19 December 2013

Handmade Christmas

One of my traditions, be it Christmas or birthday, is to give a handmade gift along with a purchased gift. Over the years I've spent hours working on various projects, sometimes not finishing them until the night before the event.

Over the summer I started dating someone new - the wine guy. I'd already made him a set of placemats in a autumnal color scheme which we use regularly when I'm over there for dinner.

I wasn't planning to make him another set, but when I found this fabric, I just had to do it. He once commented to me that everything in his house was wine related. Well, he didn't have wine related placemats - until now.  I decided to make matching napkins as well though I only completed two - the others are coming. (There's also a matching apron for me in progress.)

We exchanged gifts last weekend (since I'm going to be out of town Christmas week). They were definitely a hit with him.  I haven't had dinner at his place since then, but I look forward to seeing these placemats on the table.

10 November 2013

Five MILES Under My Belt

Last weekend, I participated in the Beauty and The Beach run with my two race buddies. While we've done our share of 5K races together, the distance for this race was 5 MILES. Now that may not seem like much to some long time runners, but I've not pushed myself to do too much beyond the 3.1 miles that equal a 5K.

I've been also dealing with an IT band injury and going to PT for the past few weeks. Seeing that I've gotten relief from the pain and knee buckling that I was having, I decided if I wasn't hurting on Friday, I was doing this race - even if I meant I had to crawl across the finish line. I went for a slow, short run on Wednesday and didn't have any issues. I talked to my therapist and decided to be cautious but do the race.

I decided to run/walk this (as usual - I'm not up to running a full 5K distance yet) using a 3 minute run/1 minute walk interval. I have a bad habit of going out too fast at the beginning and getting winded early. This time I still went out a little faster than I intended (10:00 for first mile which was my fastest of the day) but when I crossed the finish line at 1:05:12, I wasn't winded. In fact, I felt like I could have gone another couple miles no issue.

I enjoyed the five mile distance maybe a little more than the 5K distance I've been doing. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it, but I surprised myself. Actually, after I hit the 2 mile mark, I had found a good pace and I told myself the next 3 miles would be a piece of cake. Well, not exactly a piece of cake, but it wasn't bad. I've already added another 5 mile race to my calendar - the Manasquan Turkey Trot on the 23rd. Now that I've got a baseline for the distance, we'll see if I can beat it. I'd be over the moon if I could do it in under an hour.

21 October 2013

Another Weekend, Another Race

If it's Saturday, it's likely I'm running a race somewhere. This past weekend was no exception. We turned it into a girls' weekend in Atlantic City as me and two of my sorority sisters went down to do The Color Run together.

As this was a non-competitive race, I made the decision early on that I was not going to run this - instead, it would be a fun time with my two girlfriends - both of which do 5K races with me, but one who is a walker, not a runner. That said, it didn't diminish from the fun factor.

We decked ourselves out in tutus, tiaras, faery wings, and wands. By the time we made it through the four color stations, we were covered head to toe with yellow, orange, pink, and blue - some of us more blue than others.

The three of us had a blast and decided over the post-race breakfast that we would make this a regular event - a girls' weekend doing The Color Run (or one of the fun non-competitive 5K events) each year.  In fact, I think we've got a weekend picked out for 2014 already.

14 October 2013

Where I Lose My Mind

Little did I know that when I completely my first 5K in July that I would find myself looking for races every weekend. Since Labor Day, I have ran a 5K all but one weekend.

Next weekend I will be going to Atlantic City with 2 of my dearest friends to participate in The Color Run. As part of this adventure, we shall be decked out in tutus, tiaras, faery wings, and wands. Yours truly has been tasked with making the tutus. 

I finished mine a couple weeks ago and took it on a test run at the Run Now Wine Later 5K in New Hope. One unexpected perk of wearing a tutu while running - you create a little more space for yourself. 

I've finished the second tutu and am about halfway thru the third. Each of them are different, but all feature pink as the main color. (It's a Phi Mu thing.). I used sparkle tulle in the last one - what the heck was I thinking? Glitter everywhere. EVERY. WHERE. But it looks amazing. 

After these are done, I plan to create a few more for me to wear during other races - I've got my black and orange tulle to make a Bengals tutu and likely will do something in cream and crimson as well. 

But back to the races...

After The Color Run weekend, I am following that up with two 5Ks the following weekend and then the first Saturday in November I will be doing a 5 MILE race with my Color Run companions. As that's a flat course, some of which I ran in my Labor Day race, I'm looking forward to it. 

If that's not madness enough, after talking to a couple friends, I officially registered for a half marathon - The Love Run in Philadelphia on 3.30.14. That's 166 days away. I'm nervous and excited about the challenge of running 13.1. 

Some days I don't know what happened to the girl I used to be. Still I have come to enjoy getting out and running through the woods - it's my down time, my me time. Races don't offer me the solitude that the woods do, but it's amazing to see how I've improved in a few short months. 

