Fitness for April 2016
April 30, 2016
This month sure went by fast. It seems like it was just the end of March. I actually missed doing a post on fitness for the month of March because I was pretty busy. I did workout – even when we went out of town for Spring Break – but I just didn’t have time for a post that month.
In the past month of April I followed my Cathe Friedrich Xtrain program for most of the month along with yoga every other day. I actually started the month just doing Cathe workouts but then the past two weeks I decided to get back into yoga more so I have been doing a schedule of cardio or weights one day and then yoga the next. So the past couple of weeks my schedule was:
Mondays – Xtrain, cardio or weights
Tuesdays – yoga
Wednesdays – Xtrain, cardio or weights
Thursdays – yoga
Friday – Xtrain, cardio or weights
Saturday – yoga
Sunday – off
The yoga workouts varied for me. I either used my Shiva Rea dvd’s or checked out some Yoga Journal magazines from my local library and used some of the sequences in those. I enjoy doing the Yoga Journal sequences and the variety they offer. I also like that I can check out the magazines at the library and not have to buy them. The library keeps up to the past two years so there is a variety to choose from.
I also found a new book at the library about the Vitamix blender. I was looking for a book about using a blender for more than just smoothies and came across the Vitamix cookbook. At the time of checking this out a few weeks ago I did not own a Vitamix blender – I just had my older model Ninja Ultima blender that I bought about three years ago.
Well, after getting this book and seeing the great recipes and then watching some videos on YouTube about the Vitamix I was convinced I needed one. There are many things you can do with the Vitamix that the Ninja will not do, believe me, I tried. Thankfully my husband was agreeable to me getting one as they are not cheap. I ended up getting the Deluxe Complete Kitchen set that comes with the 5200 blender, the smaller blending container and also the dry grinding container that you can grind your own flours in. There were also some other bonuses like cutting mats, spatulas and the Whole Foods cookbook-binder with lots of great recipes. This set was on sale through Vitamix for Mother’s Day so I told my husband this could be my Mother’s Day gift.
So far I love this new blender. I have been using it daily – at least twice or more a day – since I received it. The smoothies are really good and the green ones turn out super smooth. I have even gotten my oldest son to start drinking one daily and he likes them.
I have also used the Vitamix to dry chop some vegetables and to wet chop vegetables. I have made a frozen dessert, nut butter, salsa and soup. The soup was not a big hit with the family – it was okay. I made it directly in the blender – it was tomato soup. It seemed kind of foamy which is what my family disliked. I think next time I would just blend it in the blender for about a minute and then cook – heat it on the stove. The strawberry frozen dessert I made was a big hit and I love how it only had 3 simple ingredients and very low sugar. I have also tried out the dry grinding container and made my own oat flour to use in my homemade bread and rolls that I bake each week.
Well, tomorrow is the first of May and I will continue my Cathe and yoga workout rotation for at least the beginning of May. I may change it up to something different by the middle of the month, we’ll see. I hope you are having a great Spring so far and getting in some workouts.
Chenille Knit Blanket
April 10, 2016
I finally finished the chenille knit blanket that I started back before Christmas. I now know why I don’t knit that many blankets or afghans – they take a lot of time to complete and after a while I get bored with the same project and the same yarn. That is probably why I had to quit working on this blanket for a while and do a few other projects in between. Well, anyhow, it is done, actually it has been finished for a few weeks and my husband (and cat) have been enjoying it.
This blanket is super easy to knit. I had this chenille yarn, from Lion brand yarn, for quite a while in my stash and decided it would be a nice warm blanket for our living room. The needle size I used for this yarn was a size US 11 circular with a very long 47 inch cable. The pattern for this blanket is a 4 row repeat and is below:
Cast on 72 stitches (multiple of 4)
Row 1: (Right Side) *K2, p2; repeat from * across
Row 2: *K2, p2; repeat from * across
Row 3: P2, k2; repeat from * across
Row 4: P2, k2; repeat from * across
Repeat the above 4 rows a total of 104 times or until desired length.
My finished blanket was approximately 42 inches wide and 65 inches long. A nice size for a couch afghan. I could have probably made it longer as I had another skein of yarn but the chenille yarn was getting super heavy to work with.
