Quilting Woes and Wins

I’ve made some truly beautiful blocks over the past few months, and I am going to keep reminding myself until quilting and sewing starts going my way again.

My bobbin woes started about a month ago during my Speed Quilting class. I’ve had my machine looked at and a bobbin tutorial, but they continue to load up bottom heavy. I’ve googled tips and tricks, but hopefully my Lucky Stars teacher and the awesome gals in the class will have some advice for me. (And since I drafted most of this post before class, I’m happy to report that they helped a bunch!)

In the meantime, can’t decide which of these suits me more:

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Seriously, though. Here is Monday’s bobbin and thread explosion. Ridiculous.

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To get myself back on track, here’s the plan:

1 – Box up Modern Building Blocks and give it to my momma. She’s trying to get a class going in Springfield and I’m just not ready yet.

2 – Enjoy my “Feathers” class in March. I bought some vivid Alison Glass fabric and I really like the instructor there too. It’s paper piecing, but a start to finish project so I’ll have a quick reward ūüôā

3 – Find a non-paper piecing quilting class for advanced beginners . Most of what I’m finding right now is during the day in the middle of the week. I somehow don’t think I can take three hour lunches to quilt. Why I haven’t I won the lottery yet? Side note – I bought tickets and was not one of the Texas winners ūüė¶ Also, the fabulous Ashley from my Lucky Stars class is teaching a four patch at the end of the month! So excited to take a class with her and now I just have to find some fabric.

4 – Keep plugging along on my jelly roll quilt when my machine allows it. It’s a lot of stripping, so just a couple hours at a time a couple nights a week will get it done by the end of the month.

5 – Keep doing my Lucky Stars. I have two sets of fabric going and 11 more blocks to finish between the two. Here’s the block I started on Tuesday night:

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6 – Start my awesome Cotton and Steel paper piecing kit if I get antsy and need a break from the stars. It’s gorgeous and the spring colors will put a smile on my face.

Sounds like I’ll have my hands full. I really love this hobby and want to keep it up, so I’ve got to find a way to keep it going and not bite off more than I can chew ūüôā

Cleaning Closets and Selling the Shoe Hoard

Ah, spring. ¬†Well, not really, but it’s been in the 70’s the last few days in Dallas so I¬†figure it’s a great time for spring cleaning. ¬†There is nothing I love more than an organized closet. ¬†Well, besides a five pound drop on the scale. ¬†That’s better. ¬†Whenever I have a chance to get my hands on someone’s closet, particularly my mom’s, I’m a happy girl. ¬†Even just grouping like items together and organizing by color pleases me.

Sidebar – Colleen, move back to the States so I can clean out yours again! ¬†Saudi won’t let me have a visa for organizational purposes. ¬†Rude. ¬†If I could make a living doing closet organization, I totally would. ¬†Unfortunately, you can’t make someone you don’t know very well strip and try on that one piece of clothing that they just can’t get rid of like you can your mom and your best friend. ¬†Sometimes they just need to see that ten year old shirt in the mirror.

Anyhoot, I currently have six totes of unwearable clothes in my closet, plus mom and I have a pretty solid hoard at her house. ¬†We’ve been a lot of sizes in the last five years, and we learned the hard way to keep the good stuff and donate the rest. ¬†This goes for lingerie, swimwear, happy pants and workout gear too! ¬†That’s why I have so many totes – my bras simply just take up a lot of space. ¬†It’s not because I’m a hoarder. ¬†Really.

I like the theory that you won’t climb back up the scale if you don’t have any clothes in that bigger size, but honestly, you just end up wearing too-tight clothes and feeling bad about yourself. ¬†I try to keep anything I can’t currently wear out of rotation, because there’s nothing worse than being frustrated in the morning when you are trying to get out the door. ¬†I’m proud to say I’m finally back in the middle, and an owner of two bigger size totes. ¬†¬†May I never see you again, and let’s be honest – I’ll never be able to eat the way I used to, so I really shouldn’t ever gain that weight back.

The three totes in the pic below¬†are my smallest size.¬† The tote on the right is the hoard of lingerie and hosiery, thanks to my buying office time and way too much wishful thinking on my part. ¬†That fabulous splash of coral is the swimsuit I wore for 2009’s spring break in Puerto Rico! ¬†I’ll get back in it eventually, hopefully by this summer. ¬†Note that my printer is sitting on the bottom left tote, and¬†it’ll be there for 40 more pounds. ¬†I’ve got time. ¬†Maybe I should rethink that pizza I ate for dinner.

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Garment bags are your friend for dust free too small hanging clothes and the totes on the right (tucked behind the handbags)¬†are full of clothes that are too big. ¬†That’s a great feeling! ¬†It’s the stuff I wore all last summer, so it’s been stashed for seasonal inappropriateness for a while. ¬†I’ve been adding to it over the past couple months, mostly when I try to wear a favored outfit and realize it looks sloppy. ¬†That’s mostly okay if I’m at home wearing happy pants, but truly, I prefer a fitted v-neck for those occasions too. ¬†I have my vanity.

