Friday, August 31, 2012

Making Those Best Laid Plans

Redwork Embroidered Monthly Snowmen
I haven't felt too crafty the last few weeks. We have been busy painting kitchen cabinets and walls. The house seems to be in chaos and I am one of those rare individuals who cannot focus on anything creative unless all the house is in order. Crazy, I know. Most artsy people thrive on chaos but not me. I sort of shut down creatively. But...I did see on the calendar that September is National Sewing Month. That has put me to thinking and planning. What do I need or want to sew, machine or hand, in the month of September? My list, I am sure, is incomplete but I am hoping it will spur me in to action. 

Piece the embroidered monthly snowmen quilt.
Embroider quilt pieces for Christmas gift.
Sew daughter's tiger print dress using this tutorial pattern.
Sew floor cushions for daughter.
Embroider bacon kitchen piece for son. (Bacon is his favorite food)
Sew wonder wallets that are cut out.
Embroider my monthly sew alongs.
Christmas stockings for my family.
Work on yo-yo stash.
Sew a few mug rugs for gift stash.
Cover for ironing board.
Hoop projects for wall in sewing room.

This list should keep me busy for a couple of months! What about you? Do you have a sewing list for September? Share it here! I love to get inspired by projects made by you!

Second half of monthly redwork snowmen.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday with Skinnytaste

Low Fat Peanut Butter Banana Muffin
Today, I am highlighting Skinnytaste blog. Gina has a blog that offers low fat, family-friendly, healthy recipes. Gina has been featured in several publications and is a wonderful resource for Weight Watcher participants. Gina gives the nutritional value, along with WW points plus values, along with her recipe. I am so excited to have found this blog and know our family will benefit from the wonderful recipes available. 

With trying to lose weight, one of my greatest challenges is finding good substitutes for bad food choices. I love carbs and especially any sweet breads. I am thrilled to find a recipe for Low Fat Peanut Butter Banana Muffins! I have an addiction to peanut butter and I love banana bread. To be able to combine these two ingredients into a WW point that is doable makes me very happy! :)

I want to thank Gina for allowing me to use her photo and for all those wonderful recipes waiting to be cooked. 

On another note, I had my second weigh in on Friday. I lost 5 pounds! Yay!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Celebrating 30 Years & We've Never Had A Fight...NOT!

Our friends surprised us with an anniversary dinner last night.
We thought we were just doing our normal wine and cheese  night.

Instead, we had a delicious meal and celebrated with champagne and cake.

Today is our wedding anniversary. Stan and I have been married 30 years, raised a son, 25, and a daughter, 23, and are still happily married. Through the years we have been asked how we have maintained our marriage and it be a good one. Depending on when we were asked, the answers were different. Life happens. Circumstances change. Disappointments come along. Grief rips through. But, joy happens. Circumstances change. Encouragement comes along. Love holds steady. So, there have been many answers during many times of our life. I thought I would share some of the life lessons learned over 30 years of marriage.

1. Have a firm foundation. Before we were married, Stan told me he would never discuss divorce NO MATTER WHAT. That was a solid foundation over the years. In the difficult times, and in 30 years there have been some, we have never discussed divorce or even a separation. Those two words were not in our marriage vocabulary. 

2. Love is a choice. Some days your spouse is harder to love, heck some days they are harder to like! But loving someone is a deliberate action. Most mornings we woke up and just loved one another. There have been days where it would have been easy to give in and say, "This is too hard, I just don't love him/her any longer." Instead, it is in those days that it is so important to decide, in spite of the way I feel, in spite of the circumstance that has me so upset, I am choosing to love my mate.

3. Love selflessly. This is one of the hardest actions of all. We are born selfish, we want our needs met and we want our way. Putting your self aside and love someone without any expectations of anything in return, that is selfless love. Some will say that marriage is a 50-50 deal but I believe that marriage is a 100-0 on both parties. If you are both giving 100 % of yourself, what else could that person need? Is this possible all the time? Of course not. We're human and selfish but it is definitely worth striving toward.

4. Forgive unconditionally. Let me set a disclaimer here, Stan nor I have ever had an affair nor have I ever been abused. So this, and any of the other life lessons, are not reflections on those of you that are, or have been, in marriages of cheaters or abusers. In normal day-to-day living, little and big things can place barriers in your relationship. Forgive. Forgive before you're asked. Forgive before it's deserved. Forgive because we love selflessly. Forgive and it is much easier when we are the cause of the problem to be forgiven.

5. Support/encourage fully. When your mate makes a decision, when they love an activity, when they have a plan, support fully. This is one of my biggest failings. It is very difficult to support something I am totally not a part of but I know the importance and it's something I work on daily.

6. Be physically affectionate. This should be an easy one but to some, not so much. I am a hugger and thankfully, Stan is as well. Be available to your spouse in bed and out of it. Hold hands, hug, kiss. It is difficult to place barriers in a relationship when the physical side of your marriage is good. And ladies, turn off your brain and focus on your husband in the moment. Enough said... :).

