Friday, August 3, 2012


I lost 5 measly pounds in July... But 5 pounds is 5 pounds! Only a million
more to go.

Here's to a better August!

Monday, July 30, 2012

My love of Smoothies

I love breakfast food, but never ever have the time to make myself breakfast in the morning.  It has always been a challenge to get that first meal of the day in, which has obviously been super helpful to my metabolism.  Lately I have been so much better because I have been combining my morning protein shakes with some yumminess in order to create what I like to call Super Protein Shakes!  I have always loved drinking smoothies for breakfast, but it can be hard to make a combination that tastes good while keeping the calories in check.

In thinking about how I need to lay out my calories throughout the day in order to eat frequently while staying within my calorie range of 1100-1200 calories, I realized that I should aim for 200 calorie meals four times a day, with dinner being 300 calories OR 300 calorie main meals with two 100 calorie snacks.  Keeping those numbers in mind have been more of a guideline, because I also don't want to fall into the rut of eating pizza, and thinking my day is "ruined".

The Super Smoothies have been a perfect way to obtain that 200-300 calorie breakfast while also giving me more than half the protein I am aiming for in a day.  I have been experimenting with spices, sugar free/fat free puddings, and extracts.  As I get better at this, I will have to post more recipes, but for now... here is what I have been doing.

I always use my protein shakes as my base.  The ones I have been using have been from Costco and have 30 grams of protein and 160 calories per serving.  The brand is Premier Nutrition High Protein, in Vanilla.  When I use powder protein, I usually mix with unsweetened almond milk due to the low calorie content.  Then to add some thickness, I have been using cottage cheese (thanks to the idea I saw in a Cake Batter Shake on Dashing Dish) which is about 70 calories and another 12 grams of protein. I realize this sounds disgusting interesting, but when it is well mixed you cannot tell AT ALL that there is cottage cheese in there.  At times I also use Greek yogurt depending on the type of smoothie I am making.  This makes up my base to which I add ingredients for the smoothie I am craving.

My recent favorite:
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
Protein Shake (or 1 scoop powdered protein with 1/2 cup** of almond milk)
1/2 cup cottage cheese*
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (no sugar added)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
12 ice cubes (use less for a thinner smoothie)

Cals: 270* Fat: 3.5g Carbs: 18 Fiber: 7 Protein: 43
*depends on protein brand

*I tried making this with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt. Yuck! It added a sourness that I did not enjoy!  I find that Greek yogurt tastes best in fruit based smoothies
** I adjust this from 1/4-1 cup of almond milk depending on how much liquid I need to add in order to get to my desired thickness

Saturday, July 28, 2012

And now for my weekend update.

This week I have been using My Fitness Pal pretty regularly, and I feel good about my week.  Right now my biggest problem is my calf muscles and feet.  I have severe foot pain almost all of the time, and especially throbbing in my right foot that can keep me up at night.  So annoying!  Like I need more hurdles :)  But I suppose this isn't meant to be an easy journey for me.  If it were, I would have already lost the weight.

I had been planning on a new pair of shoes once I lost 10 lbs, as a reward.  But with the foot pain I decided to make the plunge.  My old shoes were Nike Lunar Glides, one of the first editions since I am pretty certain I got them for Christmas in 2009.  This time around, I got the New Balance 860 v2.  And they have pink on them! When I was being fitted for shoes, it was sort of funny because the lady told me I had the tightest calf muscles she had ever felt... hmmm, no wonder I have foot pain!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Weight Off My Shoulders {part two}

Sorry this is a little long... but I have had an epiphany recently... and feel like writing about my true thoughts and feelings is the only way I can overcome my weight obstacles.

I can finally say I have issues with food.  And I always have.  I have always, always had body image issues.  I can specifically remember thinking how fat I was in these photos when I was in High School (on my 1200 calorie/day, 10 grams of fat diet)...

And as I have gained weight... it is like I have just not been willing to do something about it anymore.  I have wanted others to look at ME and see that even though I am overweight... I am still worthwhile.  I am not "less", or "wrong", or "bad", or "gross".  I wanted to be appreciated for who I am and not what I look like.  But more about my inner craziness another day.

My recent success to be 100% truthful... wasn't even my idea.  I was all ready to NEVER eat bad food again, and only eat lean protein, fruit, and veggies.  I was explaining why I couldn't have a bite of a frosted cookie I brought for my nephews when my sister, Claire, in her quietly supportive way, said to me, "Why don't you just let yourself have a small piece?"  I told her that I felt I was only successful if I was severely restrictive in my diet.  And she said to me... I swear this was one of those Aha! moments for me... "But so far it doesn't seem like that has been working for you."

You could have knocked me over with a feather... and those words have really stuck with me.  I have written posts about how I need to change the way I think, and have even had some progress with that, but it just never resonated with me until she said that.  It isn't a matter of me being weak, or not having a will power... but those "I will start tomorrows" and those strict "I can only eat this and this" that doesn't last, not to mention those days of eating every "bad food" in sight in order to "get it all out of the way" have all stemmed from this thought that the only way I can loose weight is if I am PERFECT in the way I eat, all the time.  But nobody is perfect.  And that unattainable need to be PERFECT, has been at war with my other need to be ACCEPTED for who I am, for the past 8+ years.

