Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Mishmash - Spring Spruce Up, Continued

But wait - there's more!  Our succulents mostly survived the wintery freezes, but the bed that they are planted in gets really weedy, so Jeff wanted to plant them in clay pots, and then sink those pots into the bed - this way, when he wants to kill the weeds, he can remove the pots and spray weed killer without worrying about hurting the plants:
I like seeing a bit of the red clay pots contrasted against the mulch and the plants.

We also found some bedding plants that were marked down to $1/each, so we got the other end of the front planter bed all nice and pretty:
The bigger, flowering plant is the lone survivor from last winter - but the new plants are the same, so they should all grow in and look nice pretty soon.  The lush green plants are Daylilies - they come back every year and look great.

We planted this desert-ish plant last year and since it made it through the winter, we will probably put another one in - this bed is pretty sparse:
You can see the Indian Hawthorns (there are two planted next to each other - they were looking pretty sticky last year, so we put them together in hopes that they'd look OK, which they do) next to the desert plant.  Far right is our poor oleander - it doesn't like the hard freezes of winter and looks burned.  This is after I've pruned a lot of the dead stuff, too!

After 15 years, we had to replace some of the edging plant along the walkway to our front door - this stuff did really well, so I can't complain:
Liriope - it will have purple spikey flowers later on this summer.

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I had to have a TB test this week, and I was once again, amazed at our technological world, as the nurse said I could just text her a picture of my arm if it looked normal, instead of having to schlep back in to have her look at it in person.  Gotta love it!

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Sit and Knit update:  I finally finished the second of a pair of boot cuffs:
I only have one to show you because I gave the first one to Cary, who I was knitting these for, to try on for size.  Yarn is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, colorway is Thistle; pattern is Simple Cable Boot Cuffs.
I did not like this yarn - it was full of twigs and all kinds of debris, and I kept having to pull it out as I was knitting.  It wasn't soft at all, so I knew I couldn't make a hat or cowl with it.  Boot cuffs seemed like a good idea, as they don't actually touch your skin.  So, Cary got a pair (just in time for winter to be over), and I've put up the other two skeins of this yarn (in a blue colorway) for sale on Ravelry.  Some people like it, but it's not for me.

I am currently working on three projects - when I get tired of doing the same stitch on one, I switch to another.  Plus they're on different needle sizes (and varying yarn weights) so I think it's better for my thumb joint - I don't get it fatigued so quickly:
Left:  GAP-tastic cowl - this one had been on hold after I knitted the gray part because I didn't love the second color I had for it...I wanted a true purple and it had too much blue in it.  This yarn (Madelinetosh ASAP) was finally restocked last week, so I was able to get the purple and get back to knitting it.  Bottom right is a tiny baby sweater - the pattern intrigued me, and I had the yarn, so I decided to knit it.  Now, I don't have a baby to bestow it on just yet, but I'm sure one will pop up one of these days.  Top right is the Yowza 3 shawl, which is turning out to be as crazy colorful as I'd hoped!
I have to share this picture - I was trying to get a shot of how big the cake of yarn is, but Henry's ears peeking out from behind it made me laugh.  I was disturbing him by using the bed (and the good light) for my pictures!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday Workout Update

Very true.

We didn't get to run on Saturday because it was raining too hard - heavy rain plus dark streets makes for a sketchy run, so we made a group decision to call it off.  I hate missing our Saturday run, not only for the run, but because I like seeing my friends.

So, Monday turned into our long run, although when I say long, I mean three miles.  Please notice that I did not say "only three miles" because you know what?  Running three miles is still a big deal!  Jeff, Julia and I wanted to run three miles, with no walking breaks, at a 12:45 pace.  I set my Garmin to chime a fast pace and a slow pace (which turned out to be annoying as hell because it seemed to always be going off, one direction or the other - I'd still use that feature for future runs, but only the slow pace alert).  We started running, and I think I hit my groove around the 1.25 mile mark - my breathing evened out, and my legs remembered that they like to run.  We tried to hold a steady pace and run without overthinking it - which was a little challenging what with all the beeping.  We hit three miles and checked our stats:

Mile 1 - 12:50
Mile 2 - 12:51
Mile 3 - 12:47

Well, that was pretty close to our 12:45 goal!  Now, if I can just do this on Saturday, and not let race anxiety get the best of me, I'll be a happy camper.  I've got my team working with me to have a good race/run, the weather should be nice, and there's no reason why this all shouldn't come together.

