Monday, May 23, 2016

So, let's talk migraine triggers.  For those of us who suffer with this disease, we eventually learn what causes them and try hard to avoid those triggers.  I know that mine are driven by the barometric pressure, hormones, and food allergies.  I can't do much about the pressure.  And at my age, hormone management is as mythical as the unicorn.  But allergy triggers can be avoided if I know where to look for them.   Raw onions, chocolate, and aged cheese and wine are my big four.

Chocolate - public enemy number one?  Um no, as it turns out.  While I've avoided chocolate like the plague for nearly 40 years, I learned quite a while ago that it isn't the chocolate, but the BUG PARTICULATE in the chocolate, that I'm really allergic to.  Gross right?  Here's the truth.  The FDA allows a certain acceptable level of bug particulate in cocoa beans.  That means, when you consume chocolate, well let's just say there are other things in it that you didn't count on eating.

Fast forward to 5 years ago. I underwent allergy testing, and, wouldn't you know it, my worst allergy trigger was roaches.  So I felt somewhat justified in my avoid "polluted chocolate" stance.  I have always avoided the other known triggers, but I've still been having too many migraine episodes over the last 4 or 5 years.  Many of those headaches had completely unidentifiable triggers.  But I may have discovered a new culprit.


Well, not coffee, but the ROACHES in the coffee.  Yes, coffee falls under that FDA allowable bug particulate thing.  So when you buy pre-ground coffee, either at the grocery store or at the restaurant, you're getting those little bonus bits in there, too.

I have tried to quit coffee forever, thinking it's the caffeine that may be causing the headaches.  I had never been successful.  But, this time I tried a different approach.  I didn't cut the caffeine. I replaced it with hot tea (which I love.)  Now, a month later,  I'm down to maybe 2 cups of coffee a week, ideally from fresh ground beans.  And guess what.  Nearly no headaches.  Well, except for those evil barometric pressure change headaches.

Now I'm looking into what else contains the buggy particulate.  Because I think I'm on to something here.

Max levels for acceptance according to the FDA Defect Levels Handbook
Cocoa Beans
( MPM-V18)
More than 4% of beans by count are moldy
Insect filth
( MPM-V18)
More than 4% of beans by count are insect-infested including insect-damaged
Insect filth and/or mold
More than 6% of beans by count are insect-infested or moldy
NOTE: Level differs when both filth and mold are present
Mammalian excreta
( MPM-V18)
Average of 10 mg or more mammalian excreta per pound
DEFECT SOURCE: Mold - post harvest infection, Insect infested/damaged - post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Mammalian excreta - post harvest and/or processing animal contamination
Significance: Aesthetic, Potential health hazard - may contain mycotoxin producing fungi
Chocolate and Chocolate Liquor
Insect filth
(AOAC 965.38)
Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined
Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments
Rodent filth
(AOAC 965.38)
Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examined
Any 1 subsample contains 3 or more rodent hairs
(AOAC 968.10-970.23)
For chocolate liquor, if the shell is in excess of 2% calculated on the basis of alkali-free nibs
DEFECT SOURCE:  Insect fragments - post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Rodent hair - post harvest and/or processing contamination with animal hair or excreta, Shell - processing contamination 
Significance: Aesthetic
Coffee Beans, Green
Insect filth and insects
( MPM-V1)
Average 10% or more by count are insect-infested or insect-damaged
If live external infestation is present use the Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) titled " Food Storage and Warehousing-Adulteration-Filth" (CPG 580.100) in accordance with "Interpretation of Insect Filth" (CPG 555.600)
( MPM-V1)
Average of 10% or more beans by count are moldy
DEFECT SOURCE:  Insect infested/damaged - preharvest and/or post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Mold - post harvest and/or processing infection
Significance: Aesthetic, Potential health hazard - mold may contain mycotoxin producing fungi

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

New Patterns Published!

It's been too long since the last post.  After being wonderfully swamped with orders for my hoods, I took a break from them for a while.  But now, finally, I've gotten some of the patterns published.  The lion and the panda are both available for sale at and and   Fox and Wolf should be done soon, too.   I also added patterns to for a textured basket, the Sleepy Sheepy EOS lip balm holder, and the Baby Chicken EOS lip balm holder.

