Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's Workout: August 28, 2013

Today I decided to resort back to my library of DVDs and do Bob Harper's Ultimate Cardio Extreme Weight loss Workout. After yesterday's let down with the six minute cool down on my Tae Bo workout, today I definitely was in the mood for a longer workout so I went back to what I knew would be a good, rigorous cardio workout.

While the DVD has cardio in the title, it is actually a mix of high intensity moves and strength training. From jumping lunges with 5 lb weights, to mountain climbers to tricep kicks, it's got it all. As Bob says, he sends the heart rate on a roller coaster ride, from intensive burts to working recovery, your heart rate may go up and down but your body is always working.

If you're looking for a a good, strenuous workout DVD to buy, this is the one. It's one of my favorites, incorporates a lot of different moves and gives you one solid hour of exercise.

I couldn't find the video for free on youTube, unlike Jillian Michaels Bob Harper won't release his for free (Or no one will illegally post it for free?), but here's a preview if you're thinking of purchasing it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

MTV VMA Requisite Shockers

I know, I know. I'm far too old to be watching the VMAs. I really wanted to see the N'sync performance to where chubby, middle aged men would be prancing about in matching costumes singing Bye Bye Bye. Before I had a chance to tell Hubby he informed me that they were going to perform and that he was recording the pre-show and actual show because there were some acts he wanted to see as well. Wow, does this sound as embarrassing to you as it is as I am writing this?

And so I watched the show today while the kids were napping. Correction, I fast forwarded through the entire show only watching Miley Cyrus ruining Robin Thicke's performance with her raunchy gyrations at an attempt to garner more attention than the Madonna/Britney kiss and the Taylor Swift snub heard round the world and of course Justin Timberlake's 13 minute long production that personifies what a live performance should be. Seriously folks, Miley's disgusting display was such a mockery to live performances because it waned in comparison to JT's montage of music. Sadly though, the N'sync performance was a tad pathetic. Much as I anticipated middle aged, chubby men trying to re-live their youth just did not come off too well, if anything it highlighted the fact that Timberlake has succeeded in life because of his ability to sing and dance, unlike the others. I'm sure they're good at something though.

Now that I've got my shame plastered all over this post, lets move forward and actually look at the clothes of the teenagers and critique them. Wow, is this what Giuliana Rancic's job has become?

Since I didn't watch the show, all of these are based merely on photographs, except for Taylor Swift who was panned over to about ten times during JT's performance. According to gossip blogs, mainly because none of the big guns came out for the show.

Taylor looked absolutely beautiful, so refreshing to not have the bangs in her face. But unfortunately, she was dressed for the wrong event.  More Grammys and less VMAs.

This is actually quite understated for the Gaga. And as usual, I'll just say no, no and no. Leather? Bow? And is that a train?

Why with the tongue always sticking out? The hair has got to go. Is it me or is she starting to look a little asexual? (Thus the compensation with the dancing?) 

A little too dominatrix. Being that she's so young, she should have gone with a shorter ensemble for the VMAs, not feeling this one. It's just ho hum

I don't care for this dress by any means, far too reminiscent of Britney Spear's ensemble in her first revealing performance at the VMAs, but very VMA appropriate.

Far too similar to Toni Braxton's barely there white dress at the Grammy's years ago (Where is the originality?), but the color is pretty, I just don't care for it from the waist down. 

Probably my favorite of the night. Maybe a tad conservative, but it's her style and her way of rolling into the MTV awards. Love it,  something I would even wear. 

Other than dating Rob Kardashian, I'm not sure how she's relevant. It's definitely VMA appropriate, I like the top half, but the belt or sash or whatever it is is not working. But the feather train fits the setting she's in. Loving the shoes!

I'm just going to make a blanket statement and say that I don't care for Katy Perry's style. The leopard print with fireflies prancing on the top? A turtleneck? A 1990 Madonna hair do? It's all wrong.

Now this is what I think of when I think of a girl group going to the VMAs. I didn't realize they were ever big enough to get a reunion performance at the VMAs, but apparently they are.

I don't care for houndstooth print, and the poofy thing around the waist is ugly, but had she just had the top and skirt it would look good (despite the print). It would be a sleek, slimming silhouette. Oh, and  I'm not feeling the bangs nor the choker, also downgrades the look.

