Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I can't believe nearly a month has flown by without me posting here!  It was a very busy four weeks leading up to today though, we "got" a nephew nephew, brought the (almost) 4-year old nephew home to stay for three weeks, took said nephew and the dog on a 400+ mile road trip back to his home, then on another 200-ish mile trip (just the two of us) to visit our nephew (and his parents) on my boyfriend's side of our little family unit, then it was back to Central Oregon for several days and an early Christmas with my family (we stayed in a hotel with the dog)!  Our month-long "adventure" came to a close yesterday with another 400+ mile trip home with the dog.  I brought photos home to share though!

Anyone who has or has had a child anywhere near four years old probably already knows this, but they "go" until they drop!  Put one in a car for around 8 hours and they "go" the whole time!  Our "loner" (nephew #3) went until he was about 25 minutes from his home...then he asked for a pillow and was out!  But look how clean the car seat is!  The day before we left on our trip, he got sick after filling up on marshmallows and fruit snacks (I was a nice aunt and let him take his own handful of mini marshmallows out of the bag and then his uncle had the bright idea to take him to run around the play structure at the mall...)!  Poor little guy covered himself, the entire car seat and a good portion of the seat he was buckled to!

We didn't stay long when we dropped him off at home, we pretty much said hello, dropped off the kid, dog, and all of the Christmas "stuff" and got back on the road!  It is a 7 to 8 hour drive to my Mother's house and another 2 to 3 hours past that to his brother's was a long day in the car!  We were greeted with the best low-carb meal I think I have ever eaten (until the next day when he did it again)!  My other half's brother is an amazing chef!  He graduated from Western Culinary Institute with the highest of grades, did his externship at the Playboy Mansion, and has recently (2 weeks ago) opened his own restaurant in Eugene Oregon!  But, back to the dinner he made for us when we arrived!  He roasted a piece of beef (I believe..) and to go with it made Roasted Parsnips (Okay, not a really low-carb veg, but he tried and they were amazing!), and Cauliflower (again, I believe he pan-roasted these, but I stayed in the living room playing with our 2-year old nephew).  The meal was so good!  He cooked the meat to more of a medium-well, which was awesome for the two of us since we like our meat "done" rather than pink, but he spent the rest of the trip wishing he hadn't "over-cooked" it!  We only stayed for two nights, but the food was so amazingly good!  The next night it was Pork (roast) with a Turnip and Carrot Mash (again, higher on the carb count than what I make at home, but he tried to cook as low-carb as his French training would let him) that I could have inhaled all of, and Brussels Sprouts with Curry powder, Coconut Milk, and a few other things!  As always, everything tasted amazing!  I will be attempting to mimic the Brussels Sprouts, but I will be eliminating the little bit of sugar he put in them (I think I can do that without ruining the dish).  I should have taken photos, but I was too busy inhaling my food!

On our way out of Eugene, we stopped by Jef's restaurant (Koho Bistro) for a cup of the coffee we had heard so much about!  It's Wood-Roasted, something I had never heard of doing with coffee before.  It smelled so good when it came out!
After a packet of Splenda and a little cream, I got my first sip...  Oh My!  That first sip hits you with just a hint of wood smoke in it!  We love our coffee and spent a large part of the week drinking it by what seems the gallon, but this little cup is the best cup of coffee I believe I have ever had (Cafe Pacori, wood roasted coffee)!  It is well-worth stopping in for just the cup of coffee!  While we didn't get to eat "at" Koho Bistro, we did spend two days enjoying the creations made by the executive chef/owner!  He has amazing talent, especially with food!  The Brussels Sprouts I mentioned we had for dinner are actually on the menu too!  Go drool over the menus in the link up there, and then go in for a visit!  Even us low-carbers can get away with a few things...or just go "cheat" on the's worth it!  I have more photos of the restaurant, but those will have to wait a few days (while I get them off the other half's phone).

Back in Central Oregon, we spent Wednesday morning at Sun Mountain Fun Center!  The boys rode the bumper cars three times!  Once with their uncle, and a couple of times just the three of them!  All of the boys have gotten really good at driving these!  Even #3 was ramming everyone with precision accuracy!  We also played in the arcade until our $30 (between the boys' "fun cards") was gone...not bad for an hour or so of fun for five adults and three rambunctious boys!  Wednesday was also the day we celebrated "Christmas Eve" (opening gifts from family members).  The oldest two boys went with Grandma, Aunt, and Uncle back home to have lunch and play for a while while the youngest two stayed with their parents to go to doctor's appointments and such.  That evening we opened gifts!  I got a Nook!  It's pretty dang cool too...I have already loaded a bunch of the "free" books on it, a bunch of cookbooks (including one of Dana Carpender's books I was still "missing"), and a single "actual" book that I already own in paper format, but never seem to have the time and opportunity to read!

Thursday morning, the boys were excited to see that Santa kept up his end of the deal!  Nephew #3 had talked to Santa (at the Mall here in Spokane) about using our house as the "Dry Run" house this year!  Would you believe it?  Santa actually came actually came 3 days early just to make sure his sleigh was up to snuff this year?  How lucky we were to be picked as one of the houses he used to test the system!  (Yep, when you include boys that are 3, 6, and have to get elaborate!)  Santa even remembered to bring the right things to each boy this year!  A Cars 2 toy for #3 (he couldn't find the house he asked for as well), a MobiGo game for #1, and Lego's for #2!

In fact, Nephew #2 got Lego's from just about everyone this year!  We gave him a 231-piece set, he got a 1600-piece set to split with his older brother, a huge Lego City set from his Grandparents on the other side (the fire station set), a Police truck from the City set, and a few smaller sets as well as one of those "sort and store" heads!  He actually has so many Lego's now, they fill the head!  There are specific pieces that require stickers these days...I don't remember having to add stickers to the pieces when I was a kid, they came pre-printed!  But, since they had to be added (and because the sets are so huge and I wanted to make sure all the pieces were there), I actually spent several hours over the course of two days "playing" with the Lego's to put them together and get the stickers on the right pieces.  This turned out to be a good idea too, since the huge City set (priced higher than I would ever spend on Lego's) is actually missing a key piece!
I gave my sister the part number (listed in the back of the fourth manual for putting the set together) and the phone number for customer service...hopefully Lego will remedy the missing piece issue!  That big yellow thing in the background is the storage head...without these sets in it, it is actually full of Lego's already!

