Saturday, October 31, 2015

Crochet Mermaid Costume Pattern By Robin Lyman

Crochet Mermaid Costume
Pattern By, Robin Lyman

This year I really wanted to crochet my girls their costumes, especially my youngest daughter who badly wanted to go as Ariel. I didn't like any of the store bought costumes, none of them seemed right to me, but my favorite princess was always Ariel too, so of course none of those costumes would seem right, haha. Anyways, I found a few patterns for mermaid tails, but finally decided on just creating my own. So here it is:

First off, there are two special stitches you will need to know: the Crocodile Stitch and the Shell Stitch. Both are fairly easy, and with the crocodile stitch, if you can front post double crochet, then you can crocodile stitch. This lady gives the best tutorial and it is how I learned how to do it:

Ok, so moving on, here is the pattern for the mermaid tail. (This is for a child of about 4-5 years old. If you want to go smaller, deduct 6 stitches off of your base chain for every 2 years and add 6 stitches to your base chain for every two years. You could also just make your chain, wrap it around your child's waist to get a more exact measurement, just make sure your chain ends in a multiple of 6 (meaning your chain can be divided by 6 evenly, I hope that makes sense.))

Chain 72, then sl st into the first chain to create a circle, make sure you do not twist your chain. (This is a technique that took me a few tries to master, but once you get it, it is very easy to duplicate again and again. Try laying your chain on a flat surface and put the two ends together to help you make sure that you did not twist it while sl st together.)

Ch 2, DC in same stitch, *skip 2 stitches, chain 2, 2 DC after the 2 skipped stitches, continue from the * until you get back to the chain 2 and sl st into the top of the chain 2. Now this is where you will want to watch the video I posted about, she explains it so much better than I ever could. I know her base is different than mine, but I found that the 2 DC's in between each crocodile stitch was easier to crochet into than the 1 DC.

Continue to crocodile stitch until you reach your desired length, for my daughter I went just below her knee, almost mid calf. You should have 12 scales in each row and 1 less for each size down and 1 more scale for each size up. Once you have reached the length you want, move on to the next step.

Chain 1, *HDC in the same stitch, sk st, chain 1, HDC, continue from the * until you get back to the chain 1, sl st into the chain 1. Fasten off. This top row that you just created is for the draw string belt to help keep the tail from falling off your child's cute little hips.

Now, attach your yarn at the bottom, chain 1, HDC in the same stitch as the chain 1, sk st, chain 1, HDC. Do this all the way around and then sl st into the initial chain 1. Fasten off, sew in ends. This row at the bottom has just created your spaces to tie in the tulle at the bottom.

Here is a great video on how to tie the tulle, you will want the tulle to be twice the length of the actual length that you want.

Once your done tying in your tulle, run your fingers through the tulle like you are combing it, and your done!

For the draw string belt: chain 150, turn your work around, DC into 3rd chain from the hook, DC all the way to the end, fasten off, sew in ends.

Now, let's move on to the mermaid top.

Ch 85, sl st into the first chain, being careful once again not to twist the chain. (Again, I did this based of of my own daughters specifications. You can tailor it to your own child's measurements as well, just make sure you do the final chain length in multiples of 7, meaning that the total chain stitches are divisible by 7.)

Round 1: Chain 2. 4 DC into the same stitch as the chain 2. *sk 2 st, SC, sk 2 st, 5 DC, continue from the * until you get back to the Chain 2, sl st into the top of the chain 2.

Round 2: Sl st into the next 2 stitches, this should put you right at the center stitch of the first shell that you made, Chain 1, *SC into that middle stitch. 5 DC into the SC of the previous round between the two shells made. Continue from * until you get back to those first two slip stitches, sl st into the first of those two sl st.

Round 3-6: repeat rounds 1 & 2 until you complete round 6, or as tall as you would like it to be. Fasten off.

Round 7: (This is where I changed to the ivory colored yarn, a color than matched my daughter's skin pretty closely.) Attach yarn to the bottom of your shell bra, Chain 1, SC all the way around, you should have 85 stitches or the same amount of stitches that you started with on your bra.

Round 8-32: *Chain 1, HDC around, sl st into the chain 1. Repeat from the * until you reach the desired length of the top. Fasten off, sew in ends. I wanted to be able to tuck my daughter's top inside the tail, so that's what I based my length off of. Oh and here's a tip, slide the top onto your daughter from the feet up instead of over the head like a normal shirt, this will make it easier to put on and create less stretching.

