22 December 2010

German Traditions of the Spider Christmas Tree Ornament


By Rebecca MacLary

The history of the Christmas tree as we know it today is said to have started in Germany.  There is conflicting information about its origins but most agree that the first decorated Christmas tree was erected some time in the 15th or 16th century century.  Traditions have evolved since then and many different cultures have their own customs.  One fascinating Christmas tree tradition is the German tradition of the spider ornament.

Many years ago, on Christmas Eve, the woman of the house tidied her home in preparation of the upcoming festivities.  She swept the house spotless, and all of the spiders ran and hid in the attic.  The family erected their Christmas tree and spent the evening decorating it.  When the adornment was complete, the family went to bed while the woman stayed up to do more cleaning.  She was the last to go to bed.

In the middle of the night, the spiders crept out from the attic and went back to the living room.  Behold, there was a beautiful Christmas tree!  The spiders leaped from branch to branch in joy, inspecting the tree and all its ornaments.  The spiders´ activity covered the tree in a thick gray web, hiding all the ornaments.

Weihnachtsmann, or Father Christmas, arrived soon after, and saw what the spiders had done.  He was pleased that the spiders had so enjoyed themselves, but knew the family would be heartbroken to come down to a tree covered in thick spider webs.  Father Christmas touched the webs, and they magically turned into strands of silver and gold. 

When the family came downstairs in the morning, they gasped with surprise.  The woman of the house knew that the new decorations were a Christmas miracle.  They so enjoyed the look of the tree, they adopted the tradition of adorning Christmas trees with tinsel.  Some families even began the custom of placing a small spider ornament hidden somewhere among the branches.

Many cultures follow the custom of decorating a Christmas tree for the Yuletide season.  Many households, in Germany and elsewhere, also hang a spider ornament from the branches to represent that Christmas miracle from long ago.  Decorate your tree with tinsel, and remember the story of its origin.

13 December 2010

Win a Rosetta Stone course!

Now is the perfect time to give your child the gift of possibilities for the holidays with Rosetta Stone Homeschool — and you can WIN a Level 1 Homeschool program, language of your choice (valued at $249)!

Right now Rosetta Stone is having a special Holiday promotion on our Homeschool Edition program and we’d like you to help spread the word! Everyone can save up to $150 on Rosetta Stone Homeschool by visiting our website at http://www.RosettaStone.com/hsw1110.

By helping us spread the word you can win a Rosetta Stone Homeschool Edition Level 1 program, language of your choice, valued at $249.

This is a computer based curriculum and Rosetta Stone will also include a headset with microphone, and a supplementary “Audio Companion” CD so you can practice lessons in the car, on the go, or where-ever!

Students participate in life-like conversations and actually produce language to advance through the program. Rosetta Stone incorporates listening, reading, grammar, vocabulary and writing along with speaking and pronunciation lessons. For parents, the new Parent Administrative Tools are integrated into the program to allow parents to easily enroll up to ten students in any of 12 predetermined lesson plans, monitor student progress, grade completed work (the program grades the work automatically as the students progress), and you can view and print reports for transcripts. Homeschooling a lot of kids at your house? This program is designed to enroll and track up to ten students (five users on two computers) and will work for nearly all ages — from beginning readers up to college students.

To win this program, copy these paragraphs and post them in (or as) your next blog post, and/OR post about this contest on your facebook page. Then go to the original page at
http://www.othersuchhappenings.com/2010/12/rosetta-stone-giveaway-yay.html
and leave a comment saying that you’ve posted about, or have linked to, the contest. Please make sure the link works to get back to the original contest page when you post, and good luck!

***

***Open to U.S. Residents ONLY.

06 September 2010

Happy Labour Day!

From Wikipedia:

Labour Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in Canada since the 1880s. The origins of Labour Day in Canada can be traced back to April 14, 1872 when a parade was staged in support of the Toronto Typographical Union's strike for a 58-hour work-week.[1] The Toronto Trades Assembly (TTA) called its 27 unions to demonstrate in support of the Typographical Union who had been on strike since March 25.[1] George Brown, Canadian politician and editor of the Toronto Globe hit back at his striking employees, pressing police to charge the Typographical Union with "conspiracy."[1] Although the laws criminalising union activity were outdated and had already been abolished in Great Britain, they were still on books in Canada and police arrested 24 leaders of the Typographical Union. Labour leaders decided to call another similar demonstration on September 3 to protest the arrests. Seven unions marched in Ottawa, prompting a promise by Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to repeal the "barbarous" anti-union laws.[1] Parliament passed the Trade Union Act on June 14 the following year, and soon all unions were demanding a 54-hour work-week.

The Toronto Trades and Labour Council (successor to the TTA) held similar celebrations every spring. American Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was asked to speak at a labour festival in Toronto, Canada on July 22, 1882. Returning to the United States, McGuire and the Knights of Labor organised a similar parade based on the Canadian event on September 5, 1882 in New York City, USA. On July 23, 1894, Canadian Prime Minister John Thompson and his government made Labour Day, to be held in September, an official holiday. In the United States, the New York parade became an annual event that year, and in 1894 was adopted by American president Grover Cleveland to compete with International Workers' Day (May Day).

While Labour Day parades and picnics are organised by unions, many Canadians regard Labour Day as the Monday of the last long weekend of summer. Non-union celebrations include picnics, fireworks displays, water activities, and public art events. Since the new school year generally starts right after Labour Day, families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer.

An old custom prohibits the wearing of white after Labour Day. The explanations for this tradition range from the fact that white clothes are worse protection against cold weather in the winter to the fact that the rule was intended as a status symbol for new members of the middle class in the late 19th century and early 20th century.[1][2]

A Labour Day tradition in Atlantic Canada would be the Wharf Rat Rally, while the rest of Canada is watching Labour Day Classic, Canadian Football League event where rivals like Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts, and Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers play on Labour Day weekend. Before the demise of the Ottawa Renegades after the 2005 season, that team played the nearby Montreal Alouettes on Labour Day weekend. Since then, the Alouettes have played the remaining team in the league, the BC Lions.

Labour Day parade in Grand Falls-Windsor Newfoundland started in 1910 and still continues today, over 100 years later. The celebrations go on for three days with the parade on Labour Day Monday.

27 August 2010

New Kitty

A lot has been going on in the last few months! A new career turn for me (writing is going very well, I have several regular online writing jobs) and a move coming up on October 1. We're moving back to London, since we were unable to find a suitable place in a good neighbourhood, within our price range, that would take the dog. And now we have a kitten, too.

I've spoken with several people who said that another dog or cat would make a big difference in Harley's separation anxiety. One guy I met at the dog park said his german shepherd would chew through doors when she was left alone! After they got her a cat, she calmed right down and now can be left alone without incident. Amazing.

So since we have a solid move-in date, we decided to get a kitten for Harley. Ok, for me too. I really miss Birdie, and I know she's in a great home... but now that we have a dog who won't EAT a cat, I really wanted another one. So I started searching Kijiji for a free kitten. A few days later, I found a listing for a litter that was born June 10. There were 5 kittens, and two of them were white with a grey mohawk and black noses. I emailed the lady and asked if the female white one was still available, and told her a bit about myself and my family. She responded and said she would love to give me the last girl kitty.

