Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Halloween Craft Time!

I can NOT believe it is already time to be getting out Halloween decorations! Where has this year gone?!?! Believe it or not, mid-October is upon us and it's about time to start pulling out pumpkins, ghosts, and spiderwebs!  

I made this wreath a few years ago and am so pleased that it's held up and still has a special place on our front door this time of year.

 For the life of me I can't remember where I got the idea for this wreath. I feel like it was from some variation of Martha Stewart media (her website, maybe?) but when I tried to find it, I couldn't.

However, I DO remember how easy this was to put together. All you need is about 30 minutes and the following:
  • a foam wreath form
  • cardboard (I used a portion of a diaper box)
  • Polyfill
  • orange burlap (can be found at any craft store in the fabric section)
  • black felt
  • glue gun
  • florists wire or ribbon 
Have you seen this trick floating around on Pintrest? You take plumbing foam from Home Depot and make your own wreath form. It's MUCH cheaper than the foam wreath forms you can buy at Hobby Lobby.  I've also seen pins where people use pool noodles to make wreath forms...

Start by tracing your wreath form onto the cardboard.  Cut the circle out and place it on the back of your wreath making sure that the cardboard is not larger than the foam.  Hot glue the cardboard to the back of the foam.

Place a good amount of Polyfill in the center of the wreath.  You want it to mound up above the foam.  

Cut your burlap into three inch wide strips.  The length will depend on how big your wreath form is. Just make sure that the strips can wrap from one underside to the next.  

Start by hot gluing the end of one burlap strip to the underside of the wreath.  Wrap the burlap over the wreath making sure not to mash down the Polyfill too much.  Secure the other end of the strip to the underside of the wreath.

Continue to do this until the wreath is fully covered with no Polyfill or foam showing.  Be sure to secure the burlap in different directions to get a more natural look!

Then cut a Jack-o-lantern face out of your black felt.  You can make your Jack-o-lantern goofy or scary!  Secure the felt onto the face of the Jack-o-lantern using hot glue.  

Attach florist wire or ribbon to the top of the wreath for a hanger.  I simply threaded some ribbon under the top loop of burlap.  You could also attach the ribbon to the back with hot glue since the wreath isn't too heavy. 

Voilà! An adorable (or spooky!) Jack-o-lantern wreath! This thing has become a favorite in our house.  Every year, the kids get so excited when I pull it out.  It's as though it marks the beginning of the count down to Halloween!

Give this easy Halloween craft a try! And be sure to post a picture of your Jack-o-lantern in the comments!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Unprocessed Update plus LEGS!!!

Well I made it through the first week of October Unprocessed and I feel pretty successful!  We had some delicious meals and I ate WAY more fruits and veggies than I normally do which alone makes this whole thing worth it!

More than anything, this week showed me that we (Derek and I) eat pretty well, but that the kids DON'T! This makes me feel terrible.  I need to be a better example for my children and put better food on their plates. And it needs to start now.  Lisa Leake at 100 Days of Real Food says that "kids eat processed food because parents give it to them" and MAN is she right! The thing is, you want to give your kids food that is fast. When they come into the kitchen complaining that they are hungry, you want to fix it as fast as possible (both because you love them AND because there is nothing worse than cooking something up with a whining 2-year-old hanging on your leg!).  So we buy instant EVERYTHING! Frozen pancakes that cook up in 45 seconds, bags of chips, fruit snacks, and juice boxes.  For a mom, quicker is always better.  But is it worth it?  What kind of eating habits are we helping our children develop?

And after a week I've found that getting your kids to eat the healthier stuff is HARD!! Way harder than getting the husband to do it! They are so used to the frozen pancakes and the fruit snacks that any change is tragic for them.  Earlier this week I made a huge batch of whole-wheat banana pancakes for the kids to have for breakfast instead of their regular frozen Eggos.  I put the whole batch in the fridge and toasted some up each morning. The first morning, you would have thought it was a fate worse than death. Zach bemoaned the loss of his precious Eggo pancake.  He turned his nose up at my home-made pancakes and only ate a few bites.  The next morning we tried again and he proclaimed that my pancaked we "delicious" and ate the whole thing in record time.  I think it's just a matter of getting them used to new foods.  

In the end it's a learning process and I'm glad we are taking this journey. It's really teaching me a lot about the way we eat and the possibilities for our diets.  If you'd like to try the challenge, check out Eating Rules.  You can pledge to do just a few days unprocessed or the rest of the month.  It's totally up to you!  If you decide to join in, let me know in the comments!

In other news I've got a 5k coming up in a few weeks.  Denton Parks and Rec has some great little races throughout the year. In July we ran the Liberty 5k and on October 20th we'll be running the Jack-o-Lantern Jog!   I love these races because they are small scale - just a few hundred people through one of our parks.  They're great!

(photo credit here)

That being said, it's time I start working on my 5k time! One of the best ways I've found to up my mile time is to strengthen my legs. Makes sense, right?  Stronger legs can run faster, longer!  Now I'll admit, legs are one of my least favorite muscle groups to work.  I find myself saying, "but it's HAAAAARD!!!" and my legs always hurt for a few days after. But I love the way my legs look so I keep at it!

Here is my leg routine:

Lunges - I grab the 30 pound barbell and lunge my way down the length of the gym.  I do two sets of 10 reps (where a lunge on the left leg and right leg equals 1 rep).

Squats -  you can do these with no added weight or add as much as you can stand, either with dumbells or a barbell. It's important to make sure your form is clean when doing squats.  Look here for a good description on how to properly do a squat.

Glute lifts - I like to do these on the glute lift machine but you can also do them on the floor.  Here's a video demonstration.

Calf raises - Pretty self explanitory, right? Again, I like to use the machine but you could also do these free standing.

I think the important thing, as with any exercise, is to make sure it's not easy.  If you can do those lunges and not be out of breath, you aren't working hard enough and should add more weight.  Use as much weight as you can without your form suffering.

Here's to great looking legs and faster race times!!!

Is anyone else running a race soon? What are some of your favorite races to run?