Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentines for Dudes - Day 1

I've decided that this week is going to be boy's valentine week here on blog. Why? Because the whole "valentine's day is only for girls, there are no good boys valentine's day projects" rhetoric drives me insane. First, let's be clear -Valentine's day is manufactured, commercial holiday to begin with. If you want to hate on V-day on that level, by my guest. But really, why object to an opportunity to spread a little love?

BUT, if we buy into the idea that love and valentines are only for girls and aren't "masculine" enough for boys, we're only reinforcing the idea that boys and men shouldn't or can't be loving and tender and caring, and I refuse to do that. In fact, I RAIL against that assertion. That assertion is harmful to BOTH men and women. I will teach my boys to be kind and express love if it kills me.

So, this week, we're celebrating Valentine's Day and love. And it doesn't have to be romantic love. It can be love between friends, or within the family. We're especially emphasizing love between brothers (did you see this post from last week? We need some brotherly love up in here). We're going to kick it off with revisiting last year's Valentine's projects.











I'll be back tomorrow with some more lovey goodness for boys!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brotherly love?

I really, really want my boys to love each other...


but some days, the best we can do is to apologize for wanting to punch each other. 

Here's to a kinder, gentler tomorrow. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Story Behind the Name, From One of my Besties

***Yesterday morning was my weekly weigh in, and I was down 3.2 pounds last week! That puts me down 11.8 pounds for the month, and 13.11% of the way to my goal!  WAHOOO!!***

Today I have a fun guest here on the blog - one of my very best friends in the world, Jencie. 

 Jencie and her oldest, Mya. If you've read the blog for awhile, you've met Mya here and here.

 Jencie loving on baby Sawyer.

I met Jencie in January 1999 when we both joined the same sorority. I talked about her over here when Tam interviewed the Crafting With The Stars contestants. She's been a constant, amazing force in my adult life, and I love her to pieces. Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend like Jence. She is brave - she and her family just moved across the country to California in search of the life they've imagined for their family. She is amazingly artistic, and has her own photography business. You can check out her photos here - they're fantastic. 


She's married to this guy.

 I know, right?!?! Wait, I'M talking about the quality of the photo, what are YOU looking at? ;)


And they have these kids.








So, yes, they are absolutely the most beautiful family you'll ever meet, inside and out.




Jencie agreed to pop in and tell the story behind the name Fat Girl in a Little Coat.




So here she is!

I will never forget the night I heard that little sentence and what I saw just after, nor will I ever forget how much fun it is to laugh with one of my best, college-friends, Emily.

When I look back on my fuzzy memory of the college version of us, all I can do is shake my head and giggle.  My head is flooded with a laundry list of funny things that Emily did, and as a result, my gut-busting laughter.  

Something you should know about Emily and me is that we are complete opposites, in just about every way.  Here’s a short list: She’s tall, I’m not, she has a waterfall of beautiful hair, mine is almost always short, she wears her confidence on her sleeve and I fight to keep mine in existence, she is a natural academic and I couldn’t be further from studious, she is actually crafty and I pay her to make things for me (wish I could do that more often!)

What we do have in common is that we don’t sleep very much, we always procrastinate, and we love to laugh.  

Let me paint a picture for you:

Its finals, and time is of the essence when it comes to cramming for the test.  Emily and I, and some other  friends, created a sorority within a sorority called Alpha Nu Lamda (All Night Long) because we were all depriving ourselves of sleep in the name of “studying”.  Most of the group were successful in their studies, Emily and I were successful in having as much fun as we could.  

During one cram-session of fun we found ourselves in the computer room of our sorority house.  My memory is blurry but I feel like we were playing dress-up in the lost and found.  My back was to Emily and when she said, “Hey Jence!” I spun on my heel to see her in someone (a very small someone) else’s coat.  Emily bent over ever so slightly and did her best Tommy Boy impersonation, “Fat Em in a little coooaaat.”  

It still makes me laugh to this day, like my eyes are watering as I type this.  I hope all of you have a friend that evokes such memories of silliness.

