Trying the Slow-Carb Diet

My goal with Max was to not gain a bunch of weight after I weaned him like I did with Harper. So of course that’s what happened. I swore off diets and was trying to focus on small changes. But those were basically just producing small results. I felt totally disconnected with the good eating habits I developed before I had kids, and I just felt like I had to do something

A friend had mentioned that she lost a huge amount of baby weight on a Paleo-esque diet that included some cheat days and another friend had mentioned adopting a slow-carb philosophy (and listening to Tim Ferriss for some self-help type stuff). Then one day I was driving and listening to the Outside podcast and who comes on but Tim Ferriss. He talked some about how his diet plan works. So after all that I just felt like the universe was trying to tell me something and I started googling the slow-carb diet


Salmon salad with grilled veggies.

If you read his book, the 4-Hour Body, you understand the diet as a way to maximize results in minimal time (hell yes) by shifting your body into fat-burning mode. It has elements of Paleo and keto diets. You eliminate basically all carbs except for beans and legumes. Except for one glorious day a week, which you declare a cheat day and have whatever you want. It does serve an actual physical purpose, to keep your body from thinking it’s starving. But it’s also helpful mentally, since we are all likely to cheat anyway. 

So about 2 months ago I started the diet. This required a major shift in my cooking. But one of the main reasons I thought it would be okay is that because of my retail work schedule, I often eat something different than my family anyway. You’re also encouraged to eat the same meals over and over so you don’t have to think about it (another plus). 


Buttered cod and green beans with bacon. So easy and good.

I lost somewhere in the 5-6 pound range each month. Not fantastic, but definitely an improvement. My clothes fit much better and I feel motivated to keep going. I think the limited weight loss is because the cheat day inevitably undoes some of the progress you make during the week. So, I’m going to keep some aspects of the diet and change other ones going forward. 

Here’s what I like about it:

• It forces you to eat more vegetables. I’ve never been good about eating enough vegetables, even though I like a lot of them. I love fruit, so before this I was regularly eating 2 pieces of fruit a day and hardly any veggies. Well, that changed on this diet. I snacked on carrots. I ate more salads. I sauteed veggies with dinner all the time. I sliced avocadoes on all sorts of things. And that leads me to my next favorite part, breakfast. 

• I came up with this kind of odd breakfast that I have eaten religiously for weeks, so I thought I would share it. It keeps me full until about 2 p.m.!

Curry Chicken Breakfast

1 chicken breast (I cook these in some water in the slow cooker on Sundays so they’re ready to go)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 Tablespoon ghee (olive oil works too)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 eggs
Salt/pepper/hot sauce 

Saute the chicken and peas in the ghee until they are warmed through. Stir in the curry powder and garam masala. Pour mixture into a bowl while you cook the eggs. I like my eggs over medium, but you can make them however you want. Put them on top of the chicken and peas and season how you like. It makes this kind of ugly but good-tasting breakfast where your only carbs come from peas and you get the anti-inflammatory benefits of spices like cinnamon and turmeric. 

Just add eggs. I swear it’s really good.

• The cheat day keeps you in check during the week – you can always say no to something because you know you can have it later. 

• Cauliflower rice! Especially the stuff that comes already crumbled in steam bags. I found that I really didn’t mind either skipping rice or replacing it with this. Same with most crackers, cereal and bread. The carbs I missed are all sweet things – cookies, cupcakes, muffins, etc. 

• Zoodles – Another fun way to get your veggies in. I bought a mini spiralizer and used it on some zucchini. 

• I found some new recipes that are great replacements for weeknight dinners that my family also likes. Here are some of them:
Shrimp & Sausage Skillet
Easy Cashew Chicken
Slow Carb Beef and Broccoli
Slow Carb Bean Salad
Buttered Cod in Skillet
Chili is also a great staple

What I didn’t like:

• The cheat day ends up messing with your mind in a different way. Basically you hit your lowest weight and then have to purposely mess it up by cheating. Then it takes a few days to get back to where you were before (presumably you gain some water weight with the cheat foods). It just feels like a little roller coaster a lot of the time. 