Allowing myself to eat the foods I enjoy, so far, has allowed me to find the strength to start now, rather than tomorrow, eat a slice of pizza without the guilt and feeling ruined, and has helped me to actually want to work out... I feel like this is different... the anxiety isn't there as much, and I think, I think, I am finally ready to change.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Weight Off My Shoulders {part one}

I have been a little leery of posting any news about my little (well, big) battle with trying to loose weight... I feel like when I start talking about how I am gonna do this or that, or when I talk about what a good job I feel like I am doing, my brain is immediately like, "Ok time to eat pizza".  I just haven't wanted to jinx myself.

Well... today, I will have you know, I literally stood in my kitchen and had a 15 minute argument with myself about ordering a pizza.  And I got over it, and ate a sandwich instead.  Ok... it was 2 sandwiches, and a protein shake.  But it was all very carefully measured and planned out.

See, I have been really trying to stick with using My Fitness Pal and being very mindful about trying to stay within a certain calorie range and also increasing my protein.  What is that calorie range, one might wonder? 1100 calories a day.  Seriously.  And I have been sticking to it, while also managing at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

1100 calories seems really low, and frankly it completely and utterly sucks to be at that limit.  It is barely any food (well comparatively), but when I got my metabolism checked as part of my trip to the dietitian, in a normal day, my body burns about 1650 calories.  That really is not that many, and I remember having it looked at about 4 years ago, and my body burned 1800 calories a day... so clearly me and my metabolism need to have a chat.

Or else it is because I hit the dreaded 30, and my body is already acting like I am over the hill.  Either way... until my weight lifting pays off, the only way for me to loose the "safe" 2 lbs a week, is to have a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, and then also burn 500 calories in exercise.

Truthfully, I am not hungry if I eat the right foods.  And my plan, as it stands right now... is that nothing is off limits, as long as I can figure out the calories... and as long as it won't put me too much over my 1100 calorie limit.

Case in point, today's list:
Protein Shake
Starbucks Americano with cream and Splenda

Pocket thin with tomato sauce and 1 mini Babybel light  (warmed... a 150 calorie Pizza pocket")

PB&J sandwich
PB& olive sandwich (yes, I got this idea from Stephanie Plum, and I am not ashamed)
Protein Shake

Mid-Day Snack:
Popcorn at the movie theater (about 1-2 cups worth)

So why is this working?  I think it is because I don't feel like binging in order to "get all the food in" that I MUST cut out completely and NEVER eat again if I am going to loose weight.  I even ate a wonderful 700 calorie piece of Costco Pizza the other day in their food court... I just adjusted my dinner appropriately, stayed in my range, and didn't feel even a moment of guilt about it!

Progress I tell you... this is progress!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Exciting News! Blog Refocus and New Co-Blog!

After thinking about it for awhile, I have decided to change the focus of this blog, and create another blog about some of my other interests. I love the thought of Jack Sprat's Wife, especially since I try so hard to loose weight, and my husband is so lean and healthy, but I guess I feel like Jack Sprat's Wife was originally created to document my journey through weight loss... my ups and downs... and even some recipes that have helped me along the way. And right now it is a life blog with an identity crisis :)

So... I will be in the process of creating another blog in the next few days. If you follow me here, I hope you will continue to do so! I will be creating redirects some of my old posts to the new address (especially my posts about crafts and creations), so some of the content will still be here, as well as there (as long as it works like I think!)

So what is the new title?

Well the great thing is that my sister and I have decided to co-blog! About the same things as I do now... Being healthy, recipes, family, kids, and crafts!  It will be more of a lifestyle blog, whereas Jack Sprat's Wife will focus more on weight loss.

Our blog will be called Sweet Sister Life and will be able to be found at

Update your feeds and bookmarks, and we will see you over there!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Swing, Swing

As part of my meetings with the Dietician, I took a quiz to look at my food "personality"... and one of the types that came out included that I tend to be a Swing Eater. 

The goal for a person who is a swing eater is to embrace all foods, and stop that thought process of categorizing foods as a bad food or a good food.  I can attest that I definitely categorize foods in this way... even on days that I stay within my calorie range, I can feel anxiety when I am trying to think of that "bad" food I ate.

My dietician talked to me about changing my food language and make better word choices when self-talking:
  • Instead of "this is a bad food" say "this food has a lot of calories; if I really want it, I will eat it in moderation"
  • Instead of "I cheated" say "I ate more than I wanted to, but that happens to everyone once in awhile. It is normal and I won't beat myself up over it."  
  • Instead of "I feel so guilty" say "I did nothing wrong. I ate a moderate portion of something I wanted to eat and I enjoyed every bite."
I get pretty hung up on the feeling guilty... and when I am feeling guilty and feeling I did "bad" already, I am so much more likely to eat more "bad" things because I feel like I need to get it out of my system and just start fresh the next day.  I think this is where remembering that "E" of everyday is so important... remembering I can make healthy choices everyday, I can do better the next meal, or even with the next food choice I make, while also changing my language to stop beating myself up over high calorie foods (note: I did not say "bad") that I choose to enjoy.

As I finish with my detox in the next month, and need to start reincorporating a wider variety of foods back into my diet, the concept of being able to enjoy smaller portions of "off-limits" food will be important.  I think this also relates to both that concept of Mindfulness I talked about on Saturday, as well as the "E" of environment I mentioned the Monday before that.

