Losing Weight in the New Year

Scale and measure photoIt’s the start of a new year right now and we’re looking at a new focus for this website – daily routines. One of the most important that we’ve found is diet. Both of us (Meryl and John) have put on weight in the quarantine times of the past year. We’re home more, moving less and snacking more! So we’ve decided that losing weight will be one of our goals, in fact the biggest one, for the months ahead, and we’ve picked out a Low Carb diet plan being the one we think will suit us best.

So what is a low carb diet? Well it turns out there are lots of different ones. What they have in common is that you will restrict the number of carbohydrates that you eat. It’s not just a question of cutting out potatoes, rice and pasta – although you could do that for a start. But the real biggie that a lot of people don’t even think of as a “carb” is SUGAR. Refined sugar is virtually 100% carbohydrate, which is not true of those other foods – at least pasta and such have some vitamins and minerals too!

When we looked into it, we found that some vegetables also have a higher level of carbohydrate than you might think. Some examples are corn (which is kind of a grain anyways), rutabaga, winter squash, and even carrots. In fact any vegetable that grows under the ground is liable to have quite high carbohydrate content. Then many fruits have a lot, too.

So a good thing you can do is look at a list of the foods that are higher in carbohydrates. Then either cut them out of your diet or reduce them right down. Because you will still get some carbohydrate from the other foods, as all vegetables have a little and even so does milk.

If you want to go really deep into the numbers, which John likes to do being somewhat of an engineer type, you can download an app for your smartphone that has all of the nutrients in all foods, then figure out a plan that will give you only around 10% of your calories coming from carbohydrate. The rest comes from the other main calories sources which are protein and fats. (The other thing that can contribute to calories is alcohol, but we don’t drink so we don’t have to factor that in.)

It may seem counterintuitive to be adding fat to your diet when you want to lose fat off of your belly or wherever. But the secret to losing weight with this type of diet is that the fat you eat is not the same as the fat that your body stores. It’s when you eat a lot of fast-converting foods like sugar and flour that your body will lay down an extra layer of fat in storage.

Winter squash photo
Some high carb characters!
At the same time, insulin is produced to complete this process. Eating a lot of carbs makes the body produce a lot of insulin. Over time the pancreas, the gland that makes insulin, gets worn down and cannot keep up. Insulin production drops and stops being enough to cover the needs of all the sugar and other carbs that we are eating. That is when people are diagnosed diabetic or pre-diabetic. Or anyway that’s how I understand it. Probably that’s overly simplified and there are other factors. But that’s why following a low carb diet can be so good for people who have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, which I think we are in danger of at our current weight.

We do need some carbs but as I said before, we can easily find these in all vegetables and dairy foods. So we are going to begin following a plan, I was going to say a simple plan but I don’t know after John has finished with it. Anyways the aim is to start losing weight in this new year. Wish us luck!

How to Knit a Hat for Beginners

Method 1 – Knitting on Straight Needles – For Absolute Beginners

Though traditionally knitted beanies and slouchy hats are typically knit in the round with circular and/or double pointed knitting needles, for absolute beginners, this style of knitting technique could prove to be a tad intimidating.

The whole idea of knitting a hat as a beginner project is so that it is fast, fun and compelling enough without any aggravation or tears and frustration at complicated techniques.

Circular needles and DPNs require a little finesse and getting-used-to, so if you are super new to knitting, know that knitting hats can also be done with back and forth knitting on your straight needles. And then it is sewn into a round shape using the easy mattress stitch.

Here’s a video for how to knit a hat real simply.

Knitting Skills Needed

To knit your cozy beanie in garter stitch, you will just need to know the basic knit stitch only – and you may have already mastered that.

To knit the hat in the commonly used stockinette stitch, you will require the knitting as well as purling stitch mastery. But it’s still very simple!

And to shape the top of your hat, or the crown, you can learn the knit two stitches together (K2Togh) stitch – very easy – just watch a short video and you will know how simple it is.

Loom knitting is another easy way to knit a hat for beginners, but in this post I’m going to stick to regular knitting with needles.

Knitting Supplies Required

1. Straight knitting needles – Size 7

2. Worsted weight yarn – any color you love. Choosing a shade that you like is important, so that you don’t get bored too soon and give up on such a super easy and fun project.

Cool Tip – Go for super chunky yarn and really thick needles for knitting hats in a couple of hours or less!

3. Scissors

4. Tapestry needle

The Beanie Knitting Technique

1. Cast on 80 stitches for an average sized adult hats for females and/or males. For a smaller head, cast on 74-76 stitches.

2. Row 1 – Knit across the entire length. Turn your work.

3. Row 2 – If you desire a stockinette stitch hat with a cute, curled-up brim (girls love those!), purl this row. Otherwise, for a garter stitch hat, knit across again.