I actually like this look. Sleek and conservative yet with some some raciness with the fit and the cut outs. Perfect for this award show.  Channeling a little Angelina too, no?

Here we go again with the florals, just not my cup of tea. Overall, nothing too fantastic about the dress. More of a movie premiere dress, for a young, rising star she really needed to bring it out with some pizzazz! 

How is she still relevant and being invited to this award show? I don't think I even need to explain why this is a no.

I must say, that of all the looks of the night, the best of all was the look on Will Smith's childrens faces while Miley Cyrus was performing.

Overall, the looks of the night were sub par, just like the show. It's probably my age and the fact that I no longer watch MTV that I just don't understand much of the styles. It's official, I'm becoming an adult because I just don't understand kids these ages. What I truly don't understand is that how does a music television station that no longer plays music videos have a video music award show? 

Award Logo

Today's Workout: August 27, 2013

Don't laugh at me, but I was in the mood for some cardio kickboxing today so I resorted to good ol' Billy Blanks. I actually have two of Billy Blanks DVDs, but for some reason I can't find them so what to do? Go to youTube. There are so, so many of his workouts on there for free. I chose a 44 minute one. Not sure of the title since the person who uploaded it just called it Exercise Fitness Tae Bo Billy Blanks.

It was a great workout up until about the 38 minute marker and it abruptly turned into some kind of tae chi cool down for six minutes. Yes, six minutes! Most of his workouts do not have such a detailed cool down! Otherwise, good workout. Kept the heart rate up and somehow my arms were really tired! I do prefer his Bootcamp Tae Bo workout, will have to search for that DVD or find it on youTube.

So I shut off the video at the cool down and went searching for a BeFit 10 minute workout since I still had energy to complete my workout. I settled upon the BeFit Go Hot Bikini Body Workout.

When doing this workout I realized the Tae Bo workout really gave me a workout and I was tired. Refusing to ever stop mid-workout, I pushed through with the air squats and burpees only to find solace in the planks at the end.

Great workout today. 48 minutes total (not counting the 6 minute cool down I skipped.) I think I may search another Billy Blanks DVD for tomorrow. Who knew all those punches would really work your arms?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Today's Workout: August 26, 2013

Happy Back to School Day to all you parents out there!

Ok, so today's workout was more just for stretching and light strength training, nothing exhaustive at all. First up I went back to the BeFitGo Beach workouts for a 30 minute Yoga Fusion Workout. It got my heart rate up a tad, but nothing like a real cardio workout.

To make it a 40 minute workout, I did one of BeFit's 10 minute Power Yoga Workout. I had done it before and I love how it quickly moves through the traditional Vinyasa yoga poses to stretch out the body. And the British lady's light sparring with her football player husband is fun to watch too.

This was a great, light workout. While the Yoga Fusion Workout had some side to side jump squats, nothing too intense to make the workout out of control, especially on a light exercise day. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today's Workout: August 25, 2013

It's a dark, dreary Sunday morning, kids are fed and running around the house. So what do I do? Leave the kids with Hubby and go for a run!  I ran for 40 minutes around the  neighborhood. I wanted to run longer, but my IT band injury from years ago was acting up so I had to cut it short. I have no idea the distance because I didn't go on any of my usual, set paths. I stayed closed to the house since it was drizzling and in case the thunder and lightening started I wanted to be close to home, so I just meandered around.

Nothing exciting on this run, no cows running on the streets of this master planned community today (No joke, I did come across that about 4 years ago.). I saw two rodents, scared off a pack of ducks and was startled by neighbor who drove pass me and honked at me three times. (Surprisingly heard over the Beyonce blasting through my ears.)

So sorry, no free videos today. Check back tomorrow and I'll have more. 


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Today's Workout: August 24, 2013

I woke up feeling really tired and sore today. We took the kids to the pool yesterday after dinner, so maybe that's why. (Because I was swimming laps with Bambino on my back and all.) Usually on weekends I like to wake up with the kids and then do my workout after their breakfast, leaving them to Hop on Pop, but we have an early birthday party this morning so 5am workout it was!

I had no idea what I was in the mood for, but something light. I settled upon one of BeFit's newer BeFitGo workouts that were filmed on the beach. I did one early this week that was a melding of yoga, pilates and cardio. It wasn't too bad and this workout was called Total Body Bikini Blast Workout- Level 1. Once again, I was fooled by that Level 1 Title!