Click on the links if you have an interest in purchasing one.  And THANK YOU for your interest and support.   It's such a privilege to be able to do what you love and to know that others love it too.

Remember these links are for the pattern ONLY.  If you're interested in purchasing a completed item, you can message me at the Facebook page, a link to which you can find on the Ravelry site. Thanks!

This one is FREE

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Animals, Hoods, and Mermaids.

It's time for another show and tell.  I've designed some new pieces that seem to be VERY popular.  
It all started with a fox.  This fox, to be exact.

Well, of course there needed to be a wolf, then a panda, and a LION.  

Lion is just too cute!!!

Of course, not everyone can see themselves in a winter hood with ears.  Thus, WRAPPED was born.

These are all of my own design.


The crochet world exploded lately with requests for mermaid tail blankets.  There are tons of patterns out there, but I decided to try my hand at designing my own version, something a little simpler and less in material costs than others I've seen.

And here it is.

No patterns are available at this time.  I'm so overwhelmed with orders that I haven't had time to write a proper pattern for any of them.  Perhaps someday.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hat Invasion-Fall 2014

Hats. Hats. Hats everywhere.  I find that when I start crocheting a hat, it turns into weeks of hat making and design work.  It seems like I never make just one.  I've done 5 recently.  Plus, I've got 2 new hat patterns to post from October.  

The Rainbow Dash Hat was one made of necessity, ie. it finished off a costume on Halloween night.  The temperature dropped so quickly and the wind was so strong, that the original costume just wouldn't  do for trick or treating.  So this one was made up in about 2 hours.  The hat even has reflective yarn in it.  I could say that it's for safety's sake, but really it's just dang cool.  It looks terrible on me, but it's fantastic on the blonde middle schooler.   It's super warm, too.  That's not usually a concern here in the deep south, but since we've started to experience global warming, we've had the coldest weather I've seen in the last 15 years.  Go figure.

Mountain Air Hat
The other hat will be called "Mountain Air". It's got lots of texture and weight, but breathes really well.  The pattern requires a little more crochet knowledge,  but it's not particularly difficult.  I find it to be one of the more comfortable hats I own.  And I own a lot.  I think I need to make one of these up in black to go with my car coat.

Check back soon and I'll have the links to ravelry patterns.  (I'm still testing rainbow dash)

Do you have any hat patterns you'd like to share?  Post a link in the comments.  I'm always looking for a great hat pattern to crochet.  (I'm knitting challenged, but maybe someday I'll master a second needle. )

Friday, May 30, 2014

College Advice for the High School Parent

Documenting the navigation orchestrations of a clueless mom and her fledgling son, as he begins the

College Experience


Click on the College Advice for the High School Parent tab above to see how we've managed the dizzying application, scholarship, and decision process. 

This isn't meant to be a guide to schools or a resource on where to find scholarships or financial aid advice. It's simply insight into our journey that may help you on yours.

These are my suggestions to help your high school sophomore, junior, or senior in making the timely COLLEGE decisions.
When to start looking?
When to Apply?
Scholarship deadline? AAAHHHH!
Dorm timeline.?
Accept or Reject?
What's Next?
Updates will follow as we travel along the road. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Headache Management ala Christy

After the earlier post, I had several folks ask me what I do to prevent or treat the migraines.  I reiterate that I don't have them so chronically that I need daily prescription preventives. And I'm thankful for that! 

So here is the list.  It isn't complete. It isn't scientifically proven.  It isn't based in prescription meds.

Minimize triggers - if you know them.  Personally I shun chocolate, raw onions, nitrates, MSG, bright sunlight, caffeine withdrawal, low blood sugar, and dehydration.

Timing is everything - The curse of the pre-headache "aura" is really a blessing in my case.  True, I can't see 50% of my field of vision, but it gives me about a 20 minute notice that I need to get meds on board before the headache actually hits.

OTC meds - I use Advil or Tylenol almost exclusively.  Tylenol is my first choice, because I have other issues that don't blend well with ibuprofen.  But many times, ibuprofen is the only thing that helps.  Experiment.  Excedrin works great for other folks I know.

