Paper Countdown Chain to Christmas

5I spend a lot of time on Pinterest. I love looking for new recipes, sewing patterns, craft ideas, etc. Of course, everything I find on Pinterest is beautiful. Beautiful food. Beautiful sewing. Beautiful people. And in the interest of keeping it real, most of the stuff I create is not beautiful. Oh. Em. Gee. My food presentation always looks like a hot mess (tastes good though!), my home looks like a war zone, and for every awesome craft I do, there are several sitting at the bottom of the trash can, waiting to be chucked in a fit of rage.

Now that my son is two and a half (and is starting to understand presents and Santa and Christmas), I really wanted to embrace the holidays and find ways to get him super excited! I looked on Pinterest for countdown ideas, and most were just too fancy for us. I wanted something that I could create with my son. Something that was uniquely us. That is why I decided to kick it old school and have him help me make a paper countdown chain. Will this craft be wowing the multitudes of crafty moms out there? Nope. But it was really easy to do, fun to make, and will bring us joy for the next 26 days of chain ripping!

Supplies:

-Construction paper (cut into 3″ strips)

-Markers

-Stickers

-Tape

I’m sure most of you know how to make a paper countdown chain. You just decorate your strips of paper and then start looping them onto each other, securing each loop with tape. I thought it would be fun to decorate our loops with stickers. Of course I bought cheapie stickers that wouldn’t stick, so I had to tape each sticker down.

3My little dude, ruining the markers decorating with markers.

1Even my husband decided to get in on this action!

4Someone is such a showoff!!!

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Looking good, paper chain. Looking good.

5I made the star in Microsoft Word. My star drawing and cutting skills are pretty pathetic.

6FINALLY time for the fun part! Dax gets to rip off the first loop of his paper countdown chain.

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27 is gone. 26 more days til Christmas!  YAYAYAYAYAY! Thanks Dax. :)

So that’s it. A simple, fun, toddler friendly craft that will bring happiness for 26 more mornings… unless said toddler decides to rip it all down one day. Or if our cat gets to it. But I’m feeling positive.

Happy holidays, everyone!

~Christen


Wednesday Workout Wrap Up {November 19-25, 2014}

Happy Turkey Day Eve, everyone! {YAYAYAYAYAY!}  This time of year is always ridiculously crazy. Things to do. Yummies to eat. I’m really proud that, despite the hecticness of the holiday season, I’ve managed to remain consistent with my workouts. My eating is a WHOLE different story (ugh!) though, but it’s not something I plan to stress about the day before Thanksgiving.

Time to recap last week’s workouts!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lower body strength training at the gym.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Two miles of interval training on the treadmill.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Upper body strength training.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rest day!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I spent my Sunday morning at the Philadelphia Marathon. I had a friend running it (her first marathon) and I wanted to be there to cheer loudly for her! I was at mile 16/22 in the Cheer Zone and it was AMAZING! I have actually never been a spectator for a race before and it was a wonderful experience! I definitely want to volunteer at a race in the future. I ended up hopping onto the course and running a mile and a half with my friend, leaving her to run into Manayunk, and then met back up with her for another mile+ of running. After the race, my friend thanked me for spending those few miles with her, but truthfully, it was such a great experience for me and it definitely gave me even more of the marathon itch.

I left my friend with 5K to go and then ran a mile back to my car to head home. I think I ran roughly 3-4 miles.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The plan was to get back into the gym for strength training, but I was off from work, and it was 70 degrees outside, so I ended up doing a 6 mile run while my son napped. It was a pretty slow run, but it felt great. Right now I just want to run for fun and enjoyment before my Half Marathon training starts up in January.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lower body strength training at the gym. This workout is also the start of my fourth week of consistent strength training at the gym which is pretty awesome for me!

Well… that’s it for me this week! I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy all the food! Thanks for reading…

~Christen

Wednesday Workout Wrap Up {November 12-18, 2014}

Welcome to my second ever Wednesday Workout Wrap Up. Last week I talked a lot about my exercise cycle, how I always start out my week strong and then give up by Wednesday. Well, I’m happy to report that I’m still going strong with my exercise plan and it sure is empowering.

I ran four races in four weeks this past October-November:

October 18, 2014: The Baltimore Running Festival Marathon Team Relay {my leg was 6.8 miles}

October 26, 2014: The Perfect 10 Miler

November 2, 2014: The Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10K

November 9, 2014: The Lemon Run 5K

I think most people (myself included) thought I was crazy, but looking back, I see it more as my Fall Running Season. I picked events that would be a challenge, but doable, I trained, and then I attacked. Now I’m focusing more on strength training and cross training during the holidays, but then I will start to focus on running again when my half marathon training begins in February. {I have a plan in my head for 2015 that I will be talking about in a future post.}

Now, lets start with the workout wrap up:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday night, I worked 1-9, so I spent my hour long dinner break at the gym working on upper body strength training. I’m following the Body For Life Weight Lifting Plan.

