Grackle & Sun

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

At the Burrow DyeTable # 8: Pokeweed Racemes, Take 3

Here is the third and final installment of this first round of pokeweed raceme dye experiments.  I think the racemes are so beautiful.  I’d say “otherworldly”, but it’s hard to think that of anything born out of Missouri Ozark clay and rock.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Pokeweed (phytolacca americana)

Parts used:  The racemes (the part that holds the berries)

Source:  My yard, the Haggencrone’s yard, my friend Debbie’s yard, and the Farm

Yarn:  Mountain Meadow Cody, 100% wool.  I mordanted a little differently this time, opting not to follow any instructions other than those given by the seat of my pants.  I decided to use more vinegar, and pretty much did a 1:3 ratio of white distilled vinegar to water.  The reason for this is that in lieu of using straight acetic acid, I’m hoping the higher acid content will help with the fastness of this dye.  So I soaked 100g of wool yarn in a pot of 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water.  I heated the pot to 190F and held it there for an hour.  Then I let the yarn sit and cool in the mordant bath overnight.  The starting pH at room temperature was 3.1.  At 188.2F, it was 3.0.

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  I only used half of the yarn I mordanted for this particular dyebath, so 50g total.  I’m not sure of the exact amount of racemes.  I didn’t weigh them out, as this was done on a whim.  But I can tell you that when I pulled them all from the bucket, they easily weighed a pound.   I’m sure most of that was the vinegar that they absorbed., so I’m going to say maybe 100g starting weight, and next time I promise to weigh them out.

Extraction:   Chucked the racemes into a bucket and covered them in white distilled vinegar.  Put a plate on top to hold them down.  Left them on their own for a couple months.   As you can see, these didn’t leach out the way the other ones did.  I think had I put much more vinegar in, they would have.  They were pretty compacted in this bucket.

Dyebath:  After the recent success with the cold pokeberry dyebath, I knew that I had to try a cold raceme dyebath, too.  I strained out the racemes through a colander and reserved half of the liquid for the cold dyejar (the other half was used for the hot dyebath).  I added the premordanted yarn and brought the dyejar inside the house, because I was afraid it might freeze and crack if left outside.  I kept it covered with black cloth (actually, just a black shirt—sorry if that is less poetic) to block out the sunlight.  The yarn sat undisturbed for 9 days.

The results?

WOOT!!!  Slam dunk and SCORE!  Cold dyeing with poke is the way to go.

Here is a picture of all 3 pokeweed raceme experiments together:

Fascinating, don’t you think?  That such totally different colours could come from the same plant, the same part of that plant, on the same yarn, and with the same mordant—just because of a difference in the specific dyebath process.  Very cool.  So does anyone want to hazard a guess as to why the cold process put the red on the wool when the heated baths didn’t?  Next I’ll put samples from these 3 up for a lightfastness test.  Will be interesting.  Here’s to curiousity and experimentation!

Live happy, dye happy!

At the Burrow DyeTable # 8: Pokeweed Racemes, Take 2

You have seen the results of the first pokeweed raceme experiment, but that is not all that has been cooking!  Unbeknowst to you, I have been extracting a second bucket of pokeweed racemes!   :D  How cool is that?  Mas racemes.  Pretty fun.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Pokeweed (phytolacca americana)

Parts used:  The racemes (the part that holds the berries)

Source:  My yard, the Haggencrone’s yard, my friend Debbie’s yard, and the Farm

Yarn:  Mountain Meadows Cody, 100% wool.  I mordanted a little differently this time, opting not to follow any instructions other than those given by the seat of my pants.  I decided to use more vinegar than used in the vinegar mordant for the pokeberry dyebaths, and pretty much did a 1:3 ratio of white distilled vinegar to water.  The reason for this is that in lieu of using straight acetic acid, I’m hoping the higher acid content will help with the fastness of this dye.  So I soaked 100g of wool yarn in a pot of 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water.  I heated the pot to 190F and held it there for an hour.  Then I let the yarn sit and cool in the mordant bath overnight.  The starting pH at room temperature was 3.1.  At 188.2F, it was 3.0.

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  I only used half of the yarn I mordanted for this particular dyebath, so 50g total.  I’m not sure of the exact amount of racemes.  I didn’t weigh them out, as this was done on a whim.  But I can tell you that when I pulled them all from the bucket, they easily weighed a pound.  But I’m sure most of that was the vinegar that they absorbed.  I’m going to say maybe 100g starting weight, and next time I promise to weigh them out.

Extraction:   Chucked the racemes into a bucket and covered them in white distilled vinegar.  Put a plate on top to hold them down.  Left them for a couple months.   As you can see, these didn’t leach out the way the other ones did.  I think that had I put more vinegar in, they would have.  They were pretty compacted in this bucket.

