Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry Christmas!

brother and sister

I'm back from my trip to Ohio to surprise my brother when he got home from basic training for leave. He definitely didn't expect me. It was a very fun, very sleepless weekend. I got to see my parents' new house, which is nearly done and totally gorgeous. I can't wait for them to move in.

I also got to meet their new-ish dog Husky. They took him in after their neighbors in South Carolina couldn't keep him anymore. He is huge (about 90 pounds) and very mellow. I can't wait to see how Gracie turns his world upside-down in a few days when we head up there for a week. Here is Husker Du:

close-up of Husker Du

It was a fabulous weekend and I'm extra psyched for our trip there this weekend. I am hoping for lots of knitting time (to finish my coworker's Old Shale scarf - pics to come soon - and to work on something for me, finally!).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

blah food poisoning

This post goes out to a certain restaurant that I am almost certain gave me food poisoning from its guacamole. Josh got it for me around 9 p.m., so maybe it had been sitting out for a while. Whatever the case, I've had a horribly upset stomach, chills, and was afraid I was going to barf for quite some time last night. It's eased off this morning, but I still am getting these waves of nausea, so I'm going to skip my six-mile run today. I hatehatehate skipping runs, but I don't want to get (even more) sick before my trip this weekend. I might try to squeeze in a run (even if it's only a few miles, not all 6) at the shiny athletic facility at my mom's college tomorrow.

I'm so antsy for my trip. I've been running around doing errands, and that helps keep my mind off it, but now it's almost here! I hope my brother is totally surprised. Cross your fingers for good weather and flights that are on time! (I'm connecting at LaGuardia on the way up and Philadelphia on the way back.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

wide awake

163/365: wide awake

This photo is a couple days old but it fits my mood perfectly. I have been lying down for an hour but my mind is racing - about finishing my brother's Ohio State mittens (which are nowhere near being done) and starting a cowl or scarf for my co-worker, B. Right now I am oh so enamored with this Monkey cowl on Ravelry. But maybe I want to make an Old Shale cowl. Oh, the choices!! I hope to pin this down before I head to Ohio in six days - I can't really work on my brother's mittens around him (or my dad, since he got the same in blue/gold), and I don't want to bring the scarf-y project and realize I'm working on really wrong-sized needles.

But anyhow ... I have two FOs to show. My family exchanges ornaments every year, and I bought some for my parents, but I couldn't find a good one for my brother. So I made one!

FO: ornament for my brother

I knit it in less than a day (and almost less than one episode of "The Biggest Loser." ha.) out of Koigu scraps. Maybe next year, I'll make some for my Mom and Dad. I'm thinking of colorwork itty-bitty stockings...

Also, my dad's mittens are finished.

FO: Pittens

Click the pic for yarn-y details. I'm really pleased with them. They softened up great in a bath of water and V05 shampoo (I have some wool wash but can't find it right now!). I wish I could master the jogless join for striping colors, though.

And, of course, I've been busy loving my new camera. Mostly I'm taking pictures of Gracie and FOs I can't show because the recipients read this blog. But that's OK! Since I can't sleep, I'm going to work on a post to save for publication after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

oh. my. goodness. (or, early Christmas!)

Josh and I exchanged presents early - well, he got one of his three gifts (the other two are at a friend's house and in an Amazon warehouse somewhere, waiting to be shipped). He loved his MST3k 20th Anniversary DVD set. He is obsessed with this show. He spent 10 minutes looking through all the goodies, including the statue of Crow T. Robot. I think he liked it!

Josh and Crow T. Robot

What prompted early Christmas was a 10-day return policy on my gift. I had a feeling I knew what it was, and I was right ... a digital SLR!!

I have been saying for ages that I wanted to start saving for a Nikon D40. And he went and bought me one. I think he spent too much money, he promises he got a good deal on it. But I am just jumping around with excitement. I was so happy I cried. Seriously.

so happy I cried!

I've attached the camera strap and the battery is charging. I'm treating it very, very gingerly - I'm kind of afraid of it, but I'm going to head to bed now and start reading the manuel. Eeeeee!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

hooray weekends!

This was a three-day weekend, thanks to the quirks of our scheduling system at work. I'm on a monthlong rotation of having Saturdays and Sundays off - but I had this Friday off, too. I've been busy baking cookies (chocolate chip and peanut butter chocolate chip) - about 8 dozen of them, for a work surprise down the road - under the tutelage of my kitchen supervisor who was hoping I'd drop something her way. Sorry, pup.

my baking helper

I made dinner tonight, too - a roast in the crockpot, green bean casserole (Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic gives it some extra zing) and corn.

I finished the second Pitt mitten (Rav link) for my dad and blocked them tonight - they're sitting on the washer as the dryer dries a load of laundry, so they should be dry very quickly. I've already cast on for a pair for my brother (in scarlet and gray for Ohio State). I don't think I'll have any problem finishing them - the pattern works up really quick, and I'm going to stick to all my notes from the first pair so I won't have to come up with a new stripe pattern or anything.

Here's what's left on my Christmas knitting list: my brother's mittens, and a cowl or scarf for my co-worker. (I've abandoned the idea of making a hat for my boyfriend, as he's always warm and it's rarely cold enough to need a hat here. And, um, I've done all my shopping for him and am running out of time for knitting gifts.)

