Signs of spring!

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Wow! What a difference a day (or 3) makes.  We went from the freezing 40s to the verging on slightly uncomfortable 70s (only because we haven’t had a chance to dig out our non-woolen clothing) in a matter of days. … Continue reading

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OMG

I think spring is on it’s way. Only 4 weeks or so late….

but this morning, I came back from my run to this:

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And we all know daffodils never lie.

I’ve got about 3 weeks until my next half–the Indy Mini Marathon (can I just say how much I hate the term “mini marathon.”  Nothing mini about it.)  I’m a little tired, just coming off the Shamrock, but at the same time I’m feeling a huge sense of accomplishment when I look at my training plan and see “7 miles progressive tempo” and know that I can whip that out, return home with hot coffee for the Mister, make lunches, see 3 Things off to school, and shower all before 8am.  Granted, to get this done, I’m more or less toast by 9pm.

This morning, while totally enjoying the above freezing temps (finally!!!), I realized that this is the first ever April that I’ve been able to run. April 2012 and 2013, I was out with stress fractures.  #countingmyblessings!  So, whether I hit my sub 2:00 goal in Indy or not, this spring (however late in coming that it may be), is already a good one in my book!

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If at first you don’t succeed…

then ball the fabric up, throw it into the corner, and find something new.

The past week, I’ve been quiet as I’ve ventured into the world of shift dresses.  While so cute and versatile, a shift dress has never hung in my closet, mainly because if it fits in the shoulders, it’s waaaaayyyyyy to small around my hips, and if it fits in the hips, I’m drowning up top.

But I saw this fabric at my local fabric store, and couldn’t be stopped

 

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Love at first sight! It was screaming out to be a shift dress. Or a totem pole. So I found the right dress (Colette’s Laurel), and started cutting away.

Guess what? It’s wicked hard to match up these organic circles. Wicked hard.  As in closing in on 5 yards of fabric hard. I keep getting close, but then, it’s off.

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Ugh.

This was beginning to bother me so much, I was dreaming of cascading circles.  At the end of every run, I was certain I had figured out how to do this, that I would pounce on the fabric store, get myself another yard, wash, iron, and pin, pin, and repin for DAYS ON END, only to have it be, sigh, slightly off.

So I went with plan B.

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It’s not done yet–still have a peter pan collar (self-drafted!) and some bias trim to finish off the edges. I’m liking how this fits–I took a fitting class, and learned how to gradate patterns so they fit perfectly.  I would say it was money well spent.  This shift went from looking quite house-coat-ish to slightly less so in about 2 hours and lots of pin pricks. But man, oh, man, I want this dress in that original fabric. Yeah, the one that’s lying in a wad in the corner of my living room.

Oh, and Thing 3 insists that I can’t only share the “good” of our photo shoots–I’ve got to show the “bad and the ugly” (or at least the “hurry up it’s almost bedtime) Here you are, compliments of Thing 3:

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The insides are crap

(and so, apparently, is the photography) but does that matter?

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The point is, I have a better version of that Gaptastic sweatshirt.

Mine’s more of a t-shirt, but I LOVE HOW THIS FITS.

Instead of using Renfrew (couldn’t pull the trigger on paying $15 for a t-shirt pattern), I downloaded the free and extremely popular Plaintain from Doe and Deer.  Ooo-la-la.  Except that I hate scoop necks (again, guillotines and vampires) and a-line shirts.

So, I brought up the scoop neck and then hacked off about 3.5″ of the a-line flare and then I crossed my fingers and hoped it would fit.  I guess all that finger crossing worked, because the shirt is absolutely perfect.

On the outside.  The inside is one hot mess.  This is my first attempt at knits, and I was terrified to try my twin needle on the hems, so they look like crap (on the inside), and while I followed several bloggers’ advice to use a stretchy ziggy stitch, I didn’t realize my machine had its own special stretchy ziggy stitch, so I used the wrong one.  It’s stretchy enough, but I think the others would have made the shirt look nicer (on the inside).  I’m thinking in sewing the inside counts almost as much as the outside, because lots of sewing blogs show both.  For right now, I’m only going to show the outside, because that’s what people see.  The inside will remain our little secret.

