Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Mishmash

First off, it's my mother's birthday today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!  I am feeling pretty pleased with myself because I managed to get her gift mailed in plenty of time this year...some years her birthday sneaks up on me.  She's fun to shop for, because pretty much if I like something, I can bet she will, too.  This year I got her some _____ and some _____.  I really liked the _____ especially and might have bought some for myself, but there was only one available, darn it.  (I can't write what I got her until I know she's opened them, and she might wait until dinner tonight for all I know)  Anyway, I hope you have a great birthday, Mom!

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I was perusing the Target ad last Sunday when something caught my eye:
See what's in the bottom left cube?

Here's the original:
I don't know what's worse, that my possessions are becoming retro-cool, or that I still have them in the first place!

For the record (haha, see what I did there?), this is still full of my 45s, even though I have no way of playing them.  This was part of my birthday present from when I turned 11.  I received a record player, records, the "Platter-Pak" as it's noted on the back of the box, and apparently a pair of roller skates, which I'm only remembering because I can see them in the picture:
Me, my cousin Tara, friends Erin and Jenny examining the records.
Seeing these titles makes a lot of sense as to why I know all the words and sing along to them whenever they are played on the 70s station on satellite radio in my car - which Jeff does not appreciate, by the way.  He isn't impressed with my taste in music.  I say he's missing out on some good tunes!

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I took a basic sewing class on Wednesday - it's not that I don't know how to sew, but I don't know exactly what I'm doing.  Seventh grade Home Ec was a lot of years ago!  There were only three of us in this class, so we had lots of one-on-one time with the instructor, who was really good.  I feel like she gave us just enough information without overwhelming us.  One thing we did was to get familiar with our sewing machines.  I learned how to attach the buttonhole foot and make a buttonhole, which was probably more thrilling than it should have been, but hey - it's the little things, right?  Here's my first buttonhole:
Seriously, I was amazed that I managed to make my machine do this!

At the end of the class, we whipped up these little tissue-pack holders:
I can't help but think that between sewing this, and being a knitter, I'm cementing my status as an old lady way before I'm actually old...

I'm hoping that by taking this class, I'll be less intimidated by my machine and will actually start sewing with it.  I made two pillows over a year ago and haven't touched it since, which is silly.  I'll have to go peruse patterns and get some inspiration to sew something - I'm not sure what I'll choose to make, but you can bet it will include a buttonhole!

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I finished another sock - here's a sneak peek of the pair, complete with a Paco photo-bomb:
I think my dog is the Kim Kardashian of pets - always needing to be in selfies!

More on these socks soon - I have to run now.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday Workout Update - Last Easy Run

Our schedule for this training season is more intense than it's been in the last couple of years (read, when I was in charge and eased everyone into the long runs), and it ramps up the mileage very quickly.  Saturday's three miler was the last "easy" run...after that, we'll be doing 5, 6, and 7 miles - yikes.  I was determined to enjoy those three miles!

Loretta was back and ready to run, and run we did!  We did 1:30/1 intervals and she did great.  This run was fun because both groups (the half and the full) were doing three miles, and it was an out-and-back route, so we got to see everyone as they made the turnaround.  We started our run 30 minutes earlier than the previous two weeks, and that helped with it not feeling so miserably hot - plus there was a slight breeze, which also helped to cool down our sweaty selves.

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Hill workouts are on our schedule beginning this week.  So after running for 35 minutes on Monday morning, Julia, Loretta, CC, Cary, Brian, and I met early Tuesday morning at our hill and tackled it in various ways.  Loretta, CC, and I walked it twice before running it twice.  I'm more than a little paranoid about aggravating my hamstring with hill repeats, so I'm being extra cautious.  Same goes for Loretta with her hip, and CC with her foot - at least I have company with this.  I swear, once you've gotten a running injury, you go on high alert to avoid getting it again.

I have to say that waking up super early to go run hills doesn't sound like something anyone in their right mind would want to do, but we had such a fun time - the conversations happening as we walked to the base of the hill made it all worthwhile.  I'm really lucky to have such a good group of running friends.  Here's our sweaty, post-run picture:
Julia, me, Loretta, CC, and Cary - Brian was the man behind the camera.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Too Short, Too Tall

Being an altitudinally-challenged person has always made clothes shopping difficult.  Rare is the time when I can actually try on a pair of pants and have them fit, length-wise.  I've gotten used to having to pay for alterations, but it's more than just hemming that makes buying pants challenging; sometimes, by the time I get the pair of perfect-in-every-other-way jeans shortened, I've lost the style (especially if it was a pair of bootcut jeans - they can get really funky looking once you lose 5 inches from the bottom of the leg).  And having spent a lot of time over the years shopping with a similarly-challenged mother, as well as my best friend, we've all lamented our frustrations over not being able to easily buy clothes that fit our short legs.

