Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We did it!

On March 1st, I convinced John that we should go the entire month without eating any of our meals out in restaurants, drive-thru's, etc. All meals were to be taken in our home, or the homes of others. I knew it would be tough. I've never gone a month cooking every single meal at home. Have you?

At first I thought it was just a silly challenge with a few benefits, namely to our health and on our wallets. I'm pleased to say that since we have now reached March 31st, we succeeded!! While, I probably did benefit from avoiding fried foods, excess salt, butter, cream, full fat ingredients, sugar, etc. I don't think I lost any weight. Still working on that one. And also, contrary to what I first believed, eating all meals in was not necessarily cheaper. In fact, some weeks at the grocery store were way over our normal budget. You wouldn't think adding one meal (Saturday night in our case) would blow the receipt but it certainly did.

So, what did I really learn? The cheesy answer is that you can do anything you put your mind to. The more realistic answer is that we really missed eating out. We don't have a lot going on most weekends and going out to eat is often our main form of entertainment. This month off certainly didn't break the habit. We're already planning our return to restaurants this Saturday with a birthday meal observed at a new restaurant nearby for a big fatty burger. I think this challenge would really benefit folks who eat out more than 3 times a month (our norm). So, if you're one of those people, do you think you can hack it? I bet you can.....if you put your mind to it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cake and wine!

Well, not really. Just Layer Cake wine. I picked up a bottle of Cotes du Rhone by Layer Cake a couple weeks ago. I keep reading great things about Layer Cake and I decided it was time to see for myself. The fact that the bottle was on sale for $12.99 didn't hurt. I think it's normally $16 or $17. Besides being a new winery to me, I've also never tried a Cotes du Rhone before. It was similar, in my opinion, to a Cabernet Sauvignon. Now, those with a much more seasoned palate will probably laugh at this observation but I love a good cab sauv, so I'm sticking to it.

Aha. Upon further investigation, this is actually a Syrah from the Rhone Valley. And on the bottle: "My old grandfather told me the soils in which the vines lived were a layer cake. If properly made, the wine from these vines was like a delicious cake layered with fruit, mocha and chocolate, with hints of spice and rich, always rich. Never pass up a good Layer Cake.”

The tasting notes also reference blueberries, black currants and star anise. Mmm, spicy!

Don't you just love that? I love cake. I love wine. This is a new favorite for me. I definitely tasted the mocha and chocolate. It was fab. I will definitely slice up this Layer Cake again.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I thought it was time for a little nonfiction so upon recommendation, I checked out Columbine by Dave Cullen from the library. The title says it all. Columbine is Cullen's report and the culmination of 10 years of research of what happened on April 20, 1999 in Columbine High School when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a killing rampage. Cullen was a newspaper reporter in Colorado at the time of the shootings and reported on them first-hand. In the years since, he has interviewed countless witnesses and family members of the 13 victims.

Cullen jumps between accounts of the actual attack and the lives of the victims, Harris and Klebold, trying to sort out what led to this horrible event. This book was intense. It was so compelling; I did not want to put it down. It was the first time in a long time that I didn't look at the page count and try to figure out how much I had left. I just kept reading. This is the most interesting nonfiction read I've swallowed in awhile. I highly recommend reading Columbine.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Six Hour Afghan

I started this 6 hour afghan from Lion Brand something like 3 months ago. No, I haven't been working on it for 3 months straight. In fact, I was nearly done with it and then I put it down for 6 weeks because I was bored and moved onto sewing. I was also discouraged that the pattern did not make this nearly as wide as I like in an afghan. (I am also not particularly fond of the word afghan but I'll use it a lot in this post.) I thought I could knit 2 and stitch them together. That really discouraged me, considering I was nearly done. Well, I've abandoned knitting a second blanket and will just use this as a smaller throw. It's a one person blanket. No cuddling on the couch. Except maybe with Sadie. She'll find herself a corner of blanket anywhere.

This pattern required the purchase of Speed Stix. Have I shown you these? It seems vaguely familiar. Well, here they are again! OK, scratch that. I haven't uploaded them from my camera yet. Just know that they're GIANT knitting needles. That's what was supposed to help make this a six hour project. Silly Lion Brand.