Yesterday I made arrangements to borrow a cat carrier. The same friend who lent me that also gave me a small litter box! Thanks Stephie! That cut down on a lot of cost, and let me spend a little more on quality kitten food (Blue Buffalo brand: no by-products, no wheat/soy/corn, no artificial flavours). I also got some Swheat Scoop litter.

Swheat Scoop is made from wheat and other grains. It is completely renewable, biodegradeable, flushable (supposedly), clumping, and chemical-free. I love the fact that it has no clay or other mined products. I've read a lot about clay litter, and how it can cause illness and death in cats and kittens. I got the small bag to try it out.

I met the lady and her daughter in the pet store parking lot. The lady was carrying the kitten in her arms. My first thought was, "man, she's fuzzy!" She has longer wispy hairs all over her body. She's not a long-haired cat, but she'd definitely not a short hair! Her eyes are a weird yellow-brown colour and the black mark on her nose is so cute...she is pure white, except for the streak of grey on her forehead.
She's still very small, being only 10 weeks. I haven't weighed her yet but she's definitely under three pounds. She's got a lot of attitude in that little body! She has already told Harley to back off a few times. He needs to learn to respect her space. She's not afraid to spit and use her claws!

In any case, I'll post back in a while with a review on the litter. Hopefully it works well for her, because I really don't want to use clay litter. I'm actually toying with the idea of training her to use the toilet...

14 August 2010

Earning Money Online

I am sure there are millions of web pages and blogs dedicated to the topic of earning money online.  From content articles to entire web pages, people devote a lot of time, money, and energy to this topic.
 A person who is interested in making money online has thousands of options.  From completing paid surveys to reading articles, to writing e-books, there is a job for someone.  You just have to be willing to work cheap and fast, in some cases, to establish some credibility in your area or niche. 
For those people with administrative skills, there are a lot of transcription jobs available.  For coders, the opportunities are endless.  The same goes for many different skill sets.  You just need to know where to look for work.
 I have found that the best place to find work is on job bidding sites.  There are a few that offer a certain number of bids per month for users with a free account.  They take a certain percentage of your profits.  Other job bidding sites require you pay a base fee each month for membership, but they take less of your earnings.  Lastly, there are a couple bidding sites that are completely free to bid an unlimited amount of jobs each month, but they take up to 15% of your profits.  It's up to you to decide which bidding site(s) you'd rather deal with.
Some common sites  are Elance, vWorker, Guru, and PeoplePerHour. 
Elance - has a basic (free) membership that gives you 10 bids a month.  Elance takes up to 8.75% of each job pay.  Also has 2 additional member levels that you must pay for but those allow you more bids each month and Elance takes a smaller percentage of your profits.
vWorker - free, with unlimited bids per month.  vWorker takes 15% of your profits, with a minimum $3 charge on each job you win.
 Guru - has a free membership level, but the jobs offered to people with free membership, I have found, are few and far between.  So not really worth your time, in my opinion.
PeoplePerHour - based in the UK but people from all over the world post looking for workers (and jobs). Free membership, and PPH takes a cut.  (unsure how much, 10% maybe?)

25 June 2010

New Blog Created!

Well I got the new blog up and running.  I've located it at http://get-fit-with-berry.blogspot.com and I've given it a temporary name of "Health and Fitness with Berry."  I may or may not keep the name, it all depends on if someone makes a recommendation that I like better.  See previous post HERE regarding contest for new blog name!

You won't likely see any more general health and fitness postings here.  What I plan on doing is making this my personal blog (as it was intended all along), and branching off with other blogs, each focusing on a different topic.  Eventually I will have one for Real Food and assorted recipes, and maybe one for crafts.  Or maybe this will become the craft blog and I'll start a new personal one that isn't linked to all over the place.  Who knows.

In any case, changes are underway.  Please don't let that bother you!  Stick around, and see what happens!

24 June 2010

Contest!

I will be starting a new blog separate from this one, based on Health and Fitness.  My interests are so varied, I need to have a specialized outlet for each one so people coming here for one thing aren't forced to read about another.  Of course, everyone who reads this blog is welcome to sign up to follow me on the new blog!  I'd love to take you all along with me!

Anyhoo, onto the contest.  Creative writing isn't my strong suit, except for the occasional haiku when inspiration strikes.  I'm having a hard time coming up with a suitable name for the health and fitness blog.  It needs to be fairly short (3 words or less), catchy, and relevant.  Here's where you come in.

Submit your suggestions in the comments section (or email me privately if you'd prefer) and, should I choose your name suggestion, you win a prize!  I haven't decided upon what the prize will be.  But it will be good.

Contest is open to residents of the world.  So have at it - contest closes Friday night at 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time.  Good luck.

***Edited to add:  Since I've had several people asking me to clarify what specifically will be discussed on the new blog, here's a list of things that will be included (and no longer discussed on THIS blog):
~fitness, fitness challenges, workouts, etc
~any alternative health issues
~discussions about chiropractic, massage, etc
~posts concerning Real Food, recipes, and how foods affect your health
~any reviews relating to any of the above topics (books, magazines, workout videos, reviews of specific practitioners, etc)
~I will be taking applications from advertisers within those fields, so if you or anyone one you know is a practitioner (registered massage therapist, aromatherapist, chiropractor, reiki, etc), talk to me.

How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off

I wrote a super long article today (1600 ish words) and turned it into a HubPage called How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off.  I thought about selling it on Constant-Content, but I used first person POV and it would have been a pain to edit all that out.  I find I am much more comfortable writing weight loss articles when I can talk a bit about my experience and knowledge base in the first person.  C-C doesn't accept first person POV so that would have taken a lot of work.

In any case, I have compiled and expanded upon all my weight loss and fitness knowledge.  I don't go into a lot of detail regarding Real Foods, but that will come and get attached to this hub.

Here's the link, read it, enjoy it, use it.  And if you like it, click the buttons at the bottom that are most applicable, like "useful" or whatever.  And leave a comment - I love comments!

22 June 2010

Hub Pages I've Written

As indicated in a previous post, I've created two Hub pages.  The first was based on the article, "When to Have Children and How Many to Have" and you can go HERE to check out the hub.  I plan on adding a poll to see how many children readers think is a good amount.

The second one I created is called "How to Make a Composter" and you can see it HERE.

I really enjoy creating hub pages.  I'm working on one now - it will be titled, "Ten Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids."  I'll come back and add the link as an edit when I'm done.

Edited to add:  HERE is the Hub page for the Halloween costume ideas.

Enjoy your reading!  If you like what you read, please consider leaving a comment or question, and click the button if you found my articles "useful."

2 Haikus

  Here are some haiku poems I've had published with Helium.

              ~~~ BUYER BEWARE~~~
"Caveat Emptor"
Buyer beware.  Read the fine
Print or get burned.

RAGE
Anger so blinding
It makes my vision go black
And spotted with red.