• You can’t have fruit or cheese. Or Greek yogurt. Or any whole grains. At some point it seems kind of crazy to eschew so many healthy foods. 

• I felt low-energy enough for it to bother me. And I need every bit of energy I can muster for life with 2 small kids. I remember when I did the cleanses I felt such an energy surge. So I know a diet doesn’t have to mean feeling tired all the time. 

 So yeah, it was a mixed bag for me. (Here’s another great post from someone else who had a lot of the same feelings). But I did learn a lot in the process. I remembered that daily journaling helps me a lot.  I started reading labels and I was reminded of just how much sugar is in everything. And I think it was a wake-up call that for me, certain foods are a slippery slope towards bad habits. I just have to always be vigilant and have some kind of plan. We’re all different, but that is my deal. 

On the exercise front I am just trying to walk or run Max to daycare whenever I can. I think a FitBit would be helpful to keep reminding me to get in more steps. And I also really want to get a kettlebell. 

Harper, 4, and Max, 1

It’s been so long I hardly remember how to do this! I guess my absence tells you what’s it’s like to have two little kids. I really liked the part of blogging where I kept a record of my kids growing, though.

At this age they have kind of flipped roles a bit. Harper can communicate well enough to follow directions and she goes to bed reliably at 7:30, then sleeps until 7:30 (sometimes even later!). She’s still grappling with toddler emotions and SO MUCH ENERGY, but generally she’s a lot more mature. I can’t believe I’m going to be signing her up for kindergarten next summer.

Mellow Max on the other hand has become quite a handful. I had forgotten about the 18-months-ish age, where they can walk, climb and generally get into trouble, but they can’t really communicate yet. So if they want something and can’t make it happen, they just whine or cry. He does take naps, but he stays up later than Harper and during these really bright summer months, he wakes up ready to party at 6:30.

Max has figured out how to open the fridge and take things out. Poor guy is just hungry all.the.time. I can’t even imagine how much he will eat as a teenager.

Harper is getting a lot pickier about what foods she’ll eat. She still tries a lot of things, but she wants mac ‘n cheese and cereal, and if I make something with peppers and onions, she wants me to pick them out. They’re both all about the chocolate ice cream.

It is cute the way they play together now. Harper likes to help get Max set up in his high chair and sometimes she will even get him something he needs without being asked.

The problem is that they fight about toys all the time. They always want what the other one has, even if they have no real interest in it. Luckily they have different enough interests and we have enough toys that they can usually find something else to do.

Harper is still really into art projects and dressing up. We now have 3 cubbies and an overflowing bin of dress-up toys in her room.

Her biggest love right now is Moana. I actually think it’s a great movie, although I’ve seen it enough times to be a little over it. And of course she is always down to wear a princess dress to school over her clothes.

Max is super into trains lately. He says “choo choo” when a bart train goes by – it’s adorable. He also loves to build little things with Legos.

It’s interesting to see him developing language in kind of a different way than Harper. She didn’t say as many words, but she would say them perfectly. He’ll try more, even if it comes out all garbled. Sometimes he just kind of talks in gibberish and you’re like, OK buddy. I have no idea what you want, but right on.

Mike and I got a rare vacation when we turned his work trip to Vancouver into a long weekend without kids. My mom flew in from Kansas to watch them. It was so nice and over way too soon.

Our next trip will be with the kids to Minnesota in September. We wanted to go back to Lutsen for our anniversary (Sept. 18) and we thought we could have some alone time and then some with the whole family. I can’t believe we haven’t been back there since the wedding almost 7 years ago.

This stage of life is just tough. I think it was actually easier when Max was a baby. The not-sleeping part is super hard, but then their needs are pretty much limited to eating, sleeping and diaper changes. Now you have to be on all the time, and it’s intense. Especially for an introvert who needs alone time to recharge. I think when they’re old enough to have a little more independence it will be easier. But hey, no one does this because it’s easy.

