Pompholyx

So, this is a bit of a community service announcement, just in case there’s someone else out there with similar symptoms and thinking they’re going mental like I have been for a while.

I have a condition called pompholyx. It’s a pain in the arse.

Not really.

It’s a pain in the hands – at least in my case. And in my feet.

It’s form of eczema that causes little clusters of blisters to from under the skin. Sometimes the blisters are (supposed to be) incredibly itchy. In my case I will often feel a tiny, wee, acute itch and I know that within a couple of hours (if not sooner) a new little blister or cluster thereof will appear. The blisters themselves aren’t itchy.

In very bad cases, the blisters merge into very large ones and can be quite painful as well as itchy. This hasn’t happened to me yet, thank goodness!

Generally, pompholyx is your body’s way of saying; “Nopenopenope!” when it meets something it doesn’t like.

Renlish.com - OH HELL NO

The causes of pompholyx can literally be anything, though most of the time it’s an allergic reaction. Environment is a cause. Stress has even been noted as a cause.

Again, in my case, I think it’s been long-term exposure to some chemical nasties. See, as this stuff started on my feet, I thought it was just tinea and treated it as such. I should have known two years later that tinea isn’t THAT hard to get rid of. What I was actually experiencing was a reaction to something. Because I’ve ignored it for that long (as I didn’t really see it as a problem on my feet), my skin has gone super-sensitive and as I’ve mentioned, it’s now jumped to my hands.

What’s helped so far? Well, to dry out the blisters a bit, I’ve been doing regular hand soaks in a white vinegar/water solution which I basically do on a 1:1 ratio, because I’m a hardcore bitch. This helps when my hands are feeling irritated or itchy for a prolonged period. I also use a cortisone cream (1%) on the worst of the blistery spots and that helps calm down the blisters as well. Unfortunately cortisone and I do not get on at all and even topical medication causes extreme skin sensitivity so it hurts to do things like carrying shopping bags or – far worse – type on the computer. Meh.

Unfortunately one of the side effects of this condition is that I end up with very thick and very dry skin. This actually worries more than the blisters themselves because I run the risk of my skin splitting due to lack of moisture.

I’ve used a range of creams derived from natural ingredients but so far, everything breaks me out in varying degrees. The only thing that has worked is to wash with cool water, do the vinegar and cortisone thing and then leave my hands the hell alone. Doing everything with gloves on has also been helping too, though it’s difficult in the shower.

Yup.

I am showering with gloves on.

Yup.

It’s as difficult as you think it is.

Now I am in the process of trying to find moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner and soap that will not cause my hands and feet to blister up so I can at least shower normally.

If you think you might have pompholyx, my first bit of advice would be to see your doctor and get a referral to a dermatologist for diagnosis. It’s NOT contagious and bits won’t fall off (see Leprosy) but it’s not an easily curable condition either and does need strategies to manage.

Probably the best resource I’ve found (online at least) has been this great website based in the UK.

A Pop of Colour

In a fit of abject boredom yesterday afternoon, I popped over to my sister’s place and we went out to the local plaza for a little retail therapy.

Not really, I just needed to buy some cat food and a sun visor for my car, but anyway…

We walked past a florist and she started talking about how she now regularly buys fresh flowers for the house. She recommended I get some.

So I did. I bought some beautiful pink and pale green-almost-all-white roses that reminded me very much of my wedding bouquet (cue sentimentality) and some gorgeous little purple and white carnations. And I spent an hour last night cutting them up and arranging them in a couple of vases (read: large water pitchers since I don’t actually “do” vases), pricking my fingers on just about every bloody thorn on each rose while I was at it.

I discovered two things.

1. I really like fresh flowers.

2. I suck at flower arranging.

I was wandering past this afternoon and realised that all the tight buds had opened up and I had to grab my camera and run off a few shots while they still looked lovely.

Renlish.com - A Pop of Colour

100 Bloody Acres

This was originally supposed to be a post about how my brain is not quite right, but instead it’s sort of ended up as a movie recap. Ah well.

It’s a well known fact that I dislike movies with blood and gore. Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Nightmare on Elm St? The Saw movies? ANYTHING involving zombies? It literally turns my stomach. No thank you, very much.