Dyebath:  I strained out the racemes and reserved the dye liquor, pouring it into the dyepot.  To this I added the remains of the mordanting bath.  The starting pH of the dyebath was 3.5.  I gently raised the temperature to a window between 175-195F.  At temperature, the pH was 3.2.  I held the bath in this temperature window for 2 hours and then let the yarn cool in the pot overnight.

The results?

Again, unexpected.  This time we had a much higher dyestuff to fiber ratio, but we still didn’t get the red that they dyebath seemed to promise.  Why?  I’m not sure.  I think it could be one of several things.  1)  Perhaps although the bath looks red, there really isn’t enough of that compound in it to dye the yarn?  2)  Although the dyebath never boiled, perhaps it would have preferred to stay under 190F?  Even the next morning, when I took the yarn out, the bath was still full of colour.  It just wasn’t on the yarn.  Will have to play with this more…  Anyway, I think it’s a lovely soft yellow ochre, and I’m sure I’ll find something nice to knit with it.

Here you can see it next to the all-in-one raceme skein from the day before.  I am surprised that the slight difference in dye methods yielded such different tones.  Or was it something inherent in that first batch of racemes collected earlier?  Could it be due to the complete leaching of those first racemes?  I’m not sure.  Two nice colours, I think, though.  I’m eager to see how their lightfastness test turns out…

Live happy, dye happy!

Office Chair Workouts: Week 16

Monday:  LovingFit Upper Body Workout

All x 10 reps.  This was really hard for me today.  Geez.

  • Slow Pull Down
  • 1/2 Dive Bomber
  • Wall Mt. Climbers
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Circle Shoulder Press
  • Side Tricep Kick
  • Slow Pull Down
  • In & Out Catch
  • Crab Side Plank Lift

Tuesday:  LovingFit Lower Body Workout

  • Stretching Surfer x 20 per side
  • Step Up Kick Up x 25 per side
  • Toe Lifts (10 lb weights) x 25
  • Skater x 25 per side
  • Go-Stop-Go Squats x 25
  • Reverse Lunge Knee-up Hold x 25 per side
  • Cook Lift x 25 per side
  • One Leg Bridges x 25 per side
  • Isometric Squat Side Bends x 25 per side

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  Thanksgiving

Today was busy, but I did do some planks,  played medicine ball catch with Husband, and I ran sprints at the dog park.

Friday:  Rest Day

Saturday:  Minding My Qi

Went to a new qigong class today.   This instructor was actually very… instructive.  It was awesome.

Sunday:  Food Poisoning Sucks

Non-Thanksgiving related.  I think it was a bad batch of almond butter.  Oh, god.  I don’t ever want to look at food again.

At the Burrow DyeTable # 8: Pokeweed Racemes, Take 1

When I first started gathering the berries of the phytolacca americana, aka the glorious pokeweed plant, I threw the racemes into the compost heap after carefully removing all the precious berries.  Everyone says to just dye with the berries.  But I do so love to figure things out for myself, and besides, just because someone said so isn’t a great reason for doing anything, is it?  So when my curiousity got the better of me (although arguably, it makes me better, so I’ll keep it),  I decided to see if I could extract any colour from the racemes themselves.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Pokeweed, phytolacca americana

Parts used:  The racemes (the part that holds the berries)

Source:  My yard, the Haggencrone’s yard, my friend Debbie’s yard, and the Farm

Yarn:  Mountain Meadows Cody mordanted in vinegar.  I did the mordanting a little differently this time.  I basically mordanted in straight vinegar as part of an all-in-one dyepot.

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  To be honest, I have no idea how many grams of racemes I had here.  I’d guess maybe 40g or so.  The hank of wool was 50g.  So, I probably did not get a 1:1 ratio.  But I really wanted to dye the whole hank.  It’s hard sometimes to figure out what to do with all those mini-skeins.  There’s only so much end weaving I can handle, lol.

Extraction:  For this first batch, I put the racemes in pure distilled white vinegar to cover and left them for about 3 weeks.

To my surprise, when I took the racemes out to strain off the liquid (and mostly just to see what was going on in there) I found this:

All of the colour had been leached out of the racemes and magically put into the vinegar.  Pretty damn cool.  Presto change-oh!  And all the colour is in the liquid.

Dyebath:  I decided to do this dyebath as an all-in-one, meaning mordanting and dyeing all in one go.  Why not?  After all, it just requires a vinegar mordant, and the dye liquor is all vinegar… just seemed to make sense.  I didn’t want to have to add any more liquid to the pot, opting to leave it just the vinegar dye extraction.  There was just enough room for the yarn to float around, and since the racemes were totally bleached out already, I did not bother doing a heated extraction with them.  The starting pH of the dyebath was 3.4.