For the bra strap AND for the head band, you will once again be doing the shell stitch.

Make your chain in multiples of 7, I don't remember how many chains I did because I made the length to fit around my daughter's neck and be able to button inside the mermaid top. Which reminds me, after you have made the bra strap, you will want to sew on two buttons to the INSIDE of the top front of the mermaid top. You will want the button to be about the middle of the front of each shoulder on your child.

Ok, so now that you've made your chain, continue on as follows:

DC in the 3rd chain from the hook, 3 more DC's in the same stitch, making 5 DC's including the chain 2 you created by DC-ing into the 3rd chain. *Sk 2 st, SC, sk 2 st, 5 DC. Repeat from the * until the end of the chain, once you reach the end, continue this pattern down the other side. Fasten off, sew in ends. Make two of these, one for the bra strap, once for the head band. On the headband, attach a button to the beginning & last shells you made.

Now for the final finishing touch, the sea star for the headband:

Chain 3, sl st into first chain, making a magic circle.

Round 1: Chain 2, 2 HDC, ch 1 into the middle of the magic circle. *3 HDC, ch 1, repeat from the * until you get back to the chain 2, you should have 20 stitches at the end of this round.

Round 2: *Ch 8, sl st into the 2 chain from the hook, SC in the next 2 stitches of the chain 8, HDC in the next, DC in the next, TR into the next 2 stitches, sl st into the chain 1 space of the previous round. Repeat from * until you have your five point star. Fasten off, sew in ends. Attach to button on the headband.

Congratulations! You survived my pattern! Haha, please forgive me for over explaining or if I didn't explain well enough. I'm still a beginner in the crochet world. If something doesn't make sense to you or you see an error in my pattern please let me know so that I can correct it! Please feel free to make as many of these items as you like and feel free to share this FREE pattern, I just ask that please link back to my blog! Thank you!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Crochet Pattern By Robin Lyman: Ribbed Baby Mittens

 Ribbed Baby Mittens
Pattern By Robin Lyman of RobbyGurl's Creations

I've been crocheting for a few months now and I am so crazy in love with it that I have gone crazy with projects! This pattern is my first I have ever successfully completed without any impurities. I love how adorable they are! When I set out to make them, I knew I wanted some baby mittens that weren't the typical single crochet stitch. Feel free do use this pattern for personal use and make/sell as many sets of baby mittens as you want! If you want to share this pattern, I ask that you please link it back to my blog, please do not claim it as your own pattern. Thank you! 

Chain 3, Join, do NOT chain 2
Round 1: 10 DC into center of joined chain 3, sl st into top of first DC (10 DC's), do NOT chain 2
Round 2: 2 DC into each stitch (20 DC's), sl st into top of first DC of the round.
Round 3: Chain 2, DC in the same stitch, *2 DC in the next stitch, 1 DC in the next stitch, continue this pattern around from * until you get back to the chain 2, sl st into the chain 2. (30 DC's)
Round 4: Chain 2, DC in the same stitch, *2 DC in the next stitch, 1 DC in the next 2 stitches, continue this pattern around from * until you get back to the chain 2, sl st into the chain 2. (40 DC's)
Round 5-10: *Chain 1, FPDC into first DC of the previous row, BPDC into the next DC, continue this from * until you get back to the first FPDC, sl st into the top of the FPDC. (40 stitches)
Round 11: Chain 1, HDC in each stitch around, sl st into chain 1 (40 Stitches)
Round 12: *Chain 1, HDC, chain 1, skip 1 stitch, continue this from * until you get back to the chain 1, sl st into chain 1.
Round 13: Block edging around, sl st, fasten off, sew in ends. (The block edging is NOT my pattern, you can find the instructions for it here.)

Mitten Tie: Chain 60, sew in ends. Thread chain through the chain 1 spaces of Round 12.

You can find the pattern for this hat here. The only thing I did differently from her pattern was on rows 13-16, instead of the Camel stitch (which I couldn't figure out how to do), I HDC for those 3 rows.

Friday, July 31, 2015

I Run, Therefore I Am

Hey everyone! My last post and this one are a little different from what my blog has been about lately, but my blog is all about my creations, and lately, my biggest "creation" has been creating a runner inside me. I've had little time for anything else, although, if I do get a moment of rest, it's spent crocheting, which I just might be posting some crochet patterns in the future, so keep an eye out!

