Month: November 2015



I recently knitted the Fika shawl by Karie Westermann, which is part of her Hygge collection. Hygge is a Danish concept that loosely translates to cozy, and Fika is a Swedish custom, a coffee or tea break with a sweet or sandwich. Warmth, comfort — the respite we all need from a world eternally full of strife. The more I thought about Hygge, the more I couldn’t stop thinking about the concept of the hearth.

Hearth and home. The center of the house — all are drawn to. Warmth, both literal and figurative. Nourishment, the same. Wordplay: heart, art, earth, eat, heat. Hestia, Vesta, the Greek and Roman goddesses meaning hearth, fireplace, altar. Do we not need to make these things, all these things, sacred (once again)?

I used Malabrigo Mechita as the yarn (a dream to work with) and chose the color Dried Orange (can you smell orange peels drying by the fire for winter treats?). The shawl’s wingspan is grand, the largest I have knitted. I love it. When I wear this shawl, I feel enveloped in hearth and home no matter where I go. I know the lace pattern is of falling leaves, but can’t you also see little hearth fires, too?


I think of Fika as my portable Hygge. Many thanks to Karie for another knitting pattern that is so, so much more than a knitting pattern.

The small stuff: scarves and shawls are 2 coupons, and since this one is handmade, it cost one coupon. But, since I’m hitting the tea ration, it gets doubled and becomes two coupons once again!


Clothing: 0 out of 66
Soap: 0 out of 12
Tea: 7 out of 30

Overly Sensitive

I wouldn’t even begin to know what to illustrate this post with, so it will be unadorned.

I’ve had a frustrating, itchy, burning, unattractive reason to spend the rest of my toiletry coupons. First, a little back story:

I’ve always been highly sensitive to glues (and many other every day products and items), and once I started using PVA glue for Book Arts, the index finger on my right hand went crazy with contact dermatitis. I was keeping it under control with some salve and avoiding glue. I knew it was contact dermatitis because I had horrible contact dermatitis on my hands in my 20s, went to 3 doctors, acupuncture, herbs, the works to help it. This new patch on my finger after years of feeling well made me feel like “Welcome back to my nightmare!”

The other very strange allergy I have is to most toothpastes. I’m usually religious about purchasing the one brand (Nature’s Gate) which doesn’t cause a reaction (big red welty scaly unhappiness wherever it touches my face) but I got busy and ran out and used my husband’s toothpaste for 2 days and you guessed it! Where the toothpaste dribbled out of the side of my mouth, my skin reacted.

Ever since then, my skin has been super sensitive — I guess it was the straw that broke my immune system’s back — and now I’m sensitive to EVERYTHING. Products I’ve been using for years are making the allergic spots worse, and causing new ones to appear. For example, I used a bit of blush yesterday because I’ve been sick and looked green, and my cheeks and around my eyes are now red, scaly, itchy welts. This is the blush that is almost all gone because I’ve used it so many times! Puzzling.

I had to stop using my facial oils (burn! red, cry), my shampoo bar (where it would drip down my face – such irritation — spots that were getting better would get worse again), etc. and purchase products geared toward people with eczema (which is another name for dermatitis). You can imagine how this made me so sad, as I’m trying to use single ingredient natural items, and these are anything but.

So we are now all caught up on my tale of woe! Now for the accounting portion of the tale. It’s not pretty. To replace what I’ve been using as personal care products, I now have:

Cetaphil Cleanser (1 coupon) use on face and in bath. Tried it on my hair – ah, no. This is working well, but I want to try Vanicream cleanser next after this is finished. It doesn’t have parabens.

Cetaphil Lotion (1 coupon) use on body and to tame flyaway hair on head. I tried it on my face – horrible burning that made the red parts redder. I do not plan to repurchase this. I rather use the Aveeno I talk about next.

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream. (2 coupons, as I have one at home and one in my purse) This. Is. A. Miracle. I use it on my face and on my itchy reactiony finger. If a spot starts to itch or burn, I visit the rest room and apply this lotion for relief. It’s a bit slimy but I promise you, if your skin is red and inflamed you will not care when it starts to feel better.

Exederm Flare Cream. (1 coupon) This is a cortisone cream and I only use it for a day or two if a terrible patch crops up. Steroid creams are not for long-term use.

Free and Clear Shampoo and Conditioner (2 coupons) Especially for allergy sufferers. No dyes, fragrances, chemicals that many people react to, etc. My hair looks nice to boot 🙂

Vaseline (1 coupon) This purchase nearly killed me! But I read eczema resource after eczema resource recommending it and guess what – it is so non-reactive. It helps around my eyes so much. It was a leap of faith to put Vaseline on my face! I also use it as a lip balm because beeswax now gives me a reaction. $&$&$&$$&$&!!!!

E.l.f. HD Powder (1 coupon) I’m willing to give up most makeup but I did miss the bit of polish powder gives you. I read many, many, many bloggers with eczema recommend this powder as being non-reactive, red patch taming, a good price, and widely available, so I gave it a try. I agree on all points. I use this and some lipstick (Revlon does not make me react. Lipstick is another long-standing allergy I’ve been dealing with for decades. I can only wear a few brands).

OK! So that’s 9 coupons, and I only have 7 toiletry coupons left. This means I once again need to dip into my tea coupons at a 2 for 1 penalty. This leaves me with:


Clothing: 0 out of 66
Soap: 0 out of 12
Tea: 9 out of 30

What a terrible no good very bad use of coupons I’ve had to make! Big companies, plastic containers, expense (I didn’t total the amount for theses items but I have a feeling it’s $80 – $100). On the positive side, at least I’ve found some things to help me through this. And it’s uncomfortable and nasty looking but on the scale of heath problems, it could be much, much  worse.

Have any of you struggled with skin allergies, dermatitis, eczema? What helped? I feel like I have a so-so handle on this but I’m still getting flare ups and would of course love to feel much better.