Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Mishmash

My kids gave me a Keurig for my birthday, which was several months ago.  I don't use it every day, but I do use it often, and I love it.  On Tuesday morning, I went to make a cup of coffee and barely any water came out.  Ack!  I called their customer service, who couldn't have been nicer, but guess what?  You're supposed to clean it once a week, using an orange disc that was included in the packaging.  How did I miss that?  I'm pretty sure the box and all the packaging is still in our attic so I'll have to retrieve that magical cleaning disc, but in the meantime, the CSR walked me through cleaning it with a bobby pin and now it works perfectly once again.  I'm usually pretty good about taking care of my stuff, so the fact that I completely glossed over the cleaning part probably attests to how excited I was to get the machine up and running and COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE!


I'm suffering from a little bit of knitting distraction - not only do I have several projects going at the same time, but I have some knitting homework that I need to do by the beginning of November.  It's all good, but I keep flitting from one thing to the next...and with the knitting homework I needed, of all things, some "crochet string" which flummoxed me, until I remembered the giant tub of yarn goodies that my friend Erica had bestowed on me a couple of years ago.  There were a couple of items that I wasn't sure what to do with, but had stowed them away, and sure enough:
Crochet string!

I also need to knit up several swatches, and while I was looking for some suitable leftover yarn, I came across a couple of skeins of baby-colors yarn, which made me have to go searching for patterns for it.  I found a cute little baby vest, but then read that the yarn pills a lot, so maybe I won't bother using it.  Whatever the case, I don't need to go down that path right now...and yet, I can't help but be several projects ahead in my mind.
Yarn in I use it and risk a finished product that pills, or do I donate it?

Along with the crochet string, I also need to bring a pair of 14-inch straight knitting needles.  Now, I almost never knit on straights (I use circulars, even when I'm not knitting in the round), so I ordered a pair.  I swear, I could have a sword fight with these, they're so long:
Good thing I'll be checking a suitcase - I don't think the TSA would let me on an airplane with these in my bag!

So thanks to my distracted mind, I haven't finished any projects.  I have half a shawl, half a baby hat, and 3/4 of a sock done:
If I were a student, I'd be getting an "incomplete" grade right about now...

I wouldn't be surprised if I get both of these finished by the end of today.  And you shouldn't be surprised to hear that I have more socks planned...I mean, why not?  I have the yarn!


At the gift shop where I volunteer, we carry a lot of candy and snack food.  I sell that stuff all day long and am rarely tempted, which is a good thing, right?  Yesterday I worked my shift and came home for a late lunch, and wouldn't you know it, I suddenly wanted candy in the worst way.  I don't keep it at home for obvious reasons, but I was really kicking myself for not getting that craving earlier, when I could have bought a treat.  I'm sure it was for the best, but dang, that Baby Ruth was calling me big time!


We only (HAHAHAHA) have to run 9 miles tomorrow.  The temps won't be as nice as they were for last week's 10 miler, but the humidity has eased up a bit, so all in all, it shouldn't be too much of a swampy sweatfest.  And really, this is why I run:
It's what my friends do - and if I didn't run, I wouldn't get to see them!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

WWU - 10 Miles!

I could not believe my eyes when I saw that it was 56 degrees as we arrived at the park on Saturday morning for our long run - 56 DEGREES!!!  Plus the humidity was low, right around 50%, so it felt, dare I say, almost cool?  Whatever the case, it was a nice change from the humid swamp we've been running in over the last six months.  Loretta and I started our run about 30 minutes before most of the group, while CC stayed home with their grandbabies...and hey, if I ever have that option, you can bet I'll be hanging out with my grandbabies, too!
Post run - skirt and shoe twins!

Anyway, Loretta and I started out...and after running for a bit, I realized that I hadn't changed the interval settings on my Garmin to 1:30/1 (I run at 2:1 intervals on Thursdays).  Dang it - that meant I had to restart the distance, which meant that I knew I'd have to run more than 10 miles to have it show on my Garmin!  Now, non-runners might say that hey, you know you ran 10 miles, why do you have to show it on your Garmin, but this was my first 10 miler in about eight months, so I wanted to see that official number.   Once I got that sorted out, we went on our merry way.  We were doing well, when all of a sudden a loud noise startled both of us - it was the field sprinklers coming on at the scary statue park, and we happened to be right next to them when it happened!  Now, it probably would have startled us regardless, but being that it was still very dark and we were by ourselves just added to the fright.  Needless to say our hearts got an extra boost of cardio in that moment.

