Sunday, June 24, 2012

Healthier Life - the next step

Knitting and quilting is happening - pics still aren't. Sorry.

In the meantime, I'll distract you with a different topic. It's been almost a year since I started the healthier life thing. The past few months I've been hanging around at the same weight, mostly on purpose. I've seen too many people on TV, etc. that lose a boatload of weight real quick and end up with the saggy skin thing. I don't want that look so I decided after a chunk of weight was lost, I'd hang out there for a little bit to let my body adjust to the new weight and then go for another chuck of weight.

It's time to start on the next chuck of weight. What I was doing before (and now) worked to get off that chunk of weight (notice I'm not telling you how much cause- this is more about getting me to a healthier state than actual weight amounts). To get to the next chuck I need to switch things up. Here's a few of the things I plan on doing for the next round, or what is to be called "Healthier Life - the next step".

1. Start walking more. I got a new pedometer to up the number of steps I walk each day. For the past week I've been wearing my Striiv. Some days were better than others but I now know my average daily steps and it's time to start walking more. One thing I like about the Striiv is it does things beyond just steps. It keeps track of time - steps - stairs - calories and one other cool thing. Every 10,000 steps I go it donates one of 3 things: daily water for a child in S America, Polio vaccination, or a parking space size of the Rain forest is protected for a year. It also sends me challenges -go up so many stairs in a certain length of time, etc. You can hook up with friends and challenge each other (but I haven't done that). Anyway, I've learned I do best when I can see actual results. The pedometer will do that with walking.

2. Back to recording food intake. Last year I joined Sparkpeople. It's a free online site to track food, exercise and weight, There are community groups to join but I only used the site for recording my own things. The first week I ate normal and recorded so I could see what my baseline was. After that I started paying attention to things. The past few months I've been recording occasional days and been mostly on track but I need to be more aware of intake and this will help.

3. Up the exercise. Since losing the weight my skin is good and smooth but hunks of fat have "fallen away" from the things it was attached to and I'm started to see fat sag. Sound gross right!? I used to be really fat but firm now I'm fat but not so firm. My underarms (and other areas) have that waddle thing going on so its time to concentrate on more fat burning but more toning also. I have some plans for this but will tell you about them when I know what works.

4. Go back to eating like I did when I was a kid. Sounds like a weird plan but - when I was a kid we ate 3 meals a day with an afternoon snack and bedtime treat (sometimes). That was it. Our meals were straight out of the basic food groups and well balanced. If we had pop, which was rare, it was a small glass which included ice a can of pop would have been enough for 2 people. We ate one serving and it was real food, not stuff full of chemicals. If we had cookies or other treats it was one, not a bunch. I've been thinking about this one lately and it makes sense to go back to the good old days.

So thats it - the start of the next step. I plan on another 25 pounds and then hang out there for a little bit and regroup.

Because there's no pictures this blog I'll leave you with a good recipe. I love this one and make it for company or for everyday. Big servings - lo cal. The servings are so big I've actually made 6 meals out of it and had plenty to eat.

Chicken with Orzo
4 servings = about 500 calorie a serving

Chicken Stock
28 ounces Low sodium chicken broth
3 stalks Parsley
3 stalks Fresh Rosemary
1 clove Garlic, peeled and smashed
3 whole Cloves
2 Bay leaves
3/4 cup Water
1 cup White wine, de-alcoholized

2 teaspoons Olive oil, extra light
1/2 Yellow onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves Garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Orzo, raw
3 chicken breast halves without skin, boneless
1 Red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
4 sprigs Fresh basil
Parsley, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Prepare chicken stock: Put in sauce pan the chicken broth, parsley, rosemary, garlic, cloves, bay leaves, and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain into large bowl. Stir in the wine and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the onion and garlic over high heat for 3 minutes. Stir in half of the herbs, the orzo and the chicken stock and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes, stirring from time to time as orzo likes to stick to bottom of saucepan.