Overall, good, intensive 30 minute workout that had numerous bursts of cardio along with balance and core work.

Since that was 30 minutes I wanted another 10 minute BeFitGo workout, preferably something on the beach. These workouts require no weights and not even shoes (which can be kind of odd when doing jumping jacks or burpees, but it works.) I wanted to do the Longer, Leaner Legs workout, but that one was 20 minutes, and I just wanted a 10 minute workout to round out a 40 minute workout. So I went with my only option Sexy Arms. (Wow, you think this is marketed towards women, or what?)

This workout was basically just an extension of the previous workout, with numerous spurts of cardio moves along with balance and abs. I didn't think it was arm centered, but yeah, my arms are a little sore right now.

So much for my light, easy workout today. But I'm done. 40 minutes in and out of my living room!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Today's Workout: August 23, 2013

I've noticed interest in a lot of the posts I do on fitness, so I thought I'd start sharing my daily workout routines, especially since many of them are available for free on you Tube.

Now, let me put this disclaimer in here. I am not a certified trainer nor do I have any degree in exercise science, etc. I simply find workouts and build them together daily simply by how I am feeling. I do not plan ahead for the week or month, just go by my mood when I wake up at 5am. (Which is usually not a good mood.) I am not striving to lose weight or targeting any area. I gauge how my body feels in the morning and what I am in the mood for, whether it is kickboxing, strength training, yoga, whatever. And sometimes, when I'm feeling lethargic and I can't decide I'll just click on the first video I come across and jump right into it.

While yes, I do have a library of workouts, I've somewhat bored myself of those and have been using all the free ones off of Popsugar, Befit, Blogilates and whatever else is out there. (I have yet to resort to Richard Simmons, but never say never!)

So here goes with today's workout...

Today was one of those days where I was tired and not sure what I wanted to do, so I started with Be Fit in 30 Extreme Total Body Weight Loss Level 1: Calisthenics.  Being in that it was level 1 and only calisthenics I thought it would be easy, wrong. While yes, it was easier than level 2 and 3, still tiring none the less and got my heart pumping. Instead of cooling down with the video, I held a 60 second plank and then 40 sec side plank, switching sides in between. I knew I was continuing my workout, so I didn't feel a need to cool down.

I actually wanted to do another BeFit workout, but some reason after about 10 seconds the screen kept going blank, so I went over to Popsugar. After the cardio workout my heart was pumping and was ready for more cardio, so I went with one of my favorites, the Crunch Fitness Cardio Tai Box Workout. This trainer, Mike Donovanik, really needs to come out with a home DVD, he has a real knack for being in front of the camera. 

30 minutes down and my body was tired from the cardio. but I wanted too complete 40 minutes so I chose a working recovery (I love those words!) with this Popsugar 10 minute upper arm workout. Sometimes I add in squats along with the upper arm movements, depending on my energy level. I was able to do this a couple of times today, but not too much.

And that's it! 40 minutes and the workout is done! 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

An Old School Jillian Michael's Workout I've Just Discovered!

Yesterday a girlfriend of mine texted me that she was interested in borrowing Jillian Michael's 30 day shred. I had mentioned that the DVD was also on youTube for free so this morning, since I'm in a zone of doing new workouts that are offered for free on youTube, I decided to go old school and do level 2 of the 30 day shred. Once that video finished I wanted another 20 minute workout. As I went to the computer to switch to something else, I came across Jillian Michael's Cardio Kickbox Workout.

Now, not to be confused with Jillian Michaels Kickbox Fastfix which is one of her newer workouts. This one is old school, like so old school that she's a little awkward at the start of it, having yet to adopt her at home trainer persona and still grappling on to her character on The Biggest Loser. This DVD came out in 2005, 3 years older than the 30 day shred and just quite possibly may be her first DVD to ever have come out, thus the bit of awkwardness. (You can tell it's old considering Jillian is wearing a pair of pants with Abercrombie sprawled along the bottom, and worse, there is a woman wearing men's cargo pants with a belt at the waist. Who wears that to workout? Are we in a 1990s hip hop video?)

I had seen this DVD at Target, and was intrigued, but since I own Kickboxing Fastfix I chose not to duplicate my library with another kickbox workout, especially with the same trainer. Well, I am very lucky that this DVD was available for free on youTube, because it kicked my butt! (No pun intended, ok maybe a little one.)