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Yesterday Julia and I did a nice easy recovery run of 2.25 miles; no speedwork this week so we can save our legs for the race.  I also went to my chiropractor because things are starting to hurt - namely, my left heel, Achilles, and hamstring.  I probably should go once a month to stay on top of these things, but I'm usually too cheap, so I just go when I'm having to take Motrin every day to get relief.  I feel much better already - I'm glad I went and it was definitely worth the money.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sprucing Up For Spring

We were busy last week and got our front yard spruced up, plus Jeff cut down a dead tree in our backyard and then I cut it into pieces for trash pick up.  Can you tell we bought a new toy and we both wanted to play with it?  We bought a Sawzall - it's a reciprocating saw, and it's quite handy for cutting smaller trees and limbs:
I just checked the stats and it weighs over 14 pounds - no wonder my arms were tired after using it!
The dead tree was right outside my office window - it probably died because of the drought we had a couple of years ago.  Our backyard is in a fairly natural state, but it needed to go because we didn't want it to come crashing through the window during a strong storm.  Jeff rigged up a rope for me to pull on as he was cutting the trunk, so the tree would for sure fall away from the house:
 Two views of the rope arrangement.
Thar she goes!
And it's down.  That's when I stepped in and cut the tree into pieces, plus I cut all the branches off of the trunk.  It was quite fun, and I fully admit that the Monty Python "I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK" song was going through my head as I sawed away!
My view afterward.  I also trimmed off some dead branches from some smaller trees and the yaupon shrubs.  I had to stop myself from going overboard, because the plants are just beginning to green out, and I didn't want to mistakenly cut anything live.

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Our front yard is looking really good, if I do say so myself!  As I mentioned last week, we decided to switch to decorative pots for the area near our front door, due to poor drainage - our plants were always drowning.  We had some pots, bought a few more, and went from an inkling of an idea:
To this:

Since we aren't trying to keep that area as dry, we took off the ugly plastic downspout from the gutter and bought some river stone for the water to drain onto.  About an hour after I took this picture, it started raining once again (seriously, we're good - send this rain to California!), and the river rocks were underwater.  We might build it up a little more (Jeff said something about putting a layer of lava rock underneath the prettier gray stones), but it seems to be working, and it sure looks nicer.

We bought all perennials, and except for one, everything requires only part sun.  Luckily, Lowe's has a one-year guarantee on their plants, so I'll put the receipts in my gun safe (LOL) and if anything doesn't make it, we'll replace it for free.  Here's the close up:
Top left: Cordyline; bottom left: Asparagus Fern;
Middle top: Cleyera; middle: Canyon Creek Abelia; bottom: Galaxy English Daisy;
Far right: Flax Lily

I have more to show you, but this post is long enough, so I'll save those pictures for the Friday Mishmash.  Thanks for making it this far!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Mishmash

Broccoli on pizza?  Why not?
Boboli pizza with ground beef, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli.

One of my goals was to try and get more vegetables into my meals, so when Jeff asked for pizza, I bulked it up with broccoli.  Guess what?  It was good!  I roasted it first, so it was extra frizzled on the pizza.  This one was a keeper.

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I heard it before I saw it - a woodpecker came to visit the huge oak tree in our backyard.  It was really pretty, and I tried to get a picture, but dang if that thing wasn't moving around fast!  Here's the best that I could do:
I have to say, this bird looks NOTHING like Woody Woodpecker.  Another childhood illusion, dashed to pieces!

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Did you hear that my future second husband is the new spokesperson for Little Debbie Snack Cakes?  It's true!  Watch the video:
He cracks me up, my future second husband does!

I especially love the jingle he sang - "Little Debbie Snack Cakes...no one has to knooow" - yep, even Will understands the shame that comes along with junk food!

