Limbo

After two falls at the end of last month, I took a week off leading up to March 5’s St Pat’s 10k.  My knees hurt, and I honestly had a lot of anxiety about heading back out again.  The week off was much needed, and I finished up a solid five books.

The race itself was slower than I wanted, but I was grateful to have L with me to talk.  She ran the double, and she killed it.  I had some nagging groin pain on my left side.  But I brushed it off, and kept moving.  The week after the race, I kept feeling the nagging pain during my runs on Tuesday and Thursday, and I was nervous going into the Rock and Roll Half on the 11th.

Let me tell you about this race.  I hate this race.  I don’t know why I run this race.  Just before the halfway point is Calvert Hill, and I have not yet beat that hill.  The back half of the race is pretty rolling, and it is a pile of misery.  Every time I finish this race, I swear that I will never run it again.  And then I register and we repeat the cycle.

If H hadn’t been waiting for me at the top of Calvert, I  would have been in trouble.  By mile 2, my groin pain had turned into moving hip/groin/quad pain.  And by the time I hit Calvert, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to actually run up the hill (that score is now Calvert: 3, Me: 0).  By the time I got to H, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the race, and I definitely walked almost all of the uphills.  I wanted to cry from the pain. Knowing that my teammates were at Cowbell Corner just before mile 12 was probably the only thing that kept me in the race after mile 9.  Seriously, these ladies are the best.  I’ve never had so many cheers for me before.  I came out of the race with a 2:26:08.

The rest of my runs were hard, and they were painful.  To the point that I finally sucked it up and looked for a physical therapist on my insurance’s website.  I ended up at an orthopedist (I still don’t know how that happened), and he did some x-rays and put me on a 10 day course of prednisone in the hopes that it was just inflammation or a muscle strain.  And then he sent me off to PT.  My PT is great – she’s a runner, and she’s pretty involved.  She gave me some exercises to work on strengthening, but she told me to be aware that her initial evaluation suggested that my pain may be caused by a labral tear in my hip.

My follow up with my ortho was yesterday, and based on the fact that there was zero improvement on the prednisone (seriously, all I got out of it was a splitting headache and some seriously screwed up dreams), he’s sending me for an MRI arthrogram to look for that particular tear.  On the plus side, he was very specific about the doctor he wants to perform the test.  On the down side, I can’t get in until April 11.

My PT is allowing me to continue running as long as the pain doesn’t get worse or change – I’m to avoid anything that causes sharp pain, as opposed to the pinching feeling I’ve already got going on, and I’m to take walk breaks if I do start to feel crappy.  So, I’m working hard to keep up my mileage, and then I’ll see what happens when I get my MRI results back.  I’ve been trying not to panic too much about the fact that they’re going to have to stick a needle in my hip, but the needle-phobia has already started setting in.

In the rest of life, I’m off to San Francisco for work on Friday, and then on Tuesday, I get to head up to Sacramento to visit family before I have to come back to real life (and that MRI) on the 11th.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing my grandparents, who will be just back from Israel, and my uncle, his fiance, and my cousins.  It should be a good almost week with them, and I’m planning on also getting my running in.  I was hoping to see my brother as well, but he’ll be out of the country for work.

I’ve been a book-devouring machine, though I’ve tapered off a little this week with the increased anxiety.  I’ve been trying to start The War that Ended Peace about 6 times, but I can’t seem to get further than chapter 1 before I’m putting myself to sleep.  So, I’ve been blazing through fiction:

Mostly, I’m just really looking forward to a few days off after this meeting.

Catching Up

Some weeks are bad, like the week I managed to sprain my ankle.  Some weeks are really fantastic, like last week.  And some weeks, most weeks really, are somewhere in the middle.  This past week was pretty bad, but not sprained ankle bad.  It started off really well.  We knocked out close to 6 miles on Monday, and I escaped from work early for it.  And that was the last really good run of the week.

On Wednesday, my shorts chafed 0.2 into the run, so we walked 3 miles instead.  On Thursday, I was a block from work when I tripped on the edge of a flower bed and fell, banging up my left knee and actually breaking my water bottle.  No, it didn’t shatter, but the silicone hi-flow valve in the lid actually vanished from it.  I got up and tried to keep going, not realizing anything was wrong, and was halfway across the street before I realized that no, I should not be soaking wet with water from the bottle.