With "Christmas" over for our households, we had a few days left to kill before heading home on the morning of the 24th.  While my Mom and I did some "post/pre-Christmas shopping", my other half took the oldest two boys swimming at the hotel.  See all that sunshine out the open slider?  It was supposed to be 55 degrees on the 24th, the weather was awesome while we were there!  However, the weather here at home is cold and least it waited until we were almost home to turn to snow!

Right now, I have a pot of "Slow-Cooker Tomato Soup" cooking (that I "Marcy-ized") for Lunch smells great and is making my hungry!  Dinner tonight is something with Hamburger (because everything else in the freezer will take a few days to thaw).  Tomorrow though...Christmas 2012 shopping begins!  I'll be out and about looking for those great after-Christmas sales!  My plans include hitting up the fabric stores too...I want to get several yards of materials for some craft projects that I have been mulling over in my head (adult-sized aprons, bags for the boys to keep their toys in, new stockings for my house....).  I also need wrapping paper!  Besides running out this year, we got one of those nifty wrapping paper storage tubs as a gift...need to fill it up now!  Jo-Ann's, Micheal's, Wal Mart, and World Market are on my list tomorrow...also a few clothing stores that are having good deals!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Weight Loss...Checking In!

November was a "bad" month for my weight loss!  I only lost 0.40 pounds!  Week by week though, I lost 2.4, then gained 2.8, then lost 1.2 ans 1.0 pounds...but I only subtract the first of the new month from the first of the old was easier to track that way.  In comparison, I lost 4.2 pounds in October!

I still weigh less than I did a year ago though, so I am happy overall.  To the left is my weekly "weigh-ins" since my 1-year start date, including my first weigh-in from 2010!  The pink numbers are my calculated varies depending on where you get your formula from (my doctor uses a different formula an puts it much higher than these numbers) but I use this one:
BMI=(weight (in lbs) x 703)/(height (in inches) x height (in inches))
It's been slow going in the first few months of my second year of low-carbing...but with a fresh set of ideas in my newest addition to my low-carb cooking cookbook arsenal, Low-Carbing Among Friends, life is looking up!  I fully plan on making low-carb Corn Dogs next week!  We had a Taco Bake out of the new book a few nights ago, it was great!  I will be putting my own spin on it, but mostly because the other half hates anything resembling a vegetable on his plate and having an entire Bell pepper in it wasn't his idea of a fun meal!  I'm also going to bake the burger in the "crust" sort of sat on top and made it hard to get out of the pan!  If you can get your hands on one of these cookbooks, I highly recommend it (They are selling them on Amazon as well)!  If you pay attention to my rantings, you know how much I love Dana Carpender's cookbooks; she is one of the authors in this one as well!  Lisa Marshall also has a section in this one too (author of 24/7 Low Carb Diner blog) and there are even recipes from Jamie (who writes Your Lighter Side, another favorite blog I spend way too much time on every day!  The only thing I have that is remotely negative to say about the book so far is the layout and binding.  It is a bound book, since it is a cookbook and extremely small in size, I think a spiral binding would have been easier to use...luckily, I have a copier at home so I'll be photocopying the recipes out of the book so I don't loose my place!  The book is laid out by author as well, so finding a "breakfast" recipe means looking through the whole book!  The index helps there, but it is really hard to know if "Armadillo Eggs" is really something you want to try...I do, by the way!

See all those flags on my copy?  Those are all the recipes I want to try!  The view from the top has even more tabs than you can see here!  Tonight is gonna be "throw something on a Pork Chop" night here though...not sure what yet though (some sort of spice)!  I was also inspired by a post on the Atkins Facebook page too last night.  They made a post asking about Hot Cocoa recipes.  I play with my personal recipe and it never is the same twice!  But, as I was making myself a cup of coffee last night (it sounded good, okay?), I was inspired by what I had read (in the first 4 posts).  So, while the water in the tea kettle came to a boil, I added my instant coffee tube (Taster's Choice French Vanilla) to my cup.  Then I added a dash of Cinnamon and a little Nutmeg, then a tiny dash of Cayenne Pepper!  Then I added 1/2 teaspoon of Cocoa Powder and 1-2 teaspoons of Splenda!  Added Hot Water and a little was yummy!

Here's hoping the rest of my "year in low-carbing" continues in this trend!  That big spike was when I had my surgery...double check before you go in and they start an IV that every nurse who touches it knows to give you the "sugar free" one!  One of the nimrods in charge of my care swapped me to the bag with sugar in it...she is also the one who refused to give me any insulin!

Another Busy Week!

This has been heck of a busy week for us!  Monday and Wednesday I had dentist appointments and got 2 fillings on both days!  My teeth suck...   Tuesday was a trip to the Endocrinologist, where I got in trouble (again) for not getting my fasting labs done!  I really wish you could make an appointment for those...I'd be more likely to actually go then!  I did get them done on Wednesday though...I skipped my morning coffee before my dentist appointment (at 7:30am) and went in for my blood draw with an almost entirely numb lower jaw.  Try spelling a name with an "f" in the middle to someone when half your tongue and lip are numb and not working properly!

On Tuesday I stopped in on my eye doctor to make an appointment there as well (for Monday).  While we were there, nephew #3 played with their toys for a little bit...he was really good during my Endo visit and only interrupted twice!  He also got stickers at both offices...they gave him two stickers at the Endocrinologist, so when I asked him what he should say at the eye doctor (as she was passing him the basket to pick from) he said "I want two!"  That, of course, got the whole staff laughing...and then he said his please and thank you.