While orzo is cooking,cut chicken into 2 x 1/2 inch strips. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet and saute the chicken pieces, red pepper and remaining herbs for 3 minutes. Stir into the cooked orzo.

To serve: Spoon onto individual plates and garnish each with a tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese, sprig of basil, parsley, and black pepper to taste.

When I serve it I place  chicken orzo in the middle of a platter and ring it with peas or other vegetable. Makes a pretty presentation.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

MN Quilters Show

Every year the Minnesota Quilters put on a 3 day show filled with classes, vendors and (of course) quilts. It rotates around the state between Duluth, St Cloud, St Paul and Rochester. This year was Rochester's turn.  I met up with my friend Sarah and enjoyed a day of wandering through the vendors and quilts. Our day ended with a wonderful meal at Wildwood which is a bar/pub near the quilt shop Sarah works at on occasional Saturday's, Pine Needles. The Apple Chicken Salad was probably the best I've ever had.

So - the one low point of the day was realising I forgot to charge my camera battery before heading down there. As a result, I was convinced every picture would be the last one so I ended up being fairly picky about what I took pictures of instead of my usual - take a millions pictures and edit them later. I also didn't take notes on the quilts so I'm afraid all I can do is give you a sample of the quilts with very few details.

First up - Sarah examining a beautiful quilt. Back when my friend, Laurie, and I used to take trips together (man, I miss her. I can't believe she's been gone since 2004)- anyway, Laurie and I always used to take one picture of each other's back while looking at the scenery or something. So, this pic of Sarah is in memory of all the Laurie pictures...

The Glad Creations Quilt Shop had a Sylvia's Bridal Sampler Club where everyone worked on the 6 inch blocks from the book. They had a huge display of several of the quilts.

This quilt is someones idea of a family tree. Each house has the name of the husband and wife and when the house was established. How clever is that!

I liked the way this quilt added length by creating a pillow piece. Many times I've pondered how to make a square quilt fit a bed better - this would work perfect.

This one wasn't in the Sylvia's Bridal Sampler group but I think it was another quilt made from the blocks in the book. 

I can't remember the name of this quilt but is was by one of the teachers - Ann Fahl. The name was something about Night and Day. It's a reversible quilt with a ton of thread work on it. The sun is all thread work and on the other side is darker as if it were night. We saw the other side first and wondered why the quilt was displayed backwards, then saw the front and were stunned at how beautiful it was.

Sarah said you can never go wrong with a cat or dog in a quilt. The cat in the tree is thread work and the quilting adds to the whole look with leaves and more.

The quilter of the year had a display which includes some Escher inspired quilts.

The camera conked out after this picture but I'm so glad I got it first. Someone took the geology map of Minnesota and transposed it into a quilt. How cool is that!

This was actually the first picture I took. I always love mariner compasses and other circle quilts. They have such movement to them.

So, that was my Friday. Great way to spend a day off. Unfortunately, in typical fashion, my body decided to get a migraine today so I spent most of today asleep. This evening I got out and did a little yard work but not even close to the amount I had hoped to get done. Maybe tomorrow.

Oh - I did make a few purchases at the show, some quilting stencils but, as we are in a project blackout I won't be showing the stencils. You see there's a Layla birthday, new baby birth and Layla & new baby Christmas coming up. I'm thrilled to say I'm actually ahead of schedule for getting things done so I'll be getting back to regular project very shortly.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Knitting Freebies

Knitters like free stuff too. Don't we all? So here's some website that will give free pleasure, information, patterns and more.

Again - these are no absolutely no order other that what I happen to type first an my mind is frequently NT an orderly thing!

Ravelry - If you are a knitter and haven't heard of Ravelry, you're living without the web and you aren't reading this blog post but - I had to include Rav just in case. Free patterns, free database for your projects and yarn, free friends. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

MN Knitters Guild - Home of the annual Yarnover. This is the guild I belong to and the website has all sorts of support and resources.