Anyways, I was recently asked if I would be willing to share some insight into my fitness and what fuels my workouts. I'm no professional athlete, but I am willing to share my experiences with my weightloss, fitness and training. I hope I can help or inspire someone with this post.

I didn't first start running, or even exercising for that matter, until after I had my first child back in 2005. Of course I exercised in P.E. in school growing up, but it was never fun, exciting or something I ever wanted to do. In fact, I think the fastest I could run a mile in school was like 13 minutes! When I started exercising in 2005, trying to lose baby weight, I quickly discovered that running was by far the easiest workout to do and burned the most calories in a faster time. After a while, I became hooked, I started challenging myself to see if I could beat my running time from the day before. Pretty soon I started thinking "hey, I bet I could run a marathon!" Well, that plan quickly flew out the window when I became pregnant with my second child in 2007. After that, there just never seemed to be anytime to train. 
Officially registered for my first marathon!

Well, February of this year, I finally decided that it was time to try to work off those last 15 pounds that I couldn't seem to shed. So I went back to my old friend, running. So, now that you know a bit of background, I thought I might do the rest of this blog post, interview style:

After achieving my 15 pounds weightloss goal.

What foods do you eat pre workout?

Honestly, unless I am running more than 8 miles, I don't eat anything at all before I go out on a run. I found that if I eat or drink anything before a small run like that, I end up having stomach issues. I've never had an "accident" in my pants before, but boy oh boy do I get cramps like non other if I eat pre-workout. However, if I am going into a race or running more than 8 miles, I usually drink a Kirkland Weightloss Shake, they are packed full of vitamins and protein and it's gentle on my stomach whenever I am having pre-race jitters. Also, I learned from a friend of mine who is an avid Iron-Man competitor, to fuel during those long runs. Believe me, its been one of the hardest things to do, learning how to chew, breathe, and run, but it really has made all the difference in keeping me going and keeping me on pace as I run. I've heard of people doing Gu's and Gel's and even baby food. ETB Fitness also has a great selection of items to fuel your workouts. I tend to stick to GoSqueeze Applesauce, Yogurt or Chocolate Covered Raisins, or I make my own version of a Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Energy bars that has honey, cinnamon and salted peanuts in it! It's so yummy and I cut them into bite sized pieces so I can just pop one into my mouth every 15 minutes or so during my run.

What music do you listen to during your workout?

I've got soooooooo much music downloaded on my phone, but for this question, I think I will stick to my favorite running mix that I have on my phone:

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
The World by Brad Paisley
A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton
Marry You by Bruno Mars
Geronimo by Sheppard
Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Honey, I'm Good by Andy Grammar
The Middle, by Jimmy Eat World
Life Is A Highway by Rascal Flatts
Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Shut Up And Dance by Walk the Moon
Immortals by Fall Out Boy
Larger Than Life by Backstreet Boys
Dear Future Husband by Meghan Trainor
Heartbeat Song by Kelly Clarkson
Hit the Lights by Selena Gomez
Feel Again by OneRepublic
Good Riddance by Green Day

How do you switch up routines daily/weekly to stay motivated?

Honestly, I really don't anymore. When I first started running, I would pick a new route around my neighborhood everyday so that I wouldn't get bored, but here I am 6 months later, and I have one specific route I like to run now, and while I have the personality to just stay motivated - once I put my mind to something, I don't like to quit - the biggest way for me to stay motivated is to push myself, to see if I can maintain my normal pace, or even beat my previous time for that route, even if it's by mere seconds. I truly believe that if you don't LOVE to run or you don't WANT to run, there will be nothing out there that can motivate you to keep going. My brother once said to me, if you are doing it for anyone other than yourself, then you will always find and excuse not to do it. So make sure you are doing this for YOU!

 I love to capture the sunrise on my camera phone almost every morning! They are always so beautiful!
 I also like to count all of the bunnies I see on my runs, I'm up to a record 45 bunnies in one run so far! Haha!
Collecting golf balls has become a habit for me when I run now (I live near a golf course). It's almost a subconscious thought now to look for them as I run.

What do you eat or do after your workout to make sure you got the most out of your workout?