The significance of this “little coat” has now been a marker in Emily’s quest for a healthier lifestyle.  I couldn’t be more proud to have a friend who can laugh at herself while also taking her health very seriously.  I have a vision of her reaching her weight loss goal, sewing herself a purple trench coat, and cinching the waist every so tightly.  And when she looks at herself in the mirror, I hope she hears my voice saying, “Skinny Em in a purple coaaat!”

Then we’ll skype and drink champagne while the six kids between us make messes and noise at our feet.....deal?

DEAL! Thanks for taking the time to share this memory, Jencie! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Space Rock Shirt

Headphone alien download from the Silhouette store + random NASA font from the internet= Space Rock shirt!



I used my Silhouette to cut a freezer paper stencil, and then used some fabric paint to paint this shirt. It's sort of stiff because of the large size of the graphic. If I were doing it again, I'd make the alien smaller to decrease the stiffness of the shirt. 

Did you know you can download the Silhouette software from their website, even if you don't have a machine? So, if you want this graphic, you can buy it from the store and then print it out and cut the stencil yourself. 

I practically had to pay Riley to get him to let me take these pictures. His modeling days may be over. Sigh.

Monday, January 23, 2012

This post brought to you by January in Ohio.

Yuck.

Yes, that is several inches of standing water in my backyard. It's gross. Has this been the weirdest winter in terms of weather, or what? Bring on the snow!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Show Off Bag

Do you ever grab a pattern and think "oh, I don't really need to read the instructions because I am SO FREAKING GOOD AT SEWING that reading instructions is totally beneath me."

No?

That's just me? 

Well, anyway, this bag was a humbling exercise in "why you should read instructions, even if you think the project is simple".  I totally screwed up the order of operations in terms of sewing the straps to the yoke, and ended up with messy stitching. This annoys me to death, especially because I have no one to blame but myself.


It's the Show Off Bag, by Rae of Made By Rae. It's an adorable, quick little pattern, and had I read the instructions properly, my bag might have been less of a hot mess. Also, if I hadn't been forced to sew the entire bag with a zipper foot, maybe my topstitching could have been straight. But alas, it is not. Not straight at all. And I'm showing you anyway, because everybody sews some wonky topstitching now and then.

Don't let my failures deter you from this pattern - it's a great, adorable, very clearly written pattern. I'm FOR SURE going to make another one. It's the perfect size bag for what I need.


I used a wool suiting from my stash on the yoke portion, and the new Anna Maria velveteen for the bottom. Those velveteens sure are yummy, and this is my favorite print of the bunch. 


You can see the hot pink lining peeking out there, which I love too.

So, I'm going to take another crack at this pattern soon, with a proper foot on my machine, and after having read the pattern instructions. Live and learn. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FGIALC: Weigh In, and Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup Recipe

It's time for the first OFFICIAL installment of
 First things first: You guys are AWESOME! Thank you so much for all the amazing comments, emails, and tweets in support of my weight loss quest! It feels really good to know there are people cheering for me, and that so many of you are struggling with and working through the same issues as me. (In case you missed my last post, you can read about my weight loss goals here.)

This morning was my weigh in, and (drum roll, please...) I lost 2 pounds this week! That brings me to 8.6 pounds for the month - I'm not complaining about that loss at all!

I have to say, I feel FANTASTIC, and I fully attribute it to the plant-based, whole foods diet. I have an absurd amount of energy - more energy than I've had in YEARS. Actually, more energy than I can EVER remember having, even when I was thin in high school. I really think it's because of the amount of fruits in vegetables in my diet now. I'm sleeping better too. Before I switched my diet, I was having all sorts of crazy dreams and sleeping terribly. Now, I'm sleeping great (when the kids will let me), and I can get through the whole day with lots of energy. I don't have that mid-day lull in energy anymore. It feels amazing. If that's not motivation to keep going, I don't know what is!

Today, I'm going to share with you a recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup that I've been eating a ton of in the last two weeks. It has no added oil, is entirely plant based, tastes great, and is really filling.