By Mindfulness, I mean savoring each bite and taking my time.  The handout talks about making snacks last at least 15 minutes and meals last at least 30 minutes.  It also talks about making food more "special" by putting it on a real plate or bowl, rather than eating out of a package.  When thinking about environment, I can purchase portion controlled packs of "off-limit" foods to help remain in control.  Other ideas to help with my environment would include enjoying a moderate portion of a high calorie food while out (i.e. cookie at the coffee shop, one slice pizza at a restaurant, one scoop of ice cream from a shop).  This would eliminate the temptation to go back for more if these food choices were kept at home.

The handout my dietician gave me was adapted from Dr. Kushner's Personality Type Diet, although I am not following that particular diet, and really know nothing about it, I thought the Swing Eater information was fun to share.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Motivation Monday- Here We Go!

I did it again!  I went all in and decided to do another detox in order to help me get back on track.  I have to say, that I felt great during my last cleanse in December.  Unfortunately, I fell off the wagon since then, and have just really been eating poorly these past few months.

This time, I am trying a full body cleanse from a company called Blessed Herbs.  I asked my Aunt Kathie, the Naturopathic Doctor, and she hooked me up.  She even lent me her juicer to try out during the cleanse!  I am excited.

A couple things I will be doing differently... I plan to fast for this first few days or so to help with the first phase of the detox.   I also plan to be better at exercising as much as possible, and hope to add more vegetables than I did back in December.

Can't wait to see how I feel next week!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I love to post gratuitous pictures of Ava, but truly she does relate to my post tonight.  The topic of Mindfulness.  Lately I have been thinking a lot about being mindful in my actions, and much of that has related to my interactions with Ava.  I am mindful of my tone with her, try to anticipate what she is telling me with her burgeoning vocabulary, and have really been mindful of being really present when I am spending time with her.  That means iPhone away, books away, Nook away when I am sitting on the floor playing with her.  I try to take in all of the things that make her special, and commit them to memory for those days when I need a mental picture of her to bring my day up.

Mindfulness also came up the other night when I was watching The Weight of the Nation on HBO, and a group of people were talking about mindful eating.  It sort of stuck with me, because so often I am shoveling food in my face when I am bored, or annoyed, or when I am trying to eat while balancing a squirmy toddler in my lap.  I thought about how nice it was that these people take time to think about their food before eating it.  The look at it, smell it, notice its qualities, how it has been prepared... and then take their first bite, noticing the taste, texture, etc. before taking another one.  They talked about how they notice they are full much more easily, notice when they aren't actually hungry, or don't want a particular food that they had been about to eat.  And I thought to myself, "Boy do I need to slow down!"

And so I have been.  Well, at least I have been trying to.  A few weeks ago I had a great afternoon with a few of my girlfriends when we went to The Drake in Chicago for their High Tea service.  As I sat there, I kept thinking about how much I truly enjoy tea.  I always have, but as I sat there sipping my tea (I had a splash of milk in it for the first time-- yum!) I really felt quite content.  

I then of course forgot about the tea for a few weeks, until The Amateur Gourmet featured his morning tea ritual on his blog using PG Tips tea.  I had to restrain myself from running to the store that minute, but I managed to wait until the following morning.  Don't ask me why I HAD to have PG Tips, since a) I have never had it before, and b) I have about 10 different types of tea in my pantry already, but I think it is because I don't have any teas that I could put a splash of milk in... and I really liked doing that when I was at the Drake.

And so here it is.  PG Tips, brewing in my favorite mug.  I love red, I love flowery designs... I love this mug. Plus one of my best friends gave it to me, so I like it even more.

Ahhhh... and to brew a nice cup of tea in it is just wonderful.   I do 2 minutes, add a splash of milk, and then Stevia for a sweetener.  I am mindful of how I am content, how I don't need to snack because this is warm and comforting and just a little sweet, and how I could be happy with this as an evening "snack"... and it is a heck of a lot less calories than a cup of ice cream!

Friday, May 25, 2012

What I've Been Up To

It has taken me a really long time to finish the 24 blocks for my first bed-sized quilt... But here they are! I used Good Fortune by Kate Spain fabric, and I really like how my swirls are so bright and cheery. Now I just need to add my sashing, binding, and backing and I will be ready to quilt.

I plan to use a scrappy binding with the same Good Fortune fabrics and hope to have all the sewing completed by the end of the month, so that I can show off a completed quilt in two weeks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Update

I have made a little more progress towards my Goodreads Challenge... after reading the Fever series, I moved on to the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. 

Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle: Fifty Shades of Grey; Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed

Steamy? Yes... Good books? Yes... you actually care about the characters, even as you are beginning to think "ok, enough already" to Christian and Ana's ardent love for each other.  I had a hard time putting these books down.  A side note, however; there are a lot of similarities to Twilight (minus the Vampires, plus some steaminess)... so if you did not like the Twilight saga, Fifty Shades is probably not for you.  I was initially hesitant to read this series... not my thing... but then I saw on The Today Show that Hoda read it, and I thought that if Hoda can read it, I can read it!

Since reading these past few series... I have been searching for more books that I want to devour.  These books were pretty good, and were worth the read... but not in the sense that I couldn't put them down.

A fun chick-lit, summer read... beach read... you catch my drift:
I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
I've Got Your Number

These three were YA reads... and I will probably read any more of the series that come out:

Angelfall by Susan Ee
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent (Divergent, #1)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (although this was dangerously close to being 'meh')
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)

I also picked up Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series again at #4... because the characters overlap into the Fever series (yes, I know I got obsessed with that series for some reason).  Really they were written a little more like a traditional romance novel, but they were quick reads that entertained me enough to keep picking them up.  These are the kind of books that make me feel guilty for enjoying... like now I should go read some real literature!

