Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday Ramblings

We finally went back to school today after 6 days off.  I have not attempted to travel outside of the comfort of my house since Saturday, and even then it was just to my in-laws next door and I walked there.  Good thing I didn't attempt to go anywhere. Some of the drifts are spectacular! The drift down the road from my house is almost 7 ft tall and there are a few others along my route that are taller than that. Now the weather folks are predicting 6-8 inches more starting tomorrow night and into Friday. Heaven help me. I'd better hit the craft store for batting and more yarn. 

My dad and I were talking today about how much we have enjoyed just being home with no impending deadlines or concrete to do lists; just the little projects we never take time to do because there's always so many other things going on.  My house is clean (again.. Or still.. Not sure which), freezer stocked with fresh batches of chicken stock, I finished a quilt top I've been working on for about 3 years (no exaggeration- it's really taken that long), taught myself to knit, had my car serviced, made an impulsive decision to get my hair cut, worked out with my oldest after his practice Friday, played board games, had a pool tournament, cleaned out a few stacks of stuff in the basement, and ironed dress shirts. I feel like I should have been able to get more completed in 6 days but as I read that list I feel like that's kind of an impressive list. I'll take it. 

As much as my kids and dog annoyed the living day lights out of me at times, we spent a lot lf good quality time together. My oldest is in the stage where he hybermates in his room every minute he isn't eating or showering. He actually spent time with us in the same room! He has such a kind, warm heart, and a great sense of humor.  Should we end up with more days off I sure we will have fun again, filling the time with laughter, fighting over blankets, popping popcorn for movies, and marshmallow fights before the cocoa is ready.  I'm the luckiest mom in the world to have been blessed with my boys.  Bring on the snow days. I'm freezing this time in my memory banks while I have the chance. 

How could you not love these two faces? I melt. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Grammy's

Let's be petty and judgmental for a moment shall we?  Er, I mean let's talk about the Grammy's.  Same thing, right?

The award show of all award shows for me is the Grammy's.  I love music of all genres and I love the fashion train wreck that typically besieges award shows.  I'll admit it: Yes, I am green with envy of people who can sing, especially those who can professionally. Of all the gifts I've been blessed with singing isn't one of them.  Sure I'm a decent enough singer for church on Sunday when you compare me to the tone deaf, 75 year old guy behind us who also has no timing or rhythm.  Voice is one of those skills you can't just improve like fitness or sewing or gardening.  You can't just watch some YouTube tutorials or read some books about it to improve strategy and form.  Even working with a trainer doesn't fix it; You have to already have the talent and then work on it to hone and perfect it.  I'll just keep being a rockstar in my car and in my head when I'm on the treadmill.  

Overall I felt that the dresses were beautiful.  So many gold, silver, and neutral colors and beautiful curve hugging dresses.   Even Katy Perry's music note ensemble wasn't crazy over the top for me.  It suited her and fit her perfectly.  Julia Roberts dress was just blah to me. I mean, she was introducing the Beatles and Sir Paul! Jazz it up a little bit.  Maybe it was her hair and plain makeup.  It just didn't work for me. Even with those spectacular legs! Wowaza!

The red carpet was tame.  The real excitement came during the show and the performances.  I find it comical how many performers have no idea what to do or how to dance without a choreographer… I mean, could Lorde or Taylor Swift (the girl with her) have been any more awkward? And WHY do the cameras insist on showing Taylor during all the performances?  Well, all but Metallica.  My husband is not a fan of hers therefore we missed the infamous orgasmic, back arching, hair whipping scene at the piano.  I did see some great Vines after the fact (thank you social media).  I'm a little disappointed we missed it.  She will have to write another hit song shaming all of us for wondering what the heck she was doing (barf). 

Smokey the Bear and the Quaker Oats man called.  They want their hats back.  I don't know what to say about these.  It was cute that Madonna and her son came dressed alike.  I really liked that, sans cane.  That just made me feel old and kinda dirty.  Like she was some kind of pimp.  Strange.  I'll stop there.  I'm grossed out just thinking about it. (insert shiver here)

Favorite Performances- Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons and Metallica with Lang Lang
WOW is the word for both of these performances.  I love when two things that are seemingly so different meld together into something so right and wonderful.  Amazing!

