Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On Again, Off Again

...that seems to be my current relationship with diet/exercise. I joined Tales from the Scales back in the summer. Did pretty well. Started the next challenge in September. Got off to an OK start and then just stopped. I stopped going to Weight Watchers and went back to drinking regular cokes(at least three per day), eating anything and everything I wanted. The week before last, I had fast food four nights out of five after work. I won't even mention how many times I went to McDonald's or Burger King for a biscuit and coke for breakfast during the past few weeks! It's embarrassing. The only thing that kept me from gaining more weight than I did was three days of exercise a week after work w/some friends.

Finally I have come to my senses. Perhaps realizing I gained 5.5 pounds in a month did it. Maybe it was the fact that old "Jabba the Hut" feeling was beginning to return every time I looked in the mirror or went to button my "britches", as my grandma would say. Regardless of what has brought me back from the dark side, I am going to give it another go. Thank goodness for the new start we are so gracefully given each and every day. SO, I guess this is my official "I'm Baaaaa-ack" post!

This time around, I'm trying something a bit different. Extreme Fat Smash. It's the Celebrity Fit Club diet from Dr. Ian Smith. I started on Sunday and have actually lost a little! However, I am already so sick of eating beans and rice that I could hurl. BUT I am determined to stick with this particular diet for at least one three week cycle before I start back on Weight Watchers. I figure after three weeks of this, WW will seem like a dream! ;)

Honestly, it's plenty of food but I'm so used to eating so much that it's tough and right now & I'm feel hungry a lot. I'm having trouble with the four scheduled meals per day plus two snacks that are recommended. You would think eating every three hours would be easy, but it's tough. I have a feeling it's tough because I'm supposed to be eating meals or a healthy snack...not Doritos or cookies every three hours. I would have no trouble doing that. As far as scheduling meals every three hours and working...I can't really stop in the middle of a lesson plan or storytime..."Hey Kids, talk amongst yourselves, Mrs. Cotton has to have a salad now!" It just doesn't work. I'm sure I'll work it out somehow, it'll just take a few days. And I'm not kidding about the beans and rice either, it's one or the other or both DAILY. Fiber, I suppose. And by the way, after just two days I've realized that beans truly are the magical fruit.

And exercise. Man, you have to do a lot of it on this diet! Yes, I've had to get up at 5:00a.m. the last two days to get it in, but I have managed. Speaking of exercise, I've given up on my DVD experiment..you know the one where I was going to use each and every one of my many exercise DVD's and blog them. Leslie Sansone's workouts are the ones I enjoy the most and they are the ones that I know work for me, so I'm sticking with those!

I think the thing that'll help me most these next few weeks is knowing that my brother is doing the same thing. We decided to give it a go together. I am now accountable to him as well as to myself(and TFTS). Hopefully we'll both be healthier by Christmas rather than heavier! I heard recently that the average American gains SEVEN pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'd like to lose that much this year instead!

Since I started this new plan on a Sunday I 'll wait till Sunday for my weigh in post and link back, but I have high hopes that it'll be a pretty good loss. And at this point, any loss is going to be good for me!

This post on TFTS made me feel a little better. I am not alone in my falling of the wagon-ness!

This post from Jan makes a lot of sense. This gal has lost some SERIOUS weight! She's very inspirational and I especially appreciate this post right now when there are goodies and treats at every turn!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christmas sewing projects now underway

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I thoroughly enjoyed the day and yes, stuffed myself with Mom's home cooking, and some of my own, and some of my brother's, and some of my grandmother's. It was goo-oo-ood. Of course the company was even better than the food! And we were so happy that Jackie and Scott were able to join the Thanksgiving feast from Poland via Skype.

Mom and I braved the Black Friday madness for some shopping. And madness it was. Biggest crowds and craziest traffic I've ever seen...and I've been doing the day after Thansgiving shopping thing for a very long time! Even though it's the start of the Christmas shopping season, I didn't do a lot of Christmas shopping. Shame on me for buying supercute brown boots for myself instead of gifts for others!