The first thing I eat when I walk through that door after a run is head straight for the toaster. I am a HUGE fan or whole grain wheat toast and I indulge myself in JIF Whips Peanut Butter Chocolate spread! Then I usually get a Yoga DVD going on the TV and do a small and simple 30-minute routine just to stretch me out and ensure that nothing cramps up after my run. Then as I go throughout the day, I stick to a pretty strict diet. I eat about every two hours (mostly because of my blood sugar) my snacks usually include a banana, a Fig Bar, string cheese, strawberries, yogurt, oranges, Kellogg's Pastry Crisps, yogurt Creamies, really anything that is around 100 calories. For lunch I usually eat a bowl of cereal like Frosted Mini Wheats, Wheaties or Special K, oh and Life cereal is a favorite of mine too. I also indulge myself in a PB and J now and then, especially in the days leading up to a race. Then for dinner, I usually eat whatever the family is having, really anything at all. I just watch my calorie intake at dinner time. I have also learned not to eat new foods the night before a big run or race, my stomach is never happy the next morning. Like avocado, eggs, peppers...none of those are ever easy on my digestive system the morning after.

Any Questions?

If anyone has any more questions for me, I'm a pretty open book and would love to lend any advice or share my experiences. I am in no way a professional runner and I've only really been seriously running for about 6 months. A friend of mine once asked me, "did you just wake up one morning and say 'hey, I want to run today!'?" I guess in a way I did. Once I made the decision, I did it! I started with the goal in mind to just lose 15 pounds, that goal rapidly turned into running a marathon (which I will be on October 3rd!), and ever since I started, and while waiting for the marathon to get here, I have entered myself into 9 other races aside from the marathon. My first race was a 10k back in March, where I placed 1st in my age group! Then, shortly after that, near the end of April, I ran my first 1/2 marathon in just under 2 hours! May I ran a 10k where I took 2nd place overall in Women's! (That was probably the highlight of my running "career" so far.) In July I dialed back a little and did a 5k fun run with 2 of my 3 kids to raise money for our local burn center. The fire trucks came out and sprayed us all down multiple times throughout the run, and the finish line was a slip n' slide and afterwards we all got to splash around and play in a sea full of foam and bubbles! It was by far my funnest race ever, and kind of nice to run because there were no awards to be given, it was purely for fun! So I focused on being my kids' cheerleader (they are ages 9 & 7) and helping them finish the run (after they trained for only 2 weeks!) Tomorrow will be my second half marathon, and I have set a goal to beat my first half marathon time, although I am secretly hoping to at least be in the top ten, but lets be real, those top 10 people are FAST! After that I have another 10k race in September (I'm going for 1st place overall!) October is my first marathon. November is my third half marathon and December will be my fourth half marathon. I think if I could lend just one piece of advice to anyone who wants to run or is a runner: Make a goal and when you achieve that goal, set a new one! You need new motivation constantly to keep yourself going and setting goals and setting new goals once you have accomplished your others, I believe is the best motivation out there. Do it for YOU or you will always find an excuse not to do it. 

My first 10k race where I took 1st place in my age group!

My first half marathon!

My 2nd 10k where I told 2nd place OVERALL!

 The FirehozeFrenzy 5k Fun Run with 2 of my 3 kids!

 All the races I will have completed by the end of 2015!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Those three little words: Diet, Exercise, Weightloss

This is a very different, and very personal, blog post for me today; however, I have felt strongly for quite some time now that I need to share my experiences when it has come to losing weight, dieting and exercise. Gotta love those three little words, right? Wrong!

Don't you instantly feel like a great weight is pushing you down the second you hear someone utter those words? Or feel immense pressure when you hear how someone just completed their morning workout? Or "so and so" just lost so many pounds and can now fit into the same jeans they wore before baby? Yeah, I used to be one of those people too.

I always wanted to lose weight and go back to how I used to look when my husband first dared lay his eyes on me, but I could never really get the motivation. I was motivated for a short time after I gave birth to each of my children, but I could never lose those last 15-20 pounds. No matter what I did, I just couldn't get any smaller. How did I get so small before I had kids?