Surprising Award Winner: Kacey Musgrave.  Her dress was terrible.  Too many lights and was it just me or did her skirt look kind of like a big puffy sombrero? IDK, it wasn't my style.  It was a shocker though, being up against some heavy hitters like Blake Shelton.  It was incredibly unfair to put her on after a big act that wowed the audience.  Unfortunate for her.  Maybe that's what the strange costumes were about- some kind of wow factor that people would remember and talk about.  

Final Take:  The music was pretty good overall.  John Legend can sing to me any time.  His performance got lost in the shuffle though.  I kind of forgot about him {gasp} until I was searching for pictures.  

Country was not well represented overall.  Keith Urban rocked, as usual, and Kacey was good, albeit oddly placed in the  performance lineup.  The Highwaymen need to go away.  Blake was critical in making them relevant to the time and place, and Merle is a legend.  The whole act was just odd and I'm saying that as a country fan. 

I was under the impression the Grammy's was an awards show… It seemed as though they hardly presented any awards.  The first hour went by with only 2 awards being given.  Cut the last act and maybe another in the middle (I vote Taylor out) squeeze in some awards and end at 11 when my attention span is done.  I had trouble sticking with it past Metallica.  That would have been a perfect show ending in my opinion. 

I know I'm leaving some things out.  Like I said.  My attention span only goes so far and my bed time is normally 10:30.  The fact I made it through the whole thing is quite a feat.  

Another cold day is expected tomorrow which will likely affect my disposition into sharing further snarky commentary.  Stay warm, friends.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Arm Knitted Cowl Scarf

This weather! Ahh! We are under a travel warning for the second day due to blowing snow and frigid temps. I'm thankful I was able to be out of the house Thursday and Friday despite not having school.  Tomorrow and Tuesday aren't looking good for getting out either.  More snow, wind, and sub zero temps are on the way.  I really shouldn't complain; I have a warm, solid roof over my head, and more than enough food to eat.  That doesn't stop me from praying for an end to this crazy weather though!

I found an awesome YouTube tutorial for arm knitting a cowl scarf here. Knitting is one of those things on my bucket list, and honestly, it's intimidating to me. I don't know why. I know that's silly, but it's true. I watched the tutorial and thought this was a great first attempt at knitting because it's on a larger scale. I love chunky knit things.  They always look and feel so warm and cozy. This scarf is no exception.

The tutorial sates it's a 20 minute project. Perhaps for a seasoned knitter it is. I can be a little slow to catch on to things, but once I learn I'm good to go. It took me 2 hours start to finish. This includes watching and rewatching the tutorial when moving to the other arm and the binding process. Seems it's not so intimidating after all. My next one shouldn't take 2 hours though I don't know it will only be 20 minutes. (That's the OCD talking)

Can you see it? Ha!
Yes I have a thing for the heather oatmeal color palate.  I will match the carpet perfectly. Ha! 

3 skeins of thicker yarn (I used  6oz, 106 yard skeins.  Lion brand in Oatmeal) 
11 loops, or chains, per arm
12 rows (meaning you will make 6 rows ler arm) 
Patience & YouTube tutorials if this is your first time. I learn better by watching than just pictures & descriptions. 

I started with 3 skeins of thicker yarn. I am drawn to neutrals, but it was also the only color my local craft department had 3 skeins of. Perhaps others saw the tutorial and had an affinity to arm knit as well. More likely it's the same as my tree skirt project: my poor timing and limited supply in my little town. 

The actual knitting process is difficult to explain. It reminded me of a large scale version of friendship bracelets of my youth combined with the rainbow loom my son and I have been making since Christmas.  I will defer you to the video rather than try to explain. 

Once I found my rhythm it went super quick 

The trickiest part was moving to my other arm. You have to hold your working yarn away from the knitting otherwise it will get woven into your row. I may or may not have had to restart a few times due to miswoven working yarn... But I didn't give up.  Moving to the opposite arm isn't difficult in and of itself. It's just paying attention to what you're doing. You have to pay attention to how the new loop goes around your wrist. The loop won't lie flat if your loop is twisted. I'm a little OCD like that I I was uber conscious of how I worked the yarn. 

Another helpful tip I learned from a futorial was to stretch the row below the row on your arm by placing your fingers in the lower loops and giving a gentle tug. This helps distribute the yarn more evenly. As you can see in the picture, I have tiny wrists and it can become easy to make the loop only as big as where you are placing the yarn. This gets tight as you slide the row up your arm, so I recommend being a little generous when making your loops on your arm. Not only is it more comfortable, but it also leads to a more uniform row. 