7. Have each other's back in front of the kids. If you have children, be each other's back up and never contradict one another in front of the kids. Discuss in private any disagreements about discipline, etc. Your children need to see you as partners. They will respect your husband/wife only if you respect first.

8. Do not take your marriage for granted or think you are immune to difficulties. In the last 10 years, my dad died of cancer, Stan's best friend was killed in an accident, a friends marriage crumbled, Stan had a very serious bicycle accident, we became empty-nesters, our children had difficulties, a job was lost, we were notified and had to tell a dear friend her youngest son was killed in a helicopter crash. Life is hard and those hardships can rob a marriage of joy and closeness or it can draw you closer. This is another one of those deliberate choices to not let life tear apart but instead choose to build a firmer marriage. And in this same thought, make time for just the two of you. When money is tight, do free things by going to the park, take a walk, etc. When money is not an issue, go on date nights, travel. Either way, make your marriage a priority.

9. Cultivate friendships with other couples who encourage your marriage. We have been blessed over our 30 years of marriage to always have at least one or two very close couple friends. They have walked our marriage with us, encouraged in hard times, laughed in the good times and cried with us in the grieving times. They are invaluable to us.

10. Develop a mutual faith base. Stan and I spent the first 6 years of our marriage rootless. It was when we both made commitments to live a committed relationship, not with just one another, but with God, that our marriage really began to thrive. Has it been pain-free, effortless and easy? No, but with the same belief system in place and God's merciful grace, here we are 30 years later. I can honestly say that I love Stan more today than ever. And tomorrow I will be able to say the same. 

Do Stan and I get all of these right all of the time? Of course not. But we continue to try daily and we never give up!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday

Last Friday I attended my first Weight Watcher's meeting. I was pleasantly surprised. There were probably 20 people there with a wide range of ages from college age to elderly. The leader was friendly, informative and perky. The information shared was helpful and encouraging. That day a woman, probably in her late 60's, met her goal weight by losing almost 90 pounds. 

I also joined the online site and am tracking my food online. There is an iPhone and iPad app for tracking that makes eating out easy. 

I have decided to use Wednesday's as a Weight Watcher highlight. I will share my favorite food and recipe blogs that are Weight Watcher friendly and or share a recipe I have tried or one of my old tried and true that I have lightened up and calculated the WW points. 

This week I am breaking down a recipe I have already blogged about and am now calculating the points. Balsamic Tomato Slices is a really low point recipe with a hearty flavor.

Balsamic Tomato Slices

2 large beefy tomatoes
Balsamic Vinegar
1 bag of Spinach
2 Tablespoons fresh minced garlic
Dash or two of olive oil
1 2-cup bag of shredded Italian Cheese
Fresh ground salt and pepper

Slice two tomatoes in to thick slices and place on cookie sheets. Drizzle Balsamic Vinegar on each of the slices. Let marinate for 1 hour. Bake tomatoes on 350 degrees for 7 minutes.

Add olive oil to a large skillet. Warm on medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir until the garlic is mixed well with the oil.  Remove the long stems from the spinach and add the entire bag to the garlic oil. Saute until spinach is lightly cooked.

Remove tomatoes from oven. Evenly divide the spinach on to the top of the tomato slices. Grind salt and pepper on the tomatoes and spinach. Add cheese to the top. I used about 2/3 of the bag of cheese. 

Broil for about 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

The only points that have to be counted for is the cheese and the small amount of oil used to saute the spinach. Everything else counts as free points. That is a recipe worth making. I have concluded the Balsamic Tomato Slices are 1 point per slice if 1/8 of a cup of cheese is used and the oil used is 1 TBSP for the bag of spinach. The two large tomatoes should make 12 slices. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Elmer's Designer Masking Tape Frame

Not too long ago, a sweet bloggy friend, sent me three rolls of Elmer's Designer Masking Tape to try. I love the blue and green dots. I already had an inexpensive frame from Ikea that was awaiting a project and decided to combine the two.

I started, removed, started, removed and started again until I decided to place the tape on the outer edges. The great thing about this tape, it is totally repositionable. I didn't waste any of the tape in my indecisive tries. 
For a first time try, I like the easy use of the tape. I now see why there are so many projects on Pinterest using washi tape. After finishing, I printed off The South printable. I knew when I saw it that I would use it one day. Having lived in MS for the first 21 years of my life and SC for the last 26, I can unequivocally say this print is absolutely true. :)


Thursday, August 2, 2012

French Knot Letter F

For the Crafty Sheep July Color Challenge I decided to try my hand at lots of french knots. I found a font I thought would be fun and enlarged it to the size that would fit the hoop I chose. My original plan was to do each color around each side and finish with the orange thread. The problem I had was I ran out of room when stitching the inner yellow except for the upper left part of the letter. I then decided the part that was an open area would look great filled in with the orange. I am happy the way it turned out. I dug around in my stash and found this polka dot fabric that has each color in it plus pink. Now, I am not much of a pink or purple girl but I do think the covered hoop and the yo-yo's give the hoop a great finish. 

One more hoop for the wall in my sewing room. I can't wait to have enough to hang them all.