"Tall people have it so easy!"  we'd grumble.
"They can buy off the rack and not have to pay for hemming!"  we'd complain.
"Everything they try on looks good!"  we'd whine.

Well, as I discovered on Saturday, even tall people have it rough when it comes to shopping for clothes.  My friend Andi and I made the trek to Nordstrom in Houston to check out their anniversary sale.  Andi needed clothes and I was all too happy to come along for the ride.  We had a wonderful salesperson who made some great suggestions and brought in lots of items, but it was funny - while Andi would try on pants and I'd see how good she looked in them, she'd see that they were a bit too short.  And that happened a lot.  It was a weird concept for me to wrap my brain around, because in my world, that just doesn't happen!  After a while, I decided to try on some jeans and I have to say, it was pretty funny when I came out of the dressing room to show Andi what I deal with, in the form of them being way too long.  We decided that somewhere between the two of us, there was a person who could buy a pair of pants without our difficulties.

Still, I will say that Andi looked amazing in most of the clothes she tried on.  Would you believe she hardly bought anything, though?  I kept saying "if I looked like you in that top/jeans/skirt, I'd buy it" - but she was choosier than me.  I mean, look at what she turned down:
I loved this top on Andi.  But the hemline was asymmetrical, and that felt weird to her. 

It was interesting to shop with someone different.  As much as I pushed her to try on different things, she did the same to me when it came to shoes.  You see, for my volunteer job I have to wear closed-toed shoes, and I don't have any summery shoes that aren't sandals.  So I've been wearing my heavy, wintery pair of clogs, and boy have they gotten hot now that our weather is consistently in the high 90s.  Andi kept telling me to get a pair of flats, but how many short people do you know who own flats?  Plus, I was sure they had no arch support and were not going to work for me.  Well, I was wrong, and I came home with these:
Gotta love Paco, always ready to get in on the photo shoot. 

I also bought a pair of very nice jeans, which, while expensive, were at least on sale.  And I have to give props to Nordstrom, because I was able to get them hemmed FOR FREE.  And they're shipping them to me, once the hemming is done, for free.  I'll have to remember this next time I need a pair of pants...Nordstrom likes short people!

So after we spent all day shopping, we stopped at a Marshalls/Home Goods before we left the big city.  While I tried on lots of tops at Nordstrom, I didn't love any enough to buy them...but at Marshalls?  I found two that worked great!
Funny, it doesn't look like she's that much taller than me...oh wait, I was standing on a curb for this picture!
Too tall, too short...but just right when it comes to our friendship.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Mishmash

I love it when all of my wild Fiestaware colors come together to make a pretty table setting:
Now, the $64,000 question is, did we actually sit at the table and eat dinner there?  Answer:  Yes - and I immediately washed the plates so I could re-set the table again!

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It's been a while since I've posted any knitting pictures!  I've been plugging away on socks - I'm very close to finishing one pair, and then I need to cast on the second sock of some really cool self-striping yarn that I found.  Then, I'll be all caught up and can start some more socks, woohoo!  With the heat, it's nice to not have a lot of wool sitting in my lap as I knit...these little socks are perfect for summertime knitting.  Here's a pair that I finished recently:
 Yarn is Adriafil Knitcol, colorway is Kandinsky Phantasy.  Pattern is Toe-Up Socks using German Short Rows by Staci Perry (but I used the Fish Lips Kiss Heel).

The yarn did all the work in making the pattern and stripes, and I loved it.  I probably should have made these socks a tiny bit bigger, but I was following the sock pattern exactly instead of checking to see how it worked with this particular yarn.  Sock newbie mistake, what can I say?  I can get them on my feet, but I'll have to give them a test wear when the weather gets cooler and see if they're comfortable.  Otherwise, they might have to go to someone with smaller feet...and I will only cry a little - I really like these socks!

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Geez, you leave town for a week, then spend another week hibernating because of the heat, and suddenly there's a weed takeover in the front yard!  Sunday morning, Jeff and Paco did their best to take care of the situation:
Paco doesn't eat grass all that often, so it was funny that he immediately began to "help" Jeff with the weeding.
Of course Kip had to come over and disturb Paco.  There was some growling going on, as Paco was SURE that Kip wanted his weeds.
 
