Monday, November 3, 2014

Come With Me!

Hey Chickadees! Are you enjoying my blog? Yes!? Awesome. Then you'll definitely want to follow me over to my newest incarnation dedicated a little bit more specifically to plus-size sewing! Also, my life/updates and probably some other goodies! Anyways, don't miss out!

I won't be posting here anymore-- so come on over to my new little home in the internets.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Roundup 10/24/2014

Image Via Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Scary Mommy talks about New Mom Misery. Amazing

Colette Sewing Patterns introduces Dahlia (it goes up to size 26!)

5 Things Confident Women Do Differently

An Open Letter To Pattern Companies Via The Curvy Sewing Collective

A Brief History of Bat Girl

Check out this book!: Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Drinking this this week

In love with this jacket.

The reason Haute Couture costs so much...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Holy Crap I Quit Sugar: A PCOS Love Story

Image by Ashkiel

Ugh. So, who has PCOS? This girl! Yup. It's been confirmed, there are cysts all over my ovaries. This pesky little nuisance began back in 2001 while I was a sophomore in high school beginning with dark hair showing up on my chin and eventually resulting in massive weight gain around my middle section, excessive body hair everywhere, constant depression, fatigue & an insatiable craving for bread and sugar to the likes of which were not known to mankind.

Of course, back then my parents thought I had A.D.D. and/or was depressed. I'm not sure about what causes PCOS but I have some theories & while this really isn't a health blog, I feel like my life has been massively impacted by this syndrome and deserves some of my virtual attention. 

So, PCOS is something only women can be diagnosed with because its poly (multiple) cystic (cysts) ovarian (on/of the ovaries) syndrome (the collection of signs and symptoms that are observed in, and characteristic of, a single condition). What really sucks is the syndrome part. It's really just a group of symptoms leading to the causation of cysts forming on the ovaries. Resulting in more symptoms. And honestly, the results can be life ruining. 

Some women have an issue conceiving a child, some women rarely get their periods (me) which might sound like a blessing but a woman's body is meant to shed its inner uterine lining once a month. I don't care how bad your cramps are, not getting your period can be disastrous to your hormonal health and therefore the rest of your body. Some women grow thick, dark hair all over their bodies in places men don't even have it. If it's not controlled by diet (aka not eating what the rest of America does) it'll usually result in massive mood swings, depression and find its way into every aspect of your life. Most of the time, you also are prone to gaining weight, specifically around the mid-section of your body. 

I found out I had PCOS when our lactation specialist was over at our home 2 days after I'd given birth to my little mermaid. I was not producing breast milk and we couldn't figure out why. After explaining everything I was going through she asked me a series of questions and nodded, saying "dude, you have PCOS". A couple of weeks later I had an ultrasound done to confirm it and she was right. Wow, massive mystery solved. The question is how it's been impacting my life all of these years and what I can do to control it. 

There are a lot of routes (of course). Some of them pharmaceutical and some of them somewhat cyclical. But in all of my research and of course listening to my instincts, I know that high levels of oxygen (exercise) and what I eat are my medicine. PCOS can't be cured, but it can absolutely be controlled and let me just tell you, the standard american diet does NOT line up with what it means to keep that shiz under control.

There are two huge struggles when it comes to keeping your PCOS in check: the first one is quitting sugar or foods that turn to sugar (complex carbohydrates) in your bod. Yep, there's no way around it. many women with PCOS have tried several "diet" plans with little success. It can be very frustrating, especially since many of popular diets do not really address issues of insulin resistance, which is the main underlying cause of PCOS weight gain.

You absolutely had to remove simple/refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white pasta, potatoes (I'm bad about this one and still looking for a loophole), sugar, desserts, and sugary beverages as these have a high GI ranking and will cause a sudden rise in blood glucose levels and insulin production. I would usually just say reduce and I think that that's the ultimate goal because moderation is key. But sugar (and these foods) have a nasty little habit of being addictive.

Your body craves them, needs them for all of the reasons that it does. So, I believe that if you don't cold turkey that shit, you won't be able to truly detox and sort of reset that internal exposure. Have you ever noticed that if you eat these foods, even a little bit, that you find yourself craving them between the next meal? That's how addiction works yo. You eat a small amount of bread or cookie, a chemical is released in your brain of euphoria temporarily and once that chemical starts to retreat physical signs of craving begin making it really hard to say no to another bite.

It's been 1 week since I cut the sugar out of my life and here's what's changed:

  1. I got my period. Yep, it's been 3 months and it showed up on day 4.
  2. I don't need 30-45 minutes to get myself out of bed in the morning.
  3. I don't feel hungover until noon.
  4. My focus levels are much better and I'm finding the time and energy for things that felt impossible a week ago.
  5. I'm being nicer to myself, not so irritable.
  6. I'm looking forward to movement even if its just walking upstairs from the car.
  7. I can see the cookies and organic peanut butter cup and not buy it.
  8. I'm craving healthier foods like arugula & kombucha.
  9. My eyes are brighter.
  10. My skin looks much better, especially my chin.

