Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kids learning to sew

I have seen this topic a lot lately. At what age should kids learn to sew? Of course, there is no cookie cutter answer to this. My 2 older kids started out around 5. The youngest is only 3, so she has not started yet - other than sitting on my lap while I sew. Yes, that is a bit awkward, but she loves it so I enjoy that time with her.

In general, I think 5-6 is a pretty good age to get kids started on a machine. Sessions are short and really focus on a quick and dirty project.  Think bean bags. Sometimes they just want to use the machine to make pretty lines all over. Ok with me! I point the kids to the scrap bins and let them choose the stitches. We always talk about safety - but they hear that from me when they are just hanging out and playing while I sew.

Machine recommendations:
I have let the big noisemakers use my machine. For my daughter's 6th b-day, gma got her a machine - which was actually nicer than mine. So they all sew on that now. Recently I got a new machine!! yippee!  So, they can also use my old one. I am a firm believer in letting them use real machines. No toy/kid machines please. They just lead to frustration. I'm not saying they have to use a top of the line machine. I sewed on a $150 machine for YEARS (and still would be if it wasn't for my amazing gift). There are typically machines available on Craig's list. If you don't have a machine at home, or don't want to share, I would suggest starting with a used machine. Just be careful, and do your research. Make sure it works properly. I personally don't like to spend a ton of money on something that I am not sure the kids will want to do for very long. So, you decide what is best for you - just no 'kid' machines please.

Now, what to teach?? Here is a list of the things we have started with. You can also check out my sewing Pinterest board for more sewing ideas. Some are kid appropriate, some are not. But lots of ideas are there.

Kid Projects:
There are several projects that my kids have really enjoyed.

  1. Stitching lines on scrap fabric. This is a great way to teach them how to control the fabric and stitching. You can also print lines and curves on paper and have them stitch on that. Just remember to change your needle before going back to fabric.
  2. Bean bags. These are a favorite in my house. They can cut 'shapes' and sew them into bean or rice bags. These are then used to 'toss' all over the house or are put into the freezer and used as 'boo boo' packs.
  3. Animal/doll blanket.
  4. Simple tote
  5. Skirt for dolls
  6. Basic quilt
  7. wrist warmers (I have no idea what these are called, but they are hugely popular these days and super simple with some knit fabric.

This is all we have accomplished in the 5-8 age range. Notice none of these need patterns. So far they have not really been ready to learn to use a pattern. That takes too much time. Projects like these are all my kids seem to handle for their attention spans. They could do more, but don't really care to. So, we try to keep it fun and pretty free flowing.

I have been giving lessons to a lovely 12 year old girl this year. Here are some of the projects she has wanted to do:

  1. Pillow cases. The sleepover pillowcase by A Lemon Squeezy Home is one of many great options.
  2. Apron - she chose a retro style
  3. Messenger Bag - simple tote with a single long strap and a flap.
  4. PJ pants
  5. quilt with binding
That is all we have gotten through so far, but I look forward to see what other projects she picks. These projects have included tutorials and/or patterns. I let her pick the projects but am working towards giving her the skills to pick up a pattern and be able to make anything. She is quick and probably won't need me much longer. :)

What projects do you like to do with kids?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Ornaments, a family tradition

I come from a long line of creative people. My great grandmother (gma Lefler) is as far back as I remember. She use to braid my hair, taught me how to do needlepoint when I was little, made amazing rolls and molasses cookies, was always making us clean (boo hiss), and always had yarn in her hands. I currently have  4 afghan blankets she made. One of which she made for my wedding day, which she never witnessed.

Then there is my gma Hewitt (currently known as cowboy gma). Gma is always positive, willing to do just about anything, and (sorry gma) can't bake. She loves to thrift shop, play bingo, and eat out. She also paints. I wish I had just an ounce of her painting abilities. She will say she isn't very good - but I disagree. She and gpa have been making Christmas ornaments ever since I can remember.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Carrot Cake

Who doesn't like cake? I LOVE it!  And, since yesterday was my birthday, I just HAD to make one. There are times it would be nice just to have one show up in my kitchen - poof. But, I am pretty particular about my desserts - I don't like most store bought cakes. I would LOVE the cakes from the bakery, but the budget does not allow for that (and really I am too cheap to not feel guilty about spending that kind of money on a cake). Good thing I like to bake!