This stitch pattern is reversible, meaning it looks the same on both sides, which I think is nice for a blanket. I also knit a swatch with the pattern in acrylic #4 weight yarn holding 2 yarns together and thought that would also make a nice heavy blanket.
The above swatch is knit with 2 skeins of Hobby Lobby I Love this Yarn held together and using the 4 row pattern above and size US 11 needles. This swatch ended up being a little smaller in size than my chenille swatch. It was 4 inches wide by 4 inches long on 12 stitches over 16 rows in pattern. The chenille swatch was 6 inches wide by 5 inches long on 12 stitches over 20 rows in pattern. So, if you were to knit the pattern in 2 yarns of acrylic yarn you would probably want to increase your stitch count to at least 112 stitches so that the blanket will be wide enough. Just remember your stitch count needs to be a multiple of 4 whatever you increase it to.
Overall I am pleased with our new blanket. I also like the fact that it looks nice with the Vibrant V Stitch pillow I crocheted back in the fall. Of course photos are not complete without my black cat getting in the background.
I have also been knitting some dishcloths, which are good and easy spring projects and some sweaters. What have you been working on lately? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Have a great day!
Fitness for February 2016
February 28, 2016
Today marks the end of my eight week completion of the Hammer and Chisel workout program from Beachbody. I am so glad to have made it through the total program, enjoyed all the workouts and I have seen positive results.
The past month the workouts were a little longer as there were more days that you added on the 10 minute Ab Hammer or the 10 minute Ab Chisel workouts after completing the days scheduled workout. Most of the workouts are around 30 to 40 minutes long but if you add on the 10 minutes of abs you are looking at around 40 to 50 minutes for that day. I also had a new workout friend – my other cat (as seen in the photo above) decide to join me for many of the workouts. She is older and kind of shy so she usually is in the other room but I guess she decide she liked Hammer and Chisel.
Power Chisel workout is a workout that can be found on the Deluxe dvd set that you have to purchase as an add on to the program. The set includes four bonus workouts on one dvd. You get Hammer Build Up, Power Chisel, 15 minute Leg Hammer and 15 minute Glute Chisel. I like having these additional workouts so that I have a little more variety with the program.
The 15 Minute Leg Hammer workout is a great one for the legs as well as the core. The 15 Minute Leg Hammer and the 15 Minute Glute Hammer are incorporated as add ons to your regular workout for that day so you increase your workout time on those days.
My final measurements on the last day of the program show that I have lost inches. I mainly lost inches in my waist, hip and thigh area. My arm measurement actually increase by about a 1/4 to 1/2 and inch – probably from all the weight lifting and increase in my bicep muscle. I lost a half and inch from my waist, one inch from my hips and one inch from my upper thighs. I can also see a lot more definition in my shoulder and back area. My main goal was to tone up and lose inches in the hip and waist area so I feel like that was accomplished in the last couple of months.
Overall, I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested in losing some weight, gaining some lean muscle and learning how to control portions with their eating. The program comes with a set of containers to measure your food portions and guidelines for how much you should be eating each day. I will say that using the containers and recording my eating each day for the past two months has been a real eye opener for me on how much and what I am eating. I think that keeping track of my food or a food journal each day has really helped me see better results with this program. I have always been a pretty healthy eater but this program taught me to control how much I was eating.
So, now on to the next month and a new workout program and schedule. I have decided to do my new Cathe ICE program, some yoga and maybe a little bike riding if the weather is nice enough for the month of March. What workout are you currently doing? Let me know my leaving a comment.
New Sewing Patterns
February 23, 2016
Last week I bought some new Kwik Sew patterns during the Presidents Day sale at Hancock Fabrics. Kwik Sew patterns are one of my favorite pattern companies. The patterns are well designed and they have excellent instructions with them. They also offer a lot of beginning type of sewing patterns for the new seamstress that have easy to follow directions.
