Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Weekly tip: don't gorge yourself on meatball sandwiches.

Starting Weight: 169.5 lbs
Last Week's Weight: 167.5 lbs
Today's Weight: 172 lbs

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oils Part 4: Foot Soak and Body Wash

The final part of our oil series is about feet. I don't like feet. At all. Despite my aversion and belief that no one wants to look at a picture of a foot - I will be posting a picture of my feet.

I've never had much of an issue with calluses or dry feet in the past but after Hobbit Jo was born my feet were dry and hard as the ground of the Salt Flats. They were cracking and catching on things. It was terrible. I used lotion and socks, I scraped, grated, filed and pumused, I tried the "amazing" Listerine treatment. Nada. I am someone who LOVES tubs and prefers to take a bath everyday to ever showering (not to say I don't like showers or don't shower - but most days find me soaking in a bath). Because of this I am always looking for a way to make them even more relaxing and delightful. I found a tutorial about making a body wash that I decided to try instead of buying expensive shaving cream with hopes with it would be slick and moisturizing. Which it is. But the best part was that it softened my feet enough that dead skin started to just rub off.

It was a miracle and I want to share it with you!

The Body Wash

6 Cups of Water
1 bar of soap grated
1 Cup Coconut Oil

Combine water and chunked up soap (I just scraped pieces off with a knife instead of grating) in pan on low heat and stir occasionally until soap dissolves and it creates a milk water. Bring to LOW simmer until it thickens almost as much as you want your body wash to be, Add coconut oil and put back to lowest setting. Only keep it on the heat until they oil has combined with your mixture.
Pour into whatever container you've saved aside.
Will make about a quart of body wash and mine lasted a long time!
It was a great way to extend the life of my soap and was nice and soft.

*If you are using it for shaving, like me, thicken for longer and use almond or olive oil (liquid at room temperature) so that it will remain liquid to avoid clogging your razor.

Foot Soak

You can use the Body Wash but I prefer this recipe. I wanted it to be pourable, and didn't need it to be super soapy.

3 Cups Water
1/4 Bar Soap grated (just to help combine the water and oil)
3/4 Cup Almond Oil

Combine water and soap in pan over low heat, add oil until combined.

You don't need to thicken it because you're pouring it into the water anyway. You can use coconut oil instead but I preferred the almond oil so that the water didn't have to be as hot to melt the coconut oil. But I've used both and both are great.

You can also add essential oils (I recommend lavender and melaluca for their healing properties; both are great for skin and relaxation).

Soak feet in a bucket of hot water with 1/4 Cup of Soak for about 20 minutes and then grate/file/sand/pumus however you would like. I did this for about a week and my feet are in great shape. It's been about 2 months and my feet still feel great!


Here are the links to the rest of the series, incase you missed them.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Confession. I actually weighed in on Tuesday this week.

My tip for this week - BUY Raisin Bran with Granola...RIGHT NOW...If it's midnight, go to Walmart and buy it anyway. It satisfied my healthy requirement, it's fiber, and the granola took care of my sweet tooth. I am a big fan of it in a big way.

Starting Weight: 169.5 lbs.
Last Week's Weight: 168 lbs.
Today's Weight: 167.5 lbs.

People always say, "It isn't a diet, it's a life choice." So....Happy Life-Choicing!

