Life in a Northern Town Part One

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Weekend getaways are the perfect "reset" button, especially when you travel somewhere remote without WiFi. Ok, I just got a new smartphone, so WiFi is a new worldly wonder to me right now.

Our little family of 3 packed up and headed out on Friday, driving north to a city near Crivitz, WI. Let me define remote for you. A good portion of our trip exploring the area involved gravel and dirt roads flanked by endless miles of breathtaking forest. It was beaUTIful! We had been eagerly awaiting the trip, marking "x's" on the calendar, and it was all so worthwhile.

I can't get the song "Life in Northern Town" out of my head right about now.

Friday evening was all about investigating our surroundings. Right across the street from our lodge was a small clean lake that would be ideal for swimming in the summer. We found...

 Deer tracks along the sandy beach

 Mystical-looking mushrooms (what are these???)

 Logs for climbing

 Fields to chase each other in
Sand craters to play "house" in

Firewood for the pit

Pretty acorns with every step

 Peanut photo opportunities

Cool fall colors: moss green and tans

And a cute nearby ice cream parlor called Phat Daddy's. The Macadamia Nut fudge sundae with fudge sauce and two cherries was belly-achingly-good!

This simple trip turned out to be one of my favorites ever! Just being in the crisp autumn air, surrounded by nature everywhere, not having any to-do list whatsoever and watching my Peanut's eyes light up at every turn were worth everything.

Check back later in the week for Part Two of our Northern Wisconsin trip.

Birthday Banner DIY #1: Fringe Benefits

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

At work, in my department, we skipped a year or two of celebrating birthdays. That made me sad. So, I took it upon myself to resurrect the whole birthday scene. I promised to make one tasteful, personalized banner for each birthday person. Nearly everything that I've made so far has been from supplies I already had on-hand (scrapbook paper, tissue paper, tree branches, etc), so it didn't break my budget. I just think that birthdays are worth celebrating with something lovely.

Since I've been working my way through different designs for this past year, I thought it would be fun to share a few of them to perhaps inspire you for your next celebration.

I'll begin with one of the simplest banners, cut from tissue paper.

Fringe Benefits Banner

1. Fold about 3-4 sheets of tissue paper in half. Then, fold in half again.


2. Cut along the folds on the side with open ends.


3. Using the side with the open ends, cut slits about halfway up every 1/2-inch to inch or so. They don't need to be equal. This will give the banner a fringe-ish look.


4. Now, open the banner at the center and attach a length of string right down the middle with tape.


5. Flip back over and you're finished. Use the ends of the string to attach your banner any way you wish. Use some coordinating scrapbook paper cut into 3" x 3" squares and some alphabet stickers to create the "Happy Birthday." Staple the squares to a coordinating length of ribbon.


tissue paper banner

I used this same technique for the Concessions banner, except I cut a zig-zags along the end of the tissue paper before I cut the fringe. Feel free to play around with this design. These banners would be especially festive for a Hawaiian-themed party.


There's more where that came from. I have some map banners, tassels and driftwood designs up my sleeve. Stay tuned!

*Hey, did anyone notice we got a new fence in the middle of this project? Hee hee!

Thrifted Goodies for Autumn

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

This summer, I haven't been in a big thrifting/rummage saling kind of mood. Someone check my temperature!!! I guess it goes in phases for me. I did have one surge of thrift craving recently, and spent more than I've ever spent in a thrift store (which is steal el cheapo!). I made quite the haul, which has quenched my craving for weeks.

These three blouses will be perfect for the fall. Their colors, patterns and coverage speak to the changing seasons. I can't wait to pair them with skirts and tights.

Thrift Shopping, Thrifted shirts

In fact, let's play dress-up right now and put a few outfits together. I just couldn't wait!

Thrift Shopping, Thrifted Vintage Outfit

I love the tie and pattern on this vintage blouse. I bought the skirt that same day. It was a name brand made with high-quality stretchy fabric, and I didn't even have to brave the mall. Score!

Thrift Shopping, Thrifted outfit

I just fell so hard in love with these shoes, that they had to come home with me. They were a little pricey for a thrift store, but they were brand new, so into my cart they went. The southwestern belt paired with the plaid shirt is super-cute.  The two belts that I found just make me swoon. The leather one has the coolest design in it.

Thrift Shopping, Thrifted belts

I also came away with two other pairs of shoes. I am always very picky and careful with secondhand shoes. I will not buy anything worn. I rarely even venture into the shoe section, but the three I found were all in unworn condition. It's pretty amazing that I found three brand-new pairs that I loved and fit me in the same day.

Thrift Shopping, Thrifted sandals
Thrift Shopping, Thrifted Shoes

Oh, that felt so good. A whole new fall wardrobe for under $40. I can live with that. This was one of the best thrift shopping hauls I've had in a long time.

If you're curious to try out a new thrift shopping adventure, check out my thrift shopping guide for mommas on a budget Part One and Part Two.

Where it all started

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Let me introduce you to the exercise video that made it all happen for me.

My Intro To Fitness, Esquire 30 Minute Workout

Now, my mom is a Richard Simmons fanatic, something that used to make me throw my head back and roll my eyes. However, he was on to something with making fitness fun with good music and positive motivation. It's just that...Simmons just isn't for me.

So, I went digging a little deeper in our VHS cabinet for a workout video circa 1980-something. See, my family was not fitness or nutrition-conscious at all. It's amazing that we even owned a workout video, but that's another story.