I slowly and gently heated it up to a temperature window of 175-190F.  At a temperature of 188.9F, the pH was 3.1.

I kept the dyebath in this temperature window for an hour, turned off the heat, and let the yarn sleep overnight in the pot.

The results?

Not what I expected at all.  Did you see how red that dyebath was?  And yet the yarn came out this lovely soft peach colour.  It’s ok.  I’m sure I’ll find something peachy to knit with this.  :D  Lesson learned?  Waste not, want not.   Not every dyestuff makes a colour that you’d want to repeat, but to me part of the fun of this great dyeing adventure is exploring all the variables, going down all the roads.  It’s not just about the end result.  Yes, a beautiful skein of yarn is a sweet, sweet bonus, but if that’s all I wanted, I could go buy that at any yarn shop.  That’s not why I’m here, though.  So, I’ll keep my dyestuffs extracting and keep my pots simmering and maybe one day I’ll figure this dyeing thing out.  I’m going to have a lot of fun trying.

Live happy, dye happy!

Paleo(ish): Month 6

Alright.  Today is the 6 month mark for my Paleo journey thing.  I already wrote a monster post on “why Paleo” and all that, so I’ll keep this one short.  Let’s start with the numbers.  I didn’t go Paleo to lose weight, I did it out of necessity for my health.  But losing weight has been an added perk to eating right and working out.  Let’s see the progress, shall we?

Jan/Feb 2012:

Height:  5’3″     Weight:  165     Shoulders:  45.5″     Chest:  38″     Waist:  33.75″     Hips:  42.75″     Thigh:  20.5″     Arm:  10.5″    BF%:  35.9

June 2012:

Weight:  145 lbs     Shoulders:  41″     Chest:  36″     Waist:  30.5″     Hips:  41″     Arms”  10″     Thigh:  19.5″     BF%:  32

August 2012:

Weight:  138 lbs     Shoulders:  40″     Chest:  36″     Waist:  30″     Hips:  39.5″     Thigh:  19″     Arms:  Hard to measure by yourself  BF%:  couldn’t measure

November 2012:

Weight:  122 lbs    Shoulders:  40″    Chest:  36″    Waist:  28″    Hips:  38″    Thighs: 18″     Arms:  11″     BF%:  No clue, but a lot less
Not bad!

The Paleo has been going pretty well overall.  I’ve only had a few mishaps—namely, french fries.  But that won’t be happening again.  Why?  Turns out that simple little food that you thought was just fried potatoes is no longer just fried potatoes.  Most fries are now coated in combinations of wheat, dextrose, rice flour, and sugar.  For realz.  Which explains all of the headaches I’ve had (4) in the last 3 months.  Boooooo!  You know what I think of companies that fill up what should be a simple food full of crap to make it hyper-tasty and cheap?  I think they’re assholes.  The good news is that those 4 headaches are the ONLY symptoms I’ve had this whole time.  Woot!

Drinking enough water is still a challenge for me, but it becomes clearer every day how many elements of health hinge on proper hydration.  So, I’m working hard on it.  The probiotic foods have totally done the magic, however, so all is good in intestinal land.  I’m finding now as the weather gets colder that I’m craving a lot more fat, carbs, root and cruciferous vegetables.  All your brassicas are belong to me!  I also crave sweet things, by which I mean my almond butter and honey.  I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten my bodyweight in apples this fall, but usually only one or two a day.  With some almond butter and honey or maple syrup.  That’s the only sugar I have.  But I’m starting to wonder if that’s too much… but I’d be really sad to not have that little bit of sweet in my life, and my god,  one has got to draw the line somewhere.  Right?  Maybe not.

So, I’ve been thinking about doing a Whole30.  If I start today, I’ll be done by Elevensies, which would be perfect.  (Elevensies is the winter holiday my family celebrates.  It is the celebration during the generally 11 days between the Winter Solstice and the New Year).  I’m already doing everything else on the Whole30 with the exception of the odd potato, the odd carrageenan additive (hard to get almond milk without it), and honey and occasionally maple syrup.  I’d like to know how I feel completely sugar-free.  I’ve been reading Sarah Wilson’s blog (which I love), and it raves about the results of living sugar-(read fructose)-free.  She’s also got Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis like I do, and much of her information relates to how being sugar-free has helped her symptoms.  Finally, I watched this amazing video by Dr. Lustig called Sugar:  The Bitter Truth.  I highly recommend watching it.  It will rock your world.

