Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meet Sally

Look! It's my new baby. Her name is Sally and she is a 2010 Honda CR-V. This picture is of the latest model. Shhh. Don't tell Sally I didn't feel like going outside in my pajamas to take her picture. She's also pretty dusty from the construction I drive through everyday. No matter. She came to me by a lovely twist of fate which is why I had to say goodbye to Blue.

Yes, I'm hugging my very first car goodbye.

But, I sure have been enjoying Sally. I think my dad is probably disappointed that I purchased a foreign vehicle. Sorry, dad. This ride is so sweet! I can't wait to haul stuff around in her massive back end and fold-down seats. Truthfully, I don't really care what I drive as I hate driving and wouldn't be sad at all if I didn't have to drive another day in my life. However, because I have the long commute that I do, I might as well drive something fun, right? Sally, I promise to take better care of you than I did of Blue. Ride on!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pillows, pillows everywhere

I have been sewing in my new sewing room, just not anything super exciting. I have LOTS of projects lined up but I can't seem to find the time to create them. This saddens me. The only things I could manage to sew this past month were these pillow covers for my sister.

I didn't have the pillows to put them around in order to take their picture but I wanted to share the fabric with you anyway. She is looking to switch up the accent colors in their living room and I think these lime green and royal blue patterns will help tremendously.

And now for two slightly embarrassing Ashley-isms.........

I have recently discovered the Celtic Pandora station. I am more than a little excited about this. I think I probably should have been a step dancer. The fiddles and flutes, their lilting tunes. I just love it! I cannot get enough.

The other night, I got sucked in to not one but two episodes of Dance Moms on Lifetime. This was a horrible display of dive-tude and, as the show's title indicates, it was all the moms. The girls just love dancing and want to do well. I am ashamed that I wasted 2 hours of my life on this show that I will never see again.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Money Class

The Money Class is the latest offering by financial guru Suze Orman. While I've never actually watched a whole episode of her show, or seen her segments on Oprah, I do know that she offers sound financial advice and has written many books on the subject. Because we could all use a little more money in our lives, I thought it prudent to see what she had to say on the subject after the economy has been in the crapper for so many years.

The Money Class focuses on "standing in the truth" and owning up to where are you financially and what choices and decisions you should really be making about your money. I really liked this way of putting it. Sometimes the information was tough to swallow because things have been so doomsday lately but it's that information that needs to be read by everyone. Orman discusses when you should or shouldn't be borrowing money, how best to plan for retirement, what you should be doing for yourself financially at various stages of your life and much more. As I read, I was pleased with her theories on percentages to save/spend/invest because I am already following them. In fact, I gave myself a continual pat on your back throughout reading this book. I also learned a lot about how to approach finances with your children (not that I have any) and your aging parents. All of that was very interesting.

If you want to get serious about where you stand financially whether you are in super amounts of debt or sitting pretty, pick up The Money Class. Informative, easy to understand and helpful in a number of areas. Check it out.

Rating: * * *

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #34

Where is the summer going? I'm going to miss all this fresh produce. I need to move somewhere where the growing season lasts all year long.

Salsa Fresca: I've never made salsa before. Can you believe that? When we planted our tomatoes this year I had visions of salsa every day. Sadly, the tomatoes that I thought would grow to twice the size of my fist, never really made it bigger than my one year old nephew's hand. No matter, father-in-law to the rescue with 2 big beefsteaks. Hello, salsa! This recipe is from Bobby Flay's cookbook Grill It!

P.S. I hope this link works. When I looked for the recipe online, it took me to Google Books, with which I have no experience

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Something I'm Working On

Do you ever find yourself jealous of others' lives and successes? Do you wish you could have taken that trip, bought that car, gone down the exact path you planned for your future like everyone else seems to do? You hoped to have more friends, that girl's size 6 waist, a dog that doesn't bark at nothing and embarrass you in front of the neighbors. Lately, I have had a big problem with this. It feels like everyone around me has it better off or is doing things or going places I want to do, be, say, experience. Some days it's hard to find the fulfillment of life, isn't it? And being fulfilled is oh so important, at least I think so. There will always be aspects of my life that I am perfectly content with and yet, other holes that remain unfilled. Isn't that what life is though? A series of ups and downs, victories and disappointments.