This pattern, while labeled Beginner, also allowed me to learn a new skill: sewing with multiple skeins of yarn at one time. In this case, it was four. I used Lion Brand's Homespun yarn (super soft!) in Cream (two skeins), Earth (which is brown, duh), and Sierra (kind of a marbling of the other two plus some burnt orange). I was going for muted tones since I plan on leaving this over the back of the chaise in my living room. Originally it was going to be all cream but I quickly decided against that thinking it might be a bit difficult.

Anyway, here it is! I really like how it turned out. It's very cozy, which is what I wanted. And just slightly narrow.

Mad Skillz Mastered: knitting with multiple strands

Yarn Used: Lion Brand Homespun

Cost: Speed stix $8.00 (with coupon)
Yarn $35.00 (normally $5.99/skein but it was on sale and I had coupons, 8 skeins total)
Pattern FREE!

Total: $43.00 - so those of you questioning whether knitting is cheaper than buying? No, sometimes it's not. But, this project wasn't really about saving money for me. And now I have the speed stix if I feel like making this one again.

Grade: A+ ...... even though it was narrower than I wanted, I followed the pattern to a T, didn't drop any stitches, and have a completely usable afghan. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Run Ashley Run

Guys! Yesterday I ran outside for the first time since Thanksgiving in Austin. It was awesome! I was a bit leery of how my foot would do. My podiatrist said to cut mileage by 25% for a few runs when you're easing back into outside running. He also said running on the sidewalk is the worst possible thing you could do for your feet. Nuts to that. I sure didn't feel like driving to a trail. Part of the allure of running outside is the fact that I can just tie my shoes, leash up Sadie and go. Driving to a trail defeats the purpose. Especially considering the trail is directly behind my gym. Sheesh!

Anyway, I was trying to hit 25 minutes to save my foot and also not to overdo it. My shins hurt almost immediately. Oh, so that's why you shouldn't run on sidewalks. Whoops! I pushed through the pain with Sadie pacing me. She drags me down the sidewalk because John runs up ahead of us and she likes to try to catch him. I'm sure she's thinking, "If only I didn't have this heifer lashed to my harness." I made it my full 25 minutes and my foot didn't hurt at all! It was a ped miracle. Actually, it was because I did my special stretches twice before running and have been pretty consistent about them for awhile.

It was 70 degrees while I was running. Awesome! And of course today it's rainy and 40 and it might snow tomorrow. Guess I forgot it was still spring in Ohio......

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wine Night!

John and I have decided to start having a wine night with some good friends of ours. We offered to host the inaugural event. I was in charge of choosing the wine theme. C'est vrai! I got lots of library books on wine for guidance. Eventually, I settled on wines from the Alsace region of France. This is a variety that I was unfamiliar with and since our wine night is all about exploration, learning, and fun, I thought this was a good fit. In hindsight, I should have gone to the wine store prior to selecting the theme. We had to go to 3 wine shops before we found any of the: Riesling, Pinot Gris, or Gewurtraminer from this region. Our guests had to go to 4. Whoops! Sorry, guys. What troopers! Don't you just love getting invited to someone's house and being sent on a wild goose chase?

Anyway, in all of my research, I found out that Asian foods pair well with these wines. I made Crab Rangoon from Spark People (low fat!) and John made Thai Chicken Pizza from Rachael Ray. I eschewed the "no new recipes for company rule" and it paid off. I'm not abiding by that rule anymore. These were both delicious. And my guests had seconds so I think they liked them too! I also had a cheese tray. Here it is. It's the only thing I remembered to take a picture of. Can you believe it? I was so mad at myself. The cheese plate says 'Le Fromage' but it's covered up.

Oh, and a veggie tray! I used this dip from Martha. Lemon thyme. Also low fat. Holler! I had every intention of making fondue but we had a little incident and the chocolate ended up with the consistency of dirt. Curses! Luckily, I had also assigned dessert to my guests. They brought yummy cherry and chocolate cheesecakes. And left us with the leftovers. Thanks, guys!