I bought two beautiful skeins of sock yarn at my new favorite Etsy shop EVER, Fearless Fibers. What can I say, there was a sale, and I was feeling a little shortchanged from my trip to Pittsburgh. I only bought sale yarn, and it's amazing yardage (550 yards) for the price. Pictures will come soon enough. But seriously, check it out for some gorgeous laceweight and sock yarn.

I've saved my big news for last - I just booked a plane ticket to be in Ohio two weeks from now, so I'll be there when my brother gets home from basic training for his Christmas break. We are keeping it a surprise to him. To say that I can't wait for this trip would be a huge understatement. The day after I booked the ticket, I got a letter from him saying he is having a tough go of it, so I'm really glad I booked the ticket. He said he's not good at shooting a gun (and is worried about having to repeat basic training because of it), he's not close with anyone in his platoon, that sort of thing. So yeah, I can't wait. I'll be there for three nights, back in Virginia for five nights, and then back up there for a visit. Whew.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm back!

Wow that was a whirlwind trip. I wish I could magically transfer the handwritten letter to my brother in the blog post, but that's not technically possible, so I'll do my best to sum it up here before I dash out the door to work in 20 minutes.

I didn't take many pictures, so this post will be lacking in them. The trip was lovely. A quick drive up after four hours of crappy sleep, good food, football on my aunt and uncle's new big-screen HDTV, and two phone calls from my brother! They were given phone privileges for the holiday. He sent us a hilarious picture message, too, of him in his Army-issued glasses. (Here's a good look at them if you don't know what they look like.) We watched some of my pap's old slides, which we had converted to DVDs, too. It was a lovely Thanksgiving.

I spent Friday running around with my parents - meeting my dad's cousin for breakfast, shopping in the Strip District (where I bought yummy romano cheese, Jordan almonds, an "I'm a Polish Steelers fan" shirt for my brother, and an awesome $3 hat with black and gold flames, for running). My parents got a lot of food to take home with them - I'm generally not a fan of sausage but this place smelled amaaaaaazing. My parents generously offered to buy me a new winter coat, so we went to a mall (and it wasn't *too* crazy by Friday afternoon) and I got a really nice one at Sears. It's kind of black/grey checked and has a hood. It's really cute. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

We went to the yarn store next - I had been really psyched for this because last year was such a great visit. Well, they've moved locations and I think the old house must've been a lot of the charm for me. Also, I think the selection wasn't as good as last year. Maybe it was picked over for the sale? I bought three things - two skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in Pollen, a beautiful pale yellow that looks like butter (see this Rav link or this link - and scroll down - for the color). I've already started a garter stitch scarf but seeing that gorgeous scarf, I might have to frog it and make something lacy! I also got a skein of Dream in Color Classy in Blue Lagoon for a cowl for myself and Dream in Color Baby in Visual Purple for some kind of lace project. They're stunning. Pictures will come eventually; it's a rainy day.

My parents and I met up with family friends for dinner - where I ran into my favorite teacher from high school, which was odd, because she didn't remember me and seemed kind of out of it, so it was sad. I think my dinner made me a little nauseated. I had pumpkin squash soup, which was great, but my pasta sauce tasted a little off to me. It was rather bland, too. Blah.

After breakfast Saturday with my Granddad, I made the long trip home. Traffic was heavy around D.C., so I stopped at Chipotle for a salad (my new favorite dish there. I'm never eating one of those burritos AGAIN!) at Tyson's Corner Center, a huge mall. It was kind of crazy.

Here I am after I got a space:

151/365: pure win!

All in all, the weekend was a success and I can't wait to see my family in four weeks. Now I've got to knit like a maniac - I've got three mittens and a hat to make before my trip (not to mention a cowl for a co-worker) ... yikes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

happy Thanksgiving!

Notice a new look around here (unless you're reading in a blog reader)? I updated my template and *tried* to update my blog linky list but only managed to delete the whole section. So I tried to rebuild it, and I hope it's all/mostly there.

I'm getting really excited for Thanksgiving. It's always been my favorite holiday, but when you've gone through some tough weeks recently, it means that much more to spend it with your loved ones. I'm a little sad that my boyfriend won't be making the trip with me, but we have a weeklong visit with my parents in Ohio next month, and a month after that, we're heading to Georgia to see my brother graduate from basic training. So he'll be ODing on family time soon enough. =)

This will be a whirlwind visit. I'm driving up to Pennsylvania on Thursday morning and driving back Saturday afternoon. I'm especially excited for Friday; my parents are I are having dinner with one of my dear friends from high school and her parents. It's been two years since I've seen her! And my mom and I are going to my favorite yarn store in the world, Bloomin Yarns. I wish it had existed when I lived there (and, um, that I had knitted then). We went there almost a year ago (here's my blog post) and the store was in a cozy house. They recently moved about a mile down the road, and they're having a big moving/post-Thanksgiving sale. I am psyched to spend some $$$ there (even though I've only cast one with one of my four purchases from a year ago!).

I had a really good run yesterday (3 miles) and Saturday (my fastest 2 miles in a long time). I'm aiming for a 4-5 miler tomorrow ahead of my road trip - I need to earn my Thanksgiving dinner!

Oh yeah - I saw "Twilight" on Sunday. I enjoyed it a LOT, and I kind of want to see it again. There were some parts that were awkwardly cheesy or unintentionally funny, and I don't think they were supposed to be (at least the book didn't come across that way). And I am undecided on Kristen Stewart as Bella. But I thought Robert Pattinson was *awesome* and I am going to run away with him like every other fan in the world. haha.