Speaking of secrets, I just got a netflix subscription (hello 21st century) and am all entangled in House of Cards (the US version).  I absolutely love Claire Underwood’s haircut.  It’sbasically mine, with a permanent stylist standing in the wings and a stronger jawline and beautiful cheekbones. Oh, and money. I also love her clothing–the costuming people in this show are fantastic–but I’m guessing those insides are not a hot mess.

 

 

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TWIDDLING my thumbs…

waiting for the fabric store to open!

Why?

Well, it’s a bad, bad thing to keep electronics in the bedroom.  (Stay with me here–I have a point…eventually) Normally we have a ban on electronics in the bedroom. No TVs, no phones (except for the landline), no computers, no ipads, no devices of any kind.   The rule is primarily for me, because if I had access to the world from the comfort of my bed, I would probably never leave it.

Anyway, the only time I break that rule is when the Mister travels.  Then I keep either my phone or ipad near my bed in case he needs to get in touch with me in an emergency.  (yes, we have a landline, but the handsets have gone missing…and I’m sure their batteries are dead by now). And the Mister left yesterday for a karate sojourn to Montreal.

Anyway (and here’s the point), this morning when my alarm went off for my run (more on that later), I got distracted by an ad from the gap for this:gap-gray-eyelet-back-sweater-product-1-18306722-1-275247168-normal_large_flex

No, it’s not an ugly gray sweatshirt. Take a peek at the back:

Eyelet-back sweater - heather gray

Swoon!  Perfect for spring (if it ever gets here…)

And although I could buy this for $36 ($59 + 40% off) and 30 minutes of time (10 for driving to the store, 20 for looking for stupid parking) I am going to MAKE it. Even though I have never sewn with knits before.  That’s why I’m waiting for the fabric store to open–to go get me somes eyelet and knit fabric.  I’m going to use Renfrew as my pattern, but adjust the neckline slightly (given my fear of the guillotine and vampires, I’m not a fan of scoop or v-necks at. all.)

It’s not quite 8am.  When did I figure this all out you might be wondering?  On my run this morning. For the past few months I’ve been running with a friend from my running club.  She’s sorta the perfect running partner.  Neither of us is looking for chatty company (which has always been my reluctance to meeting up with a running buddy–i need my morning runs to figure things out in my head), we just need the motivation to get out there at o’dark thirty.  So our 5 miles today just flew by as I 1. figured out exactly how I’d make this project. and 2. challenged myself to do a similar version as a handknit.

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A combination of these two might work…

30 more minutes til the store opens. Good thing the Mister comes home tomorrow.  I need to get that ipad out of the bedroom.

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Doug’s Machine

We have a new machine at work, courtesy of my coworker Doug’s grant, which has been months in the making, and about which he has been bugging us (as in: “Is my machine here yet?”) for weeks:

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It looks quite harmless. It measures, while seated, blood pressure, weight, BMI and a host of other data points.  It’s for visiting seafarers. As part of a wellness program. But of course, my coworkers all been eyeing it…from afar.

Not me. I have been avoiding this machine like the plague.

It turns out, all those 30-35 mile/weeks don’t mean you can graze like a horse out to pasture. And post-Shamrock I’ve found my jeans to be snug (yet AGAIN!).  This winter has been too long and cold and snowy, and I think our bodies are reacting the only way they intrinsically know how–by consuming food, and a lot of it.

Another co-worker (Stephen) thought it might be best to incorporate Doug’s machine into some sort of employee bonding activity.  SCI Fit Club. Everyone antes up $20.  They step on the machine and set a goal. The one closest to his/her goal in 90 days wins the pool.