So I did level two of the 30 Day Shred which worked me out, considering I hadn't done that workout in months. Next up was the cardio kickbox routine. I'm not sure what level it is, but considering it's only 25 minutes long, I can only assume that there are other workout on this DVD as well, but this is the only one I could find for free.

I didn't do the cool down from the previous workout because I assumed that the warm up from the next workout would bring down my heart rate, negative. She goes straight into 20 squats side to side. Whoa, girlfriend, I need a breather for a second. And then on to front kicks and then plie jumps. And that was just the warm up.

The full workout consists of what seems to be two circuits, one longer than the second. (It's not as structured as her other DVD's) Jillian basically just throws out move after move and the number of reps to do. Your body basically hits a moderately high rate and stays there. This was obviously before interval training became the key to weight loss. Regardless, it was a really good workout because it kept my heart pumping.

If you're new to kickboxing, there are no crazy combinations where you need an appendix to understand what's going on. (Like in JM's newer kickboxing workout.) It's basic moves like punches and kicks and the craziest combination is a squat and kick.

At the end, when you think you've concluded and Jillian is high five-ing her workout crew, one of them asks about doing 30 jump ropes. To which Jillian tries to pull out her Biggest Loser character and says 30 jump ropes, 20 jumping jacks and 5 push-ups. But then as you start doing them she changes them to 30 jump ropes, 30 jumping jacks and 10 push ups. I'm pretty sure it was staged, like when you see a band live and they leave the stage saying the show has concluded only for them to come back on stage to sing their biggest hit song of the moment. Obviously staged because when the workout actually concluded  the music slowed down to cool down music. (Think more of Bruno Mars's When I was Your Man and less of  Bruno Mars's Treasure.) The cool down was a quick 2 minute stretch that was a perfect ending.

Overall, great surprise workout! While the awkward meter was a little high, you gotta give Jill some credit, she was able to parlay this DVD into entire empire. Despite the uncomfortable smile and laugh and the needing to pull her hair into a ponytail midway through (unintended break, yay!) I thought it was a rigorous workout and will be putting it into heavy rotation in my workout library!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Sewing Machine!

If you recall from my no sew tote bag post last week, artsy crafty stuff and I just aren't compatible. I don't have the patience to put together a craft, as seen with my busted sew free library bag. But that's ok! I refuse to believe that arts and crafts is something I cannot do and resort to always having to purchase said items on Etsy all the while filled with envy that they can do it but I cannot. (Nope, I have no competitive bone in my body.)  If they can do it, then I can do it! So what have I gone out and done? Invested in a sewing/embroidery machine.

So when I was doing my research I was looking for a basic sewing and embroidery machine for beginners. I like branding my kids clothes and other junk (And isn't that an interest you get along with your children's birth certificates?) so I figured why not get a machine that can do such. I reviewed numerous websites and message boards and everything came back to the Brother SE 400, perfect for beginner sewers and embroiderers just like me. Everything I read said that this machine was easy to get the hang of and perfect for those that have never sewed or embroidered before. But the question remained, is it compatible with someone who is as crafty challenged as I?

So I made the purchase excited for it to come in and tracked the shipping daily. When it actually came in I was ecstatic. I opened the box immediately and looked at the manual and thought, hmm, I'm tired tonight I'll look at it later. And the next day I tried to work my way through the manual, but much to my dismay it wasn't happening. I'm not going to lie, I was a little worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew. So I called up a friend who had mentioned that she had the same machine (And she has two more friends with the same machine.) and she offered to come over and help.

So with our four kids screaming and yelling in the background, she walked me through how to use the sewing and embroidery parts of the machine. Hey, this is not so bad. Until I realized the science behind it all, i.e. picking the right thread, the right needle and ensuring that the presser foot and needle are securely tightened. Yes, I busted two needles trying to embroider when I didn't have the presser foot properly tightened. Oops! It is a learning  process, right?

And so off to work I went with the start of my creations. First up was putting some baby fabric onto a burp cloth and then embroidering my friend's newborn baby's name onto it. Easy, no? No. My biggest challenge? I cannot cut in a straight line. My second challenge? I cannot sew in a straight line. How do people do this sewing thing? So many people I know are making drapes and quilts and nursing covers, I can't even sew fabric onto a burp cloth!