This year I wanted something other than white or chocolate cake. Time for something different. But, I was not in the mood to spend tons of time baking. Off to Google and Pinterest I went, in search of cake, exactly what kind I was not sure. It did not take long for me to decide  - pumpkin cake. YES! But not just any pumpkin cake. I wanted stuff in it. A roll would have been good - but too putsy for the day. Then I cam upon this recipe. Yes, this is what I wanted to try.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

'tis the season - cold and flu season

Well, we have fully experienced colds so far this season. 3 of us hit so far. Yep, it's that time of year again. The worst part for me is the tissues. My poor nose! Over the past several years, I would just use all the lovely flannel burp clothes we had on hand. But, we have moved past that point in out lives and all the burp clothes have been passed on for others to use. Don't worry, they were washed - a lot.

So, once the cold hit my son, he requested I make some more. Instead of the fancy curved burp clothes I had previously, I went with simple (and FAST) squares and rectangles. I made a few double layered soft flannel hankies. Size doesn't really matter - they are all a little different, depending on how much I had on hand.

Seriously, you should make these. Your noses will thank you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jumbo Checker Boards

Need a great handmade gift for the holidays? 

Ever want to have a game that is over-sized? We love jumbo checkers. It can be used on a table as well - in case someone doesn't want to sit on the floor. I also make a simple drawstring bag for storage. Great family fun!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Maintaining through the Holidays

The Holidays. Such a wonderful time of year. Lovely extra family time. Gifts. Parties. FOOD. Lots of food. Lots of BAD foods. Temptations around every corner. For me, the challenges start now. Halloween. Candy - oh so much candy. Luckily, these days candy is not as big of a draw for me. I say that, but how many mini candy bars did I eat today - I don't want to know.

So, tomorrow it goes into a cupboard so I don't see it all day staring at me. The quick grab. I feel like I need a bowl to smack my hands if I go near it. :)
I need to plan. Options. What other foods will I keep on hand that are healthy alternatives and quick, easy grabs?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Special gifts

We are always trying to think of ideas for personal gifts. Pinterest sure is a great resource for ideas! Thank goodness! I'll tell you, people think I am SOOO creative, but really I just actually MAKE some of the ideas/projects I find on the internet. Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone. ;)

This spring I had to make some teacher quilts. Well, HAD to might be a bit misleading. That is what I typically make for teachers at the end of year. My middle daughter has a large creativity streak in her (yay!). One day she had done a design in crayon on some paper. I LOVED the pattern. So, she and I together created a digital file that could be uploaded to Spoonflower and made into this and this fabric! And then that fabric became part of her teacher's quilt. Cool right? (Her fabrics are the 2 fabrics that look patterned in this photo.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Healthier Peanut Butter Bars

I know I have mentioned several times that I love to bake. I also, OBVIOUSLY, have to be careful not to bake so much that I gain a million pounds. Plus, I do like to attempt to make the desserts at least semi-healthy so I am not filling my family with completely empty calories.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall Decorating

I  have been a bit behind on decorating the house for fall. Normally, Oct 1 comes around and we break out all the Halloween stuff and really enjoy it for the full month. But, since our house is on the market, we are not allowed to decorate for Halloween - just fall. Now, I do miss the Halloween decor, but I really like fall decor as well.

Have you noticed all the 'natural' decor on Pinterest lately?  Lots of white pumpkins, burlap, berries, acorns  pine cones, etc. I must say, I really love natural decor. However, I find myself wanting a little more color. Like, regular pumpkins, red leaves, red berries, etc.

So, after seeing several blog posts and ideas - I have been inspired to get my act together and get at least a few things done. So, I did my mantle and dining table. Want to see?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Buckeyes for Halloween

This is a special treat I make most years for Halloween. And since we are getting close to Halloween, I thought I would share! These are ALWAYS a hit at school and parties. It has become a requested item.

