Wednesday, December 28, 2011

free tutorial...

I told you I'd get one out there, and here you go! It's my first stab at a how-to, but if you find yourself wanting to tackle some new projects this winter, this could be one for you. I'd have to say it's probably an INTERMEDIATE sewing level, but totally do-able if you're still learning your way around your machine. Let me know if you try it and post pics!

Owls are all the rage these days so it was a no-brainer that I create these cuties for my "neice" Stella. {I put neice in quotes because she's my cousin's daughter, but I feel more like another Aunty!}

First find some fabulous fabric for the different parts of your owls. I chose 6 different fabrics. {body, wings {mine were double sided}, chest, 3 layers of eyes & beak} I absolutely LOVE the zig-zag fabric I scored that mimic the chest feathers!Some of the fabrics can be used twice, like I used some of the wing fabric for the beak shape. You could do the same for the eyes as well.

The other supplies you'll need:
-sewing machine and thread
-fusible web
-embroidery floss {you pick the color!}
-camera {so you can send me a pic of your creation}

I had seen the idea on Pinterest, so I had to create my own templates for the different shapes. I used cereal box cardboard. Easy to cut yet sturdy enough. You'll need one body shape, the chest shape. The wing shape. 3 circles for the eyes and a beak {diamond} shape.

Next start tracing and cutting out your fabrics using the templates. Remember to cut 4 wing shapes out and 2 body shapes. And 2 of each eye circle shape.

Using fusible web, applique the owl's features onto one side of the body. Iron each layer separately, working from the body outward.

Use embroidery floss to add details around the eyes and body. A simple straight stitch or blanket stitch look nice.

Next you'll want to sew the wings. Place right sides together and stitch around the curve, leaving the flat surface open to stuff. After you've sewn it, notch out around the bend of the wing to create less bulk. Turn it right side out, do an embroidery detail and stuff lightly. {An alternative to this step would be to use a stiffer felt and NOT sew. Still super cute!}

Once you have the wings sewn and stuffed, the tricky part comes. *wink* Pin the wings like the photo shows - facing inward on the right side of the owl's body. Just tack each one with 1 or 2 pins.

After that, place the other owl body shape on top of the part you just pinned with right sides facing together. {essentially sandwiching the wings between the two body shapes}

Pin around the entire owl body leaving the bottom open for stuffing.

Now you're ready to sew! Go slowly and pull pins as you go. Stitch straight across at the ear tips instead of a "V" shape. Again, less bulk when inverting. Trim the excess fabric from the tips of the ears as shown.

Once you've sewn around the owl, turn it right side out, using an eraser end of a pencil to push the pointy parts of the ears out. Then stuff the dickens out of it. I made mine good and plump. Use the eraser end of the pencil to get in all the nooks and crannies too.

Now the bottom! Because I made this pattern myself, I had to work on the bottom through trial and error. {and ooh boy were there the errors!} I knew I wanted a more rectangular bottom, so I cut a rectangle of fabric and sewed it on with my machine. Then with lots of time and patience, I hand stitched the rest in place once it was completely stuffed. An alternate bottom could be to just sew straight across the bottom. Be sure when hand sewing that you turn the edges inwards so that you do not have raw edges facing out.

Squeeze and primp till it looks the way you want it to. You can also weight the owl if you want it to sit up nicer.

Here they are all boxed up for her birthday!

Let me know how I did writing this tutorial. Was it easy to follow? Too wordy? Not enough pictures or directions?


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The family all gathered together.

chex mix. 7 layer bars. chips. iced sugar cookies. puppy chow. fudge {oh that glorious fudge}. cheese and sausage. crackers.

Uncle Al, this one’s for you.

All of these beckoned me this past weekend. Called out to me. I thought I could resist their indulgent calling. I thought my will was strong enough to look past the guilt-ridden goodies. Alas it was not. I indulged and I did so frivolously.
How do I know I overindulged? Three ways:

1) Come mealtime, the wonderful aroma of baking ham did not make me hungry.

2) I felt sluggish and blah.

3) And, by the end of the weekend, I was reaching for celery sticks {not because I was trying to eat well, but my body was seriously craving something healthy}.

For the first time since I began Weight Watchers I skipped a meeting this week. Not because I feared a gain. It is what it is and I will continue to progress in my weight loss journey. I did so because the holiday tasks were mounting up around me and I seriously needed the extra time to unwind and get things done around the house. I still weighed in at home and the scale shows a gain. Not surprising. I expected it {in fact I expected more}. But starting today I’m back on track. Sure I have Christmas coming up but that’s one day out of 7. I believe that if I eat well the rest of the 6 days, the one day of extra eating will be balanced out. I know this because it’s worked in the past.

