Around the block…

and around the park!

Make room heart–I’m adding another locale in contention for “best place on earth” right after Maine and Copenhagen.  That place? Block Island.

I was lucky enough to visit for work Friday and Saturday, and it won over my heart. I don’t have a lot of pictures; I was too busy just soaking it all in. The weather on Friday was less than cooperative (most of the hour long ferry ride, I was just hoping for landfall eventually–the fog was so thick you couldn’t even see the bow of the boat), but Saturday was amazing.

I returned home late evening Saturday, just in time to carb load for Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 10K at our local Branchbrook park. I’ll spare you the suspense; the only cherry blossoms were on the adorable (yet huge) race shirt and surprise medal!

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Honestly, I approached this race half-heartedly. My training hasn’t been going particularly well, and the last few races I did last year were less than stellar. I didn’t even sign up in advance, thinking most likely I would back out.  But I made myself a deal–if I ran to the race (about 2 miles) and then ran the 10k, I’d call it even steven for the 12 miles I was supposed to log (according to my plan).

Surprise, surprise, the race was fun!  The course was undulating with some hills, but never too much.  The park, even sans cherry blossoms, held my interest.  The running crowd was a pleasant Goldilocks size (not too big, not too small).  Everything just sorta came together.  Together enough for a PR for me: 57:50 (57:33 according to my garmin–there was no timing mat at the start, and I was fairly far back).   I’m most pleased with my finish–there was a woman about 15-20 yards ahead of me from mile 3 onward.  But I sprinted hard enough at the end to overtake her!

It’s not a super great time, but my previous PR was 59:33 (ish, I think), so I’ll take it. It is a good rebound from last year and solid jumping off point for this.

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are they made to be crossed? Or yielded to?

I guess it depends on the line.

Today, on Easter Sunday, my long run called for 15 miles.  I don’t know where this came from.  I don’t run anything longer than half marathons, but in this hybrid plan I’ve concocted (using both the RLAM Own It plan and one from Runner’s World), the long runs are typically for distances longer than 13.1.  A line.  Albeit, one in the sand, but a line nonetheless.

Crossed it Hurdled it, even. With deliberation. Feeling sorta badass, even though the run was less than stellar with far too many potty stops. (now that the snow’s gone, porta potties are out in force). But there goes that line, steady at 13.1.

I also used this long weekend to work on a variety of sewing. Despite the tedium of tracing patterns and cutting fabric, I’m loving putting garments together. On the docket for this weekend was another Discrete, a reversible skirt (Osaka), and the Nell top.  I ended up with two finished garments (Discrete and Nell).  Let’s just say that Osaka needs to stay on that side of the ocean for a while.

And I was totally feeling the love for both Discrete and Nell until the Mister took the photos for this post.  First Nell: the part I loved the most about the pattern, the curved neckline, didn’t come out as planned.  And double gauze fabric (I chose a Nani-iro double gauze for the make) has a lot of give, and is actually hard to sew (mostly because ripping out seams is a bear). Also, when the instructions called for hand-finishing, I tried to sew in the ditch on the machine. Lesson learned.

I’m not typically a wearer of tunics. But I went with it as I deemed it appropriate for my age.  You see, the more I knit and sew, the more I second guess garments I find immediately appealing, wondering, is that something a woman of my age (closing in on 50) should be wearing?

Yet another line.

My newest Discrete tiptoes up to that line, and then takes a flying leap right over.

I love the cut of this jacket. But I wanted to have some fun with it, and I wanted to make it reversible so I wouldn’t have to deal with finishing the seams. And then this Echino fabric came screaming out to me from the bolt. I went with a simple gray/white dot for the lining.

With only 3 pieces, this was a simple make, and so easy to just make 2, and insert one inside the other for the lining.  But halfway through this project, I started to second guess the birds.  Maybe the long winter was too long and I was yearning for spring?

I was about to put the button on, when the front fell open, and I sorta fell in love with that look, so I moved the button down to the midriff. And I was as pleased as punch. Until the Mister was readying the phone for the pics and gasped when I put on the jacket.  Did I suddenly cross over into crazy cat lady/Red Hat territory? (not that there’s anything wrong with crazy cat ladies or red hats).