-Dumbbell bench presses (Dumbbell flyes)

-Wide grip lat pulldowns (Seated cable rows)

-Upright barbell rows (Seated dumbbell presses)

-Barbell curls (Concentration curls)

-Triceps kickbacks (Benchdips)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday night, I had my dinner date with the treadmill for 20 minutes of HIIT. I have never been a fast runner, but I’m working on it. This is one of my favorite workouts to do and I’m hoping it will help me with my short distance speed over time.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I actually worked three 1-9 shifts in a row this week, so once again I was at the gym for my dinner break. I did lower body strength training and {OMG} I hopped on the erg for the first time in 10 years for 4 x 500 meters with 1 minute rest. 10 years was not a long enough break from erging. Ha!

Saturday, November 15 and Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sweet glorious NOTHING!!! I was really sore from the lifting and erging, plus, it was my first weekend in a month that I did not have a race. My husband and I saw a movie, we had an excellent lunch date with my son and parents, I took Dax to his first ever concert, met a colleague for coffee at Starbucks, and made a banging pot of chili. Sweet glorious weekend!

Monday, November 17, 2014

I got my workout on in the early afternoon and it was good! I did upper body strength training and then, once again, I was back on the erg. This time I did a stroke pyramid.

photo (1)

Just in case you were wondering, this was deceptively hard. And longer than I thought it would be (12 minutes). But it was good. Monday was a great sweat day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I was working another 1-9 due to a library program, so I went for a run while Dax was at “school”. (My son goes to “school” one day a week for two hours.) It was 20 degrees outside, which doesn’t bother me, but does bother my husband…. but he still came outside to join me for a run. AND, I got him to do the first day of C210K training! BOOM!

Slow and steady and DONE!

To sum up, it was a great week of exercise for me. I’m now on my third week of exercising consistently and I can already feel a difference. I just have to keep on moving.

Happy Hump Day everyone!

~Christen

 

Duct Tape Bookmarks

photo 8Every summer, my library holds a six week summer reading program where kids read to earn prizes. One of my Grand Prizes for my teens is a “Create Your Own Library Program” package. The teen picks a theme, the food, and his or her friends, and I buy, plan, and create. This year’s winner asked for a Book Themed party with both a hot chocolate and ice cream bar. Dude! Yes, yes, and yes!

I tossed around a lot of ideas and finally decided to focus on the food, two crafts, and a free book for each of the hostess’ guests. We made Mod Podge notebooks with single subject notebooks and scrapbook paper (I should have snapped some pictures, because they were really cute) and Duct Tape Bookmarks. I’m especially proud of the bookmarks because they were easy, used supplies that I already had at the library, were fun to make, AND make excellent presents for tweens and teens on a budget! (I made sure to tell all 11 of the teens this while they were at the party. Tis the season to craft your gifts, people!)

photo 1

Supplies:

-Duct Tape

-Scissors

-Hole Punch

-Embroidery Floss

-Pony Beads

photo 2

1. Rip off a piece of Duct Tape and lay it down on the table sticky side up. Rip off a second (complimenting color) piece of Duct Tape, and lay it on top of the first piece of tape, sticky sides together.

photo 3

2. Trim up the Duct Tape. Trim the top to make it even and trim up the sides so that all exposed sticky tape is gone. (You don’t want Duct Tape sticking to the pages of your book.)

photo 4

{Two separate bookmarks. The left is the backside facing you. The right is the front side facing you.}

photo 5

3. Punch a small hole at the top of your bookmark with a hole punch. Choose three or four complimenting pieces of embroidery floss for your tassel.

photo 6

4. Attach the embroidery floss with a slip knot.

photo 7

5. Add a few pony beads to the floss and tie into place. Voila!

This is a super easy Duct Tape craft that is both fun and a great introduction to working with Duct Tape. Teens can make more detailed bookmarks (patch pieces together, round the edges, braid the floss, etc.) or keep it quick and simple for a drop in craft program.

I hope you all enjoyed this quick Duct Tape Bookmark tutorial. If you use it, let me know how it goes!

~Christen

 

 

 

No Shave November {Self Directed Programs}

I mustache you a question: Are you ready for No Shave November?