4. Keep alternating between knit and purl rows (or just knit rows), till your hat measures up to inches or more.

5. End at a purl row (if doing a stockinette hat), or plain knit for garter, and start the decrease to shape the crown of your lovey, soft winter hat.

6. Knit 8 stitches, then knit two stitches together. Continue till the row ends. Turn.

7. Purl/knit as per your pattern.

8. Knit 7 stitches, then K2Togh again till the end of the row. Turn your work.

9. Again, purl or knit as per your hat’s design.

10. Continue decreasing in this manner, with one less stitch in every even row and knit/purl every odd numbered row, till 16 or less stitches are left on your knitting needles.

11. Now, cut your yarn, leaving at leats 18 inches of a tail – for sewing up your hat.

12. Thread the yarn needle with the tail end and by working from right to left, lift stitches from the needles and pull them together on the thread.

13. Pull tight to close up the hole on top and tie on the worn side of the hat.

14. Using the mattress stitch and the tail end of the yarn, sew the hat close by picking and stitching across the corner stitches. The mattress stitch is perfect for creating an invisible seam for your hat.

15. Weave in the end in the wrong side of your work and you’re done with a beautiful, soft hat to keep you warm and toasty in the winters!

Blue knitted hat

How To Do Mattress Stitch

Mattress stitch is not a knitting stitch at all. It’s a way of sewing together two knitted pieces, using a darning needle (a thick sewing needle with a large eye) and a length of the same yarn that you used to knit the garment.

Mattress stitch is likely the most popular way to assemble something that’s been knitted in more than one piece, because it keeps the seam flat. On the right side, it’s invisible.

You can imagine how clunky and chunky a seam would be on a knitted item if it was overlaid and hemmed the way that fabrics are seamed! Knitted garments being thick, it’s important that the seams stay flat.

To attach two knitted pieces using mattress stitch, you thread your darning needle with your yarn, and take it around each of the running threads on both pieces. The running threads are the horizontal yarn that goes between the Vs (if you did knit and purl stitch).

You should go right up close to the edge of the knitted piece – that’s important so it sits flat and doesn’t overlap. Take each of the horizontal strands separately, and just take your needle over to the other side and sew them together.

Here’s a video of how to do mattress stitch:

Loom Knitting For Beginners

Loom knitting is super easy, fun and fast – perfect for beginners. If you have ever been curious about knitting, then this is the perfect way to get your hands dirty, do some quick knitting and play with lusciously soft yarn, without any fears of messing up.

A knitting loom is typically a round shaped or a long board-like frame with many equally-spaced pegs on it.

Loom knitting with fingersYou can indulge in loom knitting by wrapping your favorite shade of yarn around the pegs and, then by using a hook or by your fingers, pulling one loop of yarn over another – simple, easy-to-learn and tons of fun!

In fact, round loom knitting is practically fail-proof. That is why both kids and adults alike can loom knit and create beautiful and treasured items like hats, scarves, baby suits, mittens, cowls, blankets and so much more.

When it comes to loom knitting, you’re only limited by your imagination!

Loom Knitting Versus Traditional Knitting

Knitting with two pointy needles requires technique and some skill. There is a precision to it and certain rules that must be followed to get the desired results. Take some lovely looking yarn and knitting needles and show a knitting stitch or two to a lay person and they are more likely to back away, feeling intimidated and a tad overwhelmed. On the other hand, a knitting loom makes you curious about knitting, and makes you want to experiment and play with it.

Plus, these make for a great gift for kids! Hours of pleasure and no mess or fuss – a perfect holiday present for kids of all ages. Or, we have a video on how to begin regular knitting, for kids.

So, to break your way into the world of knitting in a fun and mistake-proof manner, get a round loom and soft, chunky yarn in your favorite shade and get looming!

What Type of Loom Should You Get?

Before we begin the basics of loom knitting, know what types of loom you need. There is a huge variety available in the market. From small, round looms that can make the most perfect baby hats and the cutest of socks, to huge ones that can easily churn out an adult sweater or a lap blanket. Then there are all shapes and sizes of rectangular looms available which can be used to create and knit almost anything.

Some knitters might tell you to choose a loom based on gauge size – the space between one peg and the other – but we feel there’s no need for that as most major brands tend to have similar gauge.

Knitting looms also come in many forms and material – you can buy wood, metal, or plastic looms. Plastic looms are the easiest to carry around and super light. They are also the best option for kids who may like looming. Wooden looms are slightly more costly than plastic and metal ones. Experienced loomers might want to add wood based looms to their arsenal of knitting supplies.

