Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Decoration Renovation

 My mother gave me a Valentine's decoration not that long ago, saying that she didn't intend to use it - and that maybe I could remake it into something I would like.

The more I stared at this, the more convinced I was that I wouldn't be able to use it, because I'm pretty sure I saw this for sale in a Current catalog... in 1984. The flashbacks were enough to give me nightmares of big hair & tiered miniskirts, so I set it aside for a few months.

With February arriving I pulled this out again, and decided I would either find a way to use it or donate it by the end of the week. Then it hit me... those are REALLY nice solid wood hearts - and while I don't like pastels, I DO like solid wood! So I decided to "tear them apart" and see what I could make.

The first step was to get rid of the gingham bow, and the raffia. After that, I thought I would sand them down. My daughter suggested sanding & then staining them, for a pretty rustic heart display. While this worked great for two of the hearts, after 45 minutes of intense sanding with the power-sander when there was STILL purple paint in the graining of the bottom heart I realized that just wasn't going to happen.

So I checked my paint drawer, and found a leftover can from a few years ago and sprayed them a bright glossy red.

Next, with my daughter's help, we added some antique white to the centers & around the edges, just to add a little visual interest.

Then it was time to decorate them, and after going through my entire sticker drawer I headed to Michaels where I found a sweet set of Valentine's Day stickers on sale for $3.

I very rarely use pink in my February decorations. I tell my preschoolers I'm afraid of pink, and that's not far from the truth. Growing up in a house full of girls - and now having a VERY girly teen of my own I think I've been overloaded. But I fell in love with the sweet critters on these stickers and decided to make an exception to the no-pink rule... AFTER I got my husband's approval, since I didn't want him cringing every time he saw these! 

After that, it was just a matter of finding a way of hanging them. I tried several options before I settled on making a short crocheted chain for them to hang from.

I really like how this turned out! It fills the inner space of my giant grapevine wreath, and is a definite improvement over the candy hearts! Even my son likes the cute critter stickers, so this is definitely going to be a favorite decoration for this year.

Besides, if I ever get bored with how it looks, I can always change it again!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Accountability Mondays - Mixed Blessings

*sigh*This is the post I did NOT want to make. But... here it is.

After an entire week of working HARD... I lost a whopping .2 pounds this week. No change, and no more marbles in my "lost" jar. 
Yep, still one lonely little marble in the bottom of my jar. Teasing me, sticking it's tongue out at me, and saying "I told you so!"

Now let me tell you what I DID accomplish this week! 

1. I exercised my butt off on five days.

2. I managed to swim 20 laps at-speed... (followed by 45 minutes of chasing the kids around) and set myself a goal of working up to 35 laps, which will be a half-mile.

3. I went through the exercise room with a trainer, and found TWELVE machines that I CAN do - arthritis & all. This is a MAJOR issue for me, since there are days (weeks) in the winter when I feel as if there's nothing at all I can do. Even on those days - now I know I can get into the pool & swim laps. 

4. I learned that I have some serious muscle-memory working in my favor. Stepping up to machines I haven't touched in 19 years, I am lifting about 80% of what I used to lift - in high school, pre-children!

So yeah, there's still one lonely marble in that jar. And yes, it's beyond frustrating. Yes, I wanted to kick the scale and harrumph around the house. But with everything I've learned I can do over the past week... all I can manage to do, is pack up the bag to head out the door again this evening.

I will do this. I WILL lose 111 pounds in 2 years. I WILL be skinny again, and I WILL beat those horrid little marbles balls into submission! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Little Clean Fun

The other day, we had a minor kitchen mishap. SOMEONE in our house, who would like to remain nameless, (while *I* would like to mention that just this once... it WASN'T me,) accidentally added a zero to the baking time of a few potatoes in our nearly-dead microwave. Because of this accident, we learned that over-microwaved potatoes will catch fire... and that the resulting smell with fill the WHOLE house with an odor very similar to burning cigars.

We all decided that we desperately wanted to go grocery shopping. That evening. Immediately. I'm pretty sure Olympic speed records were set in the coat & shoe-donning categories.

The next morning I opened the microwave to clean things out, and discovered that more than a little of the odor was still lingering. I figured that a little vinegar & lemon juice would help clean things out, but the kids asked if we could try microwaving another bar of Ivory soap. I figured it sure couldn't hurt anything & it might make the smell a bit more liveable, so why not. Then they brought me BOTH bars and asked if we could nuke them both to see how much of the microwave it would fill.

For those of you who know about our popcorn experiment, or our setting the tent up in the living room in February this probably won't surprise you at all, but the little voice in my head immediately started shouting "DO IT! You know you want to!!!" And... yeah, I listened.

The answer is - two bars of soap fill a microwave to about 3/4 full - UNTIL you open the door & let out the warm air. Immediately upon opening the door, the soap pile deflates quite a bit, and this is what you're left with.
It's pretty cool, because what looks like a pile of foam is actually a dry squidgy foamy texture that's fun to play with. For anyone recreating this, it also sheds powdery soap "dust" EVERYWHERE so make sure you're ready to clean soap up from wherever you choose to play with this.

Once we'd had our fun, we needed to find something we could do with the soap since we don't believe in wasting. First we picked it up to crumble into the blender... and discovered something rather amusing that none of us remember seeing from the last time we did this.

Do you see it? Yeah, we all thought that was VERY cool! I think our next Ivory soap experiment will be to try two bars at once again, with one face-up & one face-down to try and figure out why this happened.

Once run through the blender, we discovered that two bars of soap makes NEARLY a quart of soap "snow." The kids then tried to add food coloring to it, and found out that you just can't color dry soap flakes - the color balls up & won't incorporate through shaking.

I thought we would be leaving the soap in this form & using it as a dry soap, but the kids had another idea. After a few minutes search online, we found a recipe for liquid soap and boiled a gallon of water on the stove. Once the water had boiled, we slowly stirred the soap flakes in, (it was at this point I found out exactly HOW MUCH food coloring the kids had tried to add!) and then transferred the whole lot to our stand mixer.

It took about four hours for the soap to finish setting, but what we ended up with was nearly a full gallon of bright blue cherry-cola scented (we added some of the oils from my apothecary; back before I decided to exclusively essential oils) soft soap. We poured as much as we could into a bottle saved from one purchase or another, and the rest into an old juice pitcher.
This soap does NOT foam up well, but it sure smells nice! And we have enough liquid soap for several MONTHS now... all thanks to a "happy little accident."

Monday, January 7, 2013

Accountability Mondays - Humble Beginnings

As an effort to keep myself honest while beginning my billionth weight-loss journey, I will be blogging about my struggles & successes on each Monday.

After years of trying to find a health club that we could afford, we finally looked "outside the box" and found a place with an indoor pool that we can swim laps in. Yesterday was our first day, and my ribcage is definitely telling me that an hour of being chased across the pool by the kids ought to help the pounds drop off.

Our plan is to visit the pool five times each week. Because our schedule varies from week to week we can't commit to "every Monday" or anything nearly so structured, so five times each week will have to suffice. The boys will be going through orientation to use the exercise room this afternoon, and tomorrow it will be the girls' turn. 

For a visual reminder of my progress, here is where I'm at right now: 
The marbles in the right-hand jar represent how many pounds I need to lose. And the lonely little marble on the left... yep, that's my weight-loss so far this year. Heh... time to find him a few friends, don'cha think?

Since I know from experience that my downfall seems to be persistence - what are YOUR tricks for keeping up an exercise routine after the first few "kickstart" pounds are a distant memory?