A Brief Review of HubPages

HubPages is one of those resources for freelance writers who want to use their writing abilities to make some money via passive income - aka ad revenue.  It's an extremely friendly site, especially for people who might be technically limited.  Basically the premise is this:  you write an article.  You create a Hub page, wherein you design (using super easy user-friendly click-to-select or drag-and-drop style design) and make a mini web page featuring your article.  If you have affiliate advertising membership with Amazon, eBay, and Adsense, so much the better.

You have the option to insert different "capsules" into your hub.  From easy-create polls, to quizzes, there are tons of fun add-ins you can choose.  Once you have people interested in your article, they can rate it up or down, or describe it as "useful," "funny," "awesome," or "beautiful." Depending on the ratings your hub receives, and how much traffic it pulls in, your hub is rated on a score of 1-100, with 100 being the top rating.

I've made 2 hubs so far, and honestly, it's kind of fun.  It's a nice change from writing for Constant-Content.  I've made it my goal to make at least one hub a day.  Let's see if I can keep up with that goal.

Here's a link to one of the hubs I made, so you can see what it looks like.  Keep in mind that the hubs are totally customizable according to the "hubber's" preferences.

Freelance Writing Takes a Lot of Work

Wow.  I've just totalled up all the writing I've done in the last 9 days.  Since June 12th, I've:

~submitted 18 articles to Constant-Content;
~had 4 articles published on Triond;
~had 8 haikus published on Triond;
~submitted 4 haikus to Helium ( a mistake, I think);
~submitted 7 articles to a private client thru Elance;
~submitted 1 blog post and 1 article to a private client thru Elance, and
~created 2 hubpages.

Keep in mind that, except for the four articles for Triond, all of the articles and poems were written in the last 9 days.   Although I'd love some day to work part-time hours for full-time pay, I think that the more work I put into this endeavor now, the more I'll get out of it (and sooner).  I'm not one for lollygagging around once I put my  mind to it-I jump in with both feet.

I am grateful that I have my laptop.  With the arrival of warm, sunny weather, D and I have been going outside into the backyard more often than not.  I take my work along with me.  The only downside to my laptop is that the battery is really crappy and only lasts about an hour.  I aim to improve that with a new battery purchased off ebay with my FIRST ELANCE EARNINGS!!!!  I've ordered the 9-cell battery, now I just have to wait for it to get here.

I've been staying up late (usually until 2 am) writing and researching.  These last few days, I've been reading about how to make passive income online.  Interesting stuff, but it takes a lot of work and can be confusing.  I'm still trying to wade my way through it all.

Needless to say, I won't be posting quite as often as I'd like, but I'll try to check in regularly so you all know what's going on.

Edited to add:  In case you'd like to read/buy any of my work, here are some links to my profiles for each of the sites (click the names of the sites):

Constant-Content where high-quality articles are purchased

HubPages where I create mini-webpages (hubs) on different topics centred around articles, recipes, and more

Elance where I bid on freelance writing jobs

Triond is a site where I submit articles and haikus for ad revenue, not sale.

I won't mention Helium, because I don't plan on submitting any more work to them.

20 June 2010

A Haiku for My Husband on Father's Day

ROBOT LOVE

Robots are coming, 
Created to rule the world:
Are you friend or foe?

19 June 2010

New Business Cards!

I'm so excited!

I wrestled with the idea of getting a new set of business cards printed.  I  mean, my biggest issue was, "Why do I need biz cards?  Aren't they pretty irrelevant for a freelance writer?  To whom would I give business cards?"

Well.  Self-promotion is a freelance writer's number one responsibility.  So business cards ARE useful.  I plan on writing a post on the usefulness of business cards and where you can post/hand out/leave them in order to grow your business.


This is the design for my new business cards.  I ordered them today from VistaPrint.  It's not the first time I've ordered from there-all of my business stationary and advertising needs are handled by VistaPrint.  

I got an email today from VP, offering 250 Premium business cards FREE.  It was a limited offer.  I spent about 4 hours last night scrolling through all the designs they offer, but I wasn't convinced to plunk down the money for cards, as I still hadn't convinced myself that I really NEEDED them.  So the email was pretty fortuitous.

If you order a free product, all you pay for is shipping and taxes.  This order for 250 cards came to a total of under $10.  I picked the "slow shipping", which is just regular mail.  Every other order I've placed, I've used the same kind of shipping and received my order within a week.  Officially, it can take up to 21 days, I think.  But I've never had to wait that long.

I'm excited and impatient.  I can't wait to open my mailbox and see the little white box sitting inside....opening the package is always thrilling, when you get to see your order for the first time in real life, in real colours.  I've been extremely satisfied with my other 2 business card designs and printing quality.  VistaPrint rocks!

If you're interested in checking out VistaPrint, click HERE and you will be offered 25% off your order.**  After that, you will receive regular emails offering lots of cool stuff and tons of free items.

* you can get regular (not premium) business cards for free ALL the time (you pay shipping) as long as you choose the option where they put a bit of advertising on the back of the card.  It's one line, and makes your cards FREE.  Try them out.

**this is a referral program and I will receive 3 VistaPrint bucks for each person I refer who places an order. 

Articles Published on Triond

In case you'd like to see how my Triond articles look on the page, here are some links:  (Please consider clicking, "I Like It" at the bottom of each article!)

Rules for a Lifestyle of Healthy Eating

Why Disposable Cleaning Products are Bad

Just Say No to Commercialism This Holiday Season

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot!

I'm trying to increase the number of visitors to my blog, too-so if you would, please pass on my blog addy to all of your friends-facebook or otherwise.  Obviously, if they're into crafts this would be a great blog for them.  But any aspiring writers could learn something here, too.  I plan on reviewing all the freelance sites I've been using, in a couple weeks.  Stay tuned.

Constant-Content

It has been a few days and I'm quite impressed with Constant-Content. Despite reviews to the contrary, it is NOT impossible to get articles accepted. Perhaps the reviewers who had such poor experience with the editor of CC should take some basic English courses and improve their writing skills.

I have written eleven articles so far for Constant-Content. So far, eight of them have been reviewed and accepted. Three are awaiting review. I've written on topics ranging from housecleaning to environmental stewardship issues to articles for a Christian publication. One of the Christian articles sold.

Right now I'm working on series on Wicca. I've completed three so far and plan to start on another today.

If you're interested in learning more about becoming an author with Constant-Content, click HERE and you will be taken to CC directly. This is an affiliate link provided to me for suggesting authors. If you become an author with CC, I will receive 5% of the sale price. The 5% is taken out of CC's cut, not yours! When you sign up, you will receive your own affiliate link to provide to your friends so that you too can benefit.

18 June 2010

Writing

Sorry that my appearances here have been sporadic. I've started writing articles, and am pretty busy. I recently finished an Elance job where I wrote 10 articles on the topic of psychics. I'm a veritable expert on psychics, now!

I've place a few different bids, but I'm currently working on developing long-term business relationships with a couple people. It will work out well if I have a couple monthly jobs and write for Constant Content, too. Should pay the bills. In any case, check out the articles I've written by clicking on the links over there------->

13 June 2010

Freelance Writing

It has recently come to my attention that rather than posting on my blog, I can write pretty much the same thing that interests me in article format and sell it online. So I've decided to do that and see if there is any income opportunity.

