Friday, August 29, 2014

seven quick takes in August

It's been ages since I've done a Seven Quick Takes post,
so I'll remedy that right now.

I tested the Azure almond flour.
Upon closer inspection, it is not nearly as fine as the Honeyville,
and while the cookies made with it were good, they were not spectacular, so I cannot recommend it for cookies.

When we were in Florida,
Brandon, Lexi, aka Miss Adrenaline Junkie, and I went waaay out deep,
as far out as the buoys, even.
I wondered aloud what the buoys were for,
and Brandon suggested crab traps.
Of course - once he said it, it seemed so obvious.

Lexi asked, "Are we out deep??" 
"Yes, we are out very deep," I told her,
"Look - we are even with the crab traps!"
"What do they catch?" she asked.
"Well, crabs." I told her.
"Oh - trash and stuff?" she replied.
"Um. No. Crabs. You know, the sea creatures with pincers. Like the ghost crabs, only bigger."
I was talking with my hands, of course, and looked at her curiously.
Crab traps.
I thought you said 'crap traps'."

I do love that girl!

I am so sad that summer is ending.
You remember how last year, before I got blown up by a firework, I had aspirations of becoming a bronzed goddess?
I don't know about the goddess part,
but I have managed to acquire a very nice tan this year
(I also have listened to almost the entire New Testament, because, you know, multi-tasking...).

I discovered, unintentionally, that the days after I had laid out in the sun, 
(usually about 20 minutes or so)
my mood / overall 'feeling' was better than it was after days that I didn't.

So, yeah, I'm going to miss my tan,
but even more, I'm going to miss feeling better.
(any suggestions for high quality VitaminD appreciated)

Besides my 13 chicks,
I only have 1 chicken left.
Apparently we have both aerial and ground predators.
I have (finally) locked my (sole remaining) hen in the coop
with the babies - who are really quite big.
It makes me sad to not see chickens roaming my yard when I look out the window.

My hope is that all the nasty critters that have been feasting on my chickens will get hungry and go elsewhere
and forget they ever feasted here,
and soon I will be able to let my girls run again.

A few weeks ago,
I was shopping at Sam's, and saw a dear friend I hadn't seen since I was pregnant with Lex'.
We talked for 15-20 minutes then parted ways, promising to stay in touch.
It took awhile,
but we were able to coordinate our schedules and I got to go visit her this week,
and we again talked non-stop 
(for 4+ hours)
before I had to head home.
Oh, how I've missed her!!

I also miss all of my big kids.
And that's all we're going to say about that,
'cause the tears are already coming.

I absolutely 
start school next week.

Which means I need to get busy....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

shopping list and a recipe

You guys!!!

I've done it!!
I've really done it!!

I can't even tell you how many tries it took me to get to this point.
(Of course, I'm still working on the coconut browned butter cookies. I can only do so much, People.)

It'll be a few days before I can get it typed up, patented, and what not
so I thought I'd post a shopping list of odd items that the recipe requires
(yes, requires) so that if they aren't already in your pantry, you can get them there asap.
(i'm just kidding about the patent ;-)

I haven't tried this one yet, but I think it would have excellent results, too.
There really are no other protein powders that I'd recommend.
You'll also need xanthan gum.

Those two ingredients are game changers for low carb baking.

Oh, and if you don't have almond flour, you'll need that too.
Sadly, you really need the bought kind, as homemade is just too coarse for satisfactory cookie results.
The consensus among low carb bloggers seems to be that the Honeyville brand blanched almond flour is best for cookies.
I also purchased this almond flour from Azure Standard , which is less expensive than the honeyville and seems to be quite comparable to me.
I haven't tried it yet as I was only changing one thing at a time, I'm sure you'll agree that was prudent,
so my brand of almond flour had to remain constant.
Now that I have my recipe settled, I will try the Azure almond flour and report back.

If you haven't yet made my baking mix - get crackin' 'cause you'll need it, too.
Homemade almond flour works just fine in it.


Since I can't share my cookie recipe with you just yet,
and Sandy has been needing my deodorant recipe for a long time,
wait - that didn't come out right at all -
Sandy has been patiently waiting for me to get her the recipe
for my deodorant,
I'll share that real quick instead.

Put the following ingredients into a small mixing bowl:
about 3 Tbs shea butter
about 3 TBs coconut oil*
about 3 Tbs corn starch
about (are you getting the sense that this doesn't have to be exact?) 3 Tbs baking soda

Mix well (a table spoon works just fine) and add a few drops of tea tree essential oil and/or a few drops of lavender e.oil
and mix again.
You should have a cream that is about the consistency of a buttercream frosting
and you can be done right there.
I personally don't care for the smell of those oils, so I add enough orange e. oil to cover the scent.