Binding is the final step of the process. This also took a few watches of the tutorial for me to fully understand.  Turns out it was pretty simple and didn't take long at all to finish up.  

Not bad :)

Next up- boot cuffs.  I have found some knitting tutorials, but also have an idea or two up my sleeve for  an easy DIY for these fun little accessories.  I'm hoping to try them out today.

Stay warm!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Few Favorite Things

NiveaWe are home again today due to frigid Arctic-like temperatures again today. I'm not sure who pissed off old Man Winter, but he is obviously getting revenge. Though I've gotten a lot accomplished today and throughout our days off, I'm going a little crazy. It might be a little because of these two...

I enjoy vacation and a day off here and there. I need those times off for my own sanity. That being said, we have had a lot of days off this winter. I already struggle with winter- it's cold, dreary days, and crappy travel conditions. I morph from extrovert to introvert when I can't get out. Like holed up in a dark room with quilts, a stack of books and tv remote in hand, only moving if I absolutely have to. I get grouchy.  I get annoyed if someone wants to talk to me. I don't want to go anywhere. Pale skinned, squinting in the bright light when someone dares enter my space. It's all proof that I would be a terrible stay at home mom. I need social interaction with other people. It's critical to my psyche & basic survival. 

So as I await the completion of my last load of laundry, I've been perusing some of my favorite online shopping spots, which in turn, inspired today's post: Some of my favorite products under $10. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a few of them are actually cheaper in my local stores! I love in a small town, where it's rarely cheaper to do anything, other than to buy a house.   As a result of cleaning a lot lately, most of them are cleaning related. Whatever. 

1) Mrs. Mreyer's Clean Day Basil Hand Soap ($3.95 on 
My mom found his a target and I instantly fell in love! It smells so fresh and clean and rinses well. I hate soap residue or feeling like my skin is completely stripped after washing. She gave me some for Christmas and I will never go back to the milk and honey I always thought was so great. They also have other greener cleaning supplies, if you get into that kind of thing. 

2) Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda  ($7.49
This is the best stuff in the world for funky laundry! Let's be real. I have boys, one of which can clear a room with his feet alone. And I have a hard working husband. And I workout a lot. On occasion I have a load of sweaty team uniforms to wash. I don't know if you have trouble with moisture management shirts smelling musty once the anti-microbial treatment washes away (typically good for about100 washes- did you know that?). They get funky about half way through the season (I wash mostly in cold) but a cup of this stuff in the load of sweaty clothes takes the funk away. Best.Stuff.Ever! It will also decrease the scent of your detergent or softener/freshener but I don't like strong scents anyway so not a big deal for me. 

3) Nivea Soft Moisturing Cream ($3.69
Another reason I hate winter is dry skin.  I swear my skin could sand wood into sawdust. I like body butter type creams but not if they are greasy. I can't stand when my hands leave greasy prints all over after I moisturize. This stuff soaks in quickly and I don't feel like I have to constantly reapply all day. It lasts after frequent hand washing. I work in a cesspool- I mean a school. I wash my hands frequently. This saves my skin. 

4) L'Oreal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream ($10.96

This is only $8 at Walmart where I live. Honestly, I buy it at CVS because they send me good coupons and I got it for $5. Go me! This covers lightly, matches my skin tone really well and doesn't melt off my oily skin until about 2 instead of noon like some other BB creams I've used. And it's cheap. I have a bit of a Sephora addiction so when I find a staple I use daily that's less expensive I feel less guilty dropping $32 on my finishing powder. It's kinda like getting two for one. Am I right? :)

That's all for now. I would love to turn this into a regular post each month or so. I'm gonna have to get thrifty to keep it under $10.  I like nice stuff. :)

*Note: all opinions are my own. None of the companies or products listed above have endorsed these reviews or provided me with compensation of any kind. Thank you very much and have a nice day! :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fair vs Equal

I have used a sign similar to this in my classroom since I began teaching.  I get it out at the beginning of the year and talk about the difference between fair and equal.  They are not the same.

As a parent I think this becomes easily blurred.  We want what's best for our kids.  We want and expect them to do well, achieve at the highest levels, and behave well.  When they struggle in class we want the teacher to work with them to help build skills.  When they don't understand something in church, it's likely to be addressed in Sunday School.  Kids struggling with plays are pulled aside in practice and worked with by a coach to help them understand the play.