No, I'm not working on being envious of everything and everyone around me. What I'm working on is NOT doing that. I have been trying to remind myself on a daily, even hourly, basis that there are plenty of things in my life that I love and wouldn't trade for the world. I have it pretty dang good, actually. Sometimes I lose sight of that. Sometimes, when there are bill to pay instead of bags to buy, responsibility over frivolity, it's hard to remember the awesome things you already have. That crappy minutiae should be overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, when you have your health and the love of your family and friends, you have to stop and take stock of these things. Because, they are enough.

Time to re-focus. If you have the same problem I did/do, I suggest you do the same. Remember, it's all good!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

chair makeover

When we moved into our house, it became quickly apparent that we did not have nearly enough furniture to fill the space. This was especially true in the living. The living room is a 15'x21' rectangle, give or take. We love the size but unfortunately, it has been a challenge for furniture placement owing to the location of the cable outlet and the fireplace on one end. Anyway, while we're still thinking about those things, we decided to start adding more furniture.

We were lucky enough to be given 2 cane-backed chairs by my stepgrandma. She no longer needed them and they were in good condition so we snapped them up. I love their curved arms. What I did not love was the color and finish of the wood and the upholstery on the seat. I was not deterred. Instead, I said to John, "We can fix these."

I knew I wanted to paint the wood so I set off taking them apart as I thought this would be easier for painting. Wrong. The chairs were very well put together (who knew?) so after I unscrewed all the screws, I realized everything was also nailed in many places. Oops. Back in with the screws and instead I just covered the cushion and went to town.

I selected a satin finish chocolate brown spray paint by Rustoleum. I roughed up the wood a bit with some sandpaper and started spraying. I did not prime. I probably should have but luckily, one can provided just enough paint for two coats. That offered enough coverage for my liking.

After the first coat, all taped up

I purchased 2 yards of 1/2" foam from Joann's to help add a little more cushion to the chairs. I might have preferred 1" but it was more expensive and actually, in hindsight, a full inch of extra cushion might have been too much added height.

The main accent color in the living room is blue. Originally, I purchased this upholstery fabric from Joann's to make a roman shade for the kitchen. After holding it up against the window I decided I didn't love it there and put it away. When the time came to start working on these chairs, I draped the fabric over one of them and decided I loved it for the chairs instead. Score! Off to purchase another yard and get started on my project. Well, after also purchasing a staple gun and staples too. Home improvements are pricey.

I do not think I could have done the upholstering portion alone. Luckily, John was around to lend an extra pair of hands, and offer ideas of just how to tackle the curved back of the seat and tricky parts around the legs. I really wanted to try to do this with one piece of fabric. We not so quickly realized that was a fool's dream. Seriously, we probably looked at it and laid fabric on it for a good hour.

Instead, I measured and cut strips of fabric for the front sides and back of the base of the chair and a separate piece for the top of the cushion. It probably took us 2 hours to figure all of that out and get the first chair done. On the first chair, we did the strips first and then covered the cushion.

This was dumb. It didn't let us hide the staples like we really wanted to and so on the second chair, we did the opposite. Much better, cleaner and quicker. Luckily, they looked pretty much identical anyway. Once I abandoned the single piece of fabric theory, and succumbed to the idea that I would definitely need to add trim to hide the staples, it was smooth sailing.

Look at this beauty!

Because we had lots of staples that needed to be hidden, I embarked on a trim hunt. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to use since I hadn't anticipated this step. When I settled on nailhead trim, I didn't realize what kind of mission this would involve. You can do nailhead trim the hard way, banging in each single nail, Or you can take the quick and easy way, buy nailhead trim by the strip! It's not sold everywhere and it was more expensive than I expected, though not bank breaking. I bought my pewter strip here, 10 yards for $20. Not terrible but the shipping was $8.00 I think Joann's sells this, also for $20, but my store was all out. Too bad, with a coupon it would have been less than half of what I paid from Beacon. The cool thing about this trim is that there is a whole every fifth nail, so you are only hammering in every fifth one even though it looks like you did them all separately.

See that one nail sticking out?

Tool time!

