>> Saturday, January 29, 2011
Last January I resolved to have a blog I was proud of. My first post of the year was "New Year, New Blog". This year, my goal is to work on improving my physical self.
My blog has been sitting silent for two weeks now. I walked over to my desk several times to write something but then couldn't think of anything worthwhile to say. This morning I woke with a bad headache, (I think I am feeling the next round of snow storm moving in) so I took some execedrin migraine which always makes me lie in bed staring at the ceiling unable to fall back to sleep. I decided best get on with the day, wandered into the kitchen, started some coffee and sat down here at my desk- determinded to blog.
So what have I been up to?
Yesterday our littlest, Avery, turned 5 years old. And his mama weighs precisely what she did when she left the hospital after having him. ugh. Okay now let me back up to December.
I asked Santa to bring me an exercise game for Christmas. We are not a Nintendo family, so asking for a Wii AND the Wii Fit game PLUS the balance board just for me seemed excessive- especially since we are basically a one income family of five. So I did a little research and found an exercise program developed by EA Sports. They actually make it for Wii, Playstation and X Box. It's called EA Sports Active 2 and since my brain isn't fully awake yet, I'm going to use some excerpts from Amazon to tell you about it:
EA SPORTS Active 2 with Total Body Tracking features an innovative wireless control system powered by motion sensors in leg and arm straps that provide complete freedom of motion.
Additionally, it will feature a heart rate monitor that provides constant on-screen monitoring, allowing users to capture intensity and optimize performance over time. Exercise hands-free and customize your workout with your own fitness equipment!
EA SPORTS Active 2 tracks your fitness data online via automatic uploads to your online profile and allows you to share your data and connect with other users through workout groups - all while reaching your own personal fitness goals.
Create unlimited customizable workouts with over 70 exercises and activities to choose from, including foundational exercises like squats, lunges, and bicep curls and fun fitness activities such as mountain boarding, basketball, and boxing.
Unlimited customizable workouts
70 Exercises and Activities
Track your heart rate on screen in real-time with the innovative EA SPORTS Active heart rate monitor to capture intensity and optimize performance over time.
Designed by certified trainers, the EA SPORTS Active 2 9-week program provides total body conditioning using progressive exercise.
Track your progress on the web via the EA SPORTS Active online global community.
Fast forward to January. I started Phase 1 of the 3 Phase program on January 11th and I completed Phase 1 yesterday. So while I say "ugh" about my current weight, I need to brag for a minute that I have earned 34 of the 88 possible trophies (workout milestones)
and am down 5 pounds in addition to losing 1 inch off my waist and 1/2 an inch off my arms. Nothing off those stubborn thighs or hips yet- but I am remaining hopeful- there's a lot of jiggle down there to sift through before finding the muscle underneath, lol!
Things I like best about EA Sports Active are:
1. The milestone tracking:
I am a list ticker. There is nothing I like better than to see a long "to do" list and be able to go at it, crossing things off that I've accomplished.
2. My "personal trainer":
The game comes with your choice of two different personality types to workout with. I chose the female trainer who speaks gently and uses encouraging words. I don't need someone barking at me while I'm bouncing around, huffing and puffing doing my best to to complete a difficult exercise.
3. The exercise variety: Each day that you workout is different. Day 1 might focus on your lower body, Day 2 on your upper and Day 3 on your core. The variety ranges from a fitness trail where you must sprint to pass other runners, to side planks, to soccer drills, to cardio kick boxing. Which means that boredom is not a factor and neither is is that dreaded "plateau" we all hear about or experience when trying to get into shape.
4. My character:
Upon starting the program, I was able to create a look-alike character that I can watch on the screen. The 3 body sensors that I wear while exercising track my movements and translate them to the "me" onscreen.
4a. There are 3 body trackers you wear while exercising.
Each is slightly larger than a matchbox car- I wear one on my right thigh and one on each arm. The left arm tracker also has a heart monitor, so I am able to watch my heart rate go up and down as I workout and track my long term improvements- which are remarkable in the 3 short weeks I've been doing this!
Other things that are really cool about this program are:
1. The daily journals you can fill out:
Which track your eating, sleeping and activity levels outside of the game's program.
2. The ability to change my workout schedule whenever I need to:
The game does keep track of the calendar date and works on a 4 days of exercise/3 days of rest pattern, but which days are which are which are purely up to me- so if I happen to always work out on Monday but have a particular Monday that is extremely busy, I can adjust and select Tuesday (a typical rest day) to exercise instead.
2a. I can also create custom extra workouts on my rest days- great if I treat myself to some of Avery's birthday cake and want to burn off some of those excess calories!
3. I can see at my overall accomplishments:
To date, I have burned a total of 2016 calories, travelled 22.28 miles and completed more than 6 hours of exercise time. There are a few milestones that I'm quite far from reaching- such as 1,000 squats and 624 miles in mountain biking- but can you imagine how cool it'll be for me to realize that I've finally achieved those goals?
4. There is a large online community of EA Sports Active gamers: The PS3 system is wirelessly connected to the web, so every workout I completed automatically uploads to the profile I completed online and I can track my progress from my desktop. Within the online community there are workout groups that you can join. Once you do, you are able to sync up and workout with other people for some friendly competition. There are discussion boards on the website where you can chat with people, share experiences, ask questions and support each other to stay motivated.
So far, I am really happy using this game and if I could offer any suggestions on improving it, I'd say:
1. Allow me to edit my character's body type:
I'd like to be able to enter body measurements in addition to weight so the "person" on the screen REALLY looks like me and I can see a visual change in her as my measurements change.
