Thursday, September 30, 2010

Art Prize 2010 - JA Felt

Yesterday, while in Grand Rapids, I had the pleasure of visiting Art Prize.  My mission was to see the amazing felt creation that Janice Arnold of JA Felt created.  Although, I did visit a bunch of other exhibits, her creation is what I wanted to see and it didn't disappoint.

As soon as I walked into the GRAM I was memorized by the colors and texture of the felted exhibit.  I posted the YouTube video of her creating this masterpiece but seeing it in person made the experience so much more rewarding.

I was excited to see her just outside of the passage working on more to add to her large scale creation.  She was busy talking to visitors so I watched and listened as she and her helpers worked.  A few ladies standing nearby were asking each other a bunch of questions.  They had no clue how felting worked so I turned and said, "Hi, I'm Andrea and I own the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm just South of Battle Creek, I'd be happy to explain felting and fiber to you!"  Anyone who knows me can also picture a bounce and bubble to that statement.  As I was finishing explaining fibers, roving, and everything fascinating about fiber I turned to see the artist, herself, watching and listening to me.   Of course I turned to her and said, "Hi, I'm Andrea and I own the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm just South of Battle Creek!"  I then went on to tell her that I recently began my adventures in Felting thanks to Fiber Fest and amazing instructors like Suzanne Higgs of Hooked on Felt.  She told me I could help her with felting today and I wanted to so much but I had the dreaded appointment which brought me to Grand Rapids to go to plus a family and farm at home.

So...if you live in or near Grand Rapids, check her exhibit out!  Oh, and check out all of the other amazing artists and exhibits too.  Really, Art Prize allows the general public a chance to experience Art in a fun way.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - A Barn Cat's Job is Never Done

I could post pictures every day of my barn cat, Friend, taking care of business on the farm.  He is a great mouser and very proud of his finds.  Unfortunately his sister has gone missing.  Furball hasn't been seen since last weekend.  None of our neighbors have seen her either.  It's hard when you have an outdoor cat because they are free to come and go as they please.  We hope she'll turn up soon.  I was looking for a photo of her to post but Friend seems to get the camera's eye more than his sister. This was the newest one I could find...from July.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Art Prize 2010

Tomorrow I am heading to Grand Rapids to visit some of the Art Prize entries.  I'm very excited to visit GRAM to see Chrome Passage from the Petosky Arch.  I have recently become addicted to felting among all of my other passions and to see this project in person would really be amazing.  Many of my friends have been posting photos of their visits to the various Art Prize venues and I am totally jealous.  Luckily, I will be in Grand Rapids for some other business so...I'm going to take a peak at a few.

Here is the YouTube video of the artist, Janice Arnold, creating this amazing artwork.  If this doesn't get you excited then...well, you are totally missing out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

National Alpaca Farm Visit Days 2010

Visit the 
Wonder Why Alpaca Farm, LLC
1996 E Dr S, East Leroy, MI  49051

Saturday and Sunday
September 25 and 26, 2010

We'll have
Fiber Arts Demonstrations
Felting Craft
Farm Store
Farm Tours
The Alpaca Herd of Wonder

See how we take fiber from the pasture to product
Learn How to Spin
Learn How to Weave

Saturday was an amazing day...let's make Sunday Wonderful too!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Anniversary Give Away

Welcome to Fiber Arts Friday!  This is the place where you can share your adventures in Fiber Arts each week and meet some other great Fiber Artist.  So, what are you waiting for?  Link your blog and start sharing the Wonder of Fiber Arts!
Me and Kaboom, September 25, 2008
This weekend is National Alpaca Farm Visit Days and my farm will be open for the public to experience the Wonder of Alpacas.  Wisdom Begins in Wonder so anyone who visits my farm will begin their journey into Alpaca Wisdom.  Oh, they will!  Oh, you will!  It's unavoidable because I'm bouncing off the barn walls with energy and excitement when it comes to my herd.
Rennie and Kaboom
Two years ago, on National Alpaca Farm Visit Days, I bought my first Alpaca.  Really, I visited a farm and there were a couple of boys that were right in my price range.  We had an empty barn and I had been obsessing about Alpacas for awhile so I called home to Grumpy and I said, "I want me some Alpacas!"  Actually, my grammar was probably better than that but my excitement was uncontrollable so I probably did say something similar.  I bought Kaboom!  Anyone who visits to farm knows Kaboom.  He is typically the first to greet you and if you are lucky, you get a Kaboom Kiss (It's more of a sniff, but you get the drift).
Brother Bear getting a kiss from Kaboom with Rennie "not looking"
Well, you can't have just one Alpaca.  They are herd animals so...I bought Rennie aka Renaissance, who happens to be Kaboom's uncle.  Actually I bought three other boys too but...this story is about Kaboom and Rennie.  You see, these two boys are dear to me.  Rennie, whom I've blogged about before, was a challenge for me when I first got him and Kaboom...well, Kaboom is just plain wonderful.  You couldn't ask for a better boy when people come to visit plus his fiber is great to work with.  I am fortunate because Kaboom and Rennie are the same grade of fiber which means that I can process them together because they have the same Color, Length and Micron i.e. Grade.  Last year I created a roving I called Kaboom although it was made up of my two boys and this year I had the mill create a yarn which I call Renaissance that came from the two boys.