The not so cool thing about this trim is that it is SHARP when you have to cut the strip to fit between the legs. I was able to use my kitchen shears (probably not the best) because my regular scissors wouldn't work. I snagged my finger on one of the pokey ends. It was a gusher! Still hurts a bit today while I'm typing this.

Wounded in Upholstery Action

(ignore my hair, my finger has a bandaid on it but it's flesh-toned)

But check it out! Nailhead trim that looks expensive when it wasn't. And was really simple to attach, just watch those edges.

See, see see?

And here is the completed project! Unfortunately, the trim doesn't show up as well when photographed from further away. I assure you from my view on the loveseat across the room, these chairs are stunners! If I do say so myself.

Here it is with a throw pillow I made awhile back for added comfort. The blue in the pillow picks up one of the dots perfectly. For now, my two lovelies are side by side but I'm on the hunt for a small accent table for them to flank. I think it will make the space look more intentional, rather than just two armchairs next to each other.

So, let's break it down.......

Chairs: Free

Foam Cushion: $10

Fabric: $15

Nailhead Trim: $28

Paint: $4

Nailgun/Staples: Not including since I'll have this forever now

Total: $67 for two chairs

Pretty amazing, right? I'm really pleased with the outcome. I even have some foam, fabric, and trim leftover for future projects. This nailhead trim is my new fave. I think it would look great around a memo board or, well anywhere really! For my first upholstery project, I definitely had a slower learning curve. Now that I've done one, I'm confident I could tackle another with a bit more confidence this time. I would say the skill level on this was medium so it was a bit more advanced than I probably should have attempted for my first project. If I had been able to take the chair apart like I wanted to in the first place, it would have been way easier. But, you never know until you try, right? Come on over and see the chairs for yourself in person! The pictures on my iphone and crappy camera really don't do them justice.

Don't be afraid to reupholster something of your own.

You can do it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

One Hundred!

Last week, I harvested my 100th cherry tomato. What a momentous occasion! The name of the plant, Sweet 100, did not let me down. They sure were sweet and I got the promised 100. We celebrated the landmark the way we celebrated the first two tomatoes harvested, rinsing them off from the hose, wrapping a leaf of basil around them, and popping them in our mouths. They were just as tasty as the first.

The fact that I'm dedicating this whole post to how excited these tomatoes make me is quite momentous in itself. I used to loathe tomatoes. I wouldn't eat them raw if you paid me. I could always eat them in things, sauces, salsa, etc. But if one appeared on my salad, it would be promptly pushed to the side of the plate. No thank you, tomato. Looking lonely on the plate after the salad was long gone, my mother would typically scoop them up for her own consumption. True story, one time when I was probably 11 or so, my mom cut a tomato in half and made my sister (also a tomata-hata) sit at the dining room table and eat the halves. We weren't allowed to get up until they were gone. It was a terrible day. Salt, sugar, nothing helped. We could only just plug our noses and choke them down. Thanks for scarring me for life, mom.

What a long way I've come though, right? Just the other day, I cut up a tomato and put it on my salad. I might have even enjoyed it. I'm going to chalk that up to its sweet freshness. I'm not sure I'll be making a habit of that once my growing season has come to close, which is, sadly, just around the corner.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #33

Just one this week, guys. We went north to our hometown last weekend (more on that later in the week) and dinners when menu planning were of the easy persuasion.

Key Lime Pie Fudge: I know, I know. The name of this recipe makes you give it the side eye. Key lime pie....fudge? People, do not let this deter you from making this recipe. I was headed to my 80's Zumba Party (more on that later too!) and wanted to bring a dessert. I bookmark and save all of these dessert/candy/cookie recipes knowing full well that it will be a LONG time before I can make them. The problem is, if I make a pan full of brownies, John and I will eat a pan full of brownies. I have to wait for events in which to bring the sweets to. Then, we can enjoy some at home and share with others. You should know, freezing doesn't work. We are a shameful couple who will eat frozen cake before it's thawed. We have no willpower. NONE! I should have found a husband who craved salty instead of sweet. Then, if he didn't partake in late night sweet-eating, I wouldn't either. I digress. This recipe is "healthy". Only 82 calories per 1 inch square of fudge. Let's be honest, who can eat just one square? I had never made fudge before if you can believe it. This recipe has two parts, crust and fudge, but it came together really quickly. Please please please. If you are a fan of key lime pie, make.This.FUDGE!

