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I’m Baaaack! Ketogenic Diet: Week 1

Posted by on Feb 22, 2016 in Blog, Keto Diet, Weight Loss | 1 comment

Hello! So sorry that I fell off the face of the Earth for, what, a year? I’ve been keeping busy during the past year. Three of my step-kids moved in with us full time, and we’ve all been adjusting. We’ve still been very active with our local SCA group and are always working on projects that are SCA related. We’ve also been exercising more and have changed our diet. Since around February of last year, we have been cutting back on carbs by doing the ketogenic diet.

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If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Blog, Weight Loss | 0 comments

Over the past few months, I have been thinking a lot about my weight. If you’ve known me for the last few years, then you know that about 2 1/2 years ago, I lost 50 lbs and got really close to my goal weight of 140. I think I ended up around 146. And then I got tired of dieting. So I let myself have a little more leeway on what I ate. And then a little more. And eventually just eating whatever and however much I wanted. And then I stopped exercising. And now I am here, back to where I was when I started my weight loss journey. Actually, a little bit heavier than that even. :(

For a while, I lived in denial that I was regaining all my weight. Then, when I couldn’t deny it anymore, I still didn’t really care. I am not sure why, but it didn’t really bother me. Then, my clothes started getting too tight. Then, I saw some candid pictures of myself, and, let me tell you, that was a wakeup call. For some reason, it’s easier to be in denial when you look in the mirror, but when you can see how other people see you, it’s really hard not to see how bad it’s gotten. This morning I weighed myself, and the scale said 201. I have never weighed over 200 lbs when I wasn’t pregnant. So, this is really the worst it’s ever been.

I am really annoyed with myself for being back in this position. It is like all that work I did before was just a waste. Now I have to do it all over again. And I know that if I think of it as a “diet” like I did before, then I am not going to succeed long term. This has to be a change that I make forever, not just until I reach my goal. Because if I go back to what I was doing when I gained all my weight, then guess what? I gain a bunch of weight. Duh.

Last time I decided that I wanted to lose weight, I wasn’t sure where to start. I did a fad diet because it promised results. Then I did Weight Watchers. Both were very effective, and I feel like they both taught me a lot about what works for me when I need to lose weight. One thing that I learned is that dieting is kind of like religion. There are all kinds of diets out there, and they all claim to be the best. They even have their own advocates who can get in pretty heated arguments about why theirs is the best. I think you just have to find what suits you best and go with it.

What Makes Me Gain Weight

  • Too many simple carbohydrates
  • Snacking frequently
  • Eating at restaurants
  • Indulging too frequently
  • Eating what Lex eats (or doesn’t eat)
  • Eating due to boredom

What Works for Me When Trying to Lose Weight

  • Avoiding foods high in carbs, especially sugar
  • Having sweet-tasting options, including fruit & diet soda
  • Being able to have indulgences now and then
  • Drinking more water
  • Eating lean meats and low-fat dairy
  • Portion and snack control

My sweet tooth is my downfall. I love sweets. And carbs. And especially sweet carbs. And it’s hard to control myself when I have them in the house or when they’re offered at a party or something. I feel deprived if I can’t have anything sweet, so when trying to decide what kind of diet to follow, I know that I need to be able to eat fruit and sugar free Jell-O and have sweet-tasting drinks.  I also don’t want to feel hungry, so I need to have something I can snack on guilt free. So, this time around, I am going to do Weight Watchers’ Simply Filling Technique. I am  not actually subscribing to WW, though, because this technique is easy enough to follow without joining. You only eat the foods on the list at whatever portion feels right to you. There is enough variety for me to be able to still eat most of the foods I love and typically cook. I will allow myself a (small) cheat probably once a week unless it becomes a problem.

In addition to the change in diet, I will also be exercising. My husband’s work has a gym that I can also use, and I am going to start taking him to work in the morning and using it. This morning I did 20 minutes on the elliptical machine and a little bit of machine weight lifting. Once I figure out an exercise routine, I will share it here. For now I think I’ll be focusing on cardio and throwing in some light weightlifting here and there. My goal for exercising is to do it at least 5 days a week. And when I can’t get to the gym, I will either run around the neighborhood or do a workout from YouTube.