You can use any buckeye recipe you prefer for the balls. There are even some healthier peanut butter ball recipes (like this one) you could use as the base. Using the white chocolate is the key to making them look like eyeballs. I have a hard time finding the red decorator gel before December, so mine have evolved into monster eyes - using whatever colors I can find at the time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Derailed, again...

Oh crap. I've gained.

Derailed is not even a good description. Crashed and burned covers it better - but luckily I don't have any of my own photos of something in flames!

I had been holding steady - not great, but considering everything going on, I didn't feel too bad about that. But, then - I went CRAZY! Not thinking at all about what I ate or how much I exercised. It's totally my fault and all within my control.

I am not doing this for anyone other than myself. And yet, I always feel guilty when I eat something I shouldn't. Then, I beat myself up over it. Why do I do this? I suspect I am not the only one that falls into this trap.

So, my back is better and time to start exercising again.
Time to remember calories count - no matter how 'healthy' they are.
Moderation and balance are key.

Not sure how I will make it through the holiday season - which starts now. I love to bake! You have probably guessed that by now. My goal is to lose 10 pounds between now and the end of the year. I best get at it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hats, Hats, and more Hats

I love hats! I really need to make myself more, but I seem to always make them for the kids. Seems most of my sewing is either for the store or for my kids. Melly Sews is doing hat week this week, so I thought I would share some pics of some of my favorites. I wish I had better pics, but we can't have professional pictures all the time, can we!

As a disclaimer, I make most of my own hat patterns. Many of the ideas come from pictures I see somewhere and then I tweak to make them fit my needs. There are many free patterns and tutorials out there that are similar to what I have made. If anyone is interested in one particular style, I will add details about how I made them later.

First: Summer hats
I have a bucket pattern I like to use and a modified bucket that I use to make monster hats - they're just fun.
My kids always have summer hats - because I do melanoma research - and sun protection is big at my house. But, have you noticed - there are not a lot of options in the US that provide sun protection and are cute/fun?! Plus, the ones they do have, are just expensive.  Not to mention, it is difficult to find hats that are socially acceptable in the US. I know, I know, I shouldn't worry about what other people think. I don't. My kids do (and are too young yet to get past that). So, I started making my own - trying to be socially acceptable and fashionable AND provide at least some sun protection. I've never been on the cutting edge of fashion, so not sure I actually hit that point - but I have made hats that my kids like to wear - so I call that a win!
My bucket hat - kind of a Paddington Bear style.

Rounded bucket hat style with monster embellishment.
I also made a newsboy type hat. My daughter LOVES it - and I must say, she can wear hats! I just wish I had a picture of her in it - she refused to let me take one yesterday... 

I have also tried a couple of wide brimmed hats for me (yes, WIDE brims). I have followed 2 patterns and have not liked the results. So, if I try one again, I will make my own pattern. I have my favorite cowboy hat I wear all summer - it is 4 years old now and has seen its better days. I really need to find another option, but I love it so much and I can't buy another one. :( 

Winter hats - I make fleece and crochet hats for winter. I have done the standard fleece hat with the triangles lots and on some I like to add fabric flowers, buttons, etc to make them a little more interesting.

 I also add some extra fleece or felt piece to make monster winter hats - again, just because they are fun.

Or animal hats?? Say a blue giraffe (because that is what my niece wanted)

Or an orange lion... because who doesn't like blaze orange? :)

But for me, I like to be a little more boring. I do like finding fun fleece prints though.

Or plain old grey, for my go with everything hat.

Then there are the modified 'pill box' type fleece hats with flowers.

And an Elvis hat - made for a special boy during his battle against cancer.

And a scoodie made from fleece and cotton fabrics for those that don't like hats and prefer hoods. I used this tutorial.

And then there are the crocheted hats. I don't really follow a pattern for these, I just wing it. Here is a cloche.

Or just a beanie.

with a little sparkle...

Or with buttons... (and yes, I love orange)

I've made about a million hats - so I will stop boring you with pictures. There is one hat challenge I have not yet done - as I don't know what material to use. My son requested a Helmet from the British Zulu war uniform. He wants it hard - like a helmet. Uhhh, ok? According to my son, 'it's simple. Just go buy some Kevlar and cotton'. Yeah, I'll get right on that. So for now, it sits until I come up with an idea. 