So the only reason these look halfway decent is because A.) they are folded over and you can't see the edges and B.) They have yet to be washed. (I have since learned about pre-washing fabric.) If I open these open these up and you see my cutting job it's horrific. I made a Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse one for the kids with their names on it and the cut/sew job is so bad that I will not show you, it's far too embarrassing. Sweet Pea loves hers an sleeps with it, but Bambino, the king of rags who has to take one with him to Gymboree, refuses to give it the time of day. 

But unlike my elementary school self who would give up when she couldn't do something, I've persevered! I refuse to give up! I purchased the cheapest rotary cutter and mat to help with cutting in a straight line and watched some YouTube tutorials on how to cut. (How sad is that?) Sewing in a straight line is still a bit of a struggle, but I was able to use what I learned about the basics to put together a tote bag that actually withstands the library books!

I'm actually pretty proud of how it came out. I was able to use the leftover fabric I had from the no sew bag and it looks so much better. And check out the inside, another fabric than what is on the outside! (Hey, to me it's an accomplishment!) 

I did make a pocket that I embroidered my name on (that you can't see), but I didn't fold down the top of it, so it's raw, stringy material hanging around, my only mistake on the bag. (How's my sewing vernacular? Am I catching the lingo? Sarcasm, people, sarcasm.) And I did want to embroider my name on the outside, but I didn't want to risk ruining it since I'm still working on figuring out needle size and fabric combination.

After finishing the tote bag I'm feeling like maybe I can do this! Hubby even had a pair of pants that had a whole in the pocket and I was able to fix it, and also sew a straight line! So next I'm going to try a quilt for my Sweet Pea with all her favorite characters, from Minnie to Dora to Disney Princesses. We'll see how it comes out. I've heard repeatedly from people that quilts are easy to do as long as you can sew in a straight line, but I can't! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Got a Twitter Shout Out... A Twout Out!

A couple of weeks ago I did a post on a new youtube workout channel called fitsugar. As usual with any new post, I tweeted it to my hand full of followers and made sure to hashtag it popsugar in hopes that more people would see it.

Well, apparently it worked, because over a month later, Popsugar Fitness tweeted me back!
And it doesn't end there! One of the trainers from Popsugar saw the above tweet and tweeted me as well!
Which then led to an abundance of people visiting my blog shortly after these tweets went viral!

So what did I learn from all this? That despite thinking my blog posts were being lost into cyberspace (Especially after my free giveaway that no one wanted), there are a few who actually read it, so thank you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Detest Fall Clothing Styles

Back to school sales are happening, no sales tax weekend was this past weekend and Hubby is getting his line up ready for his plethora of fantasy football leagues. What does this all mean? It's time for me to slink into a void of despair as we embark on my most hated time of year, the fall. And what comes along with fall? Fall clothing, which I detest. So yes, that is quite a generalized, declarative comment to make, to abhor fall clothing styles. And I'm not talking about the Fall 2013 style of clothes, I'm just talking about  pretty much all styles in general. So how did this Grinch who stole football season come to be? I think it's just the fact that I hate the fall. It takes me back to grade school, having to go back to school after a long hiatus called summer break. Everything of the season reminds of that overwhelmingly depressing feeling of homework, exams and just never ending work until semester exams around December. And then their is a reprieve from the mundane while we all inundate ourselves with food and presents and then back to the grind in January. But for some reason January doesn't bring about such emotions in me, just the fall.

As I was walking through Hobby Lobby the other day the intense emotion of yesteryear came flooding back as I was bombarded with all things orange and leaves. Lots and lots of leaves. I don't care for the colors of the fall, browns and oranges are just not appeasing to me. I love the bright colors of spring and summer and white, wearing lots of white. I don't like colors like eggplant and brown, yes I'm saying it again. It's just all so yucky.

Much of my disdain for the fall time also stems from the weather in Texas. It's still summer weather, and if the temperature does drop into the 80s it's still muggy and sticky. It doesn't feel cool, so what are you left to wear? Leggings and tunics only to be covered with sweat as soon as you walk outside. So can you wear your white, linen shorts and bright yellow tank top only to be shunned by the Emily Post followers? But what about when you get sick of your summer clothes, after wearing them from March-September? What do you do? And not to mention if you do go shopping for new clothes, all the stores have cold weather clothing, and we've already discussed how said attire is not accommodating for the Texas fall weather. So what's left? To shun the season all together! And no, I do not care for football, so while for others that is their saving grace, such is not the case for me.