Kiss of the Highlander (Highlander, #4)
The Dark Highlander (Highlander, #5)
The Immortal Highlander (Highlander, #6)
Spell of the Highlander (Highlander, #7)

Then I have been reading a slew of books that I would put in the "Meh, that was ok" category... still trying to find a series that captured me the way that the Fever series and Fifty Shades series did.

I am not so sure I will read more books in the series... just depends on how bored I get. The writing wasn't so good, and the storyline was only ok.

The books I read in this category include:

Vampire Academy #1 by Richelle Mead
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

Dark Lover by JR Ward
Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)

Finally, I read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan... and did not like it.  The writing was fantastic, but I just didn't like the story...things that the main character did... or how it ended.
Loving Frank

PHEW! I better keep up on updating my books... this was a long one!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Motivation Monday

So where have I been?  Well, I wrote some time ago about falling off the deep end... and I guess I wasn't done yet.  I have definitely had a bit of a backslide as far as my weight loss goes, and I wanted to get myself under control before I started to post again.

I have been using MyFitness Pal, which has an online and iPhone app.  I hear this app is one of the best weight loss tools out there, and it is free!  That number below used to say 15... it is funny how easy it is to get my weight on, and how much work it is to get it off!

I thought I would add a little badge to my site in order to help me track my weight loss.

MyFitnessPal - Free Weight Loss Tools

This past week, I have worked out almost every day, and have been doing quite well staying within my calorie range on MyFitness Pal. So my little gem of advice for this week?  I have two that I learned from my dietician. I think I talked about the three "E's" before... but they bear repeating!

The three "E's" when thinking about helping yourself loose weight.  "E" stands for:
  • Exercise- the dietician told me to aim for burning 2000 calories with exercise per week.  Which, for me means exercising pretty much everyday.  But she also said that every little bit helps, so on the days I don't feel like going to the gym, just try to do something.
  • Environment- I have talked about Environment before I know... set my environment up for success.  Lately I have been having trouble staying away from sweets... so I stopped buying them.  I have been buying crystal light packets and throwing it in the blender with ice in order to make a slushy.  A perfect 0 calorie sweet treat!
  • Everyday- relates to the "every little bit helps" idea... do something everyday... and if you make a mistake at one meal, that doesn't mean you have to sabotage your whole day! Make every day count!

My second piece of information has to do with Protein.  I have been seeing a lot about increasing your protein in fitness magazines lately, so this is timely advice.  There have been studies that show that increasing protein in your diet specifically helps you to loose that dangerous belly fat.  The study looked at people who ate the same amount of calories-- but within those calories, those who ate higher levels of protein lost more weight around their middle than those who ate low fat/a little higher carb diets.  Comparing persons who ate the same number of calories really has me thinking about food choices!  Beware of manipulating your diet to continue eating that yummy processed food and sugar instead of foods that are going to help you be healthy and actually loose weight.

So how much protein should we be aiming for? The formula I learned was 0.8 grams of Protein per kg of body weight.

How do you figure out how many kg of body weight you have?  Just divide your weight by 2.2.
So... a person that weighs 150 lbs would figure 150/2.2= ~68.  And 68 x 0.8= 54.4 grams of protein per day.

I hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I think I fell off the deep edge!

Whoa! I have not posted in nearly a month!  What on earth is going on?!  Not only have I not posted, but I haven't been sewing, or crafting, or eating right, or exercising either.  I have also been going to bed really early... like right after I put Ava down.  If there is a silver lining in all of this, at least I have kept up with my Goodreads challenge.  On the days I don't go to bed at 7pm, I have been reading quite a bit.  Truth be told, reading is my favorite thing to do when I get overwhelmed.  There is nothing better than cozying up with a good book and letting the characters take you away.  Usually, the more stressed I am, the less cerebral my reading material becomes, and these past weeks have been no exception.

But... I think I am ready to be back again.  The weather is getting nicer, I feel the desire to exercise and eat right, and although I still have the need to read novels that will take me away from the things I don't want to deal with right now... I think I can start going to bed at a normal time, and make some time for crafts as well :)

Of course, I must leave a gratuitous picture of Ava... and I have to say, even though I am her mommy and I am the one who takes care of her, sometimes my little almost 17 month old takes care of me too.  She just doesn't know it!  I love watching her run to the door when she sees me walk up to pick her up from daycare.  I love how she comes to sit close to me just to be near me when she plays, I love how she makes silly faces now, just to be funny, and how she hugs me and says "Awww!"  Having my wonderful family is really what it is all about!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I've Been Up to...

I have a couple of projects under way, one is a quilt and a new tutu for Ava.  Once I am finished, I will have to post pictures and a tutorial!  What I have mostly been up to this past week though, is reading.  Sometimes I get obsessed with a series or book, and I just can't stop... not even to post on my blog!  Between last week Wednesday night and Saturday night, I read 6 books.  The good news, is that means I am back on track with my Goodreads challenge!  The bad news is that although I really loved this series, a lot people I know would not be into these because they are considered paranormal fantasy.  I am an indiscriminate reader, however, and I enjoy pretty much every genre of book.  It is rare that I find a book I do not like.

