Salad of the Day

It wasn't a New Year's resolution. I swear. Even though it began suspiciously close to New Year's, I actually started it just before New Year's. You know, it. It being the thing EVERYONE seems to choose for a New Year's resolution. Lose weight!

I have about 50 pounds to lose. And by lose, I mean the way I occasionally accidentally never "lose" my husband's ratty old clothes and broken doo-dads (hi honey!). So that they are never found again. That kind of lose. The permanent kind.

So I made a goal to lose the weight and get healthier in general. Which always gets me SUPER MOTIVATED. I love making goals! I love coming up with new projects, and things to do, and goals. It's fun times! But I will admit it- I absolutely stink at following through. I am utterly notorious for starting projects and petering out halfway through because the next exciting shiny new project caught my eye and...SQUIRREL!! (I mean really, you just need to see that I haven't updated this blog in I'm-ashamed-to-admit-how-long to know how true that is.)

Ahem. Where was I? Right. The goal.

To help me stay motivated, I got involved in three different weight loss challenges. At the same time. It sounds crazy and it probably is.

The first one is with my sister, my mother and myself. We have things we can do each day to earn points (up to a max of 10 points per day), and we weigh in each week. At the end of our challenge we get to add up the points and use them to "buy" things for ourselves. New Smaller clothes, for example! And it's nice to have people to encourage me and, well, help keep me motivated. I like this plan because even if I don't end up with the most points, I still win something, so if I fall off the wagon for a couple days I won't feel like shrugging my shoulders and giving up because "well I'll never catch up in points now..." My sister and I also have a separate but related side goal of running a half marathon on Memorial Day. Woo!

The second one is between myself and my husband. He and I both need to lose some weight, although I have about twice as much to lose as he does to get down to a healthy range again. What can I say- four pregnancies will do that to a girl. Whoever loses less than the other person each week has to do something nice for the winner. I like this one because I am COMPETITIVE. I want to win! And so does my husband, lol.

The third and last is one of those weight challenges where you buy in and the winner(s) get the pot. There are two winners- the one who gets the most points and the one who loses the most weight. The group I'm competing with is awesome- competitive but supportive! And if I do win, that'll be a nice little slush fund, which (again) helps me stay motivated!

And all of that leads me to- the salad of the day! I'm really bad at eating vegetables (I love meat and carbs and fruits) but I know I need them. (It's also a way to earn points during the buy-in weight challenge- eat 3 servings of vegetables per day). I also want them to be tasty, and not too terribly much work. So I started making salads. The problem is that I [i]don't[/i] like dressings. At all. Don't ask me why, I have no idea! But none of the dressings ever seem quite right to me. At the same time, though, I know that eating some fats with your green leafies is very important, because otherwise you won't get the benefit of the fat-soluble vitamins. You need dietary fat in order to process those vitamins. Love handles don't count!

(DID YOU HEAR THAT, FAT-FREE SALAD DRESSING PEOPLE? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!)

Ahem. I don't know what came over me. Back to the salads!

I found though that I was really enjoying the salad making. And the salad eating. I've made a few different ones so far and every one was quite tasty! And not a single one needed dressing, for either fat or flavor.

As I go along I shall post the salads I make, in the hopes that it might inspire some salad-and/or-veggie-haters. I'll even give the calorie breakdowns!

All of this is assuming that I don't get eaten by a giant White Whale or the Loch Ness monster sometime in the next week. If I don't post, you can assume that I just forgot to post one of the above scenarios was the author of my demise.

It could happen!

The Birth of a Star

I love to sew, especially for my kids. In addition to pretty dresses, I love love to make them Halloween costumes. I've made cats, a unicorn, Eeyore, a phoenix (complete with huge wings) and a chick hatching out of an egg, among other things. It's been kind of rough the last few years because things have been so busy but this year I made one and assembled the parts for another awesome one. This post is only about the one I made, however (more on the awesome one this weekend).