My goal for now is going to be the same as it was last time, 140 lbs. I hope that at that weight I will be able to fit into size 10 pants. At that weight, I think I will feel comfortable in my own skin and really feel like my outside appearance will reflect the way I see myself. I want to lose about 2 lbs a week (which, I believe, is a healthy rate to lose), so it will be a while before I reach that goal, and that’s ok. Slow and steady wins the race.

So, here we go again with this whole weight loss thing. Hopefully this is the last time I have to try again.

Starting Weight: 201 lbs. *cringe*

Goal Weight: 140 lbs.

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Wee Castle & Knights Play Set

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Blog, Crochet, Feature | 0 comments

A couple of years ago, I saw this great wooden castle dollhouse type thing at Michaels in the same area where they carry the wooden dollhouse kits that I used for the spooky dollhouse and Ophelia’s fairy cottage. I immediately wanted to get one for Lex since it was like a dollhouse but for boys. :) It cost $20, which I thought was a bit pricey, but with a 40% off coupon, it wasn’t too bad. I started working on it and meant to get it done in time to give to Lex for Christmas 2012, but that did not happen.

On one of my regular trips to the thrift store down the road, I found another one just like it for only $7, so you know I snatched that baby up. It was mostly unpainted still, but it had been painted a bit. It just needed a facelift. I figured since I already had one, I would paint the other and put it in the upcoming silent auction that our province is having our next event this weekend. Plus I could finish Lex’s castle at the same time. I am so happy with how it came out. I almost don’t want to give it away!

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I also made some cork knights to protect the castle. The pattern for them can be found here. Here’s a closeup.

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To create the effect of bricks, I painted the whole thing black, inside and out, and then used a sponge cut into small rectangles and dipped into gray paint to paint each one. Protip: start with the windows and doors and then do the rest, working from the top down.

Now let’s look inside.

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I decoupaged some scraps of mulberry paper onto the walls. I thought it would be easier than trying to paint each room without getting anything on the floors or ceilings. Looking back, I’m not sure that it was easier. Either way would have been tricky, especially in the rooms with stairs. The stairs make everything difficult.

I like using the mulberry paper because the Mod Podge soaks through it easily and it doesn’t bubble and wrinkle like thicker paper. Plus the overlapping doesn’t look bad because it’s kind of hidden by the texture. It also looks really cool.

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The castle comes with a little box that fits into one of the rooms which is very handy for storing the soldiers when it’s time to pack up.

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Lex’s castle, unfortunately, is still in pieces, but I have made some progress. I really want to get it done soon because he keeps referring to this one as his castle.

This wee castle with its knights will be in the Southern Shores silent auction this Saturday at Newcomers, so if you’re in the Bay Area, please come and maybe place a bid. :)

 

 

 

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My First Scroll in the West

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Blog, Feature, SCA | 2 comments

In the SCA, when someone receives an important award, they are usually given a scroll. What we call a scroll is usually a piece of paper with a description of the award written in medieval calligraphy by hand and decorated with medieval illumination. Just Google “SCA scroll” and you’ll see what I mean. I started learning how to do calligraphy and illumination back in Arkansas, and I did one scroll that I turned in to be handed out. It was pretty simple, but the Celtic knots were fun to do.

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I’d been wanting to do something more ornate, but I wasn’t sure where to start. Our new group, Southern Shores, has a monthly Art & Shop Night, which we started attending. At one of those nights, I didn’t have a project, and the lady who hosts the Art & Shop Night, Eliska, asked if I’d like to help with a scroll on whose illumination she was about to start on. I gladly agreed. She chose the motif and began tracing it out, and I finished the tracing and then painted it with liquid watercolors and gouache. The calligraphy was already there and is not mine. I was really nervous that I would ruin it or the recipient would hate it, but I’m really happy with the end result (and hope the recipient is, too!).

