole experience and the shows were fantastic!
With our fabulous Dorothy!
With my very own munchkin, and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North!
He represents, the lollipop guild!

 I actually have felt even better this week after the show. I was so sick in Jan. and Feb. that I had to see a colorectal specialist twice. I couldn't remember people's names and I was forgetting things like basic road rules in the middle of driving. At times it was like I had never even played piano before. I would forget notes I have known since I was six years old. It has been a very dark time for me, but through much prayer and some extreme dietary changes I believe some healing is taking place. I gave up all refined sugar (not a single cheat)  five weeks ago and dairy three weeks ago (I have already been gluten free for two years). The first three weeks without the sugar I hit rock bottom, and experienced withdrawl symptoms and an increase in all of my disease symptoms, but right about the time of the show I think I was coming out of the detox and then I experienced a glimmer of hope. My food choices are very limited now, but I still have plenty to eat and I have really increased the organic raw green vegetables which I think is making a huge difference as well.  Eating this way just takes a lot more planning and luckily my husband has been there for me since at times I couldn't even remember that I hadn't eaten. I believe the inflammation is better due to the reduction in sugar and processed foods, and I have also been able to fall asleep better with some organic herbal teas and also cutting out all caffeine. I have not slept more than four hours a night in ten years due to chronic pain, and for the past two nights I slept for eight hours straight! The pain is exactly the same in the morning unfortunately, and tonight I have all of my usual debilitating joint and muscle pain that I have suffered from years, but the overall feeling of complete illness (like a long-term relentless flu) is much less severe and my mind is functioning much better. My piano skills still haven't returned fully however, so I will be seeing a neurologist over this and some other issues. Hopefully the long term inflammation has not caused permanent damage to the parts of the brain that effect my coordination.
If you have read this far, I would like to thank you. There are very few people that have stood by me or supported me or even checked on me throughout this very long (and to most people, invisible) illness and I have felt very alone. Sometimes just knowing someone is listening (or reading) is very comforting.

With all this being said, it goes without saying that I experienced some depression and lack of motivation to do much around the house! I did not have the physical ability to go digging in the basement or take a trip to our storage building to drag out holiday decorations, so I was only able to decorate with things I had readily available for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Nevertheless, the displays turned out nicely and just prove how "use what you have" is sometimes how the most beautiful vignettes are born, and I don't feel like I really missed the holidays after all.

Here is what I came up with:
 photo E55B1DC6-CB4B-4018-A0CA-6219AE45DA45-549-000000551A14FA6F_zpsf6b06b6f.jpg
                                                                         "Keys To My Heart!"
I filled an old machinist box with romantic treasures--- rusty locks and skeleton keys, antique time pieces, dried roses and tissue paper roses, a vintage floral embroidered change purse, linen and lace heart sachets embellished with vintage millenary flowers, a sweet little baby shoe and the most adorable antique photo of a cupid child (one of my favorite finds this past fall). Draped with antique lace remnants and filled with tiny rice lights, the box surely hinted at romance!

                                                                       Valentine Love!

 Moving on to March---
St. Patrick's Day was the day after the shows. We weren't really home much at all so we didn't get to really celebrate the holiday as much as we normally do, but being of Celtic heritage, it is one of our favorites so there was no skipping it! I had bought the chipboard shamrock at the dollar tree a while back and had kept it in a closet upstairs, and we have plenty of Irish and Celtic decor around the house so I was able to throw together a quick table centerpiece and mantel display in between rehearsals and just in time for the wearin' o' the green!

Between St. Patrick's Day and the Oz show, there really was a lot of green worn by all!
With the Emerald City Gals!

I've been waiting since September to use my ironstone platter with the green and gold trim!

Here is my mantel display. My vintage knee-hugger leprechaun is one of my most prized holiday decorations!
                            Live shamrocks bring a touch of spring green and luck to the household.

                                                            More Celtic influence on the mantel...

    I love this leprechaun cloche display. I didn't have to look far to find this wee lad, for he brings a little luck in our kitchen year round!

 Here is the chalkboard that I blogged about at Christmas. I just decided to try out a Celtic font free hand, and it turned out nicely. Translation: "Ireland Forever!"

Thank you once again for taking the time to read my post. Here's an Irish wish for good luck, great health and much wealth to you and yours today and always! Now its time for me to play catch up and to be inspired by all of the beautiful spring and Easter decorations on your blogs!

Time to party again! blogspot/QoLtm (FRENCH COUNTRY COTTAGE)


  1. Hi Amber, what an amazing woman you are, and one I can tell has great faith. I know sometimes the Lord allows us to walk thru such trying times, yet He has an amazing plan for us. It sounds like you are learning thru necessity what your body needs to begin the healing process. I'm so glad you came by to link up this evening. I'll be keeping you in my prayers. many blessings, Debra

  2. Hi Amber
    Wow! Talk about perseverance! My doctor reminded me that just increasing water can cure so many symptoms. I started on a flax see regimen last year after some stomach issues. My GI doc said it is the best thin My eye doctor also said water, water, water. So, I applaud your dietary decisions!
    Congrats on the show and your home looks great. I love the stacked plates on the wood crate. Love it! laura

  3. I'm so glad you are feeling better and I hope things continue to improve for you. I can't believe what a demanding schedule you have and that you persevered and made it through all your performances! Maybe now that your load is lightened and you are making dietary changes, it will help with your recovery.

    You have so many vintage treasures and your Valentine's and St.Patrick's vignettes are lovely as usual. Thank you for sharing, Amber. :)

  4. You poor thing -- I am so glad your dietary changes are making a difference for you! I know what it feels like to be sick for weeks on end...not good.


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