So, my new goal for this week is to get back to tracking for at least the 6 days where I’m at home and can eat great. And to get back down to what I was at before Thanksgiving. {honestly I don’t know how much that equates to, but approximately 2 #’s… definitely do-able}.

On a different note, the time spent with family at the Dells was once again amazing. My personal highlights:

1) Talking my 7 yr. old daughter, Nessa, into trying the waterslide with me. She loved it so much that as soon as we got off she was ready to go again. {I think I screamed more than she did!}

2) Playing “Apples to Apples” on Friday night, and carelessly throwing away my wild card on the word “frivolous”. Sorry Dave. I didn’t do you justice with that one.

3) Seeing my niece, Emily, open the white elephant gift that held the trophy. I wrapped it so she would get it and she did! She was thrilled. Her comment “It’s a lot lighter than I thought it would be!”

4) Sharing with my Aunt and Uncle a way we’d like to bless them this winter with a work weekend at their place. My Aunt’s verclempt reaction was priceless and got me teary as well.

Despite the weekend being the brief demise of my weight loss progress, it was a fabulous kick-off to a great holiday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

get your DIY on

Amidst the craziness that has been my life as we approach the holidays, I've managed to find time to "get my DIY on". It's been a treat to craft my home into a fun holiday environment and it makes me wish I had even MORE time to do things like this!

It started with these fabulous glitzy feathers I found at Michael's several weeks ago. I combined it with some various greens we have in our yard and attached it all to this grapevine wreath I fashioned out of some vines we cut out of the trees by our fence two summers ago. Hang it from a wreath hook and voila! Simple and gorgeous!

Oh la la my house sparkles!

Next I took this antique frame that I got while thrifting at a local shop. I plan to DIY it once again {after the holidays} into a mod-chic mirror for the girls room. {think sparkly spray paint in a metallic gray!} Today it hangs at the head of our table by some vintage ribbon I also found while thrifting! In the center I tacked some cedar greens, 2 antique silver spoons, and a red ornament. Very shabby farmhouse I think!

The other day I caught a segment on the local news channel showing these topiary type things you could do inside your house and I thought... why not make one for the front steps. I took a green metal vase I already had and cut several varieties of evergreens and layered them in the base. {I also used some of the cut-offs from our Frasier fir Christmas tree.} Then I snipped a handful of branches from our red-twig dogwoods and ta-da! A beautiful decoration to accent our front stoop.

We also DIY'ed as a family and made ornaments for our annual ornament exchange, but those must remain a secret until this weekend, so mum's the word for now! I'll share those in the week to come.

What projects do I plan to tackle after the holidays? Well, my antique mission arm chair for one. All it needs is some foam and fabric and it'll be a beauty. Next I'll get that frame fixed up and painted and the mirror installed. I also have two smaller round wooded frames {found while thrifting - do you see a pattern here?}. Those will be made into silhouette images of my girlies. Painted to match the mirror I believe. And last on my bucket list are the curtains for the girls room in that lovely bird fabric I found last week. I'm sure more crafty wonderfulness will come about as the winter wanes on, but these are my must-dos. Oh! And I almost forgot! I've been feverishly working on getting my crafting stuff organized. I'm eyeing up a few armoires on Craigslist to use to house my overflowing totes and drawers. I love organization!!

And not to be lazy, an update on my Weight Watchers progress. I dropped .6 #'s this week - half of what I gained over the past 2 weeks leading up to last night's weigh in. And I'm satisfied with that. I've decided to just try and maintain where I'm at {give or take 1#} and then jump back in full force in January.

What DIY projects have you tackled lately, or plan to tackle this winter?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

own it

My blog post earlier today really got me thinking. Thinking about taking ownership of what we do, say, feel... owning who we are and what we stand for. I personally hate politics. I feel inadequate to talk about them, so I don't entirely "own" where I stand on certain issues. I don't cave to the opponent, but I also don't take every opportunity to step up and stand up for what I believe. But you know what? I have a ton of respect for people who do take responsibility for their actions.

Not to name names, but a certain congressman who somewhat recently got raked over the coals for his actions comes to mind. Even though it makes no difference to me what he does in his personal life, it irks me to hear someone profess innocence one day and a few days later sorrowfully {albeit sheepishly} confess. Huh? We can do that? We can swear up and down we didn't do it, then come clean when the heat's turned up? Is that okay? Take ownership. How would that scenario have played out differently had a confession been the first bit of news? I can tell you this... I would have had a heap more respect for him had that been the outcome. I guess this bothers me because I'm a trusting person on the whole. I want to believe that people are inherently honest.

