Thursday, 22 September 2011

Long time no update!

Forgive me father for I have sinned, it's been 4 months since my last confession... I mean blog post, yikwa!!  So much for that New Years resolution I made back in Jan to blog regularly...

Soooo, as well as being 4 months since I last blogged, it's been 7 months now since I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis so I figured I'd start off with an update on that.  (Here's a link to my original post about it)

It's been a loooooong 7 months for medical stuff.... Thanx to the arthritis I decided it was time to sort out other medical issues so now as well as the arthritis drugs I'm also on medication for my blood pressure (still too high though so it's an ongoing struggle to find which drugs will beat it down!), and for my PCOS, and couple of months ago my GP put me on Orlistat (the so-called "fat buster" drug which has to be taken with a very strict diet) to try and help me to lose some weight, to help all of the other above issues!  Unfortunately though I had to stop the Orlistat after a few weeks, as my fortnightly blood tests (for monitoring the arthritis drugs) showed that my ALT liver tests were increasing dangerously.  Albeit we don't know 100% that it was the Orlistat until I get the results from my next test but the dates seemed to coincide.  Thankfully though I did managed to lose a stone on them, so I hope I can carry on as well without them as I have lots more to lose but it's a start!!

And as for the arthritis.... Back in March I started on an immuno-suppressant called Methotrexate, initially on the lowest dose, but I'm now on the highest dose for the condition.  I was also taking an anti-inflammatory daily, which was a lifesaver when I started on them both, but thankfully I've managed to come off it now.  I still find it all a little shocking tbh, I went in early last year, being on no medication, and just thinking I might have broken my scaphoid and now I'm hobbling around and taking fricking immuno-suppressants and all manner of other medications!

It's a bit of a toss up in terms of what I think about the effectiveness of the methotrexate.  It has definitely improved my hand. I can now shake hands with people (should the need arise!), my wrist and thumb don't ache all day like they have done in the past, and a large part of the inflammation seems to have gone.  My main elbow problem was that it would get stuck and wouldn't straighten and that has very much improved. And with the exception of the occasional bad day my neck and shoulder are much better.

However on the other hand it kind of hasn't done as much as I had hoped it would.  Deformities have developed, my elbow doesn't straighten fully anymore, I don't have much movement in my wrist, and I can't close a fist as my ring finger and thumb no longer bend much.  Plus it really doesn't seem to have helped my foot and ankle at all, so mobility is my main issue these days, walking and driving.  Still, I guess without the methotrexate things could be a whole lot worse so I should defo count my blessings, it's only been 7 months and my treatment is ongoing, in fact I'm seeing my Rheumatologist next Friday so things could all change yet!

The long and short is that I'm not going to be playing badminton competitively anytime soon (which my friends and Mr Loops are grateful of, they might finally win a game!!) as I'd have to switch hands and hop on one leg to play, but I'm still able to craft, at least at the moment, which is the most important thing to me  :-)

The next health worry though is that I'm off to the hospital tomorrow to see a dermatologist about a potential pre-cancerous growth..... yikes, wish me luck cos I'm bricking it big time!!!

Loops x

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Winner announced!!

Thanx for all the loverly comments everyone, the name of the winner coming up in a moment, followed by some answers to questions a few of you asked ;-)

Mr Loops the fan-plucker shuffles up the names in my Las Vegas tub!!


And plucks out a winner with his tongue!! :-\

The winner is.... KATE BARRETT!!!

Kate, please drop me an email with your address and I'll drop your sleepy owl Zed in the mail to you this week!!! :-D  He's not quite ready to travel yet (he should be finished tomorrow tho) but here's a piccie of him in progress!