With that disclaimer, I will review the series as a whole, rather than each book separately.  The series I read was the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.  I would classify this as a paranormal/supernatural fantasy series, also as a supernatural romance, although the romance part is different from your typical romance novel.  The series also has a apocalyptic edge to it.

This series surrounds MacKayla, or Mac for short, who travels to Ireland to try to find out more information about her sister's murder after receiving a frantic voicemail from her the night that she died.  Upon arriving in Ireland, Mac starts asking questions that land her in a bit of trouble, and she meets Jericho Barrons.  Jericho becomes a mentor of sorts, and begins to show Mac the way of the sidthe seer or a person who is able to see the Fae.  Ok... now don't roll your eyes... yes I said Fae.  Not the tinkerbell fairies, but the Fae of Irish lore.  I told you this is a fantasy novel.  Anyway, throughout the series, we follow Mac as she finds our more about the Fae, and about herself as one who can see the Fae.  We watch Mac as she grows from a sorority sister type who wears pink to someone a little more grown up, with the weight of the world on her shoulders.  We watch her struggle to find a way to save the world from a growing population of Fairy who are threatening her world, while trying to wade through a web of lies, deceit, and hidden agendas.  Barrons grows in his ability to trust Mac, and as someone with a hefty dose of... shall we say, "tension" with how he feels about Mac.  Throw, V'Lane in there as the Fae who is also competing for some of Mac's attention, along with an undercurrent of suspicion for all of the characters and their motives, and you have a series that is hard to put down.

I thought Moning did a good job developing characters.  The characters grow and change throughout the series, so the people you see in the beginning of the series are not the same characters by the fifth book.  She also does a great job with world-building, so you feel like you can see the Dublin that Mac is living in.  Moning is a master of plot twists and turns galore, you are kept on your toes and wanting more.  The story line is interesting and involving.  That being said, these are not young adult novels... they are adult fantasy fiction, so there are some elements of the book that some might find disturbing.  There is quite a bit of sexuality throughout, as apparently this is part of who the Fae are.  Now I did not have a problem with this, but I know some people do not like books that have this in there.  I suppose one could also make an argument against the sexualization of Mac, and what another reviewer called the "romanticizing of an overly aggressive alpha male" in Barrons, but really I felt that Mac was smart, despite her looks, and Barrons always had an undercurrent of "otherness" that sort of made me look past all of his alpha male-ness.  That and the description of how good looking most of the male characters in this book were, made me look past all of the potential negatives  :)  I really enjoyed this series, and am glad I picked a book that was one of the top books in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2011 (it was # 2 out of all the books, and rated the #1 best Paranormal).

So having enjoyed the Fever series so much, I also picked up the first book of her Highlander series.  It was supposed to have an element of paranormal in it, some time travel, and romance... so I thought it would be right up my alley.  Unfortunately, after reading the Fever series, this book really sort of fell flat for me.  I have heard that beginning with the fourth book, these series pick up, so I may go back... eventually.  I rated this as two stars.  Mostly a typical romance novel with not too much substance... lacking character development and a bit of a boring story line.  Overall not the type of book I usually read unless I am out of books and it is free :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The 2012 Goodreads Challenge & my first book reviews this year.

I love to read. LOVE. So this year my goal is to read 65 books by the end of the year.  I know, crazy!  But last year I read 52 books, and I actually thought it was a little too easy for me, so I thought I should step it up a bit this year.  I have a little widget over on the side to track my progress on here.

I am not going to lie, I sort of regret putting 65 down... because that is 13 books more than I read last year... and 13 is a lot!  Especially because I usually have weird rules about what I read.  For example, I don't like to read books that are less than 300 pages.  Obviously I make exceptions, but to purchase a 200 page book is a waste of money, because I am done with it in an hour.  Another reason I am regretting the 65 is because I have been reading the Game of Throne series by George R.R. Martin, and it is holding me up! I am about half way through A Dance With Dragons, but it is taking me forever.  I had to put it aside to read a few books so I didn't look like such a slacker.

So what have I been reading? Well, this past week I have finished three books:
The first is The Winter Sea, by Susanna Kearsley.

I rated it with four stars.  This book was right up my alley:  Love story, historical fiction, Scottish people... what wouldn't I like about that?  As I said, this is a historical fiction- centered around one of the lesser known Jacobite Rebellions (think Scottish-British throne wars in the 1700s, trying to restore the House of Stewart).  I liked that it was a dual love story, and that it covered a dual-time period (not really time-travel as some have called it).  The story is told by an author, Carrie McClelland, who herself is writing a novel about the Jacobites, and travels to Scotland for some inspiration.  While there, she a has visions (or memories) of the event through the perspective of a woman named Sophia, and weaves the tale of her love story into her novel.  Carrie and Sophia's stories become intertwined and really come together nicely in the end.  I thought Kearsley did a great job with the historical research for this novel, so fans of History will not be disappointed. Although I really enjoyed this book, there was one part of the novel that I completely hated!  It made me lie awake at night thinking about it because I just could not fathom it.  I won't say more than that, but if you read this book, I bet you will agree :)  Altogether I would recommend this book, and plan to read other works by this author.