If you look to the right column, you'll see a few different widgets which have links to recent articles published my me. If you could do me the honour of clicking thru and reading the articles, that would be awesome. If you like what you read, click "I Like It" or share the article on Facebook, or link to it on your own blogs. Exposure for my writing would be very helpful.

Any articles I publish through Triond make an income generated by advertising revenue which is posted on the same page as the article. Any income garnered from there is on a passive, ongoing basis, as long as Triond and their sites are online. I also have become a writer for Constant Content, which is a site where you sell your articles and therefore receive a one-time income from each buyer. You can sell usage rights, unique usage rights, and full-usage rights. Usage rights basically means that the person can use your article but cannot change it and must give you credit. You can sell this type of article to as many people as you like. Unique usage means you can sell your article only once-but the person may not change it and must credit you as the author. Full-usage rights mean the person who buys your article owns it, may make any changes he wishes, and may claim it as his work. You may only sell your article once as full-usage, obviously, because as soon as you sell it you no longer own it.

Constant Content has the reputation of being very tough on their authors. Each article submitted for sale is proofread by an editor. If there is ONE spelling error, typo, awkward sentence, or grammatical error, he rejects the article. If you get three rejections, you're no longer allowed to submit articles. Ever. So you need to make sure the article you are submitting is PERFECT. This is good, because it keeps the quality high and the price you place on your articles (if realistic) is more likely to be met. Instead of receiving $3 for a 550 word article, you're more likely to receive $10 or more, depending on the rights you are selling.

I'm exploring my options right now. I've applied to be a writer for Factoidz.com and am awaiting their response. I have applied for another job for a website that does an audible dictionary. I also have bid on (and won) a couple jobs thru Elance. So I am currently working.

Freelance Writer. That's my new job. Fun, huh?

06 June 2010

Fitness Challenge


Remember WAAAY back, in June last year? I and 2 friends entered into a fitness challenge. Each participant was to contribute a $10 gift card to the winner. Well, I won. And today I got my gift card from one of the participants!!! haha better late than never!

We went to church and then stopped in a Chapters in Cambridge as I was feeling the need for an iced cafe mocha from Starbucks and she reminded me she owed me the gift card! So she got me a pretty red one from Starbucks. The interesting thing is that if you register the card online, you get a bunch of free perks! (haha no pun intended). Like free refills in-store, free flavour shots in your regular coffee, free cream in certain drinks, etc! Bonus!

Now...here's hoping the 2nd friend reads this post..... :)

Oh, and by the way: that little 12 day illness I had? Yeah. I'm down to below my target weight now. I weighed in at 135 this morning. Here's to hoping it stays off. I'm going to start running this week in an effort to go down even more. So my new goal is 133, with muscles.

05 June 2010

Dig Dig Dig

It's gardening time!

The last few days have been busy. I've ripped out about 10 square feet of evil hosta plants (terrible spreading things) that were choking the composter. Now on either side of the composter, I've planted a couple plants each of a sweet melon and squash. Fingers crossed the dog doesn't trample them!

Up the east fenceline, I planted canteloupe seedlings, watermelon seedlings, and 3 pumpkin seeds, hoping that at least ONE pumpkin grows. It would be nice to have a few for pies (which I totally don't eat, but it would be neat to make one from scratch, right?) and our own Jack O'Lanterns.

Up against the house there is a wild strawberry patch. We picked the first two ripe ones today and gobbled them up. Delicious! You should have seen Delilah's face when she tried it! Priceless.

In the same bed as the strawberries, I planted some "world's hottest" habanero pepper plants, and will plant a couple lettuce plants in front of those, so we can have fresh salad while we wait for the lettuce seeds to grow. I plan on planting lettuce seeds every 2 weeks or so, so we'll have lettuce all summer and fall. IF it doesn't get too hot, that is. I might have to make a shade cover for the lettuce.

Speaking of lettuce, I bought a 24" long window box planter at Walmart last night and filled it with a magic soil/compost blend and Delilah and I planted 3 rows of loose leaf lettuce into it. We planted Grand Rapids lettuce, Heirloom Red Lettuce (oak leaf), and Mesclun salad mix lettuces into the planter. We'll also be planting rows of mixed lettuce seeds in and among other plants. I MIGHT make a permanent lettuce bed up underneath the maple tree for shade, but we'll see how that goes.

I need to borrow a rototiller. I plan on planting a LOT of tomato plants this year, enough to can a bunch of stewed tomatoes, plus make salsa and tomato sauce. That means one bed dedicated to tomatoes. I have the room to do a 4' x 10' garden, which translates into 40 plants, if my math is correct. Or 20, if I give them 2 feet of space each. That is plenty. I want to plant romas (they're good for stewing), a few beefsteak, and some other variety that are good for sauces. And one or two cherry or grape for salads. mmmm tomatoes.

02 June 2010

Around

I'm still around, I just don't have much to say lately.

16 May 2010

Please Help Do Your Part-Oil Spill-Updated

You may or may not have noticed-or if you're reading my blog in a reader-that I now have a "Donate" button on the right sidebar at the top. Please consider donating a dollar or more. It's thru Paypal, so it's easy for you.

Please.

Edited to add: once you've donated, please leave a comment with your total donation amount (anonymous, if you prefer). I will keep track on the blog-maybe I'll install one of those fun doodads.

14 May 2010

Please Help Do Your Part-Oil Spill



I'm posting this on my Facebook, and other blog as well-as well as emailing everyone on my contact list. It is THAT important.

You may not have heard, but there is a MASSIVE oil leak going on just off the Gulf coast right now. British Petroleum drilled far too deep, and basically hit a load of oil that is simply SPEWING thousands of barrels of oil into the ocean DAILY. They are unsuccessful thus far in containing it.

This is catastrophic. Not only to local wildlife, but to entire ecosystems, the environment, economy, and ultimately-humanity. This is POTENTIALLY the end of humanity, if they don't stop it soon and clean it up. Yes, it's that bad.

Having said that, I've been paralyzed with overwhelming dismay and dread regarding this environmental disaster as it unfolded. I felt, since it's so far away, there's not much I can do. Well, I was wrong. Matter of Trust is a non-profit organization that collects natural fibre (hair, fur, alpaca/sheep/etc wool, old nylons, dog fur) and makes mats and booms that they use to soak up the oil. Not only are they doing this for the BP spill ongoing right now, but they do it for all sorts of oil spills that happen every year.

Basically, all you have to do is collect a bag of hair, put that in a box, and ship it to a pre-arranged location (you have to sign up to get the address). Clean hair, of course-people have to handle it! They then turn it into the booms.

So. Here's what I'm doing. I'm going to start collecting hair. I'll start off with 2 boxes-one of human hair and one of dog fur. I am trying to gather cash/Paypal/email money transfer donations to help pay for shipping. This is the LEAST of what we can do.