In honor of my Second Alpaca Anniversary, I am having a Contest/Give-Away to my followers.  You will have your choice of a 4oz bump of Kaboom Roving or a 2oz DK weight yarn made out of Rennie.  I hope the joy that I've found in my Alpacas, you find in your prize.

The rule(s) of the contest are simple:
Leave a comment telling me what you love about Alpaca...and how to contact you too.
You don't have to follow me publicly but it sure would be nice since I'm always bringing the wonder.
Really, how simple is this rule (argh, I want to say these rules, but you get the idea)?  Enjoy.

I will pick the winner Monday after National Alpaca Farm Visit Days are done.  As for my adventures in Fiber Arts this week....I nuno felted a shawl, needle to wet felted a hat and knitted two hats.  I will post pics soon since some of my creations are still drying or not completely finished.  Happy Fiber Arts Friday and make sure to visit an Alpaca farm near you.  Now, share your adventures in fiber arts!
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article using your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit  
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these cool blogs:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Graves' Disease - Now What?

I have Graves' Disease.  I have officially been diagnosed with this Hyper-Thyroid Auto-Immune Disorder. What does that mean?  Well...I'm still not sure. Over the last few months I have been seeing a few different doctors who have had my blood drawn about every other week. Back in July, ultrasounds and radioactive uptake and Gamma Ray X-Rays were taken to check my Thyroid. 

Apparently I have a goiter which is one and a half times the size of a normal thyroid. I don't have bulging eyes but I do have eye sensitivities.  I have tremors and intolerance to heat.  I sweat profusely even when sitting still.  I'm moody and full of anxiety (of course, I've been that way my whole life).  I'm always hungry.  Rapid heart rate. I have hyperactivity...tehehe, I've always been hyper-active.  Really, I have always been this way.  Supposedly I'm supposed to get fatigued but I don't. I swear I'm the Energizer Bunny except instead of stopping I get sick so I'm forced to slow down. My doctors have been confused with the symptoms because I don't present like a true hyper-thyroid patient but my new Endocrinologist said blood work doesn't lie and my blood work is showing severe sky high levels of thyroid. 

The funny thing is that I went into the doctors office because I had increased swelling in my legs and feet which I assumed was from a Kidney Infection but the doctor, it's your Thyroid.  Whatever!  The thyroid doesn't cause legs to swell or does it? I went to another doctor who said that yes, indeed, there was blood in my urine and I did have an infection so she treated the kidney infection but also said that I did have thyroid issues.  hmmmm....The first doctor was ready to give me a pill with no investigation.  She didn't even check for other symptom or a hidden illness.  The first doctor also wanted to ignore my kidneys.  I shouldn't be surprised since this doctor's office has mis-diagnosed another kidney infection which ended up hospitalizing me ten years ago while pregnant with my daughter.  Yeah.

For the last few years my other doctor has monitored my thyroid but never took action because the levels were within range but sometime after my Dad died, my body broke.  I had the shingles during the spring, then massive kidney infections and now my thyroid is breaking.  Actually, my thyroid didn't body did.  My body is attacking the thyroid that is being produced.   My thyroid levels are insanely high yet my body isn't getting any of it.  So...what do I do?

