Friday, September 28, 2012

A little glimpse into this crazy patchwork brain of mine

I took this picture and put it on Instagram this evening (@theredkitchenkatie) and I feel like it is a pretty good representation of my brain lately. Well, always, but especially lately. There are so many different things going on, but somehow they all fit together into this crazy, beautiful whole. So often I think about writing something here and I stop myself, thinking it's not going to make sense to anybody outside of my head. It's probably not true most of the time. Probably you'd get it. You're all pretty sharp. But it stops me all the same.

I was about to say, "Here are a few things that are on my brain..." but I have to tell you guys, part of me loves writing posts like this and part of me hates it. The writer and blabber in me loves it. I've been thinking and reflecting on it a lot lately and I've come to realize/remember that I enjoy writing almost as much as I enjoy creating things physically. Sometimes I think I even enjoy the writing more. But there is this other part of me that is deeply rooted in hands-on creativity and it kills me, day after day, to be hiding all of my favorite, best, simplest projects away from you all. I'm saving them special for the book of course (and praying "the book" will actually end up as a real book someday), but that doesn't mean I don't want to share them with you. I want to share them with you so badly.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How those 10 goals of mine are going so far

So. I honestly never used to be much of a goals person, but in September alone I have made 10 goals. My 4 simple goals and my 6 fitness goals. To be honest, 10 goals is a lot for me to remember. And I don't always remember all of them all the time. But that doesn't mean I haven't been working on them! I have! So let's have a mini update.

4 Simple Goals 
*to complete by the end of this year

1. Finish the rough draft copy of my book
It's definitely not finished yet (it doesn't even feel close!), but I have been working away on it like a little maniac. It feels so good to have such a fun purpose to fill my days when Olivia's off at preschool. Not to mention a good reason to buy pretty sewing supplies.

2. Make all of the Christmas gifts we're giving this year by hand
One down, one in progress, and a few more to dream up.

3. Eat a fresh fruit or vegetable every day
I admit I haven't religiously been keeping track, but I don't think I've missed a day so far. Though it does get tricky when we're low on fruits and veggies, usually right before a big shopping trip when we're low on just about everything. Something to work on I guess. Oh, and, PS, I made fresh salsa again the other day. Yum.

4. Find, open, and read the instruction manual for my camera
I found it! I opened it! And I've started reading it! I finally located the box that our camera came in. Woot! Though I was disappointed to find that the instruction manual is a PDF that I had to upload to the computer. Boo. Not so much boo to having to upload it, but boo to not being able to hold a paper manual in my hand and carry it around with me. Lame, lame, lame. And not really my style. But I'm going to get over it and work on this goal anyway. So far I read about one paragraph and then got overwhelmed. Here's to getting back on the horse.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It was really only a matter of time

Olivia has some really nice grandparents who sent her some birthday money to put to good use. Bry and I decided to let her spend the money on something fun (which is the whole point of birthday money, right?), but we hadn't really seen anything that we thought she'd play with for more than five minutes (and that we wouldn't hate after only five minutes), so we had yet to remind her of her birthday cash. Then, yesterday when we were at Costco, we saw it. The thing we knew she'd love and that we would get a kick out of too.

We've talked about buying a kid camera for Olivia in the past, but hadn't bought one because we didn't feel like spending money on one. But photography is something she's shown a genuine interest in, especially lately. She asks if she can "take a picture" on Daddy's phone and Mommy's iPod and on the regular camera at least once a day. Sometimes we let her, but often then answer is no. We've never been the kind of people to let our kid suck on our phones and play with expensive stuff that can easily be broken. (Call us crazy, I know.)

Then yesterday I spotted this Vtech Kidizoom Camera for $26 at Costco. Olivia was with me when I saw it (Bryan was trying to find the windshield wipers that are on sale) and she immediately said, "Mommy, you buy that for me?" I told her I'd think about it. And then I did think about it. And then I remembered her birthday money. After we found the windshield wipers (they were hidden at the front of the store on that wall of stuff that you see, but always kind of ignore, as you walk in) I showed Bryan the camera and we decided to let her get it. Well, we reminded her about her birthday money and asked if she wanted to spend it on the camera. But, let's be honest, it was kind of a silly question. Obviously the answer was YES.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Today's been crappy. This made me happy.

Today was crappy. This made me happy.