Last year’s display and quiz were so popular that I had to do it again with my teens! Like last year, I set up a display with the mustaches on the book covers and the mustache bookmarks. I even have the Mustache tote bag to give away again to one lucky teen.

{source}

“How can a teen win this awesome bag?” you ask. By taking our Famous Beards quiz, of course! (Last year, we did Famous Mustaches.) We encourage the teens to fill out the Famous Beard quiz, add their contact info, turn the quiz in for candy, and then I choose one lucky winner at the end of the month. Oh! And I include each survey as a stat for my attendance report.  Obvs.

I have my Famous Beard quiz, pictures, and signage available in Dropbox here! Please help yourselves for your libraries!

Happy Saturday…

~Christen


Sew Fantastic Show Off {Fleece Heart Pillow}

photo 1Tonight’s absolutely adorable Sew Fantastic project was brought to us by FleeceFun.com. (Check out the pattern here.) I teach teens to sew at my library and am always looking for cute and fun projects. This turned out to be a bit more tricky for them than I realized (lots of sewing around curves and fleece is a bit thicker than what they’re used to sewing), but I think they all enjoyed themselves. I know I love my finished project and can’t wait to snuggle with it tonight!

photo 2Joann Fabrics was having a RIDICULOUS sale on Fleece last week and I ended up spending about $6.25 on all my supplies, including fiber fill.  Dax came with me on my shopping expedition and insisted on a “circle pillow” made with baseball fabric for himself. Of course I obliged.

photo 5To make our “circle pillow”, I followed the Heart Pillow pattern’s directions, but instead of cutting my fabric with the heart template, I used our hamper to make big ass circles.

photo 3I wanted Dax to feel like he was helping, so I let him help me set up the bobbin and then stuff the pillow with fiber fill.

photo 4{He’s my good little helper!}

Dax loves his “circle pillow” and I love love love my heart pillow! Thanks FleeceFun.com for another awesome tutorial!

~Christen

 

Wednesday Workout Wrap Up {November 5-11, 2014}

It seems silly to post a weekly wrap up on a Wednesday, right smack in the middle of the week… But I tend to “quit” on Wednesdays. I usually do a long run on Saturday or Sunday, and coming off that endorphin high, I attack the gym Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday I think, “you’ve worked so hard. Go to SaladWorks and read your book for an hour. You deserve a rest day”. On Thursday, “you already missed Wednesday. What’s one more day?” And so on and so on…

I’ve always struggled with my weight, but seemed to find a really good balance earlier this summer. Unfortunately, I became a little too obsessed with the scale after seeing some really positive changes and it ended up backfiring on me when I couldn’t maintain the low number I wanted. I took some time to reevaluate my goals, my self image, what I wanted to accomplish. I also really thought about what I want to do in 2015 and I have some BIG plans. In order to do the things I want to do, I need to focus on the elements of my fitness journey that worked in the past. At this point, my two big goals are to work on normalizing my diet (I’ve been eating out way too much AND eating too many sweets the last few months) and focus on being more structured with my workouts. I’m hoping if I can commit to these two things I will survive the holidays without going into a sloth like food coma. :) Soooooooooo, with all that being said, I present my very first Weekly Workout Wrap Up:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On Monday, I started back up with the Body for Life Weight Lifting Plan. Although I have never done the whole BFL 12 week plan, I love their strength training routine. It’s effective for me and I’m able to fit it into my lunchtime workout routine. Wednesday was Lower Body time and it was my first lower body workout in MONTHS. I went light on the weights and I could still really feel it. Actually, I was sore for several days afterwards. I did:

-Leg presses (and barbell squats)

-Straight leg deadlifts (and lunges with dumbbells)

-Standing heel raises

-Hanging knee raises

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My tiny BFF ended up getting sick on Thursday, so I called out from work and spent the day cuddling with him on the couch. After he went to bed, I went for my first evening run in months. (I did this a lot during last winter’s Runner’s World Run Streak.) It was just a quick two miles to stretch out my (still very sore) legs.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Unintentional rest day. I was home again with a sick toddler and was feeling a little off myself, so I decided to just listen to my body and relax.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

On Saturday, Dave, Dax, and I drove into Bala Cynwyd, PA to pick up our race packets at Alex’s Lemonade Stand headquarters for the 2014 Lemon Run.

Dax was very confused and kept asking “where the lemonade?” Sorry dude.