Now, onto the drinks..... All three wines were from 2007. Not sure if that was a good year or what but they all tasted good. And I think they all retailed for around $18-$20. There were others that were way more expensive but we were not on champagne budgets tonight. Hosting wine night is plus pricey!

This was the Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris. It was very mild tasting. Super citrusy. Lots of lemon and on the bottle, "A well structured, elegant wine with a dry character."

Here is our Riesling from Pierre Sparr. This was a crowd pleaser and it was dry as well. The bottle says "Floral with scents of lime and apple." A similar flavor palate to the Pinot but a completely different taste.

And finally, and my favorite, a Gewurztraminer from The Furst. This was the best label. It talked about the artist's painting of the girl/clown on the front and how she was despondent. We all got a big kick out of that. Gewurtzes have a very interesting taste you don't normally find in other whites.

So, we learned some lessons for this first wine night but overall, c'est si bon! Can't wait until the next one!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Club Dead

Club Dead is the 3rd Sookie Stackhouse book by Charlaine Harris. If you're unfamiliar with this series, Sookie is a twenty-something telepath who dates Bill, a vampire. It's kind of trashy but it's all in good fun. The series takes place in Lousiana. In this installment, Sookie finds out Bill is going on a secret mission of sorts. Turns out Bill gets himself into a tough spot and Eric, one of the head vamps, tells Sookie she should try to save him. It also turns out Bill has been cheating on Sookie (see? kinda trashy). Anyway, Sookie travels to Jackson, Mississippi to find Bill, and some answers on his fidelity.

I liked Club Dead better than the last book, the name of which escapes me right now. Bill is not my favorite character and a semi-potential love interest is introduced by Harris in Club Dead. I'm looking forward to seeing if he reappears down the road since there are still 6 more books or something. I think I like the Sookie Stackhouse series because it's pretty mindless. It's a nice departure to break up the heavier books and boy have I got some heavy ones coming up. In fact, 4 of them came up on my hold list at the same time and when I went to pick them up at the library, the guy checking me out said, "Not the most uplifting selections, huh?" Well, it's not my fault all of the sad and depressing books happened to be available at the same time. Sheesh!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bathroom BFF Strikes Again

I thought I had broken my work bathroom BFF's affinity for speaking to me while in the stall. Oh, how wrong I could be. She has always loved to comment on my coffee pot. She does this because in the morning, I get the water for the coffee and in the afternoon, I wash out the pot. I think she times her trips to the restroom to talk about how I am often seen with the coffee pot.

Mid-morning today I made the mistake of walking into the bathroom after her. She asked where my coffee pot was and I told her I had already made the coffee. Then, as we both headed towards our respective stalls, she asked me about my necklace. It's a new necklace that I rather enjoy so I was glad someone took notice but then, she proceeded to question me about it mid-pee. Not okay, BBFF. I don't talk mid-pee and she forced me to. I knew if I ignored her until handwashing time that she would just keep talking to me with total disregard of my silence.

I was saved, or thwarted, by her phone ringing. Which she answered. In stall. By this point, I was already at the sink and heading out the door. Thank God. I think we all know how I feel about phone talking in the bathroom. Unheard of!

Figuring I had my one major run-in with her of the day behind me, I wasn't expecting a second ambush. In the afternoon, I walked into the bathroom and a voice yells, "I swear that was not me." It was definitely her but since she was still in the stall talking (surprise!) she didn't know it was me. I didn't respond. I thought she was on the phone again. Then she says, "Sometimes I swear it smells like a sewer in here." WHAT?! Still, I held my tongue. When is it ever appropriate to comment about the restroom aroma while you're in the stall? Not only have you brought attention to the stink, I now think you are most certainly the offender since you voluntarily denied it. What is it with this woman?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weighing Issues

My wedding weight by anniversary date challenge is so-so these days. I had kind of a calorie fest this weekend (more on that tomorrow or the next day) so that's not good. However, we've made it to the home stretch on our no eating out challenge. Only one more weekend to go! I'm proud of our accomplishment thus far. But, this post isn't about that. It's more about a continuing struggle with weight that a lot of us have.