It turns out that I ended up watching just such a movie; an Australian creation called “100 Bloody Acres”. The storyline itself is amusing and fairly obvious. Three young people travelling the backroads of Australia, heading towards a music festival are picked up by a well-intentioned yet dimwitted local – who has already picked up a dead body that he found by the side of the road.

Shenanigans ensue.

All three are held captive when dimwit takes them home to his oh so slightly murderous (read: fucking INSANE) brother.

There’s a large meat grinder involved.

Several people end up going through it, or losing body parts in particularly fun ways, or getting rather large holes shot through them.

You get the idea. Lots of blood (almost of epic Monty Python proportions) and lots of munched up bits.

I was reminded just why I make a point of not watching these sorts of movies when I realised I was starting to feel desperately anxious and panicky and not in the thrilling “this movie is great!” kind of way. The film itself wasn’t scary (and contrary to all of this, I kind of enjoy the odd ghosty scare or thrillers where things are implied but never seen), it really was just a matter of waiting for everything to happen because you really could see most of it coming. And I watched it as it came. And it was gross.

I guess I am a wimp but I will be sticking to my drama, romcoms and silly stuff in future.

I will say this about 100 Bloody Acres. It’s not the blood and guts that’s the real stomach turner.

There’s a scene… I won’t say what happens but… Well, when it happened, we all went:

Kitty needs a MONTAGE!

The hours approaching, just give it your best
You’ve got to reach your prime.
That’s when you need to put yourself to the test,
And show us a passage of time,
We’re gonna need a montage…. (Montage!)
Oh it takes a montage…. (Montage!)

Ok, so my cat isn’t quite Rocky Balboa but she’s worthy of a MONTAGE(!)

Renlish.com - Bindi Montage

And just because you got this far, here’s a Bindi-derp.

Renlish.com - Derpface

Dreamcatch me…

I decided some months ago that the coming year… well, now the current year… will be the year I reach for some of my creative goals.

It won’t be as easy as that, though.

I think I am a very creative person at heart but I also have what I like to call creative ADD. It’s not uncommon to have the inner monologue in my head sounding something like:

“I’d really like to make a necklace with that gorgeous labradorite stone that I made but that means that I need to get some more sterling wire and oh lord, I completely forgot that I need to finish that steampunk puppy picture from ages ago but I still haven’t found the right stock for some parts of it but I also need to set up something with Toni’s girls for that fantasy photo shoot – which I still neeed to find the dresses for – and I really need Janet over here now to sit for me again so I can start my Old Masters series and when the hell will my soutache book arrive because I really need to learn SQUIRRELS!”

See?

Settling on one project when I actually have ALL OF THE PROJECTS sitting at different stages of conceptualisation and planning is rather difficult.

Which is why I get so despondent when I can’t seem to harness my ideas into some semblance of order to actually do anything.

And that’s when I crawl into bed and watch Youtube videos for 19 hours straight.

We don’t need no steenking resolutions!

Happy New Year to all of my 2.8 readers!

Today was the start of a new year, obviously. It’s one that I hope will be significantly better than the last because, well, frankly 2013 sucked. 2012 sucked too but not quite as hard as 2013. 2013 was fraught with joblessness, money worries, relationship woes, pet health scares… all that wonderful stuff that makes for the sort of stress that see a person bury under a doona and watch Youtube 19 hours a day…

Oh… wait…

Yeah, I did that.

Really.

2014 will be interesting as I have some big thoughts bouncing around in the old grey matter – some good, some bad, some kick-arse and some arse-kicker.

Since starting on my “weight loss journey” a few years ago, I’ve gotten over the whole idea of goals and resolutions. I’ve found that limiting myself to a goal means that the achievement of such overshadows the effort to get to that goal. There’s much to be proud of by trying and failing as much as there is to succeeding.

I may not have reached a particular weight goal last year but I’m sure as hell fitter and stronger for trying.

I may not have gone out and been as social as I would liked to last year (even though what I did do was a still a major step forward for a home-bly hermit such as myself) but I made a huge group of new, wonderful friends in the process.

I may not have taken as many photographs as I would have liked or published many new artworks but I attended workshops and networked with artistic people and garnered new inspiration for future work.

I may not have made as much jewellery as I would have liked to but I’ve learned a fair few new techniques through the generosity of those new friends I made too.

In terms of what I would like to do this year… I guess I could list it but that would just be putting unnecessary pressure on myself.

