Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Furniture Repurpose- Before and After

So, I refuse to buy furniture full price (except for couches).  I went to an antique store in town back in March.  I was looking for some type of a bench seat to put at the end of my bed for Dave to sit down on to put on socks in the morning.  When I got the shop, the owner brought me out back and directed me to this hideous long "coffee table"- had I not been perusing before and after furniture redo's online already, I would have snubbed my nose and walked away.  Instead, I asked how much- she said "$10", so out I walked with this UGLY thing:
It has literally sat in my garage for the past 7 months, collecting dust.  I finally decided to get it out and paint it before the cold weather settles in.  I started by having Dave take that ugly looking slider door off the front, then by putting on one coat of primer.  I use Benjamin Moore wall primer- I have a gallon of it- this is the fourth thing I've primed with it, and I'm still not even 1/3 way done, so it was worth the investment.

I let it sit over night to dry and the next day, I painted it with Benjamin Moore paint- Margarita was the color.  I only bought a pint, and for two coats, I had about 1/4 of the can left.

The original intent was to go at the foot of my bed, but Hazel cannot keep her stuff together, and judging by the way stuff was gathering in her room, she needed something in there to help her keep her stuff organized, don't you agree?
And the after.  I love the way this looks in here, don't you?
I am planning on making a pillow for the top of the bench so she can sit in read in comfort, but for now, I don't think she minds at all.
If you're looking for something to jazz up a room, or need something that serves a useful storage purpose, put down the Pottery Barn catalog and start looking around- you never know what removing a door or hardware, along with adding a fresh coat of colorful paint can do to a once ugly piece!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flower Girl Dress for the Baby

Lately, if I have a free second, all I've been doing is looking at sewing blogs.  More specifically, children's clothing sewing blogs.  I haven't used my sewing machine much lately, or much this year at all.  It makes me sad.  I have a big bag of my old clothes to turn into clothes for my girls.  I have a lot of fabric too, waiting to serve its purpose-if I ever find the time.  Time is part of the reason, the other reason is that I just need a new sewing machine.

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to make an article of clothing a month.  I do actually think I have stuck with it- I just then don't have the time to get around to photographing and posting the pieces I've made.  I was going through my photos and came across this dress that I did make for the baby to be a flower girl at our friends' wedding.  When a pressing need arises, I can always find time to sew (mostly late late night though).

The wedding invitations had shades of raspberry and a firefly on them (possibly a dandelion)- all I know is as soon as I found out we were bringing the flower girl, I knew the perfect fabric for the dress. I don't know why, but I'm loving yellow and grey lately!  I bought some lace with a little bit of sparkle at JoAnn fabrics to make the dress a bit more fancy:
I thought the sash added a nice bit of contrast, don't you?
Surprisingly, this little girl actually cooperated and walked down the aisle with the flowers, except, she didn't really throw them out.
That is, until later:
Being a flower girl (and the star dancer) is really exhausting:
She is growing up too fast!
Pattern for the dress: adapted from Bananafana Tea Party Twirl

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fun with Photography

My photo club hosts a monthly challenge to help us pick up the camera every month and try something new. This month, the challenge was two photographers, one photo.  My friend and I got together a lot and had many ideas as to what we wanted to try.  In the end, we were inspired by a photo similar to the one below that we randomly found online.  We decided to recreate the photo ourselves, and this is what we came up with:
How fun is this?

Monday, October 8, 2012

How Paleo Has Changed Me

So, today was the official end of the Paleo Challenge I was doing with my CrossFit gym.  In case you were wondering, Paleo is not Atkins.  It is a lifestyle, it is not a diet.  It involves eating fresh available foods that you can essentially hunt and gather, such as meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.  There is not supposed to be any dairy because it is thought that the only dairy you should consume is mother's milk and after that, calcium can come from other things, such as leafy greens.  The dairy industry is a mess and how they process and treat milk is sick and yes, I like milk in my coffee and I like ice cream, but if you are going to eat or consume it, you should be using organic, raw, original form (ie heavy cream).