And then, of course, this:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nailed It (Thoughts on Confidence)

For being someone who has virtually nothing to do with the performing arts anymore, I sure think about my high school drama teacher a lot. Unlike some of my classmates who had dreams of Broadway, I never really saw myself as being in plays or dance productions very far past high school. And (at least so far) I've been right about that. During high school I was in somewhere around 8 or 9 productions, maybe more if you include the dance concerts I performed in. Post high school? Nada. But I still value and cherish all of the time I spent in my drama and dance classes and in all the productions throughout my high school years. I learned lessons in those spaces and with those people that spoke my language and taught me important things that I'll never forget.

"Take stage!" I don't know how many times I heard those words throughout my high school drama career. My director/drama teacher was adamant that we master the skill of standing still, so my classmates and I were constantly being peppered with the direction to "take stage" which meant that we needed to plant our feet and  speak our lines without shifting our weight and scratching our itches and fiddling around with our hands. I'm afraid it's a skill I never completely mastered, but it is one I sure have thought about a lot over the years.

When it was my turn to recite monologues (oh how I hated those!) or do something else up in front of the class, I had to think very consciously about taking stage. And at first I didn't think it mattered much. But then when I sat and watched my classmates also not taking stage, I finally recognized how distracting every little scratch and weight-shift really can be. It takes away from wherever the focus is supposed to be (the lines, the intentional movements, etc.) and makes it so all the audience can think about is how unconvincing of an actor that person up on stage is.

And, on the flip side, as I watched my classmates blossom into really powerful, engaging actors and actresses, I came to appreciate the power of standing still, speaking your part, and refusing to be embarrassed about the work you've done.

I think the same principle applies to how we carry out things in life too.

Case in point...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Back-to-School Night Party (sneak peek!)

Tonight I hosted a really fun little back-to-school themed party for the Optometry Wives group that I belong to. The whole thing went so well and was so much fun. And I am happy to say that I have several fun photos to prove it! I'll definitely be back with more "eye" candy (It's funny to make eye-related jokes 'cuz all of our husbands are in optometry. Get it?  Okay...) very soon.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back-to-School Eve

Tomorrow we're going to be Back-to-School paryting it up the Optometry Wives Club way. Woot woot!  I'm excited!

P.S. Thanks for the tip about popping the lenses out of dollar store sunglasses, Disney. You fun, stylish little genius, you. :)

My 6 Fitness Rules

Okay, okay, so in the list I made on my iPod I called them fitness "goals." Whatevs. Whatever you want to call them, last night I finally narrowed them down and came up with six that I think will help me keep a well-balanced and healthy (fitness-oriented) life.

Here they are:

1. No treats except on holidays and birthdays.

2. Run, go on a walk, go on the exercise bike, or do the exercise video every day, 7 days a week. 3 of those days need to be the exercise video. (Sundays optional when a quiet walk isn't an option.)

3. Eat a serving of fruits and/or veggies at lunch and dinner.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thinking About: Fitness Rules That Fit

Trying to figure out some fitness rules that will fit as well and make me as happy as my new blue rain boots. :)

Thanks for all of your comments on the last post. I'm always (delightfully) surprised how excited we all get to share advice about things that work for us. And since fitness is one of those things that can be so tricky, it's great to get such a variety of good advice. I've been thinking a lot about all of your comments and making mental notes to check out some of those books.

I've also been thinking (a little more realistically) about trying the whole only-eating-fruits-and-veggies thing and I've decided to first try it out just for a day and see how it goes. I definitely don't think it's a great idea for any kind of long-term application and, really, it was just an idea I had. So I'm not married to the idea of doing it for a week. I just wanted to try something new and different and full of fruits and veggies. So, while a whole week of it sounds a little overwhelming (and expensive) to me right now, a day of it is sounding fun and yummy. So I'll give that a try. I think on Tuesday. Maybe if I like it I'll do it for longer or more often. We'll see.

But back to fitness and health-related goals in general. I've been thinking about your comments, about what I've done in the past that has and hasn't worked for me, and about what rules I can make for myself to follow that will be both realistic and helpful. My ultimate goal is to be fit, thin(ner), and healthy--and to avoid another major burn-out.

I think for a long time I've been so worried about another burn-out that I've been hesitant to commit to a lot of health-related goals all at once. I've focused on exercise and a little on eating, but not on strength. Or I've given a lot of emphasis to one of those areas and ignored the rest. I guess I keep hoping I'll stumble across some really easy, simple way to keep my body in shape without having to put in too much time or effort. I mean, that's what we all wish for, right? But tonight as Bry and I were out on a walk, I was talking to him about some of what's been in my head lately (about all this health/fitness stuff) and I came to realize something that I had been denying for a long time.