The only thing holding me back is that I’ve already cut out so much from my diet.  I’m happy for it.  There are very, very few foods that I miss, and most of those have great Paleo alternatives.  I worry about getting too strict, and then I remember how I felt before I went Paleo.  I will not ever go back to that, so strict is a very good thing.  It’s only for a month, and it would give me some good data.  So, yeah.  I’m going to do it.

As for the rest, I told myself that I’d do a strict 6 month baseline before trying to add anything back in.  I’m feeling really, really good right now.  Energy is good, I’m sleeping great, and my mind is clearer than it’s been in years.  This is the best I’ve felt since before I was diagnosed with Hashi’s 14 years ago.  It’s a really big deal.  Because of that, I don’t want to mess with things too much.  The only food that I will consider trying to add back in right now is butter—specifically grass-fed ghee.  I think that’s important.  I’m not going to add in any grains, as I really don’t think I’ll respond well to them.  I’m surprisingly fine without legumes—the only notable exception being chickpeas for hummus (om nom nom). I think I can let a few chickpeas slide now and then.  But for now, that’s it.

So, the one month plan is to do a Whole30 and test out adding grass-feed ghee into my diet.  We’ll see how it goes!

Office Chair Workouts: Week 15

Monday:  LovingFit Upper Body

I broke down some of last week’s upper body exercises into 3 sets, repeating the Slow Pull Down to get more pulling exercises into the workout to balance all the pushing.  All exercises x 15 reps, except for the Slow Pull Downs which are 10.

  • Slow Pull Down
  • Shuffle + Scissor Plank
  • Double Bicycle
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Mt. Climber Push-off
  • Diagonal Bear Push-ups
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Star Abs
  • Sun Exercise

Tuesday:  LovingFit Lower Body Workout

  • Stretching Surfer x 20 per side
  • Step Up Kick Up x 20 side
  • Toe Lifts x 25
  • Skater x 20 per side
  • Go-Stop-Go Squats x 25
  • Reverse Lunge Knee-up Hold x 20 per side
  • One Leg Jump Up x 10 per side
  • Cook Lift x 20 per side
  • One Leg Bridges x 20 per side
  • Pulsing Low Jacks x 25
  • Isometric Squat Side Bends x 20 per side

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  OCW

Today I did combo sets.

Mt Climbers x 5 (both knees up = 1 rep) immediately into 3  1/2 burpee hold ] x 5 sets
Ugi Jump x 3 (jumping to both sides = 1 rep) immediately into 5  shoulder taps (both shoulders = 1 rep) ] x 5 sets
Leg Circles x 10 each way immediately into 20 OMGLBIFD ] x 3 sets
Gladiators x 5 immediately into 5 sleeper planks ] x 2 sets (one for each side)

Then I did 3 sets of 5 girlie push-ups/ 5 pull-ups using my dining room table, a couple dozen medicine ball tosses, and finished off with 20 situps.

Saturday:  OCW Fortnight

A fortnight is my nickname for workouts where I do 14 reps.  For this workout, I did 14 reps of each exercise and did each circuit 5 times for a total of 70 reps of each exercise.  I did some 6 lb medicine ball tosses and some Slow Down Pull-ups at the end, too.

Sunday:  Minding My Qi

Qigong was one of those things I found through ‘library serendipity’.  About 10 years ago, I was wandering the aisles of one of my favorite St. Louis Public Libraries when suddenly a book on qigong shouted out at me.  It was a book by Jwing-Ming Yang.  I checked it out and ended up checking out a number of his books, although I have to be honest, I wasn’t in any way ready for them.  But they are to be credited with what got me into exploring qigong.  From there I meandered through Ken Cohen’s work to that of a wonderful local teacher named Justin Meehan, who taught me that qigong can be gentle, flowing, and forgiving of mistakes, to the amazing intuitive and spontaneous style of Roger Jahnke, which really connected the whole practice for me.  Finally, I found another somewhat local teacher named Ron Rain, who teaches a system of medical qigong called Zhineng Qigong.  This, together with the style taught by Jahnke, is what I practice today.

This last week I found a group who is practicing the Zhineng Qigong together every Sunday for just the cost of renting the space.  I went to check it out and was really happy with the practice.  It’s a nice space, and the person who led the practice went at the perfect pace.  I’ll be going back.  :D

At the Burrow DyeTable # 7: Lychee LOSE & Walnut WIN

This whole dyeing thing never ceases to amaze me.  Just when I think maybe I’ve figured something out, the dyepot decides to teach me a lesson.

Call me grasshopper.

