My Book Review System

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One of the things I am grateful for as a mom is having children as an excuse.

I’m being very selfish (yet honest) with this but I can use my children as an excuse to not go out with people.

I use my children as excuses to make myself cookies, because you know, they want some too and it’s good to cook with mommy.

And one of the most wonderful things I am grateful for having children is getting to do things (even as an adult) that I couldn’t afford or I didn’t do when I was a child.

I try to tell myself that I am not living vicariously through them, but I will admit, it upsets me when they have no idea how amazing and blessed their little lives are.  But that’s another discussion for another day.

Today I’m going to tell you about my book review system.

DeAndrasCrafts Book Review System OverviewOne of the ways I use my children – as an excuse to read books I didn’t get to read when I was younger.

I have purchased books from Amazon that started off from a list I found on Pinterest, from an article called 67 Books Every Geek should read to their kids before the age of 10.

Since pinning that pin back in May 2013, my oldest son (7-years old last year, now 8-yrs old) and I have read over twelve books together. And we don’t include the ones he read for school in that total.  He’s only in second grade going into a summer of reading with momma so I’m excited what is to come.

I have two younger children, now ages 3 & 4.  I have been reading books with them since they were little, but it wasn’t until this year that my 4-year old got really intersted in chapter books and sitting down and listening to me read for good 15-minutes chunks of time.

The three-year old still gets bored of listening after about 10-minutes, and we are still in the board-book phase with him.

My plan right now is to review books with a three star system, also separated by category because I just can’t see comparing a life enriching book to a children’s book in the same way.

‘Highly Recommended’ books will have three stars and I plan on using that to describe the Life Enriching catagory as “You must read this to move forward in life.”   If a book in the Life Enriching catagory gets a ‘Good’ rating, then I can probably put my finger on why the book wasn’t a page turner and I didn’t finish it in a week.  The ‘Okay’ rating is to put the book on the bottom of the pile and it will be my suggestion to “get to it when you get to it.”

The Just for Fun catagory is going to be very random.  Usually I pick up a book because I don’t want to watch the movie and would rather read the book.  I did this with the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series – one that I cannot stress how well written and page turning it was, although I couldn’t imagine watching the movie after I read what it was about.  Eww.  I let those things be visuals in my own head, not see it on screen.

In the Read with Children catagory, I will observe my children when they hear the story and make note of which books kept their interest and which ones they asked me to stop reading because they were tired.

I am looking forward to recommending books and giving my reviews, as I love to read reviews myself, especially the honest ones.  I hope to do that for you and start soon.

Tips on How to Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton Purse

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How to Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton BagAt the flea market recently (there’s one every Thursday near where I work, and yes, you can be jealous,) I spotted a cute purse that I picked up just for the color and size.  When I looked inside the purse to see the label, I noticed that it said Louis Vuitton.

So understand something about me – I am not a fine purse connoisseur.  Not even close.  But I do know the name Louis Vuitton.

 When I saw the label on the bag and asked how much, the woman said $2.  At that moment I knew it was a fake, but I didn’t care and handed her my money.  It’s so cute and still a great purchase for a small, clean purse.

When I went back to work with my find, the tiny-bit excited part of me had to make sure it was a fake.  This post is the results of my findings that I am sharing with you!

All the advertiser links on this page take you to Amazon, where although Amazon does not sell REAL, Louis Vuitton, they do sell “Inspired Designer” handbags, many of which look like Louis Vuitton purses.  Links for real Louis Vuitton sites are at the bottom of the Amazon website.

This is the video that helped me the most.

Here are examples of the workmanship, from photos of the purse I purchased.  The key for any Louis Vuitton purse is quality of workmanship.  They are valued over $300 for a reason – and that reason is the quality.

Logo Check-Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton PurseFirst indicator: A real Louis Vuitton does not have the logo under creases, straps or hardware.  Note that the tab in the photo is also not marked with an LV logo, just a plain, brass colored tab.  This photo also shows thread sticking out from the stitches!

Quailty Matters - Spot a Fake LV PurseThe “brass” hardware was not real brass, as you can hopefully see from the photo that the zipper pull is discoloring as fake brass does that.  The tabs on a real Louis Vuitton purse are marked with the LV logo, not the full name as shown on my purse.

