Friday, January 31, 2014

Simple Valentine Door Hanging

There are two things that I like for my husband to give me for Valentine's and chocolate.  And when I was trying to come up with something simple to hang on my front door for V-Day, I looked over and saw my sheet music wall hanging that I made about three years ago.  I immediately saw that if I added a fabric rosette to the middle, it would look like a pretty V-Day flower.  That's right up my ally.  

I don't usually decorate very much for Valentine's Day, so this was a great compromise for me.  It was something fresh, but I didn't have to make something completely new.  I used a fabric scrap to make the rosette, then hot-glued it to the center.  It now hangs on my front door in all its' floral glory.  (My front door is completely covered and even if it rains pretty hard, it doesn't get wet.  This sheet music is safe.)

Do you go all out for Valentine's Day, or keep it simple?  Do you make plans ahead of time for your loved ones, or do you wing it, rushing to the store at the last minute for gifts or candy?  I'm trying to plan ahead a bit this year, and I have some special plans for my little family for Valentine's night.  I look forward to sharing!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday #13

I am still trying to thaw out on this very cold Wednesday morning.  The hubs and kids are home, and we are trying to make the most of our "ice/snow" day. Although, for south Alabama, mostly just a thick layer of slippery ice.  And even though I'm a little late getting this post up, (taking it easy and hanging with the fam), I'm reporting in with this week's weigh in.

After maintaining last week, I started logging into MyFitnessPal to see if I was eating too many calories without realizing it (my username on MFP is amandore if anyone wants to add me). As a rule, I have not tied myself to counting calories, I just try to make healthy decisions.  But when I have a week when the scale doesn't budge, I like to check myself.  

An example meal for me:  Turkey sandwich on whole wheat sandwich round with veggies on it.  1/2 cup strawberries, and one kiwi. 
 So for the past week, I have been logging my calories with the exception of a couple days over the weekend.  

Rachel and I all bundled up and ready to run our mile for the fit test.  Thanks for the encouragement at the end of my run, Rachel!  You rock!
Last Thursday night at Boot Camp, we did a fit test to get a baseline fitness level for everyone in the class.  We had to do sit-ups, push-ups, and run a mile.  We had two minutes to complete as many sit-ups and push-ups as possible.  They had to be done with the proper form or they didn't count.  We will be tested again every four to six weeks to see what our progress is. I completed nine push-ups, 39 sit-ups, and ran my mile in 11:32.  Not the greatest by any means, but it only gets better from here.  I was acutally pleased with my mile time.  I ran most of it, only stopping to walk when I had to.  For me, dealing with my knee injury and having to stop running for a while, and just starting back, it was good. 

I found this on Pinterest and couldn't find a source.  
I am still dealing with my knee injury, though.  This week and last week at Zumba, my knee really gave me some trouble.  I will have to not run much for a while and modify my movements in Zumba. It is very frustrating.  I just want to be able to do my best and get the weight OFF!  But, in order not to further injure it, I have to take it easy.  

So, here's the deal.  I lost a pound over this past week, and today when I weighed again, I had gained it back.  So, I am still sitting at 28 pounds lost. 

Three things that I think were contributing to that:

1. I have started eating whole wheat bread and pasta again, about one or two times a day.  I am just one of those people who can't eat bread and pasta on a regular basis, whether it's whole grain or not.  Boo!  So, this week, I will be back to NO breads. (not completely carb-free, but eating low glycemic index carbs like beans, and lentils.)

2. On MyFitnessPal, after you enter in your exercise, it gives the calories you burned back to you to eat.  There has been a big debate on whether or not to eat them back after a workout, and in the past I haven't.  But this week, I did. I didn't want my body to go into starvation mode and slow my metabolism. The number of calories that you are allowed to begin with is supposed to allow for steady, slow weight loss. (I have mine set for a two pound weight loss weekly.) So, for me, I can't eat the calories back.  I might eat a handful of nuts or something small for a post-workout snack, but can't eat the majority of them back or, case in point, I don't lose the weight. 

3.  I am only getting in about four workouts in per week. Sometimes only three.  I need to be doing something at least five or six days a week, even if it is just walking.   

Frustrating? Yes.  But, sometimes you have to adjust things to make them work for you. I hope next week, after making these adjustments, I will have positive results to report: 

*No bread or pasta, even whole grain. 
*No eating the majority of calories back after workout. 
*Exercise five to six times per week.  

To view the post that started my weight loss journey, click here

Monday, January 27, 2014

DIY Word Cloud Art

While doing some weekend reading on Thistlewood Farm, I found out about this amazing free website, Tagxedo, that allows you to make word cloud art. I was immediately smitten. You see, I have this thing for personalized art prints.  I also have a thing for free stuff.  These two things together, and I am in Heaven! (You can check out a great tutorial on how to utilize the site here.)