This will probably be my last post before my trip, so happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sorry for the absence; things have been a little rough around here so I haven't really felt like blogging. There were layoffs this week at my workplace. My boyfriend and I are still employed, but about 15 people in the newsroom aren't. It was a really depressing, stressful week. One of the toughest weeks of my (all of three-year-long) career, for sure.

It was a bad week for me running-wise, too. I can't even remember if I headed out in the past week. I think that means the answer is no. This morning, though, I got up early, bundled up and headed for a 2.3 miler. It felt really good, and was a reminder that my mood - and health - will vastly improve if I just make the effort to get out there.

I'm a little worried about where I am in my training for Shamrock - as in, I haven't been sticking to my plan I mapped out a few weeks ago. The upside is, I scheduled quite a few weeks of cushion time to get myself up to speed. I just need to get my butt out of bed and do it first thing in my morning. I'm trying to remind myself that my goal this time around is the Capital City Half, not Shamrock, since I'll be running it with my brother. Shamrock is the training for the real deal.

It's not all doom and gloom at Casa Laura, though. I stopped home to check the mail on a break from work and got two letters from my brother. Yay! I sat in the parking lot at Moe's reading them when I felt my cell phone vibrating. I looked at the display and saw a 706 area code - western Georgia. It was my brother!! I haven't talked to him in a little over a month, since he was getting on the plane to go to basic training. I have never been so glad to hear his voice. Words can't describe how my mood improved after we got to chat for 20 minutes. He was given free time because he had to serve in a funeral today, and that took his time away when other people in his unit had some free time. Yesterday, he had to serve on another funeral detail (he was asked to do this because he's so tall) and, because it was a bit of a drive off base, they got to go to Wendy's. (Side note - in just about every letter, he says how much he's craving a root beer float from Wendy's.) He has not had anything beside Army food in a month. Well, they were out of root beer, and he had to make do with a Coke float. His exact words - "Who the hell runs out of root beer?" And he was amazed at how gas prices have dropped in the past month. He filled me in on his graduation from basic training - and my boyfriend and I are going to make that road trip at the end of January. It should be really neat. (And I secretly want to drive across the state border to Alabama so I can cross it off my list of states to visit. Nerdy, I know.)

I'm trying to keep everything in perspective. The economy won't always be this bad. I am good at my job, and if I lose this one, I *will* get another one. Maybe in a more secure industry, though. And, best of all, I have a family and boyfriend who are the most important things in my life. Everything else will just fall into place.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christmas knitting check-in

Hat for Dad? Check. Sorry it's a photo in progress.
Hat for brother? Check. And ditto on the progress shot.
Gift for mom? She's so special she gets two knitted gifts. One is done, one is halfway there. I'll only post a link to a sneak peek picture cuz she reads this!

As for stuff I haven't started ...
Hat for boyfriend? Nope. I'm holding back on this because his head is huge and will require some math to cast on. Dag. Also, we live together, so knitting this in private will be tricky.
Cowl for Bernadette (red yarn in this pic)? Nope. I'd better get on this. I'm not looking forward to knitting a cowl out of such thin sock yarn, to be honest. (It's Cherry Tree Hill.) I'll hold it double, but I still think it will take forever.
Cowl for Jamie (variegated yarn in this pic)? Nope. This is STR mediumweight, so at least it's a little thicker. She lives in NYC, so it can be a late gift.
Cowl for Lauren? No way. She lives in NJ, again, so it might be a gift for early next year!

I also decided I want to knit a gift for my aunt (the one who lives in the area). What else but a cowl? She likes pink, and I have some dusty pink Malabrigo in my stash, but I think I might look around for something a little more perfect. She wouldn't like variegated, so it would have to be a solid or semi-solid. And she's very fashionable so it's gotta look good. I love tricky yarn purchases - see my orange yarn shopping a few months back!

If I feel up to it later (I'm sore throat/chills/sniffly), I might visit a couple LYSes to browse for her. I had vowed not to buy yarn until my visit to Bloomin Yarns in Pittsburgh in two weeks, but I might want to cast on sooner.

So yeah. I've got a lot of knitting to do in the next month and a half!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

a week?

I can't believe it's been a week since Election Day (and my last post). It feels like three weeks, so much has happened. I can't get into too many details, but big stuff is happening at my job, and it's something that I must keep to myself. So now I sit and wait for it to be resolved and hope for the best, and for me, that means lots of anxiety-reducing activities like knitting and running. I've been sticking to the 4x a week run schedule and it's going great. I finally stopped bringing the dog with me and my times improved drastically. Imagine that! I'm really pushing myself and it makes me super happy. It helps that the weather is in the low 50s and sunny, just perfect for running.

Another reason I haven't checked in here is because most of my writing energy has been directed toward letters to my brother while he's at basic training. I am writing about two a week (and I'm running to the post office a mile away instead of mailing them at the box on the corner!). I forgot how nice it is to receive (and send) hand-written notes. I love getting to hear about his life there, and I love calling my parents and reading his latest letters to them. I didn't realize how much I would miss him while he's gone! Before he left, we only talked once a week, if that, but now I realize our conversations about nothing were really important to me!