Back in May when I started the monster avocado pit extraction, I made another little experimental extraction on the side.  One day the kiddos were eating lychees, and I looked over and saw the pile of pits on the plate and a light bulb went off in my head:  if avocado pits can dye things, maybe lychee pits can, too!  So I took the pits and stuck them in a jar and covered them with ammonia and water just like I did for the avocado pits.  And you know what happened?  Let me show you…

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Lychee

Part used:  Pits

Source:  Grocery store/Asian market

Yarn:  Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool mordanted in 8% aluminum potassium sulfate and 7% cream of tartar

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  I used 18 lychee pits, which weighed out to roughly 54g.  The little skein of yarn was around 46g.  So I had slightly better than a 1:1 ratio, bonus points to the dyestuff.

Extraction method:  I left the pits whole and put them in a jar with a 1:1 ratio of water to ammonia.  Started getting colour pretty fast.

This is just on day two.  I added more pits over the next few days.

The extraction went from this clear red to couldn’t-see-through-it brown in under a month:

Total extraction time, approximately 5 months.  I occasionally opened up the jar and shook it up to oxygenate the solution.  I’ve read that it helps other extractions, so I figured why not.  It never molded or got funky.  Just got darker and darker.

Dyebath:  So the pH of the lychee dye liquor was 9.8.  The pH of my tap water is 8.8.  Together they made a pH at room temperature of 9.1.  I didn’t measure out the amount of water since it’s not supposed to effect saturation of the dye, but I’d guess about a gallon to a gallon and a half of tapwater to the one jar (maybe 12 oz) of dye liquor.   I added the yarn and brought it up to a temperature window of 185-200F for an hour.  At this temp, the pH was 6.6.  Isn’t it amazing how much some of these solutions drop when heated?  Maybe it’s not.  I’m not a chemist, so I don’t know why it happens or if it effects the dye results, but I’d like to know.  When I’ve got more time on my hands, I’m going to try to sort this out.  Maybe someone’s done some research on it already…  I did not add the actual pits to the dyebath since the dye liquor was so strong already.

I left the yarn to cool overnight.  Only that turned into 2 nights.  And when I checked on it, I was surprised by the utter lack of saturation of any good colour.  Hmmmm.

So I decided to chop up the lychee pits, toss them in pantyhose and add the to the dyebath.  I reheated the whole shebang again for another hour and left  it overnight to cool one more time.

Results?

Nothing.  Zilch.  Next to no colour at all.  WTH?

Rinsed and awaiting my disapproval.

Lesson learned?  Just because you have a super saturated extraction doesn’t mean it will dye anything.  Maybe I did something wrong?  Maybe some dyestuffs just don’t dye well.  Maybe this would have worked on silk or hemp better than wool?  I don’t know, but I’d like to find out.  I know that this lychee thing can work.  I just have to figure out how…  But listen, we can’t end on a lame bummer dye job.  Besides this wasn’t a total FAIL, because the yarn was pretty much ready to overdye immediately.  So overdye I did.

On to Walnut WIN!

The last time I tried dyeing with walnuts wasn’t so successful.  I didn’t realize that though the nuts and shells will give off colour,  it’s the green hulls that do the real dyeing.  It took a failed dyebatch to learn that lesson.  But learn it I did, and then I waited patiently for a new batch of walnuts to fall.  Every autumn, my Gran asks for help clearing her yard of the millionty walnuts that fall from her neighbor’s tree.  Usually she just chucks them back into her neighbor’s yard (which makes me grin), but this year I was only too happy to help.  I took home two 5 gallon buckets, two 2 gallon bucket, and 3 trash bags full of walnuts.  That’s a lotta nuts.  I made the mistake of setting them outside until I could soak them.  We’ve got very, very ballsy squirrels in the city.  They helped themselves to quite a few of the nuts, tearing right into the trash bags to get them.  So much so, that I finally made a peace offering and emptied the remains of the 3 trash bags under the tree where our squirrel family lives.  I figured, they’ve got to survive the winter.  I just need some dye to play with.  No contest.  I did keep the two 5 gallon buckets and filled them with water.  After the squirrels took all the nuts under the tree—ALL OF THEM—they actually started taking walnuts out of the water in the big buckets.  So I replenished those with what was left in the 2 gallon buckets and then covered them.  I don’t know if it’ll be squirrel proof, what is?  But it seems to have slowed them down.  Enough for me to get one batch of dye, anyway.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Black Walnut (juglans nigra)

Part used:  Green hulls

Source:  The Haggencrone’s yard

Yarn:  Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool mordanted with 8% aluminum potassium sulfate and 7% cream of tartar

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  No clue.  I just poured about a gallon of the dye liquor out of the bucket.  Again, it’s about a 46g hank of wool yarn.

