What a Difference a Month Makes…

On the 8th of December, I headed to the doctor to check on my left thumb. I left with a note for a thumb x-ray and some new knowledge: my blood pressure was high. Really high. Pre-hypertensive high. I knew I was carrying a bit of extra weight but I lifted weights at the gym twice a week and was bumping it up to three times in the new year. Doc said that wasn’t enough and wanted to see me lighter the next time she saw me.

For whatever reason, hearing that lit a fire under my ass. I already had to manage my Celiac, anxiety and depression and I didn’t feel like adding one more health issue and any accompanying medication along with it. I bumped up to three workouts a week a bit early, reached out to a running and food coach and started heading back to my favorite yoga studio 3-4x a week. I went from two workouts a week to nine pretty much overnight. I was taking this seriously.

Luckily, that seriousness paid off. I joined a Dietbet Transformer and during my first weigh in last week, I was at 220 lbs, easily eight pounds lower than I’d started. The day before I’d seen 218, a full 10 pounds lighter.

What this picture doesn’t show, what the numbers don’t show, is how I’ve changed in that month mentally. My fitness became a matter of life-and-death to me rather than a “someday, I should…”I give myself small passes when I need to, 100 extra carb calories here, a missed run when I’m just feeling worn out from other things but on a day to day basis, I’m 100% committed to this. I’ve never experienced that in my life about anything. It’s strange but fantastic.

This commitment has snowballed into other areas of my life. I realized that there was so much noise and clutter in my life and that it was directly impacting my ability to do almost anything. Feeling empowered by my focus in the gym, I was able to focus on that. I spent a day and just cleared everything out of my workspace. Suddenly, there were so many possibilities. I got myself an accountability coach and she and I have been working together to take all this new energy and lead it into a direction. This blog is a part of that. 

I hope this blog is inspirational. I’m just a normal chick. I was never athletic. I have a lot going against me. But, when my body made the choice for me, I stood up and took control. I hope this inspires you to as well.

The Shrinkening 2015: Moving On Down

When my husband and I first got together, we shared a bedroom in a three bedroom house we shared with four of his friends. We look back on those times and laugh. We had two computer desks, a dresser and a broken futon bed that required a counter weight. If I tried to sleep on “my side” without him in it, it tried to dump me in the closet.

When we moved to LA, we kept finding ways to better our standard of living. Luckily, our income allowed for this. First we had our own one bedroom. Then another one bedroom that was slightly bigger, better laid out and in a nicer area. Then a two/two in the same building, then another in a different area, then another in that same different area. That’s where we are today, in a very nice place in my favorite part of Los Angeles. But something was not right with this place… we had a designer come in and help us try to fix it, we’ve tried DIYing it, but nothing about the space felt like home. It didn’t inspire us to make it better. It just was. It was great for a great many things, including holidays full of friends, but it was a very bad home for our family. Too big, too easily cluttered. If it was clean, it looked spartan and severe but the slightest bit of clutter made it look instantly messy. My husband shared my frustration with it. It was time for a change. But what? It came to us in an odd way.

While my depression is certainly much better than it has been, something was still not right. I’m still quite anhedonic and I went to my doctor for advice. Her advice? I needed to shake up my rut. My thought? I also needed to look at my priorities and get some realignment. I looked at places that stuck out as sore thumbs of unhappiness in my life and one cropped up immediately: home. I talked to the husband. What could we do to make it better? Declutter, obviously. But after that? My answer surprised me. “I want something smaller… something more cozy!” So we decided to find something and find we did. A new space around the block. It’s still two bedroom so our hobbies have some room but it’s much smaller. We’ll have to get rid of most of our furniture. I think we’re keeping maybe five pieces, tops, and even then, several of those are in-between pieces that we plan to pass along once the right pieces arrive. A couch, an entertainment stand, our bed, two desks and that is it. Everything else must go. There simply isn’t room. We do have room for our hobbies, crafting for me and gaming for him, but only just barely, just enough for us to enjoy but not overindulge.

In the past, I would have immediately felt lack. Not enough space, what will I do without x,y or z?! But now I see it as a challenge. I’m looking forward to trying to make it feel like Christmas without the traditional tree, to make gatherings work in a space half as big as what I currently have and to make a real home with my husband. So, now along with all the standard crafting posts, you’ll get to see stories about us figuring out how to live large in a small space. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

How I Make a Fantastic Cup of Coffee

If you’re like me, your crafting, heck, your life is powered by coffee. I’m the person who got into coffee because I like the flavor of it so I tend to be a bit picky about what I drink. Sometimes, you have to go to Starbucks, but most of the time, I like to visit craft coffee places and try something new. 

