I’m a joiner. Come up with a good idea, and I’m all in. Always. 100%.  Book clubs, running clubs, girls’ nights out–you name it, I’ll join it. And I love how the interwebs brings all us joiners together.  But I’m faltering.

Right now it’s the middle of Me-Made-May and I have yet to take one single picture. For the life of me, I cannot begin to manage curating 31 photos of me.  Because, to get even one half decent shot, my photographer (the amazingly patient Thing 3) has to take, oh, I dunno, maybe 30 pictures.  Multiple that by 31 and it’s a little overwhelming.

But, and you’ll have to trust me on this one, every. single. day. I’ve worn at least one thing I’ve made. And even though it’s May and heavy wool sweaters aren’t much of an option, I’m doing ok; I haven’t even repeated an outfit yet!  Luckily, my job isn’t a fancy dress up job.

Juneathon comes right on the heels of Me-Made-May. Of course I signed up immediately after seeing the post today. I love reading all the blog entries from parts of this world I’ll most likely never visit. And it’s comforting to know that weather and injuries and malaise and enthusiasm know no geographic boundaries.  But I have a feeling, much like Me-Made-May (and this past Janathon), I’ll miss some runs or some blog posts. Incredibly, the world won’t come to grinding halt.

I have participated in Socktober and Norovember and NaNoSweMo (national november sweater month, or knit a sweater in nov), the Knit Olympics, Me Made May, Jan and Juneathon, a bunch of other virtual races, this 2015 reading challenge (shamefully, I’m still on only my 3rd book).  I used to start and finish these challenges with relish. Maybe it’s my age, but now I feel as though these are actual challenges!

Here’s my idea: Six Feet Under September. The month you play dead.

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Gathering no moss

no sir!

Fresh off my AOR event, I’m back into training for this:Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 6.08.23 PM


Given that the course elevation looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 6.10.44 PMI suspect I’ll be gathering no moss there, either.  (now if I can only get over my utterly unsubstantiated fear of going too fast…)

But I’m still a few weeks out from that race (7, to be exact), and there is one more work trip in between now and then…Columbus.  One of my favorite cities. Even more so, now.

This year promises to even less moss-gathering, as I will be here on Saturday night:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 6.15.58 PM



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I’m ashamed

to admit, but despite my love of American history, I have never been to Gettysburg, PA (home of one of the deadliest US military battles and also the advent of the use of photography as a storytelling medium)

That is, until this weekend.  Lucky for me, I was part of yet another relay–the American Odyssey Relay from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, DC.

I find the Civil War era fascinating–how it falls at the end of the Industrial Revolution and how the undercurrents of Reconstruction inform American culture even (especially?) today. Gettysburg played a critical role in that war. Its battle (July 1-3, 1863) saw more casualties (over 51,000) than almost the entire Viet Nam war (over 58,000).  The entire Civil War was the first extensively photographed conflict, and you can see photographer Mathew Brady’s amazing images here. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that back in the day, folks would go out to picnic at war battles.  The same happened at Gettysburg.  I wonder at what point the egg salad sandwich lost its flavor, and the folks just packed up their blankets for home?

So when a friend from my running club suggested participating in AOR, I jumped. And last Thursday, five of us from Jersey headed down to Gettysburg to join 40 others (representing Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and various other states) on the four Sweaty Turtles teams.

I was the lead off runner for the Blue team, which gave me legs 1, 13, and 25 with a total of 19 miles and change.  Plus, one runner from the red team was iffy, so I was on tap for her leg 31 (another 3+ miles). To be honest, I was a bit anxious–I was responsible for a fair amount of mileage and my recent runs have been anything but stellar.

I shouldn’t have worried. Leg 1 started at 8:45am, and the six of us in our wave start headed off at a nice clip for our 6.0 miles. Within a mile we sorted out into two groups of 3, and we fell into a nice conversation and a good pace in the sub 10:00 range. Leg 1 was rolling hills (nothing very steep) and after running through the back end of the battlefield, we made our way through the town of Gettysburg and its college. Time just flew by and I finished up with a 9:23 pace, but eager for more!

The tough part about these relays is the down time.  After running for nearly an hour, I had to wait just about 12 hours until 8:23pm for my 2nd leg.  This 4.7 miles was hillier, darker and about halfway through, rainier. Another runner and I basically started at the same time, and she quickly overtook me within the first half mile.  But then the hills started, and I just plugged away, catching her by the crest of the first climb at mile 2. These 4.7 miles were much hillier (although not the hilliest by far on the race), and I totally rocked it with a 9:18 pace!

Our van finished up the 2nd set of legs by 11pm and we made it to the transition where we actually got to catch some sleep on a high school gym floor (wow. gym floors are not as forgiving as mattresses). At 3:00am, I was up and getting ready for my next leg: 8.9 miles along the C&O towpath.