I decided to make some art for my girls' new shared bedroom.  I used words like share, best friends, sisters in the art and I love how it turned out.  I kept it in simple black and white so it would coordinate well with the bedroom. 

I also created art about our dog, Molly.  Isn't it precious?  I used horizontal wording on this one. 

How about Valentine's Day art to print and frame for the holiday?  Love it!

There are tons of color combinations, shapes, and fonts to personalize your art. Go check it out and make your own!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Free Divergent Quote Printable

Have you read "Divergent" yet?  It is the first book in a series of three dystopian novels that takes place in futuristic Chicago. 

I couldn't put the books down.  It was such a good series, and I am looking forward to watching the first movie in the series in theaters this March.  

There was one quote in the book that I really loved.  It was said by Four, a tough guy who is as brave as they get.  Bravery is a quality cherished most by the Dauntless faction, and as a leader of Dauntless, Four's bravery is never questioned. The Erudite faction seeks knowledge above all else.  The Abnegation faction prizes selflessness.  Amity seeks peace and kindness, while Candor holds honesty in the highest esteem. 

Each faction prizes one characteristic above the others.  There is quite a rift between the ideals of each faction, and it is extremely rare that anyone questions those ideals.  

But, Four says this:

"I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest."

He didn't want to just adhere to the ideals of his own faction, he thought being all of those things were important. 

I want to be all of those things.  And I want my girls to be them, as well.  So, as a little reminder, I made a printable that I can hang on their bedroom wall (in the gallery wall I have planned for the new bedroom design). I also made the printable in a couple of different colors, too.  They would be great hung in a nursery, kid's room, or playroom. 

To download, right click on the printable and save to your computer.  Then print on cardstock.  Staples also has a lot of different papers to choose from, including some with a little shimmer that would be great for printables. 


**Printables copyright 2014 Cultivate Create and for personal use only.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday #12

I got a question this week on Facebook from an amazing young lady. I've received similar questions frequently since I started posting about my weight loss journey.  But for some reason, her question sparked a fire in me and she got a pretty lengthy reply.  

I found that I am pretty passionate about seeing others reach their health and weight loss goals, especially when I know what they are going through and struggling with.  I am still in the thick of it all, but I have made huge leaps ahead and I want to see others do the same.  

*Here is a portion of the question:

Hey Amanda! So I have a question for you regarding your workout/dieting. Have you ever found it difficult to get started working out? Like what motivates you to do it and keep doing it? I have such a hard time staying motivated and all. Also, any suggestions on how to eat healthier with a college student bank account and busy busy schedule?

*An excerpt of my response:

Okay, first things first.....starting is the HARDEST step to take. You have to do it with a perspective of I'm not dieting, I'm changing my lifestyle. Dieting always fails.....especially if you are so strict and deny yourself everything then, BAM!, you eat everything in sight after so long. Also, I don't know about you, but food for me has been a way to cope. A way to numb the pain of what I was dealing with. An addiction. A drug. If that in any way is the case with you, I think you have to deal with those things. For me, I was really hurting and dealing with a lot that I would've rather forgotten about. I was the person hurting by holding on and not forgiving. By letting those things go once and for all, giving them to the Lord, I was able to heal and thus, set free to move forward. 

A big part of moving forward was taking responsibility for what I had let my health and body become, get mad at it, and do something about it. I had to stop talking and start doing. 

I am twelve and a half weeks in. I am still learning, but I will say that the first month was the hardest. I was mad that i couldn't eat McDonald's fries when my family did. Angry that I couldn't eat sweets like my husband does and never gain weight. I was completely overwhelmed by the fact that I will always have to be vigilant about what I put in my mouth.  
But now, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER!!!!! Not just physically but spiritually and emotionally. It is so worth it to not eat a Pop-Tart for Breakfast, but to actually get up and make myself a healthy omelet. It is so worth it after I make myself exercise and eat healthy and the scale moves down each week. The key is planning ahead. You are a super busy college student and that, for you, will be key. Maybe on Sunday night, you get some snack sized baggies and make snack bags ahead of time that you can grab and go. Make up bags with grapes, strawberries, carrots, etc., that you can have ready and on hand in your fridge and grab on your way out the door. Have healthy snacks available and ready so when you are hungry, you aren't tempted to grab something not healthy for you.  When you are eating nutrient dense foods throughout the day, they keep you more full than eating processed junk, and it is easier to stay on track. 