Oils Part 3: My Mind

I apologize for this post being a day late, but I had a bad day yesterday. You know those days where you get lost in your mind and you can't get out? It was one of those. A no good, very bad day.
Nothing happened to make this day bad. I didn't get slighted my favorite pair of sneakers or wake up with gum in my hair; it was just bad. I got to thinking about everything that everyone else was doing or getting or where everyone else's lives are going and my life seemed like a joke. And what's worse, it felt like everyone else that I was focusing on thought my life was a joke. I was trapped in my mind and it was affecting my body.
I felt physically ill because of the negative goose chase my mind was on.
So thank heaven for sisters that I could call and talk to, funny friends with funny Pinterest boards, and oils.
After I wallowed and brooded I told myself that it was just in my head and I needed to shake it off; which can sometimes take a lot of courage to stand up to yourself. Especially when it's easier to sit and stew.
I put on my happy oils (a blend that I put together for myself this summer to help with my anxiety and PPD; peppermint, frankincense, geranium, melaleuca,  and roman chamomile), called up one of my sisters to chat, and took the night off. Mr. Sam brought home dinner and I laid on the couch eating a frosty. And life looked so much better.
Of course, those everyone's are still doing, getting, and going and they always will be. But I found strength to validate myself and with the help* of my happy Voo-Doo oils I could call my sister and feel of her love from 1000's of miles away.

*To most of you a phone call to a sibling is a relatively simple task, but for the past few years it has been something that I really struggle with and a source of great anxiety for me; by using my oils to calm me down and provide myself a moment of courage I was able to pick up my phone and do what I knew would bless my life.

**A special thanks to my sister for chatting with me- We didn't talk about much and it wasn't a long call, but I felt so loved and reassured that I'm not a joke, and the people who matter to me don't think I'm a joke. It was a great blessing.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oils Pt. 2: Lotion Bars and Chapstick

There are millions of recipes for bars and sticks and salves that you could choose from but I chose to do this, and here is why you should as well. It is only 3 ingredients! I'm all about cheap and the less I have to buy, the better. Especially when it comes to "organic" products - they can be pricey!

Lotion Bars (makes about 5 or 6)

5 oz (or a little over a cup once it is melted) of beeswax
1 Cup Almond Oil
1 Cup Coconut Oil

Melt wax in a double broiler (like I said yesterday, it's just fancy talk for a bowl over hot/boiling water) And add the other oils until they are all liquid and mixed.
Use a cupcake tin as a mold (if you have silicon use that so that they are easily removed) and quickly pour the mixture into the cups. I used a measuring cup to scoop some out at a time because I wanted to reserve some mixture to use for my chapstick.
It will harden quickly so if you are adding essential oils do so now. I recommend healing oils such as melaleuca and lavender, other oils commonly used for the skin or in make-ups are roman chamomile and geranium (one of my favorites).

If you don't use a silicon container - just place the tin over the double broiler for a moment and they should fall right out or slide a butter knife along the side until it lifts out.


You can find chapstick containers online for relatively cheap and on Amazon they are considered an add-on item that will ship for free; so just include them next time you make an order (maybe with your almond oil and beeswax).

Above recipe
I used about 5 cupcakes worth for lotions and saved the rest for chapstick.
Add 1/4 - 1/2 Cup Almond Oil

If you are doing Chapstick alone, this recipe will yield about a dozen

1/3 Cup Almond Oil
1 oz Beeswax
1/3 Cup Coconut Oil

Lotion bars are meant to be hard and warmed in the hand a little before use, but I wanted our chapstick to be softer, hence the added oil.

Do as instructed for the lotion bars, but place in chapstick tubes. I used a baby syringe (it will be ruined so buy an extra if you use this method) to squirt the hot oil into the tubes.
Again it will cool quickly so if you are using essential oils you'll want to prepare them ahead of time and do it quickly. Our favorites are any healing oils mentioned above, peppermint, and orange bliss. Thieves or On Guard would also be great ones to use during flu season to give your immunity a boost.
The oil will shrink up as it cools so save a little to top off the tubes as they harden.

I love lotion bars because my hands dry out and my feet get rough but I don't love the goopey "drying" period that you get with normal lotions after you have rubbed the lotion around your hands.
And Mr. Sam uses chapstick multiple times a day so this was a great way to have plenty around for when they get lost or used up.