As I tried to pull down the middle sized tote this afternoon, which I’m probably within ten pounds of easily wearing, I found myself kicking some shoes out of the way. ¬†Slippers, stray contraband J Crew flip flops (the ones that ruin floors), sneakers that are kicked off immediately after the gym, my over the knee boots, etc. ¬†No excuses, really, because look at these great shelves! ¬†Built-ins hold my sneakers, colored flats, black flats, sandals and two baskets below hold flip flops and other sandals. ¬†Heels and booties on the metal rack. ¬†Out of season shoes in yet another tote.¬† Oops.

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I know it’s a lot of shoes, but a girl needs patent and regular black pumps, plus an option for peep toes and winter. ¬†And the bright blue suede pumps were an easy gimme. ¬†It’s not that easy finding great shoes in a size 12, and some of these I’ve had for eight + years. ¬†Classics rarely go out of style, and I haven’t worn heels in about 40 pounds, so there you go. ¬†Plus I worked in fashion for over ten years. ¬†These things happen. I did manage to find a solid stash to sell on eBay. ¬†The app makes it so easy – approximately two minutes to post per pair. ¬†Love it.

My eBay store is active 2-3 times a year, and my username is caleeksu5. ¬†If you have a flipper-feet person in your life that needs some shoes, send them my way. ¬†And by person I do mean either gender, because as some of you know, about 75% of my shoe sales are shipped to men. ¬†Hey, I ain’t judging. ¬†Get your sparkle on, girls and gurls! ¬†I know I’m just one MAC eyelash strip from looking like a drag queen too.

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I’m looking forward to going through that middle sized tote tonight – snagging some smaller workout gear, smaller pajamas and drawers. ¬†I bought new lingerie this past week, and while Valentine’s Day is a great time to be shopping for such things, I know I’ve probably got plenty stashed away. ¬†Heaven forbid I miss a semi-annual sale. ¬†I’m sure there are all sorts of things with tags still on them in those totes that I fully intended to get into by the end of the month, or end of the season. I’ve stopped doing that, btw. ¬†Buy things that fit today, not that will fit tomorrow. ¬†Even if you’re doing it on deep clearance, 70% off plus an employee discount. ¬†Totally not worth the closet space! ¬†There will always be a good sale when you’re truly ready for something new ūüôā And I plan to use this eBay cash to get it.

Cheers!

Pizza, Pizza! Without Gluten or Cheese. Sigh.

I woke up sick as a dog today, so¬†what the hell, let’s make some pizza. ¬†Vegan cheese can be made of mostly oil, depending on the brand, and that much oil makes me feel seriously sick to my stomach. ¬†No better time to try a new fake cheese than when my stomach is already a disaster. ¬†Honestly, all I want is some apple juice, but I’m not willing to leave the house to get it. ¬†Yay, Monday?

I’ve done well with the frozen Daiya pizzas, but they’re $10 even at Sprouts. ¬†That has to mean $15 at Whole Foods, right? ¬†Plus, I can add pepperoni to my vegan pizza, which feels subversive. ¬†This is how I break the rules these days. ¬†It’s the 50 Shades of Grey of pizza eating – not really the kink that’s advertised, but just a little shot. ¬†Just the tip, if you will. ¬†Anyhow, I love the pizza sauce at Trader Joe’s and thought I would give this a try.

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Here’s my ingredient list:

  • Trader Joe’s pizza sauce
  • Trader Joe’s roasted red & yellow peppers
  • Trader Joe’s artichoke hearts
  • Trader Joe’s sliced black olives
  • Udi thin gluten free crust
  • Go Veggie Lactose Free Mozzarella “flavor” shred
    • Shit, mozz “flavor”? ¬†I missed that. ¬†Totally getting the Lisanetti almond cheese next time, even though I have to manually shred it with a kitchen tool that I currently do not own. ¬†Ack. ¬†Oh God, it’s going to kill me. ¬†Never let it be said that vegan is all that healthy, especially if you eat anything besides fruits and veggies. ¬†These substitutes are insane.
  • Fiorucci Uncured Pepperoni
    • Because nitrates are the devil, and my skin agrees with me. ¬†Leading cause of acne, at least that one time I consulted Dr. Google. ¬†When you consult Dr. Google and you find any one thing that lines up with what you already want to believe, you stick with it. ¬†And not to be a hater, but according to everything in the news in the last two weeks, my anti-vaxxer friends will understand this philosophy.

Yes, that’s a lot of toppings. ¬†I like my veggies and I like pepperoni. ¬†I miss mushrooms like whoa on pizza, though, almost as much as I miss dipping it in ranch. ¬†Not enough to actually get off my lazy ass and make a ranch substitute, but I digress.

Hmm, this cheese isn’t melting. ¬†Lemme try two more minutes.

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Okay, so it’s not going to melt and my crust will burn. ¬†No courtesy melt, Go Veggie cheese? ¬†Daiya has melts for days, but that’s probably because of the high oil content.

Result?