Tuesday was probably our busiest day this week.  I have been working hard to arrange our days so that my other half still gets to take his SUV to work and not have to worry about us dropping him off and remembering to pick him up again.  So, after picking him up from work on Tuesday (he worked from home while I was at the dentist to watch our nephew), he dropped our nephew and I off at the Mall and came home to get the coupon (I forgot to print it before we left the house that afternoon) for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants (Perkins)...they emailed me a 20% off coupon and it was Tuesday, kids eat free!  Northtown mall has a kid play area (that #3 refers to as "the park" that is padded from top to bottom and perfect for even the earliest of walkers to run around in without getting hurt.  However, when getting dropped off...we got let off at the opposite end of the mall!  It was a lucky break though...I have been promising to take #3 back to see Santa since we got back to Spokane.  He got to see "him" in Bend while I was visiting, but he said he forgot to tell him something and wanted to see him again!

#3's list of "somethings"...
  • dog bone (for both dogs)
  • a wooden house (that he can paint!)
  • Furniture for the house...every room, please!
  • Please come early so we don't have to wait so long!  (This is really due to the two of us having to travel home on the 24th...but he likes the idea of being Santa's "practice run" for this year!)

He could have gone on and on, but there was a line forming behind us by that time!  He got a little coloring book, thankfully they weren't giving out candy canes like they were in Bend, and then we set off to finish our walk to the play structure!  Can you believe they want $30 for a single 5x7 photo here?!?  This is probably why I can't remember ever going to do this as a kid...

We made a pie this week too!  It's gone now...but it was pretty good!  Pumpkin "Custard"...but I cooked it a little too long, so while it was still creamy, it cut a little better!  I modified a recipe given to me by my Mother...who modified it to her liking from a recipe they were giving out at the WIC office (typed and printed on a computer, so who knows where they stole it from!).

Here is "Marcy's Version...Pumpkin Pie/Custard":

  • 2 cups Pumpkin (either from a can or from the "real" thing...I used 2 "Pie Pumpkins" that I baked the night before)
  • 3 eggs (I used fresh eggs from the girls, so Large eggs)
  • 2 cups "Milk product" (I used Hood's Calorie Countdown*, Coconut, Almond, and Soy are all good subs...or mix and match!)
  • 2/3 cup Splenda (I think it could have used a little more "sweet", but a fresh whipped cream would add to this too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger (Or you could use Pumpkin Pie Spice...but I would still use the Cinnamon too, just replace the other spices with it!)
Put everything in a blender or mixer (this filled my blender to the very tip top edge) and give it a whirl to mix everything really well.  I Pulse my blender with each ingredient...start with the eggs and "milk", then add your Splenda and spices...finish by adding in the pumpkin!  I started with the pumpkin and it was really hard to get everything to blend well.

Pour into a pie plate (or two if they are shallow, or even small glass dishes...use a water bath with the small ones though) and bake at 350 for 30+ minutes.  The original recipe says 45 minutes...I think mine took about 75 minutes though...hard to say when you have a little guy running around the house!  Start checking it after 30 minutes...just keep setting the timer for another 5-15 minutes (after 30 it looked very soupy still so I gave it 15 minutes and then slowly increased how often I was checking it).

The really observant have already noticed, I'm sure...but there are a few things I'd like to point out about #3 in that photo right there.  First, he's wearing my kitchen apron!  He had just got clean pajamas on, and I didn't want pumpkin on them since he was going to my bed when he finished his pie!  I had to tie the neck hole up to make it fit him, but otherwise it is perfectly kid sized!  (I smell another craft project coming on!)  Now look at how nicely he's sitting up to the table...since we don't have a high chair/booster seat anymore, he is getting to sit in a regular chair with a 12-pack of Diet Cola on it!  It is working very well...even if t does look, um, well...trashy!  Lastly, do you see the television on behind him?  Chicken Channel!  Now see my out of the three is actually on the roost!  One is on the side of the nest box and the last one is in the nest box!  This is how they have chosen to sleep since the weather got cold almost nightly!  It is never the same chicken in the same spot either...they take turns getting pooped on by being the one in the nest box!  I have tried going down and moving them, but this is how they always rearrange back to once I leave.

Perkins knows how to get kids to least our nephews anyway!  All three of them clean their plates when we got here!  (Remember, I said we went on Tuesday...)  While we did actually bring food home for #3 after this meal, he ate everything I let him have while we sat there!  This was our second trip to eat with him...and this meal went over much better than the previous meal.  During our first visit, he chose the pancakes with chocolate chips.  He ate all the chocolate off and refused to eat the pancakes!  We eventually got him to eat one of the "ears" it was shaped like a bear head (big round with little round ears), but unlike the photo which was two small pancakes and a large one, this one came as one large pancake!  He ate the rest over two more meals.

Tuesday I got him talked into the "Rainbow Sprinkle Pancakes" that also came with bacon (and powdered sugar and whipped cream).  We immediately slid one of the pancakes off of his plate while he ate the mountain of whip cream off the top!  #3 also chose to take his 2 slices of bacon home.  So, he ate one giant (to him) pancake for dinner along with a glass of milk (I think it was chocolate, but I could be wrong).  When he finished his milk, he asked the waitress for a glass of water instead of a refill, I was proud of him!

This morning while he was still asleep, I started to assemble the gifts to get them wrapped!  Of course, he got up before I finished that step, so he got to help with some of the wrapping too.  First though, it was off to gather my stash of empty boxes!  I save boxes like a madwoman throughout the year specifically for Christmas!  Square (or at least straight and flat) packages are so much easier to wrap than how stuff comes packaged...  Anywho, my box stash inhabits a large portion of the closet that is also doubling (tripling maybe?) as the "warm, dark place to make my Homemade Sauerkraut!  Also in there is a leaf to a large dining room table that we are currently not using (the rest of the table is taken apart and being stored in a room in the garage).  Needless to say, things ran amok on me and while trying to catch the table leaf as it went crashing down toward my jars of 'Kraut...I got caught averting disaster (in the form of broken glass and half fermented cabbage all over the place)!  I have no idea what "bit" me, but it is still bleeding a little and I need to change the band-aid again...6 hours post "incident"!  But, you aren't "really" wrapping gifts until you draw blood, right?