And now a former Presidential candidate is in the same boat. I don't claim to know the details of the accusations, but he's firmly denying it. I want to believe him. Should I? Or will I be made the fool? I guess that's it. My selfish desire to not feel foolish down the road when I believed what I was told. But what is this world coming to if we cannot trust the words of those around us? It really makes me want to choose my words carefully. It makes me want to be the kind of person that people can trust. Who doesn't let them down. 'Cause this stuff happens - not just in the lives of the rich and famous - but in our own lives as well. People let us down.

Makes me cling even more closely to the One who doesn't change. Who remains the same. The One we can faithfully trust to do what He says he will. In a world that will let you down, I'm so thankful that my creator is there as an unchanging element in my life.

So own it. Own who you are and what you stand for. Be honest and tell the truth. Teach your children to be honest and tell the truth. And leave a legacy of trustworthy and respected people as a part of your heritage.


Life gives us feedback based on what we put into it. You know what I'm talking about. You give a little extra at work, you get a raise come review time. You water your garden and weed it, you get to enjoy flowers and veggies. You spend time with your family, a bond is created. You invest in your marriage, you have happy years to come. I'm not so naive to think that this always holds true. Bosses are stingy. Seeds don't germinate. Children rebel. Marriages hit rough patches. I get it. But what I'm saying is, most of the time, you reap what you sow.

I've been mulling this over a lot lately. As my kids get older and their little personalities really start to shine, I see some of the fruits of what we've put in. It makes me realize even more that I need to be purposeful in my intentions when I interact with them. I need to be intentional in my relationships with others. I know the kind of feedback I want to get in all these areas in my life, and yet, I still get frustrated when I put in time and energy that is sub par. It takes effort, but the feedback you get in all areas of your life, do reflect the attention you give it.

This completely ties in with my weight loss journey. For the last 2 weeks, I've given my eating habits less than my all and it has shown. Remarkable. This week I gained .8#'s - my 2nd gain in the 15 wks I've been doing this. But it's feedback. I'm not mad at the program. I own it. And this week WILL be different. Not just in my effort to get healthy. But I plan to be more intentional. More purposeful. In all areas of my life.

On my plate this week. Wrapping! ooh la la I've got bins and totes full of gifts that need wrapping, and I need to "wrap up" my holiday shopping too. I also need to shop for a new swim suit for our annual trip to the Dells... da-da-daaaaa {did you hear that doom and gloom music??} I hate hate hate shopping for swim wear, even down 20#'s it's not appealing to be in the dressing room under fluorescent lighting. eek! Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

new tradition

Chic & Elaine's, Berlin, WI

I always love the idea of tradition, but I feel like I'm always flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to doing things the same way each year. The last few years we started going to this little {ok, not so little} tree farm in Wild Rose. They have the whole shh-bang. Tree farm, crafts, campfire, chili and even a sledding hill. It's a bit of a drive for us, but we love it there! One year we stayed until after dark. The tree was loaded on the roof and we were sledding till we couldn't see our way down the hill!

This past weekend, the kids were begging me {understatement} if we could go get our tree, but unfortunately, Jason had to work, so I kept reminding them that we had to wait for Daddy to be able to join us.

That's when I devised a brilliant plan. We would deviate from our normal routine a bit and try a tree lot near where Jason was working in Berlin. I found one word of mouth called "Chic & Elaine's Choose and Cut". Ok, it had the word "Chic" in it. I'm sold! Sounds like a quaint little place and it was. We loaded up the fam on Saturday morning and headed to Berlin. We picked up Jason from work {he took an early break} and we drove over to the tree farm.

Here's the one!

It didn't take long to pick out a tree. There were so many to choose from. I never considered myself a Frasier Fir snob, but I humbly admit that I think I'm turning into one. They are so full. So soft. Such a gorgeous deep teal green color. And they had them trimmed just how I like them - tall and narrow like a topiary.

Jack was actually the one who found our "keeper". We looked around a bit more, but ended up coming back to this beauty.

Me and my boy Jack. Man, he's gettin' big.

The whole fam {minus the photographer}.

While Jason loaded the tree on the car, the kids were admiring another couple's white golden retriever. He looked just like our golden, Beckett, only a creamy white. Simply stunning. After securing the tree, we paid and drove Jason back to work.

Jason dragging the tree to the car.

This is my feeble attempt to help him lift it to the roof.

The kids and I took the tree home and left it on the car until Jason got home. I even pulled into the garage with it still on top! Oops. Luckily we have a large garage door so no damage was done. I didn't even realize it until we got out of the car and I was unloading the kids.

The tree is now up and decorated. {My flash is on the fritz so I can't share a photo of that at the moment.} And the only thing we're missing is a blanket of white outside to make the atmosphere complete.

All this to say that I'm learning that traditions don't have to be stagnant. They can evolve and change somewhat depending on the circumstances. We still spent the time together. We still got a tree before the holidays. We still cut our own. And it was quite a fun morning!

