Thursday, January 26, 2012

I've had lots of success on Weight Watchers in the past year, and people are always asking me what tricks I use to stay on plan so well. Considering this is my third go of it, you'd think I'd know by now. I'm what I like to call a "repeat offender".

First of all, any advice I have applies to me. That doesn't mean it'll work for you. I know other people who have been extremely successful doing it their own way. So take all of this with a grain of salt (0 points).

For me, meetings are a must. Even if I have a bad week, it's better to face the music than skip a week. Skipping one week leads to two, then three, and a downward spiral back into old habits. The first time I did WW in 2008 I lost almost 30 pounds in 16 weeks doing WW at Work, then the summer hit and I quit going to meetings. Over the next 12 to 18 months I gained it all back!

Secondly, I have no will power. That means all foods that are tempting must GO. This is easy for me because I do both the cooking and grocery shopping in our house, so I have complete control over what I see. For me that means no Cheetos, no Girl Scout cookies, no Ben and Jerry's, no Wavy Lays and ranch dip. NOPE. I can't stop once I start, so it's not coming into my house. I know people who can eat one serving of ice cream (that's a half cup by the way, or about one muffin wrapper) and stop. I am not one of those people.

Third, I need to come face to face with how many points are staring at me. I write the points on every new item in my fridge and pantry. It helps me memorize them faster and I'm less likely to eat without tracking. Especially when first getting started, this is really helpful. I know the points of pretty much everything I eat these days, but my cousin is visiting this weekend and she just started about a week ago, so I went through and marked everything for her. It's hard being new to the plan and at family functions where you feel really self-conscious calculating everything!

This shoe rack hangs in my pantry. The sticky notes are labeled with how many points the item is.
*Notice that my husband's microwave popcorn isn't labeled. That falls under the category of "not even worth it".

I've set up rules for myself to help avoid my pitfalls, such as:

  • No snacking in front of the television.
  • Don't eat out of the box or bag. Measure out a portion.
  • Wait 20 minutes before getting seconds.
These simple rules have helped curb excess calories I used to consume daily!

If I'm truly HUNGRY (light headed, stomach growling, cranky) I eat something with protein- deli turkey or string cheese or even black coffee if that's what's on hand- instead of snacking and snacking and snacking. It is much better to eat when you need it than trying to wait for the next "meal time" and then overdoing it.

Like I said before, this is my third time restarting the program. Quitting the first time was stupidity on my part, thinking I could maintain the program without meetings or tracking diligently. The second time I became pregnant, so I had to quit. The third time feels different, though.

Part of the reason I think is Points Plus. The way it emphasizes eating natural, unprocessed foods really clicks with me. I'm all for avoiding gimmicky foods (the pantry picture being the exception, not the rule) that advertise low points, low fat, low calories, whatever, and just eating REAL food. Now when I want a snack, I reach for an apple or banana or even flavored water. My little girl is nine months old now, and she's very interested in what I'm eating. I want her growing up learning to love great food, not stuff out of a box. If she shouldn't be eating it, I shouldn't either!

I love Weight Watchers, their philosophy, the support system. There's a reason why it's the plan that's been proven time and time again to work. Think about it- your skinny friends do all this stuff anyway (unless they're the ones who have super awesome metabolism that need to be bludgeoned, like my husband). You think it's an accident that they're skinny? They just got lucky? Nope. They just learned better habits than we did. And we can learn them too!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Even YOU can be crafty!

I'm always amazed at how impressed people are that I can sew in a straight line. Seriously. I only sew things that are rectangles. If it requires something other than 90 degree angles or *gasp* a PATTERN,  I have to call my mom for help. I can't even figure out how much fabric I'll need for any project, and I'm a math teacher.

So despite my shortcomings, I can whip out a baby blanket in no time flat. Here's my attempt to teach anyone how to make a simple baby blanket.

I'm actually cheating because I'm starting with a store-bought blanket. This is one Squirt got as a gift. I like it because it's a nice size, 2'x3', and it's very soft on both sides. If you don't have something to start with, go to your local fabric store (my favorite is Joann's- they have awesome coupons and selection!) and buy one yard of fabric in two different styles (that's two yards total). If you're just starting out, I would suggest a fleece or flannel option. They should be the same length, but may be different widths (check the end of the bolt if you're not sure). Pin the two sides together and sew around the outside (see, there's that rectangle I promised), leaving about a 1" seam allowance. You can then fringe the edges using scissors. Both fleece and flannel hold up nicely using this technique.

What I didn't like about this simple blanket is that it was only bound on the edges and had no quilting holding both sides together. I decided to use a very simple tie technique to remedy the problem.