On the handmade vs. store bought gifts debate: I decided to go the handmade route on some gifts and the store bought route on others. While I love the idea of hand making all my Christmas gifts, it just wasn't practical.

SO, including gifts, I now have several projects under way! I'm 3/4 of the way through one project. It's been a tricky one. Had to completely re-do half of it! I'll show it off at a later date!

I've also finished two more blocks in the quilt class quilt!
That quilt will most likely end up being a gift for me, so I doubt I'll work on it much more till after Christmas.

I have a bunch of Christmas fabrics that I bought in September & October, thinking I would make a tablecloth and napkin set for my kitchen and some napkins and place mats for Mom, among other things. Maybe I'll get around to it using it before Christmas is over.And then there are the gifts that I want to make. A few of my girlfriends are among those who will be receiving handmade gifts this Christmas. I have settled on aprons for each of them. Even if they never wear them(but I think they will), they'll be cute hanging in their kitchens or tied around the pantry doorknob...that's where I keep my apron du jour anyway!

I'm in love with the the simple style of the Paris Toille apron that I won on Apronistas(It's ADORABLE...photo to come later)and would like to come up with something similar. Here's a look at some of the fabrics I plan to use. The top fabric will be for the body, the bottom will be waistband, ties and pockets. This is another project currently in the works. Thankfully, we are doing Dirty Santa instead of a gift exchange at our faculty/staff Christmas party this year. This cherry print apron will be my contribution to the game. The pattern is called Flirty Skirty from Threaded Pear and it is going to be adorable! (If I do say so myself)! I don't know what I'll use these fabrics for or when, but I was unable to leave Hobby Lobby without buying them! And now...off to the sewing machine with me!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

11/24/07 UPDATE:

My Thanksgiving video was playing automatically whenever entering the blog. As funny as it is, it gets old after a while. SO, if you haven't seen or wish to see again the hilarious Adam Sandler singing his Thanksgiving song, the only song I know of written about turkey, click here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Handmade for Christmas?

I realize that Christmas is only a few weeks away. Still, I am toying with the idea of giving handmade gifts this year. Realistically I don't know that I can get it done, but in theory, it's a good idea. Or is it? I'm not exactly skilled as a seamstress. Still, I think I can probably do a gift-worthy job(depending on what I make) So my next thought is what in the world do I make? I've already given my sister something like four aprons. I can never have enough aprons, personally, but she and my mom will probably eventually tire of them if they haven't already. So, what to make? Then there are the men. These are the ones that really baffle me. I don't have a clue what to sew for a man, especially my Dad. There are no little ones in the family yet, so don't have to worry about that one!

I really wanted to make an apron for each of my girlfriends for Christmas. And I had a really cute idea for a lunch tote. But the closer it gets, the more I'm afraid they'll think handmade= homemade=lame. Is it lame? I don't think so but then again their tastes and mine are all so different. If I did make something for them, I know they would be totally gracious and sweet about it, but I don't want them secretly wondering why I didn't just go buy some Bath and Body Works(and who doesn't love Bath & Body Works?)And honestly, if I don't make up my mind to do it and get started that's what EVERYONE is getting anyway. What to do, what to do?

Ya'll help me out here...What are your thoughts on handmade gifts? Do you like to receive them? Do you like to give them? Is it too close to Christmas for me to even worry about it this year?

**11/20 Update: I had actually decided to make one gift before this post and I'm officially halfway through that one...can't post a pic 'cause that person might see this...you never know.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quilt Class

Yesterday I went to a beginner's machine piecing class at a local quilt shop. I was so excited when I first signed up and then by yesterday morning, I was kinda...not really dreading it...just not looking forward to it as much. I think a little social anxiety that kicks in sometimes, because, of course, once I got there I had a really nice time and I actually learned a lot.

