Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Very Special Thanksgiving

I said I would get around to posting to update about my surgery sometime before Christmas, but I thought I'd add a little cheer to the subject. Most of you are spending this day stuffing yourselves with turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and of course stuffing. Although I will be doing the same (except I prefer dressing to stuffing and if you're southern you know there's a difference!) I will also have a little something extra to celebrate besides the glorious time of year we remember the Pilgrims and the Indians by eating and planning a shopping extravaganza for the following day.

This Thanksgiving Day, I celebrate ONE YEAR CANCER FREE!!!!!! That's 365 days, people! A full 365 days without cancer cells in my body on a silent advance to take over. I'm a bit excited to tell the truth. Well, more than a bit, really. I'm stoked, I'm flabbergasted, I'm overjoyed, I'm ecstatic, and that's all without pulling out the thesaurus! So, I'm warning you now: If you see me on Thanksgiving Day, be prepared to see a goofy grin and sparkling eyes, and lots of peeps, heehees, and hahas out of me. This moment is the most monumental of 2013 for me. Try saying that 5 times fast!

If I'm posting about this moment, I guess you kinda figured out on your own that I'm doing well after my last surgery. You're smart that way, right? :) I knew you were. I went in for surgery on September 18th and after quite a few hours waiting because they called us in too early, I was taken back and had my right breast ripped out of my body had a skin saving mastectomy on my right side and my port removed, since I haven't had chemo in over a year and the port wasn't working correctly anyway. My memory of my first mastectomy in September of 2012 is kinda hazy, so I was pleasantly surprised to have this thing called "bear paws" to wear while I waited for surgery. It is a gown like thing with a hose attached. At the wall end of the hose, you can turn on air to hot or cold or anywhere inbetween. Of course I had it maxed out at hot for a while (why are hospitals so cold?!) but I kept having to turn it off so I could hear the people talking to me in the room, since I didn't even take my hearing aids for fear of losing them. I did get to enjoy my sister and niece's company along with my hubby's and I don't think I was grumpy from lack of food until right about the time they came to get me for surgery. Don't tell, but one of the nurses let me have ice once after I told her I was getting parched since I normally consumed about 64-70 oz. of water in a day. I liked her, a lot!

A couple of fun things happened that day, and by fun I mean not so fun. First, was the I.V. thing. Normally, I have no problem getting the I.V., just a problem with the I.V. getting in. I blame my mother. She had tiny, rolling veins; I have tiny, rolling veins. Anyway, I was supposed to get the I.V. in my right arm per my doctor's instructions, even though I was having surgery on the right, because I've had lymph nodes removed from my left. My right is a little easier to get needles in, but barely. The nurses were so nice and apologizing for what all they were having to do to me after my vein rolled on them the third time. I don't usually look at what they're doing if it hurts and this time I'm glad I didn't, because when I glanced over, blood was pouring down my hand and puddling onto the floor. I don't mean just a few drops, I mean like someone stuck a pig (oink!oink!) or squirted ketchup on the floor. It took both nurses to clean me, them, and the floor up. I have never bled like that before, but at least on the fourth or fifth stick they got the I.V. in.

When I woke up from the anesthesia, though, I was dismayed to find that the I.V. had been put in my left foot. Um, can you say OUCH! That was the most painful place I've ever had one. The reason for it being there was something to do with the risks of it being in either of my arms because of the whole lymph node thing, but I remember most the pain and discomfort of the thing being in the top of my foot. The nurses wanted me going to the bathroom on my own, which was fine and I was able to do, but walking on the foot with the I.V. was horrible. Especially when I was groggy, about to pop, and snagged the I.V. line on the corner of the bathroom door because the pole wouldn't roll into the bathroom. Yep. Lovely it was. And one of the pain meds they gave me had to go in the needle in my foot and it burned and was cold all at the same time, so bad I teared up.

The other not fun part was when I woke up from the surgery. When they wheeled me back, I was joking and laughing with the nurses and fine. However, when I woke up it was to "I'm going to throw up" being said by none other than me. I won't describe the part that followed, only to say that has never ever happened to me in all of the surgeries I've had. It was not pleasant. Apparently my usage of essential oils has become ingrained because the next thing to come out of my mouth is "I need ginger. My husband has it." The amused male nurse fetched it and let me put it on, while I answered his questions about Young Living essential oils. The Ginger certainly made me feel better and eased the hurling.

I didn't get sick after that, didn't have to have morphine, and relied on percocet and my essential oils to help with the pain and discomfort. And like last time, I couldn't get enough to eat. The kitchen didn't like me much...

I had hardly any drainage from the surgery this time, even though they put in two drains. I ended up having the drains taken out early because there was no drainage to drain, and the lines were pushing on a nerve in my upper chest causing a low grade fever and lots of pain in that area. Oddly enough, I had hardly any pain at the incision site, especially when compared to the pain the drain lines were causing. I was able to go home the day after surgery, once again like last time. However my foot hurt like, well, you get the idea.

This time I knew what might help, so I was using Frankincense and Sacred Frankincense for my cells and tissue, plus ice packs, pillows, etc. Getting the plumbing working again wasn't fun, but a little bit better than last go around. The not so fun part was getting a stomach bug when I went for my post-op appointments with my doctors. I didn't wash my hands as much as I should've while I was there, and a day later "boom" and I lost eight pounds over the next two weeks.

It took me more time to heal up from the stomach bug than from the surgery. Keeping my energy up and the mental fog at bay was and is hard. But, each day I do get a little bit stronger. Just not as fast as I wish, because I had to work hard to get to where I was. I also will only have six months before the next round of surgeries, so part of me struggled with even trying to get back to where I was only to go through it again. There were some dark days mentally, I'll be honest with you. Thankfully, I had some great prayer warriors interceding for me and the dark days passed and praise music was the light shining the darkness dim.

Now, you see why I'm back to the whole giddy, celebratory attitude that a major milestone is under my belt and that I get to celebrate it with family and eating till I burst! Happy Thanksgiving everyone and remember we all have something in our lives to be thankful for, even if it is just the lives we are living. God bless you and yours.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Judge Not, but I did

First and foremost let me say in advance that I apologize to all of my husband's family members. I'm saying up front I was wrong. Everyone take the opportunity to write this moment down for the history books. You may never see those words again (Lord, please do not use that statement to make me eat my words!)!

