October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween Everyone!

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(this is suppose to be the Bride of Frankenstein, I'm just not very good at carving pumpkins)

October 29, 2010

My Progress and My Past

To give a bit of authority to my posts on weight loss, I have decided to let you know a bit more about myself.

When I was really little, I didn’t have a weight issue, I was a normal size, had lovely blonde hair and loved to swim and play outside. Things started changing in grade four (when I was 9 or 10); I remember grade four as being a horrible year, it was the year that I got my first pair of glasses, my hair started to darken to an ugly “ash-blond” aka mousy-brown, and I started putting on weight, I was now chubby. The worst part was the becoming chubby, there was this one girl who would always pick on me, calling me fat, punching me for “being fat,” getting up during class to sharpen her pencil so that she could poke my “fat-a$$” with it and many, many other mean pranks and jokes. It was horrible, sometimes she would encourage my friends to tease me, they never really teased along with her but there were two of them that would sometimes laugh at what she was doing to me, which was just as hurtful. I became really depressed by this and slowly gained more and more weight over the years, often crying myself to sleep at night. Sometimes I would dread going to friend’s houses because a few of my friend’s parents would make rude comments, not necessarily on purpose but more of things like “did you see that actress? She looks disgusting in this movie, she’s gained some weight, and people who look like that are gross/lazy” (the actress would always be much, much thinner than I even dreamt of being). I would try really hard in gym class and bike for hours thinking that I could become thin again but nothing worked. I now know that it was my eating preventing this, it’s not that I would pig out on junk food really (once and awhile I would but no more than any of my thin friends), it was really the portions that I was eating. I would take a huge plate of potatoes or pasta, always encouraged by my parents because it wasn’t junk food, it was just part of their regular dinner, they didn’t know any better and neither did I. Now that I’m older I look back and can see where I went wrong with my eating, and I now cook completely differently than my parents (their food is healthier than most but still not what many would call “healthy”). Back to the teasing, eventually this girl changed schools and I found out years later that it was because she was bullied by a lot of the older children and she couldn’t take it anymore and that she had considered me to be one of her only friends, she never apologized though so I have never felt that I could really forgive her, the scars run really deep. When she left I did become a bit less depressed and it was really only the school dances that I dreaded (junior high dances). I have been turned down more than one dance by boys who don’t want to dance “with a fatty”, luckily I did have some very, very kind male friends (or boyfriends of my best friends) who would swoop in to rescue me, it was still upsetting though, none of my thinner friends were ever turned away, and it’s not like I was ever going after Mr. popular. The turndowns would also lead to me crying myself to sleep once again.

In junior high I started to compete in synchronized swimming, I had many practices but it wasn’t until early high school (most likely when I was hitting puberty) that I started losing weight from all the workouts. Looking back at pictures of me in grade 10, 11 and 12, I realize that I was thin; in fact, many of my friends would tell me that I was very thin and had a tiny waist. Did I ever listen to them? No, I was still convinced that I was huge, too large to ever wear a bikini. I guess my self confidence was still really low, the years and years of being teased had turned me into a very shy person, with a remaining mental image of someone four times my size, in reality I weighted less in grade 12 than I did in grade 8 and I was quite a bit taller. After high school I quit swimming, I was going into university and wasn’t sure that I would have the time since I would then be swimming five days a week with four hour practices and I was too young to join the recreational masters club, I started going to the bar and partying with friends and the weight slowly crept back. I also entered a relationship that was a bit of a downer. Each year I would gain just a bit more and as I became more and more out of shape there was less that I felt I could do about it. I really just should have stopped making excuses and joined a gym and learnt how to eat better.

As you may have read before, once I became a bit too close to the 200 mark I finally smartened up. My lifestyle changes have resulted in some great things, I am now 146 pounds, which is in the normal BMI range for my height (though on the higher end of normal), can run 5km, I have more energy, I feel great, and my self-confidence is better than ever, I still have a ways to go but I am confident for the future and vow to never go back to my old ways. I have set new fitness and weight goals for myself and am determined to reach them. I want to reach 140 by Christmas and am going to bike part of the Iron Horse Trail next summer and be able to do an unassisted pull-up.