First, use a fabric marker (or similar) and lay out your grid. You don't need any fancy sewing tools to do this, but I like this ruler because it's six inches across, which is how far apart I want my ties. I lined it up by starting in one corner of the blanket and marked a grid that was over six inches and up six inches from there, then continued by factors of 6 ( that's at 12, 18, 24 inches. See, you do need to know what factors are.) Then I moved over six inches. This time though, I started at 3 inches from the bottom edge and then counted by 6 (9, 15, 21). This way my grid is a little more interesting. Continue the length of your quilt.

Next I used yarn (but you could also use embroidery floss) and went down and up at each spot I marked. I find it easier to waste yarn and do as many in a row as I can reach.
*Disclaimer. The hardest part of this project is threading a needle with yarn. I used a sharp needle with the largest eye I could find. I have to use a self-threader to get it through. I'm pathetic.

Then snip between each tie.


Trim to one inch.

That's it, you're done! See, I told you it was easy. :)

When all else fails...

...try a glue gun.

Sewing was obviously not on the table last night. Tonight either, apparently, but more on that later.

Squirt, pretending she's bashful.

This is what I did with my time last night since the jacket wouldn't cooperate with me.

First, I started with this headband. It was part of a 3-pack. I liked the black and the white one, but this is a bit froo-froo.
The first thing to do is get rid of the ridiculously sized flower bow. It couldn't just be sewed on, it had to be glued on too.

Then, since I mutilated the nylon getting that off, I had to resew it. Lost some of the length. Boo.

Next I had to cut circles. I didn't want felt flowers that were too big, so this circle is just over three inches in diameter (That's all the way across. Your math teacher would be ashamed.)

Make sure when you cut out the circle you leave ALL the marker on the discard pile. Even a little dark edge will look ugly on the final product.

 Next, I started on the outside and cut a swirl toward the center. What I finally learned from other posts was to make the swirl wavy too, so the flowers have more dimension.

Finally, roll them into roses. Don't glue as you go on your first attempt. You'll get a different look depending on whether you start from the inside and roll out, or outside and roll in. Decide what you like. I finally decided outside in after eight attempts. Or was it inside out?

 I decided the flowers wouldn't stick to the nylon very well, so I took felt scraps and sewed a base.

Then I glued the rosettes to the headband. Ta Da!

Daddy will never let me wear this in public.

The post that was never meant to be.

I was really in the mood to make something last night, so I set off to attempt this super-cute ruffled jacket from this site.

First, I had to figure out how to use the gathering foot on my sewing machine. Wait, scratch that. First I had to figure out that my machine has a gathering foot. There's a reason I keep the user manual at arms' length.

This is a gathering foot. Who knew?
Once I had that figured out, and it was surprisingly easy, I thought I was good to go. Nope. The ruffles I made, while very cute, are out of leftover cotton from Squirt's baby quilt. Cute fabric, but it's going to fray. A lot. I don't think I can take that.
Right to left: Original 1.5"x42" strip (folded in half), gathered strip, extra gathered strip.

So then I decided I would use some heather gray knit fabric I had in my scrap bin. Not girly like I was going for, but it would do. Cut the strips, off I go. Jammed my machine. Grr.

In the process of trying to get the fabric OUT FROM UNDER THE FEED DOGS, the needle went through my thumb. Ouch. But I didn't get blood on the project, so I was still okay.

Take two. MASSIVE FAIL. This time I had to cut the fabric out and use my seam ripper to claw out the remaining scraps.

Time for bed.

Next day, take three.

I gave up on the gray knit. I thought maybe it was just too soft and wasn't going to cooperate. I had a friend give me some old tshirts, so I found a pretty pink one, cut the strips, off I go.


My machine is broken.

What did I do to it last night?!?


Soundtrack of my childhood

Around Christmastime I decided I wanted new dinnerware. The Pfaltzgraf set I had was fine, but it's very heavy, several pieces are chipped, and the pattern was not particularly attractive. I got them on sale at Tuesday Morning while in grad school, so they have definitely served their purpose and been worth whatever I spent on them.

I decided my new set would be Corelle. It's very plain-Jane, lightweight, cheap, everything a growing family needs. I picked a pattern of plain white with a royal blue edge. I wanted it to stand the test of time.

The order sat in my Amazon cart for weeks and I finally pulled the trigger and ordered last weekend. I got four 4-piece sets. Yes, 16 place settings. No, I'm not planning on competing with Michelle Duggar. We have a large extended family and I liked the idea of having enough for everyone. As is, with everyone coming in this weekend for the baptism, I'm not sure I have enough!

This huge box was sitting on my front step this morning. (And the FedEx guy thinks the diapers are bad?) Inside this large box were individual boxes for each place setting. Inside THAT box was another box, and inside THAT box was an abundance of cardboard to protect from breakage. Well, it worked. I unloaded everything, threw what didn't fit in the dishwasher in a tub of soapy water, and loaded my old dishes into the boxes. (Who wants them?!?)

