Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween Silhouette Project!!

I know, I know, I'm a terrible blogger. To be honest I have no energy for such things since Layla has started school. Our lives are so busy & she only goes half days! I can't even imagine next year when she goes full time.

Well, it's October & we've had our Halloween decorations out for a while now. I was just really excited & started to slowly put stuff up in September. The past TWO Halloweens we have been in the process of moving so all of my lovely Halloween decorations were boxed up & we couldn't enjoy them. So this year I was just so excited, which is why I couldn't wait to start!!

My mom just sent me a bunch of old picture frames that belonged to my grandma & I had a couple ideas of what I could do with them. Having just received them in October I of course had Halloween on the brain & decided to do something gothic with them.

They're really great frames, but gold just isn't my thing so I had to pick another colour to paint them. Sticking with the Halloween/gothic theme I decided to go with black.

I thought of maybe doing the distressed look, which would be pretty neat for the gothic look, but I'm too impatient to wait for all those layers of paint to dry & then distress it. So if that's what you want to do, then go for it. I think it looks great either way.

Then I had to draw the silhouettes to go in the frames. You can probably print some & cut them out, but since I was feeling lazy & didn't want to go all the way upstairs (OMG! so far away!) to use the printer, I free-handed the silhouettes. I did look up pictures on my laptop to base my drawings on. I found some really cute ones to copy.

To make cutting out the silhouettes easy I used an exacto knife. The frames are pretty small so I needed to make sure the details on the silhouettes were cut cleanly. I also traced the outline of the part of the frame that the silhouette would actually be showing through. Use the actual frame, because if you use the glass you might make the silhouette too big & it might get cut off.

Then I picked out a background paper and cut it to fit each frame. I decided to go with pages out of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies!

Awesome, right?! Perfect for my Halloween silhouettes!!

Next I needed to pick out the paper for the actual silhouettes. I really didn't want to do all black because the frames were pure black. Luckily I had a dark scrapbook page that wasn't too dark & had just enough detail on it to give the silhouette some depth, but not too much detail to take away from the actual silhouette.

Once I had the silhouettes cut out on my pretty, gothic paper I places them on the book pages I had cut out & put them in the frames once they were dry. I think they turned out wonderfully!!

I had to throw in some that just screamed HALLOWEEN at you. I love the feminine little witch & Frankenstein's bride!!

Finished all 5 & now have them set up with some other Halloween decorations I made myself years ago! I think they look great with my pumpkins!

Happy Halloween all!


Saturday, July 28, 2012


I am proud to be American. Yes, we have our problems, but I love & am proud of the country I was born in. For the London 2012 games, I will be cheering for Team USA in every event, and I was very emotional seeing the athletes waving the stars & stripes at the opening ceremony. I know that I cannot be the only one who gets emotional watching the games! There is something about nations from all over the world getting together in one place, and in spite of the competition, working together for one big event. When they show the top 3 of a sport on the podium accepting their medals & playing the national anthem, I cry! (Yes, I'm a huge baby!)

That being said, I was surprised by my level of emotion when Team Great Britain walked out during the opening ceremonies. I am not an expat, not a British subject, I am still an American citizen living here in England. Though, I am incredibly proud of my host country & the talented athletes representing Team GB.

I love this country, and I love these isles.

"I was not born for one corner, the world is my native land."

I am quite proud of my American roots, I am also a proud wanderer. I love this world & I will enjoy every opportunity I have of exploring everything it has to offer. 

Good luck to all athletes participating in the London 2012 Games, I know you will do your respective home nation & the world proud!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Driving in the UK

One thing a lot of people still ask me about, is how I handle driving on the "wrong" side of the road on the "wrong" side of the card. I know a lot of people have trouble acclimating to driving differently when they move here, they even have a course so people can go practice if they are too nervous to just go out on the road. I was determined not to use that.

Weeks, maybe months, before we arrived I started visualizing myself driving on the left side of the road. I even drove around the neighbourhood in Nebraska on the left side of the road when no one was around.

After we arrived here we got a rental car to get around before we bought one & I had Jer drive first, because he had experience driving in the UK & I had not. I wanted to sit in the passenger seat & observe. Honestly, I don't think I really needed to do that. Once I sat in the driver's seat & started going it felt natural. I beat it into my brain so hard & it didn't feel weird. The only thing that gets me is how tiny the roads are. I have terrible depth perception so in some areas it can feel a little tight, but I know there is enough room on the road for me and the other cars, so reason wins that fight.

In the beginning, Jer would be planning on driving, but then he'd walk to the wrong side of the car. I thought I'd do that, but I have yet to do it. It would feel weird to drive on that side of the car. Jer said that sometimes he would see people sitting in the UK passenger seat playing with their phones and he'd momentarily freak out thinking they were the ones driving, and I had a similar experience! It doesn't phase me when I see adults doing weird things, but I'll see kids, young teens sitting there & freak out thinking they are driving.