Right around mile 3 was when we began to see other runners from our group coming toward us.  It was still dark, so it was hard to figure out who each person was until we were nearly passing them, but it was good to see everyone and know that they were out there now.  We had a trek up Harvey Hill, and remembered to do our choppy running technique that seems to work well for us.  After we'd made that turn around, I glanced down at my Garmin and saw that we were at mile 4.5.  We were in the groove at that point, and it didn't even feel like we were running, because the next thing we knew, my Garmin said we were at mile 5.5 - and it felt like nothing!  Ahhh, that's when you know it's a good run.

Loretta decided to run 7 miles and walk back to the park.  I was mentally preparing myself to do the last few miles on my own, when Jeff caught up to us, so he ended up running with me.  Funny moment - we were on the ritzy street, when I said "I haven't seen any deer lately" and Jeff immediately pointed to them.  I responded with "I haven't seen a million dollars lately" hoping that he would magically make that appear, but his powers disappeared, dangit.  These aren't the deer we saw, but Cary and Andi came across a huge group of them on their run, and stopped to take some pictures:
Cary said she made a noise and all their ears perked up like radar - so cute!

I started feeling a little tired around mile 8.5, but all in all, it was a good run.  I hit the park at 9.87 miles and had to run past it to get that magical 10 mile reading on my Garmin, which felt like it took forever, but I finished strong, so I can't complain.

Breakfast at Blue Baker was fun - Loretta went home after she got back to the park and picked up CC and the babies, so we were all thoroughly entertained by them:
Kyzer (right) is 6 months old - he was having a good time watching his cousin.  Jayden (right) has gotten so big!  He's not quite 15 months old, with a head of hair that we said could be styled into an Elvis 'do for Halloween.  
 Jayden's face.  He was making all of us laugh so much!
Kyzer didn't let our noise interrupt his nap - I love this picture of Loretta and him.

We celebrated Loretta's birthday with a candle in a cinnamon roll and sang Happy Birthday to her.  After everyone left, Jeff, Cary and I went over to the running store, where we rewarded ourselves for running 10 miles.  I had a gift card and a 20% off coupon, so the damage was minimal, but we got some cute things:
Jeff got a pretty blue running shirt, while I got a retro cool Brazos Running Company logo t-shirt.  I loved the road on this - after all, it's where I do almost all of my runs.
 I spotted this cute Brooks t-shirt that has a sun on it and says "run all day" - but I happened to notice some lettering I couldn't read when I was trying it on, and thought to turn off the light in the dressing room, where I was delighted to see that it glowed in the dark, with the sun changing into a moon and stars - sold!

I also got a lightweight pullover that will be perfect for my early morning, still-dark runs - check out the reflection that shows up with the camera flash, and imagine that when a vehicle's headlights shine on me:
I know what I'll be living in this winter...

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Different Challenge

Last Sunday, I went to Painting With a Twist, which is a place where you can paint a picture, with guidance, for a small fee.  The twist part comes from the party atmosphere - you can bring wine or whatever you want to drink, along with snacks - their goal is for patrons to have fun while being creative.  CC and Loretta wanted to do this, so I tagged along, all the while knowing that I was not going to turn out any masterpiece; the fine art gene that made both my grandmother and mother such wonderful artists bypassed me completely.  I came to terms with that a long time ago...but I still wanted to paint a pretty picture.

We went to an open studio class, where you could choose any painting that they offered (they have THOUSANDS - it was overwhelming, so I narrowed my search options to ocean, which brought it down to just a couple hundred).  I picked a seashell painting, and I will say, the teachers there did warn me that this one was not quite for beginners, but they assured me that I'd be fine with it, so I went ahead with this choice.  Looking back, I can see that had I picked something with more straight lines that definitely would have been easier, but hey, why do that?

Getting started - for me, this is where my painting peaked.  No, not quite the blank canvas, but I painted the sand background using three colors and I was really pleased with how it turned out. 
Blank canvas, palatte of paint - what could possibly go wrong?
CC and Loretta - aren't they cute?!

I had my cell phone out, intending to take pictures along the way to document the process, but I got so involved with painting that I ended up taking very few.  Here's one of our teacher chalking on the outlines of the shells for me:
You can see the inspiration painting on table.  After I did my background, I was a little paralyzed with where to start on the shells, so I'm glad the teacher offered to help with the chalking.
CC channeling her inner Van Gogh?
They were doing a side-by-side painting, so their circles needed to match up.

