Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two little monkeys baking with Aunt T...

I'm a bit behind on the blogging front but living life trumps blogging about living life any day, and I have been busy with some very special visitors.
These little darlings were with me for four wonderful, Mystery-Date-playing, Disneyland-going, swimming-pool-splashing days and boy, did we have fun!
The day before they left, during one of our many gab sessions, the topic of cookie baking came up and lo and behold, it came out they had never actually baked cookies from scratch before.  What?!!  Isn't cookie baking a rite of passage for every little girl?  Well, it is in my world, and sorry Pillsbury but, buying a bag of quick frozen, preservative laden, cookie dough globs and plopping them on a cookie sheet , isn't really the same rich experience as gathering all the ingredients, measuring them out, mixing them all up (with copious amounts of spilling, giggling and finger/spatula licking thrown in), and watching them turn into delicious dough that you made yourself.  Then, once the cookies come out of the oven, proudly witnessing the golden brown results of your own creative labors .
Well, what are Aunts for if not to help busy, working moms who may not have time to bake from scratch.  Soooo...

Here they are all aproned up and ready to go.  Joe wanted in on the action, so the girls found an apron for him as well.

The girls were excellent at taking turns and working together. 
Look at all that creamy, irresistible deliciousness.
Who can blame them stealing a few pre-baked tastes?

Who ever came up with using the ice cream scoop to measure out cookies is a genius, I tell you, genius!

Perfect, uniform, golden brown and crunchewy.  Real, from scratch cookies anyone would be proud of.
Take that, Dough-boy!  

Friday, September 17, 2010

A year in the life

I love the song "Seasons of Love" from Rent.
It starts out:
"Five hundred twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes.  How do you measure, measure a year?"
Well, here's how I measure this one.
It was about a year ago when I made the decision to get serious about my diet and begin to train.  I had no idea then the journey I was under taking.  All I new was that I was sick & tired of feeling sick & tired, and that this time, I was going to do whatever it took.
I committed to myself that no matter what my trainer told me to do, I would say yes.  If he told me to eat more protein, less carbs; yes, sir.  If he told me to do less minutes of cardio at the highest resistance I could stand; okey-dokey.  If he told me to lift a weight that I previously wouldn't have thought I could, I did it.
No, it wasn't easy but a year later, here I am...

By the way, that thing I am balancing on is called a Bosu Ball. Kyle (the best trainer in the world) makes it harder by turning it upside down so the ball part is on the bottom and it creates even more of an unstable surface.  It's hard!

Yes, that is a ball I am standing on while doing squats.  Yikes!
A year ago, I would never believed I was capable of doing those moves but now I amaze even myself!
So here are some of the lessons this journey has taught me:

  • It really is all about calories.  No one wants to hear that.  I have multiple people every day ask me how I have done it.  When I tell them that I log my food and record my calorie burn every single day, their eyes kind of glaze over as they say, "wow, that is a lot of work."  Well yes, it kind of is but I ask you, when did everyone decide that we didn't really have manage that part of our life? Ask yourself, what would happen to your finances if you didn't keep track of what went into and out of your checking account?  What about your car.  What would happen to it if you didn't manage your fuel, oil or fluid amounts?  Your body is the same.  If you want to lose weight you have to consume less calories than you burn and you can't do that unless you keep track.  It is as simple as that.  No matter what you eat, if you eat less calories than you burn, you WILL lose weight
  • Having said that, what you eat does matter.  I have completely changed my eating habits and it has completely transformed how I look and feel.  I have adopted the Eat Clean lifestyle and it has made all the difference.  I haven't felt this great in 20 years.  Going back to the car analogy, if you put premium fuel in your engine, your car will perform better than if you put in cheap, watered down crap.  Your body is a type of machine, the rules are the same.
  • You need a trainer.  Yes, they are a bit expensive but they can show you how to get the most bang for your exercise buck.  I now see so many people who are basically wasting their time or even hurting themselves because they don't have the right form or they aren't doing the right kind of cardio.  Take my word for it, get a trainer, even for a month.  It will really help.  
  • You have to sweat...alot.  I used to hate sweating.  It made me feel gross and sticky.  But if you aren't sweating, you aren't working very hard.  If you aren't working very hard, you aren't burning many calories.
  • And along those same lines, you can lift more, run faster, go longer at a higher resistance than you think you can.  Again, here is where a trainer is needed.  They will push you harder than you will push yourself.  They will get that extra 5 lbs, reps or minutes out of you that you, by yourself, would not do.
  • It's okay to bribe yourself(with something other than food) to get through a particularly rough workout.  I can't tell you the number of times I have promised myself a trip to the mall or a full treatment pedicure to get myself through it.  I have even promised myself a good cry when I got done and as soon as I have gotten in my car, I have picked up the phone, called my husband and just cried in his ear for a good 5 minutes, as I rehearsed how hard the workout was.  It really helped.
  • The most important two lessons I have learned are these: I am worth it and I can do hard things.  This knowledge has given me a new level of confidence that has helped me in every other facet of my life.  I am now more willing to stick my neck out and try things because tell myself over and over, "I am worth it and I can do hard things". And, the same goes for you.
525,600 minutes.  Wow, what a difference this year has made for me.  I can truly say I would do it all again.  How I look and feel now is worth all the blood, sweat and tears.  I invested in myself and the dividends have been more than I ever imagined.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Got me under pressure...