I think I need to do a lot of things at once for it to be effective and support my overall health.

I think I need to be way more picky about desserts, eat healthy foods, not eat as much food in general, get in a regular dose of cardio, and do some strength training too. And, by the way, that is a lot of work! It's hard to think, "Hmm... I could spend 30 minutes this evening getting all sweaty and tired and then have to spend another 10-15 minutes in the shower and then another 10 minutes getting dressed and dried off and then feel too wiped out to get anything done OR I could spend that hour on sewing and at the end of the hour I'll feel like I've actually accomplished something!" I try not to think that way, but I do. And sewing usually beats out sweating every time. Hence the high tally of sewing projects I've completed for my book lately and the lack of movement in the belly-fat area.  Hmm.

Sewing is important to me too, but to have it replace exercise is just not a good long-term situation. I don't want to ever be heavier than I am now. It wouldn't be good for my body or for my head. And it's just so preventable. So I'm trying to do something about it. Or at least, I'm trying to think through how I can do something about it.

The only time in my life when I've been super successful at losing weight and toning my body, I was doing all of the following things:

  • counting calories
  • going on long, long walks every day
  • lifting weights 2-3 times a week
  • not eating any desserts (period) for 3 months straight
  • going running occasionally 

Doing all of those things simultaneously was a lot of work and it was not only physically exhausting, but mentally and emotionally exhausting too. It's hard (and not really healthy) to be focused on any one thing too much. Your happiness starts to hang in the balance and that's an emotionally tricky place to be. So even though it was super effective physically, I've been hesitant to revisit that life of fitness because I didn't like where I ended up emotionally. I wasn't anorexic or bulimic or anything like that, but I didn't have a good relationship with food and fitness back then. It reached a point where something had to give, and suddenly all of my good habits were replaced with cupcakes.

So, I'm trying again. But I'm not just flipping the switch and jumping back into another routine that I know will leave me feeling burned out in a month or two. I'm putting a lot of thought into my new rules. Because I definitely need some new rules, but I want them to be rules that will fit my life and that can work for me long enough to help me truly be a healthier person than I am now.

Right now I'm focusing on getting through the holidays. I think I typically try and crack down after the holidays (oh New Years resolutions--haha), but by then I'm 5-10 pounds heavier from all the junk I ate for two months straight. So this year I'm trying to get real and focus on having healthy holidays. So far I've only decided on one rule and it is this:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fruits & Veggies: A Question

The other day I weighed myself.  I do this a lot.  Not as much as I have in the past, but still, you know, regularly.  I like to know where I'm at.  And where I'm at is a comfortable, cozy 155.  It must be comfortable because that is exactly where my body likes to be.  Sometimes it'll take a little vacation up to 157 or down to 152 (hooray!), but home is 155.

Since about July I have been trying to move away from home.  As in, away from 155.  Down from 155.  A couple years ago when I got really serious about losing weight after Olivia was born, counting calories and giving up desserts for a few months and exercising regularly really worked for me.  It was hard work, but I was consistently losing weight, which was just encouraging enough to keep me going strong.

My goal was 125.  I got all the way down to 128 by Thanksgiving of that year and then something in my head switched off.  I felt like I would never ever meet my goal.  I gorged on holiday goodies and gave up.  It's really sad when I think about it now, to realize I was only 3 pounds away from my goal (I was basically at my goal!) when I gave up all of my good habits.  But it really was hard work and I guess I just needed a break.

I've fluctuated up and down (mostly up) since then and then in July I decided I was tired of feeling pudgy and it was time to get serious again.  A huge part of the reason I bought my iPod was so I could use MyFitnessPal on it.  So for a good while I was religious about counting calories and eating healthy foods and exercising regularly.  There were days that I was running in the morning, going on walks in the middle of the day, riding the exercise bike for an hour at night, coming in under on my calories (not way under, but, you know, not over) and still nothing on the scale would budge.  For weeks.  So not what used to be normal for me.  So frustrating. 

So, after a couple months of that, I gave up the calorie counting.  It was exhausting and to be doing it without any encouragement from my body was too much from me.  It just didn't feel like it was working like it had before.  Boo.