My doctor told me that we can treat my Graves' but the internet says that it's not treatable.  We are going to start by me taking a couple pills every day.  The side affect are itchy bumps (yeah, because I need more of those) and possible liver failure and a few other side affects but since I don't plan on having any more children we don't have to worry about that.  Of course, can you imagine the toxins I'm now going to put in my body?  Apparently this thyroid issue is more serious than my liver working.  Yikes!  If this pill taking, which I'll be doing for quite awhile, doesn't work then I'll have radioiodine treatment but my doctor said that some people have taken two to three times for this treatment to work.  Finally, the complete removal of my thyroid.  The other part is will my auto-immune system still attack my thyroid even when we get the levels back under control?  My new doctor would not answer that.

My medical pet peeve:  Quit whispering about me when I'm sitting in the room with you.  Argh!  This is so frustrating.  Apparently, with my food allergies, there is something else they are considering about my condition.  Nice.

Like I wasn't an emotional basket-case before, now I have this to deal with.  Why can't I be healthy?  Why me?  Really!  Haven't I paid enough medical dysfunction dues?  How much more can I take?  How much more is going to be dealt to me?  I don't want to take a pill every day for the rest of my life.  I watched my father die taking pills every day.  Did it save him?  Why can't I be healthy? I read further about Graves', I see that mental issues, depression, mood swings, anxiety, bi-polar are all part of prognosis...Eye Disease too.  So...I have possible liver, mental and eye failure in my future.  Oh, Goody!

Oh, do you want to know the kicker?  I'm supposed to have a strong emotional support system.  Yeah, that's happening now isn't it?  Let me tell you about support systems....they DON'T WORK!  I was the anchor in my father's support system.  People, friends and family failed him.  They weren't there to watch him die, I was!  They weren't there when he was scared, I was!  They weren't there when he was spending months in ICU, I was!  Oh, they were there for the good times but not when he needed them. So how can I expect a support system for me when one of the most amazing people I've ever known couldn't keep one? 

Right now I can't handle snark, sarcasm, jealousy, anger or any sort of negativity.  I CAN'T HANDLE IT! I'm sick of pretending to be strong when I'm not.  I'm sick of trying to act like everything is ok, when it's not.  One year ago, next week, was the last time I watched my father drive.  It was the last time I saw him walking around on his own.  One year ago was the last time I saw him show strength.  After that, I became his strength.  I was the one holding his hand...I can't be strong all the time and you shouldn't expect me to be.

I'm supposed to be positive and I am for the most part but don't expect me to be on all the time.  I'm scared. 

So...that's what is happening with my health.  Yeah! Exciting, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Cat and ... Chipmunk?

Disclaimer:  The Barn Cat, Friend, was doing his job here on the farm keeping it safe from rodents of all kind.  Isn't he a beautiful cat...and mouser?  I can't promise that no rodents weren't hurt after the photo was taken.
Happy Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Food Review of Wonder - Gluten Free Pizza, Cookies and Almond Butter

I've been trying all sorts of foods that are already prepared yet are Gluten Free, Wheat Free and typically Dairy Free.  What I have found is that almost everything has Bleached Wheat Flour.  It's amazing and a bit scary to see how much we rely on Wheat.  Did you know that if you visit Taco Bell, their taco shells are NOT corn based?  Yeah, it made me sad too. I was actually surprised as I walked through the grocery aisles to see how many foods contain wheat.  Well, you will be pleased to know that the following foods are wheat free and very good too.