I am, admittedly, in the best shape of my life right at this moment. I work out 5 days a week alternating cardio and strength training. While I'm not at the lowest weight I've ever been, I know I've added muscle and am more toned than ever as well. So, these are all good things. What's not good is when you step on a scale and the person weighing you says, "whoa!" It's kind of like when you stand on the Wii Fit board and it lets out a surprised "OH!" Same thing.

In zumba class we're having a challenge to help everyone achieve their own weight loss goals. This required weighing in. I was excited for this because I often have doubts about the accuracy of our home scale (which we did replace the batteries in finally, not sure if I told you that or not). Anyway, I step on the scale and it hits a number I was completely expecting. It also meant that my home scale is pretty accurate, so that's good. But the person recording the score said, "Whoa! I didn't expect it to be that high." Never good. I could see she was slightly embarrassed by the comment so I said, "Yeah, I get that a lot." I'm tall so that adds pounds and I like to think I carry my weight well. Still, this brought back screaming memories of a time when I went to the doctor in college (granted I was 30 lbs heavier at that point) and the doctor said, "I wouldn't have guessed you weighted that much but I would have said you were large."

I would have said you were large. Also not something someone, especially a young woman struggling with her weight, ever wants to hear. EVER. Anyway, I was telling the instructor before class about my weigh in and she paid me an awesome compliment about how I look so much thinner and toned lately and that I must have lost a lot of weight. And truth be told, I haven't really lost any weight. She said I must weigh heavy like she does. She is tiny. I wish I was that small. So, I'm going with that. I weigh heavy. And I must keep reminding myself, it's not the number on the scale. It's how my clothes fit and how healthy I feel. And I still maintain, this is the healthiest I've ever been.

So, bring it on zumba challenge! Hopefully you can help me reach my goal. Despite what I just said about it not being about a number on a scale. All of my hard work would be worth it if I could just lose these 6 lbs. A lower number might even give me the mental boost towards another goal.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I kept coming across Moloka'i by Alan Brennert as a recommendation on multiple book boards. Without knowing the plot or anything, I put it on my hold list at the library. All those people can't be wrong, right? This is an older book, written in 2002, I think. Not that that really matters here.

Moloka'i is the story of Rachel Kalama, a young girl growing up in Hawaii in the late 1800's. During this time, the islands were being ravaged by a leprosy epidemic. Rachel contracts the disease and after spending some time in a hospital in Honolulu, she ends up being sent to the island of Moloka'i, where all the lepers go. At this time, she is just 7 years old. Alone and scared, Rachel learns to live with this debilitating disease and carry on with her life in exile. She is separated from her family and grows up on Moloka'i in a girls' home run by nuns. See what happens as she deals with heartache, death and, ultimately, life.

I thought this book was so good! It covers a large span of years but it moves along at a captivating pace. I was glad I took this recommendation. It was a nice departure to read a historical tale of this nature. Rachel is a wonderful heroine. Check this one out!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


This past Saturday, under the influence of perhaps one too many Jade Martinis, I downloaded the Fart Sounds app on my iphone. Before you judge, it was free. I don’t pay for apps, even though the pay ones are probably better. At the time, this seemed a fantastic idea. Hilarity ensued as I continued to play each of the 15+ fart sounds for myself. I cracked up time and again. My cheeks hurt I was laughing so hard. What’s funnier than a fake fart? A real fart probably. Especially an inappropriately timed fart. On Sunday morning, when I discovered my accidental app downloading, I thought twice about deleting it. Ultimately, I decided against it. I’m keeping this app. Shameful? Maybe. But it makes me laugh like a 9 year old and I could use a little laughter in my life right now. I’m still waiting for a good opportunity to play a fart sound in public and watch strangers try not to laugh. Such as in the movie theatre. This will embarrass John to no end. *rubs hands together gleefully* I dare, nay, defy you to download this app and try not to laugh as you play the squeeler, loud and long, and the like.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Halfway Through

