Recycled Plastic Container Bonus

I have another little bonus project to do with leftovers from the recycled yogurt container earrings- make a bracelet!

This project will give a quick, bright, fiber art accessory without all the macrame. You can keep it simple, or you can add more colors and weaving designs.

Supplies:

  • Plastic ring from left-over container
  • Embroidery Floss
  • Beads or buttons
  • Spray Paint
  • Hole Punch
  • Double-sided tape

Method:

1. Cut a section of the plastic ring that is about half of the circumference of your wrist. Punch holes on both ends and then spray paint to cover the ends.

2. Lay double-sided tape across the front. Pick two colors of floss and attach one vertically and one horizontally on one end.

3. Hold the horizontal strands (pink) off to the side as you wrap the vertical strand (green) around the plastic. Press floss onto tape. After a bit fold the pink floss down and wrap the green floss over it- alternate until the end.

4. Leave extra pink floss at the end and braid, then finish with a loop. On the other end, thread more pink floss through the holes and tie on a button or a bead. Make sure to measure around wrist and adjust the placement of the button/bead to fit.

5. Wear and enjoy!

-Fearn

Highland Black Mocha Stout

I am doing a special, celebratory tasting in honor of sticking with a diet long enough to lose 15 lbs. Hooray me! Hooray cupcakes and beer!

To highlight the diversity of beer flavors I decided to do a dessert tasting. I have paired Highland Brewing Co.‘s Mocha Stout with Sophie P. Cakes‘ Mint Chocolate Chip cupcake.

Sophie P. Cakes is a Lafayette cupcakery, and in my opinion, one of the best I have ever been to. The cakes are always fresh, and the flavors are unique without being nauseatingly saccharine. Mint and chocolate has to be one of my favorite flavor combinations of all time, so I was over-the-moon excited when they had this little guy the day I went to get my victory cupcake. The cake was very minty and bright green with dots of small chocolate chunks. The icing was a great compliment and the whole thing sang of wonder and joy.

Highland is the largest micro brewery out of Asheville, NC, America’s home-town of beer. During my recent visit I was able to take a walking tour of the brewery and taste a large portion of their beer labels. The Black Mocha Stout was one of my favorites. It is hearty and sweet in all the ways a classic stout ought to be.

Aroma: Hoppy with sweet caramel notes and a lot of oats. Very distinct coffee aroma- this by far is the strongest sent.

Flavor: Hops in the flavor add to the bitterness quality found in coffee, a lot of coffee flavor with some of the complex characteristics of caramel. Some chocolate, but mostly coffee.

Body/Mouthfeel: creamy and smooth with thick foam

Color: Dark brown, opaque in the glass

The rich coffee flavor and sweetness paired very well with the chocolate and aromatic mint of the cupcake. The heavier body of the stout also paired well with the cake texture. A very good combination. This stout makes a great dessert beer and I would love to try it in a beer float. Also, more cupcakes.

Photos courtesy of Mr. Andre LaFleur

-Fearn

Recycle Plastic Container

Reduce * Re-Use * Recycle
One of my favorite parts about crafting and up-cycling is that it trains your brain to look at the usefulness of all objects, instead of the uselessness of treating everything like waste. It is not just about consuming trendiness and well-marketed craft supplies, but rather, a contemplative way of observing and re-imagining the objects around you. A broken chair becomes a table, an old dress becomes a fancy shirt, and in this case, left-over containers are turned into jewelery.

I also really like this project because you really get down to the geometry and design of an object that you would usually take for granted. A yogurt container. It has colors and shapes, curves, slopes, and designs.

The Supplies

  • Light-weight plastic container, I’m using a large yogurt container
  • Heavy scissors, kitchen shears
  • Small hole punch
  • Basic earring/jewelry findings
  • Small pliers (for the jewelry findings)
  • Optional paint: opaque nail polish, paint pen, spray paint

A note on the paint: I really love the look of the unaltered plastic- original design of the label is lost and you are left with the colors and you can mix the colors from different containers. I made some paint swatches to see how different types of paint would stick on the plastic if you wanted to paint them. From left to right: acrylic paint, opaque nail polish, thin nail polish, Sharpie pen, Sharpie Paint pen, Paint pen with acrylic on top, spray paint.

The ones I recommend the most are the opaque nail polish and especially the spray paint, although you should probably put a clear coat over anything you paint as to seal it in.

The Method

1. Cut the plastic container into rings. I found it easier to cut mine into 1 inch rings at first and then cut them to a smaller size. The rings will make concentric circles if you lay them on the table on top of each other. The smaller rings will have a sharper curve.

2. Decide the longest length for the earrings and cut that length from the largest ring. Cut a smaller length from the next size ring until you get to the last ring with the smallest length.

3. Cut the pieces in half lengthwise so you have two sets of each- one for each ear.

4. Use the hole punch to make a small hole in the top of each piece.

5. Paint if desired.

6. Arrange in concave series or mix it up. I like the mixed-up version the best!

7. Wear

Bonus Artsy Photo:

Happy Recycling Times!

-Fearn

Bike Re-Paint

In the spirit of all things awesome and bike-tastic I’ve decided to show off some pictures of a new paint job I put on my old cruiser last summer. At that point it was the only bike I owned. It was a kind-of-rusty old one speed bike, and after moving it from the snows of Boston to the sun of Louisiana it really needed an update.

This is a great project for an old bike and someone new to biking. It requires you take the whole bike apart and then put it back together again. Seek help from a local bike shop if you need it during any of the dissemble/assemble parts.

I used Krylon spray paint in colors and clear, sandpaper (to sand off the rust), masking tape, and time. Make sure you let everything dry between coats!

Poor little bike stuck in the snow!

What it looked like:

The new colors!