The weigh-in was Tuesday.  I don’t think anyone was happy with their numbers.  Except me.  Because somehow I sat on the bench incorrectly so that my weight came in a 102 lbs. Honest to God, I know I don’t weigh 102 lbs. But for a NY minute, I wondered if perhaps my uber-accurate scale from Japan was possibly wicked incorrect.

Anyway, goals are set (one co-worker actually wants to gain weight). Plans are in place. Sabotage (in the form of Girl Scout cookies) has commenced. I’m back on track with My Fitness Pal and I swear, I’m going to win that $100.

Doug, however, is nowhere to be found.

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Comparison

is the death of joy, according to Mark Twain.

This past weekend I traveled to Virginia Beach for their annual Shamrock Marathon/Half Marathon. I went alone, but met up with about 20 members of my running club, the majority of whom were running the marathon; I was signed up for the half.

I had no idea what to expect–the race is considered flat and fast, but given our lovely winter weather and my shortened (due to my ankle injury) training schedule, my training wasn’t quite at the same level it was for Philly.  That being said, I set a goal of 2:05, which would give me a 4 minute PR, and programmed my Garmin with the different pace ranges my coach provided.

After a great team pasta dinner, I went to bed too late Saturday night (binge watching Orange is the New Black) and my 5am alarm came much too soon.  Temps were hovering in the mid-40s (a treat!),  and I left my hotel (about 6 blocks from the start) at 6:45 for the 7am start.

I ran my race.  My goal for my first 3 miles was 29 minutes (9:40 pace). I came in about 28:11.  By mile 6 I should have been at 57:30; I picked up the pace a bit and hit that target exactly at 55 minutes.  At the 10 mile mark, I was at 1:32:29 (ahead of my projected 1:35), and I wrapped up the last 5k with a 2:03:19 chip time! A 6 minute PR!

Woo-freakin’-hoo! Aside from my first blister ever (yes, you read correctly, my first blister ever), this was the perfect race. I did exactly what I was supposed to do, and my last mile (9:03) was my fastest mile in the second half of the race.   After going through the chute (where I collected, in addition to my wicked heavy medal, a hat, several bananas, pretzels, water, a granola bar and a beach towel), I headed back to my hotel, stretched out, texted the Mister with the good news, ate a leisurely breakfast, had a great conversation with another runner at breakfast, packed up, and headed back to New Jersey.

I was pumped, singing along with radio, and then I stopped to fill the mini with gas. Of course, I checked my email while waiting, and there was my “finishers’ certificate” from the race officials.

And my bubble burst. Yes, there was my time: 2:03:19, but whereas I thought I had kicked some serious butt, comparatively my results were worse than mediocre. I finished 113th in my age/gender group.  Out of 179. Overall I came in 2926th place (out of 3891 finishers).  In my gender I was 1295th of 1877.   I could have sworn there were more than 3891 runners, and I seriously began to doubt why I was even participating in this stupid hobby when apparently EVERYONE ELSE IN MY AGE GROUP, NO STRIKE THAT, THE ENTIRE WORLD, IS SO FREAKIN’ SPEEDY.

Let me tell you, it’s a good thing I had 5 more hours of drive time to sort this out in my head, and by the time I arrived Chez Sato, I had calmed (slightly), and was more determined than ever to break that 2:00 mark, to ramp up the strength training, and to be more mindful of all the good that running brings to my life–good health, good friends, good opportunities. But at the same time, I think I was ready to put running in a time-out.

Today was a rest day (and for good reasons–a 7 hour drive home in a standard-transmission mini cooper does not make for the best post-race recovery plan).  I headed into the city, slightly subdued, for a database training.  When it was time for self-introductions, I left out “running” as one of my hobbies, claiming only knitting and reading. (which, in hindsight, is a bad, bad idea when you’re clearly the oldest person in the class by at least a decade or so.  Those hobbies just cement you in crazy cat lady territory).