I'm now much more comfortable with a rotary cutter. I understand and appreciate the process of quilt piecing a little better. There were only six of us in the class, so it was very hands on and we got lots of one on one assistance. Dana, the shop owner was fantastic and very helpful even though she wasn't "officially" teaching the class. When she wasn't helping customers, she was helping us! The instructor is a SERIOUS quilter who was so very helpful and patient! I managed to find some samples of some of her quilts here. She brought some of her quilts to class and has a few for sale in the shop and they were beautiful.

I should mention that my sewing machine was not the clunkiest one there, but it was a close second. Still in the midst of a bunch of high-end machines, my old clunker held her own! Not once did it do anything weird. I don't think I embarrassed myself too much in front of the other quilting ladies...but who knows. AND my quilt was not the crappiest one because none of actually made a quilt! Just blocks. We're beginners people, cut us some slack! :) Thanks for sending the good vibes, Jack!

Needless to say, I was s0 completely thrilled once I actually completed a quilt block! Yes, I did yell out a "YAY!" when I finished it. But I think everyone else did too ;) 'cause we were all at about the same skill level. Make that all but one overachieving gal who had brought her own Christmas themed fabrics and had pre-cut them all. She made something like SIX blocks during the class when the rest of us only managed about two! Anyway, it was a very satisfying feeling of achievement when that first block came together! I can see how people get hooked on this!

Again, it was a fun day. I enjoyed myself, I enjoyed the company and I learned something new. Now, I didn't finish a quilt of course, but I do have two and a half blocks together and the know how to at least piece the front. I don't know what I'll do when it comes to to quilt it, unless I do the straight line "easy lap quilt" kind of quilting I've done once. However, I'm not sure that type of quilting is suited to this more traditional quilt.

I've signed up to participate in a block of the month club. Each month I'll get a kit and if I take it back to the club meeting (completed) the following month, I'll get another block kit. At the end of the year I'll have enough blocks for a nice, big quilt. I thought it sounded like fun and a way to keep quilting without becoming overwhelmed.

Here's a look at my two completed blocks. WOO HOO! The pattern is called charmed and I'm using 1930's reproduction fabrics.Here's a look at what the finished quilt top should look like.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quilt Class Tomorrow

I am attending a day-long beginner's machine quilting class at a local quilt shop tomorrow(11/17). Feel free to send the following vibes(hand to the back of forehead, fingers wiggling toward screen) in my direction:
  • Sewing machine won't quit working or go crazy(as it has been known to do) vibe.
  • I will have all the supplies I need with me(lost my instructional letter)vibe.
  • I won't say something idiotic and embarrass myself in front of the quilting ladies vibe.
  • My quilt won't be the crappiest looking one there vibe.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On the subject of cooking...

Last night I went to my brother Shea's house for our weekly family viewing of Biggest Loser. We sorta have our own personal little club, dontchaknow. The folks are visiting relatives in sunny Florida so Shea did the cooking this week.

I was a little nervous. Not 'cause Shea was cooking dinner...he's a better cook than I am, for sure! I was nervous because he made beef stew. Nervous 'cause I've never liked beef stew and as a rule, I'm not much of a touching-foods kinda gal. And well, beef stew IS foods touching. And there are usually tons of vegetables in the stuff. My loyal three readers already know that I don't like most vegetables. In fact, I like vegetables even LESS than I like foods touching. OK, I do like the white vegetables(except for cauliflower) and the yellow vegetables(except squash). I hear you sniggering...Ya'll QUIT laughing at me!

Anyway, Shea made beef stew (and grilled cheese to go with). I must confess I was absolutely blown away by deliciousness of it! The touching vegetables were good...yummy even! Say! I like beef stew and touching vegetables! And I would eat them in the rain and I would eat them on a train! I would eat them in a box and I would eat them with a fox! I would eat them in a house and I would eat them with a mouse! And I would eat them here or there! And I would eat them anywhere! I do! I like beef stew and touching vegetables... Sorry. The librarian in me had to get that out.