Yesterday’s run was 12.95 miles, and it was a bear.  Super warm, and we actually got lost somewhere in MD.  Whoops.  Two blocks from finishing, I tripped again.  This time, I made the good choice to roll and save my knees.  I scared the bejeezus out of some poor guy walking by – I don’t think he quite understood why I fell forward and then was suddenly on my back, but other than some minor right hip soreness, damaged pride, and sand in my shorts (seriously, DC?), I’m fine.

My mileage is sitting at 74.25 total for Feb as of today, and 119.66 for the year.  21.51 for last week, which put me at 1.51 above my weekly goal.  My deficit is down from 41.85 miles at the end of last week to 40.34 this week.  I will catch up!

I’ve also read another four books since last week!

I read Miss Peregrine several years ago, and since the movie came out not too long ago, I really wanted to reread it before I saw the movie.  The other three, I picked up in Boston at Brookline Booksmith, and I’m actually a little sad that I’m now done with (almost) all of the books I got there.  It might be time for another trip to Carpe Librum this week!  I’ve been trying to decide what to read next.  I haven’t been able to get in to either of the two books I tried to pick up yesterday, so I’m kind of floundering here.

I also have started trying to reorganize my running gear.  You know, because I have quite a bit.  I spent about a week trying to figure out where my black shorts were, only to remember that I actually sold both pairs. Last year.  So, I did two things.  I started with creating an inventory of my Oiselle gear.  All of it – past and present, including stuff that’s been sold. Which I then marked as sold.  The second thing was to go through everything I own, figure out what I wear, what I’m attached to, and what I could donate.  I donated a bit of stuff yesterday, but I have a large pile of race shirts that I don’t wear, but that I’m too sentimental to donate.  I need to come up with something to do with them – something that isn’t a blanket.  For now, I have the clothes I do wear in a drawer, and my pullovers are destined for the closet, either to be folded on a shelf or hung up.

No sewing for me this week.  Perhaps next week!

Another Start

I saw my doctor a few weeks ago.  I managed to get an appointment early Monday morning, and she sent me for x-rays, and gave me some more anti-inflammatories.  It turned out to just be a bad sprain, fortunately nothing is broken.  So, I took it very easy, bought myself a new brace, and finished out January with 45.41 miles, a whole 34.59 miles short of my goal of 80 miles.  But, what’s done is done, and I’m feeling better.

I started running with L on the weekends, one of my Oiselle teammates, and it’s been super beneficial since we started on Jan 28.  The only downside has been that she has a coach and is following a training plan, and I’ve been a lazy putz for the past few weeks, so I’ve managed to cause a shin splint flare by not doing my mileage during the week and then trying to run long with her on the weekends.  I’m getting there though.  Last weekend’s run turned out to be 13.23 miles on Saturday, followed by Love the Run You’re With 5K on Sunday.  Yesterday’s run was only 8 miles, but I felt strong.  And, on Thursday, I did 4.79, and I finished out that last 0.8 with a sub-9:00 pace.

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Mad props to Coach Steve for grabbing this picture at last weekend’s Love the Run You’re With!  M and I ran it for the fifth time this year, and this was my first one getting to wear my singlet.  It wasn’t a fantastic race by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a strong one.  My legs were exhausted going in, but I resisted any urges to walk, even up the massive hill that is Army Navy Dr.  This singlet has magic powers.  And Coach Steve saw me as I was coming into the finish line and jumped out to get a picture, so I took the opportunity to get my Head Up, Wings Out picture!

As of today, I’m up to 52.74 miles for February, and a total of 98.15 miles for the year.  I’m still 41.85 miles behind schedule, but I know I can make it up.

I also started keeping a bullet journal last week.  It was something I’ve been toying with for a long time, and I finally jumped on it.  I’ve been using it to track how I feel on workouts, work projects completed (because reviews are hard unless  you have that list), books that I’ve read, and races.  I’m sure I’ll add more to it later, but that’s where it is right now.

So, books read this year.  I’ve finished 7 books so far.

 

Black Flags was hard to get through, but I finally tackled it.  It’s fairly dense, and mostly history, so it was hard for me to stay focused through most of the political and behind the scenes dramas that happened.

I Wrote This For You is a different kind of book.  It’s a format I’ve never read before, almost like a cross between poetry and a journal, and it did exactly what the author intended.  It tugged at my heart and reminded me that, somewhere out there, someone I knew maybe in this life, maybe before, knows my soul.