Commiserations to everyone else, better luck next giveaway!  In fact Loop-da-Loop already has over 1300 fans now so invite your friends to my Facebook Fan Page and then we'll get to the 1500 fan giveaway even quicker ;-)

And now, thanx again for all your comments, sorry I didn't manage to reply to everyone individually but I did read all of them :-)

@Louise Galt - Yes I'm happy to do custom bags, I'd have more up for sale but my order list never seems to empty!!  Just drop me an email if you wanna chat about ideas ;-)

@Wendy Barker - OMG you cut your finger off with a craft knife, yikes!!!  I flicked myself in the eye with a pin before (yup the sharp end!) and had a needle stuck in my foot, but nothing that needed treatment in A&E :-o  You're defo as accident prone as Braindead Betty, he he he ;-)

@Lynn Tibby - Oooh I love that, I love halloweeny stuff, and a ghost owl would be fab!!!
So, things to come.... I have no plans for doing anything baby related I'm afraid, buuuut I'll be doing a range of smaller owls (such as Zed!) for those that want an owlie but have a smaller budget, and some sunglasses cases for summer :-D

That's it for now!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

1000 Facebook fans giveaway!!

Now admittedly I'm a tad slow starting this since there are now over 1200 Loop-da-Loop fans on Facebook, but better late than never I say!!!

The prize up for grabs will be a mini owl (about 10" tall), I haven't made him yet so no photo but I will post one before the competition closes.  He'll be similar to this little chap though, at least in terms of size :-)

Entries will be placed in my lucky Las Vegas casino bucket of wonder, and Mr Loops the fan-plucker will rummage through and pluck out our winner!!!  And this time I'll post worldwide :-)

Now, to enter you must:
  1. comment on this blog post
    you can leave a post if you have a Google/Blogger/LiveJournal/WordPress/Aim/TypePad/OpenId sign in I believe, but if you would prefer you can email me or PM me on Facebook (see my contact me tab) and I'll post here for you
  2. be a "liker" of my Facebook fanpage
    please leave your [fb] name if it's different to your [blog] name

I don't mind what you comment about but I would appreciate something constructive, for instance what you would like to see more of in my shop, what item or group of items you like the most that I make, or if you're short of words then just say hi!!  Please no blatant adverts though or your post will be removed and you won't be entered into the draw.

REMEMBER, this giveaway is only for my Facebook fans and I will check all entries, therefore if you haven't made it clear what your facebook name is you won't be entered, I spent far too long last time trying to figure it out!!

Good luck chaps and chapesses, you have until 4pm next Sunday [8th May]  to enter!! :-)


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Mmm... maltesers

This week's mini update...

  • Blood pressure still through the roof 

  • Just completed my latest commission Owl - Riley the Surfer Owl. He was named after a character from my [very odd] teenage obsession with Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (and other Irwin Allen tv series!).... perhaps I shouldn't have admitted to that... hum ho....

  • Yesterday I had the fun of being questionned and prodded by some medical students doing a rheumatology module at med school!  Was quite interesting, and one of them did correctly diagnose me so top marks for her! :-)

  • Today I shall be making a red memory bracelet (hand allowing!), sketching up a kitsch girly (not really my thing so might take a bit of imagination!) Owl for Emily, and starting on my newest Owl stuffie - The Owl-inator

  • This evening will be my first Methotrexate dose, I've read all the leaflets and spoken to other people [online] taking it but I'm still rather anxious about it.  Going from taking 0 pills to taking over 30 pills per week (6 diff ones) is defo a bit of a body and head shock!

Oh and I've just had a food delivery from Tesco.  I maaaaaay have snuck in a giant bag of maltesers....I like food. :-)


Monday, 28 February 2011

Owl obsessed

This week.... I shall be mostly.... watching Studio Ghibli films.... and making owls :-D

Thanx to the delivery men today and Saturday that is, who dropped off a pile of fleece for me!!  You have no idea how bl**dy hard it is trying to find matching fleece though, the colours for my first few owls I got from a place that no longer sells those colours, and elsewhere the colours are either named entirely different or same name different colour, it's costing me a fortune just for samples and I still haven't found matches yet!

Raymond guarding the fleece pile!

