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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Family Night - from 2012

Friday is family night at our house. Years ago when the children were small, we recognized the danger in ministry of being so committed to meeting the needs of others that we never met the needs of our own family. Thus the creation of "Friday Family Night." Over the years, we have done all kinds of fun, crazy, wonderful, disastrous, exciting, boring, and experimental things on Friday night.

Tonight is an exciting family night. As you can see, my son, James, is prepared to cheer his beloved Razorbacks to victory in the cotton bowl. Although long time Texans, we try to honor our Arkansas heritage with the appropriate level of Razorback indoctrination. As anyone who is from Arkansas knows, calling the hogs is just as noteworthy an event for the baby book as "da-da" and "ma-ma."

As we inhale unhealthy, greasy pizza, guzzle high calorie soda, and cheer madly we are creating memories for a lifetime.

Sewing project - accent pillows

Katie is remodeling her little girl bedroom decor to a more mature safari decor. For Christmas she received a black comforter and a couple of zebra accent pillows. Today we sewed three giraffe print accent pillows to add to her bed. Making pillows is one of the easiest sewing projects on the planet.

First, choose the pillow form you want to purchase. I elected to go with a preformed pillow rather than using the cheaper option of stuffing the pillow myself with batting. If you have never purchased fabric for a project before, it is probably easiest to ask the person at the counter to help you estimate how much you need. I figured up my own fabric purchase in the following way:

My pillow forms were 16x16. This meant to allow for seam allowances, I would need a piece of fabric at least 33x33. Therefore I estimated using approximately one yard per pillow.

I also purchased a large black rope trim for accenting the pillows. When figuring up how much trim to buy, you simply have to add up the measurements of the edges (perimeter). I always purchase a little extra of this, just in case I have miscalculated the size of my finished product.

Once home, I cut out two pieces of fabric measuring 16 1/2 x 16 1/2. I chose to only do 1/4 inch seams because my trim had 1/4 inch edge.

Next, I laid the trim on the right side of the pillow fabric, and sewed it on my machine. The trickiest part of putting on trim is turning corners. I used my seam guide to measure up a 1/4 inch from the edge to see when I needed to turn my corners.

After attaching the trim to one side of the pillow, I added the other piece of fabric - right sides together - and stitched the two pieces together on three sides.

Typically when using trim, you can go ahead and do these steps all at once, sewing through the front, trim, and back all at once. However, my trim was a little bulky to maneuver, so I separated the steps. Remember when sewing on trim to use your zipper foot to get as close as possible to the rounded edge of the trim.

If you have never applied trim, I would highly recommend beginning with a light weight piping that is sold in packages by the zippers. This adds a nice touch and is very easy to maneuver.

After my pillow case was sewn together on three sides, I inserted my pillow form. Last, I handstiched the case closed. This entire project, from start to finish took less than 2 hours.

Happy sewing!

Fitness resolutions

For many, their number one New Year's resolution involves fitness and weight loss. I know that for most of us, fitness is not an easy road. If someone tells you that losing weight and staying fit is a breeze, they are either lying,genetically blessed, or selling the latest fad product. For those of us who are predisposed to roundness, with well established lazy habits, the fitness quest is a difficult journey.

A few years ago, I committed to changing my lifestyle and experienced amazing physical and emotional results. However, in the midst of a move, an injury, and the general chaos of life, I fell off the fitness wagon. 40 pounds later, I am struggling to reestablish my fitness routine. Tonight as I was thinking about what works for me in regards to fitness, I thought I would share these as encouragement to others facing the same journey.

1. Turn off your computer and get off the couch.

2. What? Are you still reading? To be effective, you must follow step number 1.

3. Don't be afraid to try new things. There is an exercise routine that is effective for everyone. Some people love to work out alone, some thrive with partners. Some people love to run, others dance. Some prefer the privacy of their living room, others the busyness of the gym. Sometimes it takes a little while to find your groove.

4. Don't give up. Results may come slowly. The magic fix you are looking for doesn't exist, but consistent, small life changes will eventually yield big differences. For me, I began to see big results on day 42.

5. Just because you fall off the fitness wagon doesn't mean that it's all over. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and begin again. Evaluate the factors that crashed your fitness routine and make plans to deal with them better in the future.

6. Be realistic. My body has naturally gravitated for years toward a size 16. If I expect to look like the girl on the cover of Fitness magazine after 6 weeks of working out, I set myself up for failure. True success is about meeting my own personal goals, not about looking like I'm a teenager again. I ask myself questions such as: Did I work out as many times this week as I planned? Did I improve my form, increase my reps or weights? Can I run a little longer without feeling like a four alarm fire is burning my lungs? Do I have more energy than I did three weeks ago?

7. Evaluate your eating habits. Even the best workout can't completely overcome a bad diet. This is probably the area where I struggle the most. My husband is an amazing cook, and I find portion control challenging.

8. Laugh at yourself. There will be times when you fall out of the yoga pose, stumble on the treadmill, or trip over a crack in the pavement. A sense of humor is necessary when making lifestyle changes.

9. Visualize your success. Picture yourself running across the playground with your children or grandchildren. See yourself laughing and enjoying life with greater energy. Imagine sliding into your jeans without holding your breath. Believing that you can be successful is half the battle.

10. Find encouragers. There are people in your life who will pat you on the back when you run your first mile, finish your first yoga class, or lift weights for the first time. Listen to the people you love and who believe in you.

Best of luck - may you find a happier, healthier you in 2012!

What is your most helpful tip for those just beginning to exercise?