When I decided to begin my fitness journey, this was the only resource available to me, aside from some equally-old Jane Fonda workouts at the library. So, I did it as often as I could, and it provided a nice baseline endurance level for me to make the leap into running. There was a lot of running in place, aerobics and body-weight exercises in that video, like you might expect. I realize now that all I ever needed was a pair of running shoes, but it never occurred to me to run. I thought I hated running. I was still too close to those horrid memories of the ill-fated gym class mile.

I credit this video with getting me started in my fitness quest. I always felt so good after I worked up a sweat and felt that stretched-out feeling in my lungs. This is where the endorphin rush originated for me and got me hooked.

I wonder what the story is behind my mom buying this video in the first place....Ah, another story.

My husband and I recently weeded through our video collection and decided, reluctantly, to let go of our VHS movies (am I that old?). I just had to get one last picture of this hallmark fitness tool before I sent it to the thrift store. What a memory!

Personal Weight Loss Update

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's been almost a year since I made a weight gain confession. At the highest point, my weight crept up 11 pounds. I am happy to say that I am now within about 5 lbs of where I was last year. I'll take it! Now, I'm not trying to be superficial here about a few pounds, but when you've been the same weight for three years and pounds appear out of nowhere, there could be reason for concern.


Let me share with you what I've learned:

1. There is nothing medically wrong with me. I went through a slew of tests, including thyroid function, which showed that I am just fine. Thank goodness. I couldn't be more grateful.

2. I met with an on-site nutritionist that we have at work. She looked over some of my food journals and said "you're doing everything right." It is so reassuring hearing those words. I know I am doing everything I possibly can, but I needed to be told by a professional that I'm not seeing something no one else sees. She told me that if she put me in a room with 30 other people my age, I would have the toughest time losing weight. There is something about our genes and the way we're built that you can't always just nail down with a simple eat-this-many-calories-per-day-to-lose-weight equation. That doesn't give me an excuse, it gives me a new reason to work extra hard.

3. I met with an on-site wellness coordinator that we also have at work. I told her what was going on and she suggested adding one extra day of workouts to my regimen. I hate that suggestion, to be blatantly honest (What???? I'm not doing enough already with three 60-minute workouts a week, biking to work and walking at lunch?), but I also know that it's a must. To push through a plateau (or gain), I need to put in extra work. She also had a hunch that it could've been a birth control change last October that might've caused some of the weight gain. Well poo, but that won't stop me either.

4. I was under a heaping load of stress last October. My husband was going to school full-time and with crazy schedules and sometimes having to help him, I was completely stressed out. Add to that the fact that he was unemployed, and it was a doozy of a few months. Happily, my husband has found a new job and is taking a break from school to pursue a new career. The stress has diminished tenfold since this same time last year. Yes, cortisol can really mess you up. But I am so thankful for the peace I'm feeling these days.

5. I started the Supreme 90 Day workout system (I'll save the deets for another post) to kick through this final plateau and just to try a new fitness challenge. I've been used to going cardio-heavy, but this system is strength-driven, with cardio built into the circuits. Plus, it's a program that gets me working out almost every day--but not to the point of overworking. Its designed to work different parts of the body on alternate days. In fact, it's been told that it's a comparable alternative to P90X. I'm noticing differences, but not so much in weight as in inches of fat disappearing. I've never measured myself like that before. It's truly gratifying to see exactly how the work is paying off, instead of seeing the zero progress on the scale.

6. I've been really conscious about eating clean and I do notice that it makes me feel so much better. In fact, when I eat clean for a week and then try to eat French fries, I will inevitably get a stomachache. Such a strong motivator to put nutrients instead of crap into my body.
Well, there you have it, a personal look into what's been going on with my weight and fitness goals these days. I think it's best to be proactive about your health and take the steps necessary for change. It's a lot of hardcore work, especially so for a body type like mine, but it's best to be as informed as possible and rule out all possible hindrances. It's also helpful to learn as much about yourself as possible. We all lose weight differently, and it's good to know that so we can make educated changes based on our own bodies.

What have you learned about your body?

DIY Mantra Workout Towels

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The second mantra project I bring you is my signature hand-embroidered mantra workout towels. I love this idea, because your workout mantra is literally staring you in the face when you drape it over your treadmill or elliptical machine. The bright colors and cute crafty look are motivating in least to me!

These mantras are not only cute, but they're also pretty easy and very inexpensive. I got my microfiber towels from the Dollar Store and embroidery floss is usually less than a dollar at the craft store. See, if you're resourceful, you can turn anything into something lovely.


Mantra Workout Towel

*Cotton or microfiber towel (mine's from the Dollar Store)
*Contrasting embroidery floss
*Embroidery hoop (the thrift stores have tons of these for like 25 cents)
*Tapestry needle
*Chalk or fabric pencil

1. Secure your embroidery hoop around the spot you intend to embroider.


2. Draw your mantra or design out in chalk first. The chalk didn't work great of the microfiber material I was using, so you might try a fabric pencil. I would also suggest using cursive writing, as it's easier to connect all the lines when stitching.

3. Backstitch along your penciled-in lines all the way to the end.


4. Voila! You have your own handstitched, meaningful workout towel. See, embroidery isn't something just for old ladies, ya know!




I think a workout mantra that is in writing somehow is a much more potent motivator than a phrase you only keep in your head. You can't forget those words when they're smiling back at you from your machine. These colors make me so happy too. Enjoy!