The second book I finished was Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovitch

This is the 17th installment in the Stephanie Plum series, and boy does it show!  I loved these books at first... in fact, I often find myself reading the stories over through about number 12 when I am out of new books to read.  But after 12, the series has really tanked.  Yes, there are a couple funny parts, but Smokin' Seventeen has been the least humorous of all of the books.  I am personally a bit of a Ranger fan, and there is a little bit of Ranger-Stephanie action in this book that held my interest for a few pages, but other than that I was sort of bored.  Evanovitch literally uses the same lines and explanations in all of her books... so once you get to number 17... you are like, "yes, I know Joe Morelli is a cop with an attitude" and "yes, I know Ranger has a dark side" and "yes, I know Ranger might use less than legal means to get his cars"... I could go on.  Honestly I think Janet writes these books in an hour there are so many repeats.  And as much as I have enjoyed the majority of this series, I think it is time for it to come to an end.  I recommend the series, but I would get this book from the library... there is nothing so earth shattering that one would need to run out to get this one until it hits the bargain stacks.

Finally, I finished The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston last night.

I rated this book 3 stars.  I have to say that it really took me awhile to get into this book.  For me it picked up when Elizabeth begins to tell her story.  We learn of Elizabeth in modern day, when she befriends a teenage girl named Teagen.  Elizabeth herself is on the run from her one time mentor, Gideon, the one who helped her transform into the witch she has become.  Elizabeth's story begins in the 1600's when her village suffered from the plague.  Then known as Bess, she was spared due to her mother's witchcraft, something her mother made a bargain with Gideon in order to learn.  Bess' mother was found guilty of witchcraft, and asks Bess to survive... Bess' story brings her through different time periods, all during her struggle to remain free of Gideon.  Overall, I did eventually enjoy this book.  It is a bit on the dark side, and I would not characterize this as a love story.  I would recommend this book to those who enjoy books about the Salem witches, and those interested in paranormal.

I will keep plugging away at A Dance With Dragons, but plan to also begin another book later tonight.  Stay tuned for my next book reviews next week!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Motivation Monday- Steering Myself in the Right Direction

I have brains in my head, and for once I used them today to make a smart choice about my lunch.  Because when it all boils down to it, that is really what weight loss is all about.  Making smart decisions.

I had gone out seeking Chinese food for lunch, and was going to go to Panda Express... I know... might as well have gone to McDonald's.   And yes, I know that there are Chinese food places around that steam your food, or will omit cornstarch... and you can choose the vegetarian dishes and opt for brown rice.  But I forgot my coat at home and it was 35 degrees out, so I wanted to drive through.  When I pulled up to the Panda Express, it reminded me that a Fruitful Yield had gone in next door.  Full of organic foods, and much better options than mystery meat.  So, as I began to pull into the drive though, I said to myself, "make the better choice".  And I did.  I whipped my little car right around, parked, and walked into Fruitful Yield where I bought myself a frozen organic lunch that was about 300 calories.  Just think of what it would have been if I had chosen the double entree at Panda!

I know I have just not been in the mood for working on my weight loss lately... I have been hungry, and tired, and cold!  But today I used my brain to steer myself in the direction of my choosing.  The smart direction, the direction that will lead me down the path to losing weight.

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Look- How to Create a Banner

Since I haven't been doing such a good job on improving myself lately, I thought maybe my blog could use a little face lift!  I have wanted to make a new banner for my title for awhile now, but still don't have the pictures taken for what banner design I had in mind, so I thought I could do something EVEN BETTER, and make my banner be all pictures of Ava for now :)

It is really easy to change your banner... I used Picasa in order to create it.  All I did was use the collage function, and resized the pictures to only take up about the top quarter of the space.  You have to stretch and scale them a bit to make them the right size.  I then used the text box function in order to add my blog's title under the photos... they have an amazing selection of fonts to use.  You can also edit in Picnik (FYI Piknik is going away in April) to add words, effects, but I just used Picasa itself.  You then crop your image to just your banner and save it. When you save it to your computer, you will likely need to choose the export option.  Make sure your size is 1024 pixels if you have a regular template for Blogger, if you have a smaller template, you may have to re-export and try the 600 or 800 size pixels.

To change your title on Blogger, you select Design, and go to your header.  When you click Edit, you will have the option to check "instead of title and description", and then can upload your photo that you just exported.  Make sure you do not do any resizing or select shrink to fit.

Wallah!  A new banner for your blog that looks a little more fancy and a lot cuter :)  Once I have more pictures I can change up my banner however and whenever I would like!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Whew! I feel like I have been in a backwards slide this past week!  I keep forgetting to weigh myself in the morning, so have not been able to post my weight this week.  According to the night time reading last night, it appears I have not lost any weight... which in no way surprises me.  I am in a huge funk!  I just don't want to exercise, I have been really craving sugar... sugar... and more sugar, and then salt... salt... and more salt!  I am not kidding, the night before last, I had pop corn and ice cream for dinner. (Yes... I know, this is not good.)

Something to think about:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What I have been up to.

I had my weigh in with the dietician today... and hate that their scale weighs me 5 pounds heavier than mine does. But still, it also recorded the two pound loss I talked about on Monday.

We talked more about environmental changes I can make, especially ones to help me over my exercise hurdle, and also about reframing some of the way I think about food. I left her feeling positive about my plan going forward. Just the type of support I needed after a few bad days of feeling in the pits.

I have been working on a couple of new projects at night, and took my first steps toward creating a quilt... I messed up the pattern I was trying to make because I paired my triangles wrong, but I still think it will make a decent little play blanket for Ava. I had it all sewn together but had to rip a few of the seams out to fix the pattern. I am getting really fast at seam ripping. Soon I will be able to be an Olympic ripper.