All in all, I don't think anyone moving here should worry about the driving. It's easy to acclimate to & if you have a good attitude about it, you'll do fine. I don't understand the women who move here & refuse to drive. Some of the wives of Jer's co-workers don't drive, so they live on base & walk everywhere or catch rides from people when their spouse is deployed.

So basically, they're stuck in one small area, they don't get to go out and explore, unless they have really great friends willing to drive them around the country. I don't know about them, but when Jer deploys I plan on going on small road trips or train rides around to different places with Layla. I'm not going to let him being gone keep us from having a good time & sightseeing. I think others should do the same!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Happy Monday & Music Monday

I have two Monday themed posts, and lately I've just been switching off what I'm doing, but today I think I'm going to do both. Partly because I want to, and partly because I don't want to get up and clean my kitchen right now. So this will help me procrastinate!!

Happy Homemaker Monday:

The weather::
It's been cold & windy lately. We've had a bit of sunshine off & on, but it's Summer in England so we have more cold days than warm. I think after the summer solstice we'll be getting a few more warm days, but nothing like that week & a half of crazy heat.

On my reading pile::
I've been on a Midnight in Paris kick. I loved the movie and the books that I've read by the authors featured in the film. So I'm rereading some I haven't picked up since high school as well as some I had never read before.
Right now I'm reading Save Me The Waltz by Zelda Fitgerald. I love it so much. The prose is sloppy, but the imagery is just brilliant. She paints a beautiful scene with her pictures. I'm only about halfway through right now, but I'll be finishing it soon & then I'll move on to Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Zelda's husband) both novels are loosely based on their lives together, so it's interesting to see the same relationship from different points of view.

On my TV::
UEFA Euro 2012 tournament has taken over my television!! I was very happy when Croatia won last night. Since my papa was born there I have a soft spot for them, but I'm also rooting for a few other teams.

On the menu for this week::
I don't have a set day-to-day menu for this week. I've been so busy going to the gym 6 days a week, and on top of that we have Layla's activities. So we've stocked up on chicken breasts and other healthy meal ingredients and just playing it by ear. Jer has a weird week at work this week so he might not even be home for dinner some days.

On my to-do list::
Make a plan for the gym tomorrow- working out my arms!
clean the kitchen (it desperately needs some cleaning!!)
Finish items for etsy shop

What I'm creating::
I've been so terrible with my crocheting. I have hardly done anything for my etsy shop! I'm nearly done with my Hunger Games ornaments. I need to make 6 more from pages out of the last book (so I'll have 9 sets to sell) & then I need to embroider 4 more pages to send out with the ornaments. I need to really get started on my crochet items. I want to get some scarves and ear warmers done and ready to list in August. Lately I've been working on a ripple baby blanket I'll be sending to some soon-to-be parents I know, and then after I get the ear warmers and scarves done or nearly done, I might do some blankets to sell as well. We'll see.

Summer Fun::
We've been so busy! On days that there is sunshine we try to get to the park or track to get some energy out, but we go to the gym nearly every day & Layla has gymnastics and ballet classes during the week!

Looking around the house::
My kitchen is a right mess. So is my living room, but Layla is playing in there right now. All of her ballet clothes from this morning are on the floor. I am hating this house less and less the longer we live here, but I still hate the plumbing with a burning passion. I just want to take a decent shower!!

From the camera::

Something fun to share::
I don't really have anything fun, except maybe this picture of a rabbit I made friends with. Her name is Truffles & she likes to eat shoelaces.

Looking forward to this week::
I always look forward to Layla's gymnastics class. I am unable to sit in there & watch, but they have a small video screen we can watch them on & they are just so cute!! Also looking forward to gym time with my friend, Amber on Friday. She met us there today & Layla LOVES playing with her daughter, Isobella. It's always easier when there are other kids there, and since we're usually the only ones there Layla gets bored easily and sometimes I have to cut my workout short or modify it so she can work out with me.

& Music Monday!!

I love love love M. Ward. He is in two bands that I love, and he also has many albums out of his own. I have everything he's ever made. His bands are She & Him (probably the most popular because of Zooey Deschanel) & Monsters of Folk. I looooove MoF. They are brilliant & beautiful & simple.
Here is the music video for The Sandman, the Brakeman, and me Have a listen. love & enjoy them as much as I do!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fitness Friday

So I slowly started working my way away from the elliptical & on to the treadmill or road. I started out warming up on the elliptical, moving over to the treadmill for a mile, then finishing up my miles on the elliptical. I was pretty sore, but mostly painfree. Taking it slow was driving me bonkers, but I was getting there. Then last weekend I was asked if I wanted to run the warrior dash 5k in London at the end of the month. It's a 5k race with obstacles throughout. I really wanted to run it, but I needed to test out how far I could run pain free to see if I'd be able to run this. So I went to the gym and hopped on the treadmill. Instead of just running 5k & declaring myself ready I decided to throw in a bit of circuit training.
Run 1/2 mile, strength training, run 1/2 mile, strength training, etc.
I ran 2.5 miles doing pushups, squats, deadlifts, dumbell jerks, and reverse crunches in between each half mile. I didn't want to run any further & push my luck, then end up injured and unable to run for a while. So I hopped off and experienced the best runner's high. I knew that if training continued I'd be able to run the race pain free!