When Tim and I first met, everyone, including myself, called him "Timmy". We were young, we were in love, I didn't care. They could've called him "Bob" for all I cared. I was just coming to terms with God's humor in putting someone in my life with the same name as my dad. We already had two of every other name in our family it seemed, so this was just God adding an extra haha to my life.

Then at some point, Tim began going by Tim. He was in his 20's, so it was just a natural progression, I guess. Anyway, once I started calling him Tim, I cringed every time anyone in his family called him "Timmy". I don't know why it irked me so. I guess I was trying to be offended on his behalf or something. Maybe I wanted them to recognize he was a responsible, grown adult by calling him "Tim". Who knows. I even at one point got so bent out of shape about it, I had the thought a family member was doing it on purpose to be annoying. Really? Yes, really. I could blame pregnancy hormones for that particular moment since I was pregnant with our first child, but that would only be an excuse. I may use that one later, though.

Over the years, as more important things have come along, the irksome use of "Timmy" has faded into something no longer irksome, just there. It's become a fact of life. Tim's hair is brown. Tim's eyes are brown. Tim's family calls him "Timmy". No big deal.

Then just yesterday, I was at a function where a cousin of Tim's and some mutual friends were at. Suddenly, I realized I was the only one calling her "Susie" instead of "Susan" like our mutual friends. Um. oops!

At that moment I was starkly aware that I had thought all that time ago people were being intentional and snide in their use, when really I had judged and judged harshly. Too harshly. Because, like what had happened in my use of "Susie" instead of "Susan", it was accidental and unintentional. Only habit.

Though the use of "Timmy" has ceased to be an issue for me, (Honestly, I have better things to do) I had never been aware how wrong and judgmental it was of me to be irked, even by something so silly. So once again, I apologize to anyone I ever got miffed at about calling my other half "Timmy". Just whatever you do, please do not ever, ever call me "Rachie"!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Surgery-Goodbye Tata

Parting is such sweet sorrow! I recently let go of my nursing bras I had been holding onto for that proverbial "when and if" we have another, because it became startlingly clear that I will not ever get that chance. Cancer sucks! I enjoyed getting to nurse my two children, especially the whole year with my son; it was a truly beautiful bonding experience. People keep telling me to focus on the positive, and I think that for the majority I do. However, there is a major grieving process in cancer as any self-respecting cancer survivor will admit to. And I had to take that moment to grieve.

Now I'm taking a moment again. This time it is to say "Goodbye". Tomorrow is my 2nd mastectomy. A year ago I had my first mastectomy, a complete one including two lymph nodes. The one tomorrow will be a skin saving one, with no lymph nodes. It is not prophylactic, though, because I not only had the 6 cm mass in the left breast, I also had a 2 cm mass in the right breast. So, to prevent the cancer from returning I have to say goodbye to my last tata!

It is so strange to have a part of yourself removed. I had never thought of mastectomies as amputations before, but really they are. There is a lot of stuff removed when "breast tissue" is taken out! Hence my inability to nurse a child again, because I won't have any milk ducts to produce milk. If this is too much info for some of you, I apologize. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I just spent the day parading around in front of doctors and a mastectomy garment fitter, so I've had to let go of some of the modesty and the "we don't talk about that kind of stuff" attitude. I had no idea what I was getting into when the words "cancer" was uttered into my life, and I know there are lots of women out there just like I was, so I'm not holding back. Plus I'm venting, so allow this girl some room and no hate mail!

Anyhoo, I've got about a six week recovery on light stuff, and I know about a year before I can be touched in the chest area without wincing. However, I'm having reconstruction in six months, so I've had just come to terms with the fact that I'm not only going to never see my "rack" bwahaha! in the mirror again, I'm also not going to sleep on my stomach or be without some added pain for the next year or so.

This is just telling it how it is. I'm sure in a couple of days I'll be my sunshiney self again. I'm sure the pain meds will help that part. I will try to post an update on how things went before the six months are up where I have reconstruction. I know it is cliche', but everyone, yourself and myself included, need to thank the Lord for every part of our body we have, even the ones we view as insignificant, because all those parts are special and there is no part that was not formed by God's hand.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Chore Chart- the OCD way

In case you haven't met me yet. I'm Rachel. Nice to meet you! I'm a little spastic, a bit crazy, and a whole lot OCD, which will be seen by the following post. Grab you a cup of coffee and be prepared to laugh at me and feel a bit more sane than you did before you came here.

Okay 1st point of my weirdness: I'm a homeschool mom. I know. Some of you just ran screaming. Some of you did a little "yay!" inside cause you're one too. Anyway, I'm not the most scheduled of people and tend to forget things (I blame the chemotherapy. What the cause was before that, I don't remember!) and I tend to not finish things (case in point, this post has taken nearly 2 months to finish). So, I wanted a way to tackle those problems plus teach my children about responsibilities, doing good work, accomplishments, while delegating some of the tasks I haven't made myself let go of yet.

I've got a major surgery coming up in the next month or so, and I won't be able to do my normal routine until about Christmas, so I've got to learn how to let go of some things, and delegate (without strings attached!) others. Yeah, that is sure asking a lot of myself, I know!!!!!

So what was my solution? A Chore Chart! Aren't you thrilled???? Haha!

Well I couldn't do just any chore chart, our tight budget wouldn't allow for that. However, I could go in true OCD style and over think every single point of it. Now, that I'm done, I thought I would share with the world in case someone else out there wants to do one cheaply. Plus, I've already laid it out for you, so it won't take you two weeks to do as it did me!! Seriously, two weeks...I kid you not.

In researching chore charts, I discovered my favorite (you can check out all of my favorites on my pinterest board here) was through a method used in Managers of Their Chores available at which is used by the Duggar family; you know the 19 and counting family? I am totally in love with, in awe of, and inspired by that family! Yep, several more of you just ran away.

However, I couldn't afford to get the book at the moment and our local libraries weren't carrying it, so what did I do? I did what any creative OCD person would do! I decided to make one!

