Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"You Know, I'm Just Not Hungry."

"I'm just not hungry."

:::record screeching:::

Say wha???

OK, over the last year and a half, I drastically reduced the amount of food I eat on any given day. When I was in full-blown Weight Watchers mode, I was careful-careful to restrict volume and calories. But the entire time I did that, I had to play mind tricks with myself. I had to remind myself of my goals and of where I started. I told myself, "Just take one small serving--you can get more later," or "tomorrow I get a cheat meal," or "People are watching; don't take any more than this." But I thought about food. Like a lot.

Oh man did I think about food. I dreamed about fruit loops in milk, about corn on the cob drenched in butter, about Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs and cinnamon toast and mac 'n cheese. I held fast, for the most part, but every once in a while, I'd give in. I was probably a yo-yo dieter--what's the official definition of that?

Anyway, I've been pretty discouraged lately about my weight (and my running, for that matter, but that's another post for another day). But I wanted to really give this PFC approach a chance. So even though I was gaining, not losing, I stuck to it. And today I weighed myself and came in at 157.5--3 pounds down from last week.


OK, for sure it was getting back on my thyroid meds. But I think it's also my body adjusting to this new way of eating.

More important than the scale--far, FAR more important--is the fact that I have stopped thinking about food so much. In fact, these days, I'm hardly ever hungry. This is so weird for me. Shoot, I'm actually struggling to eat as much food as I should. According to Dietitian Cassie, I should be eating 6 meals a day, 10 grams of fat per meal, and a bedtime snack to keep my blood sugar stable as I sleep. That's not happening! I do breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner, and that's pretty much all I can hack.

I used to eat way more than peckish Pete. Now, he's polishing off dinner and then firing up a frozen pizza a few hours later, and I'm saying, "Really?? I'm still so stuffed!" 

I don't know why this is happening, but I do know that it is AWESOME. I mean, PFC pretty much put a stop to those irresistible cravings the minute I started it, but now that hunger is hardly ever a struggle, this feels like easy street. Maybe it's a fluke, and maybe I'm about to gain 10 pounds, but right now, I'll take it!

Oh. Except this vacation coming up? Yeah, this vacation is going to be non-PFC. No place for that at Fall Fest! Look for my post of contrition next week when I vow that "this time I'm really going to do GYSTS!"

Weigh In Wedneday
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Big News and Small News

Um. So I got a new job.

It's at this really hip, up-and-coming company with a developer-driven culture. They are too cool for their own good. They let you bring your dog to work. They tap a keg every Friday at 4:30. They're actually very similar to the first company I worked for in Madison, except they're younger and still relatively small.

I start in October. I won't be a tech writer anymore--now I'm switching over to the sales side of things as a technical rep. My title will be Solutions Engineer. It feels good to be changing things up and I'm really excited for this new gig!

OK, that's about all I should say. I'm probably sharing too much--you're supposed to keep quiet about your work life on your personal blog, but like I said, 


Anyway, that's my big news. In small news...

We're getting away to Hayward, WI this Thursday. I love this getaway. I love staying in a cabin far away from other people, then hitting up their Fall Fest for some Scandinavian Christmas presents, and going to a Friday night fish fry. This is us celebrating our 2-year anniversary a little early (it's actually October 15th).

 Faith formation starts up this Wednesday. This year, my kids are in 8th grade and my sister Abbie is joining me as a co-teacher. I met up with Abbie this Saturday to plan our first lesson and I can already tell we'll work well together!

I redesigned my blog. This time it was a little tough as the template changes caused a lot of glitches. My GFC widget got buggy and kept showing up with no followers, so I've swapped it out for a Bloglovin counter. I'm pretty happy with the new design (for now), but I wish I could get my right side bar to line up with the top of my posts...must be a div tag somewhere with too much padding or a weird margin or something. Ugh. I think I'll just let 'er buck for a while. I'm tired. :)

Anyway, take a look at my Followers tab to the right. If you want a counter like that, you can get one HERE. I bet you could put it under your GFC widget, if you still have it. Kind of a nice way to see your total readership.

I have a 15-miler for my long run this week. Since we'll be in Wisconsin this Sunday, I think I'm going to try to get the run in on Thursday. A little nervous, as this is the longest length I'll have done, and my last long run went so horribly. Although, I did speed training in the form of half-mile repeats this Sunday and felt really good about my progress.

That reminds me, it's time for Dear Abbie!

Dear Abbie,

This week you've got another long run. Your last was 9.5 miles and boy was that rough. This week you have 11 miles. That can easily be daunting. My advice is to stretch the bujeezus out of your calves and hips in the days leading up to the run. Drink half a Gatorade before you head out and put the rest in a water bottle. Make sure you're bringing enough fuel so you can eat something every 40-60 minutes. And just take it one mile at a time. I'm sorry I won't be there to run with you, but you will do fine--you always pull out amazing performance on long-run day!

Here's our schedule for training week #11

Mon - cross training
Tue - 30-min run
Wed - cross training
Thur - 30-min run
Fri - cross training
Sat - rest
Sun - 11 miles

Mon - cross training nothing :(
Tue - 45-min run
Wed - cross training
Thur - 45-min run
Fri - cross training
Sat - rest
Sun - 15 miles

Anyone have any advice for Abbie (or me, for that matter) about running your longest long run yet? 

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Sewing Pillows for Newbies!

When we picked all the new furniture for our living room, I decided we'd use throw pillows to help pull everything together. Our new couch came with some red pillows that were OK, but didn't fit with the color scheme we were going for. 