*Now, about that asterisk.
The deo, as stated to this point, is perfectly sufficient and works well,
but the addition of some cocoa butter makes it divine.
Divine Deodorant.
So, what I do is take a little bit - not all - of that 3 TBS of coconut oil and put it into a small glass bowl with about 6 cocoa butter wafers 
and microwave or melt over a pan of water
(cocoa butter has a high melting point and somehow, the addition of a bit of the coconut oil helps speed the process along)
and add it to the mix
(or you can just wait to mix it all up 'til you've added the cocoa butter)

Store it in whatever clean small lidded jar you can scrounge up,
a rub just a tiny bit over your pits every day
and you'll be smelling fine.

edited to add:
Tyler and Brandon were gone when I made the cookies last night,
so I, alone, proclaimed them perfect
(the 4 younger ones pretty much think they've all been awesome, so long as they aren't burnt...)
I'd only made a small batch, so there was only 1 cookie for the guys.
I handed Tyler his - pointing out how nicely it sat in my hand, not crumbling or breaking,
and only bending a little as I waved my hand around.
He set it back down, broke off a little piece and said,
"I'm not feeling real great - I'll just have a bite."
He raised his eyebrows,
"You made some changes. Does this have wheat in it? Real sugar??"
And then,
he proceeded to eat the whole thing.

So, I think,
that even though I was hasty and pronounced them perfect without anyone else's opinion,
I was completely justified.

edited again
I no longer use the Swanson's protein powder because they changed the recipe and now use inferior ingredients :-(
I finally posted the cookie recipe!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

another anniversary

It was nine months ago today that I posted my first Fitness Update.
I'd been actively working (very hard!) to get trim and healthy for three months.
Which means that today
is my one year 'trimaversary'.

If you've been reading here for any length of time,
you know that this has not been easy. at all.
In fact, it's been a ridiculously tough battle,
far more difficult than I imagined
(and I didn't expect it to be easy...)

I really thought that by now, a full year later, I would be at my goal,
but I am nowhere near it.
At my current rate (less than 1 lb a month!) it'll be over 2 years before I reach it.

Instead of bemoaning all that, I'll focus on the positives.
I've lost a total of 24 lbs
and 17 3/8 inches 
(with a disproportionate percentage coming from my boobs. boo!)

I finally weigh less than my husband
(for a few days anyways...)
for perhaps the first time in our marriage.

I have muscles 

I also have batwings. and I still have an extra chin.
and I can't pose.
But, I can laugh at myself.

I can do pull-ups.

and push-ups.

well, I can when Jack isn't in my face..

I can persevere.

I can't bear to post true 'before' pictures; I can barely stand to look at these.
 The one on the left is from 9 months ago.
The differences are certainly not impressive for 9 months, but even small progress is progress.

I have a bunch of cheerleaders - thank-you!!!

I can almost make the perfect healthy chocolate chip cookie,
and that, my friends is nothing to sneeze at!
In fact,
I think I'll go make some right now to celebrate.
And then,
I'll exercise.

many thanks to my photographer. I love you, 'Siah!

(In case you want to read them all together, here are all of my fitness updates:
Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, April, June, July)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

annual t-shirt refashion

but it took me about 3 times longer than I expected it to.
Surprising, I know. ;-)

Just as a refresher: 
For the past several years (except one) at annual meeting time, all members get a t-shirt from our church 
 to wear out and about, and also to wear to the meeting.

This all started because
do not wear boxy t-shirts. 
I just don't.
So when we received our first t-shirts, I 'fixed' mine, 
and turned Lily's, which was huge, since she was barely a toddler, into a dress.

Every year since, if we have been given the shirts before the annual meeting, 
I re-make them.

Here they are, in order from first to last:
(if you click on the pictures, it should take you to the original posts, should you wish to see it :-)

that year - the boy's shirts got a little attention, too

I love looking back and seeing how my skills have progressed :-)
(we didn't get shirts in 2012, and in 2013, we got them after the meeting.)
are this year's:

they were still looking like this until about 8:30 or so Thursday morning.
I added another fabric to the pile, too, a chevron knit I found at Hancock's.

and with that tongue - the photo shoot was over...

(best annual meeting yet, in my opinion. We never went to any of the boring ones - they weren't widely publicized, (plus - little kids...)  
And the fun ones were just a leettle over the top for me, but today's? Today's was just right.)

To borrow a phrase often used at the end of church service,
"It was good to be together today!"

And it was fun to make something that goes with everybody else's,
but is just a little bit different.

Kinda like us.

Happy 50th, Central!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

what's in the works

I was out of basted diamonds for my stars.