This is an adjustable wooden loom:

Wood knitting loom

Another point to note when buying a loom, don’t go for how long your knitting projects should be; instead, buy a loom that is wide enough for your looming needs.

Our recommendation – if you’re starting out, just get an average sized round plastic loom for now. It will be enough to make many types of knitting projects – from flowers to hats, scarves, baby bunting suits, socks, mittens, baby booties and so much more.

Pick one that fits your budget and you’re good to go and start knitting!

How To Loom Knit

In this article we assume you’ve already looked into loom knitting for beginners, you have your loom and you want to give it a try. Now we’re going to give you practical instructions for how to loom knit.

The Supplies:

Round loom
1. A round loom.

2. Yarn – to begin, you may want to use bulky yarn, which will make your knitting grow faster. But not too chunky or the result will be super thick.

3. A knitting/crochet hook. (This is optional. Some people just prefer using their fingers and that works perfectly fine.)

Casting On in Loom Knitting – Step One

All the loom knitting patterns begin by a simple casting on to the loom. This just means taking the yarn and then strategically wrapping it onto the pegs on the loom. The e-wrap is one of the most basic loom knitting cast ons (there are many ways to do it).

Here’s the simplest one:

1. Start off by making two small loops at the tail end of your yarn.

2. Then, take a look at a small hook provided at the base of the loom. Pull the right loop through the left one and then place it on that hook.

3. Pull the yarn tail till it is nice and tight.

4. Wrap the long end of the yarn in a clock-wise circle on your loom’s peg, which is to the right of the peg, next to the bottom hook.

5. Then, simply start looming by wrapping around each peg once and then going clock-wise around the entire loom.

6. Continue the same way a second time, except for the peg on the side.

7. Wrap your super soft yarn around the side peg a couple times when you are done looming, so that the yarn doesn’t unwind.

8. Now for the fun part – pull each bottom loop over the top one and take it off the peg. Keep repeating with every peg, excluding the side peg.

Congratulations! You just casted on for your first loom knitting project. Bring out the bubbly!

Or, here’s a video to help you out if you had trouble there:

Knitting with a Loom – Step Two

There are many different ways to knit on a loom, but we list the easiest one for all beginner loomers.

1. This knit stitch portion is pretty easy – just wrap the yarn around each loom peg again in the same way as before, so you are left with two loops on each peg, and wrap the yarn around the side peg a few times.

2. Now, pull each bottom loop over the top one on each peg of your loom – once again.

3. Keep repeating this step over and over again till your project is as long as you want.

4. Now, you bind off.

Binding Off in Loom Knitting – Step Three

The final step in loom knitting is to remove your knitting from the loom safely, without losing any loops, and this method is called “casting off” or “binding off”.

Here’s what you need to do to bind off easily – we have listed two simple techniques:

1. Cut a long tail from your working end of the yarn. The length you require depends on the size of your completed knitting piece, but generally 1-2 feet long enough on a loom.

2. You can utilize a crochet hook and simply crochet through each loop as you remove it from each peg on the loom. Then do a chain 1 between each loop.

Or, you can use a darning or tapestry needle and sew through each loop as you remove it along the loom.

Or, here’s a longer way:

Fun fact about knitting looms – Looms used for knitting aren’t looms at all as looms are used for weaving, and not for knitting.

Well, this was our guide on how to loom knit. There’s a ton of information and tutorials online and many free loom knitting patterns which you can use to make anything from a stuffed panda to a felted throw.

Now, all you need to do is start looming!

The Best Ride on Toy Car for Your Kids

Ride On Car in Snow

Ride on toy cars have been very popular for a long time now, and they keep on getting better. Even those that are made with simple features can provide several benefits to kids. These toys can help develop your child’s sense of balance, motor skills and even encourage them to become active. If you are planning to buy the best ride on toy car for your child, here are some factors to consider that will help you with it.

Things to Consider in Buying the Best Ride on Toy Car for Your Child

1. Size – Children grow up fast and this is the main reason why you have to buy a ride on toy that won’t just fit their current size. You need extra space so that they can still use it even when they grow a few inches taller or wider. But on the other hand, don’t buy a car that is a lot too big for them because they will have difficulties in using it.

2. Type – There various types of vehicles for kids available in stores today. Common ride on cars include foot pedals on the lower part of the toy which will be operated by the child to make the car move. There’s also the type which are motorized but they are more expensive. For a good start, try giving them the simplest one first.

3. Extra Details – There are several ride on cars for kids which have a simple and affordable design however, there are some children who want those innovative features so that that they can feel that they are really riding the real thing. Kids are often a lot happier if their ride-on car looks and sounds like a real car — and this doesn’t have to be the most expensive toy around.

