Monday, July 25, 2011

A 5K race and some works in progress

Lindsay Matthews Memorial 5K
If only the race had started at 8 AM it would have been a perfect day for a run.  I woke up earlier in the morning to rain, and hoped that the rain would stick around so that we'd stay cool for the run.  No such luck.  It was in the mid-80s and sunny for the race, which really was nice minus the humidity that made it sticky to breath.  Cait came with me and we ran into Katie which made for a pleasant morning despite the heat.  Cait took off ahead of me shortly after the first mile and I ended up doing more of a walk/run for the last mile and a half.  It started out on the road, wrapped around back to the park it started at and then ran on some gravel, up a hill (short but steep, Ithaca would have been disappointed in me for walking it) and then finished on a soccer field.  It was nice to have a change in surface, though running on the gravel when you're not used to it takes a lot out of you.  I have to say this race had great food for the after party: pizza, pasta, salad, veggies, fruit, drinks of all sorts.  Not that I go to a race for the after party, but it is nice when they provide more than fruit and water.  I finished in 33:15 which is reasonable for the heat but not quite fast enough to support a trip to the yarn store.  There is another 5K this coming weekend so I think I'll try again and see how things go!

Project: Late February Lace Scarf
I started this scarf yesterday as a break from the easy straight knitting I've been doing a lot of. I had started it back in February (thus the name) but got busy with school and kept having to rip it out so I put it aside for a bit.  I finally decided to pull it back out now that my mind is free and I don't have anything to really focus on.  It had been going quickly but once I finished the increases I haven't been able to get past line 5 of Chart B.  I keep losing a stitch somewhere though I can't figure out where.  I'm going to start again from the beginning of Chart B (Thank god for lifelines) but this time I'm going to count stitches every row and be very focused on the pattern: no talking, no distractions.  It is turning out very nice and I really hope I can get past this one spot in the pattern.
Project: Smittens
 This project is a fun on going project.  I'd go insane if I tried to make all 24 mittens at once but I've gotten to the point with the pattern where I almost don't need to look at the pattern anymore.  I plan to make it into an Advent calendar and put chocolates in each mitten for my parents and brother.  I'll have to finish it by Thanksgiving in order to set it up for my parents before I go back to school.  I have 14 mittens done, 10 to go and 3 months to knit them.  About 3 mittens/month if I can get one more done before August!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finished Object: Ocho the Octopus

Pattern: Octopus by Tamie Snow
in Tiny Yarn Animals by Tamie Snow

Yarn: Sugar 'n' Cream Ombres and Prints, 100% cotton

What I learned: Bent yarn needles are life savers for amigurumi!  I had had the parts crocheted for a while... a good week or two, but I was dreading putting him together.  First of all the pattern ended with a hole in the bottom of the body which I didn't know how to work with and I couldn't figure out how to place the legs.  I finally decided to crochet the hole shut and then use straight pins to pin the legs on to see how they would fit on.  This is what I came up with:
I thought he turned out pretty good, I like the stitch definition better with this yarn than what I used for the hippo, but it's also a lot newer yarn so that may have something to do with it.  I also really liked how the circumference turned out to be just perfect for the yarn and allowed the red, white and blue to spiral instead of clump on one side like I originally feared it would do.

Saspy meets Ocho:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Elm Street Bakery

I have always considered East Aurora to be one of those ALMOST perfect towns: walkable, friendly and historical East Aurora has a particular charm you just don't seem to find everywhere. I could go on for hours about all the things I love about this town, but I'll save that for another post.
What is the ALMOST I speak of? 
East Aurora has lacked a bakery.  I have always dreamed of living somewhere in which I could walk to get bread in the morning for breakfast, or muffins or grab a cup of coffee with a slice of coffee cake. A place that would allow me to live as the French do: never eating a day old piece of bread.
Well, as of July 16th, 2011 East Aurora became a little bit more perfect in my eyes:
I woke up early Saturday morning, jumped on my bike and rode the half a mile to the bakery in order to make them aware that they are wanted in East Aurora.  We were most certainly not the only ones who had decided to make this point.  When we arrived the bakery had every outdoor table filled and a long line of eager patrons waiting to taste the bread.  These lines persisted for the entire day!
We decided to get a few different items in order to get a good idea of what they have to offer.  We got zucchini bread, coffee cake and a loaf of Three-Seed Sourdough bread.  They also had lemon blueberry muffins, cookies, and a pastry I can't remember the name of.  They were serving Gimme! Coffee from Ithaca, NY which made it feel even more like home.  They will eventually be roasting their own coffee but their roaster got waylaid en route from the factory.  I'm really excited to try their coffee roast!
I have to say the sourdough bread was the best sourdough bread I've eaten outside San Francisco, no joke.  It had the distinct sour taste that sadly most breads who claim to be sourdough actually lack.  I can't wait to return tomorrow and replenish the loaf that is now just a memory.
I found out that it wasn't really necessary to make the bakery feel welcome: they completely sold out on Saturday and didn't open on Sunday because they didn't have anything to sell!  I'm so glad that the bakery received such a wonderful welcome and I look forward to seeing what it becomes in the future.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