I have struggled but most of the misery lasted for a very short time. On day 2, I got a migraine that could only be equal to Athena springing from Zeus' head. It was really bad and could only be controlled by acetaminophen which honestly, didn't help much. By day 3, the migraine was gone and things started to get easier. Eating out has been a challenge but I've been really deliberate in choosing where we eat. My best options are eggs, omelettes, mixed vegetables, salads (without sugary dressing) & corn (tortilla chips) and salsa. I've been having some local honey in my coffee instead of refined sugar, here are my reasons. I've been cooking a lot at home and spinach omelettes have been my go-to in emergency situations.

I am really excited to say that it's been over a week and I've quit sugar with no intention of going back. I continue to keep a journal around my emotions and my PCOS symptoms and am hoping to see a steady consistent change in other symptoms lessening. Specifically the dark hair growth everywhere. It's a stress that has impacted my life and continuously causes me problems. I'm also feeling ready to have more movement in my life including but not limited to curvy yoga and some weight training. Finally, there's some energy there!

Thanks for listening to my story, and if you think you might have PCOS, try to figure it out. Sometimes just putting the puzzle pieces together can be such a relief.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Weekly Roundup 10/17/2014~

This is my very first Friday roundup, which will be a weekly feature on this blog. I find so much cool shit online every single day to actually post it all. So, I'll be sharing a weekly roundup every Friday on said cool shit. I was thinking about categorizing it but I realized that the titles really speak to the actual topics and there's really no need. If you're not interested in sewing I suggest you not click the link that says "10 amazing ways to sew things and be a cool sewer person". Yeah. Enjoy!

SEO and the Techno-Illiterate (Written for Authority Labs by none other than the clever husband)

Are Potatoes That Bad? I sure hope not. I've quit sugar but I still crave an epic baked potato

Amazing Mala Bracelets: Love Pray Jewelry

Reclaim Your Mind:

Have You Checked Out The Curvy Sewing Collective Yet?

Mmmm... I'm eating this at some point this week

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nothing To Hide Under~

I figured out a way to wear my renfrew top (first finished edition). And I'm feeling really clever about the whole thing.

So, how has your week been? Hmmm? Mine? Oh, well, I'm this close to posting a ranting vent about the woes of life. Then I remember that things could be a whole lot worse. I've always despised the concept of not sharing my true feelings about things because "they could always be worse", but I think it really applies in this situation. 

Stupid saturn sitting right down in the middle of my 8th house during a mercury retrograde just after a full moon eclipse in aries. Ugh, my "do" is in overdrive right now and the longer I sit, the angrier I get at myself and the less motivated I am to finish anything. I want to start things right now. Forget my loose ends and just move on. Jeremy is the first relationship I've been in that I've actually stuck with after things got hard. Could this have something to do with moving 20+ times since I was born? Maybe. Probably.

That's what this October is all about. Confronting those truths that have been shoved under a psychic rug since 2008. There's nothing to hide under right now. I've quit sugar, started walking daily, looked at the values we're instilling in Noelle's life and come face to face with the fact that stress is taking its toll on us. Sustainability via simplicity seems to be the answer. Also, being OK with the fact that change takes time and I can't simply become a whole new person over night which is really a relief and totally annoying at the same time.

We're sitting on some really big life-changing stuff right now. Of course, it's taking forever for anything planted to grow. I'm feeling really impatient about the whole thing. I really want to start our new life now (not later), not when it's right. I'm hoping the new moon on the 24th is going to be our time and we can start this whole thing off with a bang. Truthfully, I'm feeling hopeful, blessed, crawling out of my own skin and it doesn't help I've had a migraine since I stopped eating processed foods and sugar. Honestly though, I'm feeling a lot better than yesterday.

My sewing machine is said to arrive this afternoon and I couldn't be more thrilled to offer it a space in my mini studio. I honestly have no clue what to do with my old one. A part of me wants to donate it. Another part of me thinks no one should have to work with it. I'm thinking of shipping it to The Sewing Machine Project so someone else could utilize it, it's small but feisty. I also have a Mabel Collette Skirt pattern on the way and another Renfrew to attempt.

Keep your eyes open for the Friday roundup of my favorite links this week! And stay strong chickadees! It's tea/blogroll/sewing pattern browsing time up in here. At least until Noelle wakes up from her nap.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Renfrew Take 1~

Let me start by saying that knits are totally brand new to me. I absolutely love my friend Lauren's post on knits and why they aren't scary and whoever started that nasty rumor should have needles stuck in his/her face. Lol. What's funny is that every blog post I read about working with knits will point out at some point that it's not that difficult. Taking down the rumor, one tutorial at a time, eh? 

Let me also tell you that while this is my first official, finished renfrew top it's certainly not the first attempt. The last one was made of some super solid, heavy knit material in a gorgeous olive green color that was cut the wrong way (stretchy going up and down instead of side to side). It was really late guys, and my little mermaid had had a particularly rough, needy day and yeah, I probably shouldn't have been cutting fabric much less operation a machine with a needle attached to it. 

I digress.