October 28, 2010

Snow and cold, booo

It’s snowing already! Actually, it snowed on Sunday night, but it hasn't gone away yet! It's been -5 C every day since then, it's horrible. I realize that we usually have snow banks by Halloween but it still makes me sad. I also know that -5 isn't really that cold, but the first time it drops below freezing I am always looking for a fall jacket and some mitts (watch, in the spring when it reaches -5 I'll be in t-shirts and no jacket).

It wasn’t too long ago that I saw my last flying V of Canadian Geese heading south and I was really hoping that there were more to come. Boooo to snow and the cold weather, I guess at least I’ll get more sewing done since I won’t want to be outside.

October 27, 2010

Christmas Projects

I know haven't finished all of my handmade Christmas gifts but I have already started planning some Christmas Projects for myself. My husband hates Christmas decorations (what a Grinch), so everything that I have is either a hand-me-down or was a gift. I didn't really mind the mish-mash until recently. We have decided that since my hubby is going to be in school for longer than originally anticipated (thanks to his change in major), we are going to be staying in our little starter home for about 5 more years, so I figure I might as well start decorating to my tastes. Since it's an older home (and looks it due to many old fashioned but cute features), I have decided on candy coloured, vintage inspired theme. I went onto http://www.fabric.com/ and bought a few lovely fabrics (I'll post them later) and come up with a few thing that I need to make.
The plan is to make a tree skirt, fabric trees for my mantel, a knitted garland, a table runner (not sure what I want this to look like yet), two door wreaths and possibly one new stocking.

Here is a bit of inspiration.

I don't really knit, once I made a scarf but I believe a scarf is literally the easiest thing to knit, so we'll see how that project goes.
I will slowly have to add to my small collection of vintage and retro-eske glass ornaments. I knid of want a white or silver tree but I'm pretty sure my husband who not let me bring one into the house, I'll have to think on that one...

My Mid-Century Menu Entry

Way back when, I put in an entry for "Worst Mid-Century Recipe," while I didn't win, my entry did get made. Go check it out over at No Pattern Required. The recipe was for a tomato and shrimp salad (gelatin style). It looks truely unedible!

Thanks to the brave Ruth and Tom for trying it out!

October 21, 2010

Starting out at the gym

I know that I said that I was going to talk about weight-loss and I haven't really touched on it very much. So, here we go...

My weight-loss journey/ life-style change really began last December. I had ballooned out to about 188 pounds. When I saw that on the scale I almost cried, it seemed to close to 200 pounds which for some reason was horribly dreadful (when really even 180 was way too much). Luckily I have a very nice hubby, who decided that the two of us should go to the gym, together, and not because he wanted me to lose weight to look different, but because he wanted me to live a long life with him. I think that this really helped my weight loss, being overweight affected my self confidence, i.e. I had very little, and it really helped that I had someone to encourage me to go to the gym and remind me that I just needed to try harder. I don’t think you necessarily need someone to work out with (we argue when working out or really I argue so it’s not always the best to go together), but it really is helpful to have some to talk to about working out, someone who will be encouraging and won’t sabotage you will (knowingly or most likely unknowingly) with comments such as “you don’t need to lose weight” or “why would you do that?”

Exercise – Where to Start

Some people really do find it hard to get in the minimum recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day (you should probably do more though). 30 Minutes is actually a very small amount time, especially since you can split it up, it’s better not to split it up but everyone has to start somewhere, I’m sure that everyone can fit in three 10 minutes spurts of physical activity. I started out going to the gym three days a week an hour each session; I slowly worked my way up to 5-7 days with over an hour each day. I actually enjoy going to the gym now, which I didn’t before, and I hate when I have to miss a day due to illness or a busy schedule.

It can be hard starting out at the gym, I remember feeling awkward and embarrassed, you really just have to remember that no one is really paying much attention to you, they are at the gym trying to work out too and I would say at least half of them have no clue what they’re doing either. Many trainers say that beginners should start out with a full body workout but I found that difficult because I wasn’t sure how to design one and I didn’t have the money to go to a trainer, so I started out with the classic split training. Split training is basically when you split your workout up, I start with cardio and end with weights and finally a good stretch, this seemed like a simple approach and it worked for me (40+ pounds lost so far!!). For cardio you need to find something that you don’t hate, the fact is that if you are out of shape most forms of cardio are not going to be fun. I started with 30 minutes on the elliptical and then later started running and riding the bike and Stairmaster, if you do want to start out with running, take a look at my post “from couch to 5k.” I don’t really think that cardio needs very much explanation, you basically need to get your heart pumping and it’s a good way to burn calories. If you go really hard and I’m talking sweat dripping, panting, want to quit hard you are going to burn 10-11 calories a minute, use these numbers to calculate your calories (if you are going to bother counting) because machines (and fitness classes) often over estimate how much you burn; don’t buy into their BS, you’re only hurting yourself. Always try your hardest and try to get a good sweat going, a leisurely walk will burn calories but it won’t get your heart pumping which is what you want to do to increase your heart health (heart disease is the number one killer of women).