So this week is reasonably busy, I have to drive (with the aid of my wrist support, or with Mr Loops chauffeuring me) to the hospital to book my chest x-ray, I have a blood pressure check on Wednesday (as my BP is through the roof, hum ho), I have to go and get my refund for £28 worth of prescriptions from last week (when my pre-payment certificate finally comes through from the NHS), aaaaand I have to pick up a few more new meds from the pharmacy!

But when I'm not doing that I shall be mostly.... watching Studio Ghibli films.... and making owls :-)


Saturday, 26 February 2011


So much for that New Years resolution I had....

Anyways, serious post today.  So I haven't mentioned this in my blog before but if you're a fan of Loop-da-Loop on Facebook then you're probably aware that I've been awaiting a diagnosis recently.

  • April
    - Pain began in RH wrist
  • May
    - 1st visit to Quacks, given anti-inflammatories
    - Pain began in RH ring finger knuckle, thumb and hand knuckles
  • June    
    - 2nd visit to Quacks, anti-inflamms = fail 
  • August    
    - Wrist X-ray and blood test
  • Sept    
    - 3rd visit to Quacks, results = nothing obvious in x-ray, negative results for rheumatoid arthritis in the blood test
  • Nov    
    - 1st visit to rheumatologist
    - Pain began in neck 
  • Dec
    - MRI scan 
  • Jan
    - Pain began in RH ankle
    - At this point up/down movement in wrist has become restricted to less than 45°
    - Blood test 
  • Feb   
    - 2nd visit to rheumatologist for results and DIAGNOSIS!!!

So it's been a long journey/wait and it's been very important to me to get sorted, despite my irrational fear of doctors and hospitals (and dentists!), because I was concerned about the future of my crafting!!

To put you out of your misery, I've been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, which as I understand it is very similar to and often incorrectly diagnosed as Rheumatic Diagnosis.  I have to say it didn't mean an awful lot to me at first, and the diagnosis was somewhat of a shock as I considered arthritis to be an old person's disease and I'm only 34, but it's been good to put a name to the problem because I'm a control freak and knowing means I've been able to research it myself!

  • Did you know that Psoriatic Arthritis is a disease?  (Non-transmittable incidentally)  There are 5 different sub-categories of it, and around 200 types of arthritis overall!  Osteoarthritis is the type that is related to ageing, but Psoriatic Arthritis can come on at any age.
  • Around 10% of psoriasis sufferers can go on to develop Psoriatic Arthritis, it's not developed relative to the severity of the psoriasis though.  Mostly it develops after the psoriasis, but it can sometimes develop before or even without any psoriasis.  In my case I didn't think I had psoriasis until I was diagnosed (tho my father does), but then my GP realised that I did but it had been mis-diagnosed by a different GP!
  • The major way of diagnosing the difference between Psoriatic and Rheumatoid Arthritis is that with the former you test negative for the latter in blood tests!  It can also be diagnosed through the pattern of joints affected, and closer inspection via MRI.

Well I'm sure you enjoyed that exciting info... Anyways, so even after the research it's still rather scary, and even the meds are scary, but it's spread so quickly and the pain has increased in the last month so that at this stage I'm eager to try them asap!!

  • The primary treatment is with an immunosuppressant like Methotrexate (which I shall be taking), which is a chemotherapy treatment but at a lesser dose than for cancers, which targets the cause of the damage to try and hold back the disease.  The side-effects are scary though and I have to have a chest x-ray to start (as a baseline) and have blood tests every 2 week to check for liver and kidney function, and it's likely to cause nausea and fatigue for a few days a week around my dose day.
  • The secondary treatment is anti-inflammatories, I've tried Diclofenac twice with no effect and I've just started taking a new one - Arcoxia, with another med to protect my stomach it!

It's no doubt going to be a long path, and I don't know what it holds (apart from having to take lots of pills and go to the hospital weekly for the time being), I could be on the meds forever, I could have to try several before finding one that works for me, but as long as it reduces the pain and gives me back more motion and the ability to keep sewing and crochetting and making jewellery for as long as possible then I think I'll be happy :-)

I'll check back with my progress at a later date, but until then to cheer us both up, here's a piccie of some cute Husky puppies I found on the internet


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Winner announced!!