Seriously, Shea's beef stew really was very good and I did go back for a second helping of it. I have officially expanded my culinary pallet a bit more! It's big deal for me, ya'll! Kinda like when I discovered after 38 years that I actually like meatloaf after all! I feel a little silly that I've always been so finicky when it comes to food.

Making Shea's version of beef stew is simple...If I'm remembering correctly, he told me he dumped a can of veg-all, a can of tomatoes, a can of black-eyed peas, & a can of (drained)potatoes along with some stew meat in the crock pot and cooked it for something like 8-12 hours. And after our meal, we had hummingbird cake. Mmmm. Who knew those little birds could be so tasty!!! Thank you, my dear brother for the fine food and company! And for not using actual hummingbirds in the cake.

Now, over in Poland my sister and her husband are cooking up a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for about 20+ college aged Polish kids. Check this out. Brave girl. I wouldn't stick my hands in that goopy ole' pumpkin. bleck. Sadly, she can't buy it canned and no Thanksgiving around here is complete without pumpkin roll! I'm sure everyone who is in attendance will have a wonderful time and get some tasty eats to boot!

Me, I cooked up a pot of corn & bacon chowder this week. Quite tasty. It involved my two vegetables of choice. The recipe is in a previous post.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Paris Toille Apron...come to Mama + the Apronista Giveway for this week

hee...hee. I'm giddy with the excitement! Remember when I posted about this contest last week? The incredibly cute apron giveaway from the Apronista? I WON IT!(jumping up and down..stirring the pot) Go Kellie, It's Your Birthday! Well, it's not actually my birthday. It's better! I'm getting an awesome gift but NOT turning 40! Woo Hoo! I have actually left a bag of Doritos sitting undisturbed for five minutes in order to do the happy happy joy joy dance and ya'll know I loves me some Doritos! That's happy, people. My apron will be coming to me from Sommer Designs and I know you'll love all the designs there as much as I did!

And get this. The Apronistas are giving away another apron. These are from Carolyn's Kitchen and they are, well, hot!! Head over to The Apronista now for contest details. You might just win!

I'll say this again: If you enter to win but you don't plan on wearing your apron should you win...our favorite is Dorothy in Aqua. ;)

Flea Market Goodies

In my last post I shared some of the sights from a local flea market. As promised, I'm gonna show off my loot. But before I show you what I did buy, here's a look at one more thing I didn't buy. I don't know why I didn't snatch it right up, I've had this dreamy Grizzly Adams trash can on my Christmas wish list for ages.Alright, alright. On to the good stuff..the stuff I did buy...

Here's the lot of it. Seven vintage aprons, a fabulous leather bag, cute vintage tablecloth with a crochet edge, vintage napkins, quilted teddy, egg separator, handmade kitty, and I don't think you can see it in this photo but I also picked up a dutch print tea towel that I plan on making into an apron.Here's a closer look at the shaped-like-a-piece-of-pizza tupperware container(1 dollar) and the egg separator that I will probably never use but could not live without at the time. I bought the quilted teddy(FOUR dollars) to use in my library media center display; his eyes need a little work... they are just glue dots right now. I bought several aprons that day. This one being the most expensive(10 bucks) and my favorite of the bunch. This set of four linen napkins was too cute to pass up at 50 cents!
My deal of the day is this fabulous leather handbag. I thought it was vintage from maybe the 70's when I spied it. I got closer and saw that it still had the Wilson's Leather store tags. It's NEW and it was originally priced at $90.00. It was price at 12 bucks and the incredibly nice man at the booth sold it to me for TEN DOLLARS! Woo Hoo! I NEVER ask people to go down on their prices and I would totally have paid 12 bucks(duh, right) but for some reason I went for it. It's a great bag, ya'll!I spent a little over what I intended to for the day. Of course, on the way out I spotted something else I wanted...a cookie crock and began to whine about not being able to buy it. "Maaaaann, that's so cute, I'm out of moneeey! Whyyy did I hafta buy soooo many aprons? It would be so cute in the kiiii-tchen! waaa waaa waaa". I walked away dejected and headed for the car while Mark ran back to a couple of booths(I was out of money and cold). When he came back to the car, he surprised me with the crock!He's so sweet! ...and it does look really cute in the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bluff City Monster Discovered at 4H Flea Market