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The TJ pizza sauce can really make anything taste like gold, and this was pretty decent. ¬†My veggies were delish as always and the crust was only moderately weird. ¬†The edges were crisp and pretty tasty, even.¬† I might keep this crust in my freezer for when I’m in a pinch, but otherwise I’ll probably stick with the pre-made Daiya pizzas. ¬†Or what I really should do is try some of the homemade stuff again now that I have my Kitchenaid mixer. ¬†That hot pink appliance of love can surely make an excellent crust, especially if I read the directions. ¬†Right, Mom?

Cheers,

Christina

Good Hair and My Beyonce Moment

So I’m about 20 pounds away from hitting the 75 pound mark – nice!¬† Somehow losing 75 pounds in a year sounds so much more exciting to me than 50. ¬†If I’m pinning down an exact time, I weighed my highest (ever and all time) somewhere between the end of last February and first of March. ¬†I think I initially lost a bit just getting rid of the salt bloat from February Fashion Week, but it found its way back by March.¬†It’s hard to forget the number on the scale at the casting office for Extreme Makeover:¬† Weight Loss Edition.¬† That was a life-changing trip to LA in so many ways!

But back to my original point (focus, Christina!) – 75 pounds!¬† I decided when I hit that mark, likely in the next couple of months if I’m a good girl and eat my veggies and keep hitting the gym, I’m finally going to cut this hair!

The bigger I am, the bigger I want my hair to be – I feel like it balances things out.¬† And let’s be honest – I’ve lived 90% of my life in a Southern state, and we love our high hair.¬† Closer to God, you see. ¬†#BigHairDontCare as my friend MAM would say. ¬†My hair is REALLY long right now, and maybe the longest it’s ever been. ¬†I’ve realized in the last decade that I have really good hair. ¬†It took¬†a few¬†disastrous haircuts in the 90’s, but I’ve figured out a few things. ¬†I can’t go too short, I’m lazy with a blow dryer and I can never have bangs. ¬†Please see the photo evidence below. ¬†These were the only two I could scrounge up, as the rest have been burned. ¬†I do love this Glamour Shots, though. ¬†So funny.¬† Worst cuts of my life were when I was 16 and when I went through rush at Kansas State. ¬†Short is a fail, but it might have a slight edge on bangs. ¬†Woo.

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I can work a bob like no one’s business, though, and I’ve been pulling it off since I was three. ¬†See? ¬†I couldn’t take my eyes away from Guiliana Rancic’s bob during last week’s Fashion Police, and I think I have my next cut!

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So back to this Beyonce moment. ¬†The fabulous Lindsey Parnell has been doing my hair at least five years, including any chance I could snag her while in town from Seattle. ¬†I was so happy to be reunited with her when I moved back to Dallas, and my red¬†has been restored! ¬†(Surprise! ¬†It’s not natural. ¬†Oh, you already knew that? ¬†Well anyway, apparently as I’ve aged, my natural color is dark blonde. ¬†Not that you’ll ever see it.) ¬†She’s absolutely worth the drive to The Shops at Legacy in Plano, because she’s both a lovely person and kickass with color.

Anyone¬†who has ever done my hair will tell you that blowing out my hair is¬†a¬†whip, though no one whined as much as Brannon back in the day. ¬†And he had giant muscular arms! ¬†Wuss. ¬†There’s a reason I wear so many ponytails, and it’s because I hate blow drying my hair. ¬†Well let me tell all of you fine people – if you haven’t had two people blow drying your hair at once, you are missing out. ¬†It is so glorious! ¬†Lindsey set me up with such a nice treat!! ¬†I love having my hair played with anyway, and then you want to double up? ¬†Adam (the gent in the pic) asked me if I felt like Beyonce, and I totally did. ¬†When I win the lotto, I’m going to set up a dressing room Kardashian style and have two people in to blow dry my hair always.

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Happy Blue Friday, everyone! ¬†#GoHawks ūüôā

Airplanes, Long Weekends and the Little Joys of Life

Oh man, first things first.¬† Sometimes you can’t see in the mirror that your ass really is smaller, but American Airlines is happy to let you know.¬† Seat belts are just as good as showing progress as a notch on an actual belt, not that I’ve worn one in years.¬† When you’re super short waisted and very large busted, there is nothing less flattering than a tucked in shirt with a belt.¬† You can validate this statement by looking at any picture of me between 1994-1999.¬† Shudder.¬† Not okay.

I know the vast majority of people reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, but there is nothing worse than the day that stupid airline seat belt won’t fasten.¬† Not even with Spanx, not even when you skipped breakfast.¬† It sucks, and it’s a pretty humiliating experience.¬† Not the worst one I’ve ever had, but right on up there.¬† I have had countless experiences in my life that you’d think would humiliate me right into motivation at the gym, but you’d be wrong.¬† Hell, I’ve been offered a new car if I would get down to a normal weight for my height.¬† No dice.¬† The human brain is a stubborn beast.