Oh - and today, I got to meet a brand-new baby. My co-worker Laurie had baby Jonah early Monday morning. He was a teeny baby (barely 6 pounds) and super sweet.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

obligatory Election Day post

Whew - you won't find politics here, only a cranky copy editor relieved not to be working tonight (is that even grammatically correct?). I worked til midnight last night and was back before 8 a.m. today. I edited stories for the paper's Web site, typed up blog posting for our precinct blog, and approved comments on stories. Lots. Of. Comments. I was outta the building by 4:40. Super sweet. Tonight I'm headed to a co-worker's house for beer and election results. I will probably be knitting the heck out of a Christmas present.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

mapping it out

training schedule!

(Click over to the picture to see details.) There are less than five months before the Shamrock Half Marathon, so I figured it was time to map out a training schedule. I've been running 2-3x times a week, but I'm going to ramp it up to 4x a week once I get underway.

In the past, I haven't done speedwork, but I'm going to try to incorporate it on Tuesdays - if not by running repeats, but just trying to run the distance at 5K speed.

Up to Shamrock, this is an approximately four-month schedule. I think it could be condensed to three months (you'll notice that some of the long run distances early on are repeated) but I think I'm going to need to build a good base for the longer runs later on.

I got this training schedule from my friend Diana, who got it from her Team in Training coach. I kind of made up the schedule between March 22 and May 2 - I've never done two half marathons six weeks apart. Diana is a practically a running pro, having run six or seven half marathons by now, so I'm going to ask her to look over that part.

So, where am I now? I've been running between two-three miles a day, three times a week now. I'm still doing run/walk intervals, but my times have been pretty good - I think I'm running faster because I have the recovery one-minute walks. That's promising. I hope I get up to a 4:1 ratio by the time the schedule starts in a few weeks (I'm at a 2min 30sec run :1 min walk ratio right now). And I hate to say it, but I'm going to have to start leaving my running partner, Gracie Virginia, behind. It's getting colder, and I really have to start focusing on running to train. Getting distracted by squirrels on the run means we slow down. Maybe I can bring her on the Saturday 2-3 milers still. We'll see.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

weekend update

So, I've been a little bit sad lately. My brother left for basic training on Monday - he's joined the National Guard. I'm so proud of him, of course, but clearly I'm worried about his chances of being deployed. This is a long ways away, though, as he's going to OCS and another training-type thing (maybe military police school? can you tell I don't exactly know what I'm talking about?) before he's a military police officer. Most of all, I think I'm going to miss not being able to talk to him whenever I want (which is about once a week, but still).

So imagine my surprise when, 12 hours after we had our last phone conversation prior to his leaving, these showed up on my doorstep with a sweet note:

flowers from my brother

They are beautiful. Of course they made me all verklempt again, but that's OK. I've been admiring them all week. He called briefly from the airport to make sure they arrived, so it was great to chat one more time. He has been in Georgia a few days now. He got a few minutes to call our parents tonight, and I got the full report (his bunk is near the corner, which is clutch, and he got lots of shots today, including the biggest needle EVER - I'm thinking it's penicillin). I'm going to start a letter to him tomorrow so the minute I know his address, I can send it off.

My week was also improved by the arrival of some Socks that Rock.

Socks that Rock lightweight, Lettuce Knit

Lettuce Knit in lightweight.

Socks that Rock mediumweight, Tlingit

two skeins of Tlingit in mediumweight for a Clapotis.

I cast on for the Clappy tonight- at knit night, no less. I am really, really bad at following pattern instructions. I generally require absolute silence and alone time at the apartment. But I did the entire first section while maintaining a conversation. go me! I am going to start section two right now while watching TV. This is a risk, but it's one I'm willing to take. This is going to be gorgeous, I can tell.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

race report: Komen Race for the Cure 5K

Time: 45:44 (14:45 pace)
Split at 2 miles: 28:20 (14:10 pace - woohoo)
Weather: between 55 and 60 degrees, cloudy and WINDY

The course took us 23 blocks down Atlantic Avenue (from 31st Street to 8th Street) and cut over to the boardwalk, where we returned to 31st Street. The wind was at our backs on Atlantic Avenue, but in our faces on the boardwalk. It was brutal for 23 blocks! No rain or sand, just major gusts.

The race felt really good - for the first two miles, I ran for two minutes and walked a minute. After that, I ran/walked 1:30 to 1 or 1 to1. It was just so tough in the wind, and I was getting tired as the race went on - I mean, I've barely been covering three miles in my training runs. But I felt *so* much stronger than I did three weeks ago. And when I think of where I was a year ago, when I barely ran the first mile of the race, I'm pretty happy. I'm heavier - and slower - than I was a year or two years ago, but I've got the motivation to train strong for the Shamrock Half and the Capital City Half.

Oh - and here's a pic from today.

109/365: Komen 5K day

The back row is Miranda, Lori and JJ.

Friday, October 17, 2008

the cooking?

A mixed bag.

First, I made lentil soup:

lentil soup

I followed this recipe but with a few modifications:

--sauteed three cloves garlic with the onion and olive oil
--added 8 ounces of baby carrots (when I added the lentils)
--added a couple massive handfuls of spinach with about five left on the lentils simmering
--used tomato paste (6 ounce can of Contadina) instead of tomato sauce, but waited until the lentils were nearly done cooking, to follow the advice on the original recipe site that said lentils don't cook as well with a tomato product

I also added the remnants (about 3 ounces) of some acini de pepe pasta that I had in the cupboard just to use it up. I would *not* recommend this. It was my first time making lentil soup and I didn't realize the lentils were basically the starchy item in the soup. D'oh.