Last week we finally got enough free time to take the kids on a bike ride in our neighborhood. It was really fun, and it was a little taste of the kind of outdoorsy things we can as a family, especially as they get older.

I have Max in daycare 4 days a week now, and I am starting to work a lot more. I now work at 2 stores (1 in Sausalito and 1 in San Francisco). I’m doing some PR work for one store and organizing classes at the other. And now I’m branching out and trying to teach more classes. I think that is really where it’s at for me. It’s the perfect intersection of crafts, media and retail, it pays well, and there are a lot of opportunities to teach around here.

I’m also trying to get back in shape, post-babies, so hopefully I’ll get a minute to share about that soon.

New items and new classes!

Some of my most popular items lately have been for kids (or adults who want to tap into childlike whimsy, apparently), so I have started offering them on Etsy. These animal hoods have been a big hit, so I’m making them in fox, bear, bunny and cat. 

And these adorable crowns come in 3 sizes (baby/toddler, child and adult).

I’m also beyond thrilled that some super huge yarns have become available commercially (mostly at Michaels craft stores). And so I have been using them to make arm-knit cowls and these new giant hats.

If you want to make your own hat, here is the pattern. I’ve also made it available as a class on Skillshare. And I added a class on how to make your own wool cord for giant knitting projects. Holiday gifts, maybe?

I’m super excited to get to work on some more projects with these jumbo yarns. They are awesome!

Halloween peanut butter cookies

I had to share this cookie idea I found on Pinterest. There it says to use a cookie mix, but I tried it with my peanut blossom cookie dough recipe and I think it was well worth the extra time.

All you need to do is add about a cup of peanut butter chips and a cup of Reese’s Pieces candy to the dough. Then you press it into a 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees until it’s just starting to brown on top. Maybe 20 minutes?

When the pan comes out, press in a few candy eyeballs (which you can find at craft stores like JoAnn and Michaels). Let the pan cool, then cut the cookies into rectangles. They are SO GOOD, especially when they are still a little warm.

My next Skillshare class

If you’ve ever wanted to try arm knitting, here’s your chance! I just put up my second class on Skillshare.
Intro to arm knitting: make a quick cowl

As always, you can use my link to get a discount on signing up for Skillshare.


The class teaches you single and double loop options.

And, for the rest of October, a limited number of students can take my class for free.

Now that Max is in daycare, I have some free time to film more classes, so I’m working on some for my giant knitting channel. If there’s anything you want to learn, let me know!

Max 7-9 months and Harper 3.5

I had to take this picture to document the fact that prior to this I had left him sitting on the floor on the other side of the room. Apparently he can pull himself to standing and push his little play table several feet.

At 9 months, Max is doing a lot of the same things Harper was at that age.


Yup, that was Harper!

He can balance standing up as long as he’s holding onto something.

He really likes to be walked around the house. He doesn’t quite crawl, but he seems close to crab crawling with one leg out the way Harper did.

For a while I had him rigged up in the Jenny Jump Up so that he could stand at the table, but he already doesn’t need it.

We learned the hard way that you can’t leave him on a couch or bed anymore. He will totally roll off (head first, of course).


7 months.


8 months.

It seems strange to say, but the last 3 months have been much harder than the previous 3. I think it’s mostly because of teeth. Max has 6 now, and every time he gets a new one, he is miserable and sleepless.

That picture pretty much sums up how I’ve felt lately — tiiired.

Then a few weeks ago, we all got sick, but Max got it the worst. He had a fever for like 4 days, and he couldn’t sleep for being so stuffed up. And we just could not get his sleep on track after that.


He was so tired he fell asleep playing with toys.