Good Luck - I made a mess of my stove top when I dropped my syringe, but they resulting product was worth it!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Smooth Things Over With Oils

Here is my spill for Voo-Doo. Well, not technically Voo-Doo. My sister-in-law is a Doterra Consultant and my other sister-in-law is a Young Living Consultant and they have slowly introduced me to the holistic world with essential oils. Mr. Sam teases that I use Voo-Doo chants each time I put on an oil. What a loon!
My first essential oil experience was when Hobbit Jo was about 6 weeks old. As most babies do, she did not like nighttime, at all. So SIL #1 loaned us her bottle of Roman Chamomile oil to rub on her little feet 15 minutes before bedtime or during colic times. It was a miracle. Within 3 days (at the most) she went from being held all night and crying to sleeping IN HER CRIB through the night for 8 hours. I was converted and have used oils for a lot of things since. They don't fix everything, but they can do some incredible things.
But they aren't the only oils that do wonderful things.
I am also a fan of coconut oil - for cooking, baking, and dieting. Most importantly for moisturizing; my face has not been this clear, healthy, and smooth since before puberty. I melted my coconut oil over a double broiler (fancy talk for a bowl over boiling water; so that things won't burn or overheat) remove from heat and add a few drops of each of my essential oils I use on my face and let it harden again. If you don't use Voo-Doo you can use straight coconut oil and trust me, you're face will feel amazing.
Now, I shared my most common uses for these oils and yet there is so much more to share about them and the ways I have used them.
This week, I am running a series about how I use these oils in my daily life. My lotion, my body wash, my chapstick, my mind. Keep checking in and practice your chanting ;) If you need inspiration, here is a link that has some powerful chanting. Hakuna Matata!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cream of the Crop

I've done A LOT of homemade this or that as substitutions for common commercial items; diapers, lotions, soaps, chapstick, yogurt, clothes, etc. This is by far my favorite of them all. "Cream of __Something__" Soup Mix. At risk of sounding even cheesier than I normal do - it is the cream of the crop.

You can mix up this simple recipe that I found here. Or make a larger batch by tripling or quadrupling it and keeping it in an old juice bottle like me. However you do it, I promise you won't be disappointed.

I make a chicken mix and a beef mix that I use in place of Campbell's Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom soups. I bought the things I needed for less than $10, and it has/will easily make the equivalent of at least 60-70 of the typical cans. On sale the best I have found these soups priced at was 59 cents; which is at least triple the price of the mix ingredients. I could spend at least $100 a year on soup mixes for some of my favorite recipes so this is a lifesaver for us at Bag End.

I usually use these in casseroles or other soups so I don't even bother with the thickening step because I can simply add extra liquid to whatever I am cooking and it will thicken itself and have a stronger taste.

One casserole Mr. Sam has taken fondly to (and so has Hobbit Jo) is Chicken Bacon Casserole.

9x13 pan, serves 6

1/2 lb of bacon (cooked and crumbled)
2 lbs of chicken (diced and cooked up in the remaining bacon grease)
2/3 C of Cream of Chicken soup mix
4 C of Water or Milk
1/2 lb or 2 C of uncooked Macaroni
*Opt. 1-2 C of Vegetable of Choice (we've used corn, broccoli, I'm looking forward to peppers)

Mix all together. Top with 1 C of cheese and breadcrumbs to form a nice crust and bake at 350*F for 1 hour.

Hope you like it, and thanks for checking back in with us at Bag End. I have really come to love blogging and sharing my day to day crafts with you as I work on expanding my horizons, and cooking is something I have always loved. Sharing recipes is something I always looked forward to growing up. In my mind it was a mark of a grown-up woman and mom was to have random 3x5 cards with a recipe from a party scratched down or having a signature dish that people requested. I humbly say thank you for reading and for giving me a chance to share. I hope you keep coming and checking back and sharing us with your friends. Because this is my day to day, cooking for my family and looking for diy versions to my favorite things. And I love it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


My dieting tips for this week are a few delicious discoveries.