I froze a container and there's lots leftover. YUM.

Next up was an apple pie. This recipe. Put it in the oven and turned my attention to a London broil in the crockpot. When it came time to get the pie out of the oven, I skimmed my forearm on the oven and promptly dropped my beautiful, streusel-y pie all over the oven floor and door (and the crack in between). I think I've removed all of the pie remnants from the broiler below, but man, I'm pissed. And my arm majorly hurts.

I called my mom in a blubbering mess and she made me feel better.

race day approaches!

Well it's been a few weeks since my horrible 5K, and I have to say, I'm much more psyched for tomorrow's race - the Komen Tidewater Race for the Cure. I feel much more prepared than I was three weeks ago. The forecast is in the high 50s with a chance of rain. Perfect. I won't be wearing my white cotton race shirt, that's for sure! This race is about saving boobs, not seeing them.

I've been a knitting machine - I cast on for a third October-birthday Gloria cowl a week ago yesterday and I'm nearly done. All three will need to be blocked but I'm just really pleased that they'll all be done in time for the girls' birthdays!

I also planned out my Christmas knitting:

Christmas knittin'

From left to right: gray Encore worsted for a hat for my dad, black Patons Classic Merino for a hat for my brother, burgundy Cherry Tree Hill Supersock for a cowl for a friend/co-worker, and STR Mediumweight in Faulty Dyer for a cowl for my dear friend Jamie.

So, four items, but I have lots of time to get them done. I'm not too worried about it. You will notice no gift for my mom on that list - because it's already done! - and no gift for my boyfriend, who is freakishly warm all the time.

That's a little update from me. I have some major cooking plans for today but don't want to jinx myself by listing everything I hope to accomplish. I'll report back if it's successful!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

knitting update

I got a *lot* of knitting done on my vacation but unfortunately have no pictures to prove it.

I am nearly to the seed-stitch edge of Stephanie's cowl. I'm knitting with SWTC Karaoke and I can't reiterate how much I dislike this yarn. It's not spun well and is *very* splitty. I'm going to have way too many ends to weave in from all the new pieces I had to start. I am a little afraid the finished cowl is going to fall apart like a delicate flower, that's how much I distrust this yarn! I'm hoping to finish this today or tonight at SnB (my local group moved it to Thursdays, so now I can go since it's my night off work! yay!).

I knit part of the leg and started the heel flap of the mate to this sock. And I'm several inches into this sock for my brother. I started its first incarnation at Christmas, but had to frog it after I realized I just did not want to knit a pattern. So I cast on again for a stockinette sock when he visited in August. It's a stockinette sock on size 1 needles, for his size 12 feet. Oof. My brother is leaving for basic training in less than two weeks (he's joining the National Guard), and my good luck mail will *not* include any knitting presents, that's for sure.

Speaking of knitting presents ... I am planning quite a few in the next few months, all of which seem very manageable now, of course, that Christmas is several months away:
three cowls for friends with October birthdays (1.9 are done!)
Christmas gift for my mom (done)
hat for my dad
hat for my brother
three cowls for three dear friends, two of whom don't live near me anymore, so the immediate pressure to have it done before Dec. 25 is not as strong

All of this doesn't change the fact that I woke up this morning and wanted to cast on *immediately* for a Clapotis in some Silk Garden Lite that's marinating in my stash. Maybe once I finish the October gifts ...

I'm off to dive through my stash for some gift knitting ...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

back from PSU

Whew what a fun trip!

We spent our first day in D.C., wandering around the mall and stopping in whichever museums we felt like. The Jim Henson exhibit was in its closing days, so we went there first. They had lots of sketches of his early work, which was so neat! And of course, some puppets - Bert and Ernie, and Rowlf, and some others.

We didn't eat lunch until about 3:30 - we were starrrrrving. My friend Judy had recommended the cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian. Let me tell you, you should go there now! We each had a pulled buffalo sandwich and fry bread (basically fried bread-dough sprinkled with a little cinnamon, honey and powdered sugar). And Josh had some white sage peppermint tea that he said was really good. Even for the big portions, it's a little bit pricey, and cash only, which is kind of annoying (especially when each of our meals was $16!).

Washington Monument us on the mall

The weather was perfect - mid 60s and super sunny. And that night, we had a nice dinner at the Italian restaurant next to our hotel.

We headed to PSU the next day; it was a nice day for a drive. We stayed at a Sleep Inn north of campus on Atherton Street - I had booked it ages ago, so I got a good rate before PSU changed parents' weekend to the weekend of Laura's wedding - and, as of last week, rooms were going for $400+. They know they can get the parents to pay those kind of rates ... we were the only non-parents in our hotel, I think. I didn't like that our room was on the smoking floor, but at least our room wasn't too smelly.

We got to visit my old stomping grounds at the student newspaper - and best of all, the adviser was in! We chatted for about an hour about the state of the industry, what people are up to, etc., even though our stomachs were dying for food - it was 4:00 and we hadn't eaten lunch yet! So we wandered over to Mad Mex, stuffed ourselves with delicious happy-hour-priced wings and beverages, as well as a yum-o spinach and mushroom quesadilla (me) and enchiladas (Josh). Perhaps best of all, there was a beer promoter there, and she gave us these awesome, huge Hoegaarden glasses with a sample of beer in it. They are great glasses. Thanks, beer girl!