I never in a million years thought I would be able to lose weight again, to not be controlled by food. But I am doing it. Small step by small step. Take it one day at a time, one meal at a time. Make healthy decisions. Instead of eating a sandwich on white bread, choose whole grain. Instead of eating chips with that sandwich, eat an apple. Instead of choosing a soda with that meal, drink water. Take it one meal at a time, one day at a time, making healthy choices along the way. It eventually gets easier to make those healthy choices.....the body starts craving good foods instead of the junk.
As far as exercise goes, start by just walking and then gradually add more challenging things. When I first started trying to get healthy again, the first month, I mainly focused on nutrition because that is where I struggle. I walked some, but not a lot. I had to get my eating under control first. It was hard, but as I started getting a handle on that, I started adding fitness. Now, I am walking/running, doing Zumba and Boot Camp classes and plan on continuing to increase as I can.
Another thing that is important is accountability. Get someone to hold you accountable, who will pray with you and for you! Someone who will tell you like it is!
And as far as my motivation goes.......Every week, when I get on the scale and I see progress, that motivates me to keep going. Being able to fit into smaller clothes and feel better about myself, that motivates me. Feeling like I am becoming the person God wants me to be, that motivates me. IT IS HARD BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT!

She got an earful, didn't she? But I just wanted her to know what I've learned. I wanted her to know that she can do it, too. I want YOU to know that you can do it!
This week, I weighed in and didn't lose even one pound. You have those weeks where you plateau. I want to get mad and frustrated,but I'm just going to keep on keeping on. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I'm keeping my eyes toward the prize. I hope you are, too.

To view the post that started my weight loss journey, click here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blank Slate

I am slowly getting things done in my girls' shared bedroom.  I thought I would share what I have done so far this morning and a little to-do list that will keep me on track. 

In addition to the blue walls and gray polka dots, I thought that I would use this art print from HollyDays to inspire the rest of my color scheme.  I found the fabric at TJ's Fabrics here in my hometown. (If you have never been, you should definitely check it out.  There is so much to choose from.  You can order online as well.)  It's hard to tell from the picture, but the fabric is actually a two-tone fabric.  Very pretty. 

Right now, this room is basically a blank canvas for me to add layers to make it warm and inviting for my girls.  Notice the black and white rug?  I will also be incorporating some black into the space. 

Shared Bedroom To-Do List:
*Paint over tree wall 
*Paint polka-dot feature wall
*Get new (or in this case, gently used) matching beds
*Order Ashlyn a coverlet that matches Katlyn's existing one
*Get new blinds
*Hang new curtains
*Make throw pillows 
*Make monogram art
*Replace ceiling fan
*Find nightstand or table to put in between beds
*Hang art on walls
*Find a throw blanket, quilt, or comforter to go at end of bed and be used during colder weather
*Spray paint existing lamp and get new lamp shade
*Paint closet doors with chalkboard paint

Already, I think I have the approval of two little girls.  Nap time has never been so cozy!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Favorite Things: Etsy Shops

Today, I am sharing with you some of my favorite Etsy shops.  Do you shop on Etsy?  I am increasingly utilizing this site for great deals on home decor, party supplies, and cards or art prints.  I love that you can support individuals who are creative artisans, find products that are unique, and get a great deal all in the same place.  Here are some of the shops I love.

Art & Prints

via \\ Stephanie Creekmur
This foil print is the epitome of southern euphemisms. Stephanie Creekmur has the most adorable art prints that capture the southern spirit. Remember the Hey Ya'll print from my Favorite Decor Trends post earlier this week?  Another example of her beautiful work. 

via \\ Old English Co
This timeless black and white print is just the tip of the iceberg for London based Old English Co.  Take a look at this shop's modern kitchen, nursery,and wedding prints. 

via \\ lilidiprima
I am absolutely crazy about these quirky portraits.  Send Lili Di Prima a photo of each person in your family and she creates beautiful, unique portrait art.  I am definitely doing this! She also does wedding invitations and pet portraits. 

Fabric & Textiles

via \\ Sew Fine Fabric
Sew Fine Fabric is a wonderful shop to find modern home decor weight fabric at a great price. I can attest to the great quality!

via \\ ElemenOPillows
How cute is the name ElemenOPillows?  This shop has beautiful, ready-made pillow covers, including Euro shams.

via \\ Michelle Dwight
Who doesn't like a little typography on a pillow, especially if it's song lyrics? Check out this shop's beautiful custom pillows and other home accessories. 


via \\ Littlelow
I cannot say enough about Littlelow.  This shop has the most adorable cards and art prints.  I honestly could've including quite a few different items from this shop in this post, but I restrained myself. Just go take a look. She has cards buy three get one free right now.  Here is a little idea....her cards would be adorable framed as art. 

via \\ Katievaz 

Beautiful hand-drawn paper goods in this shop!

via \\ One Canoe Two
If you haven't heard of One Canoe Two, I would be surprised. I think I've even seen a commercial on tv.  These guys have wonderful letterpress goods!