I retreated to my sewing room, slightly less satisfied.  And coincidentally, read Roobidoo’s similarly themed post.  I never thought at my age I’d be second-guessing my clothing choices.  The appeal of knitting and sewing for me is playing with color and texture. If I’m going to take the time to make something, the colors, the texture, the design–they all have to speak to me. And this did.

If this is a line, I guess I’m careening right on through, foot on the gas.

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It is March 31st

and it’s snowing as I type.

But the beer store thinks it’s summer:


It most definitely is not summer.  In protest, I left empty-handed.

This has been a busy month.  Thing 3 had many projects due. Kitten is not helpful.


She also participated in her entrepreneurial program again, with her lovely wristlets:


She nearly sold out.

She and I also took our yearly trip to Atlantic City for the annual beer festival.  No, she does not participate, but sometimes she’s called upon for assistance in the pretzel lanyard department.

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(The reason I’m in front is that I have super-long selfie arms) The beer festival gets better and better each year. The pours are slightly more generous and the powers that be have recognized the benefit of adding food vendors, which is always a plus. My favorite food vendor was the dude selling ice cream sandwiches with PIE filling! My favorite of his offering: the key lime pie ice cream sandwich.

I treated myself to a number of those, but only because I jiggered around my training schedule so that my long run was the morning of the beer festival, not the morning after–the long run was 12 miles.  I basically ran from one end of the boardwalk (by the defunct Revel casino) to the end, in a completely different town (Ventnor City), turned around and came back.  And yes, the boardwalk does come to a complete end.


It wasn’t a horrid run, but it wasn’t great either.  The weather cooperated (Mother Nature and her bizarre sense of humor decided a blizzard for the trip down would be appropriate). My last mile was supposed to be at race pace.  I got there, but it wasn’t pretty.

I’m not sure where my running is going.  The long, cold winter certainly took its toll, and although I’m putting the miles in, the speed and enthusiasm are sorta like our never-arriving spring. They peek out occasionally, but they haven’t settled in yet.

Since it’s still fairly chilly, last weekend I decided to give Jasper a go. This really tested my mettle–I had to muster all my patience (and quiet the little voices that kept saying “oh it’s good enough) to match a kajillion stripes.  I think I spent nearly 2 days matching. And re-matching, and then double-checking.  It was worth the effort:

The button is non-functioning, which is fine.  The sweatshirt fleece fabric is thick and cozy, although if I do this project again, I’ll choose something with a little less heft (this fabric is 12oz, making the seams quite thick)! But I’m pleased as punch with the outcome! Even if Thing 3 says I look like Waldo.

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Last week was an amazing week for gifts.

I got a book:


from my friend Steff, as a ‘thank you’ for moving her sculptures.  Which really wasn’t all that much work, but it’s nice to get a book out of it! And something I’m sure it will check a few boxes on my 2015 Reading Challenge (which I’m failing at spectacularly, but that’s another story).

And some lamb:


from my friend Kris, and although I did buy the lamb, I’m still counting this as a gift, because first, we got to hang out for a bit at the NJ version of the Another Mother Runner book reading/signing and second, now my Easter dinner (and dinners for many days afterwards) is taken care of. (and those two packages are just a sampling–I’ve got a whole half a lamb in my freezer!)

And some fabric:

This was a cute French pattern I found while trolling Kollabora, and that it was only 5 Euro for the PDF (which, because of the Euro’s recent downfall, translated into barely over $5) made me click “buy” immediately.  Of course there were issues with the PDF printing (I can never get European or Australian PDFs to print to 100% without losing some of the pattern), but I SIUBC (sucked it up, buttercup) because French pattern.

The best part of this pattern was that I didn’t need to take a trip to the fabric shop, as my mother had gifted me a bolt of this 100% cotton fabric from her stash.  She had bought it decades ago to make drapes for my brother when he was living in Boston.  I don’t know which surprised me more, that my mother has a stash that stretches back decades, or that my brother at one point was living in Boston.