Do you like hats? What is your favorite style?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Awareness Month

September - so many wonderful things about this month! I love fall, it is my FAVORITE time of year.

Cooler temps, low humidity, lots of sunshine and time to be outside. Apple picking,

camp fires, s'mores (of course), 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Speed Cleaning

Over the past month I have discovered a 'new' exercise routine. Speed cleaning.

We are currently trying to sell our house. I am not always on top of things. I have a life, and cleaning is NOT at the top of the priority list. That being said, if someone wants to see the house in 3 hours, I'm not going to say no. So, enter Speed Cleaning.

I actually have to RUN through the house at various times to get it all done. Sweeping, mopping, bathroom cleaning, etc. etc... Big dirty house - clean in 2.5 hours.  I don't know how many calories I burn, but it feels like a lot. And I am always sore for 1-2 days after.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Rules, Old Concept

So, I found these rules on Pinterest - yeah, I told you I like that site.

I have heard all or most of these before. They are working me towards eating clean. Have you heard about clean eating lately? It is the 'new' thing - of course it is how our grandparents actually ate. My grandparents would buy flour and sugar (you know, they came in those awesome fabric sacks you pay and arm and leg for now) and the rest came from the garden or the farm. Well, I'm trying to work back towards that type of eating. BUT, it is expensive and not overly convenient. So we are trying to find a balance that helps us achieve better health.

I admit, some of these are REALLY hard for me. So, I may not achieve all of these right away, I will start working towards being able to accomplish these rules without wanting to kill myself. And, even though these are 'non-negotiable' I still find myself thinking "everything's negotiable". Hmmm, probably part of my problem.

Here is a rundown on how I fare with the rules.
I'm good with rule 1 and 2, I've been working on 3 for a while.
5 - wow, that's a lot of fiber. ok, I'll try.
6 - I like it. I can do that.
7 - WHAT???? I don't know if I will ever be able to do that!
8 - got it (although I do ignore those labels, which probably makes me lose points on this one)
9 - umm - I try. But I hate to take the time to measure. Yes, I know. I just have to. I have gotten better though, I use small bowls and plates.
10 - yeah - not sure I will ever be able to do this - if it includes straight up sugar. AKA desserts.
11 - really? Well, we don't eat a ton of white potatoes, probably about once a week. Doubt I will get support from the family to cut that one out entirely.
12 - no problem, we already do that.
13 - not a big deal for me. We only eat out fast food when traveling and maybe 1 other time a month. Honestly, not something I crave. Rule 10 is where I go seriously wrong.
14 and 15 - check
16 - ok for me, not the rest of the family.
17 - I KNOW. BUT, I really don't like them. I need someone to come and show me how to make them taste good. To me, they just don't taste good. And, since I am not a good cook, I am probably ruining all the recipes I try anyways.
18-20, usually ok.

So, what rules are the hardest for you?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Whipped Frosting Recipe

We had another birthday celebration this past weekend. This time for my loving husband. We had a nice long relaxing day in which we did just about nothing. For us, it was a much needed break. I usually make all of our b-day cakes as I am too cheap to buy a good one from a bakery and the cheap ones at some of the local grocery stores are just not good. But, I also enjoy baking. The kids chose to have a vanilla chocolate swirl cake and my hubby's favorite frosting is a whipped frosting.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Exercise Ideas

Family exercise - what I like the most (rolling down hills, leap frog, chase, etc)

I have been searching Pinterest again for some exercise ideas. I want to have a long list of ideas so I don't get so bored! And, since most of the options are not a lot of fun, I want to keep them rotating.

I also have some pretty strict restrictions on types of exercises that can fit into my life and physical limitations.

My limitations:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Peanut Butter Pie Makeover

Doesn't this look good???

I love peanut butter pie. Unfortunately, they are SOOOO not good for you. Loaded with fat and sugar. I have done a bit of a makeover with the recipe. It is still NOT 'healthy' but it is a TON better than the original. And well, I like to indulge from time to time (ok, everyday - but I am working on that).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fabric Roll-up Chalk Boards

And Sew We Craft is having a linky party! Thought I would share a favorite project...
The Life of Jennifer Dawn.. another linky party I have entered this post...