Gift wrapping has been a bit of a "bother" for me this year too!  It appears that all of my boxes are just a hair too big for the amount of paper I have!  This partially wrapped gift that is pictured here for matter which way I turned the box, the roll of paper was just not bog enough!  I ended up putting a piece of "scrap paper" to fill the was from another roll entirely and doesn't match, but what does an almost 4 week old care about the wrapping, right?  I had to "Patch" together almost every package I wrapped!  Some of that though was because I am actually running out of wrapping paper!  I'll suffer through this year and buy more after Christmas when I can get it for $0.70 a roll or less!  The one pictured here I actually bought a year or two ago at World Market after Christmas...they better enjoy it because I am never buying paper again that doesn't have a squared pattern or those little grid lines on the back!  I can't cut a straight line to save my life!
I did get a good amount of wrapping done, but am not finished by a long shot!  What I have left though are all smaller gifts and all I have are large boxes!  I did notice that I need to get some quality toy shopping done though...I hate the fact that I don't have any good "toys" for the boys!  Lots of clothes this year...for everyone!

While I was busy wrapping, #3 went to watch Toy Story 3 (Thank you Netflix for putting it on the streaming video list!) in our room.  This is about how he's spent every day when we're home!  The grin is because he just can't help himself!  Any time he even thinks I might be taking a picture, he grins and says "Cheese!"  He actually watched about 75% of the movie before he got up wanting something, I think that's a record!  He is currently fighting nap time...2 hours and counting!  If he'd just fall asleep everything would be great!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Week (or so...)

Play time with nephews #1 through 3...

We went to see Santa in the Old Mill District (Bend, OR)!  They have huge Lincoln Logs and Legos to play with while you wait...and every nook and cranny has scenes set up so you can take lots of pictures with your kids (or nephews).  They even got to meet the bog guy and let him know what they want for Christmas!

Anyone notice their matching hats?  I crocheted those for them and the baby even has a matching hat!  However, the baby's hat won't fit for too much is a tight fit now!

Almost everyone likes holding the new baby...  Nephew #1 suddenly remembered babies cry (a lot)!  I had to coerce him into holding him for this picture...sugar-coated something was involved, I'm sure!  Also, baby was getting he was a bit fussy!  That smaller on #1 is his "hurry up will you?" smile, lol...

Nephew #2 is really enjoying having a second little brother!  Though I am sure that will change when he starts getting into his stuff!

Nephew #3 is really liking the idea of having a baby brother!  He is still thinking about him as that abstract "thing" in Mommy's tummy though for the most part.  He came back to Spokane with me for 3 weeks, even though he knows the baby is "real", I don't think it has sunk in yet...even though he tells me daily that he's talking to the baby at night while he sleeps.

Even an awesome aunt like me can get "baby glares" when using the flash on the cell phone...he was not happy about the bright flashing lights!  He looks a little beat up here...the red around his eyes id from being born!  My sister delivered this one with only 2 pushes!

And on Monday...I was headed back to Spokane with an almost 4 year old in tow!  I forget how different traveling with kids is.  It normally takes me 7.5 hours to make the drive, with #3 along though...9.5 hours!  And really, I only made 2 stops I wouldn't have made without him (McD's to play for about 10 minutes on the big toys and a park next to the highway for another 20 minutes)!  All potty stops were in and out, no playing around!  The difference is that I normally don't have to take the time to get someone else in and out of a car seat....those things are evil.

Tuesday we had a busy day!  After taking his Uncle to work, we did a little grocery shopping, cleaned the basement (kinda), and got some Christmas decorations up!  Because we aren't staying here for Christmas (technically we will be back for Christmas), I wasn't going to put up any decorations.  But, thanks to Christmas movies and books and such...the nephew was convinced Santa would forget him if we didn't have decorations up!

So, while #3 watched cartoons from my Rocking chair (that I have had since about his age or even earlier), I got to work putting up a small display of decorations.

I got out one of our potted Martha Stewart trees (that I got on Clearance in January last year), added about 10 super small ornaments to the already decorated tree (I have 2 red "words", peace & joy, 3 tiny silver packages, and 3 glass (maybe plastic) 6-pointed stars in green, along with a tiny stuffed santa ornament and the small white bear in gold ornaments all on the tree).  The "topper" for the tree this year is a bow with a bit of plastic holly and berries stuck to it.  This came off the very first Christmas present that my other half every gave me!  Not that the bow is all that's just an interesting detail.  It actually came on the gift his work gave him (a big hinged wooden box with a clock on the front of it) that he turned around and re-gifted to me (we hadn't been dating too long, 5 months or so).  We do still have the box sits on the floor by our television in the living room to hold all the remotes we don't "need" to have sitting out all the time.  The snowman next to the tree is felt with a wire running up from a flat base so he's sturdy.  A stuffed Santa in Blue on a sled...a small train set going around the tree...and another stuffed Santa behind the tree!  The Santa that you can't see here is in a metal sleigh (planter) that is stuffed with a couple of red kitchen towels (so they don't sink beyond sight).  Santa is sitting in the back of the sleigh with a giant (to him) stuffed bear (ornament) leaning out the front of the sleigh.  In Santa's lap (and hanging from both hands) are piles of brightly wrapped packages!  Of course, the packages are really blocks of styrofoam wrapped in bits of paper with ribbons and bows (and again, ornaments), but it looks really cool!  There is also a strand of "mini garland" piled in the sleigh as well, it's gold and the beads are about the size of small peas.  I will get a photo of it soon!

Last but not least...there are two things I haven't mentioned on the table (an old desk by our front door that I covered with a sheet from my fabric scraps).  First is the gold box.  That was a gift from came full of bath products, you know the kind...they sell them by the truckload at this time of year!  Right now it had a pile of old photos in it (waiting to get scanned into the computer), but I figure it can also hold cards (assuming we get any).  And lastly, the white tree in the bottom left corner!  That was crocheted by my Mother!  It has green and red beads threaded onto the yarn to look like ornaments.  This is one of my favorite decorations!  It is simple...I like simple.

It took us a few days, but we eventually got the dining arrangements here at the house worked out for mister short stuff!  We don't have any booster seats here anymore...gave the two I had back to my sister over the years!  So, we finally figured it out after he struggled to reach the table for a day or two...a soda box!  It worked perfectly on this chair, sadly the chair tipped (with kid and soda box) and when he landed, it broke an upright!  He had a mark on his back from landing on the top bit of chair, but was fine within 10 minutes.  We swapped him to one of the metal framed chairs though (and a new case of soda since I had to treat a low and open that one) just in case it happens again.  The metal chairs are about an inch he has trouble sitting straight up to the table now, but it is still better than trying to kneel/stand on the chair!

