Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FORWARD - Weight Loss

This year I plan on moving FORWARD. Forward is my word for 2013, you can read more about it in this post. I'm going to start the name of my posts about moving FORWARD with different parts of our life.

This year I'm getting serious about weight loss. I've fluctuated a lot since high school. When I graduated high school I weighed around 145 lbs. Not huge by any means but I sure felt fatter than a lot of girls. Now that I weigh 185 lbs. That's right you read the correctly. I've put on 40 lbs in the last 10 years. I'm not super tall, 5 foot 6 inches, but I seem to carry my weight better than some. Whenever I've told people how much I weight they don't believe it.

One year after high school I had lost around 10 lbs and looked pretty damn good. Though looking back at some of those pictures I think that might be a little too skinny for my age. Two and a half years ago, when I got married I weighed only 155 lbs. I've decided I would really like to get back to a weight of 145 - 150 lbs. In an effort to do so I've done two things.

1. I asked my mom and dad for a gym membership for Christmas

2. I'm watching what I eat

In regards to the gym membership - I started going to Planet Fitness as a guest with my mom last year. We usually went twice a week. She asked back then if I wanted a membership for Christmas but I wasn't sure if I would use it enough. Well after a while I found there were days when I wanted to go to the gym but Mom couldn't go. And if she wasn't there I couldn't go. So now that I have my own membership I've been going twice a week but I want to try and up it to three times. I've started with mostly cardio. My usual routine is 30 minutes on the elliptical machine and then 60 minutes on the arc trainer. I average 4 miles and almost 700 calories with this routine. I plan to start adding in some weight/strength training too.

Cybex Arc Trainer - not exactly the same model I use at the gym but close - source

To help me watch my weight I joined My Fitness Pal. I know several people who use this and swear by it. I didn't think I could because I don't have a Smart phone (yes I'm behind the times - but I don't have any money for a data plan). Well while looking for a recipe on Monday I was directed to My Fitness Pal. I found out that you don't have to use the program on just a Smart phone. You can use the website on your computer. I also haven't been very good in the past about tracking my food daily, but right now I'm kind of obsessed with this site. When you first sign up you enter your starting weight, height, date of birth, goal weight and level of daily activity. It will then calculate your daily calorie allowance. You can gain more calories by doing exercise each day. My Fitness Pal has a huge catalog of foods. You enter what you eat each day and how much and it will tell you how many calories you have used for the day. Also once you enter all your food for the day and any exercise that you have done it will tell if you eat like this everyday for the next 5 weeks you will weigh X lbs. Sometimes I like to put my food in for all my meals early to see where my numbers are at and that way I can adjust in case I'm over or under my daily calories. You can weigh in on whatever schedule you want. I think I'm going to try to do it once a week. My Fitness Pal also creates a little ticker for you based on your goals. It can either say your actual weight and you work toward your goal weight or you can display pounds lost. Here is what my ticker looks like right now hopefully that little ladybug will start moving to the right over the next weeks/months.

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Two of my problems when it comes to food is portion size and fatty foods. I love candy and many things that are just plain bad for you. Now I'm on my way to making better choices. So here is to moving FORWARD with my weight loss goal! I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Word of the Year - Forward

2012 was a tough year for us. We had some great moments - Reconnecting with old friends, Celebrating our 2 year wedding anniversary, Finding a house and Seeing our niece win the High School Volleyball State Championship. Then we had some really crappy moments - Andrew losing his job, Having to pull out of the contract on our house, the 2 bats that decided to visit us in our bedroom and losing Andrew's childhood dog. Farewell 2012 and here looking toward 2013.


Since I started reading blogs over a year ago, I've seen a few bloggers choose a word of the year. The word of the year can be what you hope for in the year to come or something to inspire you throughout the year. Here are some of the blog posts that I have read so far this year about bloggers' words of the year.
Layla from wrote about her 2012 and 2013 words here and Shelley from wrote about her 2013 word here.

While reading Layla's post I started thinking about what word I would like to have describe my 2013. I've been wanting to write about my word but just haven't taken the time to do so. Until today when I read Layla's post about the This Little Word Of Mine Link Party. The first word that came to my mind was FORWARD.

I hope this year will be full of Forward moments. Lately, it seems like we have been either stuck or going backwards this past year. When Andrew lost his job it felt like we took a huge step backwards. And then because of the job loss we had to pull out of the contract to buy our first house. Which then made us feel stuck in our apartment and stuck in life. I'd love to see this year bring about some great opportunities to move Forward. A new job for Andrew and maybe the chance to move out of our apartment.

Here's to looking FORWARD to what will hopefully be a great 2013.
The Lettered Cottage

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Featured Artist: Alyssa Watters

So this post has been sitting in my brain for a little while. I'm not sure if Featured Artist posts will become a regular series but you never know.

Today's featured artist is Alyssa Watters, owner of artbyalyssa. 

Alyssa Watters (photo credit artbyalyssa)

About the Artist
artbyalyssa is a company based in Beverly, Massachusetts. Founded by Alyssa Watters, artbyalyssa combines a love for oil painting with a passion for creating handmade gift products. Originally from Ledyard, Connecticut, Alyssa moved to Beverly in 2003 to attend Montserrat College of Art, and has been there ever since.

From the age of 16, Alyssa has worked in a handful of wonderful gift shops that have helped shape her into the person she is today. After getting her BFA, Alyssa managed one of the leading stationery shops on the North Shore. While running a shop, she also hosted solo art shows, experimented with creating gift products, attended local craft fairs and submitted her products for wholesale at local businesses.

In the beginning of 2011, Alyssa left her day job to pursue artbyalyssa full time. Today artbyalyssa can be found in seven states, at craft fairs throughout New England and at Alyssa's larger solo shows that she curates twice a year.

Personally, I didn't really know Alyssa in High School. We traveled in different circles and I don't think we had any classes together. I learned about her artwork on Facebook several years after we graduated.  Andrew, on the other hand, had been in art class with Alyssa and got to see some of her skills firsthand. When I heard that she would be selling her some of her prints and other items at Holdridge Home & Garden Showplace's Evening of Shopping on December 21st, I really wanted to go. Many of her paintings are of birds but she has also expanded her portfolio to include other items and New England themed designs such as the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, coastal themes and many more. You can see more of her work on her website

artbyalyssa display - This was from a different event because I wasn't able to get a photo of her table
with so many people huddled around her buying things. (photo credit: artbyalyssa)

Other than her originals and prints she also sells coasters, calendars, wine totes, pocket mirrors, key chains and more all with her designs on them. We bought 4 things, even though I probably would have bought her whole display if I had the money. We bought a print of an owl, a ceramic magnet with a New England Patriots helmet and two pocket mirrors. One mirror was for myself and had an owl on the back and the other was of a My Little Pony and was a Christmas present for one of my best friends.

This is the owl print that I bought. Now all I need is a frame for it. (photo credit artbyalyssa)

Pocket Mirrors - I bought the one with the owl in the bottom left corner. (photo credit artbyalyssa)
This is the painting that was printed on the pocket mirror I bought for my friend (photo credit artbyalyssa)

Below are a few of the paintings I found on her website that I'm in love with.

(photo credit artbyalyssa)

(photo credit artbyalyssa)

(photo credit artbyalyssa)

(photo credit artbyalyssa)

(photo credit artbyalyssa)

I could pick a bunch more but this post is already getting super picture heavy. You can see more of Alyssa's artwork on her website - 

Which ones do you like? Want to have a piece from artbyalyssa? Shop her Etsy store at