For four weeks, I had to log my food intake everyday.  I would lose ten points if I did not consume three servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables a day.  This was one thing I had been seriously lacking before.  The big thing is you need to figure out what a serving is, so you don't have to worry that you need to eat three apples for three servings, a big apple is 2 servings.  I could gain two extra points a day for taking fish oil, so I started taking fish oil, something I will continue.  I also could gain three points a day if I did crossfit, running, or heavy stretching.  I made sure to get those three bonus points every day.  There were points to lose for cheating too.  I tried very very hard not to cheat.  Almost everyday, I lost a point for milk in my coffee.  There were days when I lost some for sugar in my coffee too.  Besides that, I had two major cheats, one I ate six nacho chips at one of my kids' friends' houses and two, I made scones and ate them because after the first week, I panicked and worried that after four weeks of no grains, I would develop a reaction to wheat (and I just can't ever in my life give up pizza for good).

Here's some statistics:
Starting weight:  115lb, Ending weight:  113.4 lb
I lost 1/2 inch in my waist, 3/4 inch in my biceps and thighs, and the biggie:   3.5 inches in my hips!!! I dropped two pant sizes!!!

How do I feel?  I feel great!  Nothing feels better that jeans that fit right and don't feel tight in certain places.  I have more energy and definitely feel less tired.  I have been less sore after workouts and more energetic during them.

We had to do three workouts before and after the challenge.
1) 5-4-3-2-1 500m row, 400m run, 30 air squats, 20 push ups, 10 pull ups
At the start, my time was 5:56.  At the end, my time was 5:35 and I used less of a step to get up to the pull up bar, so they were harder.  I know this is due to paleo because I did the 54321 my first day of crossfit back in August, and my time was 5:55

2) Grace, a standard crossfit workout, 30 clean and jerk with a weight you can do in under 5 minutes.
At the start, my weight was 55lb and my time was 2:39.  Today, I used 65 lb and did it in 2:51.  I felt more confident and the weight felt much easier, even with the 10 extra pounds.

3) Take a 5 minute rest then run the mile (after completing Grace). At the start, my time was 6:09.  At the end, my time was 6:04.  Today the weather was 32'.  I feel disappointed, I wish I ran 5:45, but in the dark, cold, and running alone, I'll take it.
Throughout the challenge, I was joking that I was going to smash my face into a cake when I was done, but seeing the results I got physically and mentally, I don't want to go back to eating the way I was.

Onto how I was eating, I was eating good, so to speak.  I already incorporate a lot of homemade fresh food into our diet.  We do not eat out that much, and most things are from scratch.  I try to shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  One big thing I realized was that I was NOT eating enough fruits and vegetables.  I was maybe eating 1 serving of fruit and 1 vegetable a day.  This is a change that will be permanent for me.

As for dairy.  I have switched to using whole organic milk in my coffee.  I switched my kids to two glasses a day, they get more from broccoli, cheese, yogurt, etc.  I make my own ice cream and I just bought a kit to make my own cheese.  If I'm going to be consuming these things, at least, I will know where they are coming from.

As for grains, I do enjoy pizza, and of course baked goods.  I pledged to no longer buy store bought bread, and even made homemade tortillas for my husband yesterday.  It's going to be more time consuming but I consider it an even trade for adding more time to my family's life span.  I will be using almond flour and coconut flour more often in baked goods and I will cut back my consumption of them to one or two days a week.

I ate bacon and/or sausage and eggs for breakfast almost everyday and still lost 3.5 inches in my hips.

I will be more cognizant of the amount of protein I need to eat to keep my body running healthy, approximately 1 g for every 1 lb of ideal body weight.

Maybe you think paleo isnt for you, but I hope I can inspire you to try to eat healthier, even if it is in baby steps.  Start by making more things from scratch, you'll find it's easier than you think, healthier, and more cost effective.  Be selective about the foods you buy.  Look at the ingredient list, are there words on the list you don't recognize?  Maybe you shouldn't be eating that.  Also, organic can be expensive, be selective, anything that you will be eating the skin (apple) try to buy organic.  If the organic is too expensive, buy the regular, wash extra good.  Consider that the cheaper fruit probably cost about as much as a candy bar, will taste better, make you feel better, and keep you healthier.  It is sad that fast food is so prominent and seems so cheap,  but there is another side to that and that is your health.  How much do you pay for health insurance and copayments and prescriptions?