4. Skills – Finally, you should be sure that your child has the needed skills to operate a certain type of car that you are planning to buy. For young kids, it is best for you to buy them the simplest ride-ons and for older children, they will really love to play with the motorized ones and they most likely have the skills to operate it. However, simple ride on toy cars can promote fitness in your kids and they will be more active.

Child in Ride On CarSafety Concerns

Just like using any other type of toy, the best ride on toy car should be safe for your child to play with. There should be features to stop them from falling out or accelerating too fast. You can assist them first and tell them what they should and shouldn’t do in playing with that kind of toy, but they won’t always remember. So keep a close watch on your kids when they start out in the best ride on toy car that you can buy.

Choosing Kitchen Playsets For Your Kids

Kitchen playsetChildren love playing with kitchen playsets nowadays and they have loved these toys for decades. A play kitchen can capture a child’s attention for many hours because they can have fun playing with it either by themselves or with their friends or siblings. Here are the benefits of buying toy kitchen sets for your kids.

Advantages of Playing with Toy Kitchen Sets for Kids

There are several benefits that your child can gain from playing with toy kitchens. They will begin learning practical skills which are connected to cooking a meal such as being patient, following directions and measuring ingredients. Their imagination will also develop when they get to play with their friends, whether it is a person or a plush toy, because they will think of what meal they will pretend to cook for them.

Eventually, your child will know more about nutrition and it will even be better if you teach them about it. Kitchen playsets are not made just for girls because boys would also love to cook as well as playing with ride-on cars and other traditionally masculine toys. If they play with other children, they will be able to learn about teamwork.

What to Consider When Buying Kitchen Playsets

The very first thing that parents need to think about is the space. Kitchen toy sets may consume a large area. They may look small in the store or in a photo online, but check the actual size and measure it out in your home. Put a couple boxes there to mark the space. Will it be a PITA? If so, find a smaller one, or one that easily folds away when your child is not playing with it. And if you really don’t have space at all, then you can just buy certain kitchen elements such as the cooker instead of buying the whole set.

After that, it is time to know the kind of kitchen area that you and your child would like. There are kitchen sets which are made of plastic and are very affordable. There are even some that can make sounds and have colorful designs such as your child’s favorite cartoon characters. The disadvantage of buying this affordable kitchen set is the durability. Ordinary plastic made kitchens are not usually as durable as the higher quality ones.

Toy kitchen

Of course, you get what you pay for, and higher quality kitchen playsets are likely to be more expensive. However, you can still find deals through websites like the one that we linked to above.

Our Kids Love Crafts!

Our kids and grandkids always loved making things. Even the boys enjoyed easy loom-style knitting to make things for themselves or their toys. One of our boys learned to crochet, just so he could make pockets for a pool table he was building! Here’s a video on how to begin knitting, for kids:

There are tons of benefits for kids in creating things, whether it’s through a traditional skill like knitting or building a space rocket out of an old detergent bottle. There’s a lot to be said for toys from the arts and crafts section of the toy store, too, though a lot of kids will sigh when they first open the box. There are a multitude of developmental effects from these carefully designed products that enhance a child’s creativity and thought processes.

The ability to make something from nothing is a skill that has a lot of value. It has become less popular in recent years, perhaps, due to the rise of technology, but kids will still get into something craft-related if they have a good chunk of time, and some encouragement from you. It helps if you sit down and do it with them, especially for younger kids.

Kids who are successful at arts and crafts are going to enjoy a rise in self-esteem – and successful, in this case, doesn’t mean creating an award winning work of art. They only have to produce something they like, get praise from you, and find a place to put it where it will be admired. This is clear from how they react when you put one of their drawings or paintings on display. Have you thought about finding a shelf to display that birdcage they made out of popsicle sticks, too?

Almost any project can be designed to suit their age and ability, however able or disabled, young or old. Even toddlers can draw and make things, with some help. If you’re stuck for ideas, there are plenty of books about craft projects for kids. It’s usually best to pick simple ones, especially if your kids have a short attention span (which most do these days – video games train them to it!)

Of course, some kids find they have a particular taste or talent in art or crafts, and then there’s no stopping them. In some cases, they may make a career of it; in others, it can provide enjoyment and a sense of achievement and self-worth throughout their lives. Think how much you enjoy knitting (if, like me, you do!) and how important it is to you to make things.

Your kids may not like the same craft activities that you do. Especially as they get older, they’re likely to want to create something that’s more their own, not just make little imitations of Mom and Dad’s creations. So the more skills you can teach them, and the more you can direct them to find new applications for themselves as they move from childhood toward teen, the more of a gift you are giving them. If the child who showed a talent for drawing beautiful pictures when small, is suddenly making nothing but monsters and caricatures, don’t despair. That might just lead to the discovery of what he wants to do with his life.