The Kwik Sew patterns are a bit more expensive than other pattern companies which is one of the reasons I buy them on sale when Hancocks has them for $6.99. In my opinion they are worth it though. They come with a slightly heavier pattern paper and you can easily trace it using pattern drafting paper or interfacing so you can use multiple sizes in the one pattern. This is great if you sew for others and need more than one size.
I am looking forward to making the tops, as seen in the top photo above, for spring and summer. The jacket pattern in the second photo is something I hope to complete in the next couple of weeks. I found a nice french terry fabric in a beige heather color to use for that pattern. There are two versions of the pattern – one with a hood and one without. I think I am going to make the hooded version.
Currently I am finishing sewing another pair of jeans using the Kwik Sew jeans pattern I have had for many years. This is one of the greatest patterns for jeans and I love the fit and the easy to follow directions. I think this is the fifth or sixth pair of jeans I have made in the last five years. I prefer to sew my own jeans that way I can get the fit the way I want them. The process of sewing jeans really isn’t that hard if you do a little here and a little there. I can usually get a pair made in about a week just sewing an hour or two a day on them.
I don’t think Kwik Sew sells the jeans pattern anymore in their current line of patterns but you can find sellers on etsy that sell vintage or out of print patterns for reasonable prices. I also recommend the Craftsy class Sewing Designer Jeans with Angela Wolf. I took this class a couple of years ago through Craftsy and loved it. It really teaches you how to make your jeans look professional and lots of tips for getting the fit right.
What kinds of projects are you currently working on? Let me know in the comments.
Red Stripes Knit Sweater
February 11, 2016
My most recently finished knitting project is a sweater that I designed using various red yarns and a white yarn. The idea for the sweater began from the knitting stitch a friend of mine was using to knit a baby blanket. I had some various red yarns, a skein of this and that, all in medium weights, and I wanted to combine them and use them up. I decided it would be best to alternate them with some white yarn since some of the yarns were a dark red and other were a true red, or a red with sparkles in the yarn.
I am really happy with the way the sweater turned out and the fit. I am also happy that I got it done in time to wear for Valentine’s day. My husband commented that I would be ready for Christmas, too – especially if I added a green accent to it – so I guess it can be worn for a couple of holidays.
As I mentioned before the yarns I used were various medium weight yarns. Three of the yarns were the Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn – which is a great yarn for sweaters, in my opinion. It knits well and there are tons of colors. The other two yarns were Red Heart that I had left over from other projects. The one was Red Heart Sparkle, which I only used for a couple of stripes in the body of the sweater. I ran low with this one and I didn’t think I had enough for the sleeves so I left that one out of the sleeves. The other yarn was Red Heart Soft in a wine color.
Above is a larger, close up view, of the sweater so you can see the stitch. It is mainly stockinette with a ridge in between each color change. The sweater has garter rows for the sleeve edges and the lower band and at the top neckline and shoulder area.
The sleeves I designed to be a 3/4 sleeve. I decided that would be best since sometimes in February we have slightly warmer days and if it does happen to be cooler I can wear a shirt underneath, as in the photos. I kind of like a 3/4 sleeve on sweaters that way they don’t get wet when you wash or hands or do dishes.
Overall I am pleased with my new sweater and look forward to knitting another one – maybe in shades of blue with a light gray in place of the white. I am thinking that combination would look good with jeans. Eventually I will have the pattern for the sweater available in my etsy, craftsy and ravelry shops.
What are you currently knitting or crocheting? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Book Review Power Hungry
February 4, 2016
The book Power Hungry by Camilla V. Saulsbury is a collection of recipes to make your own energy bars, granola bars and protein bars. This book is something I came across at Barnes and Noble back in the Spring of 2015. I have been using it on and off to make my own protein and granola bars instead of buying them.
So far I have tried about ten or more of the recipes. As you can see from the book photo above I have a bunch of them marked with post it flags – that is how I go through a recipe book – I flag all the ones that look or sound good so I know which ones I need to get ingredients for. The book is filled with lots of different recipes and all the recipes have variations to try using the same basic recipe but with a few ingredient changes – I really like that. The recipe chapters of the book are:
- Super Natural Knock-Offs
- Activity Bars
- Endurance Bars
- Protein Bars
- Raw and Almost Raw Bars
Some of the recipes are super simple and you just blend the ingredients together in your food processor and then put into a pan and refrigerate to set them, cut them and you are done. Some of the other require cooking, either some ingredients on the stove top or some actual baking time. For all the recipes in the book there are directions as to how to store them and for how long. There is a room temperature version, refrigerator version and freezer version.