July 20, 2007, 11:30 PM
I sat outside the closed shops of Petaluma along with my cousin, his girlfriend and some of their friends, we lined the streets that led to the local bookstore waiting for midnight to strike so that we could crack open the last installment of the Harry Potter series.  Will he die? Or will evil win out over good? Questions of all sorts went through our brains as we discussed possibilities but mostly just enjoyed the community that had come out to celebrate the release of the book.  Some people had been lined up for hours at this point with blankets, food, music and chairs.  There was such an excitement that went through the crowd as the hour crept closer and closer.  
Once I had the book in my hands I started it immediately but unlike most people who stayed up all night to get to the end as quickly as possible I took my time.  I enjoyed the prose and let the story develop paying utmost attention to plot twists and answers to the many questions that had been created in past books.  When I finally finished the book (took me about a week) Harry Potter's saga had ended.  I was sad, but even good things can't last forever.

July 14, 2011, 11:30 PM
I arrived at the Aurora Theater around 11 PM.  Crazy lines that were certainly the situations of Regals across the nations didn't exist in this little hometown treasure.  I almost didn't get a ticket, but Maddie talked me into it.  I'm glad I went, the theater had put together a great event that ran smoothly with only the slightest amount of cheesy humor (Left side say "Harry" Right side say "Potter" "Harry" "Potter!" "Harry!" "Potter!"... "Pick a side!  No going both ways"...What?!?!? Somebody didn't edit too well but it at least got some genuine chuckles. It's not as funny typed out, probably had to be there)    The theater was full of excitement and throughout the movie there were cheers at points of victory for the good side.  One girl a row ahead of us was completely sobbing through the war when the casualties were shown.  I'm pretty sure I cried while reading the book but the movie didn't quite do it for me.  I enjoyed the movie over all but I can't agree with many fans' opinions that it was "the best movie yet." I thought the movie itself was full of awkward moments that just seemed like the producers needed to fill a few seconds here and there.  The fact that they separated the 7th book into 2 movies just shows that they were just trying to get as much money out of fans as possible. They made the romances, not to mention other interactions,  between characters utterly awkward and really made them feel fake and forced.  My favorite moments included Professor McGonagall overcoming Snape and Neville's speech.

I have always been partial to the books.  I always make a point of separating the books from the movies in my mind when seeing them, but still the movies have never created the excitement I had felt for the release of the books.  I never went out of my way to see the movies at midnight, though I'd tag along with friends if they were going.  To me the movies were just an excuse to make easy money on a mediocre production (the acting has improved, but it was never great.) 

It's hard to explain how I feel. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the movie. I did. I'm not saying I wish I hadn't gone at midnight. I'm glad I did.  I'm just saying I don't find the excitement in the movies that I felt in the books. The Harry Potter saga ended in 2007 for me, the movies being a way to revisit the stories in a new medium.  I sometimes wonder if there will ever be another sensation like Harry Potter that is enjoyed by all generations, hated by some, obsessed over by others  and at the same time a universal symbol throughout society. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Review: The Weird Sisters

See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much.

I picked this book up because a group on Ravelry were going to be reading it.  I ordered it from the library and when I checked it out I found out I only had it for 7 days.  I rarely finish books in 7 days because I multitask with books so much that I never really focus just on one book. I sat down immediately and started reading figuring I'd have a chance if I tried to get 50 pages in a night.

The book turned out to be a very interesting read.  It was written from the point of view of all three sisters but instead of having sections titled with which sister was telling the story you really only knew by which sisters were mentioned by name.  There was no (or hardly any) "I"s in the story and it made for a very interesting perspective. The three sisters traded off telling eachother's stories but never told their own.

Each sister was named for a character of Shakespeare: Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia. Each sister returned home for different reasons, all hiding under the fact that their mother is sick and needed help around the house.  Through the book the three characters discover things about themselves and their family that they never would have known if they hadn't returned home (or left, in some cases).  All three sisters were developed throughout the story nicely and though I read a few complaints that "nothing happened" I was never bored with the story.  I enjoyed that the plot consisted mostly of the development of the characters and who they were and would become.  For me that moved the story forward enough.