1- A relatively low cal and filling lunch: Fried egg on toast with melted cheese on top and a pile of alfalfa sprouts for protein. Added some nice crunch and flavor with almost no calories. Alfalfa sprouts are only 8 calories for a whole cup.

2- V8 Splash Berry Blend Diet - Only 10 calories a cup and a great way to take fiber (if you do that sort of thing)!

*Running back and forth in an apartment living room gets old, here's one girl who can't wait for Spring.

Good luck this week. And just remember, you're not the only one struggling along, and it will get easier!

Starting Weight: 169.5 lbs.
Last week's weight : 168 lbs.
Current Weight: 168 lbs.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Looking Like You

Today's Make-It Monday, I want to tell you about my New Year's Eve. It was the best one yet. The makings of the night were a long time in the works.
Two years ago a co-worker of mine discovered the power of Dressing Your Truth for herself and during her transformation she shared thoughts with me and invited me to try it out of myself.
I didn't believe it (especially what they say about black) and I took it as a challenge to prove them wrong and took one week to dress like she recommended and NO black. I felt hot. But, I was wearing new clothes and I was taking extra time to get ready so I discounted the good feeling and didn't explore it much after that.
However, it stuck with me for a few reasons: 1- I always hated gold, I thought it looked old and was outdated; big surprise to me, once I started wearing it I loved it! My wedding ring is gold and were I to buy myself something right now, it would be gold. 2- My friend's entire outlook on life changed, lightened, and for the first time since I had known her she looked comfortable in her skin. 3- Some of the things that were written rang true with me.
We are encouraged to seek out all good books.
Two years later, that week at the MTC still stuck with me and I looked back into the things I had learned from my friend. I reread the book "Dressing Your Truth" by Carol Tuttle and felt empowered. This brings us back to New Year's Eve, a two year journey in the making.
Even though I am much heavier, larger, and a much different shape than I was when I bought any of my clothes - I committed to wearing the things I love, no matter the size. New Year's Eve morning I put my hair back and then put on a completely Type 1 outfit, jewelry and all, and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Before I had finished flossing I had decided to cut my hair. My own hair.
Trust me, I don't cut hair. When we moved to MI I had to give Mr. Sam a haircut and the first one took me over 2 hours to do; he missed class. And trust me it's not a fancy cut. Just a short boy hair-cut. So when I say I cut my own hair - it was a big deal.
But it was the most fun I have had in MONTHS! I put on my music, sang Backstreet Boys at the top of my lungs and just started cutting. And I love it.
I feel like I look good everyday, I want to get ready everyday, it's no longer a chore, and I love the way I look.
As long as I remember I have hated my big, ugly nose and cringed whenever I looked at my bushy, uneven eyebrows (one is set higher than the other). But, within the last couple weeks, I truly have come to love my features. My nose even seems small to me now and my eyebrows look great! They totally fit my face.
You don't have to believe it - I didn't, I thought it was hokum and silly. I invite you all to try it out, or at the very least go to the website and see what it's about. I have found it very freeing and feel beautiful as me.

Check out the change from Christmas to Now. It's amazing!

And isn't Hobbit Jo the cutest?!

Friday, January 10, 2014


Who doesn't love free?!
Here is how, go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and "Share" any of our facebook posts from 2014 for a chance to win. Once we hit 50 "Likes" on the page a winner will be chosen at random.
What do you win? A loaf of our, most popular post, Fool-proof Whole Wheat Bread.

World's Best Lasagne

It's easier than you think. Your days of pre-cooking your noodles are over!

Prep time: 30 minutes. Period. That's ask the time you need. Either freeze, refrigerate, or bake. Simple as that.

You'll need:
1 lb. Ground beef
Large tub cottege cheese
5 lb (at least 4-5 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package lasagne noodles
1 sauce packet
Opt.  Onion

Start with the sauce, which makes an excellent spaghetti sauce.