And why not sing (and dance) in the shower too?!  Don't mind the weird looking grout...this whole shower needs to be redone...the thin layer of "pretty grout" they put over the super old, needs to be replaced grout has been flaking off since we moved in!  He is so funny in the shower though!  He sings and dances and plays until I turn the water off!  And I usually get "Hey!  I wasn't done yet!" as a response!  I actually have a 2 minute video of him dancing in the is so funny (and totally G-rated...nothing below the belly button)!

#3 and I both came down with a head, we have been medicating it up and drinking lots of tea!  It is a good time of year for tea anyway, but who could (or should) resist a cup of "Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride" or "Gingerbread Spice"?  The Sugar Cookie tastes like real cookies in a cup!  The Gingerbread definitely has a spiced is also #3's favorite!  He asked me to make him a pot of it 2 days ago!  He's still working on it, but he is down to only having a cup or two left (kid sized cups)...he's been drinking it out of the fridge.  Strawberry milk is his preferred drink, but this is a close second!

I wanted to keep him up a little later Wednesday night...and what better way to do that than to sit him down to watch a movie with a bowl full (those little kid-sized snack bowls) of mini Marshmallows!  Really, I think he had maybe 20 of them...not a ton, but it did the trick!  He was up until about 10 and then crashed hard!  I won't be doing it again either...he was up at 6:45am anyway, lol.  He was a very happy boy that night though!  You can tell from the Marshmallow dust all over his face!

During nap times I have been trying to get last-minute gifts put together...I found this heart shaped Christmas ornament pattern online.  I print them on normal paper and then trace them on to cardboard (soda box...because it is still thin enough that I can stick a pin through it).  Then I pin the cardboard form to the fabric (doubled in this case) and cut it out.  For the second side, I used the first piece of fabric so that they match!  I'm not making an ornament, but I really liked the size of the heart!

The weekend has started off with trying a new recipe for low-carb pancakes!  Coconut Flour ones (found here)!  These were awesome!  Next time I will make a double-batch or better so I can freeze some, between the three of us we ate all 12 of them!
For our little Carbivore (I love whoever came up with that name!), I also made fried apples!  In retrospect, I should have used a little water rather than butter on them, but he gobbled it up!  The up side to traveling and making a couple of "quick meal" nights at McDonald's is that the kid's meals come with entirely too much food for a 4 year old!  He ate about half the fries (those tiny boxes are so cute) and his cheeseburger along with his milk and we brought the bag of apple slices home for another meal.  Today, I diced up the 5 slices from one bag and cooked them until they started to brown a bit.  Then, I added about 1 teaspoon of a sugar and cinnamon mixture I made for his toast (the kid loves cinnamon sugar on his toast!) and let it cook for a few more minutes after stirring it in.

I love my little pans...they really make things like pancakes so much easier to cook!  The two on the bottom of the burner are a set (sold in 2-packs nearly everywhere) and are the perfect size for mini-pancakes and fried eggs!  I always cook with the pair...I start the pancake or egg on the right and when it's ready to flip, I flip it into the pan on the left!  These had enough butter in them that I only had to add about 1 teaspoon of butter to the first pan and they all just slid right out of the pan!  The blue pan on top needs a is slightly larger (fits 2 eggs perfectly), but it was perfect for cooking 5 tiny apple slices in!  Also, I had all three pans going on a single burner on the stove...bonus!  Anyone who has tried to flip a low-carb pancake knows it is not an easy task!  This is why, in my belief, that low-carb pancakes nearly always come in "dollar pancake" form!  These pans, the red set anyway, make perfect 3-inch across pancakes with no worrying about getting a spatula under them!

That brings us to the last few items!  First...I went shopping!  I really needed jeans that fit right!  Trying to fit into my size 26/28 jeans without a belt, duct tape, and craft glue just wasn't cutting it anymore!  And with the cold weather, the pull-ons where just too thin!  Even my "skinny jeans" were fitting loose and are a thin material.  I was actually able to get into the pretty pair of jeans I bought before surgery today!  I have a funky "high up" fat sits above my jeans, I have no idea why...but, it gives me a very funky shape at the moment!  Anywho, with coupon in hand I went to Lane Bryant today in search of a new pair of jeans and a body shaper (Spanx).  I wanted to try the new T3 jeans, they have the "make you look thinner" panel in them!  I did find a Spanx thing that I thought would work with a new dress I have, but the fit was "funny" and I just wasn't comfortable with my underwear having a "flap system" that I was supposed to urinate through!  It looked like a vagina.  Also, at $88 for a single piece of clothing that was meant to not be was a little steep for me!

As for the jeans though...oh my gosh!  First of all, the fit is great!  They sit higher up on my waist and have a spandex-like material in the band so there is no "butt gap" going on!  Then there is the size...I have been swimming in my size 22 "skinny jeans" so I started with 2 sets of size 20 jeans (in different styles).  Both were too big!  I liked the way the T3 jeans looked better so it was back out to grab the next 2 sizes down (they were actually huge on me)!  The size 16's could not be zipped, but otherwise looked awesome when buttoned...the unzipped pant look is "in", right?  The 18's feel a bit loose on some places and a wee tight in others, but they look and feel great overall!  Also, I am so psyched to be out of the "20's"!  Ideally, I'd like to be in a 10 or less when I'm done losing weight...but I'll settle for just not having to shop at stores like Lane Bryant (not that I don't love their clothes...but I'd really like to be able to shop at "normal" stores! last package arrived!  Over the last 2 weeks I have been waiting on products for me (reviews of the adult variety), Christmas presents (ThinkGeek is awesome) for the boyfriend, and Bread!  Low-carb, awesome bread!  It has been well over a year since I have had a sandwich.  I've tried the Oopsie Rolls for Hamburgers, but I find them a bit too moist for my liking.  That being said, I have found Julian Bakery online!  There are two bakeries near me that sell the bread, but it is still a 30 mile drive each way to them!  Gas is spendy and shipping was only $5.95 when I ordered 6 loaves!