I showed Josh around - JoePa's house, the statue outside the stadium, the Creamery, my dorms, Family Clothesline to stock up on PSU gear, etc. And then we collapsed at our hotel room thanks to our tiredness from all the walking around the past couple days.

94/365: at dear old State

Saturday was Laura's wedding, but first, I was on a mission for a zip-up PSU hoodie (that wasn't $55), which I couldn't find the day before. We had lunch at the Corner Room, my favorite restaurant in State College. My mission was a success, we got ready for the wedding, and took a few pics at the Lion Shrine, the most famous (or most photographed) spot on campus.

us at the Lion Shrine us at the Lion Shrine

Josh was a good sport with all my reminscing and tales of what happened here, or there, and let's take a photo here, etc. =)

The wedding was really lovely. I cried (of course) when I saw how beautiful Laura looked walking down the aisle. She told me later that when she saw me she wanted to stop walking and give me a hug and to say hello! When it was over we all tossed lavender into the air as they left church - man did it smell nice!

leaving church

The reception was held at a family friends' home - well, it was the most beautiful house I had ever been to. It is the family who started the honors college at Penn State (which I attended) - in our four years there I had never known that Laura's family was friends with them! It was so beautiful - and big (I think the kitchen and dining room was bigger than my whole apartment).

reception venue

Laura and I got to chat for a little, which was wonderful. She lives in Seattle, and I've only seen her once since graduation.

me and the beautiful bride back of Laura's dress

It was a really lovely night. We headed back to Virginia the next day. Yeah, I miss Pennsylvania a lot ...

I miss hills!

But I always get a little thrill crossing the water so close to home.

96/365: Yeah, I miss Pennsylvania ...

My next post will be about all the knitting I got to do on this trip!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

road trip!

I'm headed to Washington, D.C. tomorrow where I will say to my love: "I am glad we were here together in our nation's capital" like Forrest Gump says to Jenny in one of my favorite sequences in the movie. We are going to check out the Jim Henson exhibit and the new ocean exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. The weather should be lovely, I'm really looking forward to it.

And Friday it's on to Penn State! One of my dearest friends is getting married. Josh hasn't been to Penn State, so I'm looking forward to showing him around (and dragging him to Mad Mex for a delicious margarita).

I'm hoping to get some knitting done amid all the car rides!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Race Report: oof.

87/365: oof.

Larchmont R.A.T. Race
Time: 44:29.2
Pace: 14:21/mile
Rank (only mentioned for emphasis): 139/139

It was a hot, humid night, so I knew it was going to be difficult running conditions. The air horn went off, I started running, I was feeling fine - till I looked behind me and saw *no one* there. No walkers. The cop on the motorcycle pulled up beside me about three minutes in, I turned to him and said "am I the last person?" He said very seriously, "I'm with you the whole way."

While I'm a slow runner, I've *never* been the last person in a race. I could see the pack of runners almost a football field's length ahead of me and I knew the distance between us was only going to grow. My face got hot (well, warmer than it was) and I knew a tear or two slipped out. I just felt so schlumpy and embarrassed - and totally pressured to run the whole thing even though my calves were already burning.

I realized I couldn't be down on myself the whole way or I might actually abandon the race. And I couldn't do that, no way. I was in a neighborhood I didn't know, and I didn't want to be even more embarrassed in front of the cop. So I did a little running, a little walking. And it was hard, but I got it done. The worst part was when it was a long straightaway, and cones down the middle of the road signaled that the front of the pack would be heading my way. So I had to pass a bunch of my co-workers (a married couple was throwing a party afterward since they lived within walking distance) as I huffed and puffed my way through it. The cop would vroom past me to the next intersection and either circle back or hang out and talk to cops there.

But I finished. 10 minutes back from the previous finisher, but I did it. It was a race I don't think I will ever forget - and even though it was just a training run for the Komen 5K in two weeks, it was a swift kick in the pants that I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

checking in

At my job, I write a lot of double-edits - little breakout boxes that go with the stories I design . They're kind of a two-second summary of the story (in addition to the headline) or an interesting fact that gets a little more display.

So, I'm writing this blog post as a series of double-edits. =)

Running: I've run three times this week, 30-45 minutes and between 2.5 and 3.5 miles each time. It's felt so, so, great - mostly because the weather has been in the high 60s/low 70s when I've run. I really think the cooler weather helps me go farther. It's amazing how much happier I feel. Gracie's come with me each time - she's a great running buddy. =)

I'm feeling a little better prepared for the RAT Race 5K that's six days away (RAT = Race At Twilight). I don't really care about my time, I just want to finish it and not pass out - I'm going to a party immediately afterward (co-workers live within walking distance of the race, and they're throwing a party afterward). I'm registered for the Komen Race for the Cure, which is about a month away - that's the race I hope to do pretty well in because I'll have been training for some time.

Knitting: I've got four rows and binding off to do on the jade cowl. I haven't been in much of a knitting mood the past few days, sadly, so it's languishing. Next on the needles is another cowl - I found some orange yarn for my friend Stephanie:

elusive orange yarn!

I got two balls of it - SWTC Karaoke. I got some pretties for myself, too.

Scarlet Fleece

Scarlet Fleece sock yarn in Pacific. It's a lovely teal shade - and it's nice and thick (should make some thicker, faster-to-knit socks).

Pagewood Farm

This is my favorite. Pagewood Farm sock yarn in Golden. It's so bright and happy.