Well thanx for all the loverly comments everyone, very much appreciated!  Here's to getting my next 500 Facebook fans and then of course another giveaway :-D

So without further ado..... drumroll please.....

Mr [weirdo] Loops and the Las Vegas tub of names!!

Mr Loops displaying the winners name, in a rude manner because he's clearly a child...

The winner is....... KRISTINA CORNE!!!

Kristina, please drop me an email with your address and which cupcake pouch you would like :-D

Commiserations to everyone else, better luck next giveaway, remember to invite your friends to my Facebook Fan Page and then we'll get to the 1000 fan giveaway even quicker ;-)


Friday, 4 February 2011

500 Facebook fans giveaway!!

Well I'm a little slow posting this as Loop-da-Loop got to 500 fans on Facebook last week, but better late than never :-D  Soooo for this momentous landmark I'm having a giveaway, yikwa!!

The prize up for grabs is one of these Loop-da-Loop cupcake zipper pouches (winner can choose their fave).

To enter, you must:
  1. comment on this blog post
    (you can leave a post if you have a Google/Blogger/LiveJournal/WordPress/Aim/TypePad/OpenId sign in I believe, but if you would prefer you can email me instead and I'll post here for you)
  2. be a "liker" of my Facebook fanpage
    (please leave your [fb] name if it's different to your [blog] name)
I don't mind what you comment about but I would appreciate something constructive, for instance what you would like to see more of in my shop, what item or group of items you like the most that I make, or if you're short of words then just say hi!!  Please no blatant adverts though or your post will be removed and you won't be entered into the draw.

Entries will be placed in my lucky Las Vegas casino bucket of wonder, and Mr Loops the fan-plucker will rummage through and pluck out our winner!!!

Here's a shot of each pouch showing the linings!!

UK postage only for this giveaway, but when I get to 1000 fans I will post worldwide :-)

Good luck chaps and chapesses, you have until 4pm on Tuesday to enter!! :-)


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

It's a lactose-free birthday!!

I'm in a foodie mood lately, partly due to the fact that I've been having health issues the past few months so my sewing/jewellery crafting has taken a back seat, and partly due to the fact that Mr "lactose-free" Loops has requested that I make him some lactose-free (hereby known as LF!) goodies recently as it's incredibly difficult to find LF items in the supermarket unless you go for specialist items!

So for his birthday last week he requested LF chicken kievs, and a LF coffee cake for dessert (as we're both coffee addicts).  Mind you the coffee cake was also eaten for breakfast... we have a tradition of eating birthday cake for breakfast... only on our birthdays mind, else it would just be weird.... :-\

Cooking stage (sorry, no piccies of the creation)

Rather a large meal of LF chicken kiev, roast new potatoes and cabbage, yuuuum!

And now for the coffee cake, for which I followed this recipe but replaced the milk with LF whole milk, and the mascarpone with LF soft cheese.

Awaiting the oven!!

Cooling and testing our willpower....


You might be wondering why It doesn't look quite like the one in the recipe.... this is because due to using LF soft cheese instead of mascarpone, and due to running out of icing sugar and so having used half caster sugar it came out more like a coffee sauce instead of the coffee cream cheese frosting it was supposed to be!  So it became a drizzle cake - popped some holes throughout the cake and drizzled the "sauce" over the top to sink in and marinade it.

Not quite as planned but delicious nevertheless!! 


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Lactose-free lasagne

Time for a foodie post I think!!

After a long time of stomach issues Mr Loops has finally discovered it's because he is lactose intolerant!  Alas he adores cheese, and foods like lasagne, pizza, beans and cheese on toast :-(  He tried lactase tablets but they cost so much for the dose he needed to be able to eat dairy foods so now I'm working on adapting at least some of his favourite foods so he can have a treat now and again hopefully without changing the flavour too much!!

The finished product!!