Luckily, I've still been able to keep going running with friends a few mornings a week.  And I do try not to gorge myself and eat little bits of things throughout the day like I used to.  But I haven't really been all that careful about what I eat.  And having Olivia start preschool has meant more morning doughnuts at the swanky grocery store and less morning walks with our friends.

Then, the other day when I weighed myself, this funny thing happened.  I got on the scale, waved at the familiar 155, and realized that I don't care if I continue to weigh 155 for the rest of my life.  I honestly don't!  What really bothers me is not my weight, it's my belly flab.  If I could choose between weighing 125 and having a flat tummy, I'd choose a flat tummy.  Hands down.  Because my clothes fit fine at my shoulders and really everywhere except around my tummy.  Grrr.  I am so, so tired of looking like I'm in my first trimester of pregnancy when I am not.

So I've been trying to shift my goals a little.  I'm still looking at the scale because I think it's a good prediction of whether or not things are working.  But I'm trying to focus more on toning my core instead of shedding pounds.  (Though, let's be honest, hopefully they'll both happen simultaneously.)  I've been pinning things on my Healthy Living Pinterest board to help me work on my abs.  I tried this one the other day and I'm pretty convinced that it must be legit, because after trying like 5 (not five sets, just five) of one of the exercises, I, uhh, kind of gave up and decided to try it again later.

Do you have favorite ab/core strengthening exercises?  I'm especially interested in a good, short-and-to-the-point ab/core exercise video.  Extra points if it's free and online.  In many ways I'd much rather go out running for 30 minutes with my friends than do a 10 minute exercise video at home, but the running just isn't giving my body what it needs.  So I've gotta supplement with a little something.

Also, I've been thinking a lot today about trying to eat only fruits and veggies (preferably fresh) for a week.  Well, not only fruits and veggies.  We're in a dinner group, so I'd still eat whatever's on the menu for dinner.  And I'd still take my vitamin and drink a lot of water, of course.  So I guess what I really mean is that I want to try eating only fruits and veggies for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.  We always get a lot of carbs and grains and protein at dinner, so I think I'd be okay on those things.  Have any of you tried this before?

I kind of want to try it for two reasons.  First, I'm hoping it would kind of work as a cleanse or detox sort of thing.  (I know there are a ton of detox things out there, but this just seems simpler and more my style.)  Second, I'm hoping it would help me make some good habits regarding fruits and veggies after the week is over.  I'm also hoping that if I did this while working on my core, I would actually see results a little more obviously.  Don't know if it'll work that way though.

Anyway, I am nowhere near being a health expert.  So please don't go out and do all the things I said I want to try.  I have no idea how good it really is for you.  But, ya know, I feel like strengthening your core and eating lots of fruits and veggies is usually a pretty good thing.  Right?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 years ago

11 years ago today I was a sophomore in high school. I was walking into early morning Algebra 2/Trig with some chocolate chip Poptarts and a yellow Tupperware sippy cup full of milk. I remember being wet. Mr. Eagan and the handful of other students in the room were staring up at the Chanel 1 TV. I stared and stared and I still didn't know what was happening. World Trade Center. Planes crashing. Followed by days and weeks of uncertainty and mourning. 11 years ago today was a very different time. No planes in the sky and so much change ahead.

There's a piece I wrote back when I was a freshman in college about September 11th and I think about it every year when this day comes. I've looked for it and looked for it on the computer, but I can't find it.  I know I have a hard copy somewhere. I want to find it and pull it out and read it.  Because there are some days we should remember.  And I just feel like September 11th is one of those days.

I was surprised, in many ways, how much I went back and forth today between remembering what happened ten years ago and then forgetting all about it in the course of my daily routine.

Dropping Olivia off at preschool.  Heading to the grocery store.  Working on my laptop.  Marking off projects in my notebook.  "Typed up!  9/11/12"  Oh.

Driving to the doctor's office.  Sad, cranky Olivia in the back seat.  Feeling like an idiot first-time mom for taking my kid in just because she had a fever for two days in a row.  And then realizing what a blessing it is that the biggest worry in my day is taking Olivia to see the pediatrician.  No buildings falling.  No empty skies.  Oh.

The world now is a different place than it was ten years ago.  But, in many good ways, still very much the same.  We carry with us the memories of lives lived.  Of tears shed.  Of days that pass.  With a seemingly infinite amount of moments in our lives to remember, I find it easy to forget the hugeness of the world, the collective history of all of us.