We got 2 loaves of "Smart Carb #1", which has only 1g net carb per slice!  I also got two loaves of Cinnamon Raisin Bread with 2g net carbs, one loaf of Sourdough, which has 4g per slice (so we will savor that one at one slice at a time), and a loaf of "Mana from Heaven" with 2g net carbs.  I had a slightly carby lunch because I made myself a PB&J!  However, I scrimped on the PB and the J...1 Tablespoon of Skippy Natural (Chunky) Peanut Butter for 4g net carb, 1 Tablespoon Sugar Free Marionberry Preserves (5g net carbs), and 2 slices of bread (2g net carb for both)...11g net carbs for lunch!  Breakfast was about 5g net carbs (we don't count the carbs from sweeteners, cream, or eggs so that cuts down the pancake carbs to about 0.5g per pancake if my estimates are right).  We still aim for roughly 20g net carbs a day, so that leaves me with about 4g for dinner.  I can handle that since dinner is either going to be mac & cheese (all eggs and cream and cheese) or breakfast "pizzas" using sage pork sausage as a crust.

The Newest Member of the Family!

Here he is, baby Wyatt Paul!  Born (late) on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 10:29am, his brothers got to meet him at 10:45am, ha!

Wyatt has a full head of dark brown hair, just like Mommy (all three of the other boys have blond-ish hair) and weighed in at 9.04 pounds!  Nephew #2 outweighed him by a few ounces, but he is the longest baby yet.

Nephews #1-3 spent the night with me while Grandma, Mom, and Dad were at the hospital and they really only got to meet their brother so soon after he was born because we were on our way there to take supplies that had been forgotten at home and pick up Grandma to go have breakfast (last I had heard, labor had been stopped by pain meds and it didn't look like it was going to "happen" anytime soon).

Nephews #1-3 (in order)!
After all the boys got to take a peek at Wyatt (and #3 got to hold him), Grandma and I whisked the three boys away for a fun day of shopping and McDonald's to play on the play structure and have a snack (cause Aunts can get away with feeding them fries and chocolate milk).

We even brought a present to the hospital for Wyatt (and parents)!  This is one of those projects that I have been keeping a lid on for months!  A diaper cake!  Well, a "mini" diaper cake anyway...This just the top 2-tiers of a 3-tiered cake pattern I had.  I chose to "bake" my cake out of size 2 diapers because my sister already had a stash of nearly every other size!  Also, I could get a box with 96 diapers for like $13...

To decorate the cake, I started by taking a 2-3 inch wide satin ribbon and wrapping it around the bottom layer (to hide all the rubber bands) and then used an "It's A Boy!" ribbon on the top layer.  The blue boy ribbon is leftover from an artificial flower arrangement I made for her when Nephew #1 was born!  A Satin bow on top to "fancy it up"!  The satin ribbon was bought to use for my sister's wedding...I forget whether it was actually used though...

As a "cake topper", I crocheted a Hearthstone with baby yarn.  World of Warcraft players should recognize this right off the bat...besides, "Home is where your Hearth is (set to)". Ha!  Hanging of the top layer (more easily seen in the first photo on the left) is a pacifier pouch that I sewed.  In the pouch is a matching bib!  I'm not fond of how the p-pouch was put together, but I will probably make more of these...I especially like the matching bib in it, the pouch is easily hooked on a purse strap (or a diaper bag, belt loop, wherever you can fit the 1/2 inch handle through...) and then you're never out and about without a bib (or pacifier)!  And finally, sandwiched between the two layers, are a pacifier cord thing (chunk of ribbon that you Velcro the pacifier to and then clip to the baby's clothes) that has a monkey head (stuffed) on it and a pair of matching monkey baby socks.

In addition to the "mini cake" I took to the hospital for them, there was a full-sized 3-tiered version waiting for them when they got home too!  For the big cake though, it wasn't quite as adorned with gifts...there were 3 baby wash clothes (2 matching and the third coordinated), more bibs (that I sewed and will post here in the coming days/weeks), and a bottle of Lavender scented baby wash (supposed to make them sleep better) as the "topper".  I used a 5-gallon bucket lid as my cake stand...and I really had to squeeze to get that bottom round on there!  I didn't get any photos of the larger cake once it was set up, but most of the "decoration" was the cute ribbon anyway.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm Back (Again)!

It's been a busy week or so!  Baby Wyatt Paul was (finally) born Saturday, November 26th...after making all of us wait an extra 2 days!  He's adorable and I'll share a photo or two once I have time to unpack. 

I drove home yesterday with our 3 (almost 4) year old nephew in tow.  That turned a 7.5 hour car ride into an almost 9 hour one!  But, we had fun playing on the toys at McDonald's a couple hours down the road from his house, stopping at every single potty stop I could find, and stopping for about 20 minutes at a park that is next to the highway about 1/3 of the way back home.  We also had to come to a complete stop on the highway to let 2 deer cross!  They were going to cross whether I stopped or not, but we did stop.

This morning we even got our Christmas decorations up!   Not that I put much real point since we won't be here, but I did get out a pre-lit (and pre-decorated) 32" potted tree out and set up on the desk by the front door.  I got out the decorations that are "3 year old safe" and added a few tiny ornaments to the pre-done tree.  It looks cute...and it means that the "take down" post holiday should only take about 20 minutes before we leave.

Well, that's the end of nap time!  I'll catch up more tomorrow!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's that (Crafty) Time of Year!

So, of course, I have a ton to blog about and can't because that would ruin the surprise(s)!

But, I'm going to share the photos I have taken that don't give away what the items are...later (after they have been given to their intended owners), I will share what they are and how to make a few of them!  I made up a few of the patterns, but mostly I have been busy modifying other people's patterns that they were kind enough to give away!

I have an idea for a project for next year as well.  I thought of it while I was browsing an "organic" style baby/kid website.  They were selling child-sized sleeping bags (the kind you would send with your kid for a slumber party or for a nap at the baby-sitters, not the kind you go camping in cold weather with) for $70!  I know I can make one for cheaper than that!  So, I got to sketching (very rough)...first I was using their measurements (33" x 66") and trying to decide how much fabric I would need for one bag.