Like most of you I've been busily wrapping, buying, baking and cleaning. I've also gotten my DIY on lately - look out! I'll share some of my DIY holiday projects later this week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

it's a journey...

... not a sprint. At least that's my attitude this time around. So that means I enjoyed the pies, the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the dinner rolls, the sweet breads... I took it all in and loved every bite. As I said I would, I exercised many times throughout the week. Not exactly as I had mapped out, but planning for it definitely made me stay on track more than when I just tackle the week willy-nilly.

But to stay accountable, I'll also post my stats. I ate like a pig and gained .4#'s this week. Still manageable. And considering I haven't gained since I started 14 weeks ago, I've cut myself a little slack.

Here's to hoping you enjoyed time with family over this past week, and here's to getting back on track and healthy choices!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

and the WINNER is....

... Alyson! You will have a funky wonky purple ring custom made for you!


More giveaways in the future, for SURE!

Woot Woot!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

waste not want not

{I wish I could say this was my Thanksgiving table, but alas, it is not.}
So whether you're hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow or you just picked up a turkey since they're stinkin' cheap these days, I wanted to share some tips so that none of that bird {no matter how inexpensive} goes to waste!

First, cook it up and enjoy it the traditional way! Yummy. I have been dreaming of that juicy browned bird for weeks now.

If there's a LOT of meat left on your bird, eat it as turkey bacon subs, pulled turkey and gravy sandwiches {just let some big hunks of meat and the leftover gravy simmer in your crockpot all day and it'll just fall apart}, or make a turkey pot pie {using leftover pie crust dough, the leftover veggies, leftover gravy, and instead of topping it with another crust, top it with those leftover mashed potatoes}.

By now your once plump turkey is meerly a skeleton with a some bits of meat here or there. It LOOKS like it's time to throw it away... or is it? You can do one of two things. 1} freeze that frame of the turkey in a large freezer bag, or 2} take the time and make up some soup! It's a process, but well worth the effort and NOTHING goes to waste.

The recipe I love comes from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. So simple. It takes a while, but it's something you can leave simmering on the stove while you get other stuff done. Or, save it for one of those snowy, go nowhere days.

TIP: Instead of the pasta, I love a hearty dumpling. So I choose to use an old family recipe for something called "glace". Nom Nom Nom. The recipe is simple.

1 cup flour
1 egg
dash of salt

Add cold water by Tablespoons until you get a somewhat stiff dough that is smooth and elastic.

Cut off chunks the size you want your dumplings and drop into the soup at the end of the simmering time. When they float to the top, they're ready!

This recipe can be increased if you desire more dumplings in your soup.

Monday, November 21, 2011

prepared for a gain...

I mentioned last week that Thanksgiving doesn't necesarily bring about fears when it comes to overdoing with pies and potatoes. Maybe I should be more worried.... At any rate, I've set up a plan for success that looks like this:

Wednesday - Just Dance with the kids for at least 1 hour
Thursday - {turkey day} - Wii at Dad's plus a walk in the morning {min 2 miles}
Friday - lazy day, but I'll still do Wii fit for 1 hour
Saturday - walk after lunch at Mom's
Sunday - Walk 3 miles in conjunction with my sister doing an event run
Monday - Just Dance with Zoey in the morning
Tuesday - Take the day off!

With a plan of action in place, I will succeed. Do I plan to loose the following weigh in. Nope. But I do hope to stay the same. I'm even giving myself the freedom to show a .5 # gain if it happens. I already manage my weekly weight loss on my scale at home so I stay on track and there are no surprises on Tuesday nights. Being the planner that I am, it's a need I have to fulfill.

Now onto this weeks results... As the title states, I fully expected to see some sort of gain this week when I got on that scale. Most days I tapered off with my tracking. Not to mention I learned the hard way that a McDonald's breakfast would "eat up" almost my entire points allowance for the day, and that a peanut butter rice krispie treat from Kwik Trip {total indulgence} calculates to a whopping 18 points plus values! At any rate, despite my poorer than normal choices {and lack of exercise}, I was still blessed with a smaller number on the scale. I lost .6 #'s for a total loss of 20.2 #'s. Still plugging away. In fact this morning the scale showed a number I haven't seen in quite some time. Years in fact. But I have to say that the encouragement I've gotten from my followers {you know who you are} has been spectacular. I feel like this blog is actually serving a purpose, rather than just occupying web space. So, keep the encouragements coming. Continue letting me know that this is helping you achieve your goals. I love it. You guys are amazing and I look forward to reading your successes as well as your trials.

Taking it one day at a time... and today, this is what I look like:

The bulky sweater doesn't really do much to hide the tummy I'm trying to loose, but it's so comfy!