I didn’t make it to the gym, but it was really important for me to get an arm strength training workout in, so after Dax went to bed, I brought up an old workout favorite:

Back on Pointe was my go to destination for workouts when I first started getting fit in the Winter of 2012-13. If you’re new to exercise and aren’t quite ready to commit to a gym (or you want to try some new at home exercises), check this site out!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday was The Lemon Run 5K in Philly. You can read all about it here!

This picture was posted to the ALS Facebook page last night and I love it! See me in pink? I’m giving the two year old some last minute tips before his 100 meter dash!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Back to the gym for my lunch break sweat break. :) Today was Lower Body lifting from the BFL weight lifting plan. Once again, I did:

-Leg presses (and barbell squats)

-Straight leg deadlifts (and lunges with dumbbells)

-Standing heel raises

-Hanging knee raises

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I was off yesterday for Veterans Day, so after I took Dax to “school”, I went for a 5 mile run. It was slow, but lovely. Sometimes it feels good to just run for the sake of running and not worry about speed and pace. After Dax was done “school”, we went to a farm for a hayride and some popping corn picking. It ended up being a very active day and I hit over 20K steps!  BOOM!

Overall, I was really pleased with this past week and am hoping to keep my momentum going. I’ll be posting another workout check in next Wednesday. See you then…

~Christen

 

 

My Huntress Vest

photo 1Okay. Before we even begin talking about my new homemade Katniss Everdeen Huntress Vest, can we just clear the air by saying that sometimes there isn’t a single filter on the planet that can make you look good in a picture. I think the little heart bokeh adds something magical though, wouldn’t you agree? I spend way too much some time on Pinterest and sewing blogs every day and am always really impressed with the pictures bloggers post showing off their finished projects. Obviously this is a skill I need to work on in the future.

Anywho. I used to crochet A LOT. I had my own Etsy shop and everything. However, there are only so many pairs of baby girl booties you can crochet before you realize if you crochet one more thing you are going to poke your eyes out with your hooks. So I took a looooooooooong crocheting break. A few weeks ago I started to get the itch to hook again and hit up Pinterest to see if anything popped out at me enough to inspire me to start crocheting again. That is when I came across this lovely pattern:

il_570xN.552949278_czu7

{source}

This chunky crochet/knit asymmetrical huntress vest HAD to be mine! I had visions of myself wearing it while frolicking through the woods outside of District 12 with my hot BFF Gale. {#nerdfantasies} Plus, this whole design works for me. I hate to wear coats because I can’t stand feeling constricted. Plusalso, I chase a two year old around all the time. This is light enough to not weigh me down on our outdoor autumn adventures, but still keep me warm. With my mind made up, I happily gave Two of Wands my $5 to own this pattern.

The pattern was a little confusing to read, but I was able to make it work. I already have some changes in mind if I decide to make myself another one. The biggest thing is that I don’t knit, so the triangle sleeve is a lot bulkier on my finished product because I crocheted that piece. But all in all, I’m really happy with my results.

photo 2

photo 3Bad ass heroines wear their vests over leather. Librarians wear their vests over cardigans.

katniss-catching-fire-2-537x402

Thanks for popping by…

~Christen


Lemon Run {November 9, 2014}


{Dax was super proud of his new bling.}

My 40 something year old cousin is a childhood cancer survivor and every year he runs the Lemon Run in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand in their fight to eradicate childhood cancer.  Dax and I first ran the event (with a whole big group of my family) last year. It’s a family, child, stroller, dog, (pretty much everything) friendly 5K in Fairmont Park and so much fun.

Last year, Dax and I just ran the 5K (read: I ran. He sat in his BOB.), but this year we decided to do that, as well as let Dax run the Kids’ Dash. I also got my husband out to run his first ever 5K, which is a super big deal!

{Dax holding his squeezy lemon after competing in the Kids’ Dash.}

I am super competitive and really wanted to beat my husband (although I would never tell him that), but it wasn’t mean to be. The dude finished in 30:31 with me thirty seconds behind him. (I started out running exclusively with Dax in the jogging stroller.  These days he hates it because he’s bored and wants to be running, too, so we rarely use it now. I forgot how much HARDER it is to push a child in front of you!)

Both my Garmin and my cousin’s GPS app said the course was 3.19 miles, which I’m pretty sure means my husband came in under 30 minutes (which was his time goal). I would say, I’ll get him next year, but I think Dax might be flying jogging stroller free next year. I am half excited and half terrified.

{The family in front of the Please Touch Museum in Fairmont Park.}

According to CBSPhilly.com, the Lemon Run raised around $150,000. It is a great organization doing amazing things for children. You can get involved by doing the annual Lemon Run (in Philly or virtually), hosting a Lemonade Stand, or by donating.

~Christen