Monday, August 15, 2011

All Over But the Shoutin'

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg was recommended on another book blog I read, though I can't remember which one at present. It is not a new book, by any means, but the first of many stories and memoirs about Bragg's family and growing up in the South.

Bragg grew up the middle child in an extremely poor family in 1960's Alabama. His father was an abusive drunk who, eventually, left his wife and three sons for good. His mother, Margaret, did whatever she could to put food on the table and give her sons the best life she could. They relied on the kindness of her large family throughout their lives. Bragg did not go to college but instead, found his way onto the staff as a writer at the local paper. Lots of years, hard work and amazing events later, Bragg became a Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the New York Times.

That was a brief synopsis and it doesn't really do this book justice. I thought All Over but the Shoutin' was beautifully written. Bragg's imagery is incredible and allows you to peer into the lives and minds of a family who works so hard to make it and a mother at the helm who never lets anyone feel sorry for her. If you're looking for incredibly descriptive and interesting nonfiction, give this one a try!

Rating: * * * *

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #32

Four new recipes this week! Am I steamrolling through this year of cooking or what? The word of the week is SIMPLE. These were all so easy and delicious!

Caprese Baked Egg Cups: Within the last year, I have become obsessed with all things caprese. If you are unfamiliar, this is a mixture of sorts including tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. You can have it as a salad, or an appetizer, and even with your eggs! I harvested some beautiful cherry tomatoes and fragrant basil from my garden. I don't have a chicken so I bought the eggs are the store. Likewise with the mozz, having no cow and all. The recipe calls for these to be baked in ramekins. I didn't have the right size but I did happen to have 2 mini loaf pans with Santa on them. Christmas in August? There were Christmas colors in the food, does that count? Anyway, these were super simple and super delicious! Toss in the ingredients, crack in the eggs and bake. That's it! These would be a big wow if you were having guests for breakfast. I don't have anyone on the B&B books but maybe soon.

Sweet and Sour Chicken This is a recipe from Rachael Ray's June/July 2011 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. Sweet and Sour Chicken is my go to order for Chinese take-out. This version is much healthier as it does not involve any frying of chicken. As far as a homemade version goes, this was good. Obviously, nothing can compare to actual Chinese but this was an easy alternative.

Fish and Chips This was on the exact same page as the recipe above. What are the chances? When I was planning this week's meals, all I did was hold up the page for John, who immediately approved, and we had two dinners picked! Fish and Chips are also another meal that is just so good in a restaurant that it's hard to make at home, my not having a fryer and all. This was breaded in panko crumbs to give it some crunch and baked in the oven. It came with a tartar sauce recipe but when I got home, John had already mixed up his own version. What a guy! I had planned on doing potatoes (chips) alongside but....well, you can read below why I changed that. If you like fried fish, try this also for an easy and healthier alternative.

Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake This was an impromptu recipe when I found myself in possession of a zucchini that weighed 4 pounds and was the size of my head. I happened to have all the other ingredients on hand too (and fresh herbs!) The only one I was out of was parmesan cheese. (How did this happen?) I just added more shredded mozz in its place. This was really tasty and easy too! Just mix and bake. I love recipes like that. In summertime veggie season, this is especially a keeper.

P.S. Why are my hyperlinks sporadic?! I hate you IE whatever version I have.

Friday, August 12, 2011

You're my boy, Blue.

Oh, Blue, you have been my faithful friend for nearly 108,000 miles

even though,

I did not always give you the best care,

and maybe once scraped the garage door on your bumper.

I couldn't bring myself (or my wallet)

to replace your windshield either.

And yet for 5 years, that giant crack did not spread.

Unfailing steadfastness.

I will miss your awesome gas mileage, which I foolishly estimated

as a fresh out of college driver,

would cost me $200 a month.

"HA!" You exclaimed. "How little you think of my environmentally sound speed."

You, first car of my very own, were pleasant to share

the miles and miles of road with on my daily commute.