That said, if I ever start talking about doing a marathon, please slap some sense into me. Seriously.  

12 September 2013

what's cooking?

I finished my first real sewing project since I was a teen earlier this week. I am comfortable with the basics but my apron provided me with a few challenges - particularly as I was dealing with written instructions, not a pattern to cut out and piece together. 

That said, despite a few imprecations, I'm pleased with the finished product. One error worked out in my favor - the pocket is supposed to be on the right side, but I inadvertently placed it on the left. As I'm a southpaw, this turned out better for me anyhow. 

I think I'll definitely use this pattern again. I have some Dia de Los Muertos fabric that I think would make an awesome looking apron. But first I need to get cracking on the race tutus I've been commissioned to make. 

07 September 2013

Laboring Away

Over Labor Day weekend, I ran two 5K races.

The first race, the women only Saturday in the Park 5K, was at Holmdel Park. I had ran part of the course the prior weekend and knew it was gonna be challenging. It didn't help when multiple friends told me, "that's the toughest 5K course in the state." I nearly backed out and had my friend who did the race with me not said she was going to do it, I likely would have. 

That said, I labored along the course - uphill the first 1/2 mile, through the woods, navigating the mile from hell known as "The Bowl", and downhill the last 1/2 to a finish in the field. I wasn't the last, nor did I get the sub-45 time I had been chasing, but with an official time of 0:46:09 I knocked about 3 seconds off previous best (0:46:12 Asbury Park 5K). 

On a whim earlier in the week, I registered for the Pier House 5K in Long Branch. After the rugged terrain of Holmdel Park I was looking forward to a flat course. However, coming on off a run just two days earlier, I didn't have any expectations other than crossing the finish line upright. 

I've learned to pace myself now - rookie mistake I made the first few times was going out too fast. I decided to take it easy at the beginning and save my energy for the back end. I swear, that first mile seemed like it was the longest mile ever, but when I the clock showed me I was at a sub-14 pace, I started to believe that sub-45 time might be doable. 

I continued to run/walk the second mile at a comfortable pace, and by the time I got to the two mile mark, the clock was just over 28 minutes. At this point I really started to get excited and determined I would do it. 

I spent most of the last mile of the course trading places with a woman I'd seen in the AP 5K. I was determined that I wasn't going to let her get ahead of me this time. I was going to cross the finish line ahead of her. 

As we made the final turn, she was right beside me. She made some comment which I acknowledged and then I turned it on. I run without my glasses, so I couldn't quite make out the number on the clock. As I got closer, I was able to focus -- holy cow! If I push myself I can get a sub-43 clock time. 

I burst into a smile as I approached the finish, glancing up to see the clock read 0:42:37 as I crossed.

I did it! Then it hit me that my time was probably going to be even faster because I started closer to the back of the pack. 

I helped myself to some post-race water and fruit and waited for the official times to be posted. 
My official time: 0:41:50. 

I couldn't believe it. My first race in July was completed in 0:52:20. I had knocked 10+ minutes off my time in less than two months. Not to mention 4+ minutes off my time from Saturday. 

While it's slow, I'm improving. My next race is the 14th on a relativity flat course so I'm anxious to see if I can improve my time. The sub-40 time which seemed like an impossible goal actually feels achievable now. Maybe not on the next outing, but I'll get there. One step at a time. 

30 August 2013

Something for Him

Last Friday I went over to K's house for dinner. I enjoy these evenings of us together in the kitchen. It's usually a he cooks, I clean deal, though last week I prepped most of the dinner and let him be the grill master.

I had prepared a rosemary ranch marinade for chicken (note: used a little honey in lieu of sugar and grilled them as breasts, not kabobs) and grabbed some fresh corn and zucchini from the farm stand that morning. I also made the amazing lemon basil potato salad my sister turned me on to in May, so we had helluva spread before us.

As I was setting the table, he commented that he really needed more placemats.

Well, if you date a crafty girl and say something like that, she's gonna do something about it. 

After work on Monday I stopped by the quilt store. I wanted something that complemented the paint in both his kitchen and dinning room (gold and burgundy respectively) and wasn't too feminine. I found some fabrics I liked, grabbed a bit of each and came home and got busy. 

It wasn't without issue - I made a couple of rookie mistakes and became intimately acquainted with my seam ripper (again) but eventually I finished four reversible placemats. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out and hope that he'll like them as much as I do. 

17 August 2013

Run, Marci, Run

Start of Race - What a Cutie!
Somehow this summer I got this crazy notion in my head to run. I did the All-Star 5K in Brooklyn in July which resulted in MAJOR blisters on my heels, but I finished - in less than an hour too. It was my first 5K outing in over a decade, but I decided I was doing this for me and using it as part of my get fit and lose weight project.

Since then, I have done three more 5K races in the past 3 weeks. The first was the Dirty Girl mud run which was untimed. (I roughly finished that obstacle course in about 1:10:00.)