So please, be generous. This oil needs to get cleaned up. Millions of animals are dying. Give a dollar, two dollars, 20 dollars, 200 dollars. It will ALL be used for shipping. I even plan on scavenging boxes so 100% of the money given goes towards shipping.

In case you doubt the impact this spill has, go here and read about it. Then come back here and give generously. The future of the life of humanity depends on it.

I'll be setting up donation buttons on the blog in the next couple of days.

Thank you.

13 May 2010

Rhubarb and Lavender Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

So, in case people forget that this blog is also about my cooking adventures, here's a post about some of my forays into using my new ice cream machine.

I found a tub of vanilla yogurt in the chest freezer the other day. I've found that the texture of yogurt is not very desirable once it has been frozen and thawed-at least not for eating just as-is. So I decided today to put it to use and make some frozen yogurt.

I didn't really use a recipe, per se-I just threw together a couple different recipes I found/had in my stash. I had a recipe for a delicious rhubarb/lavender compote that I used as filling for some meringue-topped cupcakes I made for my friend's baby shower. It takes 1.5 c diced rhubarb, half a cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of lavender buds. Throw it all into a pot, and simmer gently on med or med-low until it's all broken down and shiny. Stir occasionally, and don't let it burn.

Once that was done, I put it into a med. sized bowl and put it into the freezer for 20 minutes then the fridge for an hour.

I probably wouldn't have used that much sugar but I actually thought that the yogurt I had was unsweetened plain-but it's actually sweetened vanilla. Oops. So this might be overly sweet. We'll see.

Once the hour was up, I poured the yogurt into the rhubarb mixture and mixed it all up. I set up and turned on my ice cream machine (I keep the bowl in the freezer when not in use, so it's always ready) and poured in the mixture. It didn't come close to filling the bowl, so I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of raw milk.

The yogurt/rhubarb mixture that was left in the mixing bowl after I scraped it into the machine tasted pretty darned good. That rhubarb/lavender marriage is so unexpected but SO delicious. The vanilla from the yogurt should blend nicely with it, too. I'll write about how it turns out.

Edited to add: we just tasted this straight out of the machine, and it is AMAZING! It's a soft-serve consistency at this point, so it could be a little harder for my liking, but it's so good. Just the right amount of rhubarb and lavender taste. Next time I think I'll pulverize the lavender in my mortar and pestle.

Giant Tiger has Astro yogurt on sale for 97 cents a tub. I am going to get some strawberry to make some strawberry rhubarb frozen yogurt. How I love rhubarb season! I better freeze some so I can use it all year!

Edited AGAIN to add:  go check out my HubPage that I wrote on making ice cream and frozen yogurt.
If you think HubPages look fun to make, go HERE and sign up as a writer.  It's FREE.

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I LOVE this new background. What do you think? I found it at Designs by Dani.

05 May 2010

New Look 6470 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Misses' Skirt and Knit Tops-I sewed "View B", a sleeveless top with cowl neck.

Pattern Sizing: 8-18, I sewed Size 16 (I'm an 8-10 in RTW)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mostly, except the back neck droops-which may have been caused by me pulling it as I sewed.


Were the instructions easy to follow? Except for the part where you are supposed to attach the front flap to the shoulder-I wasn't too sure about that. But that's a problem of my inexperience, not the pattern.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes: Only 2 pieces!
Dislikes: none

Fabric Used: Jersey knit, grey with red, black, grey and pink flower pattern

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and Yes. I would make it longer next time.

Conclusion: Overall, a very simple pattern. Not sure I like the front cowl part, but I will definitely try out "View D" in the sleeveless and sleeved versions.

Photos of the Completed Grey Sleeveless T-shirt




Please ignore my purple plaid pj bottoms!!!

All in all, I'm not really happy with this shirt. But seeing as it is my first one, I'll let go of the pursuit of perfection this one time. Things I don't like about it: the back of the neckline gapes a bit. The bottom hem isn't straight, and the front neckline style doesn't really match the casualness of the print. I think the back neckline gapes because I pulled on it while I was hemming it.

I really don't love working with this jersey knit, but I think I will get used to it. I'd love to get a roller presser foot for working with stretchy materials. It sews while avoiding stretching out the material.

Next post will be my review of the pattern.

03 May 2010

#6470 Shirt Update


Just a quick post to show progress, with the best of a bunch of horrible photos. The lighting was terrible, and I was standing crooked-the shirt isn't crooked!

I still have the armhole and bottom hems to finish.

I think this fabric is too casual for the neckline style. Oh well, we'll call this my practice run. I think I would have preferred to do the V-neck, but I didn't have enough fabric (although, I likely would have, as I have lots left over!!!)

The width of the torso fits me quite well, but the back neck droops. I'll see if I can fix it somehow. The length is a LITTLE short, considering I have to hem it still. I will do a scant hem.

02 May 2010

New Look # 6470-Women's Shirt





I'm making View B, the sleeveless top with no gather, and draped neck. This shirt can be casual or dressy, depending on the fabric you use. I found a fun stretch jersey in the remnant bin: .8 metres for under $2. I wanted to make View D-the wrap-style with gathered side, but that requires more fabric. This was a case of finding the fabric and THEN the pattern, which is usually not how I operate. But when you find awesome fabric in the remnant bin, you can't let it go to waste! And I figured, if I bomb this shirt, I won't be out much money, and it will be good practice!

This is my first adult shirt from a pattern project, and I hope it turns out. It's also my first foray into using stretch knit/jerseys, so I'm a little nervous. More pics and an eventual review of the pattern will come.

01 May 2010

Very Late Maternity or Not Frock

I've finally started moving along on my Maternity or Not Frock. Obviously, in my case, it's NOT...

I decided to use a silky, dark blue paisley/floral print. Hard to describe, but it's nice. Lots of blue in between the paisley bits.

I did a boat neck, but wish I had done a v-neck. I was following the tutorial exactly though. Next time I will make some changes. I like how the sleeves are set up. I MIGHT turn this into a tunic-length shirt, as this material has zero give, and likely won't make a good dress without a serious slit for leg movement.

I really REALLY dislike working with this fabric, whatever it is. It's slippery and slides all over the place. It's hard to cut pattern pieces properly, too. We'll see.

So far I've done everything but the waist and hem. So pictures might come tomorrow, depending on the weather.

30 April 2010

Aprons!






I've made a few aprons in the last few days. One for myself, which was the first one I made. This apron is to hold a calculator, some paper, and pens while I work at a Garden Centre starting on Sunday (until the end of July).

The next one I made was the pink and green toddler's apron for D, who insisted I make one for her, too! Hers is reversible (I suppose mine is, too), with 2 pockets on one side, and no pockets on the other.

The red, white and seafoam one with initial was made this afternoon for a birthday gift. I hope she likes it!

24 April 2010

2 years-a retrospective on Delilah


Delilah at 3 days.
Delilah at 1 year and 6 days
Delilah this morning, 1 day shy of 2 years.


Two years ago, on May 9, 2008 at 11:11 AM, Delilah was born, after a long and arduous birth. 9lbs and 4 oz, she was a big baby with a big personality. She took to nursing like a champ, rarely cried, and was an all-around happy baby.