Items needed to make one of your own:

  • 2 sheets of posterboard (I bought mine from the Dollar Tree)
  • 1-2 rolls of printed, colored duct tape (I found mine at walmart)
  • Markers in your favorite colors
  • a ruler
  • a straight edge
  • several lengths of velcro (available by the foot at most craft stores, and get more of the bumpy side)
  • cardstock
  • a computer 
  • a printer
  • something to have close by for storage of the cards (more on that later)


Mark out how many ever columns across you need. I needed five which made each box be about 3 or so inches across. And each box was about 2 inches down. I used pencil first to mark out the lines with a ruler and straight edge. Then I went back over the lines with the marker colors each person had picked out. If you want time of day, then make sure to leave enough room to write the times on the left hand side. I didn't have enough blocks to put each half hour of the day so I just put the usual times we are doing things. If I had to go back and do it, I think I wouldn't put the time of day on there at all. Some things we get done faster, some take us longer, and then it gets the time slots all out of wack and my OCD just doesn't like that one teensy bit.
Next tape the poster boards together, then tape them to the wall, or in our case the pantry door, with your cute, printed duct tape.

The next part I had my kids help me with and they were great. FYI don't use the sticky backed velcro. Buy the kind sold by the yard without the sticky backing. It is not sticky enough for this project, unless you can find the industrial strength velcro which is just not cost effective to me, by the yard, for this kind of thing.

Have your kids cut the velcro into cute little squares like this:

Then glue the fuzzy velcro squares onto the grid on your soon to be chore chart! I say use the fuzzy side, so that if anyone rubs up against it (it is on one of the most used doors in the house after all), it won't scratch them. Also, I used three different glues, and lived with the various squares falling off time and time again, to be stepped on or otherwise lay unnoticed because the glue wasn't working. Finally, I settled on hot glue, extra strength. Obviously that part your kids can't do, unless they are older than my two.

When all of the fuzzy sides are glued on, this is what your chart will look like. Probably with different names at the top, though....Mercy isn't exactly a common name...

Now the fun part! If you were already having fun, good for you! If I'm totally boring you, I understand; just skim the photos and I'm sure you'll get the general idea.
The chore cards. I made up a lot of them! Remember the part of the title that says OCD? Yeah, I pretty much wanted a card for everything. My kids are young; they need instructions to know what to do and this is after all about training them up in the way this should go. Its also about training myself to have better habits, and just maybe help the husband in that department, too, just sayin'.

The individual cards are what took me the most time to compile, because I needed something my beginning reader could understand, and would be easily recognizable to all five of us in the house. I perused through google for all of these pics and put them in a grid pattern and put the words I wanted to use at the top of each one. Now, I went to all of this effort for myself, but decided I wanted to share for anybody who doesn't want to go to as much effort as I did. Therefore for the 18 pages of various cards, spanning chores, school, and appointments go here to and access the adobe file. 

I printed out the cards 12 to a page on cardstock and cut them out with a paper cutter from my scrapbooking days, but scissors work just as well. You could even color code the cardstock to where each person in your family had their own color cards. I didn't go that route because there are many cards that will alternate between us, like Check The Mail and Computer Work.

After you get all of the cards printed out and cut, glue a scratchy square of velcro to the back of each card. I made an assembly line on the kitchen table of cards turned over. It looked like a giant memory game for a little while! My oldest helped me glue the velcro on, pushing the square down after I used the hot glue.

Now all of the cards we are not using are stored on the other side of the door, in sheet protectors meant for index cards, giving the adults a various pocket, and two chore pockets. The kids sheet protector has one pocket for chores, one for school, and one for various things like Free Time and Go To Church.

I hope you enjoy this episode of "I'm crazier than you" and join us next time! There is no telling what topic I may be covering next! Also, feel free to leave your (nice) comments about this post, what you like, or ideas of how to tweak it. Have a blessed day!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mixing Traditional & Modern Medicine

Let's talk shots.
Not the alcoholic kind either.
The ever so lovely hypodermic kind.
I've had some recent encounters with some rather large ones.
They seemed like they were larger than this, but maybe it was just me.
The first round, several weeks ago now, was a shot into each bursa of my hip. Did you know you had a bursa?
Here is a refresher for you if it has been a while since you've had to recall any of the more obscure parts of anatomy.
I have chronic bursitis, have had since I was a teenager. I don't know why in the world I ended up with all of these old lady things. And if you're an old lady, then my hat off to you, and a bow to you, because you put up with a lot! I've had more than my share of these shots into my bursas, is that the correct plural form? I don't know. So no grammar police after me ok?!

Then 3 weeks after that, I had to have the same kind of shots in this tendon pictured above. I couldn't remember what in the world the name of this part was called, because my doctor just kept called it a tendon and referring to the problem as tendonitis. He said the tendonitis in what I now know is the quadricep was caused by the prolonged inflammation of the bursis in my hips. Hmm. Surprise, surprise. One problem can lead to another! Meanwhile the location of the shots in said bursis had bruised significantly and remained somewhat painful and had the shots themselves had not relieved the pain at all yet. Here is one girl hoping this stuff started to work! In addition to these problems, the bursitis in my left shoulder needed attention to and was also causing tendonitis under the bursa. So what was the treatment plan for that? Why, you guessed it! Lucky you! Yes, another shot with that big nasty needle at the top of the post. Here is another pic for you to feast your eyes on and wince a little at. If you're not wincing, just remember the size of that needle up there.

Two weeks after the tendon shots, I went back this past Thursday expecting to get shots in both hips again. My rheumatologist has told me he has seen significant improvement in chronic sufferers if there are two rounds administered in each location. What's a few more steroids at this point?! Yes, yes, I know steroids are not extremely beneficial over a length of time, and I had more than my fair share last year during chemo treatments, but allow a girl a little denial. Otherwise the brain starts to curdle with the stress of it all.

So anyway, Thursday. Expected shots in the hips again. Instead, the pain I had been experiencing in my whole right side was significant enough to cause the doctor to change his mind on the route he had originally laid out. My left hip and shoulder had improved somewhat. But the right side had actually gotten worse, therefore the doctor gave me a shot in my right hip, as planned, but threw in one in the quadricep again, and just to even everything out, I got on in the right shoulder. Sheesh! You'd think he got paid by the shot!

I go back in a month to see what else needs to be done, and possibly get one last round of shots somewhere. I'm not sure I want to speculate where at this point. I think I've run out of bursas, but I know there's a few more tendons that could be stabbed.