Anyways, I channeled my inner Maria von Trapp, and just sewed and sewed. Having a bolt of fabric is freeing–I made a muslin, had Thing 2 pin the life out of it, and recut and resewed.  On the muslin, I tried French seams (as the jacket is unlined), but wasn’t pleased with the outcome.  On version two, I found a tiny bit of Liberty in my stash and quickly (well, not really quickly because it is a mind-numbing chore) made some bias strips to trim the edges and finish the seams on the inside.  Having never done that before, I screwed it up, but it looks ok, so I’m good with that.

My success with this jacket of course translated into another trip to the fabric store to get some simply amazing new fabric (with an accompanying contrast lining) for version 2.0.  Stay tuned.

Oh, and the final gift?


That was from the Mister.  He gave me Time.  To figure out….BUTTONHOLES!

And Shaz, you’re right. They are not so tough!

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at what point?

So many questions. So few answers.

At what point…will the snow melt?

Last week we were subject to yet more snow.  Compared to last year, we’ve had fewer snowfalls, but they’re anger inducingly late; thus the frustration. Last week’s came on Wednesday through Thursday. As very little had settled in the morning, I headed out for a short 4 miles. Upon taking my snowy selfie, I realized that I am at fault for the snow…I have yet to take down my Christmas wreaths, which has clearly thrown the universe into a tailspin. They will come down as soon as I unthaw.

At what point…will my long runs not suck?

Honestly, today’s long run (10 miles + 8 min Strong Finish) sucked. Last weeks (13 miles, last mile at RP) did too. So did the two weeks prior to that. Between excruciating side stitches, an inordinate number of pit stops, sub zero temps, and a whole host of other excuses, I just can’t get back into the groove. It’s a tad frustrating, and I’m wondering if my better days are just behind me and I should just suck it up, buttercup. It’s hard to know. This week we should have more typical temps, and I’m going to make an effort to be smarter about my meals (which is an excellent segue to…)

At what point…do I get to stop worrying about my pants being too tight?

I hope it’s just a hibernation thing, but again (like last winter), despite the 30 miles a week of running, regular yoga and giving up salt and vinegar potato chips for Lent, my pants seem to get tighter and tighter each week.  Even my Acne jeans, which, per their instructions, I don’t wash (thus eliminating the “oh they just shrunk in the dryer” excuse) and growing snug. ugh. Honestly, though, I think I’ve been worried about this since I’ve been 13, and it’s growing old.

But let’s turn that frown upside down!  Good things abound:

The Mister and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary!


That is us at our reception. Snow seems to be a theme of our lives, as in 1994, the week prior to our wedding was extremely snowy (my in-laws arrived from Japan on the last plane let into JFK before it closed for two days, and my 3 great aunts had to sleep in their minivan on route 80 in Pennsylvania as they drove from Indiana to NYC). Our dinner reservation got cancelled because of the snow storm, so we spent our evening shoveling and then being entertained by Frank and Claire Underwood, but lucky for us, the restaurant was able to squeeze us in on Friday night.  All was good!

Also last week, Thing 1 and I took an early morning trip into Brooklyn to help my college friend move her sculptures into a gallery for her upcoming show.  It was great to see her again (I wrote of her previous work here), and great to spend a few hours with Thing 1.


Finally, in an effort to convince Mother Nature that spring is, in fact, a good thing, I jumped the gun on a new wardrobe piece: the Bento T-shirt

I LOVE this shirt. I lengthened it about 2″, and when I do my next one, I will add just a smidge more length so I can have a more substantial hem. I made the short sleeved version without the front pockets. The fabric is a sturdy organic cotton knit from Birch Fabrics which meant that I was able to use my regular machine (good, since I don’t have a serger) and regular foot (because I was too lazy to switch out to my walking foot). My local fabric shop doesn’t have any more of this great coral color, but they do have the same pattern in a nice yellow, and I’m thinking I may have to get some of that for the Marianne Dress. But that will come after this:


(Jasper by Paprika Patterns)

An added bonus? I made this in my newly designated sewing room, and when I finished, I just left my sewing machine on the table and AMAZINGLY…the world did not end!