My mother gave my kids a roll up chalk board she made - yes she is crafty too. I had never seen chalk cloth before. It is COOL. After watching my girls fight over the chalk board, I decided I should make a couple more - and maybe try to sell some as well. 

They have been pretty popular. What's not to love? They roll up and can be stuck just about anywhere. Chalk won't melt in the car (like crayons - yes I have melted wax in my van) or leave 'art' behind like markers (yep, I have permanent 'art' as well).

So, I thought I would share a little tutorial on how I make them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A few good tips

I love Pinterest - don't you? Some days I find myself sucked into the twisting winding never ending blog heaven. There are SOOOO many great ideas out there - for everything. One such night, I came upon several places with tips for weight lose. Yes, I too am always looking for the easy way out of weight loss. Even though I KNOW you just have to eat right and exercise. I keep hoping there is an EASIER answer. The right answer is simple - but SOOO not easy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Fun

Kid Fun
So far during this summer school break, things have gone pretty well. The kids are sleeping in, which makes me happy, and have been playing together relatively well (which makes me even happier). But, we still need things to do so we aren't plugged in all the time.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lesson 9: Problem Solving

There are so many obstacles that can get in our way when we are trying to achieve a goal (weight loss and better health in this case). To deal with these obstacles we need to do a little problem solving.

Step 1: Identify and Describe the Problem in detail.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sewing, Sewing

Even though I haven't blogged much lately, I have been doing MANY other things. I have taken a little break from the blog as the end of school came and went. I always end up over booking my schedule? Do you have that problem too? I

I had 4 quilts to make in 14 days! Each quilt was about 50"x60" - NOT small. I always make a quilt for each teacher at the end of the year. I have it planned each year. I start thinking about them around spring break. I have PLENTY of time to deal with this. But, I am a procrastinator. I wait until there is JUST enough time to get them done. Even if I have to work long into the night. SIGH. One day I will be better at scheduling my time and balancing all of my tasks. One day. :)

Do you want to see the quilts?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lesson 8: Enlisting Social Support

Social support has been shown to be important for overall health and well-being. Studies have shown those with supportive relationships live longer, healthier lives. So - today we will be examining types of social support, how to find it, and what to do with those that are unsupportive.

Types of Support:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Greek Yogurt - rosa pasta sauce

This is a new love of mine. I am finding soooo many uses for this in cooking to help reduce calorie and fat intake in our diets.

Tonight, I made this pasta recipe for dinner - minus the shrimp. Thanks to back to her roots for the photo and recipe inspiration.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes - Round 2

We had our second soccer party yesterday. So, I decided to give the strawberry cake one more try. This time - without the jello. I wanted something a little more natural tasting. Boy, did I find it! This is the second soccer party I have taken these little jems. Everyone has asked for me to share the recipe - so here it is.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mayonnaise: a love-hate relationship

I love mayonnaise. Don't you? Too bad it is NOT good for you. High calories, high fat, some even have sugar added (which actually did surprise me a bit). BUT, I have found a way to enjoy mayo by cutting the calories and fat drastically! YAY!!!

Do you want to know my not so secret, secret?

Non-fat Greek yogurt!

You can cut the mayo by HALF and add half non-fat Greek yogurt in place of the mayo. The taste is still GREAT!

So, that's really it. Egg Salad. Potato salad. Pasta salad. Whatever. Just be careful, all of these items still tend to be heavy on calories, but at least now you can add more good stuff and less bad stuff and still enjoy!

Now, I will give you 2 of my favorite recipes. You can adjust based on your favorite recipes.

Egg Salad for one
(because no one else in my family likes it).

One whole hard boiled egg
One hard boiled egg white only
1 TBSP Mayonnaise
1.5 TBSP Greek Yogurt

Just mash it all together with a fork and serve over a bed of lettuce. I do prefer to have an egg salad sandwich, but in the interest of not eating carbs all day long, I have found I actually like it on a bed of lettuce. I am happy for small victories.