I found that I’d been going with K-cups at home. While K-cups aren’t bad per se, they are kind of under the heading of “survival coffee” in my mind. This is the stuff you drink because otherwise you’re on the fast track to a caffeine headache. When I realized this, I knew it was time to step up my home coffee game. I asked a few friends and talked to some the friendly baristas at my favorite place (Elabrew in Santa Monica if you’re in the area!) Now I make coffee like this: 

Coffee Time!The concept behind it is the pour over method. You take the dripper, put it over your container and pour water directly over the coffee. It really can be that simple. I usually use a bit of water at first to wet the grounds, then fill it with water. Let it drip through, refill, repeat until out of water. It may not be the most precise way, but it works for me to make a great cup of coffee. 

For my system, I use: 

A Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder
The Bee House Large Ceramic Dripper
The Hario Range Server
The Bonavita 1L Kettle

If you really want to geek out on it, check this post from Prima. They go into all the details, including each of the different brands and types of drippers. I also just found this cool all porcelain one via that page that I may have to order to try out for myself!

If you have any other questions, comments or suggestions, leave them in the comments below! I’ll do my best to get to them and if I don’t have the answer, a friendly barista may!

 

This post does contain links to pages that will net me a small referral bonus from Amazon. Thanks for helping me stay drinking the good coffee! 

Posts from the Past: Weekend in Maui!

Slowly getting caught up on my Project Life album from 2013! This one’s from early November. My husband and I were lucky enough to get away on a weekend trip to Maui just after Halloween. It was our first real, non-working vacation together and we had a blast (despite both of us getting horribly sunburnt the first day!) To be honest, it took me a day or two to wake up and not feel like I had to go and take the dogs out! I’m such a (dog) mom!

For this one, I used:

Maui Full Spread

Once I got everything printed, this spread came together rather smoothly. Gerilyn’s printables are consistently fantastic and I abused my new Tiny Attacher to hold all the baker’s twine where I wanted it. This and the last spread were also journalling heavy, which is a bit odd for me. Usually, I lean on pictures to tell the story, but with these, I wanted to keep the specifics in there to look back on. 

I still have a couple more spreads to share from November and then it’s into December Daily! Yay! Getting caught up feels good!

Posts from the Past: My Teeny Halloweeny Party!

This year, I wanted to try my hand at a little party so I invited a few of my girlfriends over for a Halloween lunch and went all out, renting china and silverware, decorating the house, etc. We all had a fantastic time! Lunch was a butternut squash lasagna with a blue cheese spinach salad. I think it’s the most I’ve baked in a long time. The cake is a favorite of mine now. I love the pumpkin patch my husband helped me create on top.

For this PL spread, I leaned heavily on my favorite thing: glitter tape. I have a horrible obsession with glitter (as you’ll see in another upcoming post!) In addition, I used cards from:

Despite them being from different designers and in pretty different styles, they came together really well! 

Full Spread

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my Halloween! I’ll have another post soon about a trip the husband and I took right after this!

 

It's beginning to look a lot like…

welcome2014! I know it’s not even Christmas yet but I’ve already started thinking about my goals for 2014… In neon pink Sharpie, no less!

For a lot of people, it’s probably early, but one of my goals in particular is eating at me: Decluttering! 

IMG_0625As any of my fellow crafters know, it’s super easy for your hobby to take over not just your life, but your whole home. Papercrafting is my main hobby and I just recently had to cancel all of my Studio Calico subscriptions so that I could stem the rising tide of paper taking over my home. It killed me to do it since one of my favorite days of the month is SC Delivery Day, but I couldn’t keep bringing paper into the house unless it was purchased specifically for a project.

The top item there is probably most relevant for blog readers: I’d like to start adding a more diverse set of topics. Over the last year, the blog has become almost exclusively scrapbooking related, but I also love to cook, throw parties, decorate, etc. I want to start blogging more about those things and bring some of my awesome friends who are fellow bloggers onto the site and introduce you to them. In addition, I have quite a few vintage cookbooks and I want to help revive those recipes and share them with others so they don’t languish forever, never to be seen again. I have a recipe for a very authentic Chinese casserole that I’m sure is good for a laugh!

So, I hope you’ll stick around for 2014 and enjoy all the new things I have planned. And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about 2013! I’m currently planning and decorating for my Christmas and New Year’s events, getting cards finished and so on, so there will be more here about that.

(and yes, that last one’s serious! After seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I decided to learn Quenya!)

Love You to Pieces

I’ve really been struggling creatively lately. Since I had that big burst, I’d been having some sleeping issues and the moment I did, my creative juice went right along with my sleep!

loveyou

click to see full size

However, when I found this picture of my husband and Ruby again, I knew I had to take the time to make something of it. I took one of the sketches provided in the Toolbox class and went wild! This is another one of those times where I’m grateful that I have paper collections. This one’s all Daphne’s Closet from Lawn Fawn except for the 12×12 (which is some heavyweight card stock) and the label, which is from In a Creative Bubble’s Hello Summer Tags

I cut a bit off of a few pieces of 6×6 from the petite pad and layered them one on top of the other, glueing down each based on how I felt. I’m surprised I managed to get away with not using foam adhesive in this one. After that, I laid the picture on top of another piece of paper and added that to the top. Last for the photo was adding the tag.