Not to mention, the many 3 hours drives up north, when I was lonely and homesick.

One downfall, I would be remiss to overlook,

is that you are not so good in the snow.

Perhaps, you are better suited for the milder winters of the south.

Nevertheless, we never technically wrecked.

Though not for lack of trying - double donuts across 3 lanes of traffic on ice and into a ditch.

I hope you found me a fair driver. Letting you cruise as much as possible,

trying diligently not to brake heavily, or hard. Easing you to your stops.

I hope a new driver may find life on the road with you. Another first time owner,

just maybe. They will love you, like I do.

And find you reliable, as I did for many years.

See you round the bend, Blue.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Arhaus - it's very fine

If I had all the money in the world, I think I would furnish my house entirely from Arhaus. I didn't realize how much I loved that store until I walked through it again last weekend. I think I love it even more than Restoration Hardware, another home store that is completely out of my budget. It's fun to dream, right, and drool. Try not to drool on the furniture though. They frown upon that.

I was lucky enough to fall in love with an accessory that even my wallet could handle.

It's a taupe magnolia plate that can be placed on a table or hung on the wall. Arhaus had them all over the walls in the store. I bought just one at $22 and am hunting for the perfect home for her in my house. The pictures don't show how the petals curl up towards you. So pretty. They also sell a smaller version in cream. It's only $12. I may have to go back for that one. Before you know it my whole wall will be magnolia plates. That would be a bit of all right.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

G-Money Monogram

I have had all the components for this project for months. I often fall into this crafting cycle in which I get really excited for a project at first, and then lose steam even before starting. Then, all the purchased supplies just sit there begging to be crafted.

In our foyer is a small alcove screaming for some artwork. Everything I've looked at in the stores has not been very inspiring to me. When store-bought items are uninspired, you must make your own, yes? I know I saw the finished result of this project somewhere as the idea is not originally mine, but for the life of me, I can't remember where. If it's yours, I'd be happy to give you credit. Let's get started!

I purchased a white 10"x10" canvas from Michael's and painted it with a leftover paint sample I had in the garage. Then, I played around with some fonts until I found one I liked and made it HUGE. Well, big enough to fill the canvas. See?

I lightly traced the outline of the G onto the canvas. If you do this on a lighter color, you'll probably want to erase the line. When I was finished with the next step, you couldn't really see where the line was in the places it didn't get covered.

After tracing the letter, I laid out these white buttons (I bought a tube of them at Hobby Lobby) carefully fitting smaller ones around the larger buttons. I was going to sew on each button individually but decided against it. Too time consuming. Sounds like a good time to bust out the hot glue gun instead!

Here's my G, all buttoned up!

Here he is all alone on the alcove wall.

Very lonely. Don't worry, there are other pieces of artwork ready and waiting to be hung. We didn't get to painting the foyer or stairwell yet so it's still white from the previous owners. The ceilings here are 17 ft. Quite an undertaking.....someday. In the meantime, I want to paint the alcove wall taupe. John is unconvinced.

Anyway, I think this would also look cute matted and framed. I have a housewarming party to go to in a few weeks and if I can find the time, I think I'll do one for the hosts!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Instagram It Up

Am I the last one to come to the Instagram party? If you have an iphone, or probably some other app ready piece of technology, you MUST download this free app. It will revolutionize your pictures, for free! I do not pay for apps so I was pretty stoked that this one was gratis.

Here is an iphone photo on its own

Here it is using a filter (Nashville, I think) on Instagram!

And because a post about pictures without a picture of Sadie just isn't right. Here's Sadie at a charity walk we did in the spring.

And here's the same picture Instagrammed up. I don't remember which filter I used but I zoomed in and used the feature that lets you make a focal point super crisp and then fuzzy up the background. It's subtle here but you can make the contrast much greater if you like.