One year ago, my daughter was just walking. She started at 11 months, but really got her confidence about a month later. She used sign language to tell us what she wanted. She used the potty. She had just gotten her dog Harley (and lost Tyler).

She didn't have much hair. She was charming, and smart. She was beautiful.

And she still is. Now she's 2! She's got a little bit more hair, she's a lot taller, and she is just as charming as ever. She doesn't talk much, but has a large American Sign Language vocabulary. She is able to communicate very effectively. She is totally diaper free and has been for almost 2 months. She's about 34 inches tall, weighs 23.5 pounds, and has a skinny little waist. She's got the prettiest dark blue eyes that shift to greyish blue sometimes. I can't believe she's 2 already! It seems like just a few months ago, we were bringing home a newborn.

Happy Birthday, Delilah!

23 April 2010

Molly #3!





Are you tired of looking at photos of Molly Monkeys???

This Molly was made for a friend's baby. I LOVE the fabric in her skirt! And I'm quite proud of the hand embroidery I did!

22 April 2010

Molly Monkey #2!




Molly #2 now has red mary jane shoes with an opalescent grey button on each.

D saw Molly #2 before I could hide her away and now has claimed BOTH of them as hers.

I now have 2 more on the go-both of which I will have to keep hidden from my daughter. ;) More pictures will come!

14 April 2010

Molly Monkey #1




After a few days of on and off again sewing, I finally finished the Molly Monkey I was sewing for D's upcoming 2nd birthday. She was really easy and fun to make. The hardest part was choosing the fabrics! I'm not in love with the beret; I might replace it with a bow.



I have another one on the go, too-a black narrow-wale corduroy with grey face. It's all cut out, it's face is embroidered and sewn on. I have to sew the limbs onto the body and stuff it, then she's done, too.

Edited to add: if you like Molly, head over to my Etsy shop and check out the other things I make!

07 April 2010

New Look #6954




Yet another dress finished for the commission. This is New Look #6954, View A, Size Small. The dress is made from a cotton/poly broadcloth in a rusty orange colour. The original pattern didn't have the flower embellishment, but there was a View B overdress that had 2 flowers on the skirt. I took one of those flowers and placed in on the bodice of my dress, and added an adorable orange button with vintage-y flowers stamped on it. The cream fabric is a cream-on-cream dahlia print. I like it.

This dress took me only a few hours to make. I started it yesterday and completed it this morning. I am not 100% finished, but the only thing remaining is to sew on the hook and eye closure. I will do that as soon as I find my hook and eyes. ;)

This pattern was a little frustrating. I disliked the way they instructed I attach the sleeves, and the zipper instructions were confusing. So I did them my way. In addition, the sleeves aren't gathered enough at the top of the shoulder where it attaches to the dress. If I were to make this dress again, I would use the sleeves from the next size up to add volume in the shoulders. I realize that the pattern doesn't really have gathered sleeves, so it's not a problem with the pattern.




06 April 2010

Rainy Days = Sewing Days

With a daughter (and a dog) who LOVES to be outside, from morning until night, sewing all day just isn't possible. I got practically nothing done all last week due to the nice weather.

Today I woke to overcast skies and intermittent showers. Yay! Normally I wouldn't be happy about that, but I really have been itching to get at the sewing projects again. I have several things on the back burner, and need to get more done on the commission work.

I still have 2 dresses to make, then possibly another 2 in pillowcase style. I got one kid's tie done and might do another. I also have 2 more tie orders that need to get finished-they are cut out but not sewn.

On top of all that, I have some sewing for ME that I'd like to get done. I started the "Maternity or Not Frock" (definitely NOT) and a tube top that I'll be making. I'd love to make some summery skirts, too. I have a couple pairs of shorts, but I really like skirts for the summer. I find as I get older, I prefer to dress in a more modest manner, and one more suitable for my age. Just because I have the legs of a 20 year old, doesn't mean I need to show them!!! I do wear longer shorts that have a hem closer to my knee. I have some shorter shorts but don't know if I will wear them that much.

I've been working on the Etsy shop. I need to get my items re-photographed with better lighting and consistency. I also need to plan what items I will be featuring in my shop, and plan for expansion. I love making zippered pouches and they are relatively inexpensive. The best part about them is that they don't take a lot of fabric, so I can make them with scraps from other projects and turn little pieces of fabric into gorgeous accessories.

04 April 2010

New Etsy Items

So with all the sewing I've been doing, I've decided to re-start my Etsy store. I've gotten a couple ties added (child and adult size), as well as a silk zippered pouch for makeup/money/whatever. I'll be adding stuff as I go.

I am hoping to get some business doing commissioned work, but custom Etsy orders would be great, too. I will be adding more and more items to the shop as I go, so check in often to see new stuff!

02 April 2010

Completed Projects



Here are two of the finished commissioned projects. The buttons on the dress make it perfect. And the vintage hand-embroidered lace trim circa 1940's is amazing.

The child size bow tie turned out well, and has 2 snaps for adjustment (and so Tisha doesn't have to tie the bow each time). I'll try to make the bow perfect so she can just use it that way.

Delilah loved the bow tie. I might have to make her one.

01 April 2010

Tie One On


Bow ties are classic and contemporary, all at the same time. Dress them up or dress them down-the possibilities are endless.

To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie. Bow ties are worn by magicians, country doctors, lawyers and professors and by people hoping to look like the above. But perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think."

—Warren St John, The New York Times


I've recently gotten several bow tie orders. The first was for a child size, for use in the photo shoot that my friend is holding. I also have 3 adult orders in different colours. I am hoping to get some more orders, as they are fun to make, and not as involved as clothing. I might have to spread more into accessories for a change of pace.


I use silk-it's available in a wonderful array of shimmery, beautiful colours. From black to red, purple, green...the solid colours are amazing. I'm still searching for a source of patterned/polka dot silk. I might also check out the taffeta selection at Len's Mill.


The best part of a bow tie is that it's unexpected. Obviously, a bow tie is the norm with tuxedos, but with a regular sports coat or even just a button up shirt and jeans? It's a great way to show a bit of personality.


I decided to put the bow ties on sale at my Etsy shop. Here's a link:

30 March 2010

Projects in Progress







So as I mentioned, I am currently working on a large commission which involves (at least) 4 dresses and a boy's bow tie. I've finished one dress and am almost done the 2nd. Here are some in-progress photos.

The yellow dress was the first dress to be sewn up. It actually has halter ties-it's not strapless. ;)

The seafoam green dress is almost done now, all that is left is finishing the inside side seams to prevent fraying, and the bottom hem-I'll be adding vintage hand-sewn lace embroidery. I plan on taking about 4 inches off the bottom to allow room for the lace so it doesn't drag on the floor. And some buttons at the top for embellishment. It should be awesome when it's done-not bad considering I didn't use a commercial pattern! And the sleeves turned out PERFECTLY! Whew!