We have made it halfway through March in our ‘eating all meals in’ challenge. There was a near moment of weakness this weekend. I may have mentioned before that I often fall down on my wifely duties when it comes to planning weekend lunches. Because we both pack our lunch throughout the weak, we quickly tire of soup, sandwiches, etc. This is what is usually readily available for lunch at home when we’re just plain sick of it. Typically, Saturday’s lunch is just leftovers from Friday night but I arranged the meals poorly this past week and we had to fall back on Kraft Mac & Cheese. By the time Sunday rolled around, we were really out of ideas. In Target, John says, “Let’s just go to Jimmy John’s and forget this whole thing.” I admit. I wavered for a minute. I love me some JJ’s roast beef, and their kettle chips are my fave. But, I steeled my reserve and said, “No. We’re better than this. I will not lose this challenge on a lunch. A LUNCH! Nay, we shall find sustenance at home.” (Dramatic interpretation possibly exaggerated) So instead, even though the past 3 nights of dinner involved marinara, we went home and thawed some meatballs for subs. They were delicious. They tasted of basil and sweet victory.

Only 2 more weeks. If I can just hold it together on the lunches, we’re home free. John even said to me, “I don’t miss eating out anymore.” He’ll find this statement foolish in April as we’ve already been planning on return to the restaurants. And good news, Friday’s grocery bill was back to well within reason. That first meat buying trifecta week was a fluke, much as I suspected.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dress sewing fail :(

I had high hopes for this dress, the one on the left. It is B5210, a 'Fast & Easy' pattern from Butterick. It might have been both fast and easy if I were better at pleats. Those gave me a run for my money. I also changed the stitch length for this piece so when I had to rip out the front collar it took me a lot longer than expected. Anyway, I had my doubts about the fit of this dress even before I started sewing. I had every intention of measuring the pattern prior to cutting like a good little seamstress but apparently, that plan didn't stick with me. I cut out the dress as a 10 totally not thinking. That last blouse I made was a 10 but I'm much smaller on top than I am on the bottom. When I went back to measure (after it was all cut out) I quickly realized this was probably not going to fit over my hips.

Still, I sewed. I worked hard on those top pleats. I sewed the front collar that didn't quite match up right (boatnecks are hard, y'all), twice. I made pockets (my first and will not be my last, they were so easy!). And then when I had only the bottom hem and zipper to install, I put on the dress. Not only was it slightly mini, it was so tight on my hips that I could pull it on but would not have been able to sit down. Let's just say, owing to the tightness and the length, my hoo-ha would have been on full display. (sorry the picture is so blurry. I had to take it fast because the dress kept falling off the hanger)

Is it better than I pretty much knew it wasn't going to fit from the beginning? I meant to cut a 12 but forgot, so that was an early mistake. I didn't finish it. I probably have about an hour left of sewing to finish it up but what's the point? I suppose if your hips are smaller than 42 inches I could send it to you. Also, if you're not 5'9" that will be helpful. Do you want this dress? It deserves a nice home. Or I guess I could always cut it off to make a blouse. Le sigh.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vino Vino

John had the privilege of selecting my weekend wines yesterday. I requested a Pinot Grigio and a surprise. He did well! Just a few hours earlier I had been reading about the wines from Villa San-Juliette winery in Paso Robles, CA. And what does he come home with? A Cabernet blend called Romantique from the very same vintners! Fate. This bottle is a 2005 and John said it was on sale for $8.99, down from $20. Score! Rarely (read: never) do we spend $20 on a bottle of wine. We typically try to keep it in the $8-$13 range so this was a real find. And do you know who is one of the masterminds behind VSJ? Nigel Lythgoe, judge/producer on So You Think You Can Dance and producer of American Idol. A real wine celeb, no? I thought that was super neat. And his picture is on their website and everything. Onto the wine...

On the bottle - "An exquisite dark ruby red color with complex plum, black currant and cocoa aromas all balanced by rich velvety tannins. Romantique will not only put you in the mood, it will help you enjoy it."

This was a tasty glass. Very full-bodied and the black currant really comes through. I don't know if I could taste the cocoa but, I'm sure it's in there. It doesn't appear, from the website, that they're producing Romantique anymore. That's probably why it was on sale. So, if you can find it, it's worth trying. Thumbs up, Nigel!