But I won’t lie and say that my list of “to-dos” doesn’t include losing enough weight to fit into some regular size 16 jeans I have sitting in the bottom of my wardrobe.

(It may also include blogging every day – but we’ll see how that goes.)

Renlish.com - A fucking goodyear

I love it when a plan comes together… in a steampunkish kind of way.

Be warned, this is somewhat long-winded.

But since when have I ever been short-winded?

Back in July, one of my good friends surprised me with a request to be her best girl at her wedding.

She said “Steampunk!”

I said, “Hells YEAH!”

Well, it wasn’t an actual steampunk wedding as such, it was more of an east-meets-west-carnival-type thing. Our bride, a lovely Russian girl (complete with that accent that seems to make any level-headed male melt into a puddle of goo), was planning on being a Russian gypsy. Her husband-to-be was a dapper English gentleman sort…

It really has the hallmarks of a typical romance novel, eh?

So we were set for an awesome February, late 1800s New Orleans-esque Steampunky type wedding carnival.

Except for one little hitch.

The bride was pregnant and would already be a mum come March 2014. So clearly there was suddenly way less time for everything because this wedding needed to happen before the “little monster” hatched into the world.

Due to a plethora of other reasons, a lot of thinking about the wedding after this point was put on hold but a couple months out we finally got our crap together and went on a shopping trip to find some inspiration and some clothes for me to wear. Unlucky on that day, I started to worry. Where in hell would I get a costume worthy of a wedding? A little under two months out from the day, I didn’t have time to order from my favourite online steampunk shops.

At a loss, I looked through my cupboards to see if there was something that I could fashion into some sort of a costume.

Unfortunately due to the fact that I am several sizes smaller than I used to be, most of the clothes I remembered having which would have been helpful for steampunkery had already gone to “good will” at least 18 months before. Alas and alack, all I found was a grotty old skirt (that was too big for me) which I had meant to put on ebay ages ago.

It was clearly not enough on it’s own but I figured I could do something with it. Maybe. After a bit more fiddling around and looking up steampunk reference picture after steampunk reference picture, I figured out that I could build the costume in layers – and I think that really is the key to good steampunk fashion. It’s all in the layers.

Kinda like dressing for Melbourne weather.

So using the skirt as a jumping point, I started searching for corsets (because corsets go with steampunk like tomato sauce goes with meat pies) and found this “sleeved” number at Angels and Divas who provided very good customer service, I might add, when I asked them a question about sizing.

So then we had this:

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Ignore the mess behind me! And yes, my bra is stripy.

A little more tavern wench than steampunk at this point, I know. But the ideas were forming! Unfortunately they were forming in ways that I had no idea how to recreate.

So… at a loss, I went to the Stitches and Craft Show here in Melbourne and bought a most excellent book called “Steampunk Your Wardrobe”:

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Steampunk Your Wardrobe, by Calista Taylor

The projects in the book centre around re-purposing old clothes and basic stitchery to create steampunk fashion, it’s bare-bones stuff but it was what I needed to cobble together the rest of my ideas to form my outfit. I knew I wanted a shirt to go beneath the corset and an underskirt so that I could bustle up the brown skirt into some sort of Victorian-esque masterpiece.

The only real problem was that I really don’t sew. Really. I don’t own a sewing machine and my hand-stitching doesn’t go beyond darning socks and stitching buttons back on.

So who ya gunna call?

MUM!

Yes, mum to the rescue!

Mum was awesome and calmly suggested that we go to Spotlight (the Aussie version of shops like Joanne’s and Michael’s, except sucky by comparison) and look at patterns and see if we can come up with any new ideas for the outfit. In the end, we picked out a couple of Simplicity patterns:

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Simplicity pattern – 4046 Misses Costumes. The pattern is actually a dress, however we cut it off at the waist as it was going under the corset I was wearing.

…and…

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Simplicity 5006 Misses Costumes, Misses Lingerie

A warning about the above patterns – if you’re new to the whole sewing bizznizz, do find someone with a little experience to help you decipher the pattern instructions. They are not very clear and for a complete newbie they may be mind-boggling – unless you’re a natural adept at sewing in which case I’ll shut up and let you figure it out.