I wasn't exactly little miss skinny in middle school....actually, I was quite a little chunk in middle school, and you know what, I used to be ok with that at the time, until my grandpa came to visit one thanksgiving, and upon noticing that I was allotting myself an extra helping of mashed potatoes and gravy, my grandpa whispered to me that "boys don't like girls who eat a lot." I know what you're thinking, what person in their right mind would say that to a 14 year old girl??? The answer is, I don't know, however, I am not here today to tell you my "sob story", but rather to tell you my success story with healthy weightloss along with a healthy diet and daily exercise. Because you know what? I'm over being that low self esteem 14 year old girl.

I know all of you are about ready to click off this blog post because you just don't want to read another person's "success" story. But I am here to tell you that my journey in weightloss and getting fit is far from over. I still have a weightloss goal that I haven't reached and I also have a fitness goal (to run a marathon this October) that I still need to reach.

I am here to show you what I am doing to lose weight and get in shape and how it is working for me. You can try it, it just might work for you, but the first thing I want you to realize before you start, is that what works for me, may not necessarily work for you. Keep your head up, keep trying and find what works for YOU! Every BODY is different, keep looking until you find what works for you!

So the diet I am doing is my own version of the Slim Fast diet, but catered to my tastes and my budget. I actually buy the Costco weightloss shakes instead of the actual Slim Fast shakes, and then my daily diet/exercise schedule goes as follows: (after my schedule, I will share with you some tips that I have learned along my journey...)

Actually, before I show you my daily schedule, let me start off by telling you that I am a calorie counter! It is the ONE major thing that works for me! You'll see why...

Here is my average day:

6:30 AM: Wake up, change into work out clothes, brush my teeth, quietly straighten up the house while everyone sleeps, and then head into our backroom to jump on the treadmill.

7:00 AM: Morning walk, usually I do a 3.5 mph pace for 30 minutes. This is the time I use to get my body going for the day and prepare it for the "big" workout to come. I also read on my kindle during this time, reading helps me to pass the time and not focus so much on how much I don't want to be walking, or how much I would rather be sleeping. It's definitely something that has worked for me. Also during my morning walk I drink a 16.9 oz bottle of water, I have learned in this experience that the more water you drink, the less you retain, believe me, water retention is a big part of the blame for weight gain!

7:30 AM: Wake kids up, get them ready for school, and feed them breakfast. During this time I also "eat" my own breakfast by drinking a Costco weightloss shake.

8:45 AM: Cardio workout, I usually go any where from 60-90 minutes depending on how I am feeling, but no matter how tired I am, I always push myself until at least 60 minutes, this helps my "brain" fitness as well. It takes great determination and discipline to stick to a workout routine and diet, believe me I know how hard it is to keep going when you just want to quit, but I also know that you will NEVER regret not stopping at 30 minutes like you wanted to and going the full 60 minutes.

Here is a little tip I want to throw in now before I forget, this is something that is actually a great motivator for me, as I struggle with bipolar depression. It's a quote from one of my favorite movies: Legally Blonde:

Not only have I been happy to see weightloss, no matter how big or small, I LOVE the natural high I get for exercising! It helps my day go so much more smoothly as opposed to doing no exercise at all. Oh and also during my cardio workout, I drink another 16.9 oz bottle of water. 

If you haven't noticed yet, I also haven't mentioned any toning, my reasons for that are actually my own. See, I have this thing with the scale, I get discouraged REALLY easily if I don't see weightloss after a hard days work of exercising. I also have learned that muscle weighs more than fat, and since I want to see the weightloss before I see definition in my body, I have chosen to do strictly cardio until I hit my goal weight, then I will work on toning, but honestly, having a 6 pack of abs is not high on my priority list, lol.

10:00 AM: Before I jump in the shower and wash off all that sweat, I take the time to eat a small 100 calorie snack. I have learned that when I eat every two hours, I don't binge eat when I come to mealtimes. So for my morning snack I usually eat 3 oz. (about 4 berries) of Strawberries and then a reduced fat stick of string cheese. You can choose anything you want though! Just try and stick to 100 calories or less.

12:00 PM: Time for lunch....another Costco shake! (I seriously love them! They taste so good! It's my daily chocolate and sugar allowance :) )

2:00 PM: Another 100 calorie snack, this snack for me is usually a banana (which helps with sore muscles) or wheat thins crackers (which actually really help to hold me over until my next snack) At this time I also drink another 16.9 oz bottle of water.