I don't tend to use measurements or recipes when I cook, if there's something I want to make and don't know how to, then I'll trawl through online recipes or cooking magazines to get the general gist and pick my favourite!!  I'm clearly not a chef and I like food that's easy to make and remember.  So here are the basics of my lactose-free lasagne (for roughly 4 people) with in-progress piccies, adapt as necessary to make your own or just look at the piccies :-)

  • Soften onions/garlic/mushrooms in some oil (I use Carotino - cholesterol-free and vitamin-high oil) in a large deep frying pan
  • Remove the base veg to a plate, and add your choice of mince to the same pan you did the veg in, adding more oil if required (beef mince is usually good as is, but for turkey mince for instance I add extra)
  • If you break up the mince too early it will release water and start to steam but we're looking to brown the mince for flavour first, so try and keep it in one big block until it's browned on the first side, then turn it to brown the other side
  • Now break up the mince and when it has all coloured add a little plain flour and stir to soak up the juices, and then re-add the base veg
  • Add a tub of chopped tomatoes and the same again of water with a couple of stock cubes (pre-made stock instead), and add any other veg
  • Add any dried herbs you fancy (or if you prefer fresh herbs then put these in just before forming in the lasagne dish), I favour oregano and parsley and black pepper, or else just some italian or plain mixed herbs.  Add a slug of worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce, chilli flakes, whatever suits your tastes, but don't go too over the top as you can always add more later when you've tasted it!!
  • Pop a lid on the frying pan and simmer for about an hour (really for beef mince the longer you cook it the more tender it becomes), stirring now and again and taste towards the end to check the level of seasoning/herbs/spiciness etc and check how tender the mince is.

Personally I like to pad out my lasagne with veg for extra [hidden] fruit and veg portions!!  In this lasagne I used onions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots and peas (not sure I'd use peas again tho as they go a very unappetising colour!).  This tends to depend upon what I have in the fridge, I have also used leeks, sweet potato, anything to increase Mr Loops' veg count for the day!

As the mince is nearing completion, grab your lasagne dish, lasagne pasta sheets, lactose-free cheese and cheese sauce (and milk if required to make the sauce).  I used Arla Lactofree milk and cheese, and Free & Easy dairy-free cheese sauce.  Grate up the cheese, and prepare your cheese sauce.  For the sauce I used I had to make a paste with the sauce powder and some milk, then add the rest of the milk and pop it on the hob to thicken, I also added a little grated cheese to this.

Now build your lasagne!!  For mine - meat --> pasta --> cheese sauce --> meat --> pasta --> cheese sauce --> grated cheeeeese.

I like to add a little paprika and black pepper to the top :-)  Now pop this on a baking tray (to catch any overflow!) and pop in the oven at around 200C and leave for about 30-40 mins or until the cheese has melted and is all scrummy and bubbly!!

Serve with salad and/or wedges and/or some garlic bread (made with fresh garlic and a dairy-free spread like Vitalite)  Yum!!


Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to all!!!

I hope everyone had a fab NYE, whether chilling at home or gadding about town! :-D

I should start by saying I'm not normally one for New Years resolutions.... but this year I resolve to be more regular with my blog posts  o_O

Sooooo, following on from that.... here is post #1 of 2011... written in my pjs whilst watching Big on the tv.... hum ho.....

I had hoped to make all my Xmas presents this year, but alas illness and time constraints worked against me.... but here is the journey of one of my handmade gifts this year, a stuffie of Stewie Griffin from Family Guy for my mate Sammy's boyfriend :-D

Stewie in design format with initial sketch

All the pattern pieces prepared for cutting out in felt

In progress shot of Stewie's clothes

Clothes complete, addition of head and hands!

Features completed, ready to sew back and front together

Stuffing in progress

And the unveiling of the completed Stewie stuffie:

Completed Stewie (front)

Completed Stewie (back)


In hindsight he's a bit lanky and I should have made his head muuuch bigger, but I think the recipient was happy with his gift and I certainly enjoyed making him :-D