I can’t remember the first time I needed an extender.¬† I’m sure I was embarrassed and I was probably flying alone, but like most bad experiences, I just try to block it out and move on.¬† (Yes, I know I probably need therapy.¬† Bill my bio-dad.)¬† I’ve been within 20 pounds of my highest weight just a handful of times, thank goodness, and each time I swear I’ll never be there again.¬† Right around my high school graduation, my last year at TCU, right around graduation from SMU and of course right around one year ago.¬† Crazy how fast I packed on those pounds.¬† Clearly school (and work) stresses me right into the fridge.¬† When you’re making your way closer to the largest pant size at LB, it’s time for a little talk with yourself.¬† I’m not sure of the day or time, but an AA flight attendant took pity on me during one of those time frames and told me to just hang onto my extender.¬† No more asking!¬† I kept it right with my shoe bags.¬† For someone that earned status on AA before she started traveling for work, that was GOLD.¬† Not having to ask every time just brightens your day.

I think it was official the last time I flew, but not only did I not need an extender today, I actually had three extra inches on the seat belt.¬† I think it was the particular plane I was on, but I don’t care.¬† Extra inches?¬† I didn’t have to suck in and pray?¬† YESSSSSS!¬† Happiness abounds.

Not as happy was the lack of leg room since I was too cheap to pay the extra scratch for my typical seat in 9E (14B would suffice.)¬† Life will go on, though, and I can start booking the exit row again.¬† Did you know you can’t have an extender in the exit row?¬† I didn’t until one insanely crowded flight had an empty exit row, and I was sympathetically told no when I asked to move into one.¬† The girl that ended up in that seat looked substantially larger than me, but hey, the seat belt doesn’t lie.¬† I’ve avoided the exit row for a while because you lose a couple inches of precious ass room, but bah.¬† The exit row is mine again, bitches.¬† These long legs can stretch out ALL. DAY. LONG.

I need it, too.¬† Hard to juggle my healthy, soy/dairy/gluten free oatmeal (thanks Starbucks!) coat, scarf, water and a neighbor with only four millimeters between my knee and the chair back.¬† I guess that extra leg room up front does make a difference.¬† I’ll try not to pout that I was number two on the upgrade list and still didn’t get it.¬† Sigh.¬† At least the person in front of me didn’t decide to lay back on my legs for his inflight nap.

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So great to see the Nestlerodes and meet their darling baby.¬† Hard to believe it’s been 2.5 years since I’ve been to Chicago!¬† Just like my visit a few Februarys back, I was blessed with sunny skies and moderate temperature.¬† I didn’t even mind the snow – Katie and I walked up to the local TJ and quilt shop and I was happy as a clam.¬† Don’t mind the puffer coat, I am totally skinny underneath it.¬† Promise.

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Back to the grind of the week – meal planning before I leave work today and stopping by the grocery store on my way home.¬† I was a little less strict than I’ve been in the past this weekend, and my foot definitely paid the price.¬† I had an amazing hostess that let me pick out my own groceries, but I didn’t ask about vegetable oil (soy) at any restaurant, enjoyed the hell out of some french press coffee both weekend days and best of all, had a couple bites of the most delicious butter cake in the world at Mastro’s Saturday night.¬† That steak!¬† Insane.¬† I hobbled around all Sunday morning, but I suppose I can split that blame between wearing heels on Chicago streets and having some of the things I know aggravate my inflammation the most.¬† Oops.¬† Worth it, though.

Cheers and stay warm, east coast friends!

Quilting

I haven’t had a chance to sew for a couple weeks now, and I really miss it! This quilting stuff is addictive. My stitches and tension had gotten out of control, and I am so happy I found a repair shop just down the road from my office. Mr. Sewing Machine on Harry Hines has fantastic service. $10 well spent for the time Antonio spent with me showing how I was jacking up my bobbin, and I shall never make the same mistake again. Turns out you can easily screw up a self loading bobbin. Oops.

I have done a ton of quilting stuff since my last post, so I thought I would give a little update. First, I finally hauled myself to Ikea in an attempt to bring order to my sewing area. I’m currently in a one bedroom apartment, and I have a little space carved out that started as a potential dining area. It’s now full of crafty fun. $65 and an Allen wrench bring a lot to the table, including my peace of mind. I can’t stand an unorganized space.

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Ah, order restored. It’s not a perfect solution, but I love that everything has a place. I’m just trying to block out how it wrecks my decor. As I look for my next place to live, I will make sure I have a place with a door so I can shut away the mess. If I go condo, that room might have to pull double duty for sewing and guests, but that’s why we have Murphy beds.

I’ve had great success with my Lucky Stars BOM, thanks to a group of great ladies and an awesome instructor, but I know I need to stretch my skills. I signed up for a speed quilting class, and I’ve been putting together a pretty pillow from my Christmas fabric stash. My machine crapped out in the middle of it, so even though it’s now back to rights, I’ve been working late and traveling and haven’t had a chance to finish. Here’s what we have so far:

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I’ve fussy cut the back to feature the polar bears in this fabric group and it’s going to be precious. I should have this finished up in the next couple of days and will post my finished project. The instructor for this class is a sweetheart too! Love that I’m meeting all these wonderful new people.