I have a friend who teaches my bootcamp class, he said at one point he was on 11 prescriptions, now he is not on any.  He is 42, superfit and almost 100% paleo.  A friend of mine from the crossfit gym lost 11.5 lb, 3.5 inches from the waist, dropped about 45 seconds in his mile time, almost a minute off his grace time, and is wearing a smaller pant size than he has in 20 years.  One of the coaches at the gym has lost over 67 pounds so far with cross fit and paleo and he said his cholesterol has dropped by 40 points.

Note:  This was not all a walk in the park.  I read lots of cupcake and cake recipes and daydreamed about eating them, and yes, I still will eat them occasionally, but everything in moderation.  There were days when there was not enough time to cook all the rest of the veggies I needed and make dinner for the rest of the family too, so they suffered and were stuck with frozen pizza or fishsticks and french fries.  The grocery bill went up, I was eating more than a serving of the veggies, and not shopping properly for the local in season produce.  I was not eating enough protein at first and felt sick during a running race.  Getting used to eating meat for breakfast was weird, but then you get hungry and it's sooo good.  Finding the time to go through recipes and determine what I can and can't have, how to modify them, that all takes time and time is rare around here.  But doing this in a group setting and having the support, made all the difference.

Here are two websites that helped me through this:  for the recipes, sometimes you need a little pick me up, like muffins or waffles
marks daily apple- great resource, lots of stories and recipes- I read his book too, The Primal Blueprint

We all make choices and I'm not telling you to go 100% paleo, but I'm telling you after having done it, I can tell you that eating healthy and properly will make a huge impact not only on your body, but how you feel.  This is a lifestyle that will give you results and fast and they are sustainable.
You are never too old to start taking care of yourself.  I am 36 and I have 5 kids- I'm stronger now than I ever was because I take care of myself.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Paleo Pumpkin Waffles

So, It's been 3 and 1/2 weeks and I'm still sticking to my paleo challenge.  I've had a few small mishaps (on purpose, like milk in my coffee, some things a mom just can't knock), but I am feeling energetic, strong, less hungry, and just great!  I can't wait until next Monday to see how my workout compares to four weeks ago.  I'm excited to see how much my body has changed too- with the before and after photos.

When I started this challenge, I was worried about what I was going to eat, then I reminded myself of all the things I enjoy cooking.  I also remembered I'm getting good and crafty with spices, so creating meat and veggie dishes that are enjoyable to me was not difficult.  The one thing I knew I would struggle with was baked goods.  Luckily, a member of my crossfit gym pointed me to the blog paleomg.  She has lots of muffin and cake recipes that are gluten, dairy, and sugar free.  The ones I have tried have been pretty decent, but my absolute favorite find, which will be a keeper once I'm not 100% paleo, and it is these waffles!

Seriously, try them, you'll love them.  If you are thinking about being more healthy and trying to be gluten free or just want a new breakfast treat, whip these up, they're easy and tasty!

Pumpkin Waffles:

3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 TBSP pure maple syrup
2 eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 TBSP vanilla

1) Plug in waffle iron and preheat.

2) Whisk together almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in medium bowl, set aside.

3) In medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, maple syrup, eggs, pumpkin puree, and vanilla.

4) Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Cook according to your waffle iron directions.  I made about 3 and 1/2 belgian sized waffles.

5) Serve with fresh fruit and maybe a drizzle of pure maple syrup. YUM!
source:  Paleomg

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Getting Ready for Halloween

Halloween has to be one of my favorite holidays.  We used to have an annual Halloween party, but the past few years for some reason or another (morning sickness and/or moving), it hasn't happened.  This year I'm determined to make Halloween fun again around here.

I have challenged myself to post one thing everyday for the month of October (the first is not included).  To start, I'd like to share some photos I've been taking of my kids to help inspire you.  It has been helping us get in the spirit and made me take out our boxes of decorations.

These are all taken at sunset or just past sunset.
 Trying to experiment with off camera flash (after the sun went down):
 Experimenting with trick photography:
How are you getting ready for Halloween?