Weeds were more appealing than growling at Kip, so Paco went back to work.
 
Kip:  "Dis boring.  Why yu want weeds?  Mebbe if lizard on dem, sure..."  
 As soon as it was free, Kip appropriated Jeff's kneeling towel.  Because, cat.
 
 Meanwhile, Paco took a break from his hard work and hung out with me...
 Doing what I do best - drinking coffee and supervising the yard crew. 

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We are running a little earlier tomorrow morning, so hopefully it won't feel terrible.  You sure can tell we're in the depths of summer heat when all I hope for with a long run is that it isn't terrible!  No, it'll be fun because I'll be with my running buddies.  And we can suffer together, bwahaha!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WWU - And It Begins Again...

Running club, that is.  We've had two Saturday group runs already, plus I'm following the weekday training schedule, which has us running Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  For me, the training is starting earlier than I need it, because my goal race is the Houston half marathon in mid-January.  But the official goal race of our running club is the BCS marathon/half marathon, which is in mid-December, so that's why our group begins so early. 

However, I have a bit of a different goal this season.  My running buddy Loretta is back, and I want to run Houston with her.  Now, she's also going to run BCS because she had to defer her entry last year when she had that pesky hip stress fracture, so she'll be doing that race with CC, who, if you'll recall, ran Houston with me last January.  It's the circle of life, runner-style!  Anyway, I'm going to run whatever intervals Loretta feels comfortable with, at whatever pace that works for her.  It's all about getting her to the start lines of these races healthy and ready to have a fun time.

The first Saturday, we had three miles on tap, and both CC and I ran with Loretta, doing 1:1 intervals.  She did great, especially considering she hadn't been able to run for a couple of months - she'd had some hip pain, so her doctor advised rest, and then simply walking for a while, so she's starting from scratch again.  And even though it was hot and sunny, I barely noticed it because I was focused on how Loretta was feeling during the run.

The second Saturday was pretty rough.  Loretta and CC were off at a conference, so I ran with Cary and Andi.  It was after 7:00 am when we started, the sun was out and it was 79 degrees with humidity hovering around 94%.  We did 2:1 intervals for four miles, with an occasional extra bit of walking thrown in.  Running in July, in Texas, is just not fun...and having to do it with the sun out makes it extra challenging.  Next week we'll start at 6:30 am, so while it will still be stupid hot and humid, at least the sun won't be beating down on us.  Small favors, I guess.

The running during the week is going fine, although my legs protested a bit when I ran two days in a row.  They were all "hey now, we usually get more rest than this, what are you doing to us??" but I shut 'em down pretty quick - might as well get used to this, legs!

The best part about this training season has been the fact that I'm not the organizer of our running club anymore.  I get to show up a few minutes before start time, socialize with my friends, run, and then socialize some more.  I don't have to worry about which runners are still out, or get everyone together for a seminar, or get someone registered, or gather up all of the stuff and load up the car afterward - and it's WONDERFUL.  After two years of that, I am really enjoying just being a runner...now if I could fast forward through the dog days of our summer heat, I might actually begin to be a decent runner!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cleaning Out My Closet; Clearing Space in My Mind

Fifteen years ago last month, we moved into our current house.  We added some shelves to the closet in the guest room and loaded them up with our treasures.  For the last fifteen years, we've added to that closet but haven't removed anything.  And while some things are meant to be saved, other stuff was just taking up space, so for the last week, I've been working on clearing out the clutter.  One trip to Goodwill, several bags of trash, and two piles of stuff for our kids to take (one will get their treasures next month, and we'll deliver the other pile to North Carolina later this year) later, and I can finally breathe.  It's something that needed to be done but while I was in the midst of a very tiny spot on the floor, surrounded by ALL THE STUFF, I wondered if I'd ever see my way clear to the finish.

I remember feeling this same way when I was just a few months into losing weight.  I was making progress, sure, but it was all dependent on me and how much effort I put into it.  It felt like I was always thinking about what I should be eating, or what I ate, and if what I was doing was the best way to get to my goal.  I had to make sure I kept the house stocked with the healthy foods I was eating so that I could stay on my path.  It felt like I was constantly going to the grocery store for fresh fruit and veggies - it took a concerted effort to eat right.