Next year I'm going to dig out that piece of writing and type it up and share it with you here.  It shares the details of memories that have faded in my head.  It remembers so much better than my brain that's too muddled with doctors appointments and preschool pick-up times and book writing and sewing and antibiotics for ear infections and what we had for dinner.  It's healthy to move on.  But it's also important to remember.

What were you doing 11 years ago?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

DIY Cropped Tights (5 second tutorial)

I've been wanting some cropped leggings to wear under my skirts and dresses for a long time.  My skirts are always at least knee length, but it's just nice to have a little extra coverage, you know, just in case.  I've found some cropped leggings at various stores before, but they always cost way more than I want to spend.  I had toyed with the idea of cutting up a pair of tights to see if that would work, but I didn't really want to ruin a pair of tights if it didn't work out.

Then when I was at the thrift store on a 50% off day a couple of weeks ago I found some great tights that were slightly thicker and seemed more durable than regular tights.  At $.50 I decided I could afford a failure if it didn't work out.  So I bought the tights, sent them through the wash, and set to work.

Transforming them into leggings took me all of about 5 seconds and I am totally in love with the result!  Get the easy how-to after the jump!

My 4 Simple Goals

(image via A Beautiful Mess)
1. Finish the rough rough draft copy of my book
2. Make all of the Christmas gifts we're giving this year by hand
3. Eat a fresh fruit or vegetable every day
4. Find, open, and read the instruction manual for my camera

I just found this great post over on A Beautiful Mess about choosing 4 goals to complete before the end of the year.  I love what Elsie says about how making goals now is a great way to keep on track during the busiest season of the year.  It's so true in my life that this is usually the time of the year when I eat the worst, my schedule gets shot, and I end up starting the new year all out of focus.  So when I came across this idea for making 4 simple goals to meet before the end of the year, I was immediately hooked.

Here's what I'm thinking with my goals...

Friday, September 7, 2012

My life is so awesome right now

The past three days of having Olivia in preschool have been really interesting.  I'll freely admit that I've been surprised how much I am totally loving it.  Yes, I feel a little guilty about being so happy to have time without my daughter.  Yes, she is loving preschool, so that kind of equals out my guilt.  Right?  I do miss her, but I think I especially just get anxious when I think about the fact that we probably won't ever be going back to our old normal except during the summers.  It's bittersweet.

Part of the bittersweetness in all of this is that I never ever imagined that I'd be at this point in my life at such a young age.  It feels like early retirement.  Which is awesome, but it pricks my heart a little bit every day.  I always thought that I'd have another baby at home or at least in my tummy before I had a kid gone at preschool or kindergarten.  Now, here I am with no baby at home or in my tummy and Olivia is gone almost as much as kids who go to half-day kindergarten.  Not exactly what I had planned.  And if my friends and family didn't know that this life of luxury is my Plan B, I think I would worry a lot that people would judge me for the life I'm living right now.  But since they do know, I'm trying to just embrace my life for all that it is right now.  And, I'll be honest with you, it's not a very hard life to embrace.  :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day of (Real) Preschool!

Olivia started (real) preschool today!  We've been doing at-home preschool for the past year or so, but today she got to go to preschool all by herself.  Big day!

I asked Olivia's teacher ahead of time if it would be okay if she brought a stuffed animal in her backpack in case she got sad after I left.  In the past, drop offs have not been Olivia's strong point, so I wanted to do anything and everything I could to help things go as smoothly as possible.  Both for Olivia's sake and for her teacher's sake.  :)

So last night before I crawled in bed I made a quick little collar for Kitty.  Basically I just wrote Olivia's first and last name on some twill tape with a permanent marker and stitched an X through both ends to keep it on.  Three cheers for crafting after midnight and doing what's easiest so you can just get it done.

Luckily, I don't think Olivia ever even saw her kitty at preschool.  It was tucked away in her backpack the whole time, but both she and her teacher told me she was happy and had a blast all day.

FREEDOM!  3 1/2 hours without a kid?  To do whatever I want?  Sa-wheeeeet!

Side note: Neither of us cried when I dropped her off.  Win and win.  Even though I maybe a little bit almost did.  But I didn't.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to School Night (free printable party invitations)


I was going to save this until later when I can actually share fun pictures of the party and more ideas about how to host a fun back-to-school party.  But then I remembered that my attention span can be really short when it comes to posting what I'm working on and I decided I had better post these now while I'm thinking about it.