1- Brown 1 lb. Hamburger, salt and pepper, opt. Onion.
2- Add packet of McCormick Spaghetti mix, 1 qt. Stewed Tomatoes, 16 oz. Tomato Sauce, 2 cloves garlic, 1 Tbs basil.
3- Cook just until combined.
4- If using for spaghetti, thicken until desired consistency.

Assembling the lasagne

1- In a 9x13" start with a layer of lasagne noodles.
2- Create a layer of cottage cheese and mozzarella in a checkerboard pattern. Blobs of about 1/4 Cup.
3- Add a layer of half of your sauce.
4- Repeat (do the opposite checkerboard as the previous layer sui that you get both cheese in each bite).
5- Top with about 2 Cups mozzarella.
6- Bake 350* for 1 hour.

I hope you enjoy it!

Mr. Sam, "It's my favorite. I love it. It's delicious."
Barney Stinson, "True story."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Once upon a time I had a fabulous seminary teacher who gave us a new quote each week, called a Prophet in Your Pocket. We were challenged to write the statement on a 3x5 card and carry it in the pocket we use most often so that each time we got into that pocket for a cell, lip gloss, keys, pens, wallets, etcetera we would pull out the 3x5 and read it. This, of course, meant we read the quotes hundreds of times throughout the week. And 6 years later, I still know a few of them verbatim and even more of them are paraphrased in my mind.
I bring this up because last week I wrote about goals and making them visible. These days most people use their phones for everything. Everything. So that means we spend more time with them than anything else. What else could be more visible? I couldn't think of anything, and therefore took advantage of it and challenged myself to yet again put my goals in my pocket.
I've ModPodged my goals, fitness and otherwise, on the back of my phone case so that each time I use my phone I will flip it over and read my list of goals. Keeping them ever present in my mind.
Will all these talk of goals, I should fill you in on mine.
To keep things fresh I am doing a different fitness goal each month to keep my goal to get fit and lose weight exciting. I'll fill you in on my progress as the month goes, so that you'll know what I did and gather ideas for things you can do, too.
January: I will be able to run for 30 consecutive minutes.
Each day I will run/walk for 30 minutes - increasing my time running by 1-2 minutes each day.

Monday I also started the Sexy Challenge again, if you start today you'll be done for Valentine's Day. This time I am doing real push-ups, and doing my 2 push-ups last night was hard, but I'm excited to get better at them.

Here is a new format for the Sexy Challenge.

I'll continue sharing low-cal meals and treats that I have over the week, but if you want to follow my day to day menu then comment below and follow me on the myfitnesspal app.

Original Weight: 169.5 lbs
Last Week's Weight: 169.5 lbs
Today's Weight: 168 lbs

Join the Fitness Train, Whooo-WHooo!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Day!

With the snow falling and falling and falling this weekend (MI is a white-out) I am again reminded that just because 2013 is over that that doesn't mean winter is. If you look out our window you see a swing set that doesn't swing in the wind anymore because the snow is so deep, flurries of snow from the roof, and all kinds of wildlife that are only available to those who live by the river.
Since Mr. Sam had a snow day today I cleaned and crafted myself a snowman/woman/person....who cares about politics; snowman.
P.S. Can you believe that they still have snow days in Law School?!

Here is the original....

And here is the one I just made.

Being frugal and poor I used (come one you've heard it enough from me, what did I use for my crafts?) scraps of fabric and ribbon that I already had rather than buying socks like she did. But having made a few I do recommend socks or at the least a stretchy jersey fabric.
At Christmas, I used some soft white flannel, and realized that I should have used something stretchy to get a plump figure. But they turned out cute anyway.
Tonight, I used a panel of fabric from a shirt of Mr. Sam's that was riddled with holes after a bleach encounter in the wash. More stretchy, but not quite as durable as a sock would be.

