Tuesday 31 December 2013

Prosit 2014! Bonne année! Happy New Year!

to all my dear crafting/blogland friends, readers and followers, team mates and loved ones! May the new year bring to you all that you have been dreaming of! I wish you good luck, good health, a lot of success and joy and many many happy moments! 

Claudia x

Tuesday 17 December 2013


I only wrote a quick post yesterday (as it was a little hectic around here), but now is a good time to thank you all for your encouraging words on my health problems and for being there! I know - a lot of us haven't met yet and do not know each other in person, but we know each other in a very special way I assume: through our artwork - which often allows us a glimpse through the surface at a very special part of one's personality.

So it IS personal - even if we are "strangers" at a different level of "knowing" each other. And this is why your words and learning that you are with me in some way especially when times get rough really touched my heart and I am very happy that I stumbled upon this wonderful artsy and crafty blogland community to find all of you! Thank you all so much for dropping me those kind words and sharing some of my sorrow :) They really helped a lot!

I recommend that those who do not want to read about some personal health stuff and about the Hashimoto auto-immune desease, skip the rest of the text and scroll down to the end of this post (to see the image of the nativity scene ;). I really don't want to burden you against your will with this. 

Some of you know that for the last three years (the ones before the correct diagnose not counted in) I have been dealing with an auto-immune desease called Hashimoto, which affects the thyroid. It's a rather common auto-immune desease (I have learned) and can't be cured but treated by substituting the thyroid with hormones it doesn't produce sufficiently anymore.
An underfunctioning thyroid like mine may cause a really wide variety of nasty symptoms - each one individually not seeming too "severe" (I thought I had the flu or a "tiny burn out" most of the time before I was diagnosed - and of course felt like a loser) - but when those symptoms all come together you just feel as if you were about a hundred years old and/or (very!) flu-ish and worn all the time (not to mention that remarkable gain of weight). And it also causes symptoms that often look like a depression - anxiety disorders and nasty stuff like that.

But - and that's the really mean part of this - most of the time there really is a depression involved as well as most of the "Hashis" (as they are called) have been going through years (!) of pain, fear and sorrow because they felt sick but all the doctors didn't find anything that might explain their symptoms (and said it was a psycho-somatic thingie)...so they mostly get diagnosed as suffering from a depression but don't get any treatment for the thyroid. Which during all that time causes a real depression too of course - and then the symptoms start to mix and mingle...which definitely makes things a lot more difficult....

I guess I was among the lucky who have a good family doctor who spotted the real source of all those never ending "flues", "depressions", aching bones, tiredness,... rather soon, but it also took at least five to six years before we found out what has really been going on (I have gone throught the "psycho-somatic and burn-out thingie" too until the symptoms got so heavy that it became a lot clearer). So there's a real depression too - which was too hard to spot obviously. And it was that increasing depression that was taking me down during the last months and especially weeks - it needed three panic attacks and a lot of sleepless nights and the fear that I would not make it for X-mas to finally go to a specialist, who really helped me a lot by fiddling all the parts apart and spotting the true wrongdoer. So I hope I will be my old self on X-mas eve and be able to enjoy it with my loved ones.

Why do I tell you about this?
Because I know that there are a lot of Hashis out there, who - like me - are going through a lot of ups and downs.
Finding yourself in another "down" is the most frustrating part of this I guess. And often you don't have a specialist who (like mine) encourages you to listen to your own inner voice and your body instead of the blood test results and normal ranges. I learned that it really takes at least two years (I guess maybe even longer) for you to learn to divide which symptoms are caused by what and to find your individual level for your hormones where you feel best.
"It is only two years since you have been working on your thyroid's levels" my specialist said. "ONLY two years"...not to talk of the years before... but this summer I knew (and felt) that it IS possible to be well again, because I was THERE: I felt like my old self again, I was able to do sports again, I started loosing weight again... I was ME again.
And if there were no depression, I would feel just fine! So at least knowing that it is possible to find the perfect dose for you gives a lot of hope and strength (which you thought you would never get back) - and I want to give a bit of that hope and strength to all those out there who are going through the same hard times.

I know - it is hard (for me too) to accept that depression might stay one's companion for some more months (or even years), but it will go away one day (but you have to get the help of a specialist before you can stop taking your anti-depressants - as the thyroid needs some different hormones then in preparation! - which was the most important thing I learned when I visited the specialist)!