Here is a crude idea of what it will look like once I sew it all back together again :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Look within

When you can't count on those around you for support... When you are kicked when you are already feeling down. Remember YOU have what it takes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday... Motivation?

I have this problem... See, I seem to have lost my motivation and can't seem to find it. I feel like sleeping. I feel like eating carbs. My throat kind of hurts, and I don't want to go to work. I caught the winter blues and am having a hard time shaking them off. I think I want to hibernate.

I would love to get back to the disciplined self I was in September when I was working out every day and loving it. I want to be dedicated to eating healthy like I was in December. But I am having a hard time. I am going to need to dig deep to find my way off this path I can feel myself slipping down...

In part I think I am having a hard time balancing everything I want to do and need up do in a day. Time for myself begins once Ava is down for the night and I go finish cleaning the kitchen. Then I want to sew or craft, read, and go to bed at a reasonable time... Not go work out and shower. How do I fit it all in? How do I get to find time for myself and still take care of myself and the things I should be doing as opposed to the things I want to do?

Still working on that one... In the meantime, I thought this was appropriate. Oh and this week I am another -2 so now 36 more to hit my first goal.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My sunshine!

Our first sledding experience... Down the driveway :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another bag

I finished my second bag... Got the tutorial from In Color Order :) I liked how much easier this was with lining everything up and sewing. This is what I would want to do if I make the first bag again.

Here are some photos of the project.
Line up fabrics and sew together.  Then sew around perimeter with right sides together.
Leave about 1 inch opening for the drawstrings.  

Measure your triangle to box your corners... you box all 4 corners you have created.

Sew along the line and cut off excess.

Almost done!  How UGLY is my ironing board?

Now just working on cutting squares for my 1st little quilting project. I am going to start with a pillow... But a bigger one so that Ava can lounge on it. She LOVES lounging and sitting on pillows... and I LOVE her!
I realized that I can order some extra feet for my sewing machine that would really help with my projects.  I plan to get a couple of 1/4" feet to help with even seams, and a binding feet to help me with even binding.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Keeping Myself Occupied

Even though this started off as a blog to chronicle my struggles with weight loss and as an outlet to vent some of my frustrations, for the longest time I really wasn't posting very often because although I am motivated to lose weight, it isn't something I love that I have to do!

For the past couple months, I have renewed my interest in being creative... in part to help me keep occupied at night in order to avoid boredom and snacking!  I have picked up some new hobbies, kept some of the old, and find that I am happy with the changes I have been attempting to make in my life.

For the past few days, I have been contemplating trying out something new... Quilting!  I came across this great blog, In Color Order, and am now obsessed with it!  I love the colors on her blog, the tutorials, the way she explains fabric choices... and her obsession with vintage sheets and vintage glassware!

I have two quilt projects in mind right now... and both have to do with using pre-cut squares while I get the hang of this.  I feel like it will give me some good practice sewing things together, and as a bonus, once I figure out how to quilt, it will hide some of my crooked stitching!

I am waiting for this cute Christmas fabric to come in the mail... called Flurry.  I love the blue, red, and green.

I was inspired by this quilt I saw on Etsy... thie fabric below is called 12 Days of Christmas, but I couldn't find it anywhere.  I have 11 months to figure out how to put it together :)  It is like playing Tangrams... ooh, I totally just this minute see how the blocks are put together (with the large square and smaller triangles).
The other thing her blog got me to be obsessed with is vintage glassware!  She collects Pyrex, and I completely love it!  I had just been thinking about how I need some new cute bowls, when I saw all the great colors Pyrex used to come in!  So... I went to like 5 thrift stores (looking for sheets and Pyrex)... and completely struck out!  I cannot find those old super colorful flowered sheets anywhere (friends in other areas... this is a hint).  I did find one Pyrex pattern at one of the thrift stores, but the pattern was rubbed off in some areas.  Plus I don't want to become a hoarder, and I am mostly drawn to the pink and turquoise pieces.  I still can't decide if I should go buy it anyway ;-)

I also found a small yellow square container at an antique store, but it was $15 dollars... I thought that was too much (although who knows!)

So then I tried Craigslist... and someone was selling a set right in my neighborhood!  They are so cute and pink!  I really love the set (even though the smaller pink bowl has lost its shine)... and all 4 bowls were $30 all together.  I thought that was pretty good! And look how cute they are!  This type of bowl is even called a Cinderella bowl... I am envisioning Ava and I baking cookies uh, healthy things and using these.

I can't wait to keep looking for more vintage pyrex... there are a ton of turquoise pieces that I want to get my hands on!  As for the vintage sheets... I am now on a mission!  I will find you!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Motivate Myself Monday

After a super successful December, I need a little kick in the pants this January.  I have prepared some great eating plans, and feel satisfied with what I have been eating (for the most part) but I need to get moving.

One thing I have decided from an accountability standpoint is to weigh-in every Monday.  Thus, the Motivation Monday theme :)  I think this will help keep me more accountable over the weekend, which in the past has been the culprit to some major derailments.

In December, I lost 15 pounds... and put a little back on between Christmas and New Years.  Today, from that -15, I am +3... meaning that I haven't lost any weight this month yet.  My first goal is to lose 50 pounds... and mini goals are to get into the next set of 10's.  I love when that second number is a smaller one... even if it is followed by a 9!