I would like to declare my love for a lazy Saturday morning. We usually have big plans to get up and workout early so we can get on with the day. Today however, I made a rain-induced decision to get up early and surprise John with homemade scones and coffee. It would have worked too if Sadie hadn't barked at something outside. Because our temps are normalizing here in Dayton, we can again open windows and our balcony door. Wheee!!!! This also means that Sadie is on full sentry duty warning of all comings and goings into the condo. So, John was awakened by her loquaciousness. No matter. He was still pleased as punch with my surprise breakfast. Wife bonus points! We enjoyed our breakfast and are still lazing around trying to figure out the rest of the day. Love it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain

I actually checked The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein out of the library some time ago and had to turn it in before I read it. This was before my rebel days of keeping books overdue so I could finish them and happily paying the fine. I finally made it to the top of the hold list again and have been really looking forward to this book. It was highly recommended on a lot of book boards.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is narrated by Enzo, a dog. He discusses life with his owner, Denny, a wannabe racecar driver, Denny's wife, Eve and their daughter Zoe. Enzo loves everything about racing. He watches race videos and likes riding along with Denny when he drives. Eventually, Eve falls ill and Enzo knows about that too, before anyone else. He truly is man's best friend to Denny through some very tough times throughout the story. I don't want to give too much away so I'll just stop there. Lots of plot ahead.

This book was great! It was funny at times, sad at other times and I loved the dog's point of view. I think even if you don't have a dog that you can appreciate the fresh perspective in this story. I won't tell you how it ended, obviously. But, I will tell you I had a whole rush of different emotions in the last 20 pages and it was all worth it. Thumbs up for Enzo. You will love him.

John and I skipped our weekly liquor & wine store run this past weekend (boy that makes us sound like lushes) and so I had to hope Meijer's wine department would come through me. I was thoroughly sated. I picked up a bottle of Pink Truck. It comes from Red Truck Winery in California. The bottle says it's a classic with a bold twist. Pink Truck is a blend of grapes including Zinfandel, Grenache, and Mourvedre. It was a 2008. Someday I'll look up to see if that was a good year in Sonoma. Apparently it's a 'real wine that complements your easygoing lifestyle.' Count me in!

Tasting notes reference strawberry, citrus, raspberry, pomegranate and a juicy orange. Fruity! I was pleased by Pink Truck. I wanted something light and relatively sweet and that's what I got. OK, it tasted kind of like juice, which made it go down real smooth. I got this on sale and I can't remember how much it was but their website says $8.99. I would buy this again, especially as it continues to get warmer outside and I start craving a lighter more refreshing libation.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sewing Spree, part two

This past weekend, I purchased the Butterick pattern B5217 'Fast & Easy'. My focus is on the red top but I am also interested in making the sleeveless version in yellow below. I purchased a Symphony Broadcloth fabric in flamingo pink. Exotic!

I have been wanting to tackle some new tops for awhile. I picked this one because it was labeled 'very easy.' WRONG! I am not a novice sew-er and there were parts of this pattern I found extremely difficult. Namely, the pleats and the cuffs. I put one of the cuffs on upside down. Oops! It ended up that you couldn't really tell. I'm still not sure how that happened. I have trouble selecting sizes with patterns. In tops, for some reason I subscribe to the theory that I should go true to size, or down a size. So, I cut this one in a 10. I thought it would be okay because it was pretty flowy. If you make this pattern, keep in mind that I am not a large-chested girl and the bust area might be a bit tight if you are more endowed than I. On me, it was okay though. Unfortunately, the cuffs ended up being too tight. All that weight lifting, you know! After an hour of seam ripping when I thought I was done, I re-sewed them larger and now they're fine. Oh, seam ripper. You are both my best friend and my worst nightmare.

Anyway, what do you think?

Pardon the non-hair and make up. I took these after my workout/shower. It doesn't look too maternity, does it?

Here is a close-up of the front. I had to learn how to slip stitch the top part. An invaluable skill, I'm sure, that I will use many times in my years of sewing to come. I can't believe I never learned until now! I love how the stitching is hidden. Super fantastic!

And here's the back. The color doesn't look right in this picture but I think it's going to be very fun for spring.