Since then I've not stepped back onto an elliptical! I've been on the treadmill and the road! The other day I set out to run a 3 mile circuit on the treadmill, but ended up running 5!! Five beautiful, pain free miles! Well, mostly pain free. My injuries aren't flaring up, my body is just not used to running so much anymore so I end up more sore than I used to get.

This time around I am also determined not to hit that 5k plateau. I'm a rare fat runner, and I'm tired of going to races or being the only one at the gym that doesn't look cute in exercise clothing. Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour clothes are not made for my body shape. They're the most comfortable fabric to work out in, but they are grossly unflattering on me. 

So instead of just doing around 3 miles on pretty much every run, I am slowly working on building that up & including a long run EVERY WEEK, not just once every month, or whenever I bloody feel like it (which was hardly ever.) I think my problem was running too far for my fitness level & then taking far too long to recover.

My biggest challenge will actually be not stuffing my face after every run with all the foods in my kitchen. 

The past month I've actually been really good about this. I still have days where I am ravenous, and want to eat everything in sight, but I've been able to contain myself. I won't claim that I've had a prefect diet this month, but trying to eat paleo meals & cooking at home instead of going out has helped tremendously. 

I've lost NINE LBS since I started running after my costochondritis injury!! 

I am quite proud of myself.

I just need to keep this up. My hard work & willpower will pay out in the end. I won't just be a runner; I'll actually look like one!

Wish me luck for my Sunday run. I'll be running 6.5 miles around the flight line. It'll be the longest run on the road since I injured my foot when I tried to run that route as my first run back after the costochondritis.

**I wrote this out yesterday, but I just noticed it didn't post. So this is fitness friday a day late!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Music Monday

It is impossible to listen to this song (& watch the video) and NOT have a smile on your face. It is nearly impossible to listen to anything from The Vespers & not smile. They are a happy, sunny, smiley, care-free, & fall-asleep-in-a-field-of-wild-flowers-with-the-sun-on-your-face kind of beautiful.

If ever in a bad mood all you need is to put on some music by The Vespers, close your eyes, and you will be transported momentarily to a lovely tea party in the woods. (or to wherever your happy place is, but isn't my happy place just peachy? It can be your happy place too, I can share!)

Listen to them, purchase their music, and be happy!

Friday, May 25, 2012


I think I'm going to start a new thing on Fridays. I shall call it Fitness Friday & give an update about what happened that week in my world of fitness, running, and weight loss.

I've been slowly trying to start the Paleo diet. I know it would be better for me if I went hard core into the diet, but I've tried stuff like that before and within a small time frame I usually give up. Paleo isn't a fad diet, it's more of a lifestyle & I think if I slowly integrate the recipes into my regular diet I will be less likely to give up & more likely to be successful in making long-lasting changes. It helps that a friend sent me some info on the Paleo Diet with recipes & grocery lists!!

After the 5 month move overseas (where I was not nearly as active as I should have been!!) & then soon becoming injured once I did start up again, I am finally getting back on track. My body has not been used to rigorous exercise for some time, I am embarrassed to say, so getting back into it has been tough on my body.

The first run after my costochondritis was healed I made the mistake of running 6 miles. My chest was able to bare it, I had no flame up of the injury, but I didn't realize how badly my feet would hurt!! Many people advised me to take a shorter run, but after months of no running, I was just so eager! I messed up my left foot pretty bad, and I'm still having trouble with it. Since then I've been sticking to the elliptical at the gym. I was very fortunate in finding out that one of the base gyms (I have access to 3 gyms!) has a parent/child room with a safe area for children to play & be entertained, and another area with exercise equipment. There isn't as much in there as I'd like, but I make it work with what is in there.

I've been working on my speed & upping the resistance on the elliptical to make my legs stronger. It's actually been going really well! One Sunday I did 5 miles for my "long elliptical run" & two weeks later I did my "ler" 5 miles 14 minutes faster! During the week I have been working on quickening my 5k pace. I cut 15 minutes off of my initial 5k time, then each week since I've been cutting off 30-50 seconds. Now I am running 4 miles in the time it used to take me to run 3 & I'm upping my "ler" to 6 miles this Saturday. I'm hoping to reach that in less time that it took me to run 5 miles that first week.

In addition to working on the elliptical & improving speed & time, I've been slowly getting myself back into real running. Or, at least treadmill running since I don't have a jogging stroller. I'm taking it slow, but this past week I was able to run 1 mile foot pain free! I'd like to try more, but my foot keeps getting sore and painful from just walking around on my busy, errand-running days. So I'm pacing myself. I am very proud of how far I've come this month! Most of April I was injured, and May has really been a turn-around for me!

I am down 3 lbs thanks to my efforts, but I know I could've lost 5-7 this month. I still need to work on getting my eating habits in order, and I think with Jer's encouragement & help in the kitchen, I will get there soon! Next week a new month will be starting and in that time I'd like to lose 6 lbs.