Next, I used my 2″ round punch to make a few circles of more coordinating paper. I like the look of circles that go off the edge, so I cut a couple off. The other circles are stickers from the same collection. 

I’m very glad I was able to get over my creative block. More sleep is clearly the key!

One Page Complete!

It’s a bit more quiet than usual on the home front. Ruby’s off getting spayed and it’s just Finny and I at home. Judging by his behavior, I think he’s lonely. I know I am! But a good quiet day is great for getting things done. I’ve already started (got my camera strap installed!) and hope to check a few things off my list.

I’m happy to say that I managed to complete my first full front and back of a page protector since rebooting my Project Life album. I’m much happier with this one than I was with past pages so I’m taking that as a good sign. I’m still seeing places where I’d like to improve but they’re much more concrete and actionable.

Keeping myself to the Kraft kit helps a lot. I decided to stretch myself a wee bit and pulled some cards that might work from the new Marks & Co kit I received as I was flipping through it. In doing so, I think I discovered a big annoyance I’d had and may have found a way to work around it!

That annoyance is color temperature. The Studio Calico cards are generally cool white. The kraft kit is definitely on the warmer side. As you’ll see on the back page, I was able to get around that with the calendar card with Antique Linen Distress Ink. I’ll be trying this technique with more of the cards now that I’ve figured it out!

finnandroo-521790743262785856_874347I took it a step further and tracked down some cream card stock! Now I’m able to use my printables again! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I did this recently with some of In A Creative Bubble’s Halloween cards. So excited to get to use these! 

Where I’d really like to improve is on the photos. The photography itself is fine and I like the pre-print editing I do, but it could use some mixed media sparkling up. It’s a little bland with the as-is photo. I’m going to try that with the next set.

Are you doing Project Life? Please share in the comments your latest spread or something you learned about it this week. I look forward to seeing them!

Unboxing Marks & Co from Studio Calico


Yesterday was one of the most exciting days of the month at my house: Studio Calico delivery day! I’ve been thinking of trying to do some videos so why not start with a fun unbox of what I got this month?

My shipment included:
Mister Huey’s Pumps
The Fitzgerald card add-on
The main card kit
The main Project Life kit

I’m thinking about switching out the PL kit and getting back on the regular scrapbook kit. I swapped it out to help manage my stash, but I think that’s a life long struggle not a few months off struggle!

I’m really looking forward to creating new things with this! As I mentioned in the video, the Fitzgerald kit is fantastic. It’s easily my #1 for this month. Did you get any kits recently? Leave a comment below with your favorite recent kits. I’m always looking for new paper kits to try!

Plus One: Adventures in Digital Scrapping

bestfuriends
I hate to admit it but I got very little done since Wednesday since I’ve had extra people and critters in my home since then. Hubby’s been working from home and we were +1 corgi so the house was fuller than usual.

All these extra beings made it difficult to work until Sunday when I got into my Toolbox class at Studio Calico. This first week was all about digital which is right up my alley. As an ex-web designer, I’m pretty good with Photoshop! I took a couple of hours and was able to put together a few layouts. The first is the one above. They gave us that chevron template above as a class file. I used it with some of the digital papers from the Project Life Kraft kit then added it as a border. I lightened it up quite a bit since, as I think you can tell from even the lightened version, it was pretty wild as is but I can’t wait to use it in another project! Another tip that was given was mixing fonts. Thankfully, I had this pinned on one of my Pinterest boards! I used Bebas Neue mixed with League Script for this one.

tothemoon

This one was me trying out some digital stamps. I have a TON of them that I’ve purchased from Studio Calico with the good intention of using them “someday”. Apparently, that someday was Sunday! The coffee cup stain is from the class set and the sentiment is from March’s set. I’ve also been using Rad Lab to edit all my photos. It’s the best! I got a great deal on it during last year’s black Friday sale so keep an eye out. It’s only a few months away now!

Finally, I wanted to use one of the sketches they provided to do a bigger piece:

morethanstars

 

This is one of the Kraft papers, digital stamps (the coffee stain and stars), mixed fonts and a really cute picture of my husband and Finny chilling in bed one morning. It’s a sweet photo because the two of them are the same, both big, bold and raucous. This photo shows a quiet snuggly moment between the two of them and it’s pretty special. Also, Finny adores Ryan and you can see that in the photo here. They’re my boys and they’re each other’s as well.

Let me know what you think in the comments below and share any projects you got done this weekend! I’d love to see them and maybe feature them in a future TILT post! Have a great week!