Sweet Potato And Black Bean Soup

  • Makes about 8 cups of soup
  • Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 2.5 per cup (The whole pot contains 20 PointsPlus values.)
  •  
  • Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 can of chiles in adobo sauce (only need 1 chile or so - don't dump in the whole can!)
  • 1 box veggie stock
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. red cayenne pepper (more or less to taste - if you don't like heat, you can decrease or eliminate the cayenne)
  •  

In a large stock pot, using a little veggie stock (about 1/4 cup), saute the onion, garlic, chiles, sweet potato, and squash until the onions are softened. Once the onions are softened, add the rest of the veggie stock and simmer until squash and potatoes are soft. Using an immersion blender, add water while blending until smooth. Add black beans and spices and simmer 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!


(I just realized you can see my reflection in the spoon - HA!)

It's super easy and delicious! I've made it with 3 sweet potatoes, and it worked great as well, but subbing the squash reduces the PointsPlus values while achieving the same flavor. I've topped it on occasion with some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and it was fantastic.


How are things going in your world? So many of you said you were trying to lose weight, eat healthier, or exercise more - how's it going so far?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A New Year's Confession: I'm chubby.

Last week, I talked about my crafty New Year's resolution, and you guys are so awesome and supportive! Thanks for all the fantastic comments. As I'm cleaning out my stash, keep your eye out for some fabric giveaways!


Today, I have a confession, and my other big New Year's Resolution. I've been debating whether or not to talk about this here, because it's not really related to craftiness, but my guess is that some of you struggle with the same things I do, so I decided to spill. 

Here's my secret:

I'm chubby.

And by chubby, I mean I'm packing an extra 90 pounds.
Yes, really. 

Now, this is totally NOT a secret to anyone who knows me in real life. But, if I'm being honest, the truth is I selectively post pictures of myself here that mask that fact.

This one's only from the waist up, and I'm shielding myself with children.



I'm barely even in this picture...it's all cowl, glasses, and teeth. 

Again with the glasses and teeth...



This one might be the most of me you've ever seen, and it's still only from the waist up, and I'm using a baby to hide the chub. (Also, why on earth did I post that picture, with my crazy frizzy summer hair? UGH.) And while, we're on the subject, do you know how many dresses I made for myself this summer, that I could have blogged about, given you all tutorials for, but I chose not to because the pictures made me look fat? This dress below is an example.

 Well, this year, no more hiding behind huge cowls and children.

This year, my goal is to shed those extra 90 pounds. I'm already down about 7 pounds so far this year. I don't expect to shed them quickly, and I'm totally ok if I don't get them all off this year, as long as I'm moving in the right direction. 

So, how am I planning to lose the weight? Well, first, I'm going to Weight Watchers. I am a HUGE fan of their program, and have been for at least a decade. It's all about choices, flexibility,  and teaching you how to eat well in the real world. It's a program that I believe in, and that has worked for me in the past. 

I'm also eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. For those of you reading between the lines, yes, that means vegan. I've been a vegetarian on and off since middle school, and haven't eaten red meat since the early 1990's, so eliminating meat products isn't really a change for me. I've always been a HUGE fan of dairy products though. Oh, cheese. Cheese, glorious cheese, how I love thee. 

So why am I giving them up?

Well, I've been convinced by the scientific evidence supporting a whole foods, plant-based diet for optimum health, and in particular in reducing cancer incidence and heart disease. If you're interested in some of this evidence, I would suggest starting by watching the film Forks Over Knives, and reading The China Study. 

In the last 5 years, I've watched several of my grandparents wither away from Alzheimer's and dementia. My mom died from a massive heart attack at age 50, only 2 days after her 50th birthday, and less than a week after getting a clean bill of health from a doctor. Her first sign of heart disease was death. If I can make choices for myself that spare my kids the pain of watching ME go through those types of health problems, then I feel like I have an obligation, as a mother, to do that. So I am.

Now, I understand that this style of eating freaks some people out. That's fine - I'm not interested in preaching to you, or changing the way that you eat or feed your families. I'm simply sharing my choice with you.

I hope you don't mind if I share my weight loss journey with you all. I'm thinking I might post weekly, or maybe just a few times a month, about how things are going on my journey.  My weight loss series will be called:


More on the name in a future post. :)

Is anyone else here trying to lose some pounds this year? How's it going?






Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My (apparently controversial) Crafty Resolution

Last week, I guest-blogged over at Honeybear Lane about my crafty New Year's Resolution. Apparently, it got some people's feathers in a bunch, so I feel the need to talk about it some more here. 