4:00 PM: Last snack of the day, this is usually lighter, I tend to eat a Yoplait Light yogurt, there are so many different flavors and I can really quench some of my cravings with those yogurts! Like they have strawberry cheesecakes and red velvet cupcake! They really do taste like those desserts and are SOOOOOO good!

6:00 PM: You will never believe me, but I really do eat ANYHTING I want for dinner. I can eat Jimmy John's sandwiches, Pizza Hut pizza (pan crust of course), chocolate chip pancakes, the sky is the limit. So what is the catch? I bet you are thinking I am eating those tasteless nutra-system meals huh? WRONG! I really do eat all those things for my evening meals, the catch is, don't go over 500 calories, that's it. Eat whatever you want! I don't do the gluten free thing, or the vegetarian thing, none of that. I eat whatever I want, I just watch my calories, and you know what? It works for me, it may not work for others, but it works for me. I calorie count, and that's ok. Remember, do what works for YOU! Oh and with my dinner I drink my final 16.9 oz. bottle of water for the night.

Finally, after I have finished my evening meal with my family, (that's another thing, eating whatever you want means you can eat with your family and not covet what they are eating, how nice is that? Just remember, everything in moderation) I do not eat or drink ANYTHING after 7pm at night, it took some getting used to, and some nights are really hard, especially when the hubs gets his 9:00 pm munchies and brings down a bag of potato chips, but discipline and good mental strength is really what gets me through those hard dieting times.

Now I want to share with you some tips to help you get through those hard dieting days, because let's face it, we ALL have them, even those who have success. They all make it look so easy, but I bet if you asked, they would all admit just hard mentally hard the struggle to diet is.

Tip #1: Chew gum! I learned this little trick years ago when I first started dieting after my first baby. I learned often times that I wasn't actually hungry, I learned that I was either bored, or my mouth just wanted something to chew I chew gum. It works wonders!

Tip #2: Take a multivitamin to help with the lack of vitamins you aren't getting with the lack of food you are eating. I take gummy vitamins for women that have added metabolism and energy support, I also take an extra dose of B12 to help with metabolism and energy since I chase around kids all day, I need that added energy.

Tip #3: Stay active! Keep yourself busy! If you get bored, you will most likely eat. Keep your mind off of food by keeping yourself busy. Create something! Clean something! Take your kids to the park! Read a REALLY GOOD book...anything to help you keep your mind off of food.

Tip #4: Don't go below 1,200 calories! I learned this the hard way. When dieting, for women, don't go below 1,200 calories. If you add up my daily calories from above, you will notice that it only adds up to 1,160 calories, and that is ok, cause chances are, I'm going to go over at dinner time lol. But don't go below 1,200 calories, otherwise your body will go into starvation mode and it will try to hold on to those calories instead of letting them go.

Tip #5: Get lots of sleep! Have you ever heard that you lose half the calories you gained during the day while you sleep at night? Well I'm pretty sure it's true! I have learned through my own experience that when you don't get enough sleep, you won't see the weight loss you were hoping for in the morning. Aim for 7-8 hours or more of sleep! Slip in a nap too if you can! I saw my biggest amounts of weightloss when I was able to take a nap. Not to mention, napping will help you to forget about eating food too. :)

Tip #6: If you go over calories, first off IT'S OKAY!!! However, if you refuse to forgive yourself for going over, lace up those running shoes and take a jog around the block a couple of times, it will help you feel better.

Tip #7: Download some apps to your phone to help you keep on track and keep on progressing. I like the RunKeeper app and the Myfitnesspal app. I use them every single day and they have helped me so much in my weightloss endeavor. The RunKeeper app has also helped me with my marathon training. 

Tip #8: As I have mentioned a few times now, remember that it takes time, discipline and A LOT of mental strength. It's not going to be easy but it WILL be worth it!

Tip #9: Allow a treat every now and then. If you swear off sugar completely, you are going to cave and binge, once a week, or even once a day, allow yourself a little treat. I actually keep a bag of peanut butter cups in the fridge and everyday while I am making dinner, I allow myself exactly two. It has really helped curb my sugar cravings.

Tip #10: Call a friend! Having a friend to go walking with makes all the difference! It's always so surprising to me how long I have exercised when I go with a friend! Talking to a friend helps take your mind off of just how tired you are!