The doctor told me that I should be gentle to myself and not force anything. Take all the time and help I can get (especially the help from medication ;). Not fight anymore. Listen to myself. And to not give up!

Being creative is my means for escape, for feeling agile and active, for giving meaning to the fact that I sometimes am not able to run and jump around or manage a day's work like I feel I should, for turning "lost" time into "precious" time, for forgiving yourself and/or forgetting about the fact that some things in life haven't been going that well. And I guess a lot of you know what I am talking about ;)

I know that 2014 holds a lot of wonderful experiences ready for us on our creative journeys and I am sure that we will find our ways to enjoy the trip, find our own personal pace and explore new territory!

I wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS AND ALL THE BEST OF 2014!

Hugs and thank you all once again!

Claudia x

Monday 16 December 2013

Altered Chocolate Box Book

Today I can finally share with you a project I made as a birthday present for one of my dearest long term friends - another chocolate box book I altered (and yes - I it was once again necessary - for the sake of art - to eat the chocolate first that was inside! Considering all the X-mas cookies I will be eating during the next weeks this is really a sacrifice *lol).

As she teaches chemistry and is a lover of artefacts too, I knew this was the right thing to make for her ;)

You can find a detailed how-to by clicking here (or searching the Tutorials page that can be found at the top of my blog - directly under the banner).

I glued some sandwich paper onto the box and created a lot of wrinkles while the glue was still wet. After this had dried I gave the whole box a coat of "Raw Umber" acrylic colour.

While this was set aside to dry I created the aged paper (using Distress Inks and the Wrinkle Free Distress Technique - an all time favourite of mine which I never tire to do honestly).

The insides of the box were covered with stamped and aged paper too.

I used the Tim Holtz "Laboratoire" stamp set, which I really love!

When the acrylic colour had dried I rubbed on some DecoArt Metallic Lustre "Gold Rush" with a piece of cut'n dry foam.

I toned down the bright red ribbon using a dark brown ink stain to match the rest of the design.


(Inside - rolled up, stuffed into a tiny vial and corked - was a gift coupon - selfmade of course - for one day's crafting with me in my studio ;)

She seemed to like it very much - and I hope you like it too! :)

Hugs, happy crafting and a merry X-mas to you all!
Claudia x

Tuesday 10 December 2013

At least a bit of X-mas crafting...

...happens over at my place too.

But as I struggle with some severe health issues concerning my thyroid (obviously overfunctioning right now) like being nervous all the time (sometimes even panic attacks), not sleeping, shaking hands and trembling inside until all my muscles ache, crafting isn't too easy at the mo. But as I promised myself not to let this get me down or hold me back from enjoying the pre Christmas season as much as I can, I managed at least to do some tags and presents wrapping.

And yesterday I also received two lovely (and the most awesome) parcels from two of my best (crafting) friends! They came in just at the perfect moment as I was really upset and sad and panicing yesterday - fearing that I might not be able to enjoy X-mas eve after all and ending up in hospital instead with no one knowing exactly why.

One came from dear Sandra - my dear friend and co-owner of SanDee&amelie's
Steampunk Challenge blog (honestly without her this blog wouldn't exist!) and the other was a swap I made with A...err, well, you will have to wait until after X-mas I am afraid (*chuckle) to learn more about that.

But I can already show you the parcel Sandra sent me for X-mas. (honestly I cried all the time while unpacking all the treasures she put in the parcel - I was so overwhelmed.) She and A. really saved me yesterday from a day mostly filled with dark thoughts and anxiety.

Oh my, Sandra really knows what makes my heart sing! Look at all the brilliant stuff! There were some awesome stamps in there as well as some wonderful stencils, die cuts, tags, embellishments... well, honestly I am still overwhelmed and soo happy!
And the swap parcel from A. contained a lot of loveliness too!

Thank you so much, Sandra and A.! I am so happy to have wonderful friends like you!

But back to the X-mas tags I made...

I cut small tags from light brown manila card using the Sizzix Tim Holtz "Tiny Tags & Labels" die. I stamped my favourite X-mas stamps (from Red Lead, Tim Holtz and mariannedesign) with black jet archival ink and a X-mas stamp I bought at Depot with red ink. Then I sprinkled some Distress stains "tarnished brass", "brushed corduroy" and "picket fence" onto them using a small brush. Done.