I also cut out an awesome jelly roll quilt. So excited to get it done! I have a handful of jelly rolls lying around because I love fabric, and it is well past time to get a project going. I’m still intimidated by regular quilting, because paper piecing seems so much simpler to me. I know I’ll improve with some hands on, so I’ve just got to get in there and get my hands dirty. This pattern is called “Wander Through the Woods” by Hope Nelson. Thanks, Craftsy! So much fun to cut out and I was extra thankful for my California king bed when it was time to lay out the fabric. Madness! Mom said it made her eyes hurt. I’m still figuring out the best way to shortcut sewing a diagonal line without marking every angle, but having a machine down gave me a lot of time to figure it out. I would love to get this top done by Valentine’s Day.

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For January’s BOM, I went back to the fabrics I used in my very first Lucky Stars class. By the time it’s said and done, I’ll have two quilts done in this pattern. The quirky red and green and a more traditional dots and Christmas prints. While it still has a modern twist, the vibe is a bit more classic than my crazy retro reindeer.

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Last but not least, I am finally starting my Modern Building Blocks quilt. This is a block of the month club (instead of a class) and I’m pretty intimidated, but I’m sure I will meet great peeps in this class too and hopefully pick up some tips along the way.

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Wrapping up this lovely little nap time in snowy Chicago! Katie and I are going to bundle up and walk over to a quilting shop in her neighborhood called The Needle Shop. Great reviews on Yelp and I’m always excited to get my hands on some great fabric.

Cheers

Even Though It’s Not About the Loss…

I’ve been really frustrated lately because my weight has hit a wall. Nothing since Christmas, really, and I’ve picked up my exercise and been just as good with the food. At least I think I have – time for some journal review to see where I can make some changes.¬† I know I’m still getting way too much sodium and it looks like I need to pick up my protein.¬† But look at that gorgeous calorie burn from today!¬† Have I mentioned I love this app?¬† My Net Diary, y’all.¬† It’s free, so try it out ūüôā

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Two big reckonings while I’m here on the treadmill cooling down:¬† (FYI, I perfected walking and typing when walking to work every day in Seattle.¬† NO EYE CONTACT!)

  1. I have lost ten pounds in the last month. Sure, it was all in December, but ten pounds in a month is legit. I’ll try not to think about the two weeks prior, because I’ve probably lost ten pounds in six weeks.¬† I would like to see it come off faster, but the end game is my health.¬† The best gauge of my progress will be in February, when I retest my hs CRP levels.¬† For those of you just tuning in, that’s the test that looks at cardiac risk and inflammation, and I was at a 20.55.¬† 3.0 is the max for normal.
  2. I got an email from the casting agents for Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition this morning, inviting me to reapply. I’m happy to say I no longer qualify, as I don’t need to lose half my body weight. YEAH!¬† They would probably still consider me, as I need to lose more than 100 pounds, but still. This time last year? I needed to lose half my body weight.¬† Maybe I could have gotten on the cover of People magazine when they feature “Half My Size!”¬† Sure, the scale isn’t moving, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve lost 45 pounds from this point last year. I can beat myself up about not dropping 1-2 pounds a week, but I won’t. It’s one of the reasons I left Weight Watchers when it’s worked so well for me before. I just couldn’t take the discouragement.

I’ve talked a little bit about how I wasn’t in a good place last year, and seeing that sad yet politely encouraging face at a weekly weigh in might have tipped me over the edge. This time I’m going at my own pace, in my own time, and rewarding myself with little things like a jeans shopping spree and opening a tote of old clothes in a smaller size.¬† I still see the appeal of a weight loss show – free trainers, nutrition help, and surgery to put everything back where it belongs.

I already know a plastic surgeon is in my future – for the perky boobs I’ve always wanted and never had – but also for skin removal. It’s coming my way. I know I need to get out of my own head when it comes to the skin thing, because it’s a bigger issue for me than my actual weight when it comes to dating. When you feel gross, you don’t want anyone to touch you.¬† I think if I was already in a relationship I would feel better about it, but it’s hard to get excited about starting from scratch.¬† Dating is the WORST.¬† Plus, it’s just really f’ing annoying to work hard to get in shape, yet there’s some weird loose skin on your belly.¬† I’m just not snapping back like I used to when I’ve lost weight in the past. ¬† I’ve heard some of my slim mom friends bitch about it too, but at least they have a little one to show for it ūüôā¬† Stretch marks happen to the best of us.

At any rate, I know what I see in the mirror isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, but we’re always hardest on ourselves, right?¬† I’m sure the right guy would love me even without perky boobs, and they do look pretty fantastic in some great lingerie.¬† Not that I would ever take a Kim Kardashian or Amber Rose style selfie.¬† No thanks!¬† Have I mentioned those will be the first thing I have done?¬† I already have a couple surgeon referrals to check out when it’s time.