Mark and I went to the Vanderburgh County 4H Flea Market recently. This particular flea market is one of the better ones locally(locally being a 45min. drive). Sometimes there's TONS of stuff & sometimes there's....less than tons. But we always enjoy ourselves and one of us usually walks away with some sort of "treasure". And caramel corn.

Lots of fun stuff this time. Snapped a few pics while we were walking around...A bowl full of drink-stir-er-thingies. I KNOW they have a name. It has slipped my mind. Swizzle sticks? Whatever you call 'em, we bought a few. Cause they were cool. I use them to stir my nightly hot chocolate if you must know.Lots of random and strange display combinations pop up at the Flea Mart. This is one of them. Perhaps you would like a creepy stuffed black arched-back cat to go with your parlor painting?
Super cool Dick Tracy car. Check that retro blue hair dryer in the background!
Awww! At one time I wanted to decorate our school library with Raggedy Ann and Andy. But I'm not sure they were originally children's book characters. As a matter fact, I don't know any Raggedy Ann and Andy history. Drawn to the shades of blue on these old spools of thread.
I don't know what it is. but there's something I really like about old milk bottles. I always find myself stopping to look at them. I'd like to have a display of them in my kitchen, I think.How awesome would this guy be hanging on the garage wall!?
I dig these Lady Head vases. I have about four of them, but I can't afford to collect them for real...they are soooo expensive.
This trunk makes me think of my brother Shea and his favorite movie, Joe Vs. The Volcano.

This one I took for Jackie and Scott. Did ya'll get any fair food while you were home? Notice how you can get Taco salad & Nachos, Polish Sausage, AND Philly Cheese Steak all at one booth? It's an international food fest on wheels!
I must've been hungry cause the Biscuit Barn caught my eye too! Fried biscuits! Really? If it involves biscuits, it can't be bad, can it? I SO want one of these old aluminum Christmas trees and accompanying swirly lights! I have a giant Santa head. Don't know where it came from, but it's out in the garage.

Mark and one of his toy purchases...he's sold it on ebay already!
Alright, I know this picture is really fuzzy, but this display was so danged cute that I couldn't not share it. Old 50's snowmen store displays maybe? CUTE!
ACK!! How the (expletive deleted) did that get on here??? I loathe monkeys...(no rational reason, they just creep me out) especially these creepy cymbal playing chimpanzee freaks.

I thought the lady who made these was going to have a stroke when I asked if I could take a photo of them. I had to assure her I wasn't going to try and make and resell them. I just thought they were cute. Sheesh, lady.
This was by far the coolest thing I saw all day. Yes I wanted it. Badly. NO, I didn't buy it. Seeing as how I no longer own any 8 tracks, it probably wouldn't have been of much use. sigh

And Finally...
Bluff City is a tiny little town in Henderson county on the bank of the Green River. We went to the tiny little church in that town. There was nothing but a tiny little church in the town as far as I remember. Anyhow, when we were little, my brothers and I were told a story about the Bluff City Monster by the church teenagers and I think our uncle David may have told it too(perhaps more than once). I don't remember the exact details of the Bluff City Monster story...I kinda remember it being a bigfoot type monster that would crawl up from the river banks and go skulking about the town at night, probably looking for children to eat. Shea might be able to call up more details. I DO remember that it scared me!

I had completely forgotten this story until Shea reminded me of it on our way to see the Police in concert this summer. I quickly forgot it again. Until wandering around
at the flea market... when I spotted this thing from a distance. I believe the citizens of Bluff City can now rest easily. It would appear that the Bluff City Monster has met it's demise.

