Lunaria Annua

Aren't those beautiful? They are the dried leaves of Lunaria annua, otherwise known as the money plant, honesty plant, silver dollar plant, moonwort...and several other names.

It has beautiful purple flowers, which bloom in the spring. It's a biennial and even has some edible leaves. Once dried, the leaves are used in floral arrangements - they are one of the few dried pieces that won't fade over time or in sunlight.

You can see the pods in the leaves

I remember seeing a lot of these when I was a kid - but I haven't seen them for a long time. The leaves, once the outer covering is rubbed off, resemble silver dollars - which is why some refer to this plant as the "money plant". Not all leaves are silver - some look more like the rice paper used in Japanese shades, while others have brown striations that remind me of potato slices.

I've been searching everywhere for these leaves. My search would have been a total waste of time, had I not had the extreme pleasure of finding a beautiful new blog full of fun fiber art, Simple Pleasures, Holy Treasures, by Sande LaFaut. There is one post in particular, Honesty (Money Plant), that is just gorgeous (above). While looking at Sande's beautiful art quilt, be sure to take a further look around her site. She's a very talented woman with some really stunning eye candy!

Although I hate to cook, I've been working on a new recipe for paper bowls. I've been looking everywhere for a few of these leaves, but have been completely unsuccessful at finding them. I have located one place that sells a bundle of 50 branches - but that is way too many for my purposes...and besides, they're kind of expensive. I don't need 50 branches of leaves - and don't want to pay $35.

Knowing the resourcefulness and just plain awesomity* of my readers, I decided to put out the call to you guys. Have you seen these? Do you know where I can purchase a few leaves? If my recipe actually works, I'll want to get more...but I only want to play with a few to start.

If you know where I can obtain 10-20 silver dollar leaves, please let me know by leaving a comment - or you can email me. I'm not quite sure where else to look...and I'm just not patient enough to plant them this spring - then wait two years before I can get my hands on some.

* Yes, "awesomity" is a word I made up...but don't you think it fits?


The End of 2009 & Still at the BACK of the Line - but I Got a Biggun'

"Queen Katherine, what's wrong with you? No blog posts lately, no funny stories, not even any art. What is up with you??"
Don't think I haven't heard the fevered clamoring from you guys. The whispers, sighs, and questions. The pitch is getting quite loud - and being  Queen, I couldn't do that to you, my dear, wonderful, lovely, beautiful readers. (Enough sucking up?) I had to pop in, this last day of 2009, and say...something.

Thank goodness 2009 is ending!

I'm big enough to admit that I have six posts half written and saved. Not published. To finish them would require me to complete the research for them...which seems like way too much work. (By research I mean putting in the links, finding pictures, blah blah blah.) So I'm starting over, saving those for another day. Maybe.

Let's examine why a spinal headache is so painful. Get out your No 2 pencils, sit up straight, and pay attention. There will not be a test on this at the end. I'm just too lazy at this point. Come on...I'm already schooling you in something you probably aren't the least bit interested cut me a little slack. Lest I remind you I'm the Queen again.

According to THE QUEEN, and what I feel like writing:
A SPINAL HEADACHE happens when one gets a very small leak in the "sheath", or tough membrane, covering the spinal column. Since I'm now realizing what a pain this would be to explain, without getting into a whole anatomy class, this is going to be the short definition. If I do less than a fantabulous job, click the links at the end and get more information. At least I understand what I'm saying.

Any time a needle is inserted into your spine - whether it's to pull out cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), like a spinal tap, or to put medication in the spine, like an epidural - one can end up with a spinal headache. (Spinal headaches can also happen spontaneously, but it's very rare.) The needle has to puncture the protective "sheath" in order to get to the space where the CSF flows, which is the space where medication is put for something like an epidural. If the needle "hole" doesn't immediately close, CSF can leak through this "sheath". I always think of it like bouyancy - and may be totally wrong, but that's how I think of it. Your brain and spinal cord must be bathed in CSF all the time - they float in it. If the CSF is leaking, there isn't enough to keep the correct "parts" bouyant - your brain literally begins to sink, which is why you have such a severe, please-just-kill-me-now-because-I'm-in-hell, type of headache. It's like when you poke a balloon with a needle - the hole is so small that it's almost impossible to see, but the fluid inside the balloon can still leak out.

Now that I've totally confused you, forget it. Just read what happens here. Or here. Or even here. As an aside, very informative videos on all sorts of back pain, conditions, and treatments, can be found here, put out by Spine Health. Some fifty percent of the adult population will have back problems during their lives, and I highly recommend checking out the videos if you're struggling with any of these issues. Anyway...