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Another week with no finished knitting projects to show you - boo on me!  I should have a couple done soon, and I just got some yarn that I ordered for a neat shawl project, so I'll be casting on for that one this weekend.  The yarn order was extra fun - not only did I receive the yarn, but some additional goodies as well:
The yarn is from Miss Babs - colorway is Perfectly Wreckless, in Yowza!  I'm going to make Susan B. Anderson's Yowza 3 shawlette with it.  But Miss Babs also sent a pattern for another shawlette, which I like, so I'll be doing that one sometime this year as well.  Plus she sent a mini skein of yarn, and some Eucalan soak, which is what I use to block my finished projects with.  It was like Christmas when I opened this package - which was appropriate since I bought the yarn using money my parents gave me for Christmas specifically FOR yarn!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday Workout Update - Oh, Deer!

We always do a warm up walk before our Saturday run - about half a mile from the park to the intersection, and the same distance back.  This past Saturday, as we were almost back to the park, we saw a couple of deer on the grounds of the church that's across from the park.  Then, they started bolting across the street, right in front of us - seriously, they were no more than 20 - 25 feet from us - and they just kept coming!  It was a stampede of deer and was the coolest thing to witness.  There must have been at least 15 of them, and to hear their hooves clattering on the pavement and see them running, full speed, so near us, was a beautiful sight.

So the run.  I ran with Jeff and CC (Julia was off on a fishing trip with her husband) - the plan was to run for 4 miles, and to run as much as I could without taking a break.  We set off and I was doing OK, but I'd somehow changed the display screen on my Garmin, so it wasn't showing my total mileage.  Not a big deal, especially since Jeff and CC were keeping track of the miles, but as we kept running, and at a pretty strong pace (for me), I started to struggle mentally and panic, and finally had to stop.  They tried so hard to keep me going because they could see how close we were to hitting a 5K (3.1 miles) without me stopping, but I couldn't breathe (anxiety), and had to take a couple minutes to get myself together.  As it turned out, we stopped at 2.75 miles, so that's a new record for me.  Now, if I could just GET IT TOGETHER and stop feeling so freaking panicked when I run without stopping, that would be just peachy.  We finished out the 5K, and then walked for about a quarter mile, and then we started running again.  As CC pointed out, physically, I am perfectly capable of running several miles without stopping, because I was doing fine with that additional mile.  It's just that blasted mental thing.  Frustrating, to say the least.

By the way, I wanted to make our route on Saturday a 4 miler, so I figured out a simple change ahead of time on Map My Run.  It looked easy enough on the map...but we got lost.  Well, not really lost, but turned around - and if it hadn't been for CC stopping to look at a posted map on the park trail we took, we probably would have added another half mile to our wanderings!  Here's the route that we took:
We were never meant to be on Boonville.  And it's too bad we didn't take that first green path to the park...we took the one off of Boonville thinking it was a shortcut, but meandered around until we finally got to the back of the park where our group was.

We ran a mile doing this funky loop, plus our 3.1, plus the mile warm up walk, plus a good third of a mile walking that I didn't track on my Garmin.  Needless to say, my legs were a little tired after all of this!  

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One of the things CC suggested I try doing was to run at a specific pace for one mile, then take a five minute rest break, then do it again.  On Monday, Jeff and I tried this - I set my Garmin to beep at me if I ran slower than a 12:50/mile pace.  It beeped about 4 or 5 times during the first mile, which I expected - I'm very slow to get started.  I hit one mile and paused my Garmin so we could do our rest break - I'm not sure how long we took, but we walked about two-tenths of a mile.  Then we started on mile two, and my Garmin only beeped at me twice, near the end of that run.  Now, I couldn't talk while I was running, and my breathing was all over the place during that first mile.  But color me shocked when I got home and uploaded my Garmin so I could see my stats:  Mile one was came in at 12:08, and mile two was at 11:46!  WHAT THE HELL???  Seriously, I do not understand my running at all. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring Break!