All of this got me to thinking, I can't be relying totally on what most of us call "modern" medicine, because the pain is still around and there are side effects to almost all man made medicine. Like lack of sleep, oversleeping, pain at the injection site, overall pain, fatigue, headaches from lack of sleep, cravings for Dr. Pepper, those kind of things. I'm sure several of my loyal readers (why in the world do you spend your time with crazy, crazy me?!) are aware of my use of essential oils. If you're new, hadn't come around in a while, or a stalkerwannabe, then pay attention: There are these things God created inside of plants in the beginning of time till now called essential oils. They are basically the life force of a plant (plants are alive, right? right) distilled out by steam and collected in pure form. You want the pure form, generally called therapeutic grade here in the old good USA. These essential oils can penetrate something called the "blood brain barrier", a layer that keeps the bad things from getting into the brain. But the molecules and other chemical makeup of these essential oils are some of the tiniest things in the world and therefore can pass through this barrier in the brain. They cause regeneration of cells, go to the source of the problem and fix it not just relieve it.

I thought essential oils were just to smell good and the reason why lavender worked on headaches and insomnia was because the smell caused a person to relax to the point where the problem could relieve itself so to speak. Turns out lavender (in therapeutic grade) has the actual power to de-stress your body so you can sleep, it has chemicals in it that God put there which can heal the cause of a headache and take away the pain, it is an antiseptic, antifungal tool for burns, scrapes, abrasions, cuts and can relieve itchiness on bug bites, reactions to poison ivy and poison oak, prevent bug bites, promote wellbeing, and yes, make things smell good. Who knew, right? I for sure didn't have a clue. But remember, essential oils have been around for thousands upon thousands of years. They were the aspirins and icyhots and iodines before those things were discovered and/or created.

But now that I know, I'm trying to learn how to use all of these goodies that feel like have been literally dropped into my lap for the betterment of my family and my body. How have I been using these "traditional" means of medicine to mix in with the "modern" methods? I'm so glad you asked! Did the title of this post clue you in that I would eventually get around to mentioning that part? Yes, I know I have a tendency to didn't have to point it out. Seriously, you can stop now. 

Just keep reading. Golly...
First off let me say this, I am a distributor for a company who sells pure, therapeutic grade essential oils distilled without additives from plants grown on farms they own or have lease contracts with to harvest seeds and plants grown organically with the utmost care and distilled in company distilleries. The name of this company is Young Living, you can go here to see their website if you like. I found out about them through a friend who hooked me up with a group of crazy awesome people all coming together in a place called The Lemon Drop Lounge. Our website is and is full of tidbits on how to use these oils and testimonials of real people (as opposed to fake people, you know) who have used the oils and seen some remarkable results. You can also begin reading about the first 21 days of our personal journey of using Young Living Essential Oils by going here.

Now, that you know what I use and how I found out about them, I can go on with what I've used for this particular problem of mine. To be honest, I've not been as diligent about it as I should've been (don't we all say that?) about even researching which oils were the best, but used what I knew about. Pain will do that to you. You don't care what you are putting on as long as it works!

After the first round of shots, I used a roll-on bottle to apply an oil blend I had made up. It consisted of a blend called PanAway, Peppermint, another blend called Valor, and Spearmint diluted with extra virgin olive oil. Along with the ice packs prescribed by the doctor, I made it through the first round.

With the shots in the tendons and my left shoulder I used the roll-on mentioned above, but when I didn't have access to it, I would rub straight Valor on to prep the sites, then use PanAway, Clove to numb the area, and Peppermint to drive in the relief deep into the tissues. I also used the ice packs and the heating pad as directed.

This time, I was in a lot more pain, and even after the shots couldn't put my full weight on my right leg, and I kept experiencing shooting, pinching pains in my hip which would travel all the way down to my heel. I even had more trouble moving my hip around, certain angles were just nigh impossible. Thank goodness I'm able to not have to hold a 9 to 5 job, or I'd be in tears more. I'm blessed to be a homeschool mom of two, who somehow always seem to have me on the go. So, this mom needs to be able to go!

I still take prescription meds, kinda have to with the cancer thing and all, but my Rx meds were not relieving my pain, only making me loop-ier. So when I got home, I grabbed my oils in desperation and concocted the mother of all essential oil rubs! What did I use? Well, I'll tell you after the following disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nurse or any other kind of medical person. I am just a person. Therefore I can not under any circumstances tell you what to do with your own body. I can only tell you what I've done and the effects it has had on me. What you do with that is your own business. There. That wasn't so painful, was it?

I put together in a ceramic bowl (one can't use plastic with some of these essential oils, so ceramic or glass is best):
1 drop Lemongrass
2 drops Peppermint
2 drops PanAway
2 drops Valor
1 drop Chamomile
1 drop Lime
1 drop Spearmint
1 drop Rosemary
1 drop Tea Tree oil
3 drops Vitamin E oil
2 tsp Avacodo oil
2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

and my amazing, awesome, you can't have him, hubby applied this concoction on my legs, my back, my neck and my shoulder for me, since I couldn't reach most of the areas that were hurting.
I swear, people, or at least strongly, strongly promise that within 5 minutes I had relief, 10 minutes later I could put weight on my right foot without wincing, and within an hour the inflammation had gone down enough that I wasn't on the verge of crying or trying to snap someone's head off for just looking at me. I'm constantly amazed by what these oils can do, even though I use them everyday and see results everyday.

I am learning something new each and every single day about these oils. I don't know it all, I'm certainly not an expert! No where close, darlin'. And now, I'm venturing off into the world of herbal medicines again. Gasp! Did you just call me a hippie?! More like a homeschooling, happily married to the same man 11 years, pro-life Christian who believes in big families, small government, the right to bear arms, make homemade granola, have a big vegetable garden, and use every available resource God put on this planet for me to use.

I stuck my toe in the whole herbal world when my husband was injured on the job eight years ago, to help him deal with the pain and inflammation of his injury. We also trudged in the shallow depths a couple of years ago with an herbalist in our area, Rhonda Dial But we couldn't quite afford the regiment and stopped using the herbs when I got sick in 2011. Now that the cancer treatment part is over with, and I have learned more about what I've been putting in my body all of these years and what all around me is not really good for me, I'm trying to wade into this world unknown to me. I began taking vitamins today. That is a big deal. Especially because I don't like having to keep up with pills. Swallowing them is no big deal, I can swallow lots of pills at one time. But I have to have my daily/nightly meds in one of those pill holder things that reminds me which ones to take, because I have trouble keeping up with that kind of stuff. So adding three or four vitamins a day?! Yikes! I have jumped off the deep end into this whole "natural" thing!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

I've blogged about making laundry detergent before
But I wasn't completely satisfied with the recipes I'd been using, that and I kinda got bored with it.
I'm sure that just shocked your socks off, right? Me, get bored? Nah!
So, handy dandy pinterest came to my rescue again when I couldn't remember which computer, and where on which computer, I had saved the link to. I'm not one to follow recipes exactly. I don't know why. It's like a challenge issued me by the recipe writer daring me to vary from the written edict by even one iota. Have I mentioned I'm a bit OCD about some things? And yes, I'm sure there is an oil for that!