This way would require:
  • Exterior Fabric--any fabric really, but a fun print geared toward the pint-sized owner would be awesome
  • Interior Fabric (Lining)--Cotton, Flannel, Silk/Satin...something you'd want next to your skin while you slept
  • Batting--the thickest you can find!  Or you know, doubled up so it's extra padded...
For each half of the bag, I'd need at least 2 yards of the exterior and lining fabrics and double that (4 yards) of batting!  I purchased a yard of Flannel the other day for a Christmas present/ was $3.47 a yard (so, we'll round and call 2 yards $7)...I also found "discounted" fabric at Hancock's Fabric for $2 a yard...nothing special here, but it would work for the outside (that's $4 for 2 yards of that).  Batting...since I didn't look at this in the store...the best online price at Joann's Fabric is $5.99 a yard (rounded to $6 and multiplied by the 4 yards I'd need...) $24!  That would make the homemade version cost $70 as well!

A side note on Batting...for this estimate of price, I picked the "cheapest" batting sold by the yard I could find at, but since I can;t tell how thick it is, this is something I would purchase locally (the first time anyway) so that I know I'm getting the thickest I can get my hands on (and that fits in my sewing machine)!
But you said you could make one for less....why yes I did...see this is where my gears started turning.  First, that interior layer of the sleep-sack...why couldn't I just recycle an old sheet (or a new one I found on sale, or clearance for even cheaper)?  That would turn the cost for the entire interior layer from $14(ish) to a range of free to about $7 (the most I have ever paid for a single sheet).  For the exterior verse, same as the first!  Another sheet!  No making sure all the cut edges are the straight and all that!  That brings the cost for the exterior layer down from $8 to the same price range of "Free to $7".  Batting, well...that's going to be the spendy part of this venture, still going to need that 4 yards or so that's still $24 (the batting I'm pricing it on is this one's 90 inches wide, so I think I could do both sides with a 4 yard length of it, 2 single layers of it, no folding it).  It would cut the amount by half though...if my math holds water (the first calculation may be off by $24 though, lol).  So, new, recycled version?   Costing roughly $24 to $38!  It could cost even less if I can find thick batting for even cheaper.  We'll see what I can find, but this is what I'm considering giving all the boys for birthdays or Christmas next year.  I still need to tweak the idea a bit and see if I can get a good deal on Batting in bulk, ha!  This would work for any size sheet really...but as the size of your sheet gets bigger, so does the price of batting!  Honestly, who needs a King sized sleeping bag that won't work outside anyway though?  (Besides me...)
 Another note on must be quilted or tied periodically across the entire work, in this case, both sides of the sleep-sack.    Just something to's easily done on any sewing machine by stitching straight lines in both directions, creating a large grid effect (4-inch squares or diamonds).
 Back to the projects I have been actually working on though!  Scattered through all of that about next year's project, you may have noticed Barbie(TM)in various stages of "dress".  Having 5 nephews and a ton of clothing patterns for the 11.5" fashion doll, I went out and bought myself a "model"!  This pattern, that I did in a dark red, came from this Blogger, who writes crochet patterns for the new "belly button" dolls.  In the last 20+ years (since I was actively playing with these dolls), she has grown a belly button, a bigger butt, smaller boobs, and her feet have gotten huge!  On closer inspection at the store the other day (and the wisdom of cousins who have daughters), only the "cheap" dolls have huge feet...the more expensive ones have smaller feet by comparison, but I would wager a bet that the shoes I had for my dolls would be too small for the newer ones.  She also learned to separate her fingers (they are still molded, but the fingers are more "real") and she grew toes!  Also, her hips are jointed like her arms, allowing more motion than my dolls had (except for the figure-skating doll I had...she moved like this one).  Assuming I followed the pattern correctly, the difference between the "1996" version and "2006" version is a smaller bust and waist.  Interesting fact...the extremely small waist of the original Barbie was designed that way for handmade clothes!  Once skirts were gathered and waistbands were attached, she was meant to have a "realistic" sized waist.  The downside to all the commercially made clothes (put out by Mattel) is that they do not have the "handmade bulk" the doll was designed to accommodate.  So, she isn't meant to give unrealistic views on how girls should look...she's meant to be dressed in hand made items and look "healthy"!  I'm going to have to play with this pattern a bit so that the top isn't so large and there is a lot of bulk "bunching" at the waist...she need darts and a belt!  And a slip...but I'm still working on good sewing patterns for her too.

I am still working on the "One skein Throws" (even if they are in reality 3-5 skein throws...).  I purchased a set of "yarn bags" a few weeks ago because they claimed to make taking your crochet with you easier than ever!  Well...the bags literally fits the skein and the skein alone.  So, I broke out my sewing remember, my Singer Style Confidence that I got back in March right?

I went remnant shopping and came back with several options, but I settled on a pretty purple print that has strawberries, cherries, and watermelon wedges all over!  I had enough to make two, large, drawstring bags to go with the yarn bags for easier travel of my project.  In the first photo, the bag on the left is finished and the bag on the right is still inside out, while I worked on finishing touches.

I squared off the bottom corners of each bag, making it more bag shaped (no pointy corners) by running straight stitch across the ends.  You can cut the little triangles off, but I tend to leave them on so I don't have to serge the edges.

Also, before folding the top edge over to create the pouch for the drawstring, in this case a length of 5/8th inch Grosgrain ribbon, I added a large button hole.  Using the auto-button hole feature on my machine, I set the "button holder" on the back of the buttonhole foot to slightly wider than my ribbon, set the foot where I wanted the bottom of my buttonhole, and let it do its thing, super simple!  Before I ripped the hole open though, I folded over the edge (leaving a 1/2 inch space above the top of the buttonhole), pinned it down all the way around and then ran a straight stitch around the bottom of the drawstring pouch (I followed the stitch line from when I sewed up the raw edge), I used a 1/4" seam here, maybe 3/8"...basically I lined it up with the outer edge of my foot and kept it there.  Then, I attached a large safety pin to the open end of my ribbon spool and fed it through the buttonhole (after ripping it open) around and back out the same button hole.  I could have done two buttonholes 1/2 to 1 inch apart, then I wouldn't have had to leave a "tail" on my ribbon.  To close the ribbon, I folded over the raw edges (You could also melt them so they don't fray with a lighter, but be extremely careful, it doesn't take much heat to melt the ribbon!) and then stitched the ribbon ends together, leaving a "tab" of sorts, it makes it easy to grab to pull the drawstring shut.