The baby is just shy of six months old now and at first I wanted to make her a firefly costume, complete with glowing posterior, but apparently the only fabric I could find to light up the way I want costs over a hundred dollars a yard. A bit too rich for my blood for a baby costume, even for myself (and I love making over the top costumes). A random discussion between my husband, my kids and I spawned the idea of making her a starfish costume, which I thought would be super easy and super cute! Then I decided that even easier, and just as cute, would be making her a yellow star. Woot!

So here are the instructions, some really horrible pictures (my iphone is dying, /sadface) and some tips from where I learned what to do and not to do next time. (I fail so you don't have to!)

So here's what you need for a star costume:

1. One cute baby:
"Cute is my superpower. With it I shall take over the world."

2. Pattern paper, tracing paper, butcher paper, something to draw the pattern on.
3. Pen/pencil
4. Straight edge- a yardstick or a long clear ruler like the kind quilters use is best
5. Fabric and scissors (I used fleece for the fabric)
6. Fusible interfacing (I used lightweight but probably should have gone with something a little heavier. I just used what I had on hand).
7. Velcro (either the sew-on kind of the fusible kind. I knew this costume would only be worn once so I lazied out and used the fusible iron-on kind.)
Optional: French curves or some kind of curved ruler.

First thing you need to do is measure the length of your baby (top of the head to the bottoms of the feet). Anyone with a baby will know this takes some serious guesswork and the best way to do it is with two people- one to try to get the baby to hold still and stretch all the way out (HAHAHAHA) and the other person to measure. Measure a couple of times, get as accurate of a measurement as you can but don't stress about it too much.

Add about six inches to that measurement. So if you measured your baby at 30 inches, add six for 36 inches.

When you buy your fabric, you basically want two square pieces with the edges the length of the baby, and you want to make sure you have a couple of inches extra around the edges for when you place the pattern. So for a 36 inch total, add four for forty inches. Make sure you get enough fabric for two 40x40 squares. Clear as mud?
My squares of fleece one on top of the other
Now you need to draw your star pattern. Draw a regular five sided star. I didn't want to freehand this so I looked up how to draw a perfect 5 sided star inside of a square. This website had some great instructions on how to do it, I just transposed the directions onto paper and divided my measurements by eight. If you can multiply, divide, and add, you can do this. Alternately, you can just freehand it. Here's what my star looked like when I was done with it.

 Next I "puffed" out the star a bit. I wanted it to look more like a cute star or a Mario star like this:
This is where my french curves came in handy. But again, you could freehand this. Then I cut out the pattern, laid it on my fabric squares and cut out the shape. So now I have a couple of pieces of star shaped fabric.

Sew around the edges, leaving the bottom edge open. It should look like this when you're done:
See on the left of the picture? It's not sewed up there. That's where the baby's legs will be. You'll put velcro there later.

Now, in order to prevent smothering of your baby, you'll want a face hole. But I wasn't sure precisely where to put the face hole. So I put the star costume on the baby and taped the fabric at the spot where her forehead and her chin were under the fabric. Boy was she mad lol. Then I cut a circle of paper in about the size I needed, taped it onto the fabric, and cut it out.


Pro tip #1: Cut this hole SMALLER than you think it should be. You can always make it bigger but you can't make it smaller once it's cut. Ask me how I know.

Pro tip #2: You should probably remove the baby from the costume before cutting the face hole. Just sayin'.

Leave the costume inside out. Fuse your interfacing to the top half of the front side of the star, to help stabilize the arms and the head portion. In fact, if you want to do it intelligently (and not like how I did it) you can do this step before you cut out the face hole. That way you don't have to cut out interfacing to fit around the hole. Again, just sayin'. You want the interfacing or some kind of stabilizer to keep the face hole from stretching out and to help the points keep their shape.

Turn the star right side out. Apply the velcro to the bottom of the star. You can sew this in or use the sticky stuff like me. Apply it exactly on the edges. When you put the costume on the baby, you will fold the edges under to stick the velcro together, and it will hide everything and look like the whole thing is seamed together.

If you want, cut a couple of slits in the FRONT of the arm sections near the end for baby hands to poke through.

And you're done! Insert baby and admire the cuteness.