Extraction method:  This is a pretty fresh batch of walnut juice.  It’s only been soaking in water for about a week or so.  Doesn’t take long to get good colour of of the hulls.  I’m told, though, that letting it all mold and ferment just makes for richer, darker browns.  It’ll be interesting to see what I get as time goes by.

Could totally do some scrying in this pot.

Dyebath:  The pH of the dyebath at room temp was 6.2.  I heated the dyebath to a temperature window between 185-200F.  The pH at 198F was 5.9.  I held the dyebath in this temperature window for just over an hour and then let the yarn cool in the bath overnight.

The Results?

Mad awesome brown.  Here it is fresh from the dyepot, rinsed and hanging to dry:

And here it is after drying:

This looks a smidge brighter since it’s in full sun.  It’s actually a little darker than this.  I’m really pleased with the results.  I’ll do a lightfastness test, but anticipate that it’ll hold up pretty well.  I opted not to modify with iron, because I really like the colour as is, but I would like to play around with some iron in the dyepot and as an afterdip.  Now I have to figure out what to knit…

Live happy, dye happy!

Office Chair Workouts: Week 14

Monday:  LovingFit Upper Body & Abs

After reading all the upper body workouts on the site, I decided to pull together a combination of exercises from various LovingFit upper body workouts.  The reason for this is that any upper body workout that I choose from LovingFit is going to be push-up heavy and/or use pull-up bars or dip stations that I don’t have.  I know I can modify these exercises, but I really wanted to choose a number of exercises that would challenge me, but that are doable without too many modifications.  I think that ultimately, this is what will help me strengthen my shoulders so that I can eventually do all those push-up heavy exercises.  I tried to pull a variety of exercises that will work pushing and pulling motions as well as abs.  The name of each exercise is linked to the LovingFit video that it came from.  I’ll be doing various combos of these 14 exercises for the next 4 weeks:

Today I did 10 of each (on each side if applicable) just to familiarize myself with the set.  Believe me, for a bunch of these, that was a challenge.  0.O  Next week, I’ll know better how I need to rep this out.

Tuesday:  LovingFit Lower Body Workout

Again, I did 10 reps of each exercise on each side where applicable.

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  OCW

  • 100 Jumping Jacks
  • 25 (per side) Bird Dogs
  • 25 Heismans (each leg = 1 rep)
  • 25 Plank Up Downs
  • 50 High Knees (both knees up = 1 rep)
  • 25 X-pos (to both sides =1 rep)
  • 25 Kick-ups (both sides = 1 rep)
  • 25 Low Sleeper Planks (both sides = 1 rep)
  • 25 UnWDL (per side)

Friday:  Rest Day

Saturday:  Rep Challenge

Was wanting to have a bit of a benchmark, so I decided to do a rep challenge to see how many reps I could do of each exercise before failure.  What do I mean by “failure”?  In this case, I mean the number of reps I can do before having to stop for a break.  Yes, with 5-10 seconds rest, I could definitely keep going, but I want the benchmark to simply be how many I can do “in the first go” so to speak.  I chose 3 OCW exercises and 3 LovingFit exercises for this challenge.

  • Go-Stop-Go Squats (bodyweight):  58
  • Diagonal Bear Push-ups:  12  (i am a sissy)
  • Skater:  Left leg 23  Right leg 34 (i had balance issues on my left leg, so i called it.  i think i could have done more, though)
  • Shoulder Taps:  44 (feet together and tapping both shoulders = 1 rep)
  • X-pos:  22 (raising up to left and right side = 1 rep)
  • Mt. Climbers:  42 (right and left leg = 1 rep)
  • Bonus! 1/2 Burpee Hold:  31  (my legs were still shaky from the go-stop-go’s and the skaters!)

I wasn’t sure how to feel about these numbers until I flipped back and checked the results from the rep challenge I did at Week 4.  Not all the exercises were the same, of course, but of the ones that were, here’s what I scored 10 weeks ago:

  • Regular Squats:  25 (so I more than doubled these in reps and difficulty)
  • X-Pos:  25 total (12 on each side + one to balance it out.  so again, I almost doubled this score since i did 22 on each side this time)
  • Mt. Climbers:  53 total (meaning 26 per leg + 1.  this week, i did 42 per leg which isn’t quite double, but pretty damn good for improvement)
  • 1/2 Burpee Hold:  25  (so I added 6.  will have to work on this one)

It’s nice to see improvement!  :D

Paper Floor

So, we had this great idea to inexpensively replace our crap kitchen floor with an awesome paper floor.  We like to do home renovation projects, and since we’ve done everything else in our house ourselves, we figured we could roll up our sleeves and give this a try.  If it worked, great, if not, we were only out a little dosh and a lotta time.  Cue foreshadowing…

We used this really awesome tutorial from Lovely Crafty Home.  She’s taken the time to put together a very helpful guide for doing this technique, and the floors in her house look amazing.  It’s really brilliant.  We followed all the instructions as per the tutorial.