I had an epiphany of sorts this week.  As I was checking in on one of my favorite blogs, the entry was about yet another quilt-along.  Previously, I would have jumped right in and signed up.  This time, I only felt anxiety and depression. 
Can I just send a message out into this vast quilting blogosphere...UNCLE, ALREADY!!
Oh my gosh!  There is just too much out there; too many quilt-alongs, sew-alongs, bees, swaps, groups and guilds.  Too many give-aways, charity auctions, quilting for causes and what not.  Too many designers to keep abreast of, new patterns coming out, books to buy and conventions to attend.  As hard as I try, I just can not keep up with it all.
Don't get me wrong, I think the on-line quilting community is great.  It has exposed me to ideas and techniques I probably wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise.  And believe me, I would kill to be able to attend a Denyse Schmidt workshop, but really people, I have a real life!
I don't think I am the only person with a passion for quilting that also has to juggle a job, home, family, and friends along with work in my church and community.  Yet to read all these blogs, it appears that everyone else has an ideal life with nothing else to do but whip up their newest creation and quilt 24/7.  My logical mind tells me this cannot be so, but never the less the perception is enough to cause a bit of discontentment with my own situation. 
So, to all you lovely, well-meaning quilt bloggers out there, can I just ask for a little mercy?  Next time you want to put out a call for another quilt along, sew for a cause or swap, will you just stop a moment and consider us poor peons who are trying to keep up with it all???  Quilting is supposed to be a LEISURE activity.  It isn't meant to cause pressure and anxiety.  It isn't supposed to be another thing on our to-do list that we are behind on.  Just think about it.
 As for myself, I am going to start editing the amount of blogs I read and the groups I join. I know this will be hard.  I know, in the beginning,  I will feel as if I am missing out on so much. But in the end, I think this will help me feel more relaxed and content.  Can I get an Amen?
Phew, I feel better now that I have vented.  Moving on...
Remember this entry?  Well here is the finished product.
I love the way this came together.  My colleague, Kathy made six blocks and I make six blocks and I think they fit together seamlessly. 
She sewed the top together and made the sandwich, then I took it and quilted it.
I choose to to organic, straight line quilting; no guide. I think that choice was a good one.  It gave the quilt an "art quilt" feel.
I found some great, vintage buttons in my stash.  I added them to give it a little more flair.
This is my favorite block.
What I loved about this process was that I was actually quilting-along with a real person, not women I didn't know whom I just happened to sign up with on the internet.  It made the whole thing so much more "connective".  Every day we would bring in the blocks we had completed and talk about how we would put them all together.  We consulted together about color, placement and design.  When it was all completed, we rejoiced together over our accomplishment.  Now that what I have always pictured a quilting bee to be about.  I can't wait to see this hanging on our lunch room.  That ought to perk the place up.

I finished the quilt I was working on from Material Obsessions 1.  I love it!  The colors are so fresh.
For the focus panels, I used Tweet Tweet from Alexander Henry and for the squares I used coordinating fabrics I had in my stash; everything from Nicey Jane by Heather Bailey to some old Amy Butler Midwest Modern.  I am now mulling over how exactly I want to quilt it.  Any suggestions?
Looky, looky!  I have a thing for labels so when I saw this, I immediately signed up.  I got my first shipment yesterday and I LOVE IT!
Then even sent my own customized label.  How exciting is that?!
Speaking of new goodies, look what came in the mail.  It is called Go By Bike from Erin McMorris.  'Lil bikes!  Don't they just make you swoon?
Still in the throws of my creative surge, I went through my stash again to find a new project.  I totally forgot that I bought these at last year's International Quilt Festival in Long Beach.  Now is the perfect time to start working on my annual Christmas quilt.  Now I just need to decide which of the two patterns, pictured in the photo, I am going to use.  What's your vote?
Joe and I wish you a happy, pressure free week.  Live your life, enjoy where you are, quilt for leisure.  :)