2. Allow me to free-type my daily intakes of food, water, etc:
I want to track my actual meals instead selecting from a predefined choice list. (I'd like to be able to type that I ate chicken breast, butternut squash and green beans for dinner instead of just saying I had 2 vegetables at dinnertime)
3. Provide a more indepth calorie tracking screen shot:
I'd like to see the actual exercise I was performing at the time, so I know where I need to work harder and where I kick butt! (there is currently just a line chart that shows what the game predicted I'd burn and what I actually burned, but it doesn't tell me what I was doing at any given point)
Okay, so after this super lengthly post that sounds like a paid advertisement, I just want to say that it is NOT. No one asked me to write this post, I was not compensated for writing it in any way. I am just happy to have found something I enjoy (which coming from an exercise loather is a BIG DEAL).
>> Saturday, January 15, 2011
First, a look at yesterday's window now that it's finished
And second, I have finally begun listing my sea glass windows in my Etsy shop!
***Update! The above window has sold, I will be listing more tomorrow when I can get some good sunlight through the windows! :)
>> Friday, January 14, 2011
>> Wednesday, January 12, 2011
>> Monday, January 10, 2011
As many of you who read regularly know, I was busy during the holiday season making as much new product as I could for the retail shops who carry my jewelry as well as for a few artisan/craft shows. One of the projects I was most excited about was designing a new style of bracelet.
I work with sea glass, beach combed pottery shards and seashells, creating one of a kind jewelry designs, but never had I made something that combined all three of those mediums.
I had the pieces you see below lined up on my work bench for LITERALLY more than a year before gathering up the courage to try making them. I was worried that my soldering skills were not good enough and that I would wind up turning lots of sterling silver into scrap metal.
With the shows looming, and me still teetering on the fence about taking the plunge, I awoke one morning to find a wonderful opportunity in my inbox! A representative from Auntie's Beads had discovered my blog and was offering me a chance to review a product- hello, kick in the butt!
I decided it was now or never. Besides worrying that my skills were subpar, another thing that had me hung up about starting these new bracelets was clasps. I typically make most of my own findings but I KNOW I am not good enough yet to take on a toggle style clasp and these new bracelets would definitely need a toggle.
After back and forthing via email with their fabulous rep, Clint, we decided that a simple and elegant rectangle sterling silver clasp would work.
He popped my clasps in the mail to me and the delivery couldn't have been faster- I had them in my hands within 2 days of making my decision!
And man, I am SO happy! The size is pefect, the clean lines enhance my sterling silver settings and don't detract from the beauty of the sea glass, pottery and shells. AND- important detail- the clasp is easy to take on and off without help!
I am so glad that Auntie's Beads contacted me. Their website is easy to navigate, their products are reasonably priced and my experience working with their representatives was excellent. I am very pleased with the outcome and thank them for their generosity!
*I received 4 sterling silver toggle clasps in exchange for my honest and fair review of their product. All opinions are mine and mine alone.*
>> Sunday, January 9, 2011
I have so many family members who would never eat whole berry sauce until I started making this. They called it "sticks and twigs" before! It's a quick cook recipe that is made ahead and fills the whole house with warm cozy aromas of cinnamon and citrus. Perfect for a snowy winter Sunday! I think it has a nice mixture of sweet and tart.
(1) 12 oz bag whole fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup mandarin oranges, roughly chopped (you can also use clementines or any other small orange with minimal/no seeds)
1 cinnamon stick
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until berries burst- about 15 minutes.
Cool completely at room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick, then transfer to a bowl or food storage container and refrigerate until dinner time!
>> Friday, January 7, 2011
that if you're going to accidentally scoop up a wool and cashmere blend sweater and put it into the washer, it's going to be your absolute favorite, cozy, fits-you-perfectly sweater.
And of course Murphy's Law demands that if said comfy, wonderful sweater gets machine washed, it must also go unnoticed as it is tossed into the hot dryer- to come out sized perfectly for your preschooler. *grumble*
Thank goodness for the internet! I did a search for restretching shrunken sweaters and the method I tried seems to have worked. Mostly.
I soaked the sweater in my bathroom sink. Warm water- NOT HOT! with about 1/3 of a cup of hair conditioner. I made sure the conditioner diluted and didn't ball up in the water before I put the sweater in. Next, I gently squeezed the sweater to work the softened water through it then I left it for about 30 minutes. I repeated my squeezing technique then drained the water from the sink. I didn't rinse the conditioner out- everything I read said to leave it for now.
Next I lifted the sweater over the sink and making a "C" shape with my hand, placed my four fingers on one side of the sweater and my thumb on the other side and gently pushed the water out as I slide from top to bottom- don't wring, this can really misshape the sweater!-
Finally I laid it out on a thick towel and rolled it up to absorb the excess water, then immediately switched to a new, dry towel and laid it flat to dry. As I laid it out, I gently pushed it into shape and stretched the length and width. I didn't get it to the exact length I wanted on my first shot, I didn't want to pull too hard and ruin the knit. I came back every hour or so and stretched it a little more until I finally got it to the approximate size I wanted.
It has been drying on my bathroom counter now for 36 hours. Once it's totally dry, I am supposed to put it into my washer again (GASP!) but on the wool cycle and use proper wool cleaning detergent and then lay it flat to dry again. I can tell already that the weave is not quite as loose as it was originally, but the felting it underwent in the washer and dryer is definitely lessened significantly.
I am just happy to be able to wear it again!
Have you ever shrunk a favorite garment? Did you toss it out or did you manage to stretch it again? What technique did you use?
Oh! PS- a pleasant upside is that my bathroom smells quite lovely with the hair conditioner sweater in there, lol!
>> Thursday, January 6, 2011
with the following subject line:
"Do you want this pyrex?"
I love my girlfriends.
Linking up with Suzanne at Coloradolady for another awe inspiring Vintage Thingie Thursday!