Look at the stamped logo-Spot a Fake LV PurseThe stitching is done by hand on a real Louis Vuitton, and the video above stated that another good indicator the purse is not real is by looking at the stamped label inside the purse.  The stamped label is not supposed to be off center as shown on my purse.

Look at the handle-Spot a Fake LV PurseThe video goes into detail about the handle.  The handles on a real purse are made out of cow hide and oxidize after being used which turns them a darker colored brown.  As a result, the handle will also soften over time.  The color of the edging is supposed to be red.  Although similar to a real Louis Vuitton, I would describe the color of the edge of the handle as brick red.

Stitching, quality-Spot a Fake LV PurseIf there is anything from the things I read about how to spot a real Louis Vuitton purse, it would be that the quailty is the number one thing on a real purse.  The tab on the purse I bought for $2 was peeling away from the seam.  Clearly, this purse was made in a hurry and would never be worth even $10, let alone $300 or up.

I think I’ll be checking those labels more often.  Many people at flea markets don’t acutally know what they are selling, which is why it can be so exciting to go!  I believe I would never actually find a real Louis Vuitton purse, but I hope to share more finds with you of other super cool things.

I do like my faux bag….   My fake Louis Vuitton

Catching Up with My Mom

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The life you have left is a gift. Cherish it.My mom has been in the hospital for four days since writing this post.

I have had some of the best one-hour blocks of time that I have had in my recent memory with her.  No kids around to interrupt, no worries outside of the hospital bed and occasional interruption of a meal being delivered and a nurse checking blood pressure.  I have spent time talking with her, getting her thoughts down about life, finding out where stuff is, etc., during lunch hours and the hour after work for these past four days.

She looks great, given that she’s had two heart attacks in the past four days.  I have been given a gift of peace that I haven’t had before with her eventual and ever-nearing passing.

She feels it too.

So what’s different?

Why have I been blessed this way?

I wish I had the answer.  What I can tell you is my part of the story.

Proverbs 18:15

I got a phone call from the hospital on Friday morning and the person who called me told me “Your mom would like family to be around her right now.”

Did you feel the chill I did when you read that?

My first response was “Okay.  I’ll be right there.”

The next ten minutes were a blur of calling my brother, my husband, my boss, my father, and going to the bathroom (in that order) before locking my office and getting in the car.  I didn’t turn off the computer and I calmly drove the ten minutes that my office is from the hospital.

In those ten minutes that I drove to the hospital, I felt Christ himself with me, telling me it was going to be okay.

If you don’t believe in Christ, then I don’t know how you found this blog or why you are reading it now.  I’m not your preachin-it-to-you type, and I can give a list of blogs of other people I support and follow that can help you in that department.

But I know what I felt.

She was in the ER on the CPAP machine and the nurse was giving me the run-down of what happened and what the doctors’ said.  I pulled out the directive I have been working on with my mom last month and was able to give her directions very clearly to the doctor and nurse.  My mom signed her do-not-recesiuatate form (a DNR), and again, I was given a gift of peace that I could only get from the Lord – to know that it was going to be okay.

I’ve been working on this – this part of life I – nor my mother or brother or father want to work on – to get things ready. It’s only been a month since I’ve started, but I’ve been working on it. Maybe that’s why I’m being blessed now….

I’ve visited and read the bible to her, talked about my children with her, given her kisses, held her hand and told her she can stay with my family when she gets out.  She’s going to be in there a few more days, continuing to get dialysis, and no one has told me how much time she has left.  It’s because no one knows.

But I am at peace and there is no other feeling like it.

I may not “be ready” when she goes, but I am at peace because I know where she’s going.

Pastel Waves – My 1st Finished UFO

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So if you’re not a knitter/crocheter, I hope you didn’t come to this post thinking you were going to see a photo of a UFO against the ocean waves in a sunset.

I’m sorry if you did.

I’m a full-time working mommy who loves to crochet and finished one of my Un-Finished Objects (UFO) that I had stashed away in my garage for the past eight years.  Yes, eight years!  It happens when you fall in love with a craft (or maybe it’s called obsessed, I’m not sure.)

Pastel Waves Blanket from Our Best Baby AfghansI finished!

If you are a crocheter looking for inspiration to complete your project, I hope I can give you some.