Cracker Dip
I like the recipe using Lipton Vegetable Soup &Dip mix and mostly follow the recipe on the back of the box. Here are my changes...

1 package dip mix
4 oz non-fat sour cream
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
10oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)

Mix it all together. If it sits for several hours in the fridge it tastes better.

This went to school last week with a package of wheat thins (reduced fat of course). When serving to a bunch of women who are concerned about calories, I try hard to make signs so they know to try it. BUT, I always feel funny doing this - will they actually try it? The answer for this go round - yes, they did and they loved it!

Let's hear it for Greek Yogurt! Hip hip hooray!

What do you plan on making with Greek yogurt?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lesson 7: Talking back to negative thoughts

Who has NEVER had negative thoughts? It can be a vicious cycle - bad thoughts lead to eating and non-activity, which leads to more bad thoughts. AHHH! Sometimes, we are not even aware we are having them! Trouble.

Here are common negative patterns:
1. Good vs bad. When everything tends to be divided into good or bad, success or failure, on or off a program.
2. Excuses or rationalizations. We all have these - there are always reason why we do (or don't do) something - and they are usually not our fault. It is like we have no power to control situations. Or life is just so busy there is no way we can fit a healthy lifestyle into out lives.
3. Should thoughts. These thoughts expect perfection and set us up for disappointment. These assume someone is standing over use forcing use to do things we don't want to do. e.g. I should have eaten less - or I should NOT have had that...
4. Not as good as thoughts. These thoughts compare ourselves to others and blame us for not measuring up. e.g. So and so lost 5 pounds and I have only lost 2.
5. Give up thoughts. These defeat ourselves. They often follow the other kinds of negative thoughts. e.g. This is too hard; I might as well give up.

How to talk back to negative thoughts.
1. First, catch yourself.  Is this thought moving me forward or bringing me down? As soon as you are aware of the thought - take responsibility for it. 'I am doing this to myself.'
2. Imagine yourself yelling STOP. If you are somewhere appropriate - go ahead and yell at yourself.
3. Talk back with a positive thought.

Example responses to negative thoughts.
1. Good vs bad: Talk back with 'work towards balance.'
  • Don't expect perfection, but don't indulge yourself either. Work towards a balance.
2. Excuses: Talk back with 'it's worth a try.'
  •  Instead of looking for something or someone else to blame, give yourself a chance. Try SOMETHING. You just might surprise yourself and succeed!
3. Should: Talk back with 'It's my choice.'
  • Take responsibility for your actions. You, and you alone, are in charge of what you eat and how you exercise. No one else has expectations for you. This is for you, your health and well being.
4. Not as good as: Talk back with 'everyone is different.'
  • How many times do we tell our children - it doesn't matter what others are doing, it only matters that you are trying your hardest to be a good person and to achieve your best in school/sports/etc. Hmm, maybe we should listen to ourselves! We are to be happy for other people successes and work our hardest on our own goals. (MAN, I need to remember this one!)
5. Give up: Talk back with 'One step at a time.'
  • Problem solving is a process. It takes time to make changes. Learn from what doesn't work and keep moving forward. Learning is always a success.
I always try to remember: it took years to develop these habits, it will take time to undo them too!
Good luck!

What is your strongest negative thought?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strawberry Jam - an experiment

Strawberry season is about done for us. I made lots of jam. YUM. I had only ever made the full sugar versions before, and this year I wanted to try something different. An experiment. Can I get away with no sugar? Is there a middle ground that will work best?

Well, I tried 4 different recipes. Yes, 4! All freezer jams because I like the fresh taste they tend to have - and I am too lazy to do all the cooking and canning required for regular jam.

Second - I will say - ALL 4 batches failed to set. I have never had this happen before. So, obviously I did something wrong. Unfortunately, I have NO idea what! I did not create any of these recipes, so I will trust that they actually do work usually and that I just did something wrong. I will comment on flavors and what we liked best as a family.

First batch - full sugar. 4 cups of sugar to 2 cups of strawberries. YIKES! Not so much on the healthy side. I thought this just pretty much taste like sugar. Too sweet for me. Kids and hubby think it is fine.