I woke up thinking about what I was going to eat that day.  I thought about how I would get some exercise in - back then, I was riding my bike in the evenings, so that thought stayed with me all day long until I finally did it.  I was discovering that, after a few months of weight loss, my clothes were not only getting loose, they actually didn't fit - and I had a growing pile of too-big clothing in my closet that I kept adding to every week.  Of course, seeing my clothing options diminish meant I needed to get a few new things to wear, but how long would these smaller sizes fit me before they'd (hopefully) be added to that pile? 

It surrounded my thoughts, this whole weight-loss business.  It touched so many more areas in my daily life than I initially thought necessary.  Much like that spare closet, it was something that I was in charge of - yes, I could get some help, but the real work was all on me.  I'm grateful that making my way through that closet of treasures didn't take me 18 months, like losing weight did, but it did take some intestinal fortitude to make myself walk down that hallway at some point each day and tackle another box.  And now I'm done.  Except for the photographs.  They might just take me 18 months to get through.  But I did get them loosely organized into boxes all on one shelf, so I'm calling it done for now...and I don't have to think about it any more.

Just like all the effort it took me to lose weight, the effort of cleaning out that closet had some unexpected rewards:
Straight outta the early 70s, it's my Minnie Mouse watch!

Of course, even this needed some work:
I scrubbed the band as best I could, glued it back together, and boom - Minnie and I were reunited!

I'm glad I finally made the effort to clean out that closet.  I feel lighter.  I don't have so much stuff weighing me down, and in the process, I found some buried treasures that I'd forgotten I had, and it's good to bring them out into the light of day.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Mishmash - Breaking Bad, White Sands, Ten-Dollar Quarters

When we left Santa Fe, we drove an hour to Albuquerque, where we were to spend the night.  We went on a mini tour of running stores, looking for "run New Mexico" shirts, and then we decided to check out some of the locations where Breaking Bad was shot.  These were all easily Googleable, and surprisingly, within a few miles radius of each other.  First up was the A1A Car Wash, or Mister Car Wash, as it's really called:
It was huge!  Weird to see it in person.  If we were in our own car (rather than a rental), we might have gone through the wash, just for fun.

Then we drove by Los Pollos Hermanos, which is really a chain of restaurants called Twisters (their specialty is burritos).  Finally, we drove by Walter White's house, which was just off a main street.  We felt like creepers as we approached it, and then, when we saw the owner sitting in the garage, there was no way we were going to stop and take a picture!  It was both bizarre and fun to see the actual house in person, and this week, I've watched some episodes of Breaking Bad with a friend (got her hooked on it), so it's really weird to see the house now.

After feeling like creepers, we didn't go to the other locations, like the duplex where Jesse and Jane lived, or Saul's office.  Apparently we are not really cut out for the life of a paparazzi.

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The next morning, we had to drive to El Paso, but Jeff wanted to make a detour to White Sands National Monument.  He's been there previously, when he had to work in Alamogordo, but this was to be my first visit.  Getting there from Albuquerque was a drive!  It took about 3.5 hours, and at times we were in the middle of nowhere.  But eventually, we could see it off in the distance:
Click on the picture and you'll see the white line in the horizon - that's all sand!

I think we were still about 30 minutes away at this point.  Eventually we arrived - right before noon.  In July.  In the desert.  Hot doesn't really describe how it felt.  But we didn't let a little heat stop us - after all, we're from Texas!
A quick stop at the visitor center...
It's an eight mile drive into the dunes - at first there's vegetation among the sand, but soon it becomes all white.  You need sunglasses if you come here - that sand was blinding!
They had saucers for sale at the visitor center, and I'm sorry we didn't do that, because once we saw the pristine dunes, we wished we could slide down them.
Climbing a dune - although the sun was burning down, the sand was cool to walk on barefooted...weird.  I've hotfooted it across so many beaches in my life that this was a pleasant surprise.
Partway up.
Coming down a really steep dune - I sank up to my knees with every step!
OK, not gonna lie - this was fun, even without saucering down.

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We went back to the visitor center to get a magnet as our little souvenir, but while I was looking for THE one, Jeff came across this:
Two New Mexico quarters.  Fifty cents.  For $9.99 - I wonder if they have actually sold any of these?  I mean, I can look in my change bucket right now and probably come across a NM quarter - but kudos to whoever thought up this souvenir!

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Have a great weekend - our only plans are to run tomorrow morning, eat breakfast with our friends (of course), and then stay inside - we are all about the air conditioning right now!