Yes, I hit some rough spots but in the end I persevered and I'm glad I did. I think it turned out relatively well. Enough that I'll be proud to wear it. I just hope it doesn't look homemade. That is never the goal. I can't wait to wear it, especially with shorts. :)

Pattern: $.99
Fabric: $3.60 (for 2 yards with a coupon, originally $2.99/yard)
Thread: $1.79

Grand Total: $6.38

Not bad for a few hours work!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sewing Spree

One of the fabrics I got at JoAnn's this weekend is pre-smocked on top. Perfect for a sundress! They have carried this type of fabric in the spring and summer for the last few years but it's usually short. Since maxi dresses are so popular, they finally got wise and made some longer lengths. So, the top is smocked elastic and then it billows out to make the dress bottom. All you have to do is sew the side seam and hem the bottom. Brilliant!

See? The flowers are a bright orange-y red. Love them! I'm wearing my sunglasses to show you how ready I am for our trip to Florida. Only 40 days away! Anyway, should you seek out this fabric to make a quick and easy sundress, you might benefit from these tips. Firstly, it's 45 cents an inch which equals $16.20/yard. Take a coupon! Number 2, the little paper with instructions by these fabrics recommends buying a length the measurement of your bust or hips plus one or two inches. This is far too much! I purchased a full yard and ended up cutting off a good 5 or 6 inches because the dress fell down. Another helpful Joann's cutter told me they recommend bust measurement minus an inch or 2. Now you know! Also, these should only be cut on the elastic part, the Joann's cutter should tear the bottom non-elastic part. My first lady didn't know this until someone told her just before she cut. If you use scissors on the bottom, it turns out all wonky. Don't be afraid to speak up!

Happy sundress sewing!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sewing and other Success

So far in our month of March non-eat out challenge, John and I have been successful! We have eaten all meals in for 8 days. We are doing this for health purposes and thought saving money might have been an added bonus. How wrong we were! Friday's trip to the grocery store resulted in a receipt that was at least $30 more than we normally spend. WHAT?! I'm not exactly sure how that happened except that we buy our meat in bulk and it was a meat buying week. Beef, chicken and fish. This doesn't typically happen all at once. This was something of an entree trifecta. But, it was slightly disconcerting considering we thought eating in exclusively would save some pennies. Oh well. We're still healthier for it (if we hadn't indulged in cake and chips at a friend's house on Saturday night) and if we made it through one week, we can make it through 3 more, right? No sweat!

I did some damage this weekend at JoAnn's. I'm using the fact that March is National Craft Month as my excuse. On Saturday, I bought some patterns and fabric. And then on Sunday, because a different sale/coupon was happening, I went again and spent nearly twice as much as I did the day before. Oops! On the bright side, I got enough fabric for multiple tops and dresses. I told John I won't be shopping for clothes now for awhile since I can just make them. Although I'm hoping he won't hold me to that. I even made 1 dress and1 top this weekend already. (More to follow on that later this week).

Here are some of the fabrics I'll be sewing with in the coming weeks.

The top two will be dresses and the bottom two blouses. Although, I got the side eye from John when I told him I was making a top out of the apple and pear fabric. He's skeptical. Silly John.

P.S. Still working on knitting that 6 hour afghan.....though truth be told, I haven't touched it in 2 weeks. Maybe I can finish it during craft month. Or if not, I'll just use it next fall.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Breaking Dawn

WARNING: If you have not read any of the Twilight Saga and are planning to, skip over this review. There may be spoilers and then why bother going through all 4 of these books?!

Breaking Dawn is the fourth and final installment in the Twilight Saga. In all previous books, Bella has begged to be turned into a vampire. Carlisle finally agrees if she promises to graduate from high school first. Edward is not pleased by this but also finally gives it his blessing if she promises to marry him first. So, Breaking Dawn begins with the wedding of Bella (whose 18 and a great age to get married!) and Edward. On their honeymoon, Bella gets pregnant after like 4 days (!?) and then carries this "baby" to term in a month or something crazy while it tries to kill her. Bella and Edward's child is half human/half vampire. (?!?!) During the birth, Bella nearly dies and must be turned into a vampire, as promised. (This is a crappy recap that I've lost interest in typing but don't want to give too much away.) Bella adjusts well to vampire-life. Jacob is around and has a very key role, as if he didn't before. The Volturi return, and they're not alone.....