Here is our paper floor journey in pictures:

Removing the crap press-on fake linoleum tiles AND the real linoleum to which they were irrevocably glued.

Seriously jacked up hardwood. :(

First Layer.

Second Layer.

Applying dark walnut stain. Actually, the easiest part of this whole process.

Husband is a rock star.

Look how beautiful!

So freaking excited! Hurry up and DRY, stain!

On with the poly. This is where it all went downhill…

Ok.  So are you with me so far?  Researched and read all the interwebs.  Found awesome tutorial.  Followed all instructions.  Used all the recommended products.  The only divergence at this point is that we did 2 layers of paper, because it was necessary to get a smooth paper layer and not see the wood planks underneath, and we waited longer before polying so that the stain would dry as much as possible.  Until this point, everything went BEAUTIFULLY.  It took approximately 16 hours to do both layers of the floor, and probably another 2 hours to stain, but it all went smoothly and according to plan.

This is where I should have listened to my gut.

Although the tutorial says to put the poly on with a sponge applicator, we never should have put the poly on with the sponge pad applicator.  I know that many people have done many floors in their houses and had great results with this.  I know that it can work.  BUT:  I’ve poly’d a time or two in my day.  I’ve never had a problem applying poly except for the 2 times when I listened to others’ advice on how to do it—once when I was told to rub it on with a rag (am having to completely redo all the woodwork in my dining room because of that bit of advice), and this time when I was told to put it on with a sponge pad.  Never, ever again.  Brush that shit on, people!  I knew we should have brushed it on.  I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.  I cannot kick myself enough times for how dumb I feel for not listening to my gut on this one.  Why?  Because this happened:

See the haze? Unhappy poly.

The sun is also exclaiming it’s disappointment.

One little spot that I managed to clean with denatured alcohol. However, in other areas, the denatured alcohol did absolutely nothing or made the clouding worse.

It’s really, really important to me that you all understand that I am not blaming the tutorial, which is awesome, or saying that the applicator method is wrong.  Clearly it works really well for some people.  What I’m saying is, if in doubt, use a brush.  It’s the best way to totally control the coverage.  This happened within an hour of putting on the first coat of poly.  I think that our particular issue was due to putting the poly on too thin.  The tutorial really stresses putting it on super thin.   I think that’s because usually when people jack up poly, it’s because they put it on too thick.  But too thin can also be a problem, because the poly dries faster than all the moisture can escape it.  There were a few areas where it came out clear, and that’s where it went on with an appropriate thickness. The next day I spent an hour at Home Depot talking with their floor expert guy and also on the phone with the rep for the poly that we used.  Both of them said that they were surprised the method worked at all because we used a water-based glue + an oil stain + a water-based poly.  All big no-no’s apparently.  They also agreed that the ashy haze was probably due to it being too thin and that using a brush would have worked better.  Neither of them liked the applicator pads.  Again, clearly it can work, because it has done so beautifully for many people.  However, for those of you for whom this technique did not work, it’s not a total surprise.

The sad part is that there was nothing to do to fix it.  I read through all the comments on both the tutorial and everywhere on the internet that I could.  Others have had this problem.  Some tried sanding it off.  I tried, but it just tore at the paper.  One woman who had the same “too thin” problem, was able to successfully remove the entire thing with denatured alcohol.  I tried, but it only helped in a couple spots and made others worse.  Everyone else just had to re-lay the whole floor from scratch.

The good news is this:  It’s a really cool technique and is gorgeous when done right.  If I were to do it again, I would buff the floor with beeswax or butcher’s wax instead of polying it.  I think that would work well.  Also, this floor is in the kitchen of a family with two kids and a big dog.  Even though it has only one half-assed coat of poly, after over a month, it doesn’t have so much as a scratch on it.  It is still perfectly intact.  I’m really impressed with how durable it’s been.  And honestly, before the ruined poly, I thought it was the prettiest floor I’d ever seen—just like burnished antique leather.  So pretty that I’d be tempted to try to redo the whole thing… except that I know I’d be totally heartbroken if it failed again.   For now, I think it’s just going to become the fancy failed underlayment for a new floor.

Total bonus?  Husband and I got to spend a lot of time together.  It was fun, and we learned a lot.  I don’t regret trying this floor at all.  I know that at some point we’ll try it again.  Next time it will work.  :D

Office Chair Workouts: Week 13

Monday:  Sick Day

Dude.  This was the flu from hell.