As I was hand-washing the sink full of dishes, the clanking of the plates brought a wave of nostalgia. We had Corelle growing up (olive green flower pattern anyone?) and the sound is exactly the same! I remember many, many nights fighting with my older brother over who got to dry. (Mom would make us rewash dirty dishes, but no one ever had to re-dry a wet one.) We enjoyed the smug vindication of throwing a dirty dish back into the sink to make the other do it over. Sometimes I'd throw a clean one back in there just because I could.

We would put a dry towel or paper towel in a cup and marvel at how the air trapped inside the upside down cup would keep it dry. We learned the hard way not to throw knives in the soapy water. If you showed up at the ER these days needing stitches, DHR would probably show up at your door investigating you for child labor.

One of my students recently watched me, perplexed, as I hand-washed a coffee mug in the sink in my room.
"Does that clean it?" she asked.
"What, hot water and soap? Yes, that clean it," I replied skeptically. "Haven't you ever hand-washed dishes?"
"Once," she nodded, "and let me tell you- it was an EXPERIENCE."

Yes, hand-washing dishes is an experience. Too bad most kids will only ever use a dishwasher.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I. Give. Up.

I had it all. Photos. Commentary. Hilarity. Then my sewing machine tried to kill me, my camera refused to give up its photos, and my husband decided to back up our entire server, rendering the wireless useless. I give up. I'm going to bed. You'll never get to know what I made.

Ok, I'll show you tomorrow.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Here it is, the profound post you've been waiting for. Why in the world would I do a blog? I know you're wondering this. I already work, have an eight (almost nine!) month old, and a crazy addiction to everything Pinteresting. I've spent the last couple weeks trying to formulate a reasonable response. I have several theories. But first I have to decide what this blog will be about. Here are my favorite things to talk about (not necessarily in this order):

1. my daughter
2. my dogs
3. my husband (Who has expressed in no uncertain terms that he should not be discussed. Broke that rule twice tonight.)
4. kids at school (Hmm, limited on this unless I want to lose my job. Now there's an idea...)
5. Pinterest
6. recipes, especially Weight Watchers-friendly ones
7. sports
8. current events

Maybe I spent too many years taking education classes, but I swear I can hear my officemate Boyd yelling, "But there's no over-arching THEME! There must be a THEME! I don't care if the kids like tie-dying. It's not part of the THEME!"

So what's my theme? This is the profound part. Everyone who loves Pinterest loves browsing it for ideas. Sure, I like that part. I even like trying the stuff I find. But that's not my favorite part. I obsessively check to see how many people have repinned my stuff. Not the stuff I like. The stuff I made. But you're limited to what you can post if you don't have your own website. That's why my hubby said I needed a blog. Because I can't get past my eleven-year-old desire to be validated. I think I've been teaching sixth graders for too long.

So it doesn't matter to me (or hopefully Boyd) if one night I post something cute my daughter did, or something disgusting the dogs did, or a low-Points recipe I invented, or something I made, just as long as you like it. 
Well, it's not going to be profound, but I do have something fun to share tonight. And by fun, I mean insanely rewarding for all you CDO (that's OCD, but in alphabetical order the way it should be) types.

I cleaned my Dyson vacuum. I do this somewhat frequently, but hadn't done it in awhile. I saw a post on Pinterest that recommended doing it every 3-6 months, and I'm pretty sure it's been longer than that for me. I hadn't met my Pinterest quota for the day, but I also didn't have much motivation. Staying up all night listening to the weather radio and tornado sirens will do that for you.

The popular link off Pinterest didn't work for me because my model - the animal one- is styled much differently than the one with the handy dandy pictures.

No worries, I just googled "how to clean dyson animal canister" and got to this ehow article. I would make a better version of this article (i.e. with pictures of course) but I don't think getting sued because someone trusted my advice and ruined their $400 vacuum by pouring water into the motor is a good way to start this blog. Let ehow get sued. I might have felt nervous rinsing the filter with water except I've done it before. I'd never rinsed the inside though, and that was NASTY. I must have shouted something alarming, because that's when my husband came by to investigate. He DID freak out that I had the most important part of our $400 vacuum in the utility sink, but when I told him I'd done it before, he left me alone. If you've ever shampooed your carpets and know what that first full reservoir of discarded water looks like, you know what I'm talking about.

The only crucial step I felt the article left out was air drying. I left both the filter and canister out to dry overnight. Everything will be like new tomorrow. And then I can vacuum enough dog hair off my floors to make a new dog. Every day.

Maybe I should clean out my canister every month....

Sunday, January 22, 2012


So this is my first post. It seems like it should be profound. But it's 8:57 and we all know I turn into a pumpkin at 9:00. Maybe I'll be profound tomorrow.