On a lighter note, I picked the worst outfit in the world to put on straight from the gym.¬† I am obsessed with this sweater and skirt set my parents got me for Christmas, but it is toasty warm.¬† Just what you want when you actually spent an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill because you were typing out a blog!¬† At least the locker room has plenty of make-up stations and Kiehl’s in the shower.¬† I definitely put on my air conditioner for the drive to work, even though it’s 38 degrees.¬† At least I had the courtesy to make sure no one was around me, unlike the 18 year old blonde girl that no doubt has me in my bathrobe blow drying my hair in the background of hers.¬† Rude.¬† Also, it’s too bad I love ivory sweaters, because I’m definitely the same size I was in the pic I posted wearing a grey cardigan, but it’s not nearly as flattering ūüôā¬† The double layer of shirts probably doesn’t help either.

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Headed to Chicago on Friday so I need to find all my snow gear, and I will definitely bring this outfit!  Why do I always find myself up there during the winter?

Cheers!

Christina

Adventures in Dermatology

I think I might have found the best dermatologist in the world.¬† Well, my friend Rachel found her for me, but still.¬† She’s amazing.¬† Several years ago, I started getting bi-yearly body scans to check my four million moles for skin cancer.¬† Nothing beats stripping down to your undies (just undies) in a freezing cold doctor’s office while a person you hardly know takes a magnifying glass to every square inch of your body while a nurse jots down notes.¬† I would almost rather go to the gyno.¬† Seriously.¬† At least it’s quick.

A few years ago, my then derm found a couple of bad spots on my back, which she excised and sent in for testing, leaving me with 19 baby stitches.¬† Thankfully, those came back just fine.¬† Mom took pictures of the entire process, naturally, so maybe if we’re lucky she’ll post them in the comments section.¬† (Side bar – mom loves being around when I’m getting tortured, whether it’s my very first eyebrow waxing, hair removal, skin removal or using a laser to remove age spots.¬† She’s wicked.)¬† Aforementioned Rachel works at a place with a giant laser, which helps with the redness of my scars.¬† You can hardly see a thing!

I got out of the habit of going to the dermatologist while I was in Seattle, which is bananas for two reasons:¬† everyone in Seattle is pale and super active outdoors (hiking and skiing), likely making Seattle a market with great dermatologists.¬† Two, a friend from grad school died of skin cancer.¬† Well, maybe that’s not what got him in the end, but it’s certainly how it started.¬† Go get your moles checked, people!

Anyhoot, I’m now back in Dallas and didn’t want to go back to my old derm, who was inconveniently located and had zero bedside manner.¬† Enter Dr. Kingston.¬† Super lovely, beautiful office with fantastic views and she stocks pink polka dot dressing gowns.¬† I was so tickled that I took a selfie and sent it to my mom, who no doubt was bummed to miss the entire process.¬† I have no pride on the blog, so I’ll post for you guys to see too.¬† Don’t judge my hair – I promise I fixed it before I went to the office.¬† Plus, this was in December and I’ve lost a few pounds since then ūüôā

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Same process of a magnifying glass and notes being taken, but they did it section by section so I never felt exposed or awkward.¬† That’s no small thing when you have a boatload of body issues in the first place and your doctor is in Highland Park.¬† If any of you need a dermatologist, please go see Dr. Kingston and her fabulous staff.¬† Click here for her website.¬† She also does the cosmetic side of dermatology, so if you need Botox, laser resurfacing, hair removal, etc. I’m sure they are just as awesome.¬† And no, she is not paying me to say these nice things ūüôā¬† I was just so genuinely happy after leaving the office I want to let others know.¬† I should probably write a Yelp review.

I think waaaaay back in my first blog, I told you guys the quest for food allergies all started when my mom told me she didn’t like the blush I was wearing.¬† Well, I wasn’t wearing blush.¬† Turns out I have regular old rosacea. There’s a lot of info out there, but it boils down to this: Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition which principally affects the face. It causes facial redness and produces small, red, pus-filled pustules (bumps). Rosacea worsens with time if left untreated, and is often mistaken for acne, eczema, or some other skin allergy.¬† Wow, imagine that!¬† My inflammatory problems are screwing up my face and my insides.¬† Lovely.¬† I always had perfect skin, even in high school, so having breakouts now is not okay.

Plus, it can lead to thickening of the nose, and while I’m mostly okay with my nose as is, it certainly doesn’t need to be any bigger.¬† So all those cute old men you see with giant noses?¬† They’ve probably had rosacea forever.¬† I’ve heard it called “gin nose” which would work too, since alcohol is an inflammatory and inflammatory problems cause rosacea.¬† Crazy how the human body works.

I’ve got some good medication to work with that, and between the diet change and the medicine, my skin is getting better too.¬† Hurrah!¬† I know in the grand scheme of life, my face isn’t nearly as important as getting my blood right so my heart is okay, but I might as well be pretty while I do it.

I also snagged a great sunscreen at the office, which was reasonably priced, has no weird smell and doesn’t feel sticky and gross on my skin.¬† Now that I’m back in Texas and under the sun (well, not this past couple of weeks) I have to be more diligent than ever to keep my skin covered up and protected.¬† I’ll take all the teasing anyone wants to give me about how I reapply every 30 minutes, no matter where we are on the river or how many cocktails I’ve had.¬† Skin cancer isn’t taking this girl down, and even if it tries to creep up on me, I’ll catch it early.