 

Hipster-gramed (because bikes need more hipster):

 

Speaking of bikes, I really love this new Michael Miller bike print in grey. Bikes!!

-Fearn

Practical Diety Things

Aside from the philosophical advice I gave out (for free mind you, free advice!) last time I do have some pointers for folks who are really looking for some practical pointers on the topic of losing weight.

Let technology help you. There are sooooo many awesome things out there to help you from online communities to counters to calendars. Here are my favorite sites and apps:

  • Sparkpeople.com This one is a combination community, calorie counter, workout log, and recipe finder. Plus, it is free! bam!
  • Livestrong.com This one has amazing articles that are full of info and are really short. They go right to the punch without bogging you down in too much theory or diet fad lore. They also have an online counter and community.
  • reddit.com/r/loseit This is a sub-reddit, which means it is an online forum made up of the hearts and minds of the very internet itself. Their FAQ page is really fantastic and it is a great place to read about real people and get some advice and motivation.
  • BMR Calculator This is a good, standard BMR calculator- BMR stands for Basic Metabolic Rate and it is a number that roughly means the amount of calories your body burns if it was in a coma all of the time. The BMR is typically multiplied by 1.2 (according to the Harris Benedict Equation) to get the amount of calories you burn doing basic things throughout the day. These calculations are a very helpful tool if you know how to use them. Sparkpeople does this kind of calculation for you.
  • SparkPeople App It helps you keep track of your diet while you are on the go.
  • Endomondo This app will track your workouts with a GPS and tell you all kinds of stats about them. It will count calories, miles, and speed. This is great for biking and running.

Stick with the basics. Don’t fall for gimmicks, trends, or fads. The best way to lose real weight is to eat a nutritious diet and to work out. The basic formula is that the calories you burn needs to be less than the calories that you burn. What you eat < calories you burn from exercise plus your BMR. You can calculate this all yourself, or you can get a free account with a website that will help you do it. If you are trying to do something else it may or may not work- and most likely you will just be fooling yourself into thinking it will work. You cannot avoid the basics, so start off in the right place.

Counting Calories Sucks. There is no way around it. Yes, websites and apps will help tremendously. The food you will eat will usually be very tasty. But the act of counting and keeping track will suck. Here are some things to make it suck less:

  • Get a kitchen scale. This helps so much!! Especially at the beginning of your diet when you will need to measure all of the things. When you get the hang of it you won’t need to measure as much, but it is still a great habit to make.
  • Make a range. Eating within a range of calories will save you stress of being super exact. Most of the calculations are estimates anyways. Don’t get too relaxed with gestimations, but keep in mind your goal range. I don’t worry about things that are 5-10 calories, as long as they are not adding up too much. Set that range for each meal- eating multiple meals a day.
  • Make a plan. Get to know what groups of foods give you calorie counts for each meal. This way you have several options for foods for each meal. Example: breakfast can be oatmeal and fruit or a bowl of cereal and fruit. Lunch can be a turkey sandwich with apples and cheese or a Lean Cuisine and a pear. Dinner can be stir-fry veggies with chicken or grilled fish on a salad.
  • Low Calorie foods to embrace: Low-fat dairy including greek yogurt and cottage cheese, string cheese, lean chicken, canned tuna, frozen fish fillets, all of the fresh fruits and veggies, protein bars, 100-calorie packs, Frozen low-cal entries (Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine are my favorites), pre-packaged portions, and fresh herbs and spices.
  • Don’t forget to cook. It is easy to rely on diet food, but really the best foods for you are fresh. So don’t give up cooking- look up the millions of recipes online that will help you make fresh, healthy, low calorie foods.

Plan to Make and Take Food. Cutting down on eating at restaurants is probably the hardest part for me. Not only do I feel like I’m missing out on very tasty food, but also on the social act of eating out with friends and family. This is hard. The best thing to do is to cut our restaurant food as much as possible when it is not necessary, i.e. pack your lunch to work. If a restaurant has more than 20 locations it is required to provide calorie information- so look up options before you go and have a plan. Encourage your friends to go to places that are easy for you to eat at. When you have exhausted those options then the last thing is to implement a cheat meal every week. Just one meal, once a week. It will help keep your metabolism from getting used to the same calorie load and it will keep you more sane. Win-win!

Make Exercise Work For You. Do the things you love for exercise. Real exercise is not supposed to be easy, you are going to sweat and be sore so you might as well figure out how to have fun doing it. Going to the gym for the sake of going will get boring and aggravating. Take up a new physical hobby or get back into one you were doing in the past. Biking is one of my favorites! Also try work out DVD’s, especially ones that will help with core strength like Pilates and yoga. Take a fitness class with a friend. Reward your workouts by getting new work-out music to motivate you. One of my favorite things to do to make the gym time better is to take my Nook (e-reader) with me to the elliptical and read while I run. It amazes me every time how quickly the time goes and how hard I’m able to work.

Reward Yourself. Set reasonable goals and then reward yourself for them! Go out to a movie, buy a new pair of shoes, get a pedicure, have a cheat meal, etc.

Fresh produce is the best! These summer figs are fantastic on their own or on top of a salad or in oatmeal.

I eat oatmeal almost every morning. I use whole oats (not the minute kind) and I put in two tablespoons of flax meal and usually a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter and then top it off with fresh fruit. This gives you a ton of whole grains, fiber, and omega three fatty acids to keep you full of food and nutrition. This helps me keep my breakfast to a 320-400 calorie range, and I don’t get hungry mid-morning.

My other favorite go-to foods are: low fat string cheese, apples (fiber!), Healthy Choice/Lean Cuisine Meals (I always add other snacks to them), Special K Protein Bars, Yoplait or Oikos yogurt cups, canned tuna, carrots, zucchini, couscous, and Crystal Light drink mixes.

Good Luck!

-Fearn