So what does this amazing, spectacular new recipe include?
I'm so glad you asked!

                    Borax                                                                                       Washing Soda
Go here to read what wiki has to say                                   Go here to read a good description

Octagon soap
& Fels-Naptha soap
For a brief history on Octagon soap, go here. To give you an idea of how long this wonder soap has been around, my great-grandmother used this soap to wash all of her laundry. I still flash back to her kitchen and back porch each time I open a bar! I love that I'm passing that on to my kids...
If you want to know what wiki has to say about Fels-Naptha, the soap with the weird name, go here.

And last, but oh, certainly not least in my life: Thieves!

Go here to read what in the world Thieves is and then
go here with the magic #1434897 to get you some (only if you want to!)

Now step one is to cut up those soap bars into chunks that will fit into your food processor. If you don't have a food processor, that is fine, just grate the soap with a cheese grater or something like that. The smaller the pieces the better.

 My soap waiting to be grated.

I suggest using the pulse button and opening the lid away from your face after grating, or the "smoke" will go up in your face and make you choke while your little girl looks on laughing, threatening to blow on it to make it make more "smoke". Or something similar might happen, not that it is what happened to me or anything.

          The soap pulverized

This is what the soap looked like once I put it into a mixing bowl

The next step is to add the Borax and Washing Soda.
I used
1 c. of Borax
1 c. of Washing Soda

To this mix I added about ten drops of Thieves essential oil and mixed
and mixed until there were no clumps left.

For each load of laundry use 1 tablespoon
Yep! Only 1 tablespoon!

The only step left is to find a pretty jar to put your new Laundry Soap in!
Easy! Peasy!

Normally I would have used a clear glass jar, so I could see how much I have left and know when to make more. However, I moved these canisters out of the kitchen and like the look of them with the antique curtain over the window that was a pink tablecloth edged in green in its former life. Eventually (glad there is no time limit in the definition of that word!) I will finish pulling together all of the elements of the laundry room to give it a shabby chic look, using these canisters, the curtain and an antique, quirky drying rack hanging on the wall for our delicates to dry on. Yep, eventually....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Homemade Dryer Sheets-With Update!

Homemade Dryer Sheets? Who knew, right?
Let's just say pinterest has forever changed my life! I spend hours on pinterest, so much so I think there should be a twelve step program or something, but it wouldn't matter because I'd go right back to using pinterest! Haha! I'm a pinterestjunkie!
But there are some really good things on pinterest, and I decided it was about time to stop just pinning and actually make some of the stuff I have pinned! At this point my husband is probably hoping I stay away from my garden spaces board or my design style board to prevent him from having a mile long list of things to do with pallets and mason jars!
Hence, the dryer sheets...
Here is what you need:

Distilled White Vinegar
A Clean Cotton Rag or T-shirt
A Glass Jar with a Tight Fitting Lid
A Cutting Mat/Rotary Cutter or Scissors
The Young Living Essential Oil of your choice
(If you want to know more about Young Living and essential oils, email me at

 When you get all of your items together,
fold the rag, towel, or t-shirt you have chosen to sacrifice for the betterment of your cleaning supplies. Take your rotary cutter or scissors and cut the cotton into rectangles. Size and shape really don't matter. Cut the strips into hearts, stars, or monkeys if you want!!!!! No laundry police will come knocking at your door, I promise!

So what's next?

Remember the glass jar part? Yeah, a jar like this one.
I got mine at the dollar store. Use a mason jar if you want, just something that has a close fitting lid
Word of Caution: If using any kind of citrus essential oil, do not, I repeat, do not use plastic! Citrus essential oils, ex. lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc eat away at the toxins in plastic and corrode it. You don't want your earth friendly project to go to be not so earth or home friendly!
So back to the jar...
Place 1 to 1  1/2 cups of the Vinegar in your jar
Add 5+ drops of Citrus Fresh by Young Living
(or whatever other Young Living oil you choose)
yeah I said swish 

Next, put your cut up rags in the jar
Fiddle them around (I apologize if my terms are getting to technical here)
Make certain all of the rags are damp, if not add a little more vinegar
Close the lid snugly

 Now how do you use these thingamajiggers?
                                                                                     Simply take one portion of the rag, and place in with your load of wet clothes in the dryer. Use the normal settings you normally use. When the load is done, simply take the rag section out of the dryer and put back into the glass jar to reuse again and again! Simple!!

For those looking for economical solutions to your housekeeping duties, this certainly qualifies! I already had the vinegar, I already had the essential oil for other uses, and I already had the rag, so for me this project only cost $1 for the jar. Plus I get to keep using these over and over! Lovely! I've used these already, and have to say I really like them. You may find you can't dry on as high a heat, but that is really bad for your clothes anyway, breaking down the fibers over time.
There are other reasons to go this route. I won't bore you with citations and sites spouting info, but in this past year I have read several times and have heard that commercial fabric softener dryer sheets contain carcinogenics, and ingredients that can instigate asthmatic symptoms, and irritate the skin. What??????! You mean I am putting potentially harmful substances up against my body and the bodies of my family just so our clothes can be softer and smell good? Um, no thank you. I kind of like being alive. And, I know from firsthand (or left breast) experience that cancer ain't fun to go through! I want to make my children safe, not induce skin irritants or asthma or cancer cells into their bodies!
This was the main reason I chose to try this route. Once I started reading labels and paying attention to what we are putting in our homes and in our bodies, I've discovered way too many things that are harmful which I have taken for granted as a necessity when actually it was me buying into commercial pressure. Even if you change only one thing for the health of your family, I challenge you to do so. Take one step for change, for health, for making a difference in the health of your family. Afterall, they are kind of worth it!!

Since this post has gotten so many hits, I thought I'd give you an update on how the homemade dryer sheets are working out for us.

