Thursday, July 17, 2014

~Weight Loss~



Well, I've done it! I reached my goal weight - and have maintained for the past two + months! I lost a total of 40 pounds and dropped four sizes! I feel so much better - I have so much more energy, more endurance for physical activities, and hey! shopping for clothes got a whole lot easier!

I originally set out to lose 50 pounds, but when I hit the 40-pound mark, I maintained for a month. When my doctor told me that I didn't need to lose any more weight, I decided that I was at my goal weight! :D It seems to be the "right" weight for me.

It took me from July 2013 to May 2014 to lose these 40 pounds, with a ton of focus and accounting for every bite of food that entered my lips. I was so fanatical about counting calories that once or twice I spit food out when I realized how many calories I would be consuming! From where I am now, I can tell you that all that calorie counting was SO worth it!

It was really hard but rewarding to work on my weight! For years and years I had allowed my weight to creep up. I didn't have the dedication, the know-how, or the ambition to lose weight! When I tried, I would use exercise as my (only) tool. But that didn't work well - about 10 years ago I worked out for six months total and only lost 15 pounds. When I quit exercising as faithfully I put it all back on, plus some. But one day, I said, "enough is enough" and loaded the app "Lose it!" on my Kindle. I think the first four weeks I started counting calories I was constantly hungry! I couldn't stop thinking about food! I didn't realize what a vice food had over me! If I was sad, food. If I was stressed, food. If I was lonely, food. If I was bored, food. If I was upset, food. If I needed a reward, food. You name it, food was my answer!

So now, I maintain! I'm excited to share part of my journey with you today, thanks for reading!

Monday, June 30, 2014

~New Project~


A ripple afghan for my daughter. It matches her comforter, though somehow her comforter doesn't look so bold!

I wanted to make her an afghan that was hers to use as she pleases. I get a little big-time bossy about the wool afghan I made so many years ago. I like it being used but not dragged around! So with that in mind, I bought washable acrylic yarn, and will be pleased for my daughter to use it around the house however she sees fit!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

~Our Garden~

Really, this is more Kevin's garden than my own. I haven't done much of anything, except to go out and admire it. It's a good thing, because my back just cannot take the bending over on a regular basis.

This year Kevin built four raised beds and purchased soil to put in them. The soil was so sandy and stony on the side of the house. So far, it looks like it has been a good investment! The plan is to build four more next year.

Raised Beds
Herbs
Tomatillo
Back Portion of the Garden

Friday, June 27, 2014

~June Showers Bring...~

...June flowers!

My, but we've had a lot of rain this spring! It's good for the plants though!

I love Asiatic Lilies:



 My pansies are still blooming! The plants are starting to look a little bedraggled, but the flowers are still so pretty, how could I pull them out? I planted some petunias and snapdragons, and everything else is a perennial. I really like having so many perennials in the flower beds. The cost up front is more but in the long run it's so much less expensive. Each year I've had to buy fewer annuals.

We have a side flower bed that has almost nothing in it. I'm not sure what to do with it. It's right beside our garden, so really some bushes or something taller would be nice.

How does your garden grow? Is it perennials or annuals (or a mix) for you?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

~The Start of Canning Season~

Ah! I finally have something to can! Last fall, I was very happy to pack all the canning supplies up and store them in the basement. I was so done with canning. But of course, I'm ready to begin all over again this year! I truly love the whole canning process (except, perhaps, the dishes).





The result thus far? Nine lovely jars of pickled asparagus, three jars of honey strawberry jam, and three pint jars of strawberries frozen in simple syrup. I put some cracked cardamom seeds in two of the frozen strawberries. Hopefully we'll like the flavor! (See my page titled "Food '14" above for links to the recipes.)

I went down to the basement to take stock of the jam. I have 6 8-oz. jars of strawberry jam (made with sugar) left over from 2011. We don't eat a lot of jam made from sugar, but I did want to try a no-sugar recipe. In the past I haven't liked the low or no sugar strawberry jam, but I thought I'd give a crack at the honey jam and make up a half batch. It is very good. The honey flavor is definitely there, but the strawberries shine through. It's a winner!

My daughter and I went strawberry picking and picked 6 pounds of strawberries. Not too many, but my back was giving me problems and my daughter was "done". So we left while we were ahead! I'd still like to get some more for the freezer, both for smoothies and for packing into simple syrup. Frozen berries like this are the perfect start of a delicious fruit salad, and they last a long time in the freezer.

I'm happy canning season is here! It's a lot of work, but work well worthy of my time! How about you? Will you be canning or putting anything up this summer?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

~Polished~

My toes are "summer ready", thanks to my 5-year old pedicurist!



My daughter loved painting my toenails and wants to do my fingernails next. Maybe after she gets a little more practice! :)

I've been proudly wearing my new pedicure, no apologies or explanations necessary. The extra paint on my skin came off easily but otherwise it is perfectly imperfect! :D

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

~Pansies~

Last fall, I planted pansies in my front flower beds. Not very many - just six plants. I wanted to see how they would do. And would they really come back in the spring??? Well, after a very harsh winter, I am pleased to report that they did indeed come back, and they are doing beautifully! It is so nice to have some color in the front without having had to do anything (this spring) to get it!

Early in the spring
Now

Beauty shot
I don't know how long the blooms will last into summer, but you can be sure that I will be planting even more this coming fall!