I may be wrong, but I believe this is what happened to the rest of the Bluff City Monster.

As luck would have it I came upon what I believe to have been the lesser known, (although better accessorized) Spottsville Monster.Whew. We'll all sleep better tonight knowing those two are gone for good.

And so there you have it. Kellie & Mark's Flea Market fun! We did buy some stuff at the flea market, but I've kept you much too long! Come back later for a rundown of my goodies.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Non-Work Day & Way Too Simple Chili

No work today! Yee Haw! So happy...although I did run by school to check out the new library. Except for the Titanic of a story area in the middle of the room (which I told the powers that be was not a good idea), it looks great! Titanic and all...I'm very excited and am looking forward to getting settled in there and finally getting back to being a real library media specialist and not a traveling dog and pony show.

Other than than, I have taken advantage of this day off. This morning I set a pot of chili to cook. I used my brother Shea's recipe and it is yummy! Especially for this perfect chili weather we are currently having. I also watched Blades of Glory this morning. Good Grief! I was not expecting to laugh so hard! John Heder is hilarious. The peacock suit...people!!! Great choice of movie for a day off! I even took a nap AND I have the remainder of the day to...I don't know...watch another movie, pick up the pile of Jackie's Christmas apron that is still on my sewing table in a heap, attempt to sew aforementioned apron, read, hit the mall for an hour or two...so many options.

Now, back to the chili! Shea's recipe was perfect, ridiculously easy as the name implies and did I mention it was yummy! I rarely end up following a recipe to the letter only because I somehow always seem to be short an ingredient or two. In the case of the chili:
  • I only had one can of tomatoes on hand, so I had to sub with a can of tomato sauce.
  • The diced tomatoes were a bit chunkier than I can handle, so I put 'em in my handy dandy little chopper till they were of a chunkiness(technical cooking term) comparable to salsa.That's not really changing the recipe is it?
  • I got really brave and added a dash of baking cocoa too...saw that in a chili recipe I read the other night. I figured if I'm adding cinnamon, what's a little chocolate going to hurt?
  • I sprinkled in a little Mexene chili seasoning(probably could have done without it).
I let it cook in the crock pot all morning and by lunch it was mighty MIGHTY tasty! I have a new chili recipe!I love it when things I cook turn out to taste good! I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow because we all know chili is one of those things that gets better the next day!

Shea's Way Too Simple Chili Recipe

1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
1 Can Bush's Chili Magic Chili Starter TRADITIONAL style
2 Cans Diced Tomatoes (I use the Ro-Tel Chili ready variety)
1 Package Shredded Taco Cheese
Ground Cinnamon (optional)

1. Brown and drain ground beef
2. In crockpot (MUST BE COOKED IN CROCKPOT) combine Chili
magic, 2 can's diced tomatoes (one can of tomatoes can be drained for
thicker chili), and finally ground beef.
3. Stir concoction.
4.Salt and pepper into crockpot until chili has a layer of salt pepper
dusting over about 70-80% of surface. I typically do 3 to 1 ratio of
pepper to salt.
5. (OPTIONAL) Add a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. This is tricky. I'd
recommend trying it without the cinnamon first, then if you like it, try
a dash of cinnamon the next go around.
6. Cook overnight on LOW, no less than 8 hours.
7. Top with loads of shredded taco cheese.
8. It's not really rocket science t'all, but tastes pretty good.

Apronistas Apron Giveaway

One of my favorite recently discovered blogs is the Apronistas ...lots of apron love to be had there! Check it out---right now they are hosting a giveaway from Sommer Designs...and the winner gets to choose the apron design!

Gals, these are some gorgeous aprons! Go take a look-see! It'll take you forever to choose just one! Me, I'm going for the Paris Toile! Here's the direct link to the Apronistas giveaway post.

Hey, if you don't plan on using the apron you win, you can always send it to me. Remember, my...I mean your favorite design is PARIS TOILE(wink, wink).