  • Number 1- the hubs is not a fan. Just thought I'd be honest with you!! 
  • The MIL and I really like them, though. However, I would like to make some amendments: 
  • I would add more drops of the Citrus Fresh essential oil, and at least one drop of Purification to get rid of the stinky odors that somehow infect our bath towels and sheets. Maybe its just us and we're stinky people, but I choose to cite that we have two dogs. Just sayin'
  • The other change would be slightly larger pieces. Not too much bigger, but a little more so.
  • The last thing is really just a note for you: when you get a load out of the dryer, put the dryer sheet right back in the jar. Don't stockpile them, then put a bunch in at once. You end up with really soggy pieces and dry-er pieces. I have found it works best for me to put each one in as it comes out of the dryer and put it down in the bottom of the jar, by wedging it in with my fingers. 
  • When your sheets get too dry, simply make up more of the solution and pour over the dryer sheets, but add the essential oil to the vinegar before pouring it over the rags dryer sheets.
Hope you are all enjoying your new dryer sheets and saving lots of money on this venture!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Way We Oil

Are you tired of me talking about essential oils yet?????????
(Insert evil laughter here)
You just wait! If you are not already a convert the oily way of life, you soon will be! And then you will see how it takes over your whole being, leaving nothing uncovered!
I'm so sorry. Did I just scare you? I have that effect on people sometimes. Some very uncool, un-nice people have suggested I seek help for my habits, but I pay no attention to them. I just threaten to rub essential oils on them!!!!!! haha

We've seen some pretty cool results from these essential oils, and we just want to share the love. It is mind blowing to watch, firsthand, the effects of someone being in pain (well that part is not so cool) or sick (that part is just kinda yucky) putting an essential oil (by Young Living, whose oils are therapeutic grade and contain no other ingredients but pure distilled essential oils) on their bodies or in their bodies by ingesting them and see the profound response their bodies have, because the actual root of the problem has been or is being fixed, not just dulling the senses like a lot of pharmaceutical meds can do (can anyone say "brain fog"?).

Just a couple of days ago, my daughter Mercy had a headache. She's nine, so there are not a lot of options in the medicine world to give her in the form of a pill. She asked what oil she needed to put on, and I directed her to the Peppermint essential oil. Her response: "Diluted, right?!!!!!" She hates the Peppermint neat, or undiluted, because it burns her skin, a common reaction for children and some adults (like my hubby). However, I keep some diluted in extra virgin olive oil for the wussies, I mean, more sensitive in my family. Mercy put that on her temples, but after ten or fifteen minutes, the headache had not gone away and she was still complaining of it. I almost gave in to the voices of peer pressure in my head telling me I needed to just give her a tylenol (I bet you have those voices in your head, too. It's all part of the generations we've been raised in!) but I held out, thinking what else could possibly help her that we actually had, in the way of essential oils. Frankincense! I should've thought of that first, because it has helped her before with a headache. It also helps her to concentrate during schoolwork, fyi for all of you fellow homeschool moms.

So, M put the Frankincense on her temples, neat, since she has no sensitivities to it and we went on about what we were doing while the guys were gone. About ten or fifteen more minutes later, I asked her how she was feeling, and she said much better! Within another ten minutes, it was completely gone! We laughed about it and I was so relieved for her to be feeling better. I'm telling you, just one moment like that of seeing a loved one find relief and you'll become a convert to this oily life!

Have I mentioned my husband doesn't snore at night anymore, when he uses Valor essential oil on the bottoms of his feet? Sound sleep is another reason you'll become a convert to the oily way of life! Can I hear an "amen" ladies (or any of you gents whose wife may snore)?

There are hilarious moments, too. Where you go "This can't possibly work!" and yet it does. I think sometimes God sets us up on purpose to show us the creative life He has instilled in His creations!
Our 3 month old puppy, Ginger, had a bit of a freak out the other night. It was like she had just lapped up a bunch of coffee and it zinged her or something. Which might not be far from the truth, since our son caught her drinking from my husband's coffee cup this morning! Anyway, she was zipping around the room so fast her legs blurred. She was nipping at us, barking over and over and over and over and get the picture, and she was snapping playfully and aggressively at our other dog whenever she blitzed by her. We tried petting her, speaking to her calmly, giving her belly rubs, ignoring her, getting on to her (that's Southern for reprimanding her), and attempting to distract her with toys or food. Nothing was working, she was in such a frenzy. Finally, I'd had enough (of the biting mainly) and I pulled out the diluted Peace & Calming I use on the kids at night. Tim held her by the collar, saying "If this works, then this stuff is for real. Not like it isn't for real, but this is crazy!", while I rubbed the oil on Ginger's ears and the top of her nose, the whole while she was yanking frantically barking at me. She zipped around our bed a few times (yes, we let the puppy sleep on our bed. have you seen her? she's adorable!) and then she flopped down and went to sleep less than five minutes later.

You may say she was just exhausted and finally worn out, but we saw it, and we believe in the voodoo magic of the snake oils and we saw her go from ninety to nothing. Tim even tried to mess with her and entice her with a toy, but she just flopped like a stuffless animal! It was hysterical! We got so tickled at her flopping whenever he moved her, but she just laid there like a drugged puppy. Funny!

One day this week, we went to a local amusement park for the better portion of the day. I sat as much as possible, and tried not to walk a whole lot, because I'm better, but I'm not 100%, not even close! By the time we got back to our vehicle, my foot was hurting, both of my knees were hurting, and one hip was hurting from the walking I did do. Before everyone was even in the truck, I swiped some Peppermint across the places that hurt and by the time we reached our next stop, about 20 minutes or so, I was feeling a lot better. If I had been at home, I would've used Valor first, then PanAway and followed with Peppermint, getting down deep into the tissue. Alas, I do not have enough of said arsenal to carry it with me everywhere and the rest of the fam still have access to it, so Peppermint had to do the job.

I haven't had to take a percocet(sp?) in nearly two months, whereas I was taking one every day before I started using the essential oils. I still take tylenol when I need it, but my need has been far less than it was. I'm not telling anyone to go off their Rx meds! Goodness, no! I'm still on 5 myself every night. But that is down from the 13 I was on just before Christmas. Take one step at a time. One foot in front of the other. Why do people say these annoying mantras?!!!!! Because they are true!

You didn't get to the point of sickness, disease, syndromes, or what have you overnight, and unless God performs a miracle (which could happen) then you won't get out of the mess your body is in overnight, either! I'm preaching to myself here. If you got something out of that statement, then praise God. But mainly, that was for me to come back and look at to preach myself happy and on the straight and narrow!