Tip #11: When you hit the weightloss plateau, EAT MORE! I'm not kidding you. When I did research on the weightloss plateau when I hit it myself, I didn't believe this article when I read it, but after two weeks of sticking in the stupid plateau area, I gave it a try and you know what? It worked! I'm not kidding you! TRY IT!!!

Click here to go to the article.

Tip #12: Tell your family and friends what you are doing and how much it would mean to you if they supported you. Believe me, it makes all the difference. Having my husband not encourage me to eat that cookie sitting on the counter that I keep saying I want, or having him eat his late night snack in the kitchen instead of in the room with me, has helped a ton. His support gives me strength. Find yourself a good support system! 

Tip #13: NO MORE SODA POP! That's all I have to say about that....once I stopped drinking soda, I stopped have problems with losing weight.

Tip #14: I said this earlier, but tone AFTER you hit your weightloss goal, because if you are anything like me, it won't matter that you know that muscle weighs more than fat, all that will matter in the beginning is seeing that number go down on the bathroom scale.

Tip #15: The final tip I have for you, and I learned this from my brother; make sure you are doing this for YOU!!! If you are doing it for someone else, you will never have the motivation you need to accomplish your goals. YOU need to be the biggest priority when it comes to YOUR body and YOUR weightloss goals. Just this once, it needs to be all about YOU! 

Above all, have fun! Laugh at yourself. Go easy on yourself when you don't follow your diet exactly. Forgive yourself for eating those extra cupcakes. Remember that tomorrow is another day and that you can always try again! Never give up! I repeat, NEVER GIVE UP!

Welcome To Zion Mall!!!

Have you heard of the famous Zion Mall from Pinterest? Well if you haven't, now is your chance to learn all about it and maybe even build one for your ward Relief Society. We had our "grand opening" last night to celebrate the 173rd birthday of the Relief Society and it was both a blast and spiritually uplifting! We had one AMAZING presidency and committee who all worked so well together to bring this about for all the wonderful women in our ward. Whoever was the original idea behind this Zion Mall needs two thumbs WAY WAY up for an amazing idea! You can find more ideas that other wards did for their Zion's Mall by going to Pinterest here. Or you can also find it on one of my most favorite websites ever,

So we began our adventure in building this mall over two months ago! Our wonderful event directer, Julie, found this idea, added her own creativity and flare to it (along with the help of her fellow Relief Society presidency members) and the whole thing just took flight! With the amazing committee of volunteers we were able to put together something so amazing, we definitely felt we were "Pinterest Worthy". So I offered to make a blog post all about the amazing stores and the women behind them so we could share it with the world and other ward members so they could maybe create their own Zion Mall someday.

Let's take a tour of the new Zion Mall, shall we?

When "customers" first walked through the doors they were greeted with the Zion Mall sign, and also a chance to enter to win raffle prizes! (We actually have a wonderful lady in our ward who donated ALL of the prizes! She had to have donated over 50+ items! Ranging anywhere from books, to kitchen items, to beauty and heath and fitness products to games and cell phone products! It was quite the sight to see! Our mall director, Julie, actually called out Raffle prize winners periodically through out the night and we got to go over and pick a prize! It was so much fun! 

Also greeting those who entered the building were four posters (made by me, actually), introducing 4 of the 16 General Relief Society presidents our church has had the privilege of having served us over the past 173 years. It was fun for me to put these together and to learn about each one of these ladies. Like, did you know the Emmeline B. Wells was the president who came up with our Relief Society's theme "Charity Never Faileth"? I also learned that I have a distant relative (Amy B. Lyman) who was also a General Relief Society president! How cool is that? I learned so much about the Relief Society before I ever set foot in the mall! What a great perk to being part of the committee!

Now, let's actually enter into the mall itself and take a tour of all of the stores! When you walked in the door, there was a mall map to help guide you along your way, showing you all the stores you could visit and even a Food Court!

The next thing we were greeted with was at our tables...we were given "shopping bags" and "credit cards". These were such a clever idea! I loved how well they came together! The credit card was one of my favorite things I received from that night! 

The first store I was greeted by when I first walked in was Journey's Shoes, look at how amazing this sister did on her store front! She took a refrigerator box and turned it into a window display, then she even had her husband remove their den door off the hinges from their own home to make the front doors to her store! How clever is that!? (psst, this store was actually my favorite, yet, all of them were so fantastic!) This was also one of our "featured stores" in which the "store manager" spoke to all the women about the "shoes" that fit others, may not fit us, that what works for us is what is best for us. Her words were truly inspiring! 