Her tutorial is no-sew, mine is mostly no-sew. If you are scrapping like me you have one seam. I recommend a 6 1/2"x10" panel of fabric. Fold hotdog style and sew 1/4" seam.

She uses twine, I used baby elastics (I have them in bulk for cheap from Walmart/Meijer).

Put about 1/8 Cup of rice or sand in the bottom before stuffing to help it stand.

I also cut SMALL holes in the sides of the "sweater" to add in twig arms with a dob of hot glue. The slits you created act as sleeves and hide the glue where you connected the arms to the body.

I hot glued the beads on and the hat down to make sure that they wouldn't move too much.

I also had a hard time getting the hats to stay down the way she did it so I cut a hole in the top of the hat as well and used the elastic to secure them all together and cut it like the top of a flannel hat and the white acted as an accent.

I hope my notes helped. And I hope you have fun crafting and bringing a cheery friend into your home during these blustery months ahead.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Yogurt, Cheese, and Eggs - The Perfect Food

Welcome to Food Friday, and let me begin by saying that I hate greek yogurt. It's thick, it tastes weird, and I'm not one to quickly join a fad. However, I love what it has given me. It is the perfect food. This one recipe gives me homemade yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, whey, and a healthier home.
Making my own yogurt allows me to choose the fat content and guarantee that my family is getting pure food without the chemicals, preservatives, and general gunk that companies put in our food. And it is WAY cheaper!
To make your own yogurt all you need is a crock-pot, milk, a start, a bath towel, cheese cloth, and an oven.
A quick note about the start. Buy a full fat, plain greek yogurt- this will be the last time you buy yogurt or sour cream of any kind (as long as you remember to save a start from your own yogurt to use for your next batch). Get ready to save lots of money!
1- Measure milk (I usually do 8 cups, but for your first time start with a smaller batch to practice) into crock-pot.
2- Turn to low and set timer (important: I never use times when I cook because I just watch the clock, but things happen and earlier this week I forgot my yogurt and went to bed without going to the next step. Ruining a half gallon of milk) for 3 hours.
3- Turn off pot and set timer for 3 more hours so your milk can cool. If you don't let it cool it will kill all the good bacteria in your yogurt and you will just end up with funny smelling milk (has also happened to me because I'm impatient).
4- Whisk in start**.For 4 cup batch use AT LEAST 1/4 cup start. Basic rule of thumb is 1 Tbs start:Cup milk.
5- Pre-heat oven to lowest setting, mine is 170* F. IMPORTANT it must be below 180*!
6- Turn off oven, wrap your yogurt pot in the towel to insulate its remaining heat and place in warm oven (THAT IS TURNED OFF).
7- DOUBLE CHECK that oven is off.
8- Leave overnight or 10 hours.
9- Whisk your new yogurt and place in fridge for 4 hours to continue thickening.
10- Whisk. Now comes the harder part, straining. Pour your yogurt into your cheese cloth/muslin/tea towel and strain over a large bowl while covered in the fridge. Depending on how thick you want it this could take 1-6 hours.
**For a smoother texture, remove 2 Cups of Milk and whisk in start, return to pot, and whisk in.
A word on whey - keep it, refridgerate it, and use it anywhere you would use water or milk. In baking or cooking. My favorite is to use it to mix Hobbit Jo's oatmeal because it gives her a lot of extra nutrients and extra flavor. If you plan on keeping and using it - make sure during the straining process that all yogurt stays out of the whey.
Yogurt Cheese
1- After you are done with the yogurt process, continue straining and squeezing out whey. It will take another 10-12 hours, but it is worth it!!!
This cheese works in almost every instance that you would use cream cheese; be it frosting, bagels, etc.
However, from my experience, it does NOT melt well. So, if you were wanting the classic cream cheese eggs (recipe to follow) it does not work. Which is a shame because it is what we use cream cheese for most at Bag End.
Cream Cheese Eggs
1- Scramble eggs in frying pan until cooked but still shiny.
3- Season as usual.
2- Put in softening cream cheese is chunks (1 Tbs:Egg).
3- Mix and melt cheese among eggs to make a creamy, delicious treat.
*This is one of Mr. Sam's favorites!
Enjoy your healthier, cheaper, and happier yogurt!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


The Wednesday Weigh-ins begin again. I succumbed to my fitness enemy (sleep) yet again and gained even more weight due to holiday goodies. And start this year out at 169.5 lbs.