At lunch (which I ate alone, knitting, because I think the hobby thing scared my classmates), I was going through my email.  Another “finishers’ certificate” from the race director.  With dread, I opened it and scrolled down:

Hallelujah (oops it’s Lent–WOOT)!

Gender/age group: 113 of 603.  Place: 2933/8936.  Gender Place: 1298/5510

Oh thank god, I don’t suck.

And thank god I read. Because Mark Twain was sooooo right. I think I’m gonna wear my medal to class tomorrow.  Because that will really want to make them eat lunch with me. The crazy reading knitting runner.

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Move over Coco

Over the weekend I was sucked into the Pinterest Vortex (a pleasant reprieve from our Polar one), and I found this:

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and fell in love.  THIS IS ME AND MY DRESS, all prettied up with stylists standing by and living on a white seamless.

And although the Pinterest boards I was perusing were filed under “sewing,” alas, this was not a sewing pattern.  It was RTW.

But you know how it is when something gets stuck in your craw and you can’t let go?  So I stared and stared and stared at this picture. And then I went to my LFS (local fabric shop) and bored the girls there silly with my dream.  But I left with some fabric, some ideas and the confidence that coming up with my own creation after having sewn maybe 5 things was completely within the realm of do-able.

Nine hours later:

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Well, it’s not white. And I’m wearing a shirt (this is work, you know). And clearly I don’t have a stylist at my beck and call. Or a white seamless. But I’ve got my dress. And it’s lovely. In a dark chambray denim. And the back of the dress bodice has a FRENCH seam!  Cuz I’m fancy like that.  And there are pockets, because I’m sensible and hate carrying bags.

It really wasn’t magic.  In my pattern stash (yes, although I’ve been sewing less than a year, I’ve already accumulated a pattern stash), I had an Amy Butler button down shirt/tunic/shirtdress pattern that I figured would work for top, and Christine Haynes’ Emery dress had a lovely gathered skirt, so I married the two.  It wasn’t painless, but for the most part it worked and I know what to do to make it better.  Because I will. Make it better. In time for summer. In the prettiest and lightest (bordering on white) blue linen.

But I’ll keep a shirt on underneath.

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Status Quo

When I was teaching in Japan, I had a student, a volcanologist (whom I nicknamed, appropriately, Mr. Volcano because I’m clever like that) who had gotten his Ph.D. in England. His English was Scrabble-good, but he paid for lessons anyways. And to be perfectly honest, I looked forward to my time with him–especially after a day of explaining gerunds and dangling participles to people who frankly just weren’t interested. Anyway, during one conversation, he asked me why I was doing something, and I replied that it would help me improve, and his response to that was “what’s wrong with the status quo? why are Americans so intent on improvement?”

That just floored the 24 year old me. Who wouldn’t want to improve? Why be satisfied with the status quo?

Well, 24 is barely a speck in my rear-view mirror, and here I am, still so intent on improvement.

Case in point: September Morn. AKA the Olympic sweater. I have finished this puppy now for the third time. Still not quite satisfied, and after her first public airing, I may rip out the bottom and re-do it, AGAIN.

The most bothersome is the length–both the arms and body. I want the cuffs to actually cuff, so I may just have to tack on a few more inches. And I want to bend over and not expose the small of my tramp-stamp free backside. I’m also not a fan of the ridge under the front neckline, but I’m not going to rip back that far–I knew as I was knitting that short rows in the back would have taken care of this, but I didn’t pause to add them. Shame on me.  That being said, generally, I’m pleased with the outcome.  I love the raglan sleeved ribbing–it makes my nonexistent shoulders broader.  And the neck is warm. And it matches my skirt. Always a good thing.

More improvement: Wednesday (3/5) was the Mister’s and my 20th wedding anniversary! It’s a big year, but we decided to be a little low-key about the actual date because of our summertime trip to Europe.  Over the weekend, though, we were in Maine at a friend’s second wedding (side note: SO FREAKIN’ HAPPY THAT GOOD THINGS DO HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE), and the Mister mentioned what a “jama” (Japanese word for ‘obstruction’) my packed and preserved wedding dress box is. We decided to open up the box and do away with the dress.