I finally completed a project sitting in my garage for eight years!  It’s time to celebrate!  And it was just in time for one of my relatives having his and his wife’s first child.

Pastel Waves blanket from Our Best Baby AfghansThis was the first project of the UFO post I wanted (and did!) complete.

This pattern is called ‘Pastel Waves’ and is from the Leisure Arts published book, “Our Best Baby Afghans.”

My review of the pattern: A beautiful blanket, the half of the project that I recently completed took a total of twenty (20) hours, so I would estimate that the project took anywhere from thirty-six (36) to forty (40) hours.  (It took a while and I think that’s why I originally stopped working on it.)  It was a well written pattern with an amazing out of book for pastel waves pattern

I kind of wish I had picked one color, rather than going with the pink and blue as shown in the book.  Oh well.  It’s done.  I also did not like sewing in all the ends, but I didn’t cut the white (as recommended in the pattern) so I carried it over to the next time it was used.  The edging covered the white yarn carried over the edge thus there was less yarn to sew into the blanket.

Pastel Waves - fully spread out Pastel Waves - patternA close up of the stitch.  Isn’t it georgeous?

I hope they like it.  The baby shower is this weekend and I’m going to have to mail it.

Perfect timing and it’s leaving my house.  Stash yarn was used and I am patting myself on the back. Whew!

See it here on Ravelry.  Please feel free to share!

Six Things I Learned from my Personal Trainer

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6-things I learned from a PTOne of the hardest parts of learning for me is remembering what I learned.

The beauty of having a blog is that I get to “remind myself” of what’s important by writing it out and this post is one of them.

This post is a follow up to my Celebrating 6-months with a Personal Trainer story.

Lesson 1 from a PT: I have to be realisticOne of the things my trainer is able to do is take a fat measurement test by using a Caliper.

My original results were 29% fat content, but I also learned that I couldn’t really lose more than 40-pounds without losing muscle and being unhealthy.

Wait – what?

He told me to look at how my fingers wrap around my wrist.  They touch each other, and overlap them a tiny bit.  When my thin friends do this, they can overlap their fingers and then some.  What this can show is that I can only lose a certain amount of weight and still be healthy, but I will never be a size 4.  (Not that I would ever want to be!)  I can only be a certain healthy weight for my size and body type.

The first month was difficult for me to get through, primarily because I gained a pound.  With the fat measurement test though, my trainer was able to tell me that I gained a pound in muscle and lost almost 1% fat in one month.  <Insert a big sigh.>

Not something that I was ready for, but at least I understood it.

Lesson 2 from a PT: I can do anything I put my mind to.Lesson No. 2 was under the presumption that I understood Lesson No. 1 – that I have to be realistic about it, of course.

During the second month of training, my trainer had me go on a strict two-week diet of protein, carrots and vegetables.  I ate salad for breakfast because I don’t like eggs.  I had carrots for one of my snacks EVERY DAY and didn’t eat bread at all for those two weeks.  It was hard.  But in the end, he told me those words – I can do anything I put my mind to.

I lost four pounds that month.

Lesson 3 from a PT: I am doing something awesome.One of the things I had to get through my head was that even though I couldn’t see the results on the scale, the inside of my body was changing.  I was doing something that was awesome and I can’t fathom it even now.  I lost two pounds in the third month and started noticing the changes in how my clothes were fitting.

Lesson 4 from a PT: A little pain is a good thing.

I didn’t mind the pain, or better described as soreness, as you should never be in actual pain while working out.

I never enjoyed exercising prior to month five with my trainer.  I talk about this more in the previous post – Celebrating 6-months with a Personal Trainer.

I did enjoy yoga, but we weren’t doing yoga when I was lifting weights, doing the all mighty burpee, and this evil goblet-squat thing that I learned to do with a kettlebell.

So on came the analyzing.

I personally associated doing yoga with stress-relief.  It took me over four months to associate these exercises with Aaron (my trainer) as stress relief as well, but that’s what it was doing.  As my waist was shrinking, I was feeling less stressed.  I began looking at the 4:30 PM sessions as a new way to let go of my day and hit the end of the day hard with all the night-time mommy duties that awaited me when I got home.

