Cascading Fuchsia Mini Album

Today I’m sharing another mini album which I made last fall, I love the way the black makes the color pop! don’t you? This mini had to be patched together from others I’ve seen and made, as there wasn’t a tutorial for me to base it on (thank you Shelley Geigle for all the help you’ve given me, however!!). I love the way this album turned out so much, I wish I had bought another paper pad just for myself!

And you can see the insides over here:

Gumpaste Roses

When I decided to get back in to cake decorating in July, I decided to expand on my skills as well.  I felt pretty confident about making roses – but I was frustrated that I hadn’t learned how to make an “open” rose – or even a large rose.  So I spent some time searching the internet (yeah Pinterest!) for tutorials, and got a couple of new toys (bigger cutters, bigger veiners – that sort of thing) and went to work.  I didn’t do so well the first few times, as old habits are very hard to break, but I think I have the knack of it now – at least for the roses.

Thanks to very helpful bloggers and YouTube videos, I feel confident enough about my open roses to even make my OWN tutorial. Not that I will, but I might include a few photos showing the steps I go through,utilizing all the techniques I’ve incorporated plus my personal twist on how to make things work.

From Kara Andretta, I’ve learned to use a lighter weight base for my roses.  I was weirded out, at first, by the idea of having a non-edible base or center, but then, seriously, who is eating these anyway?  I will simply inform the recipient of my cake gifts that the centers are inedible, much like the stamens and wires. Problem solved.

So, based on Kara’s instructions, I got 24 rose bases from one bag of modeling paste. If you want  ONLY large roses, that’s fine, but I actually prefer multiple sizes, so shape accordingly, and seal away your extras until needed in a ziplock bag.

Then, I made my rose.  Kara from “I scream for buttercream” gave a great idea for helping the rose dry the way you want it to, by have a support of some paper towels and foam to rest the flower on.

I’m impressed with myself.

Atkins, Sugar Busters or Keto?

Ah, dieting. Some have said that diet is a four letter word. Yes it is, but diet should not only mean what we do to lose weight, but is a descriptor for a way of eating, a way of life. It took me several years to realize this; and it is true, especially if you want to maintain your weight loss.

As a nurse practitioner, I was only gifted with ONE course on nutrition, way back even before my actual nursing curriculum began, but I would venture to say that much of nutrition is common sense. When it comes to weight loss however, much of our common sense goes right out the window. We are all about the quick fix, the instant weight loss (lose 10 pounds in 10days!) or the magic pill (anyone heard of the size zero pill?), but we seem to forget that it took several months, if not years, to get to our current weight, and so it really should come as no surprise that it may take a while to lose the extra weight. We have so many bad habits to overcome, and we have to retrain our mind to resisting what we know are delicious tasting foods.

When my husband and I started on the “Atkins Diet” back in May, we did so blindly, only knowing the basics of eliminating carbohydrates as much as possible. We knew that science will tell you, if you eliminate one of the three food sources, carbohydrates, your body is forced to utilize the other two (fat & protein) for energy. We read about how we could forget about counting calories, and only worry about carbohydrates, and because sugar substitutes are “not digestible “, we didn’t have to count them towards our actual carbohydrate count. We can subtract any grams of fiber as well, for the same reason. But, what if you are a diabetic, or have a heart condition, high cholesterol or some other health concern? People with kidney failure should definitely NOT go on a high protein diet. People with Gout may also experience problems, since most meat contains purines. If you are diabetic, I strongly caution you against relying on those “high protein bars” and other “diet food”, as many people still experience blood sugar spikes with sugar substitutes. Additionally, although many of these bars are touted as meal replacements, as suggested by Livestrong,

Atkins bars aren’t free foods. They still have carbohydrates and don’t offer the same nutrition as whole foods. If you find yourself using them as an occasional meal replacement or to satisfy what could be a disastrous sweets binge, then they could successfully aid your adherence to the low-carb plan.

But, if you rely on these as free treats or find yourself eating them more than once per day, the bars could hinder your weight-loss progress. If you’re diabetic, especially with type 1, you might still experience a rise in blood sugar if you consume too much of any sorbitol-containing food, including the bars.

Needless to say, our foray into the “Atkins” diet has been greatly modified over the past 8-9 months. We’ve come to appreciate the low-carb lifestyle, but we want to nourish our body while we continue our weight loss and beyond. We want a “diet” that is sustainable and healthy, as well as one that we enjoy, and don’t feel like we are constantly depriving ourselves.

This brings us to the “Sugar Busters” diet, “The Zone”, and the “South Beach”diets. What I like about these last three are that they not only use common sense, they use real food. It’s about restraint, reminding yourself that some foods are good for you, and some are not. Some things can be eaten in moderation, and some only occasionally, with healthy, low fat, low carbohydrates and fairly high protein intake as the basis for every day eating. People often forget that protein is a building block of your muscles, and we’re not just talking biceps here – your heart and lungs, and other organs are muscles too, and we need to feed them. Ever hear of a fatty liver? Hmmmm, wonder how it got that way?

Gumpaste Garden

We have revisited an old past-time – that of making gumpaste flowers. Somewhere along the line, I started saying to myself, while creating my beauties, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” (stolen from Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady). It really is, you know. We had an occasion in January to make a cake for my nurse’s birthday, and I had fortunately, already made some practice flowers a couple of weeks before, which I was able to plop down on the cake, and voila! birthday cake ready to go.