So from that 50 pound goal, I was at -15, and now +3.  To reach my goal, I now have 38 more pounds to lose.
I felt that this quote is fitting :)

And it is especially fitting from a workout perspective... I need to stay on my workout kicks, and stop quitting!  My workout goal is to be able to jog again... not fast, not super far... but I would like to be able to go for a 4 mile run without stopping.

I know all about regret... I look at pictures from even a few years ago, and I think, "How did I get here?"
Good thing I am ready to bite the bullet and move forward... its all about being the best version of me I can be!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Instant Gratification {including January's Birchbox}

After the tote that took me a week to make... today I was in the mood for a little instant gratification.  So... I took the pack of Mason jars that I had bought for future hostess gifts and spray painted them a pretty blue... {I believe it is Robin's Egg blue, which is one of my favorite colors}  This is after one coat.  I plan to add another coat but wanted to avoid the blue fingers for tomorrow.  
Did you know spray paint is really hard to get off your hands!?  Especially when spray painting glass jars -- it can be a bit tricky to get an even coat!  The key is to spray in one direction from about 8 inches away and allow to dry between coats.  Painting too close just blows the paint all around the jar.

Sidenote:  I always blog at night, since I am typically not home during the day... so sorry for all the dark unprofessional looking pictures!  Mastering our DSLR for indoor nighttime photography is one of my goals this year!  In the meantime, I love the Instagram iPhone app... I used the Amaro filter for the above photo.  And because I am already ready for spring, I brought my little birds back out for my window sill.  This post is all over the place tonight... sorry, but I am SO tired!  Can't. Focus.

Anyway... I am attempting to bring some color into our living areas after falling in love with THIS door from House of Smith's.  See below for a dark picture of our Roman Shades in the kitchen.  I am trying to bring that blue out (which looks more green in the photo) some more (hence the pining after their blue pantry door).

Any other ideas people have would be appreciated! :)

Just when I was happy to set out my new mason jar vases...

My other instant gratification came in the mail today!  My January Birchbox.  I forgot to cancel it last month after the kind of blah box... and I am glad I did because this one is right up my alley!  I was just thinking how I wanted a new eye cream, and wallah!  Here I got a really nice sample size in the mail.  The Re-Everything Eye Serum looks like it has some pretty winning ingredients to keep the wrinkles at bay.  I am also happy about my new night cream from Befine.  I bet tomorrow I will look like I am 18 again and people will think I got work done.  The Stila liner is really nice, and glides on smoothly AND it is about the size of a full-sized product!  The other items are a Juicy Couture perfume (which is closer to a scent I like-- but more of a "night time" scent to me), and a small packet of an unknown illegal substance.  Seriously... I think they sent me a packet of marijuana.  I better throw it away.  It is even called Witchcraft.  You can't tell from the photo above so I even took another just so you can see... its actually Granola packaged in green tinted wrapping.

I need a manicure.

And with that, I am off to bed!  I found some new sewing inspiration today that I am excited to share tomorrow :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mission Accomplished! Tote part 2

The wait is finally over... I know, many have been waiting anxiously to see how my first major sewing project turned out (I say major because my first project was to applique a letter A on one of Ava's onesies.  I need more practice!).  As for the tote?  It turned out pretty cute, as long as you don't mind some huge flaws :)

And my inside:

The last time I posted about this bag, (you can get full instructions HERE) I had left off with sewing the outside pieces together after ironing interfacing on them.  It took me all night, so you can imagine how long this whole project took me.  After getting the outside sewn together, it was time to box my corners.  Deciphering the instructions was like learning to speak Aramaic.  What seams was I supposed to line up? Where? Wait. What am I doing?!

Oh.. I am supposed to line the seams up on the inside of the bag, so that when I box the corners, my seam will be straight and match up.  And measure up the sides! We want an isosceles triangle! (I love disappearing ink).  Sew along the purple line...

And cut off the excess...

Now you are here:

You can see I didn't line my seams up perfectly... but that is ok by me.  You iron on interfacing, and sew together your lining pieces the same way you did the outside.   You also box the lining's corners... so when you have all that complete, you are here.

I added a pocket by sewing 2 pieces of fabric together, wrong sides together, and leaving a hole to turn it inside out.  I sewed it to the lining BEFORE I sewed the linings together and boxed the corners.

Next I made my bow and straps.  My bow was Bow 1, and was 6 X 12 inches.  The center of the bow was 6 X 2.5 inches.  I confess I picked this bow because I didn't want to deal with interfacing again, and it was one less piece to cut.  I think the straighter bow is cuter.  My straps were 2 X 22 inches, just because of how much fabric I had left.  I sewed along the edges and turned inside out for the straps too.

My other confession... I couldn't figure out how to sew my bow on with my machine.  So I used fabric glue to glue it on.  What? All the major designers glue their handbags together.

Finally, turning the edges under at the top in order to sew the lining and outside together was hard!  I had a hard time keeping the straps where I wanted them despite all my pinning.  I also accidentally made like 4 strap loops, because I sewed it down in a few places.  That was why last time I knew the seam ripper and I would be buds.

Things I learned:
Brown thread would have hidden my mistakes more.
I didn't leave enough room for the snaps to fit above my pocket.
I stink at lining stuff up.
Pins hurt when they stick you.
I wonder if it would work better for a beginner to somehow sew the lining and outside together before boxing corners?  I am going to try to figure out when I try this tote again.

Enough craftiness for now... thanks for reading!