Cardio isn’t really my favourite thing to do at the gym as I find it kind of dull, what I really like is weight training. Strength training is an important part of any workout and is also great for burning calories, plus you won’t have to ask for help to re-arrange furniture and will be able to carry in all your groceries in one trip. Many women avoid lifting weights, especially heavy ones, but they really shouldn’t, don’t worry about gaining huge body builder arms or shoulders; those women train for hours and hours every day for years and years (and usually have a little help from various drugs) to look like that, unless you plan on putting in that kind of work, you aren’t going to look like that. If you don’t know what you’re doing, weight training can be a bit intimidating, I started out using machines since they usually show you how to use the darn thing and what muscles you are working. Once you feel a bit more comfortable on the machines, I suggest moving to free weights (doing similar movements); while some argue that machines are better because they isolate certain muscles, I agree with others on free weights being better because they use multiple muscles, increase you stability and more closely mimic movements that you would use in a real life situation. One thing that I noticed when I moved to free weights was that I was lifting less, don’t be surprised if you drop down to about half of what you do on the machines, this is pretty normal.

When working with weights you will need to decide how many reps and sets you will do, I aim for 8-10 reps and three sets (with a 30-60 second break between each set). A rep is the one motion that you perform, for example one rep of a squat is the movement downwards towards the ground and back up to the standing position, a set is a series of reps performed without a break. I pick a weight that is light enough that I can perform at least 8 reps but heavy enough that I achieve muscle failure at the 8th rep (or 9th or 10th). If I can lift the weight more than 10 times, I move up to something heavier, and if I can’t lift it 8 times I move down to something a bit lighter. Muscle failure refers to the point where there is no way you can lift that weight on your own, you are shaking and it’s coming down. As I said before, I split up my workouts into groups, day 1: legs, day 2: arms, day 3: core, I find that this works well for me but you may want to split it up into upper body and lower body or I have also heard of people splitting it up into pulling exercises and pushing exercises.

Finally at the end of the workout I make sure to get in a good stretch. I try to stretch all of the muscles that I worked out really well and I do a couple quick stretches of my other muscle groups. Stretching is really important after a good workout (weights or no weights) and will prevent stiffness and soreness the next day (although you’re probably going to be sore the next day anyway). I also have a small protein shake after my workouts to reduce soreness, having a glass of milk, or an egg or some almonds would work well too.

While most of what I have said focuses on going to a gym, you don’t actually need a gym or any fancy equipment to work out; you can get a good workout on any budget. Go for a run outside or a bike ride or if you live in a cold place like me, run up and down your stairs, use a skipping/jump rope or do jumping jacks. Parks are great places for strength training, you can use the monkey bars to work out your arms or you can use 4L milk jugs filled with water (for squats and lunge walks). I’ll try to post various home and gym workouts for you all.

Some final advice:

The unfortunate thing about losing weight is that it isn't easy and that doing it right isn't something that happens overnight. If you want quick weight loss, go find one of the many diets out there, it won't be very healthy and you'll most likely gain all the weight back plus some in less than 6 months. Eating right and working out are your best bet. Something that I keep having to tell myself is “It took me more than a year to gain all that weight so it may take me more than a year to take it all off.” Also, I really wish now that I had taken a “Before in a Bikini” type photo, at the time it was the last thing that I wanted to do, but on blue days it’s a good motivator (I use a double chin and Oprah arm photo instead – it’s almost as bad).

October 16, 2010

1920s - Scanning

My grandmother gave me an old book earlier this year and I thought I would share some of it with you, I believe it belonged to my great grandmother. The book is "Girls Own Annual, Vol. 49." The first few pages are missing but a quick google search puts it at 1927-1928, which seems right based on the clothing styles and a photo of (the now) Queen Elizabeth as a toddler. The book has stories, recipes, fashion, crafts and home styling ideas. It also seems to have quite a bit of gossip on royalty, I think it's a British book.