Sewing, sewing, sewing

I've been commissioned by an old school friend - who happens to be a professional photographer-to make 4 dresses for an upcoming photo shoot. The dresses are to be made to fit a 6 month, 12 month, 18 month, and 24 month old. The four dresses are all of different design, so it's not like I'm using the same pattern to make all 4. Each one will have it's own unique twist, whether it's vintage lace, trim, ribbon, buttons, or ruffles. The shoot is coming up this summer, so I have a bit of time to get them done.

In addition to the dresses, I will also be making a little boy's bowtie (or two) for the same shoot. And maybe a newsboy cap.

Having announced the commission on Facebook, I immediately got orders for 3 full-sized bowties, one of which is due to be delivered this weekend. So I suppose I better get started on it. I'm kind of hesitant to cut into the beautiful silk I purchased--I don't want to mess it up. But I guess I have to, if I'm going to sew it!

So far I've completed two dresses (but only one counts for the commission, since the two dresses were practically identical in size and design-one was for practice) and have one that I already made that is suitable for the project. So technically I only have two to make, but I will likely make more than that. Just for funsies.

I have one in process right now--I made the pattern myself, and am learning how to make gathered sleeves, too. Should be fun. Haha. I'm more than a little intimidated by the idea, but we'll see how that goes. Once I get this dress completed, I'll make a tiny 3-6 month size shirred sundress to ease my brain. Easy to make the pattern, easy to sew the shirring detail. Just a little time consuming. THEN I'll start on the final dress, which will be completed using an actual PATTERN! A store-bought, commercial pattern! Almost unheard of-I generally make all the patterns for D's stuff using online tutorials, or I just wing it. Fun times.

Pictures will follow, as long as the customer doesn't mind.

11 March 2010

MAY 1-7, 2010 = Spring Top Week

I've joined another challenge. And this one isn't about reducing your paper towel consumption, or replacing all your regular lightbulbs with CFLs. No, this is a sewing challenge. A TOP sewing challenge, to be precise. Made by Rae has issued a Spring Top Week challenge. Go over to see the details if you're interested!

Anyone who knows me will be aware that I've been in a bit of a sewing frenzy, lately. I've made D halter tops, 2 sun dresses, and about a billion pairs of pants. Well, that "sewing for someone else" phase is over, for now. I will attempt to make myself not one, but several shirts. Nice light summery shirts, and maybe a dressy one or two. We'll see.

In any case, I started my first one last night. True to form, I don't actually have a pattern, but will be using a tutorial I found online (actually my friend found it for me). Here is the link to the pattern. I've picked my fabric and got started on it last night. I'll use a lovely cream on cream dahlia print for the straps and (in typical me fashion) army green (ish) for the body of the shirt. We'll see how it turns out!

To cement the deal, I have challenged my friend Melanie to a little challenge of our own: we'll each wear a top of our making on our IKEA day trip we're doing the first week of April. I've thrown down the gauntlet!

26 February 2010

Rules for a lifestyle of healthy eating

I've done a lot of research and have practical experience with fitness and weight loss. I've been active in sports most of my life, from being a small child participating in gymnastics and soccer, floor hockey and other intramural sports, to being on a travel team for soccer. Then I transitioned into gym activities (cardio and other classes, and weight training).

Only recently have I joined SparkPeople online. It's a free resource that-honestly-is the best thing I've done in a long long time. If you don't know what it is, it's an online community and resource that is simply irreplaceable. You have forums and articles and the support of millions of other people, but you also have a nutrition tracker (where you can track every thing you eat so you can fix and maintain your eating habits), a fitness tracker, and free videos that show you everything from how to make the perfect meal to how to perform a bicep curl with free weight. There are even full-length exercise videos available for free. FREE!

I've learned that losing weight-and maintaining your goal weight-is 20% exercise (cardio and weight training) and 80% diet. You can work out all you want, but if you eat crap, you're never going to drop those pounds.

Last night I was awake, thinking about the 3 most important things I've learned when it comes to diet. And when I say "diet", I don't mean "Only eat ______ for 3 days" or starving yourself. "Diet" to me means lifestyle. Eating to live, not living to eat. In any case, here are the three things that I feel are MOST important to being successful in being healthy and being at a healthy weight:


1) PORTION CONTROL - this is, for me, probably the most important thing to be aware of when eating. Most people eat WAY too much. A regular serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup, not those huge bowls piled high that you get in a restaurant. Also, that bottle of soda you're about to drink actually has 2.5 servings in it, so when you read the nutritional info on the side, you need to multiply it to get the actual count. Tricky.

2) EAT SMART - sure, you have a range of calories you should consume in a day. Mine is set according to my activity level, current weight, and nursing status. I aim to consume between 1800-2400 calories a day. I try to stay near the low end, but some days I just want more, so I go into the higher end. I'm still seeing weight loss, so it's working.

Having said that, the part about being smart is this: 100 calories of crap isn't going to do much for you by way of filling you up or providing any nutritional value. Have your treat of a couple pieces of dark chocolate, if you have a craving, but don't eat that entire family-sized chocolate bar.

Eating smart also includes healthy fats: almonds and other nuts, olive oil, butter, full-fat milk products, lean meats, and coconut oil. We don't eat any other type of oil. Highly-processed vegetable oils contain nothing good for you. In addition, you need to eat fat. Fat is instrumental in delivering many vitamins (A,D,E and K) as well as making you feel fuller for longer. I dispute the lipid hypothesis in that eating fat makes you fat-I think eating unhealthy fats make you fat. Think McDonalds, highly processed foods, and high-fructose corn syrup. Disgusting stuff.

3) DRINK WATER. I can't stress how important this is. Not only does virtually every function of your body require adequate amounts of water to be at optimum levels, but drinking water makes you feel full. Many times when I felt "hungry", I was simply thirsty. It's amazing how much better I felt (and looked) once I started drinking 8-10 glasses (or more) a day. Lines that have been on my face for YEARS look shallower and in some cases have even disappeared. My hair is shiny. I have tons more energy, and I feel great. I think a large part of that is due to my increased intake of water.

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning (after bathroom break and weighing in) is to drink a full glass of water. Then I drink my coffee, have some breakfast, and have another glass. I keep a 750 mL glass jar with lid full of water through the day and drink at least 3 of them. I drink a glass of water before each meal and that ensures I don't overeat.