OK, I did like Breaking Dawn but when Bella is able to be impregnated by an immortal being I thought, "Lame." Once you get past that, Breaking Dawn is pretty good. I was pleased with how everything ended up with the series too, which was nice. I didn't want to be disappointed. Overall, I'm glad I did take the time to read all four books. I'm even looking forward to seeing all the movies. The characters, most of them, are interesting and the story is relatively compelling as a whole.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two of my favorite things

Tonight was my night to substitute teach for zumba and it went great! My new shirt was super sassy. Although no one commented on it (bummer) and one of the ties by my armpit came undone during class (double bummer). Anyway, I was really nervous that people would find out they were having a sub and not want to stay. Or worse yet, demand a refund! I don't know where this fear came from because no one did that, luckily. In fact, everyone was really excited for me, which helped assuage my nerves. Slightly.

I was already sweating by the time class started (see above paragraph: nerves). And I had cotton mouth like a mother father. But I forged ahead, all the way through my playlist. It was exhausting! I didn't stop at all and I was trying to have lots of energy and set a good zumba example. In hindsight, I probably should have put in another slow song. It was all pretty up tempo. But, the new routine I learned (to the hokey pokey!) was a HIT! Everyone clapped for me after every song, which never happens. And then everyone clapped again at the end. I even woo-ed a few times, which I never do but felt I the instructor.

So, my zumba confidence is high tonight. As a reward, I think I'll have a glass of Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought this bottle for some friends a couple months ago but decided it sounded so good that I should try it for myself. If it has 'cupcake' in the name, it's gotta be tasty. Right? Cupcake is a California vineyard and their slogan is "Live deliciously." How cute is that? Love it! Anyway, the description on the bottle says the Cab "displays soft flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, plums, mocha and a touch of oak." I tasted a lot of dark cherry and oak. The other things I couldn't find. My palate is not too refined.

This bottle was $9.99 on sale at Meijer. I forget what the full price was. I probably should have tried it before gifting it to someone else. I liked it well enough though, so hopefully the recipients did too! I would buy this again. Thumbs up!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Zumba Re-fashion

I think I forgot to tell you that I'm substitute teaching my zumba class this Thursday. I am super nervous. Beyond nervous. I subbed once before, last August. It went well but it was also a Saturday class which has far fewer people than a weeknight class. For instance, tonight there had to have been 30+ people in class. BIG! So, I'm working on being more confident in my instructing skills. To help me, here's this zumba shirt that will give me magical powers to remember all the routines, yes?

Now, I'm not one for baggy t-shirts. I used to be, but not anymore. I usually wear a tank top to class. Very rarely do I wear sleeves. Sleeves are not as sexy for my zumba shimmy. HA! Anyway, this t-shirt needs some sass, yes? Check it out!

You may not be able to tell but I cut out the neck, Flashdance style. Trimmed up the sleeves and cut strips to tie up the sides. Way sassier! So, between all the practicing I've been doing and my new shirt, I should be good to go, right? Let's hope so! And here's hoping my nemesis skips that night.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Committed is Elizabeth Gilbert's latest memoir/non-fiction work. If you're not familiar with the Gilbert name, maybe you know the runaway hit Eat, Pray, Love, which topped all best seller charts for weeks and months on end a few years ago. She also wrote that and I believe it's soon to be a movie with Julia Roberts. Although I am too lazy to confirm that with IMDB. Just take my word for it. In Eat, Pray, Love Gilbert finds herself on a literal and figurative journey after a nasty divorce. She pretty much vows never to marry again.

And then we find ourselves in Committed, much to the author's and reader's surprise, Gilbert is about to embark on a journey into a second marriage. Born out of extenuating circumstances (her boyfriend is not a citizen), Gilbert does endless amounts of research and interviewing of various cultures and in many geographic locations to make sure this marriage does not end like her first. Committed is a marriage (pun not intended) of Gilbert's experiences and facts about the history of marriage. This is both interesting at times, and very slow at other times.

All in all, I did enjoy Committed. However, don't start with this one if you've not yet read Eat, Pray, Love. That one makes for a much better read than Committed. Sorry Liz.