Dr. Kingston added to my collection of scars by removing two more moles, but thankfully these didn’t require stitches.¬† One came back fine and the other dysplastic, so we’ll have to keep an extra close eye on it.¬† No shock that I’m having the most issues on my back, since it’s tricky to get sunblock on there…don’t be surprised if we’re out and about and I ask you for help to reapply ūüôā¬† I also bought a sunshirt and have learned where to find the shady spots in the pool, so hopefully I’m covered.

Hopefully next time I see Dr. Kingston it’ll be for a beauty treatment and not because of my weird rashes and patches caused by inflammation.¬† That would be ideal!

Cheers!  And wear your SPF, friends.

I Bought a Mixer! A Hot Pink Kitchenaid!

Oh geez, so excited. ¬†I think it’s from watching Pioneer Woman all through the holidays with my family. ¬†She has a super snazzy hand painted version that costs $1350 smackers (does that include tax and shipping?) but I can work the fabulous hot pink with a glass bowl! ¬†Does it match my kitchen? ¬†Nope. ¬†Any of my stuff? ¬†Nope Nope Nope. ¬†But it’s PIIIIIIIIINK and I love it. ¬†Excellent price from our friends at Amazon, too. ¬†I’ve been stalking it for a while and when the price dropped to an agreeable level, I pulled the trigger.

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She’s so pretty. ¬†I’ll have to check to see if Anthropologie makes an owl cookie jar with some pink, just to tie it all together. ¬†Three owl cookies jars isn’t enough, right? ¬†Sigh. ¬†That glass bowl. ¬†The shine of the paint. ¬†Love! ¬†One of the guys I work with is a fierce baker in his free time, and he essentially said his Kitchenaid would have to be pried from his cold, dead hands. ¬†He advised that I get one of the beaters with built in spatulas, and after my experiments this weekend, I agree! Not having to scrape the sides during the mix will be very helpful.

First up – pancakes. ¬†PANCAKES! ¬†My mom was a gem and made up little individual baggies of the dry ingredients to make gluten free pancakes. ¬†And can I give you a pro tip here? ¬†If you happen to run out of regular coconut or almond milk, and all you have is the tasty, tasty chocolate? ¬†Oh, it’s delicious. ¬†You will have gorgeous chocolate pancakes. ¬†If you want to mix them with God’s Great Glory of Chocolate ‘Mega Chunk’ Chips (made by Enjoy Life Foods, available at my Target in the ‘hood as well as the regular grocery store in Springfield, MO) then you’ve got something SO GOOD. I might have added the part about God’s glory.

Not good for what it is, mind you. ¬†Just good. ¬†I’m pretty sure I didn’t add syrup. ¬†I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of them. ¬†What’s wrong with me? ¬†I guess that’s how fast they went into my belly. ¬†I just fell into a rabbit hole, didn’t I? ¬†SQUIRREL! ¬† And now I’m thinking about the equally delicious gluten and dairy free chocolate chip cookies mom made. ¬†Again, just good. ¬†Not good for what they are, just good. ¬†It’s those damn chocolate chips. ¬†They’re out of this world.

Anyhoot, here’s what my first batch of pancakes looked like on Saturday morning, right next to my much improved second batch:

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Julia Childs always reminded us to Not. Crowd. The. Mushrooms! ¬†What a mess, right? ¬†Clearly a disaster. ¬†Well, I learned the hard way to not crowd your pancakes. ¬†Also, use medium-high heat. ¬†You’ll all be relieved to know that they were delicious once I figured it out. ¬†I risked a gluten attack and used a tablespoon of my super amazing Woodinville Whiskey Company¬†Maple Syrup. ¬†It’s pricey, like all maple syrup that happens to be put into casks formerly used for making bourbon and rye and bundled into beautiful bottles would be, but it’s a worthy purchase. ¬†Thanks Jason and Ben for introducing it to me!

Pancakes, check. ¬†What’s next? ¬†The three overripe bananas on my counter commanded me to find a recipe for Banana Nut Bread. ¬†I made muffins because I figured that would be easier to portion out, and less risk of a burnt crust and raw inside. ¬†They’re so good! ¬†Here’s the recipe, thanks to the Civilized Caveman.

I had to leave out the cinnamon, which was kind of a miss, but the coconut oil was a great sub for butter and some organic peanut butter I had lying around from my experiment with gluten free bread (disgusting) worked too.¬† I might try to make my own gluten free bread, but it looks insanely complicated and I’m just not there yet. ¬†Maybe another six months of watching cooking shows will inspire me.

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The crumbled up friend on the right is what you get when you try to dump out the muffin pan too early. ¬†I only have one and wanted to get the next batch going.¬† I guess I didn’t sufficiently re-grease the pan and got a little aggressive when slapping the back of it. Oops. ¬†I ate it anyway, and it made for a funny pic.

These little guys have been paired up with eggs and Applegate chicken sausage links for breakfast the past few days and it’s as good as can be! ¬†Much more decent on the calorie content than I thought – 174 calories and 13 carbs. ¬†Don’t ask me about the fat content, but you can take a wild guess based on the coconut oil and peanut butter. ¬†At least they’re satisfying?¬† Plus they’re made and served with egg whites, which helps.¬† Kind of.