That has been rectified

and I've managed to get 8 more stars sewn up :-)

I have fewer than 100 diamonds to baste for the stars 
(all solids, left for last because they are no fun - but necessary, I think, for 'breathing space')

Of course, I still have over 500 diamonds to baste for the surrounds, though...
I am also working on a super secret commissioned project that is due in December.
I almost said no when I was asked about it.
I did say,  "No."
But then I remembered my dream (which I haven't yet shared with you all yet. I need to remedy that)
and said I'd think about it.
I have never attempted this particular kind of sewing before, so I had to test my skills before I could say yes.
My test turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself,
so I said, "Yes."

I started Monday and I'm going to attempt to work on it 30-45 minutes every week day, which should get me finished with time to spare.
Provided, of course, that my guesstimate on how long it will take is correct.
(which would be a first ;-)
My priority sewing project this week is turning this:

into dresses for Lil' and Lex', and a top that will more flattering than to me than a regular t-shirt.
By Sunday.
(I best get crackin'!!)
This year is our church's 50th anniversary!
The Sams will be in town, and Phip (much loved former pastor) is preaching, so I'm excited about that :-)
This may surprise you: I'm linking up with Lee's Work in Progress Wednesdays ;-)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

happy anniversary to us :-)

Tyler took us all to the beach for a week to celebrate our 27th anniversary.

It was fabulous!

We traveled light (unbelievably light! the back of the van wasn't even full!)
and the kids were all terrific!

Favorite things, in no particular order:

the whole family going way out deep and riding the waves

the best baked potato. ever. period.

cool bridges

snorkeling at St Andrews

collecting sea shells

seeing a sea turtle

a whole week with my love (that one's from my list ;-)

coffee on the balcony (that's from my list, too :-)

beautiful sunsets

coming back refreshed

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

works in progress

Let's see.
Last week, I was sewing like a woman obsessed.
I don't know why, but I just had to get my Any Which Way quilt top finished. 
And so I did.
(and it's just hung there on a hanger on my closet door for a week now!)

I'd done a little math a few weeks ago and decided that doing a 7x8 layout as I'd intended would make the quilt too big,
I was getting a little tired of making the blocks,
so I decided that a 5x6 layout would be much better :-)

I bordered each block in either Kona white or Kona snow
(it went so fast, compared to the block construction!)
and then I used RK Yarn Dyed Essex Linen Blend in Steel* for my sashing.
(That went a little more slowly.)

I really like how it turned out.

It's kinda funny;
it's exactly what I had in my head (minus the border - which I had all cut, but decided I liked it better without)
and yet, 
it looks so much 'airier' than I'd anticipated.
It almost seems to sparkle, I think.

I'd purchased several yards of red fabric with 3/4 inch white polka dots for the back,
but it seems totally wrong for it now.
I dug through my vintage sheets and found a white one with light red polka dots that is just perfect :-)

I've decided how I want to quilt it,
but I am sorta paralyzed now
with figuring out how, exactly, to get the design marked on the quilt....
I spent an entire evening trying to make a stencil and that didn't go well at all.

Once I figure out the how,
I need to figure out what to mark it with.
I'm leaning towards a frixion pen, because I'm fairly certain my hera marker isn't going to cut it. 
Even though I have successfully used it, it still makes me a little nervous.


I cut out about 570 diamonds from 50 different fabrics yesterday for my EPP project.
Pretty sure I'm all done with the fabric cutting now.
I actually probably over-cut a few blocks worth.
Shocking, I know ;-)

I currently have 10 completed hexagons
and another 54 stars sewn up.

I ran out of prepared diamonds for stars (although I've got about 30 sets of 'surround' diamonds prepped)
so I've spent my last few EPP sessions glue basting more.

I was originally using a sewline glue stick,
but I went through it way too fast.
I tried to use it sparingly, but I guess I am just heavy handed with the glue.
Karen used just 1 stick for an entire quilt;
I used up my first stick after basting 72 diamonds.
There will be 1,320 diamonds in this quilt.
That wasn't going to work!
So, now, I am just using an Elmer's glue stick.
I'm almost embarrased to tell you I'm on my 3rd or 4th one already.
(maybe I need more glue because of the humidity? I don't know!)

patiently waiting their turn with the glue stick...


After I finished the quilt top,
but before I cut all those diamonds,
I made each of the girls a swimsuit.
I still need to tweak my pattern because I had to do a bit of altering to both suits after I'd completely sewn them up.
(truth be told - they ended up with 'design elements' they wouldn't have had if they fit properly at first, and are cuter because of them.)

While digging through the swimsuit fabric, Lexi found one of her favorite old t-shirts.
It was way too small for her last year, but she loved it so much I couldn't get rid of it.
When she saw it, she asked if I could please make a dress out of it,
so I cut off the bottom portion and found some fabric to match and made a maxi dress.
She thought that would be a good length for curtsy-ing.
She kept getting caught in it though, so we pinned it up at the sides.
She still got caught in it, so I told her we needed to shorten it.
Darn it - my hem was so pretty, too.
I cut off about 6 inches and re-hemmed it
and made the fabric that I cut off
into diamonds.