Fortunately, we accomplished a couple of things after that. We got a second car (an electric Leaf!) and I found a daycare for Max. I’m not sure if it’s related to his daycare provider or not, but he’s been sleeping most of the night ever since.

So we have our happy Max back, and it’s great.

The biggest thing that happened over the last 3 months, though, was our vacation to Portland and Seattle. Traveling with two little kids was tough, but they did great on their flights.

The hardest part was lugging around all the stuff (stroller, 2 carseats, luggage, diaper bag, etc.). And then traveling between the two cities, which took WAY longer than we had anticipated.

We did get some family photos, which was nice.


This one, from a Portland breakfast spot, is my favorite.


This one kind of sums up the chaos of our trip.

We stayed at Air BnBs, which worked out great. Plus, I got two blissful days of wandering around Portland while the kids had free daycare from Mike’s conference.


Still dreaming about Blue Star Donuts.


We took a break for a mall carousel.


Max loves playing in the grass.

One of the best things we got to do was meet up with an old friend from Kansas and ride on her family’s boat. They took us around Lake Union in Seattle, which was just unbelievably beautiful.


Harper was a little scared, but she did great.

We tried to do the public market in Seattle, but it was too crazy crowded.

Instead we headed to Discovery Park for a hike.


This picture is so Harper — all dirt and shin bruises.

On our last day we took the kids to Alki Beach and we got some great photos of them playing in the sand together.

They still get along really well. These pictures of them with Harper’s Soccer Shots headband crack me up.

Grammie came to visit for a couple weeks, which was so nice.

We are planning TWO trips to visit family for the holidays, so it will be fun to see everyone we’ve missed.

I’ve been super busy and stressed from all the knitting orders that have come in, but it’s kind of par for the course.

My boss is opening another store in Breckenridge, so I am making a whole bunch of items for that.

We did have a nice respite at a local beach we found. There are so few really quiet places around, so we’ll have to remember this one.

This time with two little kids can be really brutal some days. But I also feel this sense of fulfillment I never have before. It’s not perfect, but I have so many of the things I always wanted. And especially now that we have the house pretty much finished and I’m back to work, it’s easier to appreciate it all.


I love this picture. Oh, to be 3 again.

As Harper gets closer to 4, I think she’s calming down a little. She’s learning how to spell and how to communicate better, and she says the most adorable things like, “mommy, you’re my best friend.”

Harper’s taking yoga and I bought a jogging stroller so I can run. Hopefully if Max keeps sleeping well we can all come out of the haze and feel normal again. I have some new products, including these adorable crowns.

I should have more to share soon!

Garden update

I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t had a lot of time to work on the garden this year, but we’re finally getting around to making some progress. We did plant a lot of vegetables earlier this year, and they are really thriving now. Not surprisingly, the tomatoes have gone NUTS.

The red cherry tomato plant got so heavy it toppled the cage and I’ve had to cut it back several times.

The orange one spread out a lot, but hasn’t gone quite as crazy. It makes these huge bundles of tomatoes.

Then we had this volunteer pop up next to my pot of lavender. I probably should have pulled it out, but I just left it, and now it needs its own cage.

It kills me that Harper pulled all the blooms off that orchid (above left) since it only blooms once a year. It looks healthy enough to come back next year though. 

I’m not really sure what kind of tomato this is.

The tomatoes are medium-sized and kind of orange-red in color, so it’s hard to tell when they’re ripe.

The sauce tomatoes are looking good. Hopefully I’ll have my first batch ready to roast soon.

And then we have these regular round tomatoes that should be ripe soon. I see a lot of caprese salads in our future!

This is the first time I’ve really successfully grown bell peppers. This one plant produced a bunch of good-sized green ones, so I’m leaving them on there in hopes that they’ll turn red.

We also have some jalapenos that I used in tortilla soup last night. I’m not sure why they’re turning black, but they taste good.

I also had a purple kale plant that did really well, but I just cut it down because it was overtaken with bugs. Does anyone have a good remedy for that?