We searched for throw pillows everywhere: Target, Pier One, Bed Bath and Beyond, Home Goods, Kohl's, JC Penney, Walmart, etc. We discovered that throw pillows are extremely over-priced and the selection is crap.

So, I bought some pillow forms and decided to whip up my own. Pillows are an extremely easy sewing project--if you can sew a straight line, you can sew a pillow. I figured the project might make a good blog post. 

The most difficult part of the whole project was finding the fabric. I went on three different trips and brought back a ton of samples so we could see how they looked against the furniture and in the light of the living room. With two brown couches and white chairs, the big piece to match the fabric against was the rug. I took close-up pictures of it and brought them with me. I decided to pick up two colors found in the rug--teal and sage green. 

After spending hours shopping (and I do mean hours--I can be indecisive as fuck), I picked these three fabrics. I hoped the brown in them would be the unifying factor. I also made sure the pattern for each was similar to the pattern of the similar as I could get it.

First, I figured out which fabric would go on which pillow size. I was making two pillows of the following sizes: 
  • 14"
  • 18"
  • 18" x 9"

Normally when purchasing fabric, you'd figure in a seam allowance. So, for example, say you're assuming you'll sew a half-inch in from the edge (because no one is going to sew exactly on the edge of the fabric; that would go horribly), you'd add 1 inch to each side of the fabric. 

But with pillows, you want them to be stuffed as full as possible, so you can forget the seam allowance. Be bold!

Purchasing fabric means translating inches to yards. I decided to make the fronts of the pillows in pretty fabric, but the backs could be a cheaper, solid-colored fabric. Bolts of fabric come in a few standard widths. The ones I picked just so happened to be 36". That meant, width-wise, I could fit two pillows on each bolt (since my largest pillows were 18" across). Then, I had to figure out how many yards of each I'd need. 

Let's take my 18" pillows--there are 36" per yard, so an 18" pillow would need 1/2 yard. You get 1/2 yard of 36" fabric and cut it in half so that's two 18"x18" pieces.

I hope I'm not simplifying things too much--I'm writing for a complete newbie to sewing. 

For a simple envelope pillowcase, the back is created with two overlapping pieces of fabric. So for that pillow, you'd want both pieces of backing fabric to be just as tall as the pillow, but they don't need to be just as wide (because they overlap). Hopefully that makes sense. 

Anyway, to get the dimensions for the backing, you add 6" to one side and then divide that in half. For my 18" pillows, I'd need two pieces of backing fabric with the following dimensions: 18" x 12". 

When purchasing backing fabric, remember that you need two pieces for each pillow. So for my 6 pillows, I needed:
  1. 18" x 12"
  2. 18" x 12"
  3. 18" x 12"
  4. 18" x 12"
  5. 14" x 10"
  6. 14" x 10"
  7. 14" x 10"
  8. 14" x 10"
  9. 9" x 12"
  10. 9" x 12"
  11. 9" x 12"
  12. 9" x 12"

(For the rectangle pillows, I wanted the slip/overlap to run horizontally.)

Add all that up, keep in mind that a bolt of plain fabric is usually at least 36" wide. I think I ended up getting 1.75 yards of backing.

OK, when sewing pillows, the planning part is the worst. Well, cutting the fabric kind of blows, too. Just get through that.

Once the pieces are cut, you take your backs, fold a 1/2" over on the overlapping edges, and iron a crease. So each back piece will have one folded edge.

Then you sew that hem. 

Then lay out your pillow front, with the good side of the fabric facing up. When you lay your pieces, you want to have the good sides touching, so you're sewing on the back side of the fabric.

On your pillow front, lay down one piece of the backing GOOD SIDE DOWN. This means you should see the folded over piece on top.

Then put the second backing piece down, so it overlaps the first, GOOD SIDE DOWN.

Pin this all together, then sew all around the four sides of the pillow. When you're done, you flip the pillow case right-side-out. And it looks like this:

The sewing part is so simple!

I did something slightly different for the rectangle pillows. I couldn't find any pillow forms that weren't square, so I decided to just fill the rectangle pillows with stuffing. I didn't want the stuffing to fall out of the slit in the back, so I wanted to make sure the slit wasn't so wide. I laid the overlapping pieces down on the pillow front so the backs were all lined up. Then I pinned the back pieces together. I set the pillow front to the side and sewed a line down the overlapping edge of the backs. Then I took my stitch cutter and removed the center of that line.

Hopefully the picture below makes more sense. When you flip the piece over to look at the good side, you see the overlap is sewn shut, with just a slit. I could stick my fingers into the slit, between the two arrows. That's where the stuffing would go. The bottom stitch line you see is the hem I sewed on the top piece of backing.

Anyway, then I pinned the backing to the pillow front WRONG SIDE OUT, sewed around the four edges, flipped the pillow case right side out (which was really hard with just a tiny slit in the overlap), and stuffed the pillows. I cannibalized those red pillows that came with the couch. 

Look! The old plaid couch and Laz-E boy are in our basement!

And viola!

My biggest lesson learned in all of this was: when choosing colors from a rug, don't get down really close to it and pick out a color you see. No one can see the teal in the rug from a distance, so the blue pillows look kind of random. Overall, the rug is greenish, and the red is most visible pop of color. I think eventually, I'll replace the blue pillow cases with sage green ones.

Anyway, that's my sewing how-to. Hope someone finds it useful!
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