All in all this turned out to be a great summer read: quick, engaging and light. Next time you go to the beach you might want to consider bringing this one along.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Progress Report: Run 5K in 30 minutes or less

In my original goal I set I said I would run 5 days a week even if just for 15 minutes to work towards running a 5K in 30 minutes or less.  
Have I?
Not this past week.

I only ran 3 times because of the horrid excuse of heat.  And work. And being tired. And I got a book from the library that is due back tomorrow and I really wanted to finish it on time... yeah, you get the idea. I'm the queen of procrastination and excuses.

I am finding it very hard to get myself out there, but I will try again this week.  I'm going to edit the goal for the week so that it is more realistic because even though making realistic goals is the first step in creating successful goals, I still somehow don't always make realistic goals for myself.

This coming week I will:
Run 4 times (and hopefully one of them will be a successful 3 mile run!)
Workout a total of 6 days (including days I run)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Found my first sweater pattern!

Something I have always wanted to do is knit a sweater.  I have such a hard time finishing the small projects I often wonder if I'm crazy even to consider making a sweater, but I want to try.  I have looked all over the web for the "perfect first sweater" but nothing quite hit me as "the one." (I sound like I'm talking about men at a bar...)  But I think I may have found one in the Fall 2011 edition of Knitscene I picked up last night at Tops:

Pattern: Counterfort Pullover by Melissa J. Goodale
Photo copyright of Knitscene Magazine
It is a top-down construction and once I get past the yoke it's mostly shaping so it shouldn't be too intimidating.  It might even be easy enough for me to do some knitting in lecture.  I'm so excited to make this!  I really hope I make my 5K goal soon so I can go splurge on some yarn :)

~Giveaway Opportunity~
If anyone reading this also has a craft blog, go over to The Craft Book Project and fill out a survey and be entered to WIN $100 at Michael's!  Even if you don't win it's a nice way to help out a fellow blogger and crafter :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Finished Object: Beaded Purse


Pattern: Exploring Waves by Laurie Lee 
I made this as part of the group Mystery 220 on Ravelry.  Each week the moderators of the group would post a "clue" that we would knit and then wait eagerly for the next installment of the pattern.  This was the mystery from January (as embarrassed as I am to admit it).

Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull in a nice heather grey
I'm not usually big on neutral yarns.  I'll go for bright colors, fun variegates, or stripes but I rarely go for black, grey or brown.  I decided since we were putting beads on this one that I didn't want anything too crazy.  Oh, and there's a little bit of blue variegated Yarn Bee Snowflake yarn in the cord which I used to double the yarn so I could crochet the cord instead of making an i-cord as the i-cord was getting on my nerves!

What I'll remember from this project: Beads! I was slightly intimidated by the beads but after working with them a little bit they weren't nearly as hard as I thought they would be.  I used the pre-strung method and hope some day to try the other method that uses a crochet hook. 
This project really shouldn't have taken me this long but I kept getting distracted, then I brought it home for break and left the yarn and needles when I returned to school.   I am glad that I finally finished it and that it turned out nicely!


Update on 5K goal:
It has been really warm here so I haven't been great about running but I'm trying to make myself go out for a run no matter what, even if its a short run, hoping it will get me used to running in the heat.  I'm not sure the 5K on the 24th will be the goal maker but I'm going to do everything I possibly can to make it the best run possible!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Things Sassy Cat Likes

Moxie has always been a very picky cat loving tuna, cat food and cat treats and pretty much nothing else.  Sarsparilla on the other hand will eat (or at least taste) anything and everything my parents or I eat but won't touch the kitten treats unless accidentally digested by them being in her food dish.  Here's a sampling of some of the strange (and not so strange) things she just goes crazy for.

1. Greek Yogurt 
Mango preferably, but I don't think she's too picky.

2. Homemade Mac and Cheese
I haven't tried Kraft but I fear once she has tried the real stuff Kraft just won't cut it

3. Pepperoni
My aunt cut some pepperoni up for her dog... but Sassy got to it first.  Now she gets really excited whenever pizza comes through the door.