Coffee or Tea - Aura + OTC + HUGE intake of caffeine before the headache hits.  If I can put that combination together, I usually minimize pain, duration, and side effects. 

Pressure Points- Messaging pressure points in my forearms, legs, hands, the bridge of the nose, and temples can work occasionally. 

Go Dark - I turn lights out and lay down for as long as feasible.

Heating Pad - This is usually applied to forehead or shoulders.

Lavender Oil - Sometimes the scent of pure lavender oil will help.  I don't use the nasty chemically stuff they put in cosmetics to make you think you're using lavender.  It doesn't work.

Hot bath - It relaxes the muscles of the back and neck, which goes a long way towards easing the headache too.  This is most effective if it's a stress induced headache.

Wintergreen Mints - I have no idea why.

Prescription Meds - I own them.  I hate them.  I use them only when everything else fails and I can't manage anymore. 

Duck Dive - It's taken me years to master it, and I can't do it for long. Think of it as a surfing metaphor.    I go deep in my mind and let the pain wash over me, like a surfer swimming out through the oncoming waves.  This takes focus and complete isolation, but basically one can go somewhere else in one's mind, some place where the pain isn't.   Sometimes it's necessary.

(Oh, and I pet my dog.  Because he's my comfort. He understands, and that's enough to help me through.)

There's thousands of sites on the Internet with different suggestions.  These are just the ones I find work for me.  And after all, I should know after 37 years of practice.

Feel free to comment with your helpful hints too!  I'm always open to new ideas for fighting the migraine devil.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

37 Years of Denial, My Life with Migraine

So far I've navigated 37 of my 44 years down the river migraine.  I can't say its been a successful journey, but I can say that I have it better than many other sufferers.  So, complaining is right out.  It's my trial, and everyone has trials.

Lately I've been reflecting on life, as is normal for the person on the cusp of midlife.  With a bit of shock I have realized that I've lived "around" this disease.  Meaning, I subconsciously compensate for the inevitable downtime that will be forced upon me.   This is how it works:

  • The barometric pressure drops...I get a migraine.
  • My hormones fluctuate... I get a migraine.
  • I eat chocolate, red wine, raw onions, or, GOD FORBID, MSG... I get a migraine.
  • I finish a big stressful project... I get a migraine.
  • I exercise too much... I get a migraine.
Now, if it was just a day of headache pain, that would be one thing.  But as any migraine patient will tell you, there's the aura before, the pain and side effects during, and the hangover afterward.  It's the hangover that has become more challenging for me as I age.  I get foggy, sore, and my personality temporarily changes.  My mental filter malfunctions, and there's no telling what I'll say. 

Before now, I never considered myself  hamstrung, or restricted by this devil.  But let's take a look at reality vs. my interpretation of it.  The way I see it, I just quarantine myself as soon as the aura hits, take medicine, and carry on after about an hour.  No big deal, it hurts, but I can live with it.  But, here's the part I wasn't owning.  I have lived my life subconsciously dancing around the unavoidable.
  • I'm reluctant to commit to being places at a specific time.
  • I've chosen employment (or lack there of) that doesn't require strict clock-in/ clock-out times.
  • I hide from the world after headaches, for fear of saying something I wouldn't ordinarily say.
  • When taking on a big project, I prolong the intense stress.  Because, I know as soon as it lets up, the "let down" migraine will knock me out for days.  I just can't afford that time.
  • I rarely see movies with friends.  (Some visual inputs, particularly 3D movies, trigger them.)
Basically, I tend not to sign on to activities where I could let anyone else down.  But know this.   If I do promise to be somewhere or do something, I will do it, pain or no pain.  And, I'll do it well.  That is just as much a part of who I am as the headaches are!

Seems so obvious, and yet I just didn't notice it before.

So, there it is.  If you have migraines, you'll understand. 

I realize that this compensation isn't unique to me, or even to migraine patients.  There are many chronic hidden conditions that alter the way we conduct our lives.  So, the next time you can't understand why Joe or Jane is doing what they are doing, consider that you just don't know the problem around which they are working.  Live, and let live.  Hey, we're all in denial about something.