Happy Father's Day weekend, everyone! I'm going to spend my weekend with one of the craziest, funniest, most caring, and completely insane dads there is: my husband, who puts up with me for some weird reason...Love you, baby! You complete me, you make me laugh, you listen to me even when I make no sense, and that is all of the sappiness you're getting from me!!!!!! haha I can't dish out anymore, sorry.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

In The World Of Us

Wait! Wait! Wait a minute! You mean this blogging thing, I'm actually supposed to do it?! I can't just think in random moments throughout the day what I want to jot down, only to never get around to it? That sucks. I'm clearly not cut out for this. Maybe I should just go back to procrastinating. It is not nearly as much of a bother...but then I think of all the crazy good things going on in our lives that could just change yours for the better if you but knew about them, and I find myself back here like a hungover sot needing a drink. Maybe I should come up with a better analogy, that one didn't look as nice in print as it sounded in my head...

I come back around to blogging because I'm like that annoying little kid you used to have living down the street from you that would come around only to tell you what they were doing, what their dog was doing, what their hamster was doing (ok, I don't have a hamster, sorry), what they had for supper and all about all the stuff they know that you don't really give a hoot about, but your Mamma taught you right so you're being polite cause you know she'll bust your butt if you're not nice so you listen till you're bored to tears. In case you couldn't tell, I was that kid down the street that just turned into a taller kid with the same issues. That is okay, though. I can still annoy you with all of the things I know that you don't know.

Just so you know. Ginger, the puppy, is still alive. Our other dog hasn't eaten her yet. If you've ever seen our big hound, you will know that was a sincere possibility. She likes to pounce on things, which can be bothersome sometimes, for instance when small children and little babies are in the house and the parents get all antsy and peculiar about our lovely, giant dog/small horse trying her shenanigans near their child. Parents! Honestly! She hasn't ever, like, eaten someone's child!

Now, Ginger has been a spice to our lives for sure. She is adorable, she is cute, she is affectionate, she is cuddly, but she is also, well for starters: a puppy. Need I say more? She is inquisitive about every little thing, from the sound the air conditioner makes to the moth flitting about the lights. She learns commands well. Already, she recognizes her name, comes when I call her, responds to the word “no” (she might actually think her name is NoGinger, by the way the kids say it), will fetch a ball, play tug of war, sit (sometimes) on command, and chew everything in sight, even if that something happens to be your hand, your face, your toes, or in my case your breast prosthesis. I do have to admit that was laugh out loud funny to look down at her playing my lap, to see she had her whole mouth clamped down on the prosthesis I was wearing. Yeah, that might not be so much fun when I have surgery again in the next couple of months...

What is going on with us? So glad you asked! If you didn't ask, read anyway!
I have officially been a cancer survivor for 6 months now and believe it or not, it has been a whole year since I finished chemo. It is so freakin' wonderful to me, that I've been telling everyone! I'm not one of those people to keep quiet about personal matters, which my husband regrets at times. But this particular one isn't TMI, it is to bring glory to God's name, cause I sure didn't have anything to do with stayin' alive. (Que song!) I hope to have many more months and years to keep telling people about how God was and is my strength through it all. Let's face it people, if it had been up to me to handle it all, I'd be partly six feet under and partly dancing up in heaven. Thankfully, it wasn't up to me, since Christ bore it all for me on the cross. Not only is He my Redeemer, but He is my Healer, too. If you don't know Him, He wants to know you, too. I'm not special in that regard, but He loves me and you all the same.

My square foot garden has been planted, and hopefully I will feel up to taking care of it this year. Don't count on me blogging about it in my other blog, I planted tomato plants, banana pepper plants, carrots, onion sets, basil seeds, carrot seeds, spinach seeds, squash seeds, cucumber seeds, green bean seeds, eggplant seeds, okra seeds, and corn seeds. We will see what happens. Prayers please!!!!

It has been two months since essential oils (by Young Living) changed our lives. I'm constantly amazed by what all these oils can do! Sometimes I think, they couldn't possibly fix such and such, and of course they go and astound me by fixing such and such. Never say never!!!

Here are a few examples:

Sunburn- John got really sunburned the day before going to kids' camp from staying out in the pool too long. His face was burning and hot because of it, so I rubbed some Lavender essential oil, diluted in olive oil, onto his face (staying clear of his eyes) and he felt much better with the addition of something cool on his face. When he came back from camp three days later, he was sunburned again, so I rubbed more Lavender oil (diluted) on him. The next day, you couldn't even tell he was burnt, he was just dark. Tim got sunburned after working out in the yard; his upper arms and shoulders were very red. When he came to bed, I lovingly and thoughtfully (hahahahaha) rubbed some diluted Lavender oil on his arms and his the back of his neck. He slept fine and the next day was just slightly pink, the day after that, he looked tan and no longer burnt.

Wasp Sting- oh, this one was fun! Not! Tim and I had been out doing errands while the kids were at camp, and while we were in one store, I noticed my foot was hurting some. When I took my shoe off, I realized why it was hurting. My big toe on my left foot had swollen to more than twice its size and there was an open sore on it. Apparently, I had been stung by a wasp at some point, although I don't know when, because I don't have good circulation in my feet and they are numb a lot. Anyway, I only had Lavender essential oil with me, so I put that on it neat (undiluted). Lavender is good for allergic reactions, and this was certainly an allergic reaction! I don't know that I've ever been stung by a wasp before. Bees and yellowjackets, yes. Wasps? Not so sure. As soon as we got home, I put Purification on the place and applied ice to bring the swelling down. That night and each day after, I put more Purification on, covering it with a bandaid since my shoes all rubbed against the spot. Now, its fine. No swelling, or itching, or anything.

Bug repellent- Oh yeah! We live in the South, where mosquitoes outnumber people, probably 3 to 1. Every year I end up eaten up with mosquito bites, that swell and itch for days. My son has the same reaction, only a little worse. A friend posted about a bug repellent recipe to make at home and spray on before going outside. Go here to get the recipe for yourself: It smells so much better than the nasty OFF! Or other commercial things, like Bug N Sun. It also has no ingredients that have been reported to be possible carcinogenics and for me that is a big deal. I don't want my kids ever having to go through cancer! I mixed up the recipe and have used it several times now. I didn't get a single bite on me (except for my ankle where I forgot to spray, thinking the mosquitoes wouldn't find the thin area of exposed skin between my sock and my pants' leg)! Goodby OFF!