But, a congratulations to those who stuck to their fitness goals during the delicious holidays. My sister Nellie and both of my parents! My parents have each lost 16 pounds in the past few months. HOLY COW! That is amazing!

I mentioned the myfitnesspal app that my family uses previously but I would now like to invite you all to download it or join online (FREE). If you want to add me to your support group then comment and I will contact you!

Now for an awesome recipe courtesy of Mr. Sam.

Rissoto Wraps

1 lb Ground Chicken
Fajita Mix Packet
1 Cup Rissoto
4 Cups Turkey/Chicken Stock
1 small onion
1/2 Cup chopped peppers (I buy a bunch on sale, chop them and keep in the freezer for quick adds to recipes)
2 Tbs oil
Romaine Leaves
*Opt, Water Chestnuts for extra crunch

1- Brown chicken in fajita mix packet in frying pan. Depending on how spicy you want it, do 1/2 - 3/4 of the packet. the whole packet is too powerful. 
2- In separate pot, sauté onion and peppers in oil.
3- Add risotto to vegetables and coat with remaining oil.
4- Cook risotto according to directions (add liquid as you go)
5-Combine, mix well.
6- Wash and dry Romaine.
7- Enjoy!!!

It will make about 20 wraps. And each lettuce leaf worth is about 103 calories! Yeah for low cal, delish food!
 ***We did this as a Chopped adventure. Mr. Sam did it all himself. And I am ADDICTED!

Happy New Year, and May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor!

Did you make New Year's Resolutions? I didn't.

Let me explain why. It isn't that I don't want to improve, progress, or better myself. I do. And I plan to. But, every year it is the same thing, we make bold resolutions with a big expectation that this next year we are going to be stronger, skinnier, wealthier and then leave it at that. The majority of people who made resolutions last night will have abandoned their resolution by the end of the month and those who are blessed with motivation and determination may make it to Easter. But again, they inevitably fail.

You are probably sitting there thinking, "What a Debbie-Downer!" But, stay with me for a minute. People fail because they make no goals, no plans. A simple statement of, 'This year I want/will....." is what resolutions have turned into. But according to a quick Google search the word resolve means: decide firmly on a course of action.

Where in the generic resolution sentence does it mention a course of action, a plan? NOWHERE.

In my life I have learned many lessons and ignored even more. But 2 lessons I have lovingly cherished and want to shout from the rooftops I learned from My 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Deaton, and my loving husband.