Currently, both bag sets are in use for crochet projects (two throws) and another bag (a $10 purse I bought at WalMart this summer) has another crochet project going (a Christmas gift for my Mom), but the intention (once all my "last minute" Christmas madness is done) is to have one bag set for Crochet and one for knit, with the third bag (AKA the purse) for the smaller scale all those fashion doll patterns and doilies I do.
I have gone a wee bit nut-so with all the sewing lately...the photo with the boat was one project where I got to put to use some leftover jeans material I had (previously known as the leg to a piar of my own pants).  This is still one of my was a pattern that I wasn't all that thrilled with, but with a few tweaks of my own, I was able to turn it into something I can very nearly "mass-produce"!  Working casually, I can crank out about 10 of these in 8 hours, including one that I fused interfacing to!

 The red with the cute Frog on it is "Arctic Fleece"...the Grey just said "Fleece", I got these for about $5 a yard (making it my most expensive project so far).  I needed 1 1/3 yards, but bought 2 of each so I could have leftovers for another project...I got the main project done, but haven't started the other yet.  Not including piecing the pattern together (20 sheets of printer paper) or cutting out the pattern, this one took me 30 minutes to pin, an hour to cut, and about 45 minutes to "create" the bulk of it.  The finishing touches took me several hours to complete, but that's because I went "off script" for that portion!  I'll post finished photos of this one once it's been given though, promise!

 Here is the flannel I bought that I mentioned earlier!  Isn't it awesome?  I have used up all but a few tiny scraps of the yard of this that I bought...but I made a complete "set" as a Christmas gift from it!

I have a new favorite sewing notion...the snap!  While I really would like to have a grommet/snap tool ($20-25), I am surviving with the  "tool" you can buy with the snaps ($3.47 at WalMart for 10 snaps and the tool versus $2.47 for 7 snaps...) and the other "tool" required...a hammer.  I like the snaps so much that I have purchased a second set of the snaps that come with the tool as well as a set that have "pearl" faces!  The Pearl snaps look a bit more "professional" in my opinion, but they just are not meant for every use...  The blue plastic bit is the "tool" that comes with the snaps, that hole grips the pokey part of the snap and the ring of prongs goes in the other half the tool, then, once positioned properly on the fabric, you give it a few good whacks with a hammer and voila!  Half a snap!  You have to use 4 pieces for each half of the snap.  It's a semi-involved process, so I bought a floss organizer to carry all the small parts (I was accumulating a lot of baggies in my sewing stuff).  The embroidery floss organizer was only $3, in comparison to the sewing notions version next to it for $13, I think I got the better end of the deal and this box is twice the size!  I would like to get a thread organizer though...

I had intended to make my yarn project bags out of this material, but it's Palencia and felt a bit too "thin" for my bags.  So, I set it aside and within a day or two, I had a use for some of it!  After cutting the first fabric (we'll call it the "Outer fabric"), I cut 2 of these to use for the inner fabric.  The finished size was roughly 12 by 25.  My measurements were approximate here and I was rounding some awfully complex actual sizes (like 12 7/16) to make cutting another one a little easier.

While out looking for a 3mm twin needle for my sewing machine (I have a project that requires a twin needle and my machine recommends a 3mm one), I ran across a clearance sale at Hancock fabrics!  I got the 5-piece crochet hook set for $1, originally $10!  I paid 11 cents a yard for the two rolls of ribbon under the brown and white spools (10 yards of the bottom and maybe 5 yards of the blue striped on).  The other 6 spools were between 16 and 44 cents for the whole spool!  The original prices on the spools of ribbon was $1.69 to $4.49!  I also got primary colored iron-on patches, on sale, but not on clearance.  I spent just under $10 and saved just over $48!
 Since I didn't find a twin needle at Hancock's, I went a bit further down the road (1/2 a mile maybe) to Joann's Fabrics.  They had plenty of twin needles, but only in sizes 2, 2.5, 4, 5, and 6!  Remember up a paragraph when I said I need a 3 mm needle...sigh.  But, while I was there, I picked up some dressmaker's tracing paper (this does not work anything like the stuff my Mother had when I was a kid...don't waste your time on this stuff) and a pattern marking tool kit (transfer tool for said tracing paper and a water soluble pen).  This set was actually cheaper than the transfer tool by itself and I was very happy to have the pen sitting there after the transfer paper failed so miserably!  I do have tracing pencils in the old sewing machine downstairs, but who wants to walk that far?  On my way to the checkout counter they had Christmas themed socks on sale 40% off...I am in need of "taller" socks for the winter months (all I have are ankle socks), so I picked up a pair of red socks with sparkly green and white stripes (and Rudolph on the sides) and a two-pack of "Cuddly" socks...think Fun Fur for your feet!  Now, I know those cuddly ones won't be "great" for in my shoes...but I have a pair of black ones "somewhere" and I love wearing them...just can't locate them at the moment...

My crochet hook collection has grown by leaps and bounds recently!  This isn't even all of them!  Also, with the addition of knitting needles to the "family", I have seriously outgrown my Boyle brand hook case.  So, once I'm out of the "gift-giving season", I plan on getting a new crochet and knitting needle case sewn up for myself!

Last, but not least in my "can't show you what I'm really working on, but I'm dying to talk about all my recent crafting" post...a new pattern I was trying out last night!  I got all the little pieces cut out and the interfacing fused to each and every piece...I finished this one in about 4 hours last night, starting to cut the pieces to turning off the machine.  I really dislike working on things this really have to wrestle with it to keep unwanted layers away from the needle while sewing!  The finished size of this project is roughly the size of my palm and there isn't one stitch of hand sewing on it!