Starting Over

Tonight, I started knitting my cowl over. Well I first tried to rip back 2 rows because I realized somewhere along the line I completely lost the pattern. I don’t know what exactly I did wrong – but the ripping back was a mess. Probably because of how many stitches I had and the fact I probably used the wrong method for having that many stitches because I didn’t have an extra circular smaller knitting needle laying around.

So I decided instead of trying to save something that was a mess anyway to start over. I was only 6 rows in and it seemed worth it. I had messed up the count on the piece and done the pattern wrong in spots on so many rows that it just seemed like the right idea.

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And I’m so glad I did.

I have done the cast on plus 2 rows tonight and it’s just better. I counted correctly this time and actually have the right number of stitches per row (last time I did a yarn over here and a knit 2 together there). And I made it a little longer which is what I realized I wanted on the last one.

I swear, knitting tries to tell me about life. But it’s ok to start over. I’m not good at starting over, feels too much like quitting. But really, sometimes starting over means using what you learned the first time to do something better. Feels like my latest and certainly last major weight loss effort. It felt like I was starting over and I hated that. Felt embarrassed and annoyed and frustrated. But now, a month or so in, I realize that I am doing so much better because I truly started over by actually accepting what I did wrong over and over and over again and starting with a new attitude. Who knew, that whole life imitating art saying has some truth to it.

Well played little scarf, well played.

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Don’t Be Scared

As I neared the end of my little house project I stopped by my local yarn shop and picked up some gorgeous yarn for a new project. I was so excited to get started because it was finally a real wearable project.

And then for a few days I was terrified to get started. Even though the pattern is very simple and I had assurance from my knitting mentor that I was capable, I didn’t start. Mainly because I was scared I would ruin the yarn or not know how to do it.

Last night I realized how silly I was being and casted on. This isn’t my first new hobby and I’ve ruined plenty of material and paper while sewing or scrapbooking. I knew part of my whole reason for picking up knitting was to have a hobby that traveled well and facing 3 trips in 3 weeks, I had to pick it up and get started.

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Hi little fitbook peeking out!

I have a long way to go on this one. Casted on almost 300 stitches and there are 64 rows. I’m only just starting row 2 so I’m just beginning to see what this will turn into. I can say that knitting is a good road hobby. I was able to work on it in the airports and on my flights easily. And since it’s not an electronic device it was nice to board, start, and never have to stop until I decided it was time. It’s easy to do a few stitches during down time and small to pack away.

I don’t know how long it will take to finish this project. My life is going through a crazy period and I know there will be times when the simple repetition of knitting will be a comfort and other times when concentrating will be hard. But I do know that I’m not scared of this monster project right now and that’s a good thing :)

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Finally Bound Off :)

I took a second private knitting lesson last weekend. I finally finished my dishtowel? Potholder? Whatever it is first project.

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This was a good first project. Quick, simple, lots of different stitches, and not expensive.

And not to be ironic, but I’m hooked on knitting. I love it way more than I thought. I bought yarn for a new project yesterday and I hope to cast on for that one this week before I head out of town. I wanted to learn to knit as a travel friendly craft, I guess I will very quickly find out how well that will work out!

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Nike Training Club: There’s an App for that!!

So in my quest for health I have often in the past hired a personal trainer. It’s awesome having someone tell you EXACTLY what to do and how long to do it for. It’s also expensive. I really can’t put that kind of money out there right now, so I’ve been looking for some alternatives. Workout DVDs are great but can get repetitive. Classes at the gym are amazing if they fit in my schedule (which with am workouts, they usually don’t). So after seeing a review on one of my new favorite style blogs, I Am Style-ish, of the Nike Training Club app for iPhone while catching up on back posts, I decided to download it and check it out.

So the first thing about the NTC app – it’s massive. You have to get on wifi to download. That was my first clue that this app may live up to expectations. Once it’s on your phone (which does take a while, even on wifi because it’s a massive file), you can then select a goal for your workout. Get Lean, Toned, Strong, or Focused. My very first workout I went for Get Lean and picked the 30 minute Jump Start workout (Beginner level). There are workouts that range from 15 minutes to 60 minutes. I love this – as no matter how much time I have, I can find something that fits. Or if I just want to string together 4 15 minute routines to get an hour workout I can do that too. Options are awesome.

I will say – it’s really not a beginner workout. When I think beginner I think of something “easy” and very doable. I was extremely impressed at the difficulty and the push from the workout. These workouts were designed to get you in shape and push you, which is awesome. The voice prompts tell you when to change workouts, when to change legs, when to pick up your weights and how much time is left. Very encouraging and very easy to follow. I left my ESPN radio app playing in the background and listened to that while the voice prompts spoke over the radio app. I love that this app easily multitasks with my radio apps but also lets me make a playlist.

I love the progress screen, it shows every workout you have started, how long you did it for (even if you didn’t finish it), the level, the goal, and the name. This is great for not only tracking progress but remembering what workouts you’ve done and which ones you haven’t. The rewards are another great motivator. You get rewards after completing certain numbers of workouts or workout minutes completed. Some rewards are just badges. Others unlock recipes or other workouts. In addition, there are new weekly bonus workouts from amazing female athletes you can download.

Honestly – I don’t see a downside to this amazing app. It’s free and offers more than I’ve ever seen in another app. I wish I had seen the review for it a long time ago and downloaded it then, but oh well. Now that I have it – game on. I’m looking forward to seeing results with this. After the few workouts I’ve done I definitely feel the burn, so I know it’s worth every minute.