The beginning of the book also lists pantry ingredients to have on hand. There are ingredients such as whole grains, natural sweeteners, chocolate and cocoa, canned ingredients, nuts, seeds and nut butters, oils, eggs, dairy and non dairy milks, all natural protein powders and extract flavorings. If you already eat a pretty healthy diet chances are you have a lot of the ingredients already. I found that there were several recipes I could make right away without having to go buy anything.
So far the recipes I have tried are:
- Fitness Fiber Bars – which are suppose to be similar to Fiber One Bars – I made the chewy chocolate chip version and liked them
- Canyon Crunch Bars – which are suppose to be similar to Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars – I tried the Cinnamon Pecan version and they were okay – these are kind of hard and crunchy, just like the bars you buy but mine were more crumbly – they didn’t really stay together as bars but they were still good to eat in chunks
- Lucy Bars – which are like Larabars – personally I have never bought one of them but I love this recipe and the many variations. I have made the PB & J Bars, Cashew Cookie Dough Bars and the Blueberry Cobbler Bars and that is only about a quarter of the different versions listed under this recipe
- Raisin Bran Bolt Bars – I made the double chocolate version of these and they are kind of like a brownie. My son and his friends came home for lunch from school the other day and they were even eating them – I didn’t tell them they were made with good for you all natural ingredients and high in fiber.
- Seeds of Power Bars – this one so far is the only one I didn’t really like all that much – it was kind of plain to me
- PB & J Protein Bars – these were easy to make and tasted good – they have protein powder in them so good before or after a workout
- 5 minute Protein Truffles – lots of variations with this recipe and I have tried a couple of them and liked them both
Above are a couple of the versions of the bars I have recently made. Mine probably don’t look as pretty as ones you buy in a package but they taste good and that is one of my main goals – to have a healthy homemade tasty power bar.
Making your own granola and protein bars is really pretty simple and if you have some great recipes, like the ones in this book, you will always have healthy snacks around. The main reason for making the bars versus buying them for me is that I like to know what is in my food and I want to have control over what I put in them. Also, the cost of making them yourself is a lot less than buying them.
Have you ever made your own protein or energy bars? If so, what recipe did you use? Let me know by leaving a reply.
Have a great day!
Working Out January 2016
January 26, 2016
The month of January is almost over – it seems like this month went by very fast to me. I have now completed three full weeks of the Hammer and Chisel workout program and started week 4 yesterday. So far I am really liking the program and seeing good results.
The workouts are classified as Hammer workouts or Chisel workouts. Basically you alternate one day of a Hammer workout with Sagi and the next day a Chisel workout with Autumn. I am not sure which workout I like the best so far. I do know that Total Body Hammer, Hammer Conditioning and Total Body Chisel are probably my top three picks as of now. Most of the workouts involve heavy weights at some point in the workout but there are a couple that do not require any weights. I also bought the Deluxe workout dvd’s and this week, week 4, some of those are being incorporated into the workout as an option if you have them. It is nice to change it up a bit.
The workouts are all pretty much an intermediate level form of exercise. They range in time from 26 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the workout. Some days you add on one of the 10 minute ab workouts after completing the workout for that day – there is a 10 minute Ab Hammer and a 10 minute Ab Chisel workout on each dvd.
There are some great motivational quotes and sayings throughout all the workouts from Autumn and Sagi. One of them from Hammer Plyo workout from Sagi is “Pain is Temporary.” Hammer Plyo is a very intense workout and the quote fits the workout – it is tough but the pain is temporary and the results are worth the effort. Another one from Sagi and Total Body Hammer is “Never Ever Give Up.” A quote from Autumn that I really like is “No one ever got chiseled by sitting on their butt.” This is so true – if you want to get in shape and feel better about yourself you are going to have to put in the effort and time and workout – do something every day to become a healthier person. She also talks in one of the workouts how you have to choose your “hard.” Working out every day is hard but so is being overweight and unhappy about your health – you pick your “hard.”