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Stalling out

This truly is the winter of my discontent. For such a short month, February has packed a wallop temperature-wise:

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You can see we’ve only had 2 (TWO!) days with temps at normal or above. I have forgotten what it’s like to be able to feel my legs when running, and that’s not just from the cold, it’s from wearing so many layers.  I’m going to attribute the cold (and Michelin man layers) to my consistent inability to reach my paces during training runs.

To move beyond this craptastic mood, I’ve been diligent about reading every night. I finished Murakami’s The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimagewhich I thoroughly enjoyed, although it did nothing to dissipate the lingering winter greyness. On both an up then downside, Murakami also had a short story in the New Yorker’s recent double issue, and again, while absolutely loving the story, it wasn’t, let’s say, much of a mood lifter.  I’m hoping my next book–The Hare with the Amber Eyes–turns things around.

I’ve put personal knitting on the back burner, as for work I’ve committed to “knit for Lent.” I’ve got six projects on the docket (one per week, more or less). I’ve finished the first (a cowl), and started on a beanie today. However, I’m trying to sneak in at least one more winter sweater project, because I know the minute I cast on in some super duper fuzzy yarn, spring will come. You’re welcome.

Similarly, my sewing has slowed, mostly because I haven’t gotten a chance to finish straightening up my new room.  I was much more inspired today, though, after I was given THE. MOST. FABULOUS. OF. SURPRISE. GIFTS:


Yep! That’s a La Maison Victor craft mag and Knip sewing mag!  Woot!  I’m going to attribute this to 1. a colleague’s awesome generosity and 2. the power of social media.  A few weeks ago when I was on the hunt for a sewing Belgian, my blog post (which is linked to my FB) reached a Canadian colleague who oversees an association of seafarer’s agencies in North America.  On his last trip to Rotterdam, he took time to look for LMV, and picked up Knip, because, according to him, it looked like a magazine I would enjoy.  Today this colleague was in our offices for a conference, thus making my entire 27F day so much warmer! Although I can’t read Dutch, I have an A+ in deciphering Ikea instructions, so I think I’ll be ok with sewing patterns, especially since I won’t be arguing with the Mister about which piece goes where.

Now I’m motivated to get moving. As soon as it gets above freezing…

Posted in cold, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, gifts, Haruki Murakami, Knip, knit for Lent, La Maison Victor, Lent, running, sewing magazines, The New Yorker, winter | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Talk to me

so many things out there just speak to me.

Like this:

(I think I’m supposed to be friends with her, she just doesn’t know it yet.)

And this:


(Of course I cast on for one, ignoring, yet again, the mound of projects that await me in my still yet to be organized room of my own, but–silver lining–I used re-discovered yarn from my stash!)

And this:

(This is my work ‘hood. The Wall St. stop is my subway stop. There are never that few people on the street, and I double dog dare this guy to try this on a weekday. In heels and snow, dodging tourists, especially the ones in line, or as they say in NYC, on line, anxiously waiting their photo op to pet the bull’s balls. Oh, and where’s his metro card? That’s the only thing that would keep me from making it–rifling through my damn bag for my metro card).

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I have been planning this moment for a long, long time.  Like close to 17 years.

Finally, I have a work room!


My work room is only 8’x8′, and it has been the first bedroom for each of my children, but I knew the minute we moved it, that while it is nursery size, it’s also the perfect space for a workroom.

So over the weekend, I moved almost everything of the yarn and fabric ilk in there.  After I got 90% of the stuff in there, I began to think I’ve outgrown it already. All the plastic bins? That’s yarn. There are 12 of them. What you can’t see are the several other bins and boxes (also containing yarn). The dresser is empty, and I’ll put fabric in there. I’m glad it’s all in one space, though. No more traversing 3 flights of stairs wondering where my needles/sock yarn/measuring tape/stitch holders/etc. etc. are. Also, it means I can set up my ironing board and not block access to the kitchen or den. These are all good things.