Um, if you ever get the chance to run a towpath in the damp dark hour of 4am alone, don’t. It’s more than creepy. I like the woods and all, but this was not my cup of tea.  The path was not technical at all and fairly wide. But it was disconcerting to be out there all alone. In the dark. With a only headlamp, salted caramel Gu, and cell phone that didn’t get reception. I tried to calm my nerves by playing “what if.”  Like, what if a serial killer jumped out at you? (A: run? even more? Squirt him with Gu?). That worked well.  After I ate the Gu (mile 5), I realized I had eaten my only weapon, and berated myself over the next mile for being so short-sighted.  While the wheels hadn’t come off, the dark and creepiness of the course definitely affected my pace–6.9 miles at a 10:56 pace.

Our van’s runners finished up right on (projected) time, and we were off to a local middle school (which kindly donated their showers) and then for a sit-down meal. After that we trekked into Washington DC to await our other van.  Family obligations called me home, so one van-mate and I made our way back to NJ at that point via train, missing the finish line celebrations.  Our team finished in 32:12.

This was a great race. The course was challenging and interesting, and I loved every minute of my runs (even the creepy, dark towpath part).  I want to go back and re-visit the sites I only either ran or drove through. But importantly, I think I’ve finally got my some of my running mojo back.  I ran two very strong legs and one good one. I was outside my comfort zone, but still put in a good performance. Unpack those blankets–the flavor is back in the egg salad sandwich!


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And I don’t even like country music

But I do love Nashville!

Yes, I’ve been MIA for awhile (maybe Juneathon will bring me back to regular posting). And I don’t even have any really good excuses.  But, this past weekend my running and knitting worlds converged in….Nashville, TN (of all places) for Stitches South and the Rock N Roll half marathon.

A bit of a back story: the Mister is always perplexed when he sees me heading off for a business trip with my foam roller, two pairs of running shoes and an excessive amount of lycra. Inevitably, I’ll post a pre-race photo on FB, and he’ll comment: “I thought you were there for work.” And I am.  Coincidentally, half marathons just happen to pop up.

So I went to Nashville for Stitches South for work, and was lucky enough to participate in  a half marathon. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Stitches South was great. There were some amazing vendors: Fringe Association, Plucky Knitter, Yoth. The vibe was great.

The food scene, too, was great. First stop: Butchertown Hall for their amazing Brussel sprouts and meats. Then onto Acme Feed & Seed with a former intern. The last night: Pinewood Social.  I can’t recommend each highly enough.

The highlight, though, was the Rock N Roll Country Music Half Marathon. I dilly dallied until the very last minute, and only registered the day before the race, and given the threat of tornados, actually waited until 6pm to do so.

This race was on a Saturday, which is really nice. There were shuttle buses transporting runners from my hotel, the Gaylord Opryland (which I will not link to, because it’s only remarkable in its colossal size and awful food, although the beds were comfy), so at about 5:30 am, I boarded a bus with my oatmeal breakfast and set off for the race.

I knew going into the race that I would not be “racing.” I had heard the course was hilly (and the map confirmed a steady incline throughout), so I set my sights on enjoying the run. The weather was a tad humid (the morning ran had just let up), but the tornados were non-existent.  I have to hand it to the Competitor Group–they know how to stage a race. Plenty of food and drink and porta-johns at the start. Plenty of music and water stations along the way. Tons of helpful and polite volunteers.

I’ll cut to the chase: my time sucked (2:31 and change).  I walked a bit more than I would have liked. I’m sorta ok with that, but sorta not.  I’d like to figure out what in my psyche keeps me from pushing through the discomfort, and I have a feeling I’ll continue to struggle until I figure that out. BUT–the course was amazing.  Yes, there were hills and plenty of them, but none were debilitating.  The scenery and crowd support was great though.  If I get the chance, I’d consider doing this one again!

After the race I hightailed it back to the hotel convention center to continue my work at the booth.  The work was good, and so was the shopping!  I totally broke my yarn diet with purchases for these projects:

But the fun doesn’t end there! My coworker and I did further damage to our wallets when we saw some really cool boots for our girls. And if girls have boots, there moms need them too.


Ruh roh! Upon arriving home, I quickly whipped up April Rhodes’ Staple Dress in some Robert Kaufman chambray as I thought it would go nicely with the new boots.  Here I am sporting my new look:


I’m pleased with the dress, pleased with the boots, pleased with Stitches and the race and Nashville. So I may not even like country music, but boy, I sure love Nashville!

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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!

IMG_3901 IMG_3902

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.

IMG_3819 IMG_3822

(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:

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.16.04 PM

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