I have also been trying to use my juicer at least once or twice a week to help me get more fruits and vegetables in my diet. With Hammer and Chisel there is an eating plan you follow and for my plan, plan B, I need to have 4 vegetables a day and 3 fruits. The program comes with the containers to measure your food – as seen in the photo above at the beginning of the post. You really begin to understand portion control and see how much you should be eating per serving whether it is protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits or condiments and dressings. I think that by using the containers and following the eating plan pretty closely the past month plus using the workouts six days a week I have been able to lose inches around my hips and thighs – so far I have lost one inch from each area (hips and thighs) in just one month.
One of the other benefits of the workouts is how much stronger I am getting and I notice I am starting to be able to go up in my weights for some of the exercises. I am looking forward to another month of Hammer and Chisel for February and to see my end results.
What workout are you currently doing? Let me know by leaving a reply.
New Knitting Projects and Yarns
January 16, 2016
Happy 2016! A new year – time for some new knitting projects, new yarns and lots of new ideas.
I recently purchased some really nice sock yarn from a shop on etsy called The Queens Ransome. This shop has some really great sock yarns and one ball should make one pair of socks. You can click on the highlighted text to take you to the shop and view the yarns. Below are the yarns I purchased.
I fell in love with the yarn at the top – the red, black and gray – which is called Zombie yarn – I like the name, too. I have started knitting a pair of socks with that yarn.
So far that is the progress on my Spiral Tube Sock – which is a free pattern from Patons that I have had for years, but it is still available if you click on the link of highlighted text. I actually tried to knit socks about five or six years ago and gave up when I got one sock about halfway done. I got to the heel area and didn’t quite get all the directions for the heel turn and everything. Well, this pair of socks does not have that part since they are spiral knit so I am starting with this pattern and will work my way to the other with the heel turn. I am determined to master knitting socks – a goal for 2016.
Sock yarn also makes beautiful shawls. Since I have 4 balls of it I may use one for a spring shawl.
I also wanted to share this beautiful new pottery yarn bowl I received as a gift from my oldest son for Christmas. I have been wanting one of these for a while – there are many to choose from on etsy – so I messaged him a couple I would like for Christmas and he picked out this one. I love the design and the colors – he picked a great one from the Red Hot Pottery shop.
I have also been working on some new designs for hats, headbands and cowls. A new sweater design is also coming to life.
The above is one hat I have finished for a new pattern and I am making another version for the same pattern. When I have the other version complete I will be adding the pattern to my shops. This hat is knit in the round so there are no seams.
The cowl above is another one of my new designs, it is knit in gradient colors – 3 shades and also knit in the round on circular needles. I had a lot of fun designing this and plan to release the pattern this month – so be sure to check my etsy, craftsy and ravelry shops.
What projects are you currently working on for January? Let me know by leaving a reply.
Fitness for December 2015
December 24, 2015
The new workout The Hammer and Chisel came out this past month. I decided on an impulse to order it as some of the people in my facebook fitness group had started it and it sounded like something I would be interested in. Also, I had been waiting on my new Cathe Friedrich workouts to arrive that I pre-ordered back in the summer and I didn’t have them yet – I guess you could say I was getting impatient to start up some type of new workout.
So, I received Hammer and Chisel about 12 days ago and started doing some of the workouts last Monday, the 14th of December. Right now I am just going on my own schedule and not following the complete 60 days listed in the workout – I plan to start that up in January, after the holidays, with my friend Kathleen’s fitness group on facebook.
The above photo shows what came in my order. The dvd workouts plus the containers that are for your food so you are eating in the right proportions. So far I have done almost 2 weeks of the workouts and I am using the containers and the Plan B, according to the booklet, for eating. I really like the containers and how they teach you how to have portion control with your food. I always thought I had a good idea of this but the containers keep you really accountable. I also made up my own worksheet for the eating plan I am on which is another thing that is really keeping me on track – especially this time of year. I will say that I have fallen off the plan and enjoyed a couple of treats or Christmas cookies here and there, but I write it down so I can see what I am eating and try to do better the next day. Of course it is harder this time of year when there are a lot of temptations. In January I plan to stick to the schedule a whole lot better – when holiday treats are gone.