First, my resolution.

In 2012, I am not buying ANY fabric.
 Yes, really. And let me tell you why.

I am a "stasher". I'm a super visual person, so when I see a beautiful fabric, my inclination is to snatch it up, even if I don't have a project in mind for it.  In addition, my crafty work-in-progress and to-do lists are long, and I already have the fabric I need for ALL of them, and then some. I don't NEED any fabric. 

Also, (and I think we probably all do this), I have a stack of "special" fabrics. You know the ones - the $18/yard Echino prints, the hard-to-find Heather Ross goodies. They just sit, folded in my sewing room because I'm afraid to cut into them. Not so in 2012! I'm going to cut into those precious fabrics, and make things with them. What good are they doing just sitting on a shelf? 

Also, I'm  not going to lie, fabric is EXPENSIVE. It's not in my family's budget to spend money on fabric that I don't need, because I already have SHELVES AND SHELVES of fabric.  

 In my stash, picture from The Fabric Shoppe
 In my stash, leftover from the Grandview bag and Baby-In-The-Hood coat

In my stash from spoonflower

A fabric store owner commented over on Heidi's blog, and I got some additional email suggesting that I was endorsing some sort of boycott of the fabric industry. I'm not. I'm making a PERSONAL choice that is the right one for me and my family. I love fabric, and given unlimited storage space and rooms full of money, I'd continue to buy it in large quantities. But I don't have those things. 

What I DO have is a desire for a simpler lifestyle. A desire to downsize the amount of stuff cluttering up my life. A desire to feel organized. And a desire to use what I have.

I think this decision, to save space in my home and money in my budget by not buying fabric this year is the right one for me and my family. And I think it will be an interesting challenge! I'll also be purging some of my fabrics I have that I know I won't use, so keep an eye out for some giveaways.

I made a few preparations to help me succeed at this resolution.

1. I'm unsubscribing from all my fabric-related newsletters.  I get 1-3 fabric-related newsletters PER DAY, filled with gorgeous photos of the newest fabric lines, and tempting coupons to buy those fabrics at a discount. It's like taking a person on a diet and sitting them down at the dessert table over and over again, but telling them not to eat. Uh, not the best strategy for success. So, no more newsletters for me.

2. I'm organizing my fabric stash.  I bought a pack of these comic book boards, and have been using them as mini-bolts, to wrap my yardage around. I got the idea here, and so far, it's working great! Organizing my fabrics helps me see how much, and what types, of fabric I already have. As I'm organizing, I'm also attaching little notes to my fabrics with ideas for how I can use them in the upcoming year.

3. I'm stocking up on boring, but necessary fabrics.  As you guys know, I make a LOT of hoodies for my three boys. You can see some examples of them here, here, here, here, and here. (What? I'm hoodie-obsessed, and not afraid to admit it.) In advance of my personal fabric embargo, I stocked up on sweatshirt fleece and rib knit. These fabrics are essential to my hoodie-making addiction, and I don't want to run out.

3a. As a corollary to step 3, I'm buying dyeable apparel fabrics. Because I don't know exactly what colors I will want this year, I purchased a bunch of "prepared for dye" rib knit from fabric.com. This way, when design inspiration strikes, I can use some dye to create whatever color rib knit I need without having to buy new (or stock up on a ton of different colors) fabric!

4. I bought fabrics I know I won't be able to resist before January 1.  You might think this sounds like cheating, but seriously, have you SEEN the new Anna Maria Horner velveteens? There is no way I would be able to resist those all year, so I purchased some. I like to think of this as setting myself up for success rather than cheating. :)

5.  I'm allowing myself to purchase fabric ONLY when given a gift certificate as a gift. My beautiful, lovely mother-in-law gifted me a very generous gift certificate to my favorite local fabric store for Christmas. I'm going to reserve it for "fabric purchase emergencies" throughout the year.

Have I convinced you yet that NO FABRIC PURCHASES (or really, only purchases with a gift card) is a reasonable, attainable goal? It is! Anyone want to join me? I'm hoping it will be a fun challenge, will stretch my creativity, and save me lots of money in 2012. 


Did you make any crafty resolutions?

Happy New Year, everyone!!


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