One new addition this year is rhubarb! Mike got this plant from a neighbor and it seems to be happy.

We bought 2 other baby plants at the garden store, but only one has survived so far.

Our berry patch is not faring as well as the veggie patches.

We have three raspberry plants that have produced a few berries, but the blueberries are mostly dead. I think the soil pH is off, so I will work on that.

The strawberries have done well and I think they are coming to the end of their season. I froze a bunch to make jam or some kind of dessert later. Maybe something strawberry-rhubarb if the rhubarb gets tall enough?

The orange tree has some oranges starting to turn yellow, but overall it seems to have a lot fewer than last year. Since the tree looks very lush and healthy, I think it just might be cyclical.

Our neighbor’s apple tree is full of yummy looking apples right now. Hopefully some fall into our yard!

This area is kind of a work in progress. The flower bushes took a big hit during the drought last summer, and never really recovered. Basically, they dry out and then become vulnerable to fungus. By fall they look like they’re dying, but then with winter rain they come back.

I really want to save this one because it has such pretty flowers and smells like lemon when you touch it.

And of course I love my red and white fuchsia.

I bought another hanging planter with fuchsia and it got fried in the sun. But I moved it to a shadier place and it’s coming back now. I feel like our yard needs more shade generally. Even with our moderate temperatures, things get fried in the full sun.

One bright spot is our hydrangea (two actually). They were looking pretty bad last year, but with some pruning and extra water they filled out this year and they’re looking great.

And then there’s this amaryllis my mom planted forever ago. It finally shot up into this brilliant bloom.

And now it is blooming again.

We have a plan to completely redo our front yard and make it into a succulent garden with a citrus tree, but we’re waiting until we get some rain so the ground isn’t so tough to dig into. Mike also wants to build a little fence for it. I’ll update when we get to it!

My first class on Skillshare!

I feel like my personal motto these last few years has been “be brave.” So when I’m afraid to do something I try to keep that in my head. And so even though the idea of filming myself teaching a crafts class was a little overwhelming, I decided to do it anyway!

I recently published my first class on Skillshare. If you’re not familiar, Skillshare is an online platform where you can pay a monthly fee to take as many video classes as you want. A lot of them are crafts/DIY related (knitting, calligraphy, drawing, etc.), but a lot of them are things like editing in Photoshop or getting more followers on Instagram. Good stuff!

One of my most popular patterns on Etsy and Ravelry is for a rope basket, so I decided to flesh that one out and explain in more detail for my first class. I really think it helps to see someone knitting the stitches and doing all the different steps in real time. 

So, if you want to take my class, you can enroll here. You should be able to use that link to get your first 3 months of Skillshare for $.99. BONUS: The first 25 students can take the class for free! 

As intimidating as this was, I still really enjoyed it and am already thinking about what classes I can teach next. 🙂

Max, 5 and 6 months

OK, get ready for cute overload because I have SO MANY good pics of my kids this summer.

I can’t believe Max is 6 months old, but it’s true. Here he is at 5 months.

And then at 6 months.

He is still our Mr. Smiley Guy.

If you tickle him or do a high-pitched sneeze, he has the cutest giggle.

He’s had a pretty big couple of weeks. First, we started him on solid foods.

I decided to skip the rice cereal this time and just do purees.

Then he got two teeth! So we’ve also given him some mum-mums and crusty bread to chew on.

Obviously the Bumbo is getting a lot of use since he’s still a little tippy.

He loves playing with Tupperware containers and various other things that are not toys.

I have even put him in a laundry basket with some toys, since it is sort of like a mini playpen.

Other times I kind of prop him up in the Boppy so I can play with him.

The teething has definitely affected his sleep, although I would still say he is a much more consistent sleeper than Harper was at his age.

Occasionally he takes a long nap, but his are usually only half an hour. So I am struggling to get much of anything done during the days I’m home with him. But I feel like the alternative is having him sleep less at night, and I don’t want that either.