The only way to feel better is to lay flat. Standing, sitting, or having your head upright at all, is painful beyond words - and if you cough or sneeze, God help you. You honestly think your head will shoot off - and wish it would. But lay down, and relief comes quickly (depending on how long you were upright before laying down).Usually, the hole(s) close without any intervention, and the headache goes away. But sometimes - unless you're me, in which case it happens all the time - they don't close on their own...and you win another fun medical procedure, called a blood patch - they draw a huge bolus of blood out of your arm, then inject it into your spine. The idea is that the blood cells will find the hole(s) causing the leak, and patch them. Having a blood patch is like instant soon as it's done, your headache resolves, and you return to a human state again. It's a strange thing, going from a headache that honestly makes you wish you were dead, to no headache at all - but if you're the one with the headache, you don't question it.

So that's where your Queen has been, in spinal headache hell. Not a place I recommend visiting. Ever. I wouldn't even say it's a place for the in-laws.
I was supposed to be having a rhizotomy, or radiofrequency neurotomy, today. The follow up to last week's medial branch block - which is what I ended up having, instead of facet injections. Why stop at injecting the facet joints, with itty-bitty needles - when you can go for the whole branch of nerves, with a much larger needle? The medial branch block went alright, unless you consider that I spent the rest of the week flat on my back, in spinal headache hell. Except for the brief periods of sickness I experienced because of some great new medication for something else.
Mine's Bigger Than Yours!
If you've made it this far, you're at the climactic point of the novel that has become this post. You're on the edge of your seat wondering why on earth I'm not having the rhizotomy right now. So why am I writing you - and not acting as the human pin cusion/electrical conduit? It's all due to my uvula.

No! We don't want to know about your gynecological issues, Queen! Ha - no matter how much it sounds like a dirty word, the uvula is the "punching bag" thingy that hangs down at the back of your mouth, in your throat. Mine is all swollen up for some reason - and you can't have any sort of back procedure when you're hosting an infection. I've had a swollen uvula before - several times. I don't know what causes it - nor do I know anyone else this happens to. I just know the doc won't touch me like this. Is this a minor sidetrack...or a major roadblock?

Who knows. I just know that as the worst year of my life, I'm glad 2009 is drawing to a close...and I won't be sorry to see it go. I hope all of you have a fantastic New Years - but more than that. I hope 2010 is full of love, prosperity, success, great friends, and good health. I mean that. You all have touched my life in ways you'll never know...and I hope your goodness and kindness is returned to you - ten-fold.

FedEx Out of Office Blog

Have you heard of FedEx? They are a small company that only operates in little parts of the world - so it's understandable if you haven't ever heard of them...or used them.

Oh come on...I live under a rock and I've used FedEx! Although I've heard of them - and even used their shipping services - I had never considered checking out their website. Well, at least for more than finding out about shipping costs and times. I had no idea what a boatload of information I was missing!

You see, FedEx Office has this most awesome blog, Out of Office. The blog covers all sorts of topics and ideas you're probably interested in, and if you aren't, you should be. Why? Well, like all good things, it has tips and tricks that will make your life easier. More interesting. More creative. And trust me - you will be even more fabulous when you're life is easier, and you're more interesting and creative. Who wouldn't be?

Out of Office focuses on all sorts of grand ideas - and is your new source of inspiration for projects, parties and presents. I'm not just referring to those because it's the holiday time of year...nope. The good folks at FedEx Office have you covered - year round. Woot!

I've already visited the blog several times - and not only because I needed some insider info in order to fill you in. No way - I wouldn't send you to a place I'm not visiting myself. I've moseyed over there - admittedly, at a rather frantic pace - to get some last minute gift ideas and yes, to see about shipping tips and times. Yes, my name is Katherine and I am the Queen of Procrastination.

The layout of the blog is clean and provides super-simple navigation. The sidebar provides easy ways to find the topics you're looking for, links you may find helpful, introductions to the six bloggers running the gig, and a convenient way to check out their templates and tools (this part is coming soon). See what I mean? It's jam-packed with great stuff you need.

If you still aren't convinced, and are thinking you don't do a whole lot of shipping - so what could they possibly offer you, let's see. They have topics like Home Helper, Parent Projects (love their article about repurposing the artwork of kids!), and Business Builder. That's just a small smattering of the topics these talented bloggers discuss.

Keep in mind this is a new blog, so it doesn't have the longest history - and a few parts of it still need some tweaking. From someone who has had a blog for years - and has successfully put off the necessary tweaking - I know it will come. They're off to a fantastic start - and any support you can lend to them, in terms of ideas or comments, will only make the blog better for everyone. Don't let the newness stop you from visiting - rather, I hope it serves as a rallying cry for the readers of my blog to get involved. At least drop by and check it out. You'll be surprised at how great it is - and how many fantastic ideas there are.

 “I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of FedEx Office. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

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