ANYWAY…

For the underskirt we chose a basic black satin and added some lace around the edging and for the shirt I chose a lovely warm beige (as white would have been too stark) lace material with a matching cotton to line the bodice. Following the instructions from my new book, mum and I bustled my brown skirt into the aforementioned Victorian-esque masterpiece and then made the underskirt and shirt based on the patterns we bought.

Of course, while all of this stitching fun was going on, I went looking for accessories.

Because what is steampunk without a hat, AMIRITE?

Well, I found one.

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

Beautiful steampunk mini top hat by Corinne of ChikiBird.

I died. Well, not really, but after a week of staring at this thing, I bought it. Couldn’t help myself. Corinne makes the most sublime fascinator hats and mico mini hats. The level of detail in them is exquisite and I totally recommend her. I had my hat arrive from the States to Melbourne within days. Sadly on the day of the wedding my hair simply would not cooperate and I could not wear it, so it stayed hidden away but I definitely look forward to the chance to use it when I play dress-ups again!

The last thing I needed was a belt – as all steampunk costumes need some sort of utility belt. Unfortunately there was simply not enough time (two days out from the wedding at this point) to fashion a proper utility belt with pouches and such, so I bought a cheap brown belt from KMart and attached all manner of brass chains and huge charms bought from Kays Artycles to it, with the finishing touch being a cheap set of goggles that the manbeast bought for his costume but didn’t use in the end.

A pair of fishnet stockings and some awesome new Bennetts “Jia” Boots later, we had our costume!

Ta-dah!

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

The finished product! With a parasol!
Photograph by Lisa Otteraa.

A little bit wenchy, a little bit piratey, a little bit steampunky!

And just so you can see the awesomeness that is the skirt and my boots:

Renlish.com - Steampunk Costume Creation

The gypsy bride herself and her steampunk best girl.

What do you see?

My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company. — Jane Austen

I had an awesome day today. Sore tonsil and all, it was great.

Every six weeks or so I get together with a bunch of wonderfully creative people and we all sit around laughing, talking and making stuff – usually anything to do with beading. There’s many a rude joke and swearing session when threads get tangled or beading trays get dropped. And, of course, the husbands are not there so there’s a fair bit of group relationship therapy at times. It’s fun.

Today was our little Christmas party since we won’t be seeing each other much before the new year. Apart from eating way too much as I usually do at these gatherings because I have no self-control whatsoever when faced with goodies like home-made salted caramel fudge and vanillekipferl, we also had Kris Kingle presents and photos – as ya do.

So this was one of the silly photos taken:

All the pretty ladies.

As usual, these images are taken on phones and uploaded immediately to Facebook, which is cool.

Except when people say hurtful things.

Like this idiot:

“looks like a weight watchers class:P”

Wow. Classy.

I just froze when I saw that. But then I looked at the picture and it was only then that I noticed that 99% of the people in that image are fat. It took some twerp on the intarwebs to point it out for me to see that, though. All I see are my friends, smiling and happy – deservedly so. They’re awesome.

But to anyone else looking at this image and only seeing a bunch of fat women, here’s a run-down what you’re also seeing:

Me; a photographer, a crafter, an artist, a burgeoning fitness freak and someone who is just learning to like herself for the first time.

My mother; intelligent, witty, quietly sly world traveler, dedicated to her health almost more than myself and stoically attends training sessions with my personal trainer who takes no prisoners and makes no exceptions, even for 60 year-old ladies with bad knees.

A bloke who has taken out awards for his bead work and who also makes the most awesome chainmaille EVERYTHING you could possibly imagine.

A woman who, 18 months ago, woke up to find her teenage son dead in his bed due to a rare heart condition no one knew he had and is using bead craft as therapy to heal her soul.

Another woman who has traveled the world taking photos and is now doing the most magnificent pastel drawings…

I could go on.

Many of this group have been featured in magazines about their creativity and artwork. Many happily teach, without hesitation, and pass on their skills to newbies or those wanting to increase their repertoire. ALL of them have dirty minds and even dirtier mouths – with the exception of my mother who sits quietly and giggles at everything. She’s just got the dirty mind.

Each person in that image is a talented, beautiful soul and yet all this other person can see is “fat”.

I see friendship. I see love. I see support.

To anyone else who might also only see “fat”, might I suggest you indulge in some sex and travel?

Yes, that means fuck off.

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