So what are these fall styles that which I loathe oh so much?

Sunlit Serenity: Fall Style
I do not do flannel. I do not do plaid. the two together are a deadly duo. And are we back in 1990s grunge? The only thing worse than fall styles is fall styles in the grunge era. 

It's the color eggplant with matching tights? Are we wearing a sweater? Bathrobe? Kimono?

fall style
And why are fall styles so frumpy? I don't even know where to start with this one, the shoes itself speaks volumes.

And don't get me started on animal prints and unfortunately fall embarks the start of animal print season. 

'Pura' Wedge Ankle Boots from DV by Dolce Vita
I just don't do ankle booties. What are you? A high heel, a boot? Make up your mind! And when matched with dresses, I just can't. These ankle bootie wedges to say are far too manly is just hitting the tip of the iceberg of it's putridness.

Where To Get It
And fur rimmed boots no matter how high or low are just not ok. Now, perhaps if you were trekking through Antarctica and you needed it for warmth, ok. But as a fashion statement in a Texas? That's a negative.

Celeb de la Cream
So I'm just going to lay this out straight. I'm a big believer in dressing for your shape and not just jumping the bandwagon of certain styles and to wear high boots with skinny jeans/leggings you really have to  have long, lean legs. So basically, this is a style for the taller women out there. Otherwise, it just makes you look shorter with wider legs.

aquamarine poncho vintage sweater - tawny knee-high boots Michael Kors boots
Minus the doily sweater, this boot/jean combination is actually...dare I say...cute?

Something about this look just isn't working.

But if you are shorter,  if you pair it with a tunic that goes down to your thighs, you can rock the look.

The Style News Network
We all know that Kim is on the shorter, curvier side, but when you pair leggings with a billowy shirt or dress it works. While she isn't wearing boots, she could easily add some boots to this style and it would look great.

Now, the only fall look I actually adore are long tunics/shirt dresses and my high, flat boots or flats. Their comfy yet look like you made somewhat of an effort when you actually haven't considered your hair is still up in a greasy pony tail. Unfortunately, due to the weather around here, I can't really start wearing said style until about January since that's when it starts cooling down.

I actually have an outfit very similar to this that I've worn far too much and may have to retire, but just such a simple look that can be dressed up a bit with the boots!

So as the summer slowly comes to an end and the neighborhood pools close and school opens I will not be retiring my closet of shorts and tank tops. A mere change in months will not change my attire. I will continue to swelter in the heat with football roaring on the television somewhere in my house wearing my year round attire as I countdown the days until March, when bright colors and shorts actually match the stereotype of the month.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

The No Sew Tote Bag

I know, kind of crazy, no? The thought of making a tote bag without sewing? For those of us who are sewing challenged this is right up our alley. For those who can sew, you are looking at this with bewilderment and know that it's going to fall apart (As did a sewing inclined girlfriend of mine did). Well, let me just explain to you what happened.

So I was perusing facebook and came across a friend of a friend's ex coworker's (I jest, but seriously isn't that who we are essentially stalking on fb?) picture of a rainy day activity she did with her kids, no sew tote bags! They were so cute! Immediately I had to know how she did it so I actually read through her comments and saw that there was a youTube video on how to do it. 

It seemed pretty simple, all you need is fabric, the straps, staples and duct tape. It was a tote bag done MacGyver style. I am by no means a crafty person, I have ideas in my head, but when I carry them through they always look more like something Sweet Pea has created at school. But since I have an uber infatuation with handbags, I had to make one. My justification was that it was much cheaper than buying an actual handbag!

And so I went to Hobby Lobby to buy the supplies. I felt like Britney Spears siting in a Differential Equations class. Seriously, so many options, who do I ask for help, there's noone around? And so I finally picked out my fabric and rang a bell and someone showed up to help me. The girl was a bit apathetic, but as usual I bombarded her with my conversation and questions and finally she opened up, either because she thought I was friendly or just wanted to shush me up. Regardless, she explained to me how you buy fabric by the yard (Oh? I can't just give her my dimensions?) and directed me toward the belting fabric (Apparently not referred to as straps as I thought) and the duct tape. 

And so off to home I went to put together the tote bag. I'm not going to bother with the step by step instructions since it's explained in great detail in the video above. 