Supplies (Home Organization and Party)

via \\ Image Fountain Designs
Chalkboard supplies from Image Fountain Designs are just what any organizer needs to keep things stylish and tidy. 

via \\ More Sprinkled Joy
Find paper straws and lots of other party supplies from More Sprinkle Joy. 
via \\ Greenridge
Wooden rock candy sticks, among other party wares, are found at Greenridge Designs. Lots of cute tags and party decor.  

via \\ Rockabye Baby Store
This party banner is adorable!  Great for a first birthday, or any occasion. This Ozark, Alabama based shop has just what you need to make your next party stand out. 


via \\ Yard & Sons
My cousin Ryan's shop, Yard & Sons, has got you covered when it comes to leather goods for all of your gadgets.  Need ideas for Valentine's Day for your hubby? Check out the handcrafted leather sleeves for any smart phone or tablet. (I have a Kindle sleeve and love it.)  Also, I love this new leather catchall.  I'm thinking it would be perfect on a bedside table. 

via \\ Nicole Porter Design
This shop has colorful wares for your home, including these state hand towels. 

Want to see more of my faves?  Check out all of my favorited items and shops here. You can follow me on Etsy as well. 

Do you have any favorite Etsy shops?  I'd love to check them out! Leave a comment below. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday #11

I'm sitting here, not really knowing what I want to say.  These past twelve weeks have been awesome. Let me go ahead and weigh in before I go any further. 

This week's weight loss is 3 pounds for a total of 28 pounds in twelve weeks. (Yes, we are only on weigh-in number 11 because we skipped a week at Christmas.)

These past twelve weeks have helped me in so many ways!  I truly do feel like a different person already. I have a long way to go still, but I am so excited about the progress I've made.  

I haven't had a soda in twelve weeks.  I feel so much better! I have more energy.  I think the old Amanda,or I should say, the real Amanda is slowly emerging. I no longer feel like I am a slave to food.  It doesn't control me. I control what I put in my mouth. 

Before I started trying to get healthy, I honestly never thought I would be able to lose weight again. I felt helpless.  I felt out of control. I was miserable. As my body has adjusted to not eating garbage, it has gotten easier! I crave fruits and veggies. The cravings for brownies and cakes and chips are few and far between. I was super stringent at first, but now I am finding a balance.  I am developing a healthy relationship with food....the fact that it is a way to fuel my body for great health as opposed to my best friend when I am upset.  Is it okay to have a slice of pie occasionally? Absolutely!  But it can't be the norm. It has to be the exception.  

And as far as fitness goes, I am getting stronger every week. I still could up the ante a bit with my exercising.  That is my goal this week.  To put more into exercising.  

I am easing myself back into running. I ran for the first time in a month this past weekend.  I didn't have any knee pain during or after the run, so I think it is safe to start increasing gradually.  I am going to start training so I can run those five 5Ks this year. 

Last week at Boot Camp class, we did Tabata drills.  Have you ever done those?  I really liked doing them. It was my first time. You do a group of exercises for intervals of 20 seconds, resting 10 seconds between each exercise.  You repeat that set, lets say 6 times before moving to the next group of exercises. 

Use this chart to do Tabata drills at home.  It is a great workout! I also have some other Boot Camp workouts and others on my Fitness and Weight Loss Pinterst Board.  

What I am doing is nothing special.  Tons of people lose weight.  Tons of people are probably doing it at a faster pace than I am. I hold no allusions that I'm doing something unique or fascinating. It's not. It's just a real life struggle being fought by a girl who had had enough. But, I want to reiterate that posting this helps me so much with accountability!  I want to thank you for all the support and encouragement.  

And I truly to hope to encourage others.  If you are struggling, I really do know what you are going through.  I have been down in the gutters with it all. Please hear me when I say that you can do it

Be sure to check Facebook later today! I am going to post another fitness challenge. Are you in?

To view the post that started my weight loss journey, click here

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Decor Dilemma: Lamps

So, I am having a bit of a dilemma.  And I need your help.  I have been indecisive about these lamps for months now.  It's time to figure this out. 

I found these lamps at thrift store for only $5 each.  They are vintage, heavy brass.  I loved the shape of them and the fact that they are gold.  They only shades I could find for them were these slightly tapered, cream ones from Lowe's.  I wasn't quite sold on them yet in this space. 

Then, I added some faux bois fabric in turquoise and the mirrors behind them. Better. But I'm still not quite sure they work here.  

I have thought about spray painting them and moving them onto the buffet in the dining room or our master bedroom.  With different lamp shades, of course.  But I haven't been able to bring myself to paint them.  I really love the mirrors in this location and have debated getting slightly shorter lamps like this one:

via \\ Z Gallerie
 Or this one:

via \\ Target

Or this one: 

via \\ Target
I know that I want to keep the brass lamps and use them somewhere. 

Should I leave them be?

Should I paint them and use them elsewhere and buy different lamps for the living room?  

What do you guys think?  

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