First, I want to share with you my new favorite cookies.  These taste great, conquer the chocolate craving and if you eat the recommended serving, won't live on your hips either.  Yes, you only get 12 cookies for the price of two packages of Oreo's (on sale) but they aren't supposed to be a meal and after two months of not eating cookies, this was a great treat.  I found these at WalMart and was actually surprised at the small Gluten Free area that WalMart has.  Surprised in a good way because it was easy to find and had some of the foods I love from Sawall's but at a more affordable price.  Oh, and they use cocoa instead of chocolate so I don't have to worry about the dairy put in chocolate.
The next food I tried was Almond Butter.  I actually was using some Gluten Free bread but forgot to take pics of that so I promise next time I buy it, I will.  You can find Almond Butter at pretty much every store.  You can buy it like you do Peanut Butter but I chose to buy individual packets so that I could decide if I like it plus I can easily put on in my purse if I'm dining out.  Now why Almond Butter?  Well...I'm not supposed to eat butter (you know, the dairy issue) so if I do endure the Gluten Free/Wheat Free bread then this gives it some tastes without the heaviness of peanut butter plus I've decided I really don't care for Organic Peanut Butter...but that's another post.  You can purchase Hazelnut Butter at any grocery store. I've found it at Meijers, Horrocks and Sawalls (Local Grocery here in South West Michigan).
 Finally...I tried another Gluten Free/Wheat Free/Dairy Free pizza. I purchased this at Sawall's.  I haven't found it at any other grocery.  Really, our chain grocery stores are NOT nice to people with food allergies but hey, I'm fortunate that I live near an amazing Health Foods Store.
So, I tried this expensive single serving pizza wasn't bad.  It' wasn't good either but it did fufill my pizza need.  Let me warn you cheese does not melt.  The crust wasn't terrible...  Believe me, I've tried some nasty breads recently and this wasn't bad.  I loved the spinach on the pizza but then again, I like spinach on my pizza.  Overall, it was a nice change but I really crave my Cascarelli's Pizza in Homer.  I am going to ask my doctor what the ramifications to my body would be to make a once a year pilgrimage to Homer for the best pizza ever if I promise not to eat a whole pizza by myself.  Really, I have self-control...well, I try to have self-control when eating my favorite pizza but I won't consider that right now.  I'm working on getting used to this healthy lifestyle and I don't want to start obsessing about the best pizza ever.
This is the pizza cooked...yeah, it doesn't look that appetizing but when you crave pizza, this is a nice addition to the freezer just waiting for that urge to take over.

I hope this helps.  I've been asked by different people to show pictures of the boxes and the foods.  I wish a blog had done this a few months ago when I started my Gluten Free Search.  Today I finally (after a 2 1/2 month wait) get to see the new Endocrinologist.  Today I will get answers to my Hyper Thyroid Auto-Immune disease...because the internet has way too much information (sometimes) and it can drive a person crazy wanting to figure out what is happening to themselves when their other doctors only give vague answers as they refer you to the next specialists.  Argh!  I know it's as frustrating and confusing as it sounds.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

WWSIP - World Wide Spin In Public Day

How did you spend WWSIP Day? 
 Did you spin?  Did you knit?  Did you do anything related to Fiber Arts?
You watched football snuggled up in the blanket "Aunt Fanny " crocheted for you?  
Well, that marginally counts as Fiber Arts.  You are using that Fiber Arts Treasure.  

Well, I spent my day at my favorite yarn shop spinning with friends both new and old.  Your Local Yarn Shop (YLYS) here in Battle Creek, opened their doors and said, "Welcome, Spinners!"  We had a great variety of wheels and fibers being spun. Drop Spindles were scattered amongst the spinners too. 
 I chose to spin on my Lendrum.  Lenny loves me and treats my fiber so nicely. (yeah, I'm not very creative when it comes to naming wheels...not like knitwithsnot who came up with Sweet Petunia.  I loved that name so well, I named an Alpaca after her wheel.)  I was spinning my gray Suri/Merino blend donated by an Alpaca named WhirlWind.  I'm spinning a custom order and am a bit behind in my creation because I've been in a knitting funk.  Well, really, it's not a bad funk, it's more like a awesome funk. 
 I finished my Sassy Buttonhead hat and am already knitting another one out of more of my handspun so I need to get busy spinning more yarn.

Argh!  It's the Circle of Life: Raise the Alpaca, Shear the Alpaca, Process the Alpaca, Spin the Alpaca, Knit the Alpaca then Wear the Alpaca go to the barn to visit said Alpaca and just get a snort because obviously said Alpaca wears the fiber so much better than you can ever create it and apparently wears hay better too.

Oh, besides spinning and knitting another fiber arts craft has entered the farm...weaving!  I bought a lap loom at Fiber Fest this year and the Bears and I have been busy testing it out.  Unfortunately it doesn't take a WonderWhyGal, a Sister Bear and a Brother Bear to use a lap loom so two of us would supervise which usually ended up with a Grumpy Bear.  tehehe, Sister Bear just realized that I call her daddy, Grumpy Bear.  Brother Bear has wanted to learn how to weave and the eye doctor actually said it would be good for his eyes  I think our first creation is turning out pretty awesome.

Well, gotta get back to my wheel knitting...or, oh you know I'm going to weave!