4. Tuna
We had a small single serving size of this tuna in the house and my mom dished it out to the cats as a little treat.   Moxie turned her nose up (usually Moxie goes crazy for tuna, I'm not sure if it was the brand or what it was that made her dislike it) and Sassy pretty much ate her weight in it... and then went searching for more.  While not surprising in itself, it's a good example of how picky Moxie is compared to Sassy.
 5. Fried Eggs 
Sassy goes absolutely nuts for eggs.  I find this very strange.  My dad and I both have had to eat our egg breakfasts standing in order to keep Sassy from absconding with the eggs.  We're wondering if she had been introduced to them before she came to our home because of how enthusiastic she is about them.

6. Raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
Sassy licked a plate clean of raspberry vinaigrette dressing after dinner ... I swear, we feed her. 

DISCLAIMER: we don't make a habit of feeding our cats "people food".  We have just noticed how much Sassy tries to get "people food" and thought some of her preferences were a bit strange.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Goal: Run 5K in 30 minutes or less

I know I can do this. I've run an 8K at a slightly under 10 minute/mile pace so I know it's possible to run a 5K at a less than 10 minute/mile pace. I need to get out running more often, get used to the heat and not let it become an excuse not to run.

What I need to achieve this goal? 

If When I reach my goal, I will:
Purchase yarn to start a sweater of my choice

How I plan to do it:
Go to the YMCA if I don't get up early enough to run in the morning
Run 5 days a week, even if only for 15 minutes
Workout in some way every day

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July Weekend

A weekend full of work, friends and fun.

1. Gardening
My dad has been itching to get our gardens tended to so when both my brother and I were home and both he and my mom were off of work he jumped at the opportunity to get something yardwork done. 
I tended to hostas on the side street.
Nate painted the steps with help from Mom.
Dad tended to the garden out back.

 I hadn't ever really helped my dad out in the garden but I was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable it was to be out in the fresh air with a pair of gloves, some newspapers and mulch.  It felt good to get my hands dirty (well, my gloves dirty) and work in the garden.

Gardening had many qualities that I enjoy in crafts: solitude yet social activity, end result which is visible and easy to measure, creativity/ability to put your own style into the finished product. 

2. Dinner and Baking
I made dinner on Saturday while everyone else finished up their chores. I made chicken with Lea and Perrin's Marinade for Chicken as well as tortellini with homemade Garlic Scape Pesto using the garlic scape from our organic farm share.  The pesto turned out tasty but the consistency was a bit off. I plan to try again with either more olive oil or less scape. I read another recipe that seemed to think you should cut the top of the scape off, so maybe that is where I ran into trouble.  I really liked the chicken marinade: light but flavorful.
On Sunday I made banana bread to take to my CI's house for a party before the fireworks.  I should have taken a photo of the bananas I used because they were of the perfect overripeness.  Last time I tried to make banana bread my bananas weren't ripe enough (I eat them slightly green so bananas which are turning brown are plenty ripe to me, unfortunately it just makes flavorless banana bread) and the result was horrible.  I put a bit of extra walnuts in (something about banana bread and carrot cake: the more walnuts the better!) and didn't over cook the bread. It came out quite tasty!

3. Fireworks!
Photo courtesy of JCW 

Fireworks at our local park :) I forgot to bring my camera, but my dad got some great shots with his new camera we got him for Father's Day!

4. Buffalo Zoo

We hadn't been in years so Monday Dad, Nate and I trekked off to the zoo.  They had a few new exhibist: sealions, sea otters (who slept the whole time we were there) and a rainforest!  The armadillos in the rainforest exhibit were my favorite of the day.
While Moxie is our tiger kitten:
we decided Sassy...
looked much more like an ocelot!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Book Review: Juliet, Naked (audiobook)

I finally finished Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby.  I say finally not because I didn't like it and was itching to finish, but because I was listening to it at 15 minute increments on my way to and from work through the last month or so.  This story really hit home for me.  Having just gotten out of a relationship in which I had "gotten comfortable" and had not allowed myself to see that there were better things out there hearing the thoughts of the main character, Annie, on her 15 year relationship with a man who doesn't appreciate her made me look back at my relationship with different eyes.   I really felt like Nick Hornby had plugged into my mind in the past few months and wrote down and expanded upon the many fleeting thoughts of confusion and hurt that passed through my brain.  One specific part talks about wasted time and Tucker Crowe tries to calculate how much time Annie had wasted, but comes to the conclusion that though she felt that the past 15 years were wasted, there were many things she had to have enjoyed making the time not a waste. This was a fun book to listen to.  There are three readers who read in turn depending on who the narrator is focusing on at the moment.  I definitely plan to read more books by Nick Hornby, I've actually already picked up my next one from the library: A Long Way Down.