The names of the recipients will be stamped onto the tags too - using my letter stamps from HeroArts. Here are some finished parcels to show you how they look like when in use:

I hope you are all doing fine out there and enjoy the Christmas preparations and Advent joy!

Hugs and take care!
Claudia x

Sunday 1 December 2013

A Very Vintage Christmas! - Our Creative Corner's December Challenge

Welcome back , dear readers, followers and crafting friends,

to another edition of Our Creative Corner's challenges!!! Laura, who is your lovely host for this month's challenge, chose

A Very Vintage Christmas

which means you are to use neutral colours only!

Seems the 1st of the month will be a double-feature day over here in the future as it presents TWO new challenges - the one over at Our Creative Corner AND at SanDee&amelie's Steampunk Challenges! So, please, check out both as they are really worth a look and I hope both provide a lot of crafting fun and inspiration for you. 

Back to the Very Vintage Christmas:

I admit this was a rather hard job for me to do as I rather seldomly dare create "vintage" combined with that touch of delicacy neutral colours add to this sort of makes.

I used a lovely stamp from Red Lead for the cones and a script stamp with X-mas greetings for the background. The flourishes were die cut using the Tim Holtz "mini flourish" Alterations Sizzix die. Some sprinkles of dark brown and gold for more texture and a velvet ribbon added to the bottom for a more festive feel. I also added some tiny blots of clear stickles for a bit of "snowflake bling" - done!

I hope you like it and you definitely should check out the vintage X-mas makes my awesomely talented teamies have prepared for you over at the challenge blog!!!
I so look forward to see your entries (which will definitely put me in a very merry mood ;)

As usual some close-ups:

If you also want to know the new challenge over at SanDee&amelie's Steampunk Challenges, scroll down to the previous post. ;)

Hugs, happy crafting and enjoy the pre-Christmas period!!!! (I definitely will ;)

Claudia x

I enter this tag to the following challenges:

Fashionable Stamping Challenges - In the Holiday Spirit
The Artistic Stamper - Anything Goes
Simon Says Wednesday Challenge - Anything Goes

Santa's New/Pimped Up Vehicle! - SanDee&amelie's Steampunk Challenges

Ho, Steamin' Ho!

Time for a new challenge over at SanDee&amelie's Steampunk Challenges!

This month - what else could it be - we go for a X-mas theme, but of course with a steampunk twist to it! ;)

We want you to create a new vehicle for Santa - or to pimp up his sleigh and thus create

 Santa's New/Pimped Up Vehicle!

But first let me thank you all for your awesome entries to our last challenge! You rocked it again! :)

Back to Santa's vehicle - in my case Santa decided to spare his reindeer the hard labour of pulling his overloaded sleigh and switch to something more modern - a rocketship. ;)

And of course he has his reindeer with him still - only on board of the rocketship instead of pulling it. (Thanks to the new and totally silent propulsion engine he still won't be heard when flying over all the homes of children, waiting for him to come down the chimney ;).

For my tag I used a background I had treated with some dry embossing on aluminium foil (which was glued to a piece of card) first and alcohol inks afterwards. I created the stencil for my rocket's shape by folding a sheet of plain card in half and drawing only half of the shape to the front. Then I cut it out and unfolded the card - voila - a symmetrical shape of an air and space craft!

The holly leaves on the bottom are meant to be the flames bursting out of Santa's rocket. The mystletoe looks a bit like smoke... so how does this new technology work? (Of course this will be kept a secret ;).

And look - there's Rudolf sitting on Santa's lap, peeping out of the rocket's window ! Seems he enjoys his ride too (or maybe he is helping Santa with driving the new modern vehicle?)  ;)

I hope you enjoy the pre-Christmas period and have fun creating a new vehicle for Santa (or simply pimp up his old sleigh to turn it into a steampunk wonder)!

Looking forward to see your creations entered soon!

Hugs and happy crafting,

Claudia x

I enter this tag to the following challenges:

Fashionable Stamping Challenges - In the Holiday Spirit
The Artistic Stamper - Anything Goes
Simon Says Wednesday Challenge - Anything Goes