Lesson #1
What is the Goal Making Process?
1- Write an affirmative statement; for example, "I WILL..."
2- Make SMALL goals to achieve on the way to your main goal (This is where Lesson #2 comes into play, but more on that later).
3- Make a PLAN, How are you going to accomplish your goal? What do you need to do? Do you need help?
4- Tell someone. Not just a Facebook status update that no one will read. Tell someone you trust who will keep you on track. For example, My sister realized that when she wasn't accountable to anyone
she would stop exercising, stop dieting, and gain weight. (Most people do this, that is why
most diets fail. ACCOUNTABILITY). So about 2 months ago she enlisted EVERYONE
sisters, parents, friends, coworkers. She made herself accountable.
5- Make CHECKPOINTS. Establish a time frame to accomplish each step/small goal. Requiring you to analyze your progress along the way.
6- REWARDS. Everyone likes to treat themselves. Find something that will motivate you and establish a reward that you get when you have accomplished your goals. *Be sure to make it equal to the task. Don't set it up so that if you go to the gym for a week you get a cruise to the Bahamas. But maybe plan in a rest day or a special non-diet treat to reward yourself for being good the rest of the week.
7- Place it somewhere you will SEE it. If you put all these good things down in a journal you only open twice a year then it does you no good. Keep your eye on the ball, make sure you can see your goals and your plan.
Lesson #2
Remember how I said Lesson #2 comes into play during Lesson #1? You may be thinking that they should just be one lesson. But, unfortunately it was years later that I finally understood Step 2 of the Goal Making Process and learned Lesson #2 for myself. Making Mrs. Deaton's earlier teachings even more valuable to me.
Lesson #2 is that people like success. Mr. Sam taught me this important lesson on the rocky banks of Utah Lake. That's right - we were fishing. What does fishing have to do with goals...nothing. However, Mr. Sam was very determined for me to have success early when he started teaching me to fish. Because, a small taste of success makes you hungry for more. You begin enjoying the process more when you realize that you are doing well.
Dave Ramsey, that famous guy behind the Debt Snowball; ever heard of it? He uses the same theory. Smallest debts first to give you a taste of success so that you have the hunger and drive to attach the larger debts.
Lesson #2 is people like success. Early, exciting, invigorating success. Which is why Lesson #1 is important. It is built so that you have those early achievements. You can't have one Lesson without learning the other.
Sick of hearing about how important they are yet? Too bad. They are important and they are the ticket to achieving what you want. New Year's, Lent, Columbus Day - no matter when, no matter why - if you are making a change you need this process.
If you don't believe me then, best of luck on your 'resolution' and "may the odds be ever in your favor." If you do believe me then let's make this year better than the last!
"Short cuts make for long delays."
 - Tolkien -

3 Seam Pillowcase

As you may have read yesterday I got busy, busy with cooking and being an elf for the Big Man. Over the next month I'll be sharing instructions for most of them. Monday on the blog is exploration day. Anything from today's pillowcases to a holistic approach to ________, or budgeting techniques. So make sure to check in to see what new adventures we are taking or "Like" our Facebook page 'Tales at Bag End' for updates when there is a new post and a brief description of what is in store.

I'm going to share my version of pillowcases. There are millions of ways to sew a pillowcase - but to be honest they are all pretty much the same. So if you don't follow my tutorial. Here's a surprise, it'll still work. But here is why I like this method. It is only 3-5 seams. Total. Period. And should only take the experienced sewer 10-15 minutes at the most. If you are new to sewing (perhaps you made a resolution or something...) then here is a good beginning project that should not take long; depending on your exposer to the cutting, threading, ironing, etc. involved in the sewing process then plan on 30 minutes to an hour. See, quick!

Required -

either 1 yd of cotton fabric


3/4 yd cotton
1/4 yd accent cotton fabric
*opt. ribbon or rick-rack.

1- Wash Fabric (alwaysalwaysalways wash your fabric before you start anything).
2- Iron - most vital step in any sewing project. If you want to sew it, if you have sewn it, or you even thought about sewing it - then it needs to be ironed.
3- Trim edges to be straight with salvage

For ONE fabric
4- Iron (told you it's important) a 4 1/2" flap
5- 1/4" seam, sew down the flap.
Skip 7

For ACCENT pillowcase
4- Iron (told you, told you, told you) the accent fabric in half with wrong sides together.
5- Pin to the right side of the larger fabric.
6- Sew together
*Opt - On right side of pillowcase, pin the ribbon or rick rack along seam and sew down.

9- Fold right sides together so that it looks like an inside out pillowcase.
10- Start at folded edge and sew the bottom, pivot and sew the side.
11- ZigZag stitch along the backward L you just sewed.
12- Snip your excess corner fabric (CAREFUL TO NOT SNIP SEAM!!!)
14- Flip and enjoy! :D

Happy Crafting, and Happy New Year