Books: I finished "Eclipse" - the third book in the "Twilight" series. I'm waiting till payday on Friday to do an order with Amazon. I've really enjoyed these books, I don't want them to end! I'm totally going to see "Twilight" when it comes out in November, but I have a feeling I'll wait a week or two from its release date so the storm of all the crazed teenage fans passes. =)

Friday, September 12, 2008

off work!

Today's my only day off this week, and I'm spending it wisely - lunch with my aunt, drop-off at Salvation Army (seriously, these clothes have been in my trunk way too long), shopping for a dress for a wedding at Penn State in a few weeks (my first trip back since graduation three years ago!), and a stop at KnitWits for the ever elusive orange yarn for my friend Stephanie's cowl. This is the third shopping trip for her cowl! I bought some orange yarn but returned it - I didn't like the loud, variegated look of it, and I didn't think she would, either. I then brought some pinky purple Malabrigo, but I'm feeling regretful because it's not the color she wanted. But I'm not returning it ... maybe it will become a cowl for myself! I hope I can find *something* in the right shade of orange soon ...

I'm still hard at work on the jade cowl. It's about 5 inches deep right now. I'm using US 7 needles, but I'm getting some intense laddering between the needles. The metal needles are really frakking heavy. I think I might go down a needle size on the next cowl I make.

Oh yeah ... I ran this morning - just 1.5 miles or so. It was about 85 degrees and kind of humid. I don't recommend drinking two glasses of milk before running, though, just to satisfy a craving. Oof.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hanna = a total bust

I bought loads of bottled water, a cooler and everything ... all for a few strong wind gusts and five minutes of rain. What a bummer! Oh well. I'd rather we didn't get walloped, of course. But I was hoping for a little excitement.

I spent *all day* yesterday (seriously) knitting ... this is the progress:

cowl in progress

A Gloria cowl! I love it so. It's not for me, it's for a friend. I've been stocking up on Malabrigo to make these cowls for three friends' birthdays coming up. In other news of advance preparation, I finished a knitted gift for my mom - but no pics until Christmas time, cuz she reads this! The only other Christmas knitting I'm planning are hats for my dad and brother.

Today's my return to work after a three-day weekend. Yesterday was two years for Josh and me; I can't believe it. (We celebrated Thursday with a trip to P.F. Chang's.) I'm in a bit of a funk today, though; I don't know if it's the return to work or general funkiness or what. I'm just cranky with the dog, with Josh, and I just want to curl up in a ball in a silent house. I woke up with a headache yesterday and fell asleep with one, so I'm thinking it's PMS. Meh. Feh. Bleh.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

bring it on, Hanna

I'm hunkering down for Tropical Storm Hanna with my knitting (and flashlights and bottled water, just in case). I'll be back with a report later!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a visit - and some running news

Sorry I've been AWOL, I was playing hostess to my brother this weekend! I bought him a plane ticket a few months back as a little present for the craptastic year he's had. But it's getting better - he just moved to a new apartment in Columbus, he's single, and he's making a big change (joining the National Guard in a few weeks). And of course he spent nearly every day here at the beach.

And he tried blue crabs:

Josh, about to eat some crabs

I took a little video of the bay:

We took a day trip to Baltimore for an Orioles-Yankees game.

Josh and me

It was really fun - just a long, hot day. The game went on foreeever - it was 8-7 when we left in the middle of the seventh inning!

Now that he's back in Ohio, I returned to work where I've had a few busy days thanks to the Democratic National Convention. And tomorrow is my weekend again, thank goodness. I've got a lot to catch up on around the house.

And best of all, I made a not-so-triumphant return to running. Yesterday I did 2.2 miles and it was tough, but invigorating. I've got to get back to it, weather or no, because I've registered for two 5Ks - one on Sept. 26 and one on Oct. 18. The October race is the Race for the Cure, and I'm organizing a team from the newsroom again. I'm looking forward to both of 'em.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I won a blog contest!

I've been putting my name in for blog contests for months now and have never won ... until now! Carly, practically my neighbor (she lives in the next city over, close enough in blogland) had a yarn giveaway and I won some pretty Plymouth Sockotta:

I won yarn!

She included a nice note. Thanks, Carly!

Friday, August 15, 2008

proof that I've been knitting

sweater in progress

A sweater in progress, whee! And ... a finished sock:

30/365:  a finished sock

I also have some stash enhancement, from a Socks that Rock order. I had planned on buying some of the retiring colorways, but after I added and deleted and re-added, none of them ended up in my cart.

Mustang Sally in lightweight:

Socks that Rock Lightweight, Mustang Sally

Dutch Canyon in lightweight:

Socks that Rock Lightweight, Dutch Canyon

And Oregon Red Clover Honey in mediumweight:

Sock that Rock Mediumweight, Oregon Red Clover Honey

I really must get cracking on Christmas knits ... currently on the needles is the mate to my Fire on the Mountain sock and the sweater. Knitting has slowed, I've been going to the gym and wasting time on the computer and, most of all, I've been been in a funk. Things are topsy-turvy at work and lots of people I really respect are leaving. It's really bumming me out. In fact, I'm headed out the door now to bid some farewell over bevvies.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm not dead.

Just a little check-in post because it's been a while ... I'm around, just not feeling very bloggy. . Work is a little more stressful than usual right now and it's taking more of my attention/thoughts, even when I'm at home. And I am knitting - I even cast on for my first sweater - but not feeling inspired to take photos. I hope my mojo at everything returns soon ..