Since I spent so much of my time making scrapbooks in the fall, I felt like it was time to spend some time on my flowers, and I decided to branch out a little bit, try some new techniques and some new flowers. I don’t pretend to be Nicholas Lodge, as this is certainly not my career, but I think many of my flowers do rival his (before he starts dusting them, and this is one of those new techniques that I am talking about experimenting with).

I have a shelf that I’m storing my “spares” on now, right behind my craft desk, where I work on my scrapbooks. It’s always handy to have spare flowers around. One of the other nurses had a birthday today, so I whipped up a hummingbird cake to have something to put flowers on, lol. My carpal tunnel was repaired years ago, but I’m still protective of my wrists, and don’t do lace and strings much any more. . . Maybe if my boys decide to ever get married, I’ll come out of retirement for them, and make some lace again, but for now, we’re just happily adding to my gumpaste garden.

*the pink and blue flowered cake was for Mary, the purple & white was for Haley.

Italian Riviera Mini Album

I’m sharing another mini album with you today. I made this one several months ago for my mother, and gifted it to her for Christmas. (I’m not sure she knows exactly what to do with it, as she generally keeps her photos on her phone.). Once again this is from the Heartfelt Creations paper collection, this one is called Italiana Riviera, and it has a very purple theme, my moms favorite color (I think). We had some difficulties making this album, especially the gate that you will see around page 10 or 12.

I’m really enjoying the crafting of these mini albums, they are a great creative outlet for me, especially as I’m not an artist at all ( I can’t draw much more than stick figures!) but if I cut and paste carefully (hello, kindergarten!) I can create a thing of beauty.

Some of the tools that I have acquired, and spend money on are Scor-tape, and those amazingly strong neodymium magnets. Follow the links and you’ll see where I get them.

Here’s the album. Hope you enjoy it!

Weight Loss on Atkins

Like most women, I have adopted the desire to be thinner. Thinner than what? is not the question, I just want to be thinner. Thinner than I was, thinner than I ever was before, thin enough to fit comfortably in my clothes – thinner.

[I know that many people thought I was already at a healthy weight for my frame, but I didn’t feel healthy. I felt fat. And how you feel about yourself is so important. It really doesn’t matter what other people say, you have to look in the mirror every day and like yourself. So please don’t judge me by where my weight was – in fact, when someone is fairly close to their “ideal body weight” it actually is harder to lose weight.]

It doesn’t really matter where you start. One day you look in the mirror and decide, enough!! This happened to me about 9 months ago, when I was planning a spontaneous weekend getaway with my husband. Lucky for me, he was game to go on my weight loss quest with me, and adhere to whatever ridiculous scheme I had concocted (this time!) to lose weight. Weight loss is a constant struggle you see, and I tend to yo-yo between about 130-135lbs. But I was well over 140lbs at this point (how far over, I didn’t really want to know) and I had decided that drastic measures were required. We decided to try the once popular “Atkins Diet”, and embarked upon our weight loss journey around Memorial Day, by having one last DQ Blizzard the night before.

We decided to go on 30gms of carbohydrates a day. According to the Atkins plans, you can either do 20 or 30gms daily for the first two weeks, and since, at that time, I didn’t want to give up my morning meal of a Greek yogurt on the way to work (15-17gms right there), we chose 30gms daily. The first three days have got to be the worst. I remember coming home from work thinking I just needed a cookie! and my husband tossed me a few baby carrots (bless him!) which helped me make it through the night. When I woke up on day four, a miracle occurred: I suddenly didn’t really need carbs anymore. At two weeks, it was so easy to keep ourselves to just 30gms a day, that we decided to go for three weeks. And when I stepped on the scale: I was down to 135!

Fast forward to today. I’m at a steady 122/123lbs. I’m never hungry, and I’m still energetic enough to swim 3500-4500 yards 3-5 times a week (about 60-75 minutes per day) and work out at the gym 3 times a week (60-90 minutes per day). I love my new body!! I love my new found self confidence! This is definitely going to not be a “diet”, but rather, a way of life.

Catching Up on How I Measure Up

It’s been a few months since my last post, and if anyone out there is actually following me, I’m really sorry, but I’ve been busy, busy, busy!

For some looney reason, I decided to make scrapbook albums for all the sisters in my family for Christmas gifts this last year. So in September, I got started. Each book took me about three weeks, as I could only work on them in the evenings after work, if I had any energy left after my day (which generally begins at 4:30am), and on the weekends. (If you count the cost of all the paper, embellishments and supplies, you would probably spend about $75, so if you see any of these on Etsy going for $100-$150, now you know why!!). I’ve fallen in love with Spellbinders die cutting, and Heartfelt Creations scrapbook paper & their die cuts as well.

This is a nice creative outlet for me, and I feel like it is really pretty hard to mess up. I’ve found some tutorials on You Tube via Pinterest which got me launched actually several months ago, and I’ve really grown, and have now started (eight or nine mini-albums later) to come up with creative ideas of my own, so I’m not simply copying others work. Although I must remind my mentors, that copying someone is the highest form of praise.

As I said, it’s kind of hard to mess up with scrapbooking. Unlike cake decorating, you can almost always correct a mistake, and there is a good chance no one but you will ever know. When I make cakes, it is easy for me to see my mistakes, and I will have to turn the cake “just so” or strategically place a flower or ribbon to disguise my error. Gumpaste and fondant are actually not very forgiving.

So here is the scrapbook I made for one of my nieces. I don’t really have any stills, other than of the cover, so please just follow the link over to You Tube to see the entire book. Any feedback would be appreciated.