First West Scroll

 

Detail Illuminated Letter

 

Detail Flower Illumination

 

Detail Coat of Arms

Eliska is a Laurel in calligraphy, and she gave me advice on choosing colors and how to do the whitework details. Almost all the art was traced using a light box with a few free handed details added, specifically under the coat of arms.

Eliska was very encouraging and said I did a great job. She also got me added to the College of Scribes, so I can start getting scroll assignments. Then she helped me find a medieval example of something I’d like to do for my next one and even got me set up with some supplies. Thanks, Eliska! :)

I have always enjoyed doing art– painting, drawing, etc.– but I couldn’t always think of things to draw or paint. Or I’d be frustrated that I couldn’t draw as well as I’d like to, so I just wouldn’t do it. With illumination, there’s no shame in tracing (it was commonly done in the Middle Ages), and there are plenty of historical examples and a wide variety of subject matter to choose from. I’m looking forward to improving my workmanship and hopefully, eventually, getting to level of the amazing scribes whose work I’ve seen in the SCA so far.

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I’m Back!

Posted by on Mar 23, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Sorry about my sudden abandonment of my little blog here. For some reason, I haven’t felt like writing much. I regret not keeping up with my posts because, I’ve noticed, this blog really keeps me focused. I guess it sort of keeps me accountable, which helps me to stay on track and achieve my goals. I am sure that if I hadn’t been blogging about it, then I wouldn’t have been able to lose the weight I lost. Speaking of which, I am sad to say that I slipped up and let it all come back. :( But that’s a story for another post.

During my absence from my blog, I have been staying busy. The biggest thing that has happened is that we moved from Arkansas all the way to California. San Jose, to be exact. My husband got a job offer that was too good to pass up, so we picked up everything and moved. We’ve been here for 4 months now, and are settling in quite nicely. We really love it here. The weather is amazing, there is such wide a variety of cultures blending together, the people are super friendly, and there are always things to do.

Another big change is that I have gone from working full time to becoming a stay-at-home-mom, which is challenging and great at the same time. I love being able to spend more time with Lex when he’s still little and to get to teach him new things. Another plus is that I have a bit more time for my many, many craft projects. Still, it’s been an adjustment, and we’re still figuring it out.

We have also been staying active with the SCA, both in Arkansas and here in San Jose. Our new group is the Province of Southern Shores, which was one of the first provinces created in the SCA. It’s exciting to be in the area where the SCA was founded. Every now and then we hear, “Oh, he was at the very first backyard party that started the SCA.” Crazy sauce. Our new group has welcomed us with open arms, and we’ve already made some new friends. I’m eager to share some of the things we’ve made and are still working on.

I am making a commitment to post at least once a week (hopefully more) from now on. Thank you, readers, for bearing with me. I can’t wait to share some new projects with you!

 

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Our Journey into the Shire of Lagerdamm

Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Blog, Feature, SCA | 2 comments

So sorry for my months (!) of silence! You’ll soon see why. We’ve adopted a new hobby, which I’m excited to share with you…

When Vincent and I first started dating (back in 2006), I revealed to him that one thing that I’d always wanted to do was go to a Renaissance Faire. I’ve always loved history and fairy tales and knights and princesses and all that fun stuff. When I was in high school at our local Hastings, I found a great magazine called Renaissance that was full of photos of people at Renaissance Faires and articles about life during the Middle Ages. I found it all absolutely fascinating and fantasized about one day dressing up as a fair maiden and perusing the wares of medieval shopkeeps, perhaps watching a joust…you get the picture.

So when I told Vincent about my love of the Renaissance and Middle Ages, he told me that some friends of his were involved in a local group called the SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism. I’d never heard of them. He told me that they were sort of like a Ren Faire group, but they liked to be a little more historically accurate. They were having an event soon in Little Rock, and he suggested we go check it out. Honestly I don’t remember a whole lot about that particular event. I do remember being disappointed because it didn’t look like any of the Renaissance Faires in the magazine. I also remember it was cold and raining and that no one in the group was particularly welcoming so we just sort of wandered around. I mean, it was kind of cool, and we bought a few things and got to see an archery demonstration so that was fun, but overall, we didn’t get the best first impression. Because of that sort of “meh” impression, we never went back to another event.