One more cooking discovery this week – Thai food! ¬†Well, I need to explore it in a broader scope, but Target has some Archer Farm dinner kits that didn’t have any of my allergens. ¬†The panang curry was seriously delicious, and God bless coconut milk. ¬†I have dinner plans with a girlfriend on Thursday, so I’m going to check into a few local restaurants and see if I can make that magic happen out and about too.¬† I LOVE curry. ¬†Both Thai and Indian food use a lot of coconut milk, so maybe if I avoid the paneer I can make it work.

Cheers!

Meal Planning & Going Out

The story goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” ¬†That is so true when it comes to me and the kitchen, and it’s always been that way. ¬†I will freely admit I’m not the best at planning my week, and I’ve thrown away my fair share of rotten veggies…big old sad face if they came from Whole Foods and/or were organic. ¬†I don’t mind paying extra, but you gotta use what you buy.

When I lived in Seattle with Jason and Ben, I got a great lesson on meal planning. ¬†Every week, Jason would sit down with his pad of paper and plan our lunches and dinners for the week, and then derive the grocery list from there. ¬†When we were all in town and work wasn’t crazy (never often enough!), we had an excellent system down. ¬†Monday was grocery night, and we almost always had tacos – super quick for a tight week day schedule.¬† Jason would cook while I would sit at the breakfast counter with wine (and whine.) ¬†Ben and I had clean-up duty, which usually meant Ben was scrubbing and I was packing lunches. ¬†We all got to do the things we liked best, or at least tolerated the most.

BTW, Ben – I’m sorry. ¬†I leave dishes in my sink, sometimes overnight. ¬†I didn’t do it while we lived together, but I’ve gone back to my bad ways¬† Bad single girl behaviour is real. ¬†I’m ashamed and will look to find ways to improve this terrible, lazy habit of mine.

At any rate, I’ve adopted Jason’s method for meal planning for myself. Lunches on the left, dinners on the right. ¬†Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, but if it’s something too messy or random to pack for work, I’ll just keep it for dinners. ¬†I even tossed Chipotle on here – I knew I would be running errands all day yesterday. Their allergen menu is fantastic!

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The key to success for me is prep work. By the time I get home, I’m just fried and don’t feel like cooking. ¬†If I’ve already done the work, great! ¬†Prep for lunches this week was easy – chicken sausage with veggies. ¬†The sausage is pre-cooked, so all I have to do is make the veggies, dump it into a container and call it a day. ¬†I keep single serve hummus on hand, so I bundle that up with carrots and celery, bag up some hard-boiled eggs for snacks, divvy out fresh fruit for fruit salad, and all week it’s grab and go.

BTW, why do sausages look so dirty? ¬†I had to laugh when I took this pic. ¬†I know, I know. ¬†I have the mentality of a fifteen year old boy and I’ll admit to it.

Aidells Chicken & Apple sausage paired with sweet potatoes and a kale/quinoa mix:

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No big deal to eat this for three days. ¬†Tonight I’m making tacos (ground beef, Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, a can of rotel) and I’ll rotate between tacos and taco salad the rest of the week. ¬†I’m already planning dinner out on Thursday night, and I know I’ll screw up one night and be off my schedule. ¬†I stock soup for those nights, or I’ll have a Daiya frozen pizza. ¬†I’ve mapped out my other activities¬†as well, so I’ll have an idea of what’s going on when I’m grocery shopping.

The party planned for Saturday is a bit trickier, because I adore the couple hosting and a little one’s birthday party could likely turn into an all day event. ¬†It’s a Saturday, we’ll have great company, cocktails may be poured. ¬†Just saying. ¬†I’ve shown up to Susie and Charlie’s with my own cooler of beer to watch football, but this time it’ll likely be a mix of booze and healthy snacks to help keep my face out of the birthday cake.

Eating outside of my house isn’t necessarily hard, but it requires the same amount of planning on my part. ¬†House parties are the trickiest, though usually I can dig up some fruit and veggies and I almost always have almonds or beef jerky with me in a pinch. ¬†And let’s be honest – I’m not going to starve. ¬†I’ve got some reserves, kind of like a hibernating bear.

Local friends – I promise I can still go out! ¬†I like going out! ¬†I like going to dinner and I love going to brunch! ¬†If you want to go out, let’s go out. ¬†I can always find something, I promise. ¬†PROMISE. ¬†I’ll do the research ahead of time and I’ve gotten the hang of ordering. ¬†Big ups to Anna and Colleen in particular for vetting restaurants and being patient with me in the beginning when I had a hard time figuring it out. ¬†Tito’s Vodka is everywhere and if all else fails, there’s salad ūüôā

I am super thankful to have friends and family that are way supportive of my admittedly somewhat restrictive diet, but I know some of y’all worry. ¬†Thank you! ¬†The best comparison I can make is that if you think of me as being on Paleo, or low carb, or whatever whole food diet is out there – it’ll cover 90% of the stuff I can’t eat. ¬†No biggie.

XO