"No I won't cooperate! You can't make me stretch out so I look like a star! HAHA"

"Curses. Apparently you CAN make me look like a star by laying me on my tummy. I can't crawl away so instead I will voice my displeasure by screaming at you thereby making you turn me over so I no longer look like a cute star. HA"


Again, make sure you make the star bigger than the length of the baby by at least six inches or so. You can always sew the star smaller if needed and trim the seam allowances, but if you make it just the length of the baby it will be just a bit too short.

Happy sewing!

I could do that...

If you read my first post ever, you might recall that I mentioned that I'm interested in lots of things. I haven't decided if this is good or not. I think it depends.

Earlier today we were watching some Bill Engvall routines, and I was enjoying myself hugely. I think Bill Engvall is just hilarious. But then I caught myself dissecting his routine, to find out why exactly I think his routine is so funny. And as I compiled a mental list, I caught myself thinking "I could do that". Followed by the thought "Are you completely out of your mind???"

Apparently I am definitely out of my mind. Because tonight alone I looked up comedy clubs in my area to find out when open mic nights are, and have started jotting down notes to assist me in the creation of a routine.

I don't know how long this will take me to put together, but I promise that when I do, and when I do an open mic night, I will be sure to have someone videotape it. Because even if I'm not all that funny, the fail will surely be hilarious.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World



There are certain things in this world that are generally considered a bad idea. Running with scissors. Mullets. Joining secret societies bent on world domination.

An unexpected package arrived in the mail today. Since I wasn’t expecting this unexpected package, I was naturally curious. I glanced at the name to be sure it was actually sent to the right person at the right address…yep, it’s for me! So then I glanced at the return address to see who it was from.

"The Sobieski World Domination Initiative". Zomg.
Um. What?!?

My initial thought was “OMG, I’m getting a package from a world domination organization?? Whoa.”  My next thought was “They really shouldn’t put that on the return address label. Homeland security will be ALL OVER THAT.” And then I thought that it was actually pretty brilliant. It’s like hiding in plain sight. I mean, no world domination organization would be that obvious about it, right? Unless you’re trying to throw everyone off the scent. Well played, Sobieski World Domination Initiative, well played.

Consumed with curiosity, I opened the package and discovered…a diaper. But I am fairly certain that this is no ordinary diaper. It may or may not be a diaper that the owner of Babies Bottoms and More ordered for me because she was out of this color when I stopped by earlier this week. More likely, it’s a cleverly disguised James Bond style gadget that I will somehow use when it comes time to take over the world. It’s the perfect cover, really. NOBODY SUSPECTS A DIAPER. And nobody wants to touch one either, especially if it’s loaded. (Safety tip: Always treat a diaper as if it’s loaded). Even if I can't figure out how the super sekrit gadget works, I can use it as a loaded diaper as a fallback.

"Beware of loaded diaper."

If you google Sobieski World Domination Initiative you won’t find much. It appears to be a small business based out of Saint Paul. It’s all so seemingly innocent. That’s just what they want you to think. I’m not fooled. I KNOW THE TRUTH.

Ahem.

Now I’m just waiting to hear what I should do next. And for my official Sobieski World Domination Initiative commemorative pin, koozie and keychain to arrive in the mail.

After all, every self-respecting world domination organization distributes swag to its members.

Right?

A bum deal

Today marks the end of our first official day of all-cloth diapering. I've always wanted to cloth diaper, but this was really my first opportunity. With our first baby, I said I wanted to use cloth but my husband put his foot down and said NO WAY. If my memory serves me correctly, I think he was grossed out by the idea that I would be putting dirty diapers into the same washer and dryer that the rest of our clothes went into. Even with hot water cycles and detergents and bleach, it was just the ick factor for him. Now, after three babies, I think he is resigned to the fact that even with disposables, blowouts happen, vomit happens, leaks happen, and all those soiled things end up...yep...in the wash! (Even if my memory is totally faulty and that wasn't his issue I'm rolling with it anyway. Hi honey!)

But why did I want to cloth diaper in the first place? A few reasons. One, it's generally cheaper, especially if you launder at home. Two, I think cloth diapers are easier on baby's skin and on the environment. Last, but not least, they are puffy and bulky enough that I'm pretty sure I could use them as an impromptu life-vest if my car ever falls off a bridge into a lake or something (see previous post about being prepared for anything).