Fast forward to 2012. We went to dinner with a bunch of Vincent’s old friends because one was visiting from Canada, and I finally met his friend, Brad. I’d heard about Brad a lot before, but never happened to meet him until then. He is very active in the local SCA group in Conway, called Shire Lagerdamm, and they just so happened to be having their annual Newbie Collegium soon. Brad and I talked about our different crafting interests– he likes to make clothing and I showed him my knit and crochet projects. Vincent suggested that we go to the next event and see if we liked it. We both thought it sounded like something we could have fun doing together, and since we already knew Brad we felt pretty comfortable going.

It was much different from our first experience. We were enthusiastically greeted when we arrived and scuttled off by the chatelaine to find some suitable garb for us to wear.

There were various classes going on and a lists set up (where sword fighting takes place) with an on-going tournament. There were also a few vendors and a silent auction. We decided to split up on the classes so we could get as much experience as possible. I took a class on making lampwork beads, which was really cool. I even got to make a bead using a torch and everything. I took another class on drafting period clothing using modern patterns. I also took an introductory class to herbalism, something I’ve always found intriguing. Vincent learned about heraldry, developing a persona, making leather armor, and rapier fighting.

After the classes, they had a Newbie Round Table where we could ask any questions about SCA in general. It was very informative, the hosts were great, and we decided that we definitely wanted to join up.

Since the Newbie Collegium, we have been to one business meeting, one Arts & Sciences (A&S) meeting, one event and several rapier practices. We also decided on the kinds of garb we wanted to wear and got patterns for them:

Garb Patterns

I’ve already finished Vincent’s garb, though I’m sure it will be embellished in the future. Mine is going to have to wait because the amount of fabric I need gets really pricey! Besides, I have some garb that I bought long, long ago. Here we are at our first real event, the Investiture of the Baron and Baroness of the Barony of the Small Gray Bear.

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We had a great time! It was really cool to see the court and feast, which we missed at our newbie event. We also learned what all goes into putting an event on since our shire hosted this event for the Barony of the Small Gray Bear. As thanks, we were all awarded The Bear’s Heart by the new Baron and Baroness and received a little token. I was tickled to get an award. :)

Here’s a photo of the feast taken by the talented Kenneth Eden:

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You can see Vincent and me (or my hair anyway) on the right. It was a potluck, and everything was very tasty. It was kind of magical to see everyone whip out their feast gear from various trunks and baskets, complete with period-looking table cloths and make the plain utilitarian tables look like proper feast tables. I only wish I’d thought to bring some things. Live and learn.

The event took place at the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway. They have a lovely little chapel that they also allow us to use for our Arts & Sciences meetings each month.

Speaking of Arts & Sciences (or A&S), here are a couple pics from the last one we went to.

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Vincent learned how to make Celtic knots from the talented Signy.

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Then, Lady Arianna showed us how to make Roman fibulae (Roman safety pins, basically, but pretty).

We’ve also been learning how to fence with rapiers. With our tax refund, we bought swords. Admire the shiny:

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Here’s Vincent in some borrowed gear, ready to take on a foe!

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That’s him fighting one of our instructors, Victoria, who also happens to be an old college friend of ours. She’s an amazing fighter.

We even got the kids involved.

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There they are with Binn, our other instructor, who is also amazing and very patient with us newbies.

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Start ’em young, we say!

So far, joining SCA has been a wonderful experience. We have never met a friendlier, more welcoming group of people. I haven’t met anyone who’s been snobby (Yes, I was worried about garb snobs. It’s totally a thing!) or stand-offish or anything negative. Everyone (seriously, everyone) is eager to help with anything and everything. It’s really amazing. We love it!  I can’t wait to share all the things I learn with all of you, too.

 

 

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