Thursday, July 24, 2008

on stash

Lately I've been feeling kind of guilty about the size of my stash and the money I spend on yarn. I don't know what triggered it - just a general feeling of feeling like it's an overconsumption on my part. I think I'd feel better about it if I knitted more frequently - it takes me a month or two to make a pair of socks, for example, and at that steady rate, I'd be knitting socks for the next three to six years - and that's a best-case scenario! Lord knows I never finish a pair in two months ... and that doesn't even take into account my non-sock stash. And the rate at which I replenish the stash!

With this in mind, though, I went through my stash with a very critical eye, and I listed even more yarn on my Ravelry trade/sell page. So far I've sold yarn for three pairs of socks. It makes me feel better, I think, to go through my stash and realize that maybe I bought something that's just not right for me and will be a better fit with someone else.

A few days ago, though, I had a conversation with my mom about knitting, and she said ever so happily, "Wow, you're really getting like me with quilting!" (in reference to my yarn collection). It immediately made me feel better - and it's not because my mom's fabric stash exceeds my yarn stash (sorry, Mom!). I need to learn it's OK to have yarn that I won't knit for years. It's not going anywhere.

I also reminded myself that I don't spend money on many other luxuries. I only shop for clothes when it's absolutely necessary (and when I do, it's gotta be on sale). I get my hair cut at a cheap salon every three to six months. The only thing I can honestly say I spend too much money on is eating out - and that's a factor of my dating status and work schedule (I'm sorry but I just can't eat Lean Cuisine five nights a week for dinner!).

Could I do a better job at spending/saving money? Of course. I pay my bills on time (always more than the minimum), but I could be putting even more toward my credit cards/student loans. Maybe this is a good reminder to re-evaluate my income and see where I could do a better job overall.

The bottom line is - knitting is about my personal happiness (just like when my mom would retreat to her sewing room when I was a kid). Few things make me happier than sticks and string.

I have another philosophical post in me about knitting stress, but it will have to wait for another time. In the meantime, here are my lastest stash enhancements.

Vesper Sock Yarn

This is Vesper Sock Yarn in Shout Out Loud - the July offering for the Vesper Sock Club. I love the crazy bright colors! This is a variegated yarn, not the striping kind she normally dyes.

I did an order at Simply Socks and it came today:

Online SuperSocke 100

Online SuperSocke Afrika in a self-patterning yarn. It was less than $7 on clearance, woohoo!

Noro Silk Garden Sock

Noro Silk Garden sock yarn, swoon. So beautiful.

I have an order at Amazon on its way here - it has a little scale in it for weighing yarn, so I'll be able to better judge how tall I can make socks! (Yes I know, making them toe-up would help solve that problem.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

back from the burgh

Boy what a trip it was! We were on the go for the whole, short time we were there ... but I think that seeing my family totally rejuvenated me and I hit the ground running when we returned. The whole set of pictures from the trip is here, but I'll post a few of my favorites.

We went up for my cousin's wedding - here is Doug and his beautiful bride, Andrea:

Doug and Andrea

They got married on the college campus where they met.
At the reception, there was a photo shoot of my grandma and her 10 kids:

my grandma and her 10 children

It made me sad, thinking that my pap couldn't be a part of it, but I know he was there in a way. I still find it hard to believe he passed away nearly three years ago - and I feel like it's a lie when I have to tell myself he's really gone.

Here are my two favorite Joshes in the world:

the Joshes in my life

And here we are at Kennywood:

Josh and me

It can be an intense experience, being around the sheer number of relatives I have (especially when you are not at all close with your own family). I think he had a great time though.

And as for my puppy dog, she seems to be 100 percent better. I'm so, so, so, so happy about it. We picked her up at the vet when we got back and found out she wasn't sick all weekend - and they fed her all her food (about twice as much as I asked them to - I wanted to keep her on a limited diet while she was there). Oh well. But I'm happy to report that her digestive system seems to be a-OK.

I'm off today but not tomorrow (like normal) - my boss asked me if I could work Friday since we're a little short-staffed this week. So I have a split weekend, but I'm totally fine with it. Usually I feel like I have a zillion things to catch up with when I return from a trip, but for some reason, I don't this time around. I've spent most of this afternoon working on my Fire on the Mountain sock (which juuuust barely fits over my heel. yikes).

I love a good heel flap

Friday, July 11, 2008

happy weekend!

I'm headed to Pittsburgh this morning for my cousin's wedding! I woke up two hours early thanks to trip excitement, but we can't leave earlier than 8 because I have to take Gracie to the vet for boarding when they open then. Boo. She's doing a bit better, I think - but it comes and goes. I'll be worried about her all weekend ... but I know we'll be keeping busy in Pittsburgh so hopefully I'll keep my mind off of it.

In knitting news, I've finished my first bib:

a bib

It was also my first time to knit a buttonhole *and* sew a button (I think my mom didn't believe me when I said it to her ... but like she said, I always had her to do it for me!) When I was at A.C. Moore yesterday to pick up buttons, I also got some more Sugar'n Cream for more bibs (and have cast on for another already). They are such easy gifts!

new yarn for bibs

I also acquired some new STR mediumweight in Farmhouse (a colorway I've been admiring for sometime) through a Ravelry destash. Sweet!


I'm bringing the bib-in-progress, as well as my Fire on the Mountain sock in progress. Good times ahead (though I know little knitting will get done!)