This is definitely my new favorite app. And now because of this, maybe my pictures on here will look loads better. Well, some of them anyway.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #31

Guys, I have a new obsession. Homemade donuts. (Is it donuts or doughnuts? Normally, I'm all for the proper spelling but in the interest of fewer keystrokes, donuts it is.) I kept coming across recipes for homemade baked cake donuts and I could not stop thinking about them. Sometimes when you are living a certain lifestyle of eating that can only be described as deprivation, you start obsessing over the foods you cannot have. Full disclosure, a couple weeks ago someone brought in the freshest donuts I've ever smelled at the office. And they had my fave! Maple iced, cream-filled. I couldn't ignore that they were just sitting there in the snack room. And so I took a spoon, carved out the center where all the creamy goodness was and ate it. Did I tell you this already in another post? Forgive me, I'm writing this on a Friday evening with a glass of Carmenere pouring down my throat. Anyway, I digress. THE POINT IS.....I wanted to satisfy my donut craving more often than not and so I purchased donut pans. I bought both a full size and a mini pan, because who doesn't love mini things. They were relatively inexpensive on Amazon so I went for it. And then I found some donut recipes.

Chocolate Cake Donuts This recipe is from Family Circle. It's healthier than a fried donut but not by much, probably. I had all the ingredients on hand which was lucky. The recipe suggested putting the batter in a makeshift ziploc pastry bag. This is fine but be warned, when you are squeezing chocolate brown batter from a bag into a pan, it looks like poo. If you can get past that and lose yourself in the aroma from the oven while they bake, you'll be just fine. Yum, yum, yum. I made these for some B&B guests and they went fast.

Apple Cinnamon Donuts These are of a healthier variety. Because this was my second batch in the same day (after a night of LOTS of wine -- are you sensing a theme?) I didn't mess with the pastry bag on these. Also, John had to go buy brown sugar in the middle of my mixing up the batter for both recipes....oops! Anyway, these are relatively healthy as far as donuts go. The recipe uses some whole wheat as well which made them a bit denser but still tasty. Applesauce is the key here for keeping the calories low. If you are not a supersweet breakfast person, these are for you!

Recipe #3, comin' atcha!

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas Does anyone else feel like a lot of Mexican entrees are very similar in ingredients and taste? I love Mexican but it's basically all the same stuff. I've never made enchiladas before but this recipe was very similar to the baked flautas that I make. Well, let's say it's similar in preparation but very different in taste. And Oh.Em.GEE!!! PLEASE try these enchiladas. These were so amazing that John and I kept making Mmmm noises while eating them. Bite after bite. The leftovers were even better. AH-MAZING! I cooked the chicken overnight in the crockpot so that it would already be shredded and ready the next night. I had only seasoned it with salt and pepper at that point but since the recipe calls for chili powder and garlic powder, you could probably add it during the crockpot stage to really let the flavors sit. Also, John bought red enchilada sauce instead of the green it called for. I've never had green enchilada sauce but the red tasted fine so either will do. And for the cream, I used fat free half and half to save some calories. I could not believe the brightness of flavor in these. So refreshing!

P.S. Sorry, again, about the non-hyper links. I figured out the problem, just have to fix it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

YOU: On a Diet

As a whole, I don't really like reading diet/nutrition books even though it's a topic I'm very interested in. However, I'm never able to follow their plans, nor do I want to, and they're typically extremely dull. Nevertheless, I picked up YOU: On a Diet - The Owner's Manual for Waist Management by Drs. Mehmet Oz (Yes, Dr. Oz) and Michael Roizen from the library a week or so ago. It had been awhile since I read anything non-fiction of this nature so I decided, what the heck. This is just one of a whole YOU series by these two but it's the first I've ever read.

Unlike other diet books, this one actually held my interest. It was very informative in an un-clinical way. It did delve pretty deeply into a lot of biology but somehow it wasn't terribly dry. There were many chapters dealing with how an dwhy your body processes food. Some of it I knew but most I didn't, or at least I didn't know the scientific names for everything. I picked up some remarkable facts that I didn't expect to. This book is also helping my look at the types of food I'm eating and when I need it for fuel or why I'm craving a specific type of food.