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Loaded Mac and Cheese

I joined the 20twelve challenge hosted by the makers of the fitbook. I’m a HUGE fitbook fan, if I know you in person or you follow me in twitter you have heard about it from me.  If you haven’t, it’s a fabulous planning tool.  There are pages to plan your week of workouts and goals followed by pages to log your day.  Here are some examples:

I lost 4.6 lbs the first week with this book – totally worth every single penny I paid for this. I’m on week two right now and really pleased and still tracking every single bite and exercise.  I’m excited to see where this goes.  But anyway, let’s talk food!

Last week we were given recipes and since I grocery shop before we get the next week’s list because I do all my prep on Sunday for the week – I’m making a recipe from week one’s worksheet. This week I made my version of the mac-n-cheese on the meal plan. It’s easy, cheap, and healthy. Hope you enjoy!!

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Loaded Mac & Cheese
Ingredients

  • One family size box organic Annie’s shells and white cheddar
  • 1lb ground beef (grass fed is best!)
  • Garlic
  • Bell pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1.5 cups frozen organic spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • EVOO

Directions:

  1. Boil water to cook the pasta for the Annie’s box and follow cooking directions on the box.
  2. Meanwhile chop the bell pepper, onion, spinach. In a separate pan, Heat the EVOO and saute the garlic for a minute or so.
  3. Add the chopped veggies to the pan with the oil/garlic and saute a few minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until done. Once done mix in the halved cherry tomatoes.
  4. Once the pasta is done, follow directions to make the cheese sauce.
  5. Add the drained pasta and the meat mixture to the pan with the cheese sauce. Mix together well.
  6. Add pepper, light salt, italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese to taste.

You can really add whatever veggies you like and as much as you want. Also you can change up the meat or make it vegetarian. It took me about 20 min start to finish, perfect for a quick meal after work or to make ahead for lunch for the week.  Another perk – adding a ton of veggies really stretches this meal.  The Annie’s box says it serves 4 and one lb of ground beef usually serves four as well.  With the veggies I’m going to get at least 5 or 6 servings – maybe more.

And if you want some motivation from the same program – sign up here.  It’s free to sign up and I’ve gotten some great ideas for exercise and food from every email :)

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Green Frog Studio’s Sketch Wednesday

Love love sketches – they are really the best way to get back into a scrappy mode.  My last few projects have been mini books and I desperately need to finish my wedding album, so I decided to hop on Celine’s sketch for this Wednesday.

The sketch:

Feb 8th Sketch

And my take:

So I basically took the picture, the border, and the embellishment on the picture fairly directly from the sketch.  I played around with the placement of everything.  Also, I turned the lines that went entirely across the paper into a stack of rows of different embellishments/papers/stickers.

My layout uses mainly products from Studio Calico.  The add on kit Salvaged (sold out!) was where all of the papers and most of the strips and the alphas are from.  Then I threw on some flowers from Sassafras and Jolee’s boutique.    The ink splatters are with Mister Huey’s Atmosphere.  I haven’t really been keeping my kits and stash separate that well lately, just using what I like together.  Fun :)

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Ikea Hacks – Malm Slats

If you have the Ikea Malm bed, you probably know the slats kind of suck.  From what I can tell from about 10 minutes of googling at 2:30 am a few weeks ago after the slats fell through for the 3rd or 4th time that week, if the bed it’s set perfectly square (rectangle?), the slats will fall out with very little movement.  Being wide awake and unable to sleep, I found Mike is Bored’s version of the Malm fix and sent it over to my hubby who went pretty much right back to sleep after we fixed the bed (lucky duck!).

The next day when I got back from work, the hubby shared with me his method for how he fixed our Malm.  I’m sharing with you because it’s been a week and the bed slats have not fallen through again (knock on wood!) and we haven’t had any problems with the bed.  Also – this fix is perfect for people like us who are going to move again.  We are renters and wanted a solution that we could take apart easily and reassemble easily after we move.  Most other fixes I saw were more permanent.  This one is definitely easy to remove and cheap to reassemble at your new home :)

Supplies:

The hubby bought a staple gun (Lowe’s, $30), 3 tri-fold poster boards (Michael’s, $4/each), and the foam pad (Michael’s, $10).  The hubby notes that there was no need for this much foam, but he couldn’t find anything smaller.  We also bought a brand new set of Malm slats (Ikea, $50), this time going for the flat slats instead of the curved ones.  The Ikea employees said these are the sturdier style and I personally think if you are buying a Malm bed, just get them because it’s easier to make some hacker style improvements with the flat ones.  He also used a tape measure, xacto knife, and scissors that we already had at home.

One of the big Malm problems is the fact that the bed slats are split.  Great for moving the bed and the parts but really bad for a solid frame.  Also – we use phone books to support the middle of the midbeam.    We had issues with the old one bending at that point, none after we added the phone books.

Step one was to take a section of the tri-fold board and staple down over the boards.  Instead of taking the approach in our inspiration project, the hubs decided to install the cardboard over the slats themselves with a staple gun.  We’ve noticed that the straps on the slats (say that 10 times fast), aren’t very secure and don’t hold the tension.  Now we have good tension, problem #1 solved.

He made four separate panels with the board on the bed frame.  This is where the big modification he made to the inspiration approach is visible.  To eliminate the gap between the set of slats that allows them to slip, he put a piece of foam between each set of slats.  Here’s a close up:

Now, the foam keeps the slats from having any slip and keeps them snug – without permanently attaching them to each other or to the bed.  We can easily pull the foam out to replace it if it becomes too compressed and we notice slip in the slats or when it’s time to move.  Also since the cardboard is installed to each individual set of slats and in 2 pieces and we can fold at the open joint to move.

So there you have our pretty cheap Ikea hack.  It was worth every penny now that the slats don’t slip out of place and we haven’t been woken up at 2:30am again :)   Let us know if you try this or have any other tips for hacking the Malm!

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