Heartburn- Lordy! I don't know about you, but heartburn is vicious! I had a day of it tormenting me like a preview of purgatory. I have come off my Rx heartburn meds, because I hadn't needed them with all of the Peppermint I've been using to aid in digestion. But this day, something caused me to be able to bring forth fire like a dragon having a tantrum. I took a Rx pill, but it was doing nothin'! Finally I remembered “There's An Oil For That!” and doused my chest with diluted Peppermint essential oil. I also took a capsule containing two drops of Peppermint. Within about an hour, every symptom of the heartburn was gone and I got to sleep.

I'm sure you've had all the essential oil talk you can handle, but know I could go on and on and on. There are just so many good things we're seeing happen when we use them. Oh, did I mention a cyst on my port scar fell off after using Frankincense on it for three weeks? So cool!

Ok, anyway, my point is, if you want to know more, I can certainly tell you more. Find me on facebook (Rachel Parrish White), or email me at I will happily give anyone my distributor price, which is 24% off the retail price. Or you can become a member of the club for as little as $40. I just want to share all of this oily love with you!

Monday, May 20, 2013

We Got A Puppy! We Got A Puppy!

In case you did not pay attention to the title: We Got A Puppy!
Like most of the sane and mentally balanced people of this world, I love a cute and adorable puppy. If you don't happen to like puppies, then I'm sorry, there is something totally wrong with you and you should really seek counseling. Or take meds for that kind of condition. Really, God didn't create you that way, I promise. He created puppies and made them so cute and cuddly and sweet that He had to had to had to of meant for us to like puppies!

This little adorable puppy is Ginger
She is a mixed breed terrier with a spicy, sassy and smart personality

We were given her on 05/16/13 and she is 10 weeks old
                                                  How could I not fall in love with this face?!

  Mercy cuddling with Ginger

John John checking out his new friend

Our eldest dog tolerating this new interloper

 The car ride to her new home.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Upcycled Window Seat Cushions

In our kitchen, we have these two window seat cushions that came with the house. They are these awful dark red brick pattern, with a floral piping edge. There were curtains and valances all through the house that matched these, too. But that is another story.

This is to give you an idea of what it looked like. I ripped the covers off (they had velcro closures) with great disgust and decided they were not going to stay a moment longer in the kitchen. Matter of fact, we had naked foam cushions for about a week or so. Yep, I'm perfect that way!
What you see above is now our dog's bed in front of our fireplace. I stuffed it with old pillows and poly-fill I had in the shed. Now we don't have to pay $20 or more to get a bed for our great, big, lovely hound.

So what did I decide to use to recover the cushions? Well, here I had a delima because I didn't exactly have the right amount of material on hand to cover both cushions. I contemplated covering one side in one fabric and the other side in another fabric but I decided this would be waaaaayyyyyy too much effort and take way too much time! Keeping upcycling in mind (this where you take something you already have and turn it into something new vs. recycling, which is reusing something you already have to do the same job again), I pulled out some curtains I had bought at the thrift store for like $5 to hang in my son's room eons ago. They worked for about four years. Not bad for $5.

My husband cut to size some mdf we had from when we took our son's old captain bed apart (because it was falling apart and his cousin gave him his solid oak captain's bed) for me to use as a base, since the curtains weren't quite big enough for me to cover both sides of the cushions.

Using my hand-dandy electric staple gun that can shoot tacks or staples, I stapled all around the edges, then the corners, folding the fabric edges over and stapling them down, too, to provide more stability. That last part was my husband's suggestion. Don't you just love it when God blesses you with a sexy AND smart husband? I might keep him around...

And Voila! Ta-da! And all of those other words!
I ended up with two new to me cushions for the kitchen. Ignore my toe in the bottom of the picture and revel with me in the joy of upcycled things and the fact my left shoulder and right thumb ache from my ministrations upon the above cushion! I am still in the process of redoing the area of the window seat, so you will have to wait (patiently!) for pictures to come soon (by soon, I mean in the next year or so!). Hope you enjoyed this picture demonstration of upcycling brought to you by the company of me, myself, and my husband. Tune in next time for more unbelievable stunts and spectacular wording! 

Picture Tutorial-Upcycling Your Wardrobe

I don't know about you, but I need a new summer wardrobe and the budget so ain't gonna make that happen. I'm not one for spending lots of money on clothes anyway. I don't shop department stores. I might shop at Wal-mart and Target on occasion for clothes, but the place I have frequented since I was a child at the side of my mother, is the thrift store. It is like a huge treasure trove to me. But I still want clothes that are unique, fit my style, and don't make me look like a dork. I really don't like looking like a dork. You can if you want. I won't say a thing...I'll just think it really, really loud! Haha

So where to start in making clothes unique and beautiful: the nooks and crannies of your drawers and closets. You might have something perfect. Like this little beauty.

Picked up at a yard sale. Paid like a buck or two for it, maybe. I love the color and the unique design.
But what to put it on?
This question presented itself over and over for a year, but I found the perfect specimen waiting in the bottom of another drawer (an abandoned project, yep, I do those)

It has a zipper closure on the back. I love the retro feel to it and turns out it is an authentic retro piece, not to mention my favorite color: olive green.

 How much did this authentic retro shirt cost me?
Read it and gasp!
Yes, that does say 79 cents. 
But it had been in my project drawer for so long, I consider it to be free.

To get started on my project, I took a sharp pair of scissors and cut the center flower out, snipping only the threads on it, not on the other flowers.

 I found some embroidery thread that matched almost exactly. When in doubt use a shade or two lighter. I separated the threads (there are 6 strands) to where I was working with only 2 at a time.

I pinned the flower chain around the neckline and used a running stitch to tack down all of the edges
 This is what it looked like from the wrong side of the shirt.
This is when I still had pins in it. But you get the idea.
 I had to cut the last flower off at the end, to allow for the zipper opening, but I turned the loose threads under and made sure they were fastened down securely for when it is washed. This will only be hand washed though. I certainly don't want to ruin all of my hard work!
When I was done, I was left with two extra flowers (one is pictured in my hand, above) so I used one of them to tack down with the matching thread onto a yellow headband I already had.
Crocheted flower chain: $1?
Shirt: $0.79
Headband: $0.25?
Total cost: $2.04.
I know, I know!
I don't have a pic of me wearing it yet. I totally forgot the camera the day I did!

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