As for the diet and exercise plan, the jury is still out. It appears that I have pretty much been following the majority of the diet plan all along. Yea me! But, since I've plateaued, I was looking for a little extra oomph to kickstart my weight loss and I don't think I found that here. Additionally, they suggest starting off your exercise plan by walking 30 minutes every day and incorporating 20 minutes of strength and stretching 3 times a week. I'm sorry but I just don't see how a 30 minute walk is going to give me more benefit thatn the 5 miles I ran on Sunday. Maybe it you're already of a certain physical fitness you would just be expected to improve on what you're already doing? I'm assuming if you were starting this plan from scratch, chances are your diet and exercise are a bit lacking and you would need to start slowly. They claim in 2 weeks you will lose inches from your waist. Again, maybe if you are just starting a healthy lifestyle you would see these results but I guess I wouldn't really know unless I tried. I'm not willing to stop running, lifting or zumba-ing so I suppose I'm not a convert to this plan. And now I've gone off on a long-winded tangent.

Even if you don't think you'd follow the food and exercise plan, the book will teach you quite a bit. It was a relatively quick read as well. If you're looking for a little guidance, this is probably a good choice for you.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Birthday Banner for Ben

My nephew turns 1 year old today. A whole year! It's a tad hard to believe. Considering I only got to see him 3 times during that year, he seems to grow so fast. Those Texans are coming up to Ohio over Labor Day for a belated birthday party and now that he's walking (!) I REALLY can't wait for them to come, even if the trip will be brief.

For Ben's first birthday, I wanted to make him something in addition to the other gifts we sent. Sewing for boys is difficult. They don't wear cute, frilly dresses or need little girl accessories. This year, I must make more of an effort to make things for him. There are a lot of good ideas out there so I should just get cracking. My first thought was a penant banner that said 'Happy Birthday' but that is a lot of letters! I shortened it to CELEBRATE instead. This was a great project also because I used fabric and ribbon from my stash.

I used a red pique cotton that had a little stiffness to it. I thought about also ironing on some fusib;e web but skipped that step and instead, used a white pique cotton to back each triangle so they would hang better and also for a bit more color variation.

My triangles were 6 inches wide and 9 inches long. A ruler and rotary cutter made cutting them out a snap. I printed and cut out the letters to be approx. 3 inches. I think the font I used was just Arial, bolded. Cutting out those letters was the most tedious step to this whole project. I don't have a fancy Silhouette, just good old-fashioned scissors.

The penants are red on one side and white on the other. I used a navy and white polka dot fabric for half the letters and a light blue and white stripe for the others. I stitched the triangles together and then sewed on the letters. Then, I took my pinking shears to the edges to help stop fraying and make them a little more exciting. Here's the C!

And here they are all laid out with Sadie standing guard. That other polka dot fabric is for a really excited furniture project. More on that in the future!

When all the penants were stitched, I sewed them to a 1" wide length of navy grosgrain ribbon.

And here is the finished project!

As a one year old, Ben probably won't find it nearly as exciting as the electric car he just got. But, I hope they'll hang it for him every year on his birthday and since I probably won't be there for those birthdays, he'll know I'm celebrating for him elsewhere.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Things that Rock my World right now


I'm sure everyone says it about their own pets but I have the best dog. This is pre-haircut. She got a new summer 'do a couple weeks ago. Cool and comfortable. Sadie also makes me smile. She's bumming pretty hard as I type though. My in-laws just left after a fun weekend visit. She loves houseguests. We do too. Wanna come stay at the Chez G B&B?

New nailpolish!

This is Austin-tatious Turquoise from OPI's Texas line. Sorry for the crappy iphone picture. Also, sorry I have the gangliest toes in the world. I thought putting the bottle there would hide my freakishly long second toe. I was wrong. Either way, I love this color for summer. I also think it will match the color of the ocean when we are in Mexico in 70-some odd days.


I am newly in love with hummus. I think maybe I was previously just scared of it. I don't know why. It's delicious! I love this garlic flavor. I also love that it only has 25 calories for 2 tbsps. WHAT!?! Do you know how much less that is than peanut butter? I think I found my new post-work, pre-workout snack!

New socks!

You guys, my other shorty socks were downright nasty. They were pretty much gray from all the sweat I pour into them and all the washing they go through. I decided it was time for an upgrade. Not only are they still the brightest of white, they are also much softer than my old socks. Sweat stiffens things you know. Are you grossed out yet by all this talk of sweating? You should have seen me after yesterday's run. P. U.

Happy August, everyone!

Can you believe we've already lived through 7 months of 2011? Yeah, me neither.