So I made two different bags. In the first one I did not have enough duct tape, yeah you need about two rolls for one bag (Apparently DIY tote bag does not equate with cheap tote bag considering duct tape is about 8 bucks a pop for the fun colors.), and so there is a mix of colors on the inside (Since I had to use some of the duct tape I planned to use for the second bag) and just doesn't look too good. For the second bag I made I had to buy more duct tape and I must say the gold color came out really good on the inside. 

As you can see by the size, there is quite a bit of space to stash everything you need in it. 

I really was proud of this bag and was anxious to use it as my library bag. So I stacked up my two books and all of the kids books and headed out to the library. Diaper bag on one shoulder, library bag on the other Bambino on one hip and holding hands with Sweet Pea as we walked over to the car. We made it to the car, I open the door and BAM! busted strap. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?) Are you kidding me? To say I was annoyed, is putting it mildly. At this point the alarm was on and I did not want to head back into the house to get another bag so off to the library with busted bag in tow. By the time we reached the library, my frustrations brewing and hair awry as usual, I looked like a homeless bag lady, diaper bag on one shoulder, Bambino on the hip, no sew tote bag under my arm held like a football with one strap dangling about and Sweet Pea with her arms wrapped around my leg as we walked through the parking lot. 

So where is the chevron blue tote bag now? On the floor in the corner of my bedroom. I can't let myself let go of it, it looks too cute but I can't seem to fix it. So what have I learned from this arts and crafts story? That I just don't have a knack for it. So what did I do after all this? Go and buy a sewing machine. Yes, more to come on that...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Big Brother...Big Snooze?

After watching this season of Big Brother, I now understand Rachel Reilly's famous quote of, "Floaters get a life vest." Seriously folks, this season is all about everyone merely doing what the "house wants them to do." Yes, this line is said over and over again in fear of upsetting the controllers and being the next on the to oust list. All the big targets are gone and it's just floaters and the leaders left at this point. And who is it that is leading the house? Who is this oligarchy that attained control over the houseguests?

 Culprit 1: Helen. Helen started the game pretty quiet and then when Elissa went on the block early on in the game for some reason she partnered up with her and was able to flip the house. And then the next week she won HOH and since then she has continued to play the part of the HOH. She seems to have a hand in the weekly nominations, most obviously being last week when Aaryn made a deal with her that if she won HOH Helen could pick the noms and she did and the person she was targeting, Howard, went home. Part of why I think she has this position in the house is because of her Mama Bear persona. She's loving and nurturing and doesn't go off on aggressive tirades (ahem, Amanda) when she's been duped. When Howard bold faced lied to her about not being in the Moving Company, she showed no anger. Not even when Jeremy went off on her and the other Have Nots about drinking wine, she just cried. And yes, she cries a lot for reasons that I just don't understand, but then there was a diary room moment when she mentioned that she often sheds the tears to manipulate people. And thus her background as a political consultant must work for her, kill them with kindness and they will eat right out of the palm of your hand. Bottom line, she's lovable, everyone sees her as a mother figure and thus they go to her to lead the way.

Culprit 2: Amanda. Initially Amanda started the game off well. Sans the showmance, she was good at playing the game logically without bringing emotions into it. She made quirky comments in the diary room interviews and was overall a good game player to watch. But in these last few weeks, after closely aligning with Helen, the power has gone to her head. Just as I had predicted, her forthright nature has become her downfall. She is now just coming across as aggressive and borderline bullying. For instance, last week when she heard that Spencer was trying to get her out she confronted him and retaliated with some kind of threatening remark. This is a game, Homegirl, it's inevitable for people to come after you, not everyone is going to follow your lead so you can win a half million. And then after Spencer, she goes after Jessie in a duel that supposedly lasted hours because Jessie dared to attempt to turn the house against her and vote her out. (Which would have been a genius move had either Spencer or Jessie been able to carry through.) What Amanda doesn't have going for her, that Helen does, is that likeable quality and never having won a competition. The deeper into the season we go, the more aggressive she gets and the less of  a physical competitor she is perceived to be. (Which, in this season's game is a good thing.) Thankfully she has McCrae to put her in her place, but for McCrae if he wants a chance to make it to the end then he needs to get her out as well, because she is 1/2 of his game play and with such a volatile partner there's no we he can make it to the end. That would be some amazing game play, to watch McCrae flip the house on her!