Lesson 5 from a PT: I have to learn to not need him.My husband and I originally discussed a 6-month plan of using a personal trainer.  By month five, I was hooked on strength training and couldn’t imagine not having this in my life anymore!  What was I supposed to do?

Aaron did what he did best – suggest that I start walking on the off-days.

Ugh.  I had just gotten used to this whole exercising thing and was enjoying it.  How can I possibly squeeze in more exercise?

I started on a Saturday night, after putting my younger kids to bed.  He told me that 30-minutes should do it and that’s all I was planning on doing.  I began walking and it was really boring.  I was trying to think of good, happy thoughts but they weren’t coming to me.  About half-way through my neighborhood loop I decided to try to jog.

“Why not?  I was more fit now wasn’t I?”  I thought to myself.

I jogged for a few minutes until I felt like throwing up.

I walked some more to catch my breath and began jogging again until again, I felt like throwing up.

I continued to do this off and on until my thrity minutes were up, definately walking more than jogging but you know what – I was jogging for part of it.

Completely exhausted when I got home, I told my husband what I had done.  I didn’t use any apps, I didn’t write down how many minutes I jogged, but I was so excited I even did it at all.

I jogged again off and on the next day and when I saw my personal trainer again, we talked about jogging as a part of this whole learning-to-not-need-him part of life.  I got to buy a new pair of running shoes, and shopping is always a fun part of losing weight and getting healthy.

Lesson 6 from a PT: There is no such thing as dieting.Last but not least, I had to learn to eat.

Go with me on this.  I knew how to consume food – you can say it was a specialty of mine and my weaknesses were popcorn and icecream.  I had to learn to eat the right things to be and feel healthy.

At the beginning of the forth month, my trainer gave me a lifestyle eating plan (called Precision Nutrition) which I have been using faithfully.  It includes a variety of different foods, including recipes for super shakes which I discovered I enjoy tremendously and still can’t believe that I’m “drinking” spinach.  I eat what’s called “Reese’s cottage cheese” and understand more about the types of food that cause me to lose weight slower than other foods.

The knowledge is the power at this point.

I said it before and I’ll say it again.  I’m only posting this and the previous post about my Personal Training experience to encourage you.

I’m your average working mommy – too many commitments, more than enough excuses to NOT do things, and my children are growing up way to fast.

But in my case, I am not going to be like my mother.  I am going to show my children that taking care of their bodies and being healthy by eating good foods is important.  I am going to be proactive and care for them by using the gifts God gave me including organizing and scheduling and being there for them as much as I can.

I’ve gotten through these six months by going on a meal break and indulging in foods I love to eat every once in a while (maybe three meals a week.)  I’ve surrounded myself with people that encourage me and joined a fitness accountability group on Facebook.  I joined the office weight loss pool this month and am looking forward to winning.

I learned more about myself in the past six months than I probably have in the past six years.

That knowledge is power.

Ads are below for the items I personally use as mentioned above.

    I use Mizuno Running Shoes

My 6-months with a Personal Trainer

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6-month difference after using a personal trainerFrom October 31, 2013 through May 1, 2014 I have been getting physical fitness training from a personal trainer.

So some fun facts about me that you need to know before you continue reading:

I was a stress eater.

I have never thought of myself as fat, ever.

I am posting this blog post so that just that one person who can afford personal training but is not able to make that phone call or send that email will (hopefully) BE CONVINCED that you need to make that phone call or send that email.

Here’s my story –

DeAndrasCrafts & her trainer AaronThis is a photo of my trainer Aaron and I in his gym, Synergy Studios.

I’ve lost 13-pounds in 6-months, gained 7-pounds of muscle, lost 3% body fat, and lost 2-jean sizes since I started.

What I’ve also gained is the capability to eat small portioned food I like (not all salad!) and the ability to enjoy exercise.

So before you read on, please go through this post as my personal testimony and that not all people are wired the same.  I am extremely motivated by my own issues, the primary one being that I have to prove people-who-don’t-believe-in-me WRONG.

In October 2013, I had been having an ongoing discussion with my husband about getting healthy.  “I am healthy!”  I would yell at him.   “You just want me to be thin!”  Or so I thought.