Iso Speed Hammer was the first workout I tried the day after I received them. This is one of the shorter workouts in the program. Just because it is short does not mean it is easy. You do 10 reps at a slow count of one exercise then 10 reps as fast as you can of the same move – this is a great workout. Afterwards I did the Hammer Abs – which is also a great 10 min. ab workout – I was sweating a lot after both of them.
Chisel Cardio is another great and challenging workout that I did a few days ago. This one worked my whole body – I felt it everywhere afterwards and especially later that night – I knew it was working on getting me into shape in areas I never felt before. As you can see the cat liked it, too – he is sitting on the arm of the chair watching the TV. Also, not workout related but I cut my hair as you can see in these photos as compared to the other ones – it was time for a change – just like my workouts needed a change, so did my hair.
I would classify the Hammer and Chisel workout as an intermediate to advanced workout series. There is a modifier for many of the exercises but you still do the same amount of reps. The whole series focuses on the use of weights with most of the exercises – some of the weights are heavy. I am using 15 and 20 pound dumbbells for many of the exercises.
My Cathe workouts also came in the mail about five days ago. I knew that if I ordered another workout series that one would get released. I am so excited about her new ICE series, which stands for Intermediate Conditioning Extreme. So, this week I am using Hammer and Chisel and the ICE series dvd’s. I am doing Chisel, Hammer then an ICE dvd – on a 6 day a week workout schedule.
What workouts are you currently doing or planning to start for the new year? I know January is a big month for people to start getting back into shape. Let me know by leaving a reply.
Have Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Knit Cape and Other Knitting Projects
December 16, 2015
Recently I finished a knit cape that I designed using Homespun yarn from Lion. Homespun yarn is probably one of my favorite fall and winter yarns to work with. It is very soft and the colors are pretty.
The color name of the yarn that I used for this cape was called painted desert. It has a lot of great colors in it and goes with many different things.
The cape is designed to fit kind of snug around the neckline and shoulder area and then gradually gets wider at the bottom. This pattern is knit on circular needles so there are no seams – which is nice because when you get done all you have to do is weave in a few ends and you are finished with your project. A great reason to love circular knitting.
Another great thing about this pattern is that it can be worn different ways. You can also wear it as a hooded type of scarf to keep you warm on a cold and windy day.
For more information on this pattern you can visit my etsy shop , craftsy store, or ravelry.
Other projects that I have been working on are some yoga socks, knit with some Noro Silk Garden yarn I had in my stash. I am currently testing out the pattern in another yarn, also found in my stash, before I will be releasing it.
The socks look like some type of pac-man object or something in the photo – this was just a quick shot I took after completing them. They actually do fit nicely and I have wore them twice now to practice yoga in. It is nice to have something to keep your feet warm on chilly mornings but still be able to grip the mat with the ball of your foot, toes and heel. The opening in the middle is the part where your heel goes. The pattern for these will be coming soon.
I have also been working on a chenille afghan. This yarn has been in my stash for quite a while, I am ashamed to admit. I bought it with intentions to knit a sweater and decided after attempting that last year that it was going to be too bulky. So, this year I decided it would make a nice blanket-afghan for our living room. The yarn is so soft and seems like it will keep you warm. I have kind of put it aside lately to work on yoga socks and a new cowl pattern but I plan to finish it by January and I will share it here on my blog when it is done.
My friend Marilyn knitted these cute Christmas dishcloths. She knit two of them for all of the ladies in my monthly knitting group – there are five of us that meet once a month at a Starbucks to knit and socialize. We have been doing this for about 6 years now. The dishcloth on the right has a tree design in it – can you make out the outline of it? I love using these cotton knit dishcloths in the kitchen. My mom likes to knit these as well so I am sure I will be getting a couple more for gifts this year.
What kinds of projects have you been working on lately? Let me know by leaving a reply.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas!