Keeping It Real

As you may have noticed from past posts, I am a Leader for Weight Watchers.  I joined Weight Watchers in 1998 & lost 20.2 pounds.  I always include that 0.2 in my total loss.  While it may seem insignificant to some, there were weeks when I was thrilled that I lost 0.2 pounds!!  I choose to look at it as a positive…at least I had lost and not gained!

Anyway, I would love to tell you that I’ve kept that 20.2 pounds off for the past 14 years (ouch!!  Has it really been that long????), but I can’t.  True, I’ve had 2 kids, so you would expect me to gain weight.  However, I can’t blame it all on the kids.  There are times where I get relaxed with my maintenance.  No…let’s make that lazy.  Yep, sometimes, I get lazy.  I quit tracking, I quit eating as healthy as I could and I quit exercising.  Even Weight Watchers leaders struggle with weight loss.  There…I said it…our secret’s out.

Which leads me to today’s blog…exercise.  I haven’t been doing it.  Unless, you consider chasing after a 2 1/2 year old, basic housework & walking all over Wal-Mart exercise, it hasn’t happened.  And it’s not because we’ve been really busy.  Nope.  Most evenings I just veg out.  I call it “relaxing”, but let’s call it what it really is…laziness.  

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I pinned this one not too long ago.  You know what they say about jokes…there’s an element of truth behind them.  Perhaps that’s why I found this one hilarious.

Every night, I walk by our dining room & look at the elliptical.  I think about changing into my workout clothes.  Then, I sit down and get “busy”, which normally means falling asleep in the recliner.  Tonight, I did something different.  I actually worked out on the elliptical.  My hubby had a friend over & they were busy with “guy talk” outside.  So, after the kiddos went to bed, I thought “why not???”  I huffed & puffed my way through 30 minutes and 1.5 miles.  After that, I decided to work on those abs (look how good I’m being!).  We’re almost finished with swimsuit season, but better late than never!  I remember seeing all of these ab workout pins on Pinterest, so I searched & found this one:

http://2012lastfatyear.blogspot.ca/2012/01/300-challenge-ab-core-workout.html

So, I settled myself down on some blankets and started working my way through the exercises.  I did all of themmost of them, some of them.  Whew!!  I’m getting tired just thinking about it!  While I didn’t finish all of the exercises, I did get through a majority of them.  They are definitely…um…challenging.  Want to hear something embarrassing??  After I finished the ab exercises, I was looking through my old pins on Pinterest…to see which project I need to do next.  What did I see??  The above pin was pinned on the same board…twice!!!!!  The sad thing is I pinned it & didn’t do a thing about it.  Tonight was the first time I had even sat down and looked at the pin.  

Well, I feel pretty good about myself right now.  I’ve done more exercising tonight than I’ve done in the whole month of July…combined.  Instead of thinking how I’ve wasted the whole summer, I’m going to concentrate on what’s left of the summer and work towards being more active.

My goals are to workout on the elliptical at least 3 times this week & to do the ab routine every day.  Maybe, after a while, I will actually be able to make it through all of the routines!!  If I can, I will have done 300 ab crunches!!  300!!!!  In one setting!!!!!  Imagine that!

Thanks for suffering through my confession time.  My hope is that by putting this “out there”, I will be more likely to stick with my goals.  If dozens of people read this, even if I don’t know who you are, maybe just by you reading this will keep me accountable.  

I’d also like to thank my sister-in-law for motivating me.  She joined Weight Watchers after the first of the year and has lost over 50 pounds.  She is 1 pound from her goal (I’m sure she’ll reach it this week).  She has ran in a 5K recently, bought skinny jeans and is inspiring others around her to live a healthier lifestyle.  I see how well she is doing, how active she is and that makes me want to do better job than I’m doing right now.  

Every so often, I plan on updating my exercise progress.  Maybe this time next week, those ab workouts won’t be sooooo difficult to get through 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She Blinded Me With Science

Well, summer is quickly drawing to a close at our house.  My son will be starting the 2nd grade on August 20th.  This is crazy for 2 reasons…#1:  he just got out in June!!!  I’m from Oklahoma & I am used to schools getting out before Memorial Day…not after!!  #2:  I remember 2nd grade & it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago.  Maybe I’m in denial, but I CAN’T  possibly be old enough to have a second grader, but, here we are.

Keeping a 7 year old entertained during the summer without letting his mind turn to mush has been challenging.  We’ve been doing lots of reading & this old fashioned thing called letter writing.  I hear people used to do it long ago, before e-mail & telephones.  They would write words down on paper, and get this, take them to a Post Office where they would be mailed to the other person.  Takes days!!!  Can you believe it??  

We did this to work on my son’s handwriting.  If it’s any indication, we have a budding doctor on our hands!  I thought it would be nice for him to learn the art of letter writing, plus the grandparents LOVE getting letters from him.  I think it’s been a great experience.

Another thing we did is some cool, hands on experiments.  I found a pin on Pinterest that has a bunch of science-y projects you can try.  We only did 2 of them (so far).  Here’s the link:

http://www.thegrowingroom.org/page.cfm?p=1783

I haven’t explored the website, but it looks really cool…very educational and stuff.  We tried the milk experiment and the Elephant Toothpaste experiment.

ImageHere we are at the beginning…my son ran and got his safety goggles on…”you know Mom, safety first!!”

ImageImageHe was amazed!!!  He loved it so much, we had to do it a second time when Dad came home 🙂

ImageHe played with this for a long time.  Eventually, all of the colors blend together and you have to just dump it out and start over.  We used whole milk.  You need to use either that or 2% milk…the experiment works on the fat content of milk, so obviously skim just won’t do.

The second experiment we did was the Elephant Toothpaste on the same link.  Here’s what happened the first time we did it:

ImageThe yeast did react to the hydrogen peroxide, but it just didn’t fizz up like I thought it should.  So, I hopped on Pinterest to see if there were different directions to do this particular experiment.  I found this link:

http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/toothpaste.php

The main differences I found was the first website had you using a LOT more dish soap.  It calls for 1/4 cup, while the second one calls for 3 tablespoons…huge difference.  Also, the first has you dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup of warm water, while the second site has you dissolve the yeast in 1 tablespoon.  

Here are the results from experiment #2 using that second linkImage

ImageMuch better!!  Upon further research, I read where they recommend you use hydrogen peroxide that is 6%…we were using 3%.  I’m sure if we do this again (and we will…gotta show Dad!), I will get the 6% stuff instead.  

Overall, I have a very impressed 7 year old on my hands who is now talking about doing the Elephant Toothpaste project as a science experiment for school this years 🙂  Can’t argue with that!!!

Take advantage of these great experiments that are on Pinterest.  Even if they don’t work (like ours), you are still learning what works & what doesn’t & I think it’s good sometimes for kids to see that things don’t always work out right the first time around.  

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

I had to use that title, in honor of my hubby.  He always says stuff like that…”Good luck pot luck” is another favorite 🙂

Well, here’s another chicken recipe.  It’s actually a great one, because not only do you get a recipe for the main entree, but you also get a couple of side dishes as well!!  Here’s the link:

http://maggiesbites.tumblr.com/post/26365768602/balsamic-chicken-asparagus

I’m always up for a new chicken recipe.  We eat chicken for a majority of our meals.  I love it because it’s so versatile and healthy…as long as you don’t smother it in bad stuff or fry it up.

ImageYummy!!!!!!  Bet you wish you ate at our house tonight 🙂

I pretty much followed the recipe as it was written on the website.  I had it marinating for about 7 hours or so…I like marinade!!  I got my guinea pigs…er…my family to try it.  My son thinks he doesn’t like vinegar of any kind, so I just told him the chicken was marinated in “sauce”.  When my hubby took the first bite of chicken, he said “Wow!”  I asked if that was good or bad, and he said “I’m still deciding”…Uh oh!

The verdict??  My hubby felt like the chicken was a little too “balsamic-ey”.  I like balsamic, however, I think next time I make this (yep…it’s a keeper!), I’ll cut the amount of balsamic vinegar I use to marinate the chicken in down to 1/8 of a cup.

My son LOVED the asparagus.  Now, you don’t do a lot to the asparagus…basically roast it in the oven with a little bit of olive oil and salt.  I was impressed that a 7 year old was digging the asparagus!!  Yay for a new veggie 🙂

My favorite had to be the grape tomatoes cooked in the balsamic vinegar with mozzarella cheese on it.  The vinegar gave the tomatoes a sweet flavor and the cheese slowly melted over the tomatoes while I was eating my chicken.  To quote Rachel Ray…”Yum-o!”.

If you’re on the Weight Watchers Points Plus program, I cut the 2 chicken breasts in half long ways (they were really thick!).  That way, the recipe served 4 instead of 2.  I also didn’t use 4 ounces of mozzarella cheese…I used about 2 ounces.  The chicken dish was 7 PPV & the roasted asparagus & tomatoes sides came out to 3 PPV total.  It’s hard to tell if the chicken would really be 7 PPV, because a lot of the oil stays in the ziploc bag that it marinated in, but go ahead and count it…it’s worth it!!!!  Believe me…the meal was very filling, so 10 PPV was a bargain!

Trying new recipes can be intimidating…but they’re also a lot of fun & sometimes you discover a new favorite!! Bon appetit 🙂

Organization Eludes Me

As a rule, I am not an organized person.  My house could probably be described by some as “cluttered”.  I prefer to use the phrase “lived in”.  We LIVE in our house.  Of course, if we have friends coming over, I go through the frantic, “put everything in your closets & close the door to our bedroom” rush.  Sometimes, I go on a cleaning streak, but most of the time I’m lucky that the dishwasher gets ran & the laundry gets washed, sometimes dried, and on the most rare occasion…folded/put away.

However, I aspire to be organized.  I love pinning organizational tips on Pinterest.  I have many books on my Kindle about how to be organized.  I have good intentions 🙂  Really.  One of these days I might even read one of those books!

I found this Pin on Pinterest and it was a like a match made in organization heaven.  Here was a project that I could sew and start my quest for a more organized house.

 http://www.positivelysplendid.com/2011/02/lets-make-something-together-lined.html

One thing we don’t have a shortage on right now is diapers.  My almost 3 year old shows a minimal interest in potty training & to be honest, I’m not rushing it.  Don’t get me wrong…I don’t enjoy changing diapers or shelling out the big bucks for them.  Far from it.  My daughter is very strong willed, stubborn and if something is not her idea, well, she’s just not going to do it.  So, I’m just waiting to see when she decides that maybe this potty training thing isn’t such a bad idea.

When I found this project, I already had about 5 diaper boxes that I had put away.  I didn’t know what I was going to use them for, but they’re nice & sturdy and I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away.  I love the canvas baskets at the store, but when they cost $10 or more, it just wasn’t very economical to get them.  For a fraction of what 5 canvas boxes would cost at the store, I could make this project for pennies on the dollar.

So, I went to one of our only fabric stores in town…Wal-Mart.  So sad :(.  Now, don’t get me wrong…Wal-Mart is great for groceries, band-aids, cards, but fabric is not something I put high on the “gotta get at Wal-Mart” list…or so I thought.  I actually found some cute fabric while I was there, although there’s not a huge selection.

While at Wal-Mart, I picked the brain of the sweet fabric cutting lady…Betty.  I tried explaining the project to her, then figured it was easier to show her, so I pulled out the iPhone.  What did I do before the iPhone???  Anyway, she helped me figure out how much fabric I needed…she was very patient!!

In the link above, the author of the blog uses a tutorial on making the basket liners.  I’m not a very experienced sewer, so I found the instructions kind of confusing.  I’m sure the seasoned seamstress would have no problems following it, but I do better if I can watch something the first time around.  Thank goodness for Youtube.  What did I do before YouTube??  Seriously?  I found this tutorial & it was super easy, super fast & most importantly, it worked!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9hTiqc1anE

ImageHere is a completed box.  Now, if I were to do this again, I would get a darker canvas to cover the box in.  If you look closely, you can see through the material.  I didn’t mind so much, because I figured it was my first time around, and I can always change it later.  Plus, where I put them, you can’t really tell.

ImageHere’s the inside of the basket.  See..super cute fabric!!!

After I made the boxes, I then had to figure out where to put them.  We have a really weird set up in our living room where we keep our DVDs.  

ImageI was never really crazy about the space, but at least you can’t see it when you walk in the door.  Of course, when the kids get into it, it’s hard to keep it clean and organized.  And, as you can see, we have a lot of DVDs…and most are animated…thanks to the kiddos :).  So, I figured the DVDs were a perfect size to fit in the boxes and the boxes fit nicely in the shelves…sooooo…

Tada!!!!

ImageOrganization!!!  In my house!!!!  It actually inspired me to clean up the other shelves and go through a lot of the junk that just kind of got thrown there.  

I spent about 2-3 days on these boxes.  This was, of course, on my “off” time (i.e. kids naps, bedtime, etc).  I don’t remember how much fabric I had left over, but I really had a ton left, so I would estimate each box cost about $3-$4 to make…if that much.  Plus, this is a great way to repurpose those diaper boxes.  

If you don’t have diaper boxes…maybe you’re one of those lucky people who have actually potty trained your kids, I’m sure a different box would work…or ask your friends, a neighbor perhaps, if they have those boxes you could have.  I have about 2 or 3 more stashed, so I will probably make some for the kids rooms, to keep their toys or books in.

Bottom line:  Great project to make!!  It covers many areas…repurposing, organization, cleaning, and sewing!  In my opinion…a great project to take on over the weekend!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You did what???

We moved into our house 5 days before my daughter was born and 3 days before my mom & grandma came to help out.  Guess what they got to do??  Yep, help us unpack.  By the time I got out of the hospital, my mom had lived in my house either the same amount of time as I had…or maybe a day or 2 longer 🙂  I would NOT recommend moving while 9 months pregnant, but everything turned out ok.

One thing they did while I was in the hospital was to organize my son’s room, which was a tremendous help.  Over the almost 3 years we’ve lived here, things have pretty much stayed the way they put them.  While we don’t have a lot of closet space for the house (i.e. linen closets in the bathrooms, hall closets for coats, etc), the closets in our bedroom are pretty large & have nice storage space in them.

That being said…we still have a lot of “stuff” and I’m always looking for ways to make the kiddos bedrooms look cute & functional.

I found this project on Pinterest and fell in love.  At first, I wasn’t sure how to utilize it in our home, but I quickly came up with an idea…and enlisted my hubby’s help 🙂

http://stylewithcents.blogspot.com/2011/12/table-for-five.html

We didn’t put the shelf in the dining room, although I think it would be really cute!  We put a smaller version under the window sill of each kids bedroom.

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A couple of things we did differently: 

Instead of buying a pre-made shelf, my hubby picked up a sheet of MDF at our local Lowe’s store.  It ran about $30, but we only used half of it to make 2 shelves (so about $7.50 in wood/shelf) and he used the rest in his wood shop, so it was a win/win situation. 

We also bought the cheaper supports for underneath the shelf.  The decorative ones were nice, but cost around $3-$4, so we went with the metal ones that were a little over $1 a piece.  So, each shelf probably cost about $12 or so. 

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We had leftover paint from when we painted the kids rooms, so we just painted them to match the walls.  If you wanted to get really creative, you could paint them a contrasting color, but I wasn’t feeling it 🙂  The MDF took the paint very well, so no need to prime!!  Plus, did you know that paint is still good after 2 1/2 years???  I was stoked when I discovered the paint was usable!!

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My daughter calls this her “workbench”…her daddy just built one of his own.  She loves it!!  One day, when my son was sick & I was having to take care of him, she played on/with that shelf for probably 30-45 minutes…and she’s 2 1/2!!!  I have visions of my son using it to work on homework when school starts. 

I love it because they can sit at the bench and look outside.  It also gets some toys up off the floor.  We used wall anchors & tried to attach the shelf to the wall studs when we could find them.  It is very secure, although I would discourage sitting on it!

From cutting to painting to installing, this project took us about 3 days or so.  We didn’t work on it continuously…so don’t get worried.  You could easily knock this out in 1 or 2 days, especially if you used a pre-made shelf.

My opinion:  For the time involved, skill level and costs, I would say this is a great weekend project that not only dresses up a room, but makes it a bit more functional!!  I think it’s a great addition to any kids room or playroom.  If you have the space, why not try it as a kids counter in your dining room???

CAKES!!!

One of my hobbies (besides pinning), is to make cakes…mainly decorate them.  I don’t care too much with the baking part.  I’ve always said if I could just go get a plain, un-iced cake, already baked & then decorate it, I would be soooo happy.  But, it kind of defeats the purpose of making your own if you go buy it anyway.

I took Wilton decorating classes at Hobby Lobby…I love that place!!!!  The classes were so much fun & they taught me a lot of good techniques.  Then, I started watching different cake decorating shows on T.V.  Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, Next Great Baker.  You name it, I’ve watched it.  In the beginning, we didn’t have cable, so my mother-in-law would tape the programs on her TV, put them on a DVD & mail them to me so I could watch them!!  How sweet!!

Originally, I took the classes to be able to make my kid’s birthday cakes.  I remembered that my mom always made my birthday cakes & I wanted to get in on that tradition.  Once I started making cakes, I found that I really enjoyed making them & I especially love seeing peoples reactions when they get a cake.

ImageHere’s my son’s birthday cake from his 7th birthday…Angry Birds were very hot this year :).  This was my first interactive cake, but I made the birds a little on the heavy side, so they didn’t fly through the air like I had envisioned. 

The great thing about Pinterest is you can get great ideas for cakes on there.  The pictures may be links to professional bakeries, a personal website, or you may actually get the instructions for the cake.  Whatever you end up with, you can almost always figure out how the person made the cake, plus it gets the creative juices flowing.

Here are a few cakes that were inspired by cakes I found on Pinterest.

ImageThese cute amphibians were for a birthday party.  A friend’s son was turning 4 & his actual birthday was on Leap Day.  It was technically his 1st birthday day & it was a Leap Day themed party 🙂

ImageThis cake was for a retirement party.  The retiree loves sailing.  I did not make the boat, net and shells, but the cake was mine.  It was kind of a collaboration of 3 cakes I found on Pinterest & I couldn’t decide which I liked most…so I just combined them.

ImageThis cake was for a wedding shower.  The couple loved daisies…so do I 🙂

ImageThis was for a friend’s sons birthday.  He was really into planes at the time.  The airplane is made out of rice crispy treats & covered in fondant.  I like to use rice crispy treats when I have to mold something or if it’s going on top of the cake, because it’s much lighter than actual cake.  Another technique I used is to put ribbon around the base of the cake. It’s quick, easy & really dresses the cake up.  Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating, but hey!  I made an airplane out of rice crispy treats!!!

What started out as a little hobby for my kids is slowing evolving into a bit of a side business.  I mainly make cakes for friends, or for church functions, like wedding & baby showers.  Sometimes, I’ll go 2 or 3 months in between cakes, and once I made 3 cakes in one week (I think my hubby wanted to move out of the house that week).  No matter what’s going on, I love to work on them & I’m so excited that I have Pinterest to refer to and get great ideas 🙂

I Miss Mommy!!!!

If you have kids, you know how hard it is to leave them behind when you go on a trip.  I remember when my son was about 6 months old, my hubby & I decided to go on a long weekend trip to Florida & we left Brayden with my in-laws.  Now, I know at 6 months old, he didn’t really know that I was gone, but I sure did miss him :).  

Not too long ago, I found an app in the Apple App store called “iMissMommy”.  Now, it is pinned on my board on Pinterst, under “Products I love”, so I figured that means I can technically blog about it.  Had I had that app (or an iPhone for that matter) 7 years ago, it might have made that trip to Florida a little easier…at least for me…

Here’s the link, which is just a picture.  If you search for it in the app store, you can find it:

http://media-cache-ec6.pinterest.com/upload/34902965832437024_8vzlbqVQ.jpg

Here’s what it does:  This app allows you to record a video, which looks like FaceTime.  You can then send it to another phone, or put the video on your phone.  Then, when you’re not around, your child can pull it up & “talk” to you.  They think it’s cool, because they are talking to you & you think it’s cool, because your kiddos can talk to you anytime they want.

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That’s not all…while your kiddo is watching the video, the app records their reaction and saves it, so you can see how they responded at a later time.  I LOVE that feature!!!!!  This is great for us, because the grandparents live in Oklahoma, which is about 1200 miles away. While we try to video chat every now and then, it does get hard to synchronize everyone’s schedule.  Now, I can have the grandparents record a video on their phone, send it to me & then I put it in the app & presto!!!!  My son or daughter can see their grandparents anytime they want!!!

 There are 3 categories for the videos:  I’m proud of you, I miss you & Discipline Time.  I think the Discipline category is cute, because there’s no more “wait until your dad gets home!!”  

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There are many reasons that I love this app.  #1, I got it on sale, so it was only $0.99.  #2, my little brother is the app developer!!!  He started developing apps a few years ago & mainly does them for churches, but this one was 100% original.  They say “necessity is the mother of invention”, well, here it is!!  He saw a need and came up with this handy little app.

ImageThat’s my cutie pie nephew & lovely sister-in-law 🙂

So, even though I might be a little biased, thanks for indulging me today while I brag on my little brother. However, even if I wasn’t related to the app developer for iMissMommy, I still think this is a worthwhile app & any parent with an iPhone would be wise to download it today 🙂