Last night I started organizing it all, and I’m flummoxed. Color? Yarn weight? Half-finished projects? So basically I cleared out all the things I will never use (2 trash bags full of tiny odds and ends) and stuff I’m giving to a coworker (because she’s got even less time than I have to knit), and I put the rest in time out for marinating, but packed away so Kitten is not tempted.

I’ve been dreaming of springtime projects, as I’m sick to death of my winter clothes, but given that our forecast is for continued below normal temps for the time being, I have plenty of time to organize (and dream).  A weekend trip to the fabric store whet my appetite.

Now that I’ve got the space, there’s no excuse at all for ignoring buttonholes!

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I totally get the snowbirds thing now. After our fourth week of below average temps, I’m basically chilled to the bone and ready to pack up and move. Nope, we haven’t had the snowfall of New England (70″ and counting), but the cold is beyond frustrating. The last time we hit “average” was Jan. 19.   Not to be a moaning Myrtle, because usually I’m ok with winter, especially of the NJ ilk.  It’s typically in the 30s and 40s and sunny with an occasional blizzard just to remind us that we are still North. But this year, gray and freezing. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I’m not doing myself any favors either.  Every morning, the Mister and I compare temps on our phones to the other locales we’ve saved on our temp app.  I’ve got Stockholm, Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam. The Mister has San Juan (PR), Bangkok, Singapore, Nagasaki. EVERYWHERE is warmer. EVEN NORTHERN EUROPE! In fact, Northern Europe is downright balmy compared to NJ.

The cold is wreaking havoc on my running. I’ve jumped into the Train Like a Mother 13.1 “own it” plan on week 3.  What a mess. Two workouts were complete flops: a 3 mile tempo run (3×1 mile at tempo pace with a .25 mile recovery) and my 12 mile long run with the middle 3 miles at race pace.  I just could. not. reach. my goal paces.  Maybe that it was only 7F and 9F respectively on those mornings, but it’s disheartening to say the least. During the 12 mile long run, I actually questioned my sanity as I had to stop and tie my shoes, and then could not feel my fingers (courtesy of my Reynaud’s) for the remaining 4 miles.

The lack of feeling in my hands dissipated about 2 hours later, giving me plenty of time to whip up a gift for Thing 2’s upcoming birthday.  This is my 4th sewn raglan tunic. It’s becoming my go-to quick sew.


Yes, she knows this is a birthday gift. And no, the colors do nothing to improve my mood. However, I do want the shirt to get worn, so I went with Thing 2’s favorite color scheme. Black and more black with a side of gray. The sleeves are actually a herringbone. The entire shirt is flannel.  And yes, I centered the plain in front, and matched them on the side seams. Not that she’ll notice, but I will.

Because nothing is more depressing than an unending winter than mismatched plaids.

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February is in its infancy, but basically, it’s almost April.  And April 25 is the Rock N Roll half marathon in Nashville, which means if I’m going to run (and I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, although I will definitely be there for work), I’d better start training.

I’m a bit at a loss. I have training plans in the hopper, but the biggest hurdle right now? Getting that stupid garmin to behave. The thought of spending HOURS on garminconnect, programming the watch, having it not sync properly and then spend my mornings frustrated isn’t the way I want to start my days for the next few weeks.

So I did what any normal person would do–I updated my playlists!  I found some great new songs courtesy of the AMR Winter Chaser playlist on spotify (AMR=Another Mother Runner).  Some of my faves:

So jaunty! (although I do have to add, I like the song better without the video.)

and this:

and this:

So this morning I awoke with a spring (figurative–there’s still tons of snow on the ground) in my step and set off for 5 miles.  Now since November I’ve just been plodding along, some days faster, some slower, but without any sort of aim.  This morning started out this way, but after mile 2 (10:07) I saw that it was faster than mile 1 (11:02, which is ok, because it’s my warm up and it’s uphill). When mile 3 clocked in at 9:50, I thought “hey only two more, let’s go for negative splits.” So I did.  Mile 4: 9:38 and Mile 5: 8:57.

Not speedy, but with a purpose.

Maybe it was Pitbull?

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