Friday, May 02, 2014

~On Art, and Laundry~

With some of my Christmas money, I purchased  A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Meant to Live, which I thought was going to be somewhat of an updated version of The Hidden Art of Homemaking. Turns out, it's quite unlike Hidden Art, but in a very good way. I started reading the book, but then had to get busy around the house. I was down in the basement sorting through mounds of laundry, thinking as I sorted, "Where is the art? It has to be somewhere in here, otherwise how do I create and live art on a daily basis???"

It's funny how words of a book can sink in and as you think about them, they start to make more sense. One day, several weeks into the book, I was folding laundry. As the laundry fell from my hands into neatly folded piles, ready to be a blessing to my family in the form of clean clothes, I realized: I love doing laundry! I thought about that for a little bit, realizing that, for me, laundry is art. And then, as I let that thought spin around my head a little longer, I came to the conclusion that while, yes, I do love to do laundry, there are some aspects I don't love.

One thing I don't love so much? folding towering piles of my daughter's clothes, clothes that were never worn or hardly worn in the first place. So I went to her room and took everything out of her dresser. I carefully thought about what should go back in. Does she need a drawer packed with enough shirts to wear one a day for 30 days? No. So I took them out, and put less than half back in. Same with pants. I checked her closet but that was ok for the time being. In the end she still has more clothes than she truly needs, but the drawers can shut. Since she was "helping" with the decision process we did keep a few more than I thought necessary.

The end result? I can hardly believe this! But it has meant less laundry all the way around. There's less digging to get to that one shirt she wants to wear, and for some reason, having fewer pieces of clothing has reduced the number of outfit changes per day. Also through the process of weeding out her dresser, we were able to bless another family with the excess. That's what I'd call a win-win situation! :D

Oh, and the book? I highly recommend it! I had a highlighter handy the entire time I was reading it, and felt like it was all so good. I'd start reading passages aloud to my husband and have to stop myself from just reading the whole chapter!

Affiliate links included in this blog post.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

~This week in my kitchen~

Making tortillas with my new tortilla press.

Real food grows! A bean got lodged under the drain cover and started growing. :)
Baked Oatmeal
Starting the process of stocking my downstairs freezer -
3 jars of chicken broth + 3 meals of Broccoli Chicken Rice Casserole
Today I'm linking up with Heather of Beauty that Moves. For more kitchen pictures, click here.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

~A Peek into my Kitchen~


Giant Breakfast Cookies
Hot tea to keep me company in the kitchen
Prepping cabbage for a new batch of sauerkraut - someone is "stealing" my cabbage for a snack. :-)
Two heads of cabbage sliced for sauerkraut
Ready to ferment!

Lowly, but delicious, beans for dinner
Just a little peek into my kitchen (all pictures taken yesterday), joining up with Heather's blog hop at Beauty that Moves.



Monday, April 21, 2014

~Ombre Nightie~

Two Saturdays ago, I tackled a container full of half-finished projects. I knocked quite a few things out, including this little nightie for my daughter:


I made it from a white pillowcase, and then used Rit dye to dye it. I am super happy with how it came out! My daughter loves it too!

Before dying:

Sunday, April 06, 2014

~Staple Blouse~

 Last night I whipped up a Staple blouse, using my Staple Dress pattern, and April's T as inspiration.


I didn't really measure - I just held the pattern up to myself and guessed at how long I wanted it. Then I made both pieces the same length.  I shirred just the back:



The fabric is 97% cotton, 3% spandex, purchased at Joann's. The spandex doesn't really add that much stretch, but it keeps the wrinkles away, which is always nice! The photos above were taken after I'd worn it all morning at church.

I like that this can be dressed up or down - I can just as easily wear this with a jean skirt as for Sunday  morning!



My mom, dad, and youngest sister were here last weekend. What a special treat! I helped my youngest sister make her own Staple dress, in fact out of this very fabric! There was enough left for me to make a blouse with. So now we can be matchy-patchy across the miles. :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

~Happy Spring!~

We got a dusting of snow overnight, so much for the calendar telling us spring is here! The calendar may say, "spring" but our weather still says, "winter".

A peek out my front door:


The snow has at least started melting, which is a good thing - it was impossible to see down the street as we were backing out of our driveway! At least now we can see cars! Still a ways to go before the snow is gone though! But there's hope! :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

~Winnie Shrug~

When Anneliese of Aesthetic Nest recently asked me to test sew her pattern, Winnie Shrug, I was happy to oblige! For my version, I used fleece and a big pink button. It was a quick, fun sew, and my daughter really likes wearing it!

At first I thought that I would just be able to trim the seam allowances and leave it unhemmed, but when I tried it on my daughter, I realized that it would gain a lot by finishing with a hem - it added structure to the garment so it stood up on it's own, as well as adding a more finished look. I'm glad I hemmed it!

Here are my pictures:





I also made the little blue skirt, following a not-quite vintage pattern in my pattern stash.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

~Ice Cream Dress~

About two years ago I won a gift certificate to an online sewing supply store. It honestly wasn't a good advertisement for the store, because it was hard to navigate, and everything I wanted was out of stock! I finally settled on two patterns which at the time were not in my daughter's current size. One of them was Oliver + S's Ice Cream Dress pattern, in sizes 5-12.

I have always loved the Ice Cream Dress. It's simplicity in styling, yet attention to detail, is the type of clothing I like my daughter to wear. I decided to break out my pattern and make it for my daughter's upcoming birthday.

I bought this fabric at Joann's, with a coupon of course. :-) I love this fabric combination! It's bright and cheery and will be the perfect spring and summer dress!




I love this dress. Love it! It fits so well, and I would like to make another dress and a top for this summer, at least. I think it is such a darling silhouette on a young girl. It harks back to a time when little girls dressed like little girls and not miniature adults.