Second batch - I will call it the half sugar version. The company called it low sugar - which is a stretch for me. It is indeed lower in sugar than the full sugar versions, but NOT low sugar. I used the standard recipe on the low sugar pectin package. Better in flavor than the full sugar version, but still has a LOT of sugar - something like 3 cups sugar to 4 cups strawberries.

Third batch - Low sugar version. Recipe found here. This is my favorite for regular use - sandwiches, pancakes, etc.

Forth batch - Non-sugar version. Recipe found here. This is my second favorite. For regular use, I wanted a little more sweetness - but this is MUCH preferred to the full or even half batches I tried. My kids will eat all 4 versions without noticing. YEAH! This recipe is my favorite to use in my cupcakes (post coming soon). I also prefer this as a topping on ice cream. No need to add more sugar to these already sugar blasted items. This adds a great bright strawberry flavor.

And, just because I thought you would like to see a few more pictures and a favorite strawberry recipe....
Strawberry Shortcake:
semi-homemade biscuits
(Bisquick with a little sugar)

strawberry sauce
(strawberries in the food processor)

and homemade whipped cream
(whipping cream and a little sugar)

And no - this is NOT low sugar or low calorie. But it was oh so good!

The healthy version of this - one bite.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lesson 6: Physical Activity

Yes, it is important to exercise. There are LOTS of benefits - both physical and psychological. I could make a big long list of all the benefits - instead I will just say, we should all be exercising unless there is a medical reason NOT to.

Physical activity BURNS calories (you know, those pesky things we keep eating every day). Those that are successful in weight loss and maintenance, all follow regular exercise routines.

What types of activities should be done?
  • Choose activities you can accomplish and enjoy. Stick to things you like - or can at least tolerate. If you despise the activity, you won't stick to it. 
  • Choose aerobic activities. You will burn more if you can do moderate to vigorous activities. Don't worry if you have to start slower, you will build up to higher levels as you 'get into shape'.

How much should be done?
  • The public health recommendation from CDC and ACSM is at least 30 minutes per day on most or all days. For weight loss and maintenance, it should be closer to 60 minutes every day.

Finding time to be active.
This is usually one of the biggest barriers to exercise.

  • Set aside a block of time like you would any other appointment or 'to do' items during your day.
  • Schedule physical activity for the week. Instead of planning one day at a time, plan your entire week. This will allow you to see your availability for the week and plan longer/shorter workouts to best fit your schedule. 
  • Look for free time during the day. Use the time to be active. If you have 10 minutes at work, walk the stairs rather than checking your email.  Or talk a walk around your building. Try to see how many 2-3 minute walks you can accumulate throughout the day.
  • Turn inactive time into active time. Evaluate how you spend your time. Be honest with yourself.  Try cutting your TV time in half. Talk a walk, go to the gym, etc instead.
Increase Adherence to Your Workouts
Set up activity reminders and cues.
  • set an alarm
  • prepare - have everything ready to go and visible throughout the day.
  • fitness magazines, pictures, etc can be laced around the house/office as reminders/motivators to be active.
Identify any barriers that may arise and make a plan.
  • If you walk/run outside: what will you do if it rains? 
  • If you began programs in the past, why did you stop? How can you prevent this from happening again?

Find ways to increase enjoyment and add variety to your routine.

Establish long-term physical activity goal.
  • Do a 5k (schedule one).
  • Bike/hike certain routes/lengths.
  • Your goal should be difficult, realistic, and measurable. Hard enough to challenge you, but realistic enough to actually achieve.

Share your goals with friends/family. Facebook is great for this.

Believe in yourself.
  • Don't underestimate what you can do. If you doubt yourself, you are less likely to achieve your goals. Set a goal you know you can achieve and then increase your goals as you achieve each one.

Lifestyle activity
Things you do in your day to day happenings. This counts in your overall fitness as well.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Park at the far end of the lot instead of the close end.
Take several trips up and down the stairs throughout the day instead of piling things for a later trip.
Every hour, take short walk breaks at work.
Use your lunch break to get in 10 minutes of walking.
Get off the bus 1 stop earlier.
Walk the dog instead of letting out in the yard.
Take activity breaks during TV commercials.