Last Saturday, I did the Asbury Park 5K and finished in 46:12. I'm still working on being able to run the full distance, but every time I go out, I manage to run a little further and get a little faster.

Today, I ran the Bradley Beach 5K with a sorority sister. My personal goal was to finish with a sub-45 time - same as it was in the Asbury Park race, but I was determined to get it since I was relatively close to it last weekend.

When the race started, I launched my C25K app in free run mode and was off. What's this, there's no timing mat at the start? Did I miss it? No, there really isn't one. WTH? I'm not sure I like this, but whatever...

I established a comfortable pace for me, learning my lesson at the mud run not to go out too fast. As I turned the corner onto Lake Terrace, I kept my eyes peeled for a former coworker whose house I knew was on this street. I saw her, her husband and kids on their porch and shouted out to her. "Hey Marci!" she cried, "Good luck!" That gave me a boost of energy and kept me going as I turned the next corner on the course.

Once my body begged for a break, I slowed to a walk and checked my app - I'd run a half mile. Let me repeat that I ran a half mile before slowing. Go me! I'm improving. For the remainder of the race, I continued alternating walking and running - giving my body a rest when it seemed I just couldn't run any more.

Once back on Ocean Avenue, my shins started to kill me. There were times I was ready to quit - but seeing other runners (significantly older than me) plugging along was inspiration. The spectators on the course, cheering us on, reminding me how far I'd come already also motivated me to keep going. So I did. And somewhere around the 2 mile mark that shin pain was gone.
My UNOFFICIAL sub-45 time

About this time that I focused in on another woman in pink -- she and I were on a similar pace so I used her as my motivation. When she got a little too far ahead of me, I kicked it up a little. As I rounded the corner onto Ocean Avenue for the homestretch, I decided I was not going to let her beat me. I was going to cross the finish line ahead of her. I found myself a comfortable pace and settled in until I could see the corral and the finish line. At that point I kicked it up a notch and sprinted the final distance.

The clock said 47-something when I crossed the finish line. Mmm - not the sub-45 time I was aiming for but... I pulled my phone out of my bra and indicated that my run was finished.

Hey! I ran more than the 3.1 miles that make up a 5K and got a new PR and sub-45 time. I don't think I like what the race clock says, but I will have to wait for the official results.

Well, the official results are up. My official time: 47:46. WHAT!?!?! How the hell can that be an official time when there was no timing mat at the start? *grumble*  I'm not racing next week, but in 2 weeks I've got another run. That time I'm determined to get an OFFICIAL sub-45 time or die trying.

16 June 2013

Sweet Dreams

Last weekend, I attempted to make a pillowcase using the 'burrito' method. I had printed instructions, but until I found this video on YouTube, I couldn't make sense on how to roll it up correctly.

I managed to complete one pillowcase last weekend, and learnt how to do a French Seam in the process. (So easy, not sure why I didn't know how to do one before.)

The first pillowcase had some minor issues, which I can live with. This weekend I sat down and made a second matching case which turned out much better. (As with anything, practice makes perfect.)

I think they look quite lovely with my grey sheets.
I also figured out how to fix the one glaring mistake from my first attempt and while it's not exactly pretty, it's fixed and better than it was. 

I didn't stop there either. I pulled out some pretty batik fabric and made a second set of pillowcases. These were quick to stitch up compared to the first set. I think I may have the technique down pat. 
This photo doesn't capture the dark blue in the batik very well. It's the reason I choose the dark blue fabric for the cuff. If I were to do these again (which I very well might since I have more of that batik fabric), I would use the dark blue as the accent piece and gold fabric for the cuff. 

I washed and ironed more yards of fabric than I want to count this weekend.  However, I'm ready to go when inspiration strikes -- provided I want to use the fabric I have on hand. 

Next project: quilted pot holders. Or maybe a second attempt at placemats

09 June 2013

A Rookie Mistake

Over the past few months, I've been slowly getting my craft on, and when I made a present for my sister last month, my patchwork/quilting mojo was reawakened.

This afternoon, I attempted to make Halloween placemats and napkins based on this tutorial which I found through the great time suck, Pinterest.

While I'm pleased with the overall technique and quality of my work, I can't believe I made such a rookie mistake.

Yep, I somehow forgot to check the direction of my fabric when I was cutting it, so my kitties are sideways. Drat.

However, the back of the placemats look amazing (if I may say so).

Considering these are just for me, I can live with my mistake. I won't use the other side of the placemats. 

A valuable lesson - one that I know, but obviously forgot during my hiatus. You beat I won't make this mistake a second time around. 

A Return Message

Wow - over 2 years have gone by since I last posted on this blog. In the time, I've had a few surgeries and I seem to be on the road to wellness. Knock wood.

That said, my craft mojo is back and better than ever. I gave up on knitting finally, choosing to focus on crafts where I'm at least competent.  So sit back, fasten your seatbelts - I'm gonna be blogging again.