He has also become really grabby and interested in rolling or lurching for things, so I really have to watch him closely.

He likes to grab his feet, and he can get his toes in his mouth.

He still has really bad cradle cap, so sometimes I put lotion on his head and it makes his hair stick up.

He was 18.5 pounds at his last appointment and pretty tall.

I’m looking forward to what the next few months will bring. Before we know it he will be walking and talking!

Harper has been a handful and a half, but she is also progressing so much.

Her teachers tell us she has completely come out of her shell at daycare, and now she plays with other groups of kids, no problem.

She tells me about her day now, and has gotten a lot better at asking for what she needs.

What’s hard is that she has both an immense amount of energy and a LOT of feelings.

We took a trip to the petrified forest in Calistoga, and without a nap that day she whined/cried/yelled the whole ride home.

So I’m a little nervous about traveling with two little kids for a whole week, but I think the key is not trying to do too much. And snacks. So many snacks.


She calls this her swimming costume. 

Harper started playing soccer at school and I think she would like swimming lessons too. Although I think she would be really great at tumbling.


Toddler lunch of champions. 

She has a great sense of style (hat tip to Grammie!) and she is an amazing artist. I love seeing her creativity shine through.

There are still a lot of kids activities in the Bay Area that we need to explore, so hopefully we’ll get to do some of those things soon. We’re still finding our new rhythm without Grammie and with me working 2 days a week, but we’re getting the hang of it.

More pictures soon of Max’s finished room and our solar panels!

*I also wanted to mention that you can follow me on Instagram. I wish I had more time to blog, but since I don’t I try to at least keep the photos coming.

Master bedroom makeover

When we bought our house, I never actually thought about living in the master bedroom, since it was always going to be mom’s space. But since she left, we have the opportunity to change rooms and give the kids their own bedrooms. So of course we couldn’t just move the furniture. We had to make a few upgrades. 

We started by taking out the dated light fixture and replacing it with one that is more modern, but still gives a nod to the house’s midcentury style.  Then Mike painted the walls a nice neutral color and updated all the baseboard trim. 

The curtains and rods were OK, but we wanted some that made the super short windows look bigger. So we got some floor-length curtains and put them high and wide over the windows.

I think the result of all that is a bedroom that looks a lot brighter. But we also got some light-blocking roller shades to help us sleep at night. 

It’s funny — when we first looked at this house it was so dark. But it actually has incredible natural light. The window coverings make such a big difference. I’m having trouble finding any pictures of the original bedroom, but I did find one of the horrible vertical blinds.


Eww!

Our old bedding was pretty gross after a few years of use by us, babies and dogs. So we just threw it away and got new bedding. The next phase will be painting our old room the same neutral color and then moving Max’s crib in there. It will also double as a guest room since it will have a full-sized bed in it.


Blank-slate bedroom.

And, super awesome bonus, we will have a whole extra closet to use for storage. Lack of storage space has been one of my only complaints about this house. 

We can also move a lot of toys out of the living room and into the kids’ rooms. We may have to buy one more dresser, but other than we shouldn’t have to do anything to Harper’s room (whew). 

We’ve been doing a lot of work on the yard and gardens, and I will share that in another post.

The tomato plants have gone even crazier than last year!

It’s nice to finally feel like we’ve completed most of the projects we wanted to do on the house and can just enjoy them. One kind of crazy thing — we’re actually thinking about getting solar panels and an electric car. We have so much sun and utilities and gas are so expensive, it just makes sense. 

OK, two crazy things. Now that the rest of the house looks so good, the kitchen is really starting to bother me. All I really need are better cabinets. But once we got started on that I know we would want to redo the whole thing.

Sigh. For now it’s just a very expensive thought. 

Also, next month we are finally going on a family vacation!  Mike has a conference in Portland with free childcare, so we decided to make a trip out of it. It kills me that we have lived on the west coast this long without having been there, so we’re doing it.