Tuesday:  Back to the Office

Something a little easy after spending the weekend feeling like I’d been beaten by trolls.

I did one set, 15 reps of every exercise (on each side where applicable).  I tossed in One Leg Bridges (15 on each leg) between each set, and then ended with 50 OMGLBIFD.  It wasn’t a cakewalk, but it was easier on the brain since I know all these moves really well.

Wednesday:  Fifth Element Workout

Ab workout from LovingFit.com called the Fifth Element Abs Workout.

I don’t do well with timed workouts.  I really prefer reps.  I have a hard time maintaining form and a good pace when I’m worried about the stupid timer.  It’s my own hang-up, and I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet, so I’m not doing any of these timed.  Instead, I pick a number of reps that is challenging but reasonable and go from there.  If it seems afterwards that I could do more, I throw in another round.

This workout was hard, and really showed me some areas that I need to focus on—you know, from the neck down mostly.  I was able to do the whole first set of exercises, although they hurt like a mother, but I was only able to do about half of the second set.  Apparently I can’t do crunches when my legs are elevated, so I did some V-ups instead.  Then I did ok until I got to the weighted crunch thingies.  That was a mistake.  I could do Turkish get-ups with a kettlebell, but trying to do this exercise with a dumbbell was a mistake.  Now my shoulder hurts.  And I was hardly using any weight.  So I stopped there and commenced to stretching instead.  I really need to bite the bullet and buy a set of kettlebells and a good sandbag.

Sunday:  New Challenge

Today I did the Bum and Thighs of Steel Challenge at LovingFit, and I took Ronin for a walk. :D

Some thoughts about working out with LovingFit:

I love LovingFit.com, and I think Tatianna is amazing.  She is so engaging and friendly and has taken so much time to make this incredible resource for everyone.   It’s pretty freaking awesome.  The quality of the workouts, the explanations and the videos is excellent.   And yet, I have to admit that over the last couple weeks, I’ve been tempted to stop doing the LovingFit workouts in favor of going back to my regular stuff.   Why?

A) Working out really takes me out of my comfort zone in the first place.  These workouts do so exponentially.

B) The LovingFit workouts are HARD, so it’s easy to make up reasons not to do them.  Which, of course, tells me that I should keep doing them.

The other thing that is difficult is that doing these workouts requires prep.  I absolutely have to watch the whole videos first  because:

A)  So many of the moves are new to me and/or are combo moves and therefore somewhat complicated, and I am ridiculously uncoordinated.

B)  I still have to modify a lot of the upper body moves to accommodate my shoulder, and I have to modify for lack of equipment (not that there is much of that used).

This all takes time, and I have little enough of that to dedicate to working out to begin with.   I’m trying to watch them the night before, but as I work late, that doesn’t always happen.  The videos are great.  Really helpful and full of good advice.  I just need to organize my time better.

I love that Tatianna gives so many great ideas for variations for beginners.   But even with the modifications, her workouts are still really challenging.  Which is a good thing.  Just hard.  Sometimes I think the best thing to do would be to pick a couple new moves from each of her workouts and incorporate them into what I already do.    But I’m having a hard time telling if this would be smart or a cop-out.  Not sure yet.  I think I might ask for her opinion on her blog.  She’s great about responding to her followers.

What I do know is that despite feeling weak, wimpy, awkward, and uncoordinated when I do these workouts, I am seeing RESULTS, like, whoa.  I have to keep reminding myself that I felt the same way with the workouts I was doing before in the beginning, too.  I just have to be kinder to myself and remember that it’s ok to feel like a dork.  I also want to give myself a chance to NOT feel like a dork.  I think it might be a good idea to do some days LovingFit and some days old school OCW.  I also think it would be beneficial to pick only one upper and one lower body workout from LovingFit to do for the month so that I really get the chance to learn the moves and get the full benefit from them.  I need to slow down and see progress with my ability to do individual exercises.   All of this requires a better, more organized plan of action.  So for the next month, I want to implement the following:

Monday:  1 upper body workout (LovingFit)
Tuesday:  1 lower body workout  (LovingFit) + Booty Challenge
Thursday:  1 full body workout  (Office Chair Workouts) + Booty Challenge
Saturday:  1 full body workout  (Office Chair Workouts)

When I get my kettlebells, I’ll add them to the OCW days.  My goals are still the same, I just need to better organize what I’m doing so that I can actually accomplish the workouts each day and see more consistent progress without stressing about scheduling.  For those of you who work out a lot, I’d love your opinion on this.  How do you feel about tweaking your workouts?  How often do you change it up?  Do you see this as being inconsistent or is it necessary?  How do you deal with schedule issues?  How often do you take yourself out of your comfort zone?

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