* I have to tell you about this fabric, or rather, the shop where I bought it.
I knew I wanted a textured gray of some sort for my sashing, and I'd ordered a few different fabrics, but none of them were just right. Ordering online is tricky sometimes (lots of times...). Somewhere online, I saw a picture of a gray yarn dyed essex linen and thought that might be what I was looking for. I was getting kinda tired of playing the guessing game ordering sashing fabric though. I'm pretty particular with color matching, and I was going broke trying to match my grays. I found an Etsy shop that carried the fabric and I sent a note to the shopkeeper asking about a couple of different essex colors and which Kona grays they matched. I figured I could then use my Kona color card to help me decide (Yes, I ordered one for myself as a 'congratulations you lost 10 lbs!' gift. If I'd have known how seldom that particular gift-giving occasion would occur, I might have bought myself something a little bigger ;-)  Ya'll, Alice was so fabulous! She wrote me back detailed descriptions of the colors of the fabrics I'd asked about. None of them exactly matched a Kona color (but then,
neither did the grays in my quilt) but I was able to choose, from her descriptions, the perfect fabric for my sashing.
That, my friends, is customer service! And I am one happy customer!!
linking up with Lee's Work in Progress Wednesdays :-)

Monday, August 4, 2014

who AM I?!

I turned in our intent-to-homeschool forms today.

It's only the 4th.

I have never, in the history of our homeschooling,
turned the forms in this early.
Early for me
one day before they are due.
(last year, I took them on the very day they were due. I wore my stretchy pants and wasn't exactly 'dressed for public'.
I wasn't worried about it, because I was just popping my head in the door and handing over the forms. End of story.
Except that they were resurfacing the road right in front of the office.
Since I'd waited until about 2 hours before it was due,
I couldn't exactly just leave and come back when the road work was done...
I had to park, way up the road on a side street and walk, right by all of the cars driving at a snail's pace,
  across the street 
and past a bunch of road workers.
In my stretchy pants.
with yucky hair.)


Lest you be all proud of me,
in dazed confusion, 
or you are wondering who on earth I have become,
I should probably tell you
that I also sent off our homeschool group membership renewal forms today.

They were due in May.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

the new black, and then some

TKD testing was today.
I was so nervous!

The biggest news is:
Jeremiah is now a black belt!!

(He put us all through agony though, and didn't break all 3 boards 'til his final try. 
One of the moms told me she was as happy when Jeremiah earned his belt, as she was when her own daughter earned hers!
 I love the camaraderie of TKD.) 

The saddest news is:
Josiah didn't break all of his boards, so he didn't earn a new belt.

He was able to be happy for Jeremiah anyways,
but gosh it stung!
It was so sweet to see his friends (siblings included) loving on him and encouraging him for next time.
Little Zeke asked his momma if she had any toys in her purse,
'cause he was hoping to find something (anything) that would make Josiah feel better.
Sweet little love.

We were so pleased that even though Josiah was sad, and felt horrible about not getting his black belt,
he still encouraged and congratulated his friends.
He's maturing quite nicely, I think.
And that belt, whenever he does earn it, will be especially sweet.

This was just after not earning his black belt. I think it would have been pretty tough to get up and perform after that!

Brandon passed his 2nd midterm with flying colors,
(and no stress to the audience, since he broke all 3 of his boards on the first go-round. whew!)
and, as an instructor in training, was a testing judge for the first time today.

The girls both did awesome on their kicks and form;

Lily earned her orange belt,
and Lexi earned an orange-striped white belt,
although, Mr Townsed said if she'd have performed like that a week ago, he'd have let her test for a full orange belt.

She did her form for Tyler and I Thursday evening and we were shocked at how well she could do;
I've only seen her do it at class and she's always watching a higher rank and following them
I had a sneaking suspicion the 'watching' was a crutch,
and boy howdy, it was!
Brandon and I told her she wasn't allowed to copy anyone - 'cause she did waaayyy better doing her form from memory.

Mr Townsend started something new this cycle, and had all of the black belts up there when the certificates and belts were handed out.
He figured they all help with the students training, and he wanted them to get to congratulate them more formally,
and have the students thank the black belts.
After Jeremiah received his belt, they added him to the 'line-up'.
His smile was so huge at first!

Congrats, Jeremiah,
and all of my kiddos!
Momma is so proud of ALL of you!!

(I'll add more pictures once some get posted on FB and I can swipe them, Many thanks to the Taggs for the testing pics
'cause we totally bombed on picture-taking)

We went to Dairy Freeze after testing to celebrate. Here's everyone watching TJ play Hair Salon 2