These interventions do not equate an A in class, clear understanding of the Word, or a starting spot on the team.  They do, however, give our kids a better understanding of skills and teaches them of the importance of hard work and determination.  It's not instant gratification. It's a process.

When I was completing my undergrad, I had to take a licensing test to complete my degree and obtain my teaching license.  I studied harder than I had studied in most of my college career.  I failed it.  I had to pay to retake it and it was an expensive test.  It would be ridiculous for me to call the testing company and demand a passing score simply because I had paid the fee to take the test.  But that's what we do with our kids.  Just because we pay for something we feel we (not our kid) are owed an equal share.  In my observation, the kids are fine with whatever is going on.  They're ok working on the math facts.  They don't have a problem with not starting, because they are a part of a team and something bigger than themselves- Kids get that.  But the adults, WE get ruffled.  We traveled all this way and our kid didn't get the award/score/position we thought he was entitled to. We forget the reason we are there- for the support of our kids.  So no, fair is not equal.

At the end of the day I'd be upset if my kid was treated equal to everyone else's kid.  My kid isn't the same as yours.  My kid needs more reading than math support.  Is it fair that his time was spent in extra math group and missing reading support because that was equal?  Right now my kid shouldn't be starting games because his buddy is a better shooter than he is.  I'm not his coach or teacher because I chose not to be. I chose to be a spectator.  I trust those in charge will make the best decisions for him based on the wealth of data and information they have in front of them because they work with him daily.  My job is to encourage and be a cheerleader in this game of life.  Because life is not a sprint; It's a marathon.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Struggle for So Called "Perfection"

I recent read a tweet about only posting the "perfect" pics/experiences/events on social media. She said we are not only lying to others but to ourselves about our lives. I've written here before that I choose to live and surround mysf with positive thoughts and people, and I have to say this tweet kind of rubbed me wrong. Yet as I think about it I'm absolutely presenting a false image of myself and my family. No, I'm absolutely not perfect. I'm not ashamed of the not so great things that happen. It's life. I just don't like to make a big production of them. I prefer to celebrate the successes than to dwell on the failures. Yes, I reflect on the things that don't go well. Obsess may be more accurate in fact. I'm my own worst critic and often an enemy.  My boss finds that a positive quality; I'm not so sure. Living in a stressful little microcosm is not always the most pleasant spot to be. There are times I can sabatage myself and goals quicker than a 2 year with a box of crayons crayon and a white wall. 

But here's the thing: what does it accomplish to out all my failures out there? I share some, just like I share some of my successes. I don't share all of every aspect of my life. I'm not fishing for components. I'm not looking for pity. Encouragement is nice after a setback, but I'm not emotionally needy or seeking that attention either. I'm just a Hoosier girl sharing with whomever cares to listen. Maybe that's proof I'm needy. Maybe I am. I like to write. I like to sew. I like to learn and teach. I like to be fit and take care of myself and my family. It's scarey to put my life out there for others. I struggle with how much to disclose. My ultimate goal is to help or inspire someone else to learn something then I have succeeded. Should I be more real? I don't feel like I'm sugar coating. I'm just me. Alison. Country girl. Basketball fan. Trying to tackle new goals, break out of my comfort zone a little and try some new things. And from now on, a little more real with my audience about the trials and tribulations of life.  Welcome to the journey. I hope you'll travel with me. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Momentum- /mōˈmentəm,mə-/
1force or speed of movement; impetus, as of a physical object or course of events
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary

Momentum can be a real bitch.  So can unpredictable Indiana weather. I've been thinking quite a bit the last few days about momentum and how it helps or hinders progress.  Cases in point: 

1. Our oldest son had a scheduled basketball game tonight.  They've had some great wins lately and have been playing well in practice and as a team.  It snowed and the game was canceled.  No practice allowed.  We don't play for a week now.  Momentum squashed. 

2. We've been reading a novel in my reading classes.  We are in a critical point in the story where a supporting character had a critical light bulb moment. We have 2 chapters left to finish the book.  And now we have a 3 day weekend. 

3. Seeing my progress and numbers from my 24 day challenge, even though they weren't as good as they could have been, has made me push harder.  Food prep, great workouts all week, planning around things going on this weekend that may interfere with my progress. 

My point in all of this is momentum, or the loss of, can devastate progress if you let it.  Yes, momentum can carry you into further success.  The loss of momentum does not have to sabotage progress.  It's just a temporary step backwards.  It doesn't have to be permanent or a total killer.   I am ultimately the one who chooses to let the set back hinder me from moving forward.  Yeah. Me.  So I need to get over myself.  So things didn't go the way I had hoped.  Suck it up and move on.  Ask for more help.  Plan more.  Plan better.  Keep setting goals and moving forward.   Keep moving to gain momentum. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

24 Day Challenge Results

How about Challenge results on Wednesday?  Seems Monday got away from me.  And maybe Tuesday too… Tis the life of a working mom I suppose.  So here we go.

I started the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge exactly a month ago, December 15.  I chose to start before Christmas because I wanted a way to keep myself more accountable through the holiday and not just eat a bunch of crap and drink my weight in wine & beer-itas.  I should preface this by saying I did not go totally clean and cut all sugar and bread/processed crap or wine & beer-itas, except for the first 10 days.  I was pretty good those 10 days.  I found I didn't really want that other stuff after my body detoxed a bit.    I didn't prohibit myself on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve. I ate my veggies, fruit and protein first, then ate the sweet stuff.  I was already full so I didn't eat much.  I found myself more satisfied in general.

The next 14 days went well too.  The only time I felt like I was really hungry was last week when I went back to work.  I had gotten really used to eating later in the morning over break. I ate 4 smaller meals and didn't have to inhale lunch (like at work).  I feel so much better when I can just sit and enjoy my food.  Sidebar--There are 2 things you learn really quickly to not wet yourself because you can't get to the restroom very often- and then you have about 3.2 seconds to get your business done- and eating lunch in 20 minutes or less.  Sure they say a duty-free 30 minute lunch period.  We all know that means after you get your kids out of your room and to lunch and then get back before they get to your room and start throwing chairs out the window and starting a fire in the center of the room.  Teachers, you know what I mean.

My results overall: 
I lost 5 pounds total.  Not fantastic but not bad considering I didn't exercise regularly until the last 8 days.  If I could go back I would change that aspect.  I don't have a good reason for not working out.  I just didn't want to.  Lame.

BIG result (to me) I lost 1.5 inches from my waist, an inch from my hips, .5 inch from my thighs,  and .5 inch from my bust.  That in itself was a big deal for me.  My pants fit without that little bit of bloated belly hanging over my waistband and the cups no longer runneth over.  Hallelujah! That's a great thing.  My pants were getting pretty uncomfortable and I refuse to buy bigger ones just because I'm too lazy to try to do something about it. My bloat is gone.  That's something I struggle with often.  Not anymore! Boom!

The biggest deal for me has been my energy level.  I get up in the morning around 5:30-5:45.  I'm awake when I get up.  No longer do I reach for the coffee first thing.  I was drinking 4 cups of coffee in the morning to get going and then drinking heavily caffeinated tea throughout the day.  I love a hot drink on cold days. I have had coffee once since starting the challenge and have only had non-caffinated teas.  I LOVE my Spark!  I usually only have one a day- first thing in the morning.  On game days I may have another in the afternoon, but not to keep me awake like I did with coffee.  I use it to stay focused and just that little boost of alertness.  I feel so clear headed.  I have the energy and the drive to keep going all day long and get that workout in at 9pm.  I feel more driven and alert than I have in years.  It's been a long while since I've felt like this Alison.  This is the Alison I like most.  This is the Alison I want to keep around. 

I know it's not all AdvoCare that has caused the changes I've seen.  It's a combination of quality food, cleaning out my gut, exercise, and the vitamin mix in the AdvoCare products (Spark & MNS Support). There's a good mix of B vitamins that my body seems to crave in order to stay stable.  

Where do I go from here? First, I'm sharing my story with others!  I'll be trying out the performance products once I've met my weight loss goal (5 more pounds or a couple of inches from waist/hips/butt). 

The 24 Day Challenge packs are on sale a few more days ($175 until January 21).  It comes with everything you need for 24 days of success; eating plan, fiber drink, MNS packs, supplements, and Spark.  I've been sharing Spark with everyone too.  I love the stuff!  Let me know if your interested in products or click the link above my About Me picture to go directly to my site.  I'd love to get a challenge group started in the next week.  Come join me!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Follow-Up Friday on Saturday

Can you believe it's Friday Saturday already? This 2 day work week has been a nice way to ease back into the work week. It's game day too! (We got the W!) Woo Hoo! I feel like it's been forever since we've had a game, even though it's only been a week. We didn't get our middle school game in for my mid week fix. At least there were some good college games on! The BIG 10 isn't going to disappoint again this year.

The boys lookin' good

Some Blogger ladies I follow are hosting a link up this month. They are all completing 30 days of Jillian Michaels workouts and posting their weekly follow through  I love accoubtability groups. It makes completing goals so much more fun.Seems I missed the link-up due to tardiness- womp womp.  
But I will still fill y'all in on my week.  


I started on Wednesday of last week with Jillian's 30 Day Shred and Yoga Meltdown.  I really like her Yoga because it's faster paced but I still feel like I get a good stretch out of it.  

Thursday: 30 DS, 2 mile run

Friday: 30DS & Yoga Meltdown

Saturday: off

Sunday: 3 mile run

Monday: 30 DS & yoga 

Tuesday 2 mile run, Arms & abs

Wednesday: 30 DS & 1 hour of sledding with my little guy.  Seriously, sledding burned 500+ calories! We must have gone up and down the hill 40 times.  We were a sweaty mess when we came in. 

Thursday: 30DS 

Friday: 3 mile run, Heavy Leg day & abs

My eating has been pretty on track.  I did have a chocolate chip cookie last night {gasp} but managed to not eat us out of house and home while being snowed in for 4 days.  I'm just finishing the Advocare 24 Day Challenge and I credit that to crushing my sugar and processed crap cravings.  I'll be posting my results on Monday.  

Next week the chaos will resume.  4 ball games, 4 meetings before/after school, and a conference out of town on Saturday.  It will be the true test of my will.  I'm hoping my success so far will be the momentum that carries me through.  I'm excited to step on the scale tomorrow morning and see what kind of results I've had.  

How do you stay motivated and not let life get in the way? 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Back in the Saddle

We were back  at it again today, albeit 2 hours late.  I had every intention of working out this morning since we had so much going on after school today. It was so nice and warm in bed this morning and my husband was snugly, so I kinda stayed in bed until 7 instead of getting up.... Because, you know, I haven't had enough of that over the last 3 weeks or anything.  All of our evening's activities ended up getting cancelled due to snowfall, so I'm home.  Supper has been prepared, lunches packed for tomorrow, dishes done, & I'm ready to get after today's round of Jillian's 30 Day Shred and some Yoga Meltdown. I'm really looking forward to unwinding for the day.  After I finish this post of course. :)

I have to admit I was kind of dreading going back today.  Once I got in the building and began welcoming kids at the door I felt excited to be there again.  I felt a tiny bit guilty for not doing anything school related since the few days before Christmas.  My lesson for today, that I thought rocked, was so far back in my mind I had to really dust off the cobwebs & try to remember which elements I thought were so great.  Everything ended up going just fine.  The kids seemed glad to be back as much as I was.  There's nothing like back to school excitement. New clothes and supplies, stories from break, happy laughter as we share stories.  It was just a reminder of how much I love teaching, sharing, and igniting passion in others.  I am truly blessed!

What's your passion?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How Ya Doing?

We're at home again today, facing the reality that we will return to a "normal" routine tomorrow and Friday. Quite honestly I'll be glad for some normalcy.  I don't watch a lot of TV, save for college basketball and a few prime time shows; I simply don't have time to watch.  To say I've indulged in the pleasures of the brainless-tube these last 4 days is an understatement.  While folding laundry and listening to one of the national morning news shows this morning, I overheard a piece about the newest social craze: " The bikini bridge".  For real?  Are we that shallow as a society to go there? The "thigh gap" wasn't enough?  Why can't we focus on being healthy and feeding our bodies good food to make us stronger instead of thinner?  Yes, I would like to shed a few pounds.  More than that I want to be strong.  I like how strong feels.  I like how strong looks.  I don't want to be thin just for the sake of being thin.  Give me muscles and the ability to do a pull-up.  Health is a constant work in progress.  One that I continue to work at daily.  Do I work out everyday?  Heck no!  Do I eat salad for lunch every day? Definitely not.  Do I strive to eat more healthy foods than unhealthy? Each and every day.  Do I encourage those around me to eat and live healthy?  Absolutely! 

That being said, we are entering into week 2 of 2014.  How are your healthy resolutions going?  It's been a piece of cake being home with nowhere to go. Tomorrow will be a different story.  Tomorrow is back to school, meetings, practices and a ball game, and 9pm workouts. How about all of you?   Do you need some accountability?  I know I could use some help.  They say it takes 21 times of doing something to make it a habit.  We are 8 days in.  There are 23 days left of January, 24 if you count today.  I smell a challenge.  If you would like some accountability partners just email me.  The person who completes their workout (20+ minutes each day) for the remainder of the month will be eligible to win a box of Spark in the flavor of their choice.  Need some help with variety in your workouts? I will share resources :)   Email me at alison(dot)reinholt(at)gmail(dot)com.  Let's be healthy! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snow Day #3

We're on day 3 of Polar Vortex here in Northern Indiana.  It's still 40 below 0 and windy and the likelihood of going to work tomorrow is looking slim.  As it stands right now, ain't nobody getting down my road until the wind lays, let alone my car.  Our best entertainment all day has been watching people try to get through the 5ft drifts on our road.  The crazy thing is you can't even tell where they went through an hour ago.  It's sunny and beautiful when you look outside; so deceiving. You step out the door and it takes your breath away. Brrrrr.  We attempted to let the dog out and she just looked at us like we were crazy.  Give me sunny & hot any day of the week.  I rarely complain about heat, even the humidity.  Give me some ice water, a lake shore/pool/ocean, & a good book and I'm a happy girl.

As for keeping warm in the midst of Polar Vortex, I snuggle on the couch with my boys and watch movies, play games, cook- because I am they are always hungry- and will pop in a workout or hop on the treadmill to get good and warm.  The cold is helping me stay on top of my fitness goals for the simple fact it keeps me warm! Maybe I shouldn't complain about the cold after all.  I am looking forward to the routine of a workweek, practices, and ball games.  Even though the last two and a half weeks have flown by, it feels like forever since we've had a "normal" week.
Where's the hill? 

School has been cancelled again for tomorrow. Guess I'll work on my quilt and plan lessons tomorrow...  Stop back tomorrow for the finished quilt top.

Starting to get cold- Time to hop on the treadmill.  What are you doing while snowed in?

Friday, January 3, 2014


Resolutions are something I go back and forth on.  I usually make them, but they often don't go a lot farther than that.  I set one resolution and 6 months later set another.  My thing with resolutions is that every day is a new day to start over.  The trick is to not give up and not beat myself up about not following through with something on any given day.  Sometimes life happens and plans don't always happen like I hope.  And sometimes the so called failures lead to the best adventures.  I love that I get to have another chance each day. Life is grand that way!

 This year I have a few things I really want to learn how to do and have decided they are resolution worthy. Right now I'm on vacation.  That helps a lot.  Next week normal life resumes and planning becomes critical.  So here we go!

1. Learn to take better pictures with my camera.  I love photography.  I'm not very good at it.  Sure I get lucky and get some good shots.  I have a decent camera and need to learn how to use it before I go and do something silly like buy a D-SLR.

2. To piggy-back on #1- Take more pictures of myself with my family and of my family.  I'm always the one taking pictures, mostly because I'm a bit of a control freak and want to make sure the lighting is ok, camera is zoomed on the subject, etc.  This is all kind of funny since I'm not really that great at these things myself.  I looked through pics from 2013 and there are only a few of me.  I honestly didn't take my normal copious amounts of photos this year of my family. That's not ok. They're growing up fast and I need to document these times with them.

3. Figure out this blog thing.  I have a post schedule figured out.  Now for the time to actually be able to complete the tasks needed to write the posts… Actually my last 6 month's goal was to plan- because failing to plan is planning to fail.  As long as I keep planning I should be ok. So this goal piggy-backs on my last 6 months.

4. Do one crafty project a month.  No matter how big or small.  Maybe it's one quilt block, or a photography something or other. It doesn't have to be a major furniture refinish or room redo.  Just one little thing is ok.

Do you make resolutions? How do you follow through?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

End Table Project

My favorite finished project of 2013 is a cute little pair of mahogany end tables.  They are in great shape and I picked them up at auction pretty inexpensively.  They were gorgeous before I painted them.  I know my grandmother is rolling in her grave right now because {gasp}I painted mahogany.  My reasoning you ask? We have a lot of varying shades of wood in our house.  Even though these little beauties were perfect after a good cleaning, I just couldn't add another shade of wood to my bedroom.  I have a pair of quarter sawn tiger oak dressers and we picked up a maple mantle a two years ago at a little antique shop in town.  And there is our monster cherry stained oak sleigh bed, which despite being beautiful, I'd like to replace with something a simpler and more understated.  That being said, one could certainly understand why I would paint these little gems before adding to all of that!

I sanded them with some medium grit sandpaper, just enough to take the slick finish off the surface.  Then I painted them with an off white chalk paint.  I have been playing with chalk paint quite a bit the last 6 months and mix my own using non-sanded grout and water.  I scored a gallon of Clark & Kenzington paint for $5 this summer on the "Oops Shelf" at my local hardware store.  That's about a $50 savings.  Score! I love Clark & Kenzington for walls but had never used for furniture or surfaces.  Since it has primer already in the paint I surmised it would keep me from having to paint them multiple times for good coverage.  Since I was going for the distressed look, I was slightly afraid it would cover better than I wanted it to.  Turns out I didn't need to be worried at all.  It went on easily and kind of looked like a dry brush technique, which I love.  Once dry, I sanded the edges to antique them a bit.  I dusted them and then topped the paint with a dark gel stain on the top, the drawer front, and along the little detailing pieces.  I'd never used gel stain before and I will certainly use it again.  It's a little pricey (I paid $8 for a tiny little tin) but a little goes a LONG way. It glides on smoothly with a soft rag.  You can easily build the color with additional layers and it dries super quick!  I was impressed.  Once that dried 24 hours I topped them with a coat of polyurethane. I think they turned out pretty cute and make a nice, functional accent to our bedroom.


Total spent for this project was under $60. 
Total time spent working on them was around 3 hours.  The most time was spent sanding and cleaning.  

End Tables: $40
Paint $5
Gel Stain: $8
Grout: already had from previous projects
Ploy: already had from previous projects
Sand paper: already had from previous projects
Total Spent: $53

I'm looking forward to working with furniture refinishing more in the future.  I had fun with this one.  I'm learning as I go, watching YouTube tutorials and keeping an eye on my fave re-designers like Miss Mustard Seed.  She always has such great ideas.  I love finding new inspiration and letting my creativity go wild with ideas!

Tune in next week for a sneak peek at my latest sewing project.  I'd better go get started!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Have You Heard of AdvoCare?

My AdvoCare story begins with a Spark.  I ordered CorePlex, a vitamin supplement, for Jordan because he's 13 and not a great breakfast eater.  He eats a lot but doesn't always choose the best foods.  He's 13.  He eats school lunch, sugar, junk food, and he expends A LOT of calories each day just growing let alone 2 hours of basketball practice each day.  He was grouchy, tired, and pale.  At the recommendation of a friend whose daughter is a high school athlete and star student, I ordered some CorePlex.  Along with that purchase I also got a box of Spark (vitamin infused energy drink mix) for myself.  And the rest is history.  I'm hooked and so are my boys!

Watermelon Spark- Yummy!

I love the focus and energy I get from Spark.  I have given up coffee altogether.  I do enjoy a warm drink in the morning and so I warm my water and add Spark.  It's so good!  It keeps me from hitting that mid-day slump.  I stay more focused on tasks I need to complete and I find myself less distracted.  I'm better about writing things down for later and not letting it distract me from what I'm doing at that time.  I don't know if it's the Spark, the other vitamins I'm taking, or the fact I've really cleaned up my diet in the last 2 months, or perhaps a combination of all of them.  I cannot believe the difference in how I feel.  Jordan drinks Spark before practice for extra focus and energy and takes his CorePlex after supper before bed.  Trent drinks it before leaving for school, mostly because he idolizes his brother, but he also says he can concentrate better in his morning classes.  Perhaps we are all a little ADD. Perhaps we were vitamin deficient. Whatever it is, we are sold! We feel UH-MAZE-ING!

Wanna try a Spark? Email me at with your name, flavor you'd like to try (mango strawberry, watermelon, orange, pink lemonade, or grape) and address and I'll send you a pack to try!

Did you make a weight loss resolution?  Get yourself on the right track with the 24 Day Challenge. Visit my AdvoCare site and check out the Challenge Pack options.  Feel free to email me with any questions.

I'm excited about sharing these products with everyone!  Everyone deserves to feel and look great and I believe AdvoCare can help people achieve those health goals.  Here's to 2014 being great!