Click on any of the pictures and it will bring you to flickr where you can look at larger versions (they are clear enough to read there).

First up we have some of the latest styles from Paris. Look at those "reckless" bows, those French women are daring.

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and of course some slips and underclothes.

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and a lovely Tennis Jumper that you can make at home. I actually think it's kind of cute!

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October 13, 2010

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Well, this post is a little late but I am so proud of my pumpkin pie that I had to post it. This is the first pumpkin pie that I have ever made and I created my own recipe, actually I took bits and pieces from four recipes to make my own, does that count?



I have never been a pumpkin pie fan but my mother-in-law requested it so it had to be made. I ended up really liking this one though, so much so that I would and am going to make it again. I used the pie crust recipe that was on the shortening package (and I've posted my own recipe before) so I won't re-post one here.

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Classic Pumpkin Pie

1 pastry crust (uncooked)
1/2 can pumkin puree (about 400mL)
1 cup of evaporated milk (just under a cup actually)
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 eggs



Steps:

1. Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices, flour and cream together.

2. Beat in one egg at a time.

3. Stir in milk & vanilla until combined.

4. Pour into crust and cover edges with foil (to prevent over browning of crust). Bake for 30 min at 350F.

5. Remove foil and cook another 20 min until done, pie will be cooked when knife comes out of filling clean.

I also baked a small pumpkin shaped pastry in a seperate pan to cover the knife mark in the pie. I used a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter and extra pastry dough.

October 9, 2010

More fattening dessert

Next up we have a chocolate ganache tart in a walnut crust. This is a very rich dessert but very simple to make. The filling works great with regular pastry crust and cookie crusts too.

Chocolate Ganache Tart with a Walnut Crust

Walnut Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed walnuts (I used a blender)
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar

1. Mix all ingredients together and push into a tart pan to form a crust.
2. Bake at 350 F for 10 min.

Here's the texture of walnuts that I had:
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It's about 50% finely ground and 50% roughly chopped.

Chocolate Ganache Filling
1 cup of cream (whipping 35% fat)
1 cup of chopped dark chocolate (about 8 oz.)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat the cream on the stove and bring to a slight simmer. Pull off the cream before it begins to boil.
2. Dump the chocolate and vanilla in the cream and stir until smooth.
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3. Pour ganache into your crust and cool until solid (takes quite a few hours).

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This is a great one to make the day before and it freezes really well.

Thanksgiving

Up here in Canada it's Thanksgiving weekend. Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October and people generally have their big meal on Sunday or Monday. We celebrate in early October because well soon after there is a whole lotta snow. It's sad how short our summer and growing season is. I really shouldn't have mentioned the "s" word, it may come early now.

Apparently the first Thanksgiving in North America took place in Canada when the explorer Martin Frobisher arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. I didn't learn this until a few years ago and I've lived in Canada my whole life.

This year we have to go to three dinners, one on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (my husbands parents are divorced), it's going to be a lot of ham and turkey and pie. I have been given the task of baking two pies for the Saturday dinner and three pies and a dessert for the Sunday dinner.

First up we have the ever simple and delicious Chocolate Puddin' Pie (say it with a southern drawl).

This is from a Kraft magazine, so it's basically an ad for Kraft products. I made a cookie crust from the instructions on the oreo crumb box so I won't include the directions here.

Chocolate Puddin' Pie:
1 cookie crust
1 cup of milk
1 box of chocolate instant pudding
1/2 tub of Cool Whip (approx.)

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1. Mix the box of pudding with the cup of milk until smooth. Spread half of the mix in the cookie crust and add about 3/4 cup of cool whip to the remaining pudding. Spread half of this over the previous layer of pudding.


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2. Add 3/4 cup of cool whip to the remaining pudding mixture and mix, again layer half of it on the other pudding. Add a bit more cool whip and spread the remaining mix on the top. You should end up with four layers of pudding going from dark to light.

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It's very simple and very good, not so friendly with the waistline though. My husband who hates cool whip loves this pie. It works well with the premade cookie crusts too, so if in a pinch for a "homemade" dessert, try this one.