It's Spring Break out here!  For us locals, it's a big deal because the college students leave and for one glorious week, this town is OURS.  There's room to breathe without the mass of people that are normally everywhere - the roads and the restaurants are empty, which makes it enjoyable to go out...and out we did go!  We had lunch at Grub Burger Bar - split their Jive Turkey Burger, which is my favorite thing to get there, and we had dinner at Harvey Washbangers, where you can do your laundry while you eat.  They recently changed their menu, and added some new items, including a root beer braised pulled pork with cole slaw sandwich, served with Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce - of course we had to try it!  We split it (had to leave room for frozen yogurt, conveniently located next door) and loved it!  That one is a winner.  We also split a piece of chocolate silk pie on Pi Day (Saturday).  Needless to say, I'm back on the healthy eating track today, but what a fun weekend of eats!

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We spent a lot of the weekend buying mulch and planning out what to do with our front beds - it's always interesting to see what plants survived the multiple freezes of winter.  We decided, after nearly 15 years, to cede to the will of the house and give up on getting shrubbery to grow in the area near our front door - it's just too shady and wet there.  So we're going to place some large decorative pots in that area, and put plants in them, with tanbark on the ground.  We have a couple of pots in the backyard that we'll move to the front, and we found another one at Home Depot for a decent price - I think we could still use a few more, but it's a good start.  Jeff will be off work starting on Wednesday (benefit of working for a university - they all get a partial Spring Break), so we'll be working on all of that later in the week.

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The Duchess got a bath for Spring Break, courtesy of her loyal footman:
 I want you to know that he bought that blue bucket specifically to match the car.
 There she is, all shiny and clean - such a beauty!  I still can't believe this is my car!

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I'm looking forward to spending some time with my teacher friends who are normally working this week - I already had one coffee date on Saturday afternoon, and I'm hoping a couple more happen.  The weather hasn't been very spring-like, but it doesn't matter - it's happening in my mind, and I can feel the fog of winter beginning to lift!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Mishmash - Floods, Guns, and Tricks

My car tricked me on Tuesday - I was trying to get to the grocery store, but the morning (which began at 4:30 am, so it's not like I wasn't up and moving, lol) got away from me.  I finally did my shopping and when I got back in the car to drive home, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was only 11:47 am.  Sweet - I wasn't as behind as I thought!  Then I brought my groceries into the kitchen and noticed the time on the microwave...yep.  Forgot to change the clock in my car for Daylight Savings Time.

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You know you live in Texas when the salesman at Lowe's tells you to put the receipt for your five year warrantied light bulbs in your gun safe.  Um, we don't own a gun safe.  Or a gun.  I'm surprised they let us live here, honestly!

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We had a record-setting rain event here on Monday - over 4 inches of rain fell.  My backyard was pretty flooded - this was mid-morning:
The water went to the fence line (and I'm sure into our neighbor's yard)

A few hours later:
 Our own private lake!

Our house was fine, as far as the water - it's elevated enough that we still had several feet to go before the water would even touch the foundation.  And we don't have a basement (not common to have them in Texas), so no worries there.  Once the rain stopped, and Jeff got our sump pump working, the yard drained pretty quickly.  I'm glad this doesn't happen too often, though...and I'm equally glad I didn't have to be out driving in that mess.

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Brioche stitch - it looks like a rib stitch, only it is more defined.  It looks the same on both sides, too.

On the knitting front, I don't have much to show you.  I played around with knitting a cowl using a new-to-me stitch, and while I got the hang of the stitch, I didn't end up liking the cowl - it was going to be too bulky for me.  Since I was using one of my favorite yarns, Malabrigo Rasta, I didn't want to waste it on something that I wouldn't wear, so I ripped it out and rewound it for another project.  Oh well, it was fun to try, anyway!

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Paco did the strangest thing the other day - he buried his food dish with his blanket.  He's never done this before, and I have no idea why he decided that the food needed to be hidden:
 He ended up burying it, and then removing the blanket, three times over the course of the day.  Why?
Later on, he was OK with it being out in the open, although he's definitely on guard duty right here.  Weird.

Have a great weekend!