Yarn Standards - The Yarn Council has put together charts of many types - yarn sizes, abbreviations, measurements. This is a site that needs to be in your favorites for reference.

Library of Knitting Stitches - Knitting on the Net has put together a quite lengthy list of knitting stitches with instructions for each.

Yarndex - Ever wonder about the gauge of a yarn or what other yarn you can use in its place? This is a database of yarn with tons of information about each including color charts.

VandA Museum - The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kenningston, London, UK is always top on my list when I make it to the UK. It's been way too long but at least they have a great website. The knitting section includes pictures of historical knitting and free patterns from the 1940s.I you go to this site take time to hit ll the links, there's so much to discover here.

I'll do another post with more links another day.

In the meantime, Chief and Bert and sleeping more because the heat just makes them sleepy. Friday I'll be heading to the MN Quilter's show in Rochester for a little bit and meet a friend for the day. Otherwise - same ol'-same ol'..........

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Big Annoucement and Quilting Freebies

Just as I thought - the Mom-to-be snuck in here to see if there were any hints of what's going on in my "studio". No luck for her! The blackout on all things baby and little girl continues! (tee hee)

We do have news however, the baby is officially a little boy who will be joining the family in October. Layla is excited to be a big sister if the pictures I've seen are any indication. This also means my guess was right. I've been working on things that could be for a little girl but will be best for a little boy. (that's it for a hint, Beth!)

It was actually pretty easy to guess this one would be a boy because that's the way our family goes. My generation on Mom's side is 3 families each having a boy and a girl. Then one cousin had a boy and a girl but somehow Beth's Mom missed the rulebook and had 2 girls. Now with Layla and soon-to-be brother we are back to the boy-girl way of doing things.

So, if I can't put up pictures of what I've been doing I'll amuse you with some free things on the web I've found.
(Oh- I have been making some potholders to get some practice in freemotion quilting because I haven't done that for a while so I may take a few pictures of those just for the heck of it).

First up Quilting Freebies. Next time around I'll post some knitting freebies then if I can keep this going - cooking freebies; iPad, etc. We'll see how far this goes....

Quilting Freebies - (in no particular order)

Freemotion Quilting - Leah Day has spent a great deal of time exploring free motion quilting and has posting many of the designs on her site. This site is a wealth of information for anyone wanting to try freemotion quilting.

Virtual Quilter - Judy Butcher posts daily quilt designs she creates on Electric Quilt. Not only does she have many ideas to share but there is also a free pattern area to her posts.

Quilters Newsletter - Quilters Newsletter is a magazine that I have MANY archive copies of. Their web site has current information on the magazine but also a free ebook section.

Block Central - More block patterns then you will ever know what to do with! - is a site that has been around forever. It has so many areas and each area has a guide. The Quilting section has patterns, tips, lessons, event calendars, and so much more. - Sign up for free and you'll have hundreds of free quilt patterns available to you

Bedding Measurements - Standard measurements for bedding and batting, just in case you need to know!

Of course, YouTube has all sorts of free help for quilters. Here's a few I've found and think are good quality.

Freemotion Quilting by Patsy Thompson Beginner - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Freemotion Quilting by Patsy Thompson Intermediate - Part 1 - Part 2

There's more by Patsy Thompson and I've been impressed by all of her videos so I suggest you search Patsy Thompson at youtube if you're interested in freemotion quilting.

Raw Edge Applique

Flying Geese with one Seam (Ricky Tims) There's lots of Ricky Tims videos with tons of great information!

I guess I could go on and on with what is on for lessons and inspiration but part of the fun of YouTube is searching for new videos to watch.

There are other freebies such as blogs with give aways but this list should keep the quilter in yo happy until I can put together a knitter's list of freebies.

Until then - all I can say is - if you are reading this Beth, no luck. I'm not giving any pics or clues for baby things. But I will tell you Layla is not being forgotten in the making things department. See you soon!