Now, the power structure is not a direct result of the dictators, the houseguests are highly to blame as well. CBS really casts based on looks and not personality (or intelligence) when playing this game. You've got too many mice in this house who fear going against Helen or Amanda. People need to step it up and play the game. I'm so tired of people wanting to vote with the house. Come on, let's see a revolution! Bind together and get out Amanda or Helen! Everyone is perpetuating the house dynamic and going after the same people. This is Big Brother, let's ruffle up some feathers and create some shocking alliances.  Helen was smart to attempt to align with Aaryn back in week two because she knew noone would suspect it. Where has that line of thinking gone? Everyone is just handing Helen the $500,000. She should be your target, not your leader!

The past few weeks there's been one target at nomination and that person gets sent home. There's nothing interesting going on live feeds all week and thus my excitement for Big Brother is waning. It's pretty pathetic when an argument about not being invited to Helen's barbecue takes up a large part of last night's episode. And the only reason Gina Marie wanted to win HOH was for a bottle of hair dye. A bottle of hair dye?! She was even offering McCrae to pick both nominations and have the HOH room as long as she got the hair dye. Why are you on Big Brother?!

I've come to not even read the feeds past veto ceremony because even with the America votes MVP twist, nothing exciting is going on. I mean, the best part of last night's episode was when Spencer walked in when McCrae was scolding Amanda about her argument with Jessie and told them, in his bull horn, that he was going to brush his teeth and get out of their way.

This week is a double eviction, so hopefully the mice will not have enough time to be told how to nominate or vote and thus we'll see people's true colors? One can only hope.

Helen and Aaryn

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Carrot Banana Bread

It's time for another bread/cake recipe! You know how I love my baked goods and so since I've found another variation of banana bread I figured I had to share it with you.

So this time I had a superfluous amount of carrots in my fridge. We haven't been going through the usual amount, yet for some reason I kept having carrots on the grocery list and purchasing them anyways. And to not let anything go to waste, immediately I knew I had to make some carrot cake. I didn't have any crushed pineapple (Requisite for carrot cake) and didn't want to use any of the fresh pineapple for the cake (It's so sweet on it's own!) so I decided to look up some sort of carrot bread sans the pineapple.

Immediately I searched carrot muffins. I chose to search muffins because I've often found that there are more a variety of muffin recipe than breads, and since it' the same batter I decided to do a muffin search. I came across quite a bit of recipes and many with a mix of carrot and some other fruit. Since I had some pathetic looking bananas sitting around I searched carrot banana muffins to knock out the carrots and bananas in one fail swoop.

Aha! And here is a healthy recipe for carrot banana muffins, perfect! But I chose to make it into a bread/cake in a bundt  pan since I love that sweet and golden crust on the edge of bread when it's been baking for an hour. 

The results? Amazing! It was a very healthy dish, no oil and I chose to substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour and you really couldn't tell that it lacked any oil. After gobbling down three slices after work on Monday Hubby's only response was, "Do you always put these carrots shavings in it?" My response, "No, but you're welcome for your vegetable intake for the day" 

I'm going to list out the recipe that I made, which was doubled.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder (I don't use baking soda, hate the taste, so I replaced it with more baking powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs (I did not double the eggs)
1 Tablespoon honey
2 bananas, mashed (I pureed)
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together white flour, wheat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

2. In a separate bowl mix together sugar, eggs, honey, bananas, carrots and applesauce.

3. Mix both bowls together and pour into a greased bundt pan.

4. Bake for about an hour, keeping an eye on the bread. Once a knife comes out clean, your bread is done. 

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 4
Another easy one, folks. Yes, a little added work to have to shred the carrots in the food processor and then wash the food processor and take apart all the obnoxious parts only to find bits of carrot in places you cannot get out, but other than that not too bad. I didn't even mind pureeing the banana in the Baby Bullet! (The Magic Bullet's predecessor or marketing gimmick. You decide.) 

One thing I will note about this is that I felt the bread had an overpowering taste of nutmeg, something I'm not too fond of outside of pumpkin pie. The recipe actually calls for 1/2 tsp (When doubled, which is what I used.) but in the recipe above I only listed 1/4 tsp. But the next time I make this I think I just may omit it completely in order for the cinnamon flavor to shine through.

Otherwise great, healthy variation from traditional banana bread!