The Hopefuls pissed me off a bit.  I get that not everyone loves DC, and I get that political staff are a pain in the ass, but the whole attitude about DC really gnawed at me.

The Soul of an Octopus was brilliantly written.  Sy Montgomery captured so brilliantly the feelings that I get standing in an aquarium, and also being in the ocean.  This world is beautiful.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is evocative.  Personally, I struggle with anxiety, and Deborah’s madness is easy to step into.  If you read only one book on mental illness, I recommend this one.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that as “sane” people, the mentally ill are nothing like us.  But, I think most of us can relate to the world that Deborah has built for herself.  It’s terrifying to think that the line between the well and the sick can be so thin, that one only need to push back one’s own curtain a little further to fall into illness.  “There is nothing you can do to me that my own craziness doesn’t do to me smarter and faster and better.”

I’m going to skip writing about the last two for now.  Huxley was not what I expected in this novel, especially after having loved Brave New World.  And Thicker than Water was a little too close to home in so many ways.

And, finally, sewing.  I’ve been working on bibs for K the past few weeks.  I’m hoping to pick back up one of the quilts that’s on my table once those are done.

12 Mile Defecit

I’m not going to lie.  I was really ready to kick some ass last week.  I swapped out my shoes at work when I started getting shin splints, and I was ready to roll for my 12 miles yesterday.  And then, the unthinkable happened.

I twisted my ankle on our run on Thursday.  It’s not a normally a big deal.  It happens at least once a day.  It just slips out while I’m walking and then I catch hold back of it, and keep going.  It wasn’t a big deal on Thursday, I finished out the 6 miles we were running, and my only pain was the shin splints I’d been fighting since Tuesday.  I had some pain on Friday, but figured it was just residual whatever.  And yesterday, I got ready to go, took 2 tylenol and a naproxen, ate my breakfast, and my fibula was still on fire.  I called Dr. Mom, who told me not to run, so I packed up the laundry and headed over.  She took one look at it, said it was incredibly swollen (I didn’t think so), and insisted I needed to make a doctor’s appointment.  I woke up this morning, did the pressure test to see if I had any pain, and was pleased.  And then I got up and walked to the kitchen and had to eat my words.

So, I’m benched for now.  I was hoping to see my doctor tomorrow, but her office is closed for the holiday.  Hopefully, she’ll recommend x-rays, etc via email and I can see her Thursday or Friday with test results and I can get back to running.

I’m going to cut off the updates on everything else today.  With any luck, I’ll be back later this week with good news and lots of updates on everything else!

Solid Start

It’s the end of week one, or the beginning of week two, depending on how you look at it, and I’m off to a solid start this week.  Let’s break it down:

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  1. Running – I needed to run about 19 miles this week.  I ran 3.1 on Tuesday, 6.78 on Thursday, and 8.17 yesterday for a grand total of 18.05.  So, I’m short about a mile, but we’ll make it up next week.  18.05 down, 990.45 to go!
  2. Reading – I read the paper this morning, but that doesn’t count.  Work has been a little crazy this week, so once I’m done writing, I’m hoping to finish Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS.
  3. Sewing – My grandmother asked for a toaster cover because she is gluten free, and people keep putting regular bread in her toaster.  So, I made a paper-pieced Gluten Free toaster cover for her.  I didn’t take a picture before I sent it home with her on Monday, but I’m hoping they’ll send me one of it on the toaster.  M and I don’t have a toaster, which is why there didn’t end up being a photo.
  4. General Fitness – Since we ran on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, we did abs and chest or arm workouts on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Moving forward, these will happen on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.  We may end up with a lighter workout on Monday, but we’ll see.

In addition, I did some pretty awesome cooking this week.  Frittata muffins for breakfast at work, and then blueberry lemon scones for post long run yesterday.  We’re finally starting to get cleaned up from Christmas too.  We’re taking the tree down today, and the rest of the decorations started to come down yesterday.  Baby steps, and all.  First week down, 51 to go!

New Year, New Things

Oh, 2016, you were a pile of crap.  I had health problems, a pile of work drama, election drama…and, as a result, I didn’t run as much as I wanted, I didn’t sew as much as I wanted, and I slept a hell of a lot more than I probably should have.  But, it’s 2017, so we’re turning a page and writing 2016 off as a loss.