In the previous year, my mother had become increasingly sick from her multiple ailments of diabetes, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure – all of which any one of those things will take her life one of these days.  My husband and I had been “discussing” my health for at least the previous two months prior to me meeting with a personal trainer, and my husband had great sucess with his trainer in the same gym for the year prior to this heated discussion.

I wasn’t like my mother.  Sure I was borderline diabetic, but I wasn’t there yet.  I had gestational diabetes with all three children where I had to take insulin shots, but I had fantastic blood pressure and could still work and stay awake 16+ hours a day.  I was constantly stressed out, but that was a given because I am a working mommy.

But my co-worker told me something from his unique, non-Christian perspective that I hadn’t thought of.  He suggested that I get something out of going to the gym, other than the health aspect (something that I wasn’t interested in anyway.)  My thoughts that day went straight to something I’ve wanted for years – to finish the tattoo on my back.

I called my husband back after cooling down and told him that if I lost 30-pounds, he has to support me (I would say allow, but that’s another discussion for another day) so that I can get my tattoo completed.  He said “Okay.”

I now had incentive.

I now had a reason to lose weight and get this so-called “healthy.”

That was mid-October 2013.

Jump to May 2014.

My attitude has changed since then and I now have a new perspective and I GET this “healthy” thing now.

In my next post I talk about the six things I learned from my personal trainer that I know wouldn’t be as meaningful without him.

Don’t get me wrong – I know I have 17-more pounds to go to get my tattoo.  But that’s just a bonus now.

I’m fitter than I ever have been.  I can jog a 5K in 35-minutes, something that I never considered before let alone actually thought I could do it.  I can say I ENJOY EXERCISE.  That’s a big deal.  It took five-months for me to say that.

The No. 1 thing I lost during this six month period was an attitude problem.

It was mid-month five, or the middle of March 2013.  I had hit a huge stumbling block in my attitude towards this whole healthy-living thing that I had now taken on.

I saw the fat.

I saw the rolls.

I saw the imperfections.

This may not sound like a big deal to you, but to me, it was huge.  I HAD NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.


I’m not kidding.

I lost control of my emotions one evening after one of my first few trials of jogging.  My trainer had challenged me to start walking for 30-minutes on off days (or days I didn’t meet with him) for the eventual task of not meeting with him three-times a week.  I got bored of walking one day and started jogging, almost as a test to see how far I could go.  As I started to jog, my thoughts of “not being thin enough” and “not being perfect enough” crept into my mind and I started jogging as if I were trying to run away from it.  I went home exhausted, talking to my husband and not really understanding at the moment why these new issues were coming up.

I was looking at myself with a new perspective and one that was not the real me.

I kept telling myself that this is what everyone else saw.  The old me never saw these things.  I was no longer the proud, confident, literally perfect woman that I thought I was before.

My husband couldn’t help me get through this.  He was too close to me and didn’t know what to say.  He asked me to talk to my trainer Aaron.

It took two sessions with Aaron after my new understanding of myself to talk about my current issue with him.  During the workout he always asked me how things were going and I normally told him they were good and somedays great.  That one day I was able to share with him my new-found understanding of what everybody else must see that I never did before.

He did what he does best – ask questions to get to the bottom of the issue.  We figured out together that because I saw myself as perfect before, that now I felt unperfect, unsatisfied and very unhappy.

He gave me some advice (and asked me to tell everyone that not everybody would get this same advice.)

He told me to print out a photo of myself before I lost the weight and look at it everyday.  It was to remind me that I am still that same beautiful, wonderful, perfect woman that I always was.  That photo is the very top photo in this blog post.

I look at it everyday and it reminds me of who I really am.

I truly love myself for who I am.  

I am getting healthy not for myself, but for my family.

I get to dream about being healthy in my old age.

I will be there for my kids in 20-years and hope to be blessed as a grandma someday.

I will be able to travel as I age and able to keep up with my growing children.

I don’t want to be thin, I want to be healthy.

I got it now.  I understand.

As much as I want to think that getting healthy is for me, it’s really not.  That’s my case anyway.Inner Strength Quote by A.D. Hunter

10 Things this Working Mom wants for Mother’s Day

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Oh the ultimate question of marital bliss (as a mom) for the whole year from my husband:
“So what do you want for Mother’s Day?”

I’ve been married to this man for 17 years.