As I began painting my shells, I realized that this was more difficult than I anticipated.  Most of them weren't one flat color, even before shading, so I was playing with mixing up colors, and even with the chalk outlines, I wasn't having the greatest time making of course I'd try to correct them, which would just make the shell bigger.  I finally figured that I could "fix" that when I did the outlines/outer shading, so I managed to stop trying to get the perfect shape (Ooh, metaphor for weight loss?  Conceal some figure flaws with clothing??). 
Midway through, still optimistic that shading was going to bring it all together.

At one point, I looked at my painting and saw a chili pepper, a croissant, and a fish - and yes, they were all supposed to be shells!  Shading.  Lots of shading, right?  Well, sort of.  As our class progressed, I knew I wasn't going to end up with a masterpiece, but I really enjoyed the process.  I got into it more than I thought I would, and I didn't go down that "I suck, I can't paint, why am I bothering" path that has plagued me throughout other artistic attempts throughout my life.
The finished painting.  I sent this shot to a friend, who responded back "why is there an acorn on the beach?" - and of course, now I see an acorn in addition to the chili pepper, croissant, and fish.  SHELLS, people...they are all shells!
CC and Loretta's painting came out great.  I heard later that CC's diploma was moved in order to hang their artwork, which made me laugh...a heartfelt painting beat out a Master's degree!

I know this post came off as pretty lighthearted, but the experience has stayed with me because for once, I didn't get irritated at myself over my lack of ability and go all scribblescrabble on the painting.  I don't know if it's a combination of maturity (which is always up for discussion), or the fact that over the last several years I've challenged myself to do things that I am not particularly good at, like an obstacle race, or running (I'm not good at it, but I am persistent), or heck, even changing my lifestyle when it comes to diet and exercise.  All I know is that I sure had a different attitude while working on my painting and it made for a really enjoyable afternoon spent with friends.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Mishmash

I got a promotion at my volunteer job last week!  I'm sure you are wondering how it's possible to get a promotion when you aren't getting paid, but work with me here...these are the words that the volunteer coordinator said to Rosalie and I (my co-volunteer), so who are we to quibble?  Long story short, we took it upon ourselves to rearrange the items in the jewelry display case in a more pleasing manner, and not only did it look much better, but in the week between when we first did it and when we returned to the gift shop, some of the jewelry had actually sold!  After the volunteer coordinator told us how pleased she was with our work, she said that we were officially in charge of the jewelry display, which resulted in Rosalie and I high-fiving each other - always nice to get confirmation of a job well done.  I finally remembered to take some pictures of the case yesterday - all the glass and lights made it difficult to get a decent shot, but here's what it looks like now:
Working with what we had - I think it turned out pretty nice.  

Yesterday, we received a bunch of new scented warmer melts.  We were asked to fix the display to highlight them (they are seasonal, so there were a lot of pumpkin and apple scents).  Rosalie and I were faced with a wall of these, and after a couple minutes of deliberation, decided to place the new scents at eye level, with the older stuff above and below them.  We grouped everything by scent range, and also by color.  Later on, the volunteer who does the displays for the entire store (it's an overwhelming job) came in and, before she looked at that wall, asked if we could fix the scented melts.  We told her we just finished, and she said "oh good - did you put the newest ones at eye level?" - BINGO!  I can't help but think that all my years of shopping are paying off, because that's where I instinctively thought they should go.


Speaking of the gift shop, I am getting lots of practice with keeping a neutral face - especially when someone is buying a new baby gift.  Of course I want to share in their excitement - oftentimes, a new grandparent, aunt, or uncle will rush down within moments of the baby being born to buy a gift.  Naturally, I offer my congratulations, and ask the baby's name.  Ooohhh my.  My, my, my.  There are some interesting choices being made, and I do believe I heard the worst for a set of twin boys yesterday...let's just say that naming your children after a gun manufacturer might be about the most redneck thing ever.  But they got an "isn't that clever" from me, along with a smile and, of course, my congratulations.  Babies are wonderful.  However, these babies might choose to go by their middle names later on in life, is all I'm sayin'.