"Tell me the truth- does this diaper make my butt look big?"
Eowyn certainly made the first day a memorable day! She decided to break in the new diapers with not one, but TWO nice juicy fun diapers, right off the bat.

"I'm about to blow my cover!!"
Fun times, fun times.

I gotta admit, though, cloth diapers have come a LONG way from what they used to be. When my first was born, a little more than fourteen years ago, if you wanted to cloth diaper I'm pretty sure your only option was prefolds (your basic rectangle cloth diaper, for the uninitiated), pins and plastic pants. Now, there is a dizzying array of cloth diaper systems, each with its own pros and cons. After a lot, and I do mean a lot, of rather tedious research, I decided on prefolds and snappable covers. All you do is lay the diaper into the cover and snap it on. Pretty easy! I got my diapers from Babies Bottoms and More. Elisa, the owner, was amazing at answering all my questions and helping me out. Plus I'm just a soft touch when it comes to small, local, home-based businesses.

For anyone who might be considering cloth diapers, there are some general pros and cons I can share.

Pros:
1. Cost savings. Disposable diapers cost upward of $50 per month, at least at my house. From birth to two years, that's $1200 alone, and that's assuming you'll never need more diapers in any given month and that your child will potty train by age two exactly. Cloth diapers will cost anywhere from $200-500 upfront depending on which system you use. Don't forget to factor in utilities though. I calculated the amount of electricity and water we would use if we washed a load of diapers every other day, and the overall net increase in our electric/water bill would be no more than $10 per month, and that's if we do a LOT of washing. So I'm saving $40 a month right off the bat. Awesome!
2. No chemicals. Disposable diapers are made with various chemicals to bleach them white and increase absorbency. These chemicals often irritate baby skin and are also linked to other health issues. In addition, they are often not very environmentally friendly or very biodegradable. Cotton, on the other hand, is just...cotton.
3. Re-usable and re-sellable. If I have more children, I can re-use the diapers. Even if I have to buy new covers (they do wear out), the cotton inserts will last for a long long time. And surprisingly enough, there is a market for used cloth diapers/covers/systems. So I could even recoup some of my costs that way, if I chose.
4. Cute cute covers. Ok this is kind of superficial of me, but the diaper covers come in the neatest colors. I'm not a big fan of patterns, I prefer the solid colors, but there are so many to choose from. I just enjoy having more options than...white only!

Cons:
1. More work. Not gonna lie, it's going to add to my laundry. I don't mind laundry so it's not a big deal to me, but for someone else, it may be a dealbreaker. You can always go with a diaper service if you want, but they are more expensive and usually only come once a week, so by the time they come to pick up the old diapers and drop off the new, the oldest diapers have been marinating for a week. I don't care how awesome your diaper pail or diaper bag is, that's just gonna stink no matter what.
2. They are bulkier. Baby clothes nowadays are designed with the slimmer profile of a disposable diaper in mind. It's just something you have to keep in mind when shopping for baby.
3. Poopy diapers. Not so much fun, we'll just put it that way. You can either swish the poop off the diaper into the toilet, get a diaper sprayer and spray it into the toilet, scrape it off into the toilet (I'm kind of noticing a trend here...) or use a diaper liner which just peels off the cloth and either goes into the toilet or into the trash. The liners add more to the cost. And there is going to be just a little more of an ick factor as opposed to disposables where the whole mess is contained within the throwaway diaper.
4. Inconvenient. This is mostly an issue when on the road or out and about. I have a waterproof bag to put wet diapers in until I get home, but it's definitely not as easy as just pitching a disposable into the trash.
5. Day Care. Some places won't accomodate cloth diapers, so it's definitely something to consider.

I'll be the first to say this isn't for everyone. If you're on the fence and don't know if you want to do it or not, definitely do not shell out tons of money upfront just to find out you won't stick with it! You can buy one or two diapers and try it out "part time, and some places even do diaper rentals so you can try out different kinds of cloth diaper systems and see what you like best, or if you like cloth diapering at all!

Bottoms up!