The next store I had the pleasure of "shopping" at, was The Pantry. This store was FULL of wonderful information on Emergency Planning and Food Storage, the "store owner" had gone to great lengths to get emergency plans straight from our local police departments website and made copies for everyone! I took nearly every single pamphlet she had to offer! She had information on being prepared for Thunder and Lightning Storms, checking your Smoke detectors and having fire extinguishers in your homes, a checklist for a "home hazard hunt", information on Disaster Psychology, what to do in the event of an earthquake, how to be prepared if the power goes out, having a 72-hour kit in your home, Winter preparedness, Motor Vehicle preparedness, Food & Water emergency storage, First Aid education, Fire Safety preparedness, Heat Wave preparedness, and Family Disaster Planning. She even had everything you could need to start doing your family genealogy! Talk about being prepared! She had it ALL! 

The next store was one of the cutest ideas! Build And Bear Your Testimony! This was actually another one of our "featured" stores, in which the "store manager" came and spoke to us about building and bearing our testimonies, he had a wonderful handout and it was a truly spiritually uplifting experience to hear from him.

Next up on the mall map was the GAP outlet. This was actually the store that I "owned". The theme of mine was to "close the GAP between you and your Heavenly Father", therefore, my store was actually "closed" I had a couple of handouts though, a magnet to hang on your fridge to remind you to "close the GAP" and also a bookmark with an inspiring quote on how to build a better relationship with your Heavenly Father by Pres. Uchtdorf. 

The next store (another on of my favorites, partially because I chose to break my diet last night, just for this event) was Mission Fields Cookies! The store owner spotlighted our ward's current serving Missionaries and provided some delicious chocolate chip and white chocolate chip cookies! They were divine! Such a creative idea! Don't ya think?

Next stop: the Food Court! A great group of Relief Society ladies worked together to put together a Taco Salad Bar, complete with ALL the fixings (including homemade tortilla taco shell bowls) and of course a birthday cake! The food was delicious and I ate up every single bite of what they had to serve! Thank you ladies for all of your time and hard work and effort, I was very well fed as I'm sure we all were! 

After the tasty Food Court was a store called "Joys R Us" this was our third featured store and the speaker that went along with it gave SOOOOOO many ideas on how to find Joy in the Journey of our lives. She came up with ideas on everything from date nights, to girls night out, to have friends to exercise and talk with, and spending time with your family and your children. She gave us all some great ideas and I can't wait to do some of them with my own family, children and friends! 

After Joys R Us came Kneaders Bakery!!! This store owner had some VERY taste cookies, along with handouts and ideas for handouts to remind us of Visiting Teaching and things we could take to our sisters that we do visit teach to help them feel special and know that we are there for them whenever they need us! 

Next on our mall route was "Focus Eye Center" which helped us all to focus on our Family History! What a fun and creative idea! I love the little window that she added! And those were some nice sunglasses! I almost took a pair for myself, lol.

One of the main focal points of the entire mall was the next stop on our mall map, the Megaplex Theater! The owner of this "store" did an INCREDIBLE job! She really went all out! 
She did everything from movie posters, to the giant movie screen to an actual popcorn machine for us to have popcorn and a partition to walk through! She really let loose on this place and we all got to benefit from its awesomeness! (BTW, these pictures do not even begin to show just how HUGE this theater was! It was GINORMOUS!)

The final store on the map was the Sprint store... "Sprint To Serve". This too was a favorite of mine, she had some amazing ideas for random acts of kindness towards others and our family members, and also she had printed out a talk for everyone by Pres. Uchtdorf entitled "You Are My Hands". the talk was all about being disciples of Jesus Christ and support those around us rather than condemning them. It was a truly inspired store! 

Throughout the evening we all got to shop, be physically fed by the Food Court and a few booths, be spiritually fed by our three inspired speakers, and take home some amazing finds to help us better ourselves and our lives. Thank you again to all the AMAZING and talented people who put this together, it was a group effort and it was well worth that effort by the end of the night. We all appreciated the hard work that was put into this, and hopfeully for those of you who are reading this, you have been inspired to put together your own Zion Mall for your ward's Relief Society. Best of luck in your future construction of your mall if you choose to do so! It truly is worth the time and effort spent!