Remember when I bought the new pillows for my family room?  You, like I, probably thought I was doing that to make the room look nicer.  Well, Paco thought otherwise - these are for him.  This dog loves the pillows and is always snuggling on them:
I disturbed his beauty rest with my picture taking...


Sit and Knit update:  I finished one sock and have started on the other, but I'll wait to show you them when they're both finished, as they are opposites of each other and should look super cute together.  I'm also midway through that shawl, and I had a request for a baby hat, so I'll be getting started on that in the next day or so.  It's fun to have different projects going at the same time - when I get a little tired of one, I just switch to another.


Tomorrow is a big day for us - we will be running 10 miles.  I am crossing my fingers and toes that the weather forecast holds true, and it will be in the 50s on Saturday morning - OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE!!!  Running 10 miles is never going to be easy, but not doing it in sauna-like conditions would really be nice.  

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WWU - 9 Miles!

Whew, it's been a long time since I ran 9 miles - we're talking last January!  Lucky me, I have a lot of 9 milers (and 10, and 11, and 12...) still to come over the next few months.

I was so happy to see that Loretta was feeling better and was able to run again.  She'd been out for a non running-related issue; while it's never fun to be sick, at least it wasn't caused by running.  Anyway, because there was no way she should attempt 9 miles after several weeks off, we did a different route so that she could turn back toward the park and finish with 5 miles for the day.  Overachiever that she is, she ended up running 6 miles!  CC and I left her at the 4.5 mile mark and continued on our way, and I have to say, it wasn't bad, this 9 miles, especially considering that it was warmer than predicted; we were supposed to be in the high 60s, but I was disappointed to see the car temperature reading 72 degrees as we drove to the park, and naturally, it was still super humid, too.  I can't help but think how much nicer those 9 miles will feel when we get a crisp, cool morning...probably not for another month, but hey, I can dream, right?!

I started using my Orange Mud HydraQuiver again a couple of weeks ago - until then, I'd been OK with using my Nathan handheld bottle, but all of a sudden, I was just plain OVER having to hold something in my hand.  I think having the bigger water bottle with the HydraQuiver has been a big help with my fueling for the longer runs, as it holds 24 ounces (compared to 8 ounces in my handheld) - I'm drinking more water, which not only is helping with staying hydrated, but it's also helping dilute the intensity of the GU gels that I use for fuel.
Recipe for a successful run, right here!

Speaking of fuel, I don't eat anything before I run, so I need to stay on top of that during my long runs - I don't like to wait until I feel like I'm getting tired; I'd rather stay ahead of fatigue instead of chasing it.  I took a GU at miles 3 and 5, and then at mile 7 I had a few Honey Stinger energy chews, just to get me through the last couple of miles.  This worked out great, and I had enough energy left to push the last mile, which ended up being our fastest by nearly a minute and a half!  Now that is a nice way to finish up a long run.

After everyone came in and we relaxed at the park for a bit, we headed to Blue Baker, where I tried doing something different for breakfast.  My stomach has been bothering me for a month or so now, every Saturday.  Much as I didn't want to think this, I figured it was from the breakfast food - my gallbladderless body sometimes doesn't like certain things.  Well, I finally remembered that my stomach used to always hurt after a long's not the food, it's just how my body reacts to all the miles.  So this time, I brought some protein powder that I mixed up at the restaurant, and over the course of about 2.5 hours had that, coffee, some bacon, and half a cinnamon twist.  I left feeling good, and I didn't end up with a stomach ache at all!  Kinda wish I'd realized this earlier, but hey - we still have several months of long runs ahead, so I'll continue to do this and hopefully won't spend the rest of my Saturdays in misery.

P.S.  I just checked, and the discount code still works if you click the link for Orange Mud and want to order any of their products - "MYJOURNEY" will get you 10% off. 


I'm happy to report that Jeff, Loretta, and I were able to run in our neighborhood on Monday with no sign of that aggressive dog.  I will admit to feeling a little trepidation as we approached the corner where he came at us, and between that plus worrying that I might accidentally flip the switch on the canister and mace myself, it wasn't the most mentally relaxing of runs but we made it.  Yesterday just Jeff and I ran, and it went something like this:  "!@#$% my legs feel dead!  !@#$% this humidity!  !@#$% running!"  So there you have it...nine miles?  No problem.  A 30-minute run?  Bah humbug.  They can't all be winners, but I guess if I'm going to have a bad run, I'd rather it be the short one.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Problems, Problems?