So, here is is. A finished renfrew top in view A, which is the long sleeves and round collar. Honestly, it's barely wearable. Lol. And I'm not even upset about it. Sewing this top taught me a lot and I really challenged myself. Here is what renfrew #1 taught me: 

  • I am nowhere near a size 16. In my first attempt I thought I could just make the base longer. But it turns out that that waist band was gonna make me look like a sausage casing. I'm even considering not doing a waistband and leaving it flowy at the bottom, hemmed of course. Maybe? I mean it is knit material. Hmmm. I also have to figure out how to make the arm holes a bit bigger because my armpit area is much bigger than the 16. 
  • The softest, floppiest, curliest knit material is a really big challenge. Not an impossible one, but pretty substantial for the knits novice. I can totally forget about pressing seams which is both a blessing and a curse. 
  • Pre-wash Michelle, pre-wash. Dammit, did you hear me? Pre-wash your damn fabric. 
  • Your collar skills are kick ass! Good job Michelle, seriously. You did a damn fine job on that collar!
  • My sewing machine is awful. How did I figure this out? Well, I've been price checking machines all over nashville. Used ones, new ones, old ones, overpriced ones etc. And during that process I've seen demonstrations and even test driven a few. On top of that I've been watching YouTube videos of Pfaff machines and holy crap. It's so much smoother, so much lighter. I seriously feel like I've been sewing with a covered wagon instead of an honda prius. While I most definitely can't afford the prius yet, I can totally afford a used toyota corolla. So my Pfaff Hobby 1142 is on it's way right now from Chicago from a short little bidding war on ebay that I totally owned. 
  • Notches are important. Overlooking even one can totally throw me off. Paying extra special attention to notches is a must. 
  • I must learn how to finish seams without a serger. There are a couple of people whose advice I can ask for on this and the Colleterie has some great input on it too in their Guide To Sewing With Knits
  • I finished, did my best with what I had and am super proud of the progress I've made. I'm high-fiving myself right now (and a million angels). 

The pattern itself is awesome. Straight forward, simple as pie. You may have to make some alterations but if you pay attention to the measurements and compare them to yours thoroughly it's totally worth figuring out. The instructions, cutting out the pattern all of it was such good practice and a great segway back into sewing. I know there will be lots of renfrew tops in the future and I'm thinking I might even have to involve a cowl neck and some kind of cute pocket here soon.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Noelle's First Birthday

Noelle is one year old and I'm a one year old mother. We have both hit many milestones. Truthfully, I haven't posted closer to her actual birth date because I've been really sitting with the idea that I am the mother of a one year old that consistently teaches me what life is all about. It's so strange to think that I ever thought that I would be the professor. That it was my job to show her the way. It's almost as silly as the idea that someone else deliver's your baby when it's always been the woman's accomplishment alone. I simply facilitate her growth, but she is the one who teaches.

Since she was born I've overcome many things. I thought that 2014 would be a year of doing but we're only 14 days in and already I see that 2014 is a year of being. While I am of course "trying" in a sense that I'm not just laying in bed each day, the result of these lessons is a consciousness that is engrained within me. I don't have to try to do many things these days- they seem natural to me, like breathing. She has taught me about these instincts that have always been in me, even while dormant.

She has taught me the true meaning of patience. Not while interacting with her, mind you, but while interacting with myself. The things I say to myself in my head (my thoughts), throughout any given day were things that I would never say to her. Her kind, careful face is a reminder constantly of how important it is to be kind and careful not only with her, but with myself. I hug myself like she hugs me, I let myself feel my feelings through to completion like she does. Happiness, joy, silliness, sadness, frustration- she feels all of this as long as she needs to and reminds me of how important it is not suppress these very real, living organisms that find their way through our skin, through our mouths, out of our eyes. She embraces them, without trying and lets them run their course. Noelle has no need for perfection- her food lands where it lands. Her blocks strewn about the house- her quest for experience and practice is constant. I yearn to be like her and she shows me what it is to be. And what contentedness looks like this this state.

She now weighs 21.2 lbs, she's 31" long, she's a bean pole who loves to climb everything. She loves to practice walking and she gracefully goes up and down the stairs hoping for someone below her to catch her so she can fly for a minute. She likes to sit with her food and watch the television. She sings when she hears a song she likes. She has 8 teeth and she uses them to chew on fruits and veggies, cheeses and grains. Her favorite foods are green beans and avocados. She moves even in her sleep and she has a face more beautiful than Cupid's. She is a cherub how she flies from moment to moment making mischief and spreading love everywhere she goes. She has a blue blanket that she loves to feel while she falls asleep. Her favorite people are her daddy, her mama and her grandma (my mom). She has yet to meet a lot of her other family but I know its all for a reason.

We had a birthday party for her on her birth day. We invited some great friends we've met here, in Nashville to coffee where we reserved a room and some cupcakes. My darling friend took photos and another wonderful mama offered to make Noelle a "smash" cake. We were so happy to celebrate Noelle's year with them. I made her a beautiful banner (that I hope to give to her) and a poster board all about her favorite things. The party was wonderful. My husband and I felt very proud of her birth, of who she is, of what we've accomplished and how she's changed our lives. Noelle Snow is one year old. We can't wait to see what else she shows us in year two. We are so proud, so excited to learn, so happy she's ours to love.