October 8, 2010

What I'm Working On

Well, as you can see, I have finished my second Christmas gift and am now on my third. This project is for one of my best friends. We have been friends since "the day before kindergarten" as the story goes (for those who don't have kindergarten, this is before the 1st grade; you are usually 4 or 5). You see my friend is a very outgoing person, I was minding my own business playing in the sand at the park near my house and up she marches to introduce herself. She stated "My name is Cxxxxx (I'll leave her anonymous), you're my new best friend" and we have been friends ever since.

My friend loves all things Japan; her house is full of Janpanese prints, she speaks it and it is her dream to live there. Last year I made her an apron with Geisha fabric, which she loved, so this year I am sticking with the theme and making her sushi napkins. These aren't napkins for eating sushi, although I guess they could be, they are napkins with sushi pictures on them.

I made the napkins myself but I'm not really going to post about that. They didn't turn out so well, owning a ruler probably would have helped as they are all different sizes. They still look okay I think. To make them I cut broadcloth into 17.5 squares, then ironed the seams down and stitched. I must have folded the sides slightly larger or smaller each time, oh well.

So far I have only completed four napkin (out of eight). The tiny patterns and stitches are time consuming. In the end I am planning on having four patterns, two napkins for each pattern. I have finished two cats and two maki:

sushi napkin

I really hope she likes them.

Another great pattern giveaway!

Yes, once again I am shamelessly posting about someone else's giveaway so that I may have a second entry. To be fair I do read the blog and genuinely enjoy it, and look at the prizes, they are so pretty.

It's a giveaway from Debi over at My Happy Sewing Place . She is celebrating a new job and the fact that she now has over 200 followers!

There are four patterns being given away. I like them all, although I think the first three are my favourite. I love the 60s look but I'm not sure that I have the right body type for it, although I did "borrow" a mod pattern from my mothers house recently that I plan to eventually make, so we'll see.
Anyway, I am really digging the 40's office outfit. The waist on the skirt really catches my eye. Take a look:


and go check out My Happy Sewing Place!

More stitching

It seems like all I have been doing lately is embroidery. Ugg, it takes forever. I may have to adjust some of my Christmas gift projects to be sewn rather than stitched just so I can finish (and start working on some stuff for myself, and yes I guess that is selfish).

So far I have only completed two gifts. The retro cats for my sister-in-law and some Christmas ornament towels for my mother-in-law. Here's how they turned out:
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I really like them. I think I might make some for myself someday.

I took a few photos of the process too. Here is a split stich:
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You can see a bit better how you stitch a straight little line, then come up through that stitch to make the next.

I also took a picture of a french knot, which was very difficult; it's hard to hold a camera in one hand and embroider with the other.

You wrap the thread around the needle, I did about four but if you want a larger knot wrap more around.

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Then you insert the needle back into the fabric a tiny distance away from where you brought it up, make the stitches very close but no the same spot, otherwise when you pull it tight the whole thing will unravel.

french knot

These took me a few tries before I got them just right, so don't give up, once you figure it out it's really easy!

October 7, 2010

PB & Banana Shake

After a long work out I am usually starving, so to avoid stuffing my face at dinner I will have a protein shake. This is one of my favourite shake recipes, it tastes just as good without the protein powder, so do make sure to try it. I love PB & banana sandwiches, it's such a great combo, so when I saw this recipe I had to try it. If you have never had a PB & Banana sandwich, go make one now! So yummy.


Peanut Butter & Banana Shake
Ingredients:
1 medium banana (sliced)
1 tbsp peanut butter (all natural kind - salt & sugar free - Kraft makes a pretty good one)
1 cup of milk (I actually use 1/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup Oat Dream - I have trouble with lactose)
1 ice cube
1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder (optional)

Just throw everything in a blender and blend.


This shake is really filling and thick and tastes a lot like a milk shake made with ice cream. I've also had this with just Oat Dream (rather than milk) and it was pretty good, milk is best if you can drink it though. Oat Dream is an oat based milk replacement, similar to soy milk or rice milk, in case anyone was wondering.



PB & B Shake

October 4, 2010

I won!

Yay for me! I actually won that lovely pattern that I just blogged about (and a lovely dress pattern). So, as promised, the nightie will be my next project and I will start on it as soon as the pattern arrives (that may be awhile though, I believe that it's coming from Australia). I am thinking of pink or blue, or if I can find some fabric, my beloved seafoam green.

Stay tuned...