I swear, it's like we've been living in an episode of "This Old House" lately, only our show would be called "This Damn House" - in the last week we've had to have a plumber, a roofer, and an air conditioning repairman come out.  Now, our house is 15 years old and I understand that things are starting to wear out, but ugh, all of this at once is not fun.  A pipe near the kitchen sink had cracked due to the house settling (which is really common in Texas - well, the settling, not particularly the pipe cracking).  Naturally, it was in the wall, which meant the plumber had to cut a hole there to repair it:
Ya think anyone will notice this?  

Then our A/C went out - on a Friday night, of course.  Our trusted repairman was out of town until Monday morning, so we got to enjoy the 96 degree days full on.  It doesn't really cool down here at night (yet); needless to say, neither of us slept very well for three nights.  I was so happy to see our repairman at my door on Monday morning that I didn't care what was wrong, I just wanted it fixed.  Turns out the condenser fan motor was shot.  Easy replacement, but another hit on the checkbook.

On Thursday, roofers were here, replacing damaged tiles from our trees and other weather-related damage, plus they fixed the flashing around the chimney that had never been properly done.  I got to escape the noise for several house as it was my day to volunteer at the hospital, but poor Paco must have been traumatized by all the banging, as he stuck like glue to my legs once I came home.  There was all kinds of stuff being tossed off the roof:
I bet it's kind of fun to throw things off the roof once you're finished with them...

I had a little bit of money set aside and we planned on putting in some much-needed new carpet and flooring, but I'm not sure there's going to be enough left to do that now.  However, I can't help but be reminded of something a friend of mine used to say whenever anyone would gripe about a car repair, or having to mow their lawn, or deal with home repairs...he'd say "You have a CAR?"  or "You have a HOUSE?" - and it was a reminder of how lucky we were to have these issues; due to some poor choices in his younger years, my friend spent many years living in a men's shelter, before turning his life around and becoming a homeowner.  He always said things like "I GET to mow my lawn" in an awestruck way, and that has stayed with me.  So I got to have my leaky pipe repaired, and I got to have my A/C fixed, and I got to have my roof repaired, and I know that I'm lucky that these are my problems. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Mishmash

I have been on a roll with knitting lately!  I finished a pair of socks, started another pair, and frogged a shawl in favor of a more interesting one.

First up, the finished socks:
Sock pattern is my basic toe-up formula, yarn is Painted Tiger, colorway is Grand Old Flag .

The socks look a little different from each other because I used the Fish Lips Kiss heel pattern for the toe on one.  It worked, but it was a little more challenging than I'd like - half of the stitches needed to be kept "live" on a separate needle and while it feels and fits fine, I didn't want to mess with that for the second sock.  For that one, I used Judy's Magic Cast On for the toe, which is fast becoming my tried-and-true way to start a sock.  I don't mind that they are fraternal, rather than identical twins - keeps it interesting!

Here's the start of my new pair of socks - I have to knit to the 7.5 inch mark on this ruler before I can start the heel:
The yarn is Shibui sock - I bought it over three years ago.  As it turns out, I really like it, but naturally, it's been discontinued.

The other project I started this week is the Brickless shawl, designed by Martina Behm.  I was knitting a Yowza Weigh-It shawl with this yarn, but I lost interest in it, and the project had languished for about six months before I finally admitted defeat.  Luckily for me, in the meantime I'd come across the Brickless pattern, so I frogged the original shawl and cast on the new one:
After just a few hours of knitting - there are three different sections that should keep me more interested in finishing this.

Here's what the Yowza shawl looked like:
Row upon row of garter stitch, with just an increase at each end - and I was supposed to use that entire skein of yarn!  It was a little too boring for me.

I read someone's project notes on the Brickless shawl, and they recommended putting each section of the pattern on an index card, so it would be easier to focus on that particular part - I did that, and it's working out great:
Secret language of knitters written here!

Between these projects and the new fall television season, I'm getting a lot of knitting done.  And one of these days, it will be cool enough that I'll get to wear my new treasures!


Not a lot going on this weekend - we have nine miles to run on Saturday.  I think I'm going to approach it like I'm running three 5K's in a row.  We'll see if that makes a difference, mentally.  The weather isn't looking particularly cool, so it's still going to be more of a challenge than it has to be.  But the good thing about running nine miles first thing on Saturday morning?  Guilt-free lazing around for the rest of the day!

Have a great weekend!