I’ve had his children and been a mom of a living child for the past 8 years.

And he asks me what I want for Mother’s Day.

<Insert big sigh.>

In his defense, my husband works from home, takes the kids to school, makes their lunches, and usually makes dinner.  (So please don’t get me wrong – he is an amazing man.)

Considering my wonderful husband doesn’t know what I REALLY want I’m going to tell him, right here, right now.

10 Things for Working Moms DayI didn’t put this list in any particular order, but just random thoughts that came into my mind as I contemplate my “wants.”

(1) Time to sleep

Oh the precious gift sleep is.  I have three children ranging from 8 to 3 years old and have every desire in the world to be with them. Sleeping baby

But for one morning – JUST ONE MORNING – can I be the one to get to sleep in?

(2) Alone time with my hobby

NOTE: That did not say “hubby.” (That’s another one below.)

This for me is to crochet or finish a book I’ve been trying to read for years.  I’m not talking about one-hour; I’m asking for at least four hours.  (Maybe more.  I know eventually I’d get bored.)

The three books I have in my library to read when-I-get-to: “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel, “Start” by Jon Acuff, and “Smart Money Smart Kids” by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze.  I’m looking forward to starting the latter two and finishing the “Life of Pi.”

(3) Adult time with my hubby adult time with the hubby(My love is 6′-5″ and I’m 5′-2″…)

Yeah, you read that right!  This would probably be a date of some sort doing something, you know, adult-like.  One of the perks of getting-married-to-your-best-friend kind of thing.

In my case I’d like to eat clam chowder on the coast of California somewhere and walk on a beach in the evening with no kiddos and just the man the Lord created for me.

I got to get him to work on that one….

(4) Think about the time I told you when I wanted ….


(I get that this one is hard for my husband.)  I can remember what we got for our wedding and who gave it to us.  He can’t remember what he ate for breakfast yesterday.

I’m sure I told you about those Work Boots (size 8) and that purse (it’s black.)  How cool would it be to get one of those things all of a sudden, because you remembered?

(5) Check my Amazon Wish List

I know, this can be a hassle but I’ve already arranged my list in order by what I want first and how high the priority is – just in case.

I’m just saying.

(6) Check my Etsy Favorites List

Did you know I had an Etsy favorites list?  It’s a little heart on the Etsy website where I get to click the things I REALLY LIKE but they might be too expensive or just-not-the-right-time-to-get kind of things.  I like handmade shirts, crochet patterns, earrings, etc.  Pretty much anything on that list would be great to get, because it looks like you KNOW ME!

Hint, hint: You will have to create an account to find me as a friend and follow me to see what I like.

(7) Schedule a professional portrait session with a highly recommended photographer

A little on the pricy side for some, this is something that has become very important to me.  I want to capture those beautiful little faces with the right lighting, hand-selected clothes that coordinate, and non-fake love that only those photographers are able to capture in photos.  I know this can cost a good chunk of change, but it’s worth it because it’s not just for me, it’s for our three little beings we brought into our lives too.

(8) Get my kids to talk with me and know me better

I found two Pinterest Pins that I’d love have done from my kids, (with your help) so that they can learn about me more.  Have our oldest ask me questions and get answers for this printable (maybe over dinner a few nights during the week) and have the little ones answer these questions about me so you can read them to me.

(9) Pick out photos with our kids about special times with me and get them printed

I’m not asking for anything fancy.  You know just as well as I that our photos are stored on disks and jump drives and computers.  Buy a 20-page photo album for 4×6 photos, and send a few photos to the printer.  Or organize some of the photos we do have printed (because you know we’re older than the digital age) and pull some of those out to put in an album.

One word:

(10) Please give me all the handmade gifts my children made
There really is nothing more important to me at the end of the day than those little handmade cards and possibly gifts that the kids made.

If they want to make me cookies or a cake, I don’t care if it’s not in my “healthy eating diet” – I am going to eat a few or a slice.  I put those handmade pencil holders on my desk at work.  I sigh as I re-read and stare at the cards and homemade drawings I hang on my walls and on the fridge at home.  It’s all important and I want them to know that.

I hope this list helps.  I’ll be over here waiting patiently for you to ask me again what I would like for Mother’s Day because now I’m ready.