Guess what? It still fit! No knocking self-improvement.  Three years ago, this would not have fit At. All.  But all that running and core work has paid off.  (another aside: I was soooooooooo tempted to wear the dress All. Day. Long.  To work. To our dinner. Just for the hell of it. The biggest deterrent? The freezing temps.)

My idea prior to unearthing the dress was to cut up the silk and use it to make a baby’s christening gown (for waaaayyyyy down the road) or to pimp up the three Things’ baby picture frames in the fabric or something rather Martha Stewart-esque.  It was not an expensive/designer/fancy pants dress, but it suited me. But once out, I got rather sentimental and now I’m faced with the decision–to I pay to re-seal it up? Or proceed as planned? Now in it’s unpacked state, it’s even more of a jama in my closet than it was entombed in the basement.

Improvement on a larger scale: Wednesday (yep, it’s been a big week chez Sato), I finally got my #bia sports watch.  This was a Kickstarter project I had backed WAY BACK in August of 2012. The watch was due in April 2013.  There were numerous delays, and to be frank, the frustration of waiting so long soured me a bit. But it’s here, and I ran with it on Thursday.  And I sorta liked it.  The best thing about it? The way it sits on my wrist.

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Yeah, it looks a little wonky, but I gotta tell you, while running, I HATE twisting my wrist all around to see the face of my Garmin.  AND I HATE how typical watches bang into my wrist bone. This is brilliant. Slightly wonky look, yes, but brilliant.  My Garmin does more (it holds my running calendar and beeps to tell me to speed up, etc), but I think the bia will catch up.

Future improvement: Again, Wednesday (talk about the convergence of things happening) was also the start to Lent.  I know, I know, it’s supposed to be about sacrifice, but I’m taking this opportunity to set myself up for a GOOD spring/summer (if it ever gets here). All the dark and snow and cold have helped me really pack on some pounds.  I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment.  I was at a fundraiser last week and the ONLY topic of discussion, other than the charity, was how much weight everyone had gained so far this winter.  Which was a lot.  I think the fierceness of the season sparked everyone’s hibernation gene. And baking gene.  Look, for example, at my mother’s handiwork (she was minding the Things while the Mister and I had traveled to Maine for 17 hours):

Red velvet cupcakes (Thing 1 did those). A layered pound cake. Brownies. Key lime short bread. Blueberry muffins.

So my sacrifice for Lent is to give up food make better food choices.  Eventually the snow will melt, the temps will rise above freezing, windows will have to be opened, legs will have to be shown, and wedding dresses will have to be fit into again in 20 more years. Lots of room for improvement!

 

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Huge announcement !

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Yep! That’s me!

Two weeks to go until the Shamrock half marathon. Today was my last double-digit long, slow run (12 miles) and I nailed it!  (ok, a slight exaggeration–not so difficult ‘nailing’ a long-slow-run pace of 11-11:15 min/miles). But an absolutely amazing run! Even in the 9F temps.

And I have a second announcement (although no accompanying photos): On the Lam(b) is officially a business. I’m registered with the feds and my state (woot!). I’ve got a real bank account (with dollars actually in it!) and I’m typing this from my new business macbook air. But better than all that…I’ve actually got the fun stuff, too–designs and a logo.  The designs are currently being put together into tech-packs which will then get sent to the sample maker (!) and then I’ll actually have something to show and test out! So freakin’ excited about this.

Thing 3, though, beat me to the punch.  She joined an after-school entrepreneur club and made some wristlet keychains/zipper pulls (all by herself, on the sewing machine). Cute, if I do say so myself. Wednesday night was their market, and she nearly sold out.  I’m a nice mom, so I took the last two off her hands (thus reducing her start-up capital loan by $7).

Can you believe that two leftovers were both Hello Kitty? My gain!

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