I barely miss drinking other beverages. I would much rather EAT my calories instead of drinking them. Of course, once in a while, I'll have a bit of juice or a half-glass of soda. Most of the time, a glass of kombucha totally cures my craving for a coke. Otherwise, water totally satisfies me. Sometimes I'll throw a bit of lemon or lime into the jar or pitcher of water for a bit of added flavour and some vitamin C.

~~~
All in all, I think these three things are the most important things I need to do in order to be successful at losing and keeping the weight off. Follow these rules and you should be on the track to good health. Good luck!

08 February 2010

Insanity Workout Review-Week 3 Day 1: 2nd Fit Test!

Woohee!

I just completed my second fit test. I didn't have my first test results in front of me, because I wanted to push myself because I was better, not to just beat my last test results. So I just got the chance to compare and I am impressed!

Here are my results (first week results are in burgundy):
Switch Kicks 80/88
Power Jacks 37/47
Power Knees 77/90
Power Jumps 25/29
Globe Jumps 7/9
Suicide Jumps 16/16
Pushup Jacks - I did 34 girl pushups, my hand was still too sore to do the pushup jacks.
Low Plank Obliques 45/56

Looking at these numbers, I can see that I've improved quite a bit. I feel a lot stronger, and my endurance has improved a lot.

As for my weigh-in and measurements, it seems as though I haven't lost any weight, but I'm sure that's just water weight. I've lost (since my last fit test) 1 inch off of my waist and hips and thighs. (That's 1 inch off of each). That's 3 inches lost in 2 weeks. And I can really tell the difference!




06 February 2010

Insanity Workout Review-Week 2 Day 6 Pure Cardio AND Cardio Abs

What a GREAT workout today! I think the only way I got through it was remembering that I have tomorrow off!

Seriously though, today was my first day doing both a regular workout plus Cardio Abs. Needless to say, I was a little worried, especially since it was Pure Cardio I was doing first!!!

Pure Cardio seems to get a little less intimidating each time. I dreaded it this morning, but once I got going, it wasn't so bad. I just focus on getting through one exercise at a time-in 60 second blocks. Then, move on and start over. I didn't take many breaks-just a couple times when I realized my heart rate was a little high.

Instead of doing the cool down and stretches at the end of Pure Cardio, I moved straight into Cardio Abs (does that make me crazy??) and when that was done, I rewound to the cool down for Pure Cardio.

Cardio Abs-what can I say? Feel the burn, baby! I tend to have really strong abs so I didn't find it super challenging, but it was a good workout. I had to alter the high plank to the low plank, as my thumb is still really bruised and sore.

All in all, today was a good workout, but I'm glad I don't have to do that all the time! Intense, but good.

On a side note, I made vanilla pudding a couple days ago for my daughter. For lunch today (salmon salad on D'Italiano Whole Wheat Thintini buns, a slice of extra old cheddar cheese, and water), I had a half cup of pudding with 1 tbsp of organic strawberry jam mixed in-YUM.

Now I need a nap.

04 February 2010

Insanity Workout Review-Week 2 Day 4 Cardio Recovery

I hadn't realized that for the first 3 weeks, Thursdays are Cardio Recovery Day. That's cool. But I feel as though I should be doing cardio-funny, huh? I guess that means that exercise is becoming a habit. That's good.

I must say, though-each day when I'm doing the workout, I think to myself, "maybe I'll just do the warm up today" and then I mentally kick myself in the pants and push myself through the workout. Amazing how that works.

Last night I had a breakthrough. I was having a hard time fighting cravings/night time hunger. Even though I was at my limit for calories, I'd feel like I needed something more. But when I was researching the importance of water, I learned that many people confuse thirst with hunger, and eat when they should be drinking. So yesterday I really focused on getting enough water and after dinner, when I felt "hungry", I drank water. I ended up drinking 10 glasses of water yesterday-that's 2.5 L of water! The best part-I didn't cave to those cravings AND I ended up being closer to my lower range of calories.

03 February 2010

The Importance of Drinking Enough Water

Water is a basic life requirement. Our bodies are composed of (approx) 70% water-practically every system uses water. Blood, brain, breathing, organs, joints, muscles, skin...all of these things and more are dependent upon water. Dehydration is the #1 trigger for daytime fatigue-not lack of sleep!

What may be surprising to some is the link between weight loss (or optimal weight maintenance) and being adequately hydrated. I read on weightlossforall.com that water makes your metabolism burn 3% faster. In addition, being sufficiently hydrated allows your body to be working at peak performance. That's a desirable outcome.

Another issue linking water to weight loss is this-and I can attest to it's veracity, as I have experienced it myself: sometimes people confuse thirst with hunger and eat instead of drinking water. Imagine if your body was trying to tell you to drink water, and instead, you ate a bag of chips. So not only are you eating all those unnecessary and unwanted calories (and fat, and salt...), but you're still not getting the water your body needed in the first place. Interesting. I have noticed, today especially, that if I concentrate on drinking when I feel "hungry", I was actually just thirsty, as the sensation went away after drinking a glass of water. Now of course, I could be filling myself up with water, but that's not a bad thing, either. I know I've consumed enough calories for my energy output for today, so anything that might stop me from going out to the kitchen and grabbing a handful of those Oreos is a GOOD THING.

Recommendations for water intake vary, but the general rule seems to be to consume at LEAST 8 cups (that's 250 mL, or 8 oz in each cup) of water daily. Some say that a person should consume 1 oz of water for every 2 pounds of body weight-so at 141 pounds I should be drinking a minimum of 8.8 cups of water a day (and that minimum doesn't take in to consideration people who exercise-they have a higher requirement).

Don't like the taste of water? Throw some lemon wedges in there, or orange, or lime. Or all three! Any citrus will freshen up your water and provide a bit of vitamin c, at the same time. A bit of lemon in your water will also assist in suppressing appetite, as well.

One last bit of water info: keeping your body sufficiently hydrated will also assist in keeping your skin healthy. People who drink enough water look younger, have fewer wrinkles, and generally, just look good.

So go and have a glass of water-you probably need it!

Insanity Workout Review - and my first Derby Injury

Today was Week 2 Day 3 of the Insanity Workout. The workout was the Plyo Cardio Circuit, and I found it a little easier to keep up this week, as compared to the very first time I did it (which was Week 1 Day 2). I didn't do any of the pushups this week (explained later in this post), but did wall pushups instead. My heartrate was pretty high so I ended up doing simple squats rather than power squats on the 2nd and 3rd time through the circuits.

As for why I didn't do the pushups-well, it's because I got hurt at roller derby practice last night. We were practicing whips and I skated up to Connie, who was the whipper, and even though we were on the bend I took the whip. Unfortunately, I let go of her (and she let go of me) too early thru the bend and I ended up headed for the concrete wall. I didn't have time to stop, so I slowed down as much as I could and ended up wiping out-CRASH. I went down really hard on my right wrist and smashed into the wall (which is entirely too close to the edge of the track) and a piece of wood and a saw table (left there by the owner, I'm sure). I went down pretty hard on my left hip but my right hand took the brunt of it. Even with the wristguards on, I immediately felt that I had done something to the base of my thumb. I got up and skated off the track and got some ice on it. I didn't feel it was broken but knew it was bruised, at least.

Driving home, the thumb felt worse and worse. It was throbbing constantly and when I tried to touch my thumb to my pinky finger or actually touched the base of my thumb, I had sharp stabbing pain. Then I tried to go to sleep and tossed and turned for almost 2 hours, trying to find a position that didn't make my hand throb even worse than it did already.

This morning, I figured I had better make sure I hadn't cracked or broken any bones and took myself to the ER (small town has no urgent care clinic) where they did some xrays. Turns out I just severely bruised the thumb. What a relief! It would suck to injure myself and have to take time off of practices-or stop doing the Insanity workouts. Having said that, it hurts enough that I can't do push ups. Grr.

Pictures of the spectacular bruising will follow.

My Weightloss Progress