I did have a couple lovely things happen in 2016, so I should probably acknowledge those.  For starters, I was just promoted at work.  I’m so, so thrilled to be focusing on policy moving forward.  I moved my office in the week between Christmas and New Years, and it’s been absolutely fantastic so far.  The other thing I should acknowledge is that I got to spend a wonderful Christmas with so much family.  My grandparents flew out from CA, and my brother got a holiday pass with his girlfriend, so everyone was here.  I haven’t spent Christmas with my grandparents in about 5 years, and I haven’t seen my brother since he left for boot camp in November 2015.

One more thing, M and I celebrated 5 years together in December.  It seems strange that it’s already been 5 years, and yet, also only 5 years.  It feels like it’s been a lifetime in some respects, and also like it’s been only a heartbeat.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Enough looking backwards though.  It’s the first day of 2017, and a perfect time to look forward.  I have three facets I’m making goals for:

  1. Running.  M and I signed up this year to run 2017 miles between the two of us.  I need to average 20 miles per week to hit that.  I also am hoping to hit some big PRs this year – sub 1:30 10 miler, and a sub 2:00 half marathon.  I may also run another marathon this year, in November or December, and if we sign up for that, I want to break 4:00, which would give me a 1:00+ PR (my first marathon was 5:56:??).
  2. Reading.  I planned on reading 50 books last year.  At some point, I fell off reading on the metro and started listening to more podcasts.  So, I only hit 29.  This year, I’m starting off with the more manageable goal of 30.  That’s an average of 2.5 books per month.  I’m debating if I want to do BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge.  There are some challenges that I will likely finish without altering the books on my to-read list, but there are (naturally) some stretches.  There’s also the Popsugar Reading Challenge, which has 40-52 challenges, a larger stretch, but probably still doable.
  3. Sewing.  You thought I forgot about this, didn’t you?  Nope.  I’ve got shit to sew, and I should probably get my shit together if I want to stay on M’s good side.  My space is a TINY bit of a disaster right now, and it may or may not be due to the number of UFQs I have going on right now.  Also wrapped into this side of my goals, blogging.  Holy shit you guys, I am TERRIBLE at blogging.  I have the hardest time remembering to do it.  So, I’m going to shoot for one post per week to recap the goals I have going on.
  4. General Fitness.  I know, I know, cliche to the core.  M and I started doing P90X at the beginning of December.  This was partially due to the fact that I looked at myself naked and then realized I was going to look like crap in my 3/4 singlet this year, and partially due to the fact that M has lost 10 lbs and looks amazing.  We’re doing arms and abs and shoulders, so I can get the flat stomach and some ripped arms to rock my singlet.  And, also, this will probably help with my running pace.

So, there you have it.  One of the most cliche posts of the year, but if I’m going to blog once a week, I should probably start somewhere.  It does mean that you’re going to see sewing stuff here, but also book recommendations and running recaps.  I guess that makes me less of a sewing blogger and more of a “general lifestyle” blogger, but I promise to keep the sewing most of the focal point.  Hopefully I’ll also be better at Instagramming things and taking pictures, so you’ll have some pictures to break up the rambling.

 

Head Up, Wings Out!

Two and a Half Months…

It’s been 2.5 months since I last posted.  Blogging is hard, guys.

Here’s what I’ve been up to: work, running, more work, sewing, more work.   In all seriousness though, the conference I run starts next Saturday, and I spent all of last week in a seminar on Science and Technology Policy.  Pretty much, I’m exhausted all the time.

So, what’s happened since I last posted?  Well, I hit a major milestone with my health – I officially have lost 40 lbs since July 2014.  There’s an entire post on that in drafts, so I’ll finish that up and post it soon.

One of my best friends got married, and I got to be part of that!  I loved being there for her, even though I ended up having to leave fairly early.  The flu reared it’s ugly, ugly head halfway through dinner.

Image Credit: Stephanie Messick Photography

I finished my mini-placement in Holiday Shops for Junior League!  It was a great experience, and I’m considering making it my actual placement next year!

And, I’ve been doing an awful lot of sewing!

 

For Christmas, we’re off to England, so before we leave, I’m planning a big swap post.  I have two more to ship before we go, and one to ship in February.  Otherwise, I’m closing out!  Well, kind of.  I’m planning on taking a step back from the swaps for next year.  I have a lot of projects that have been on the back burner for a while because I have limited time for sewing if I’m also running and working for two organizations and volunteering, and I think it’s time to start working on them.  I also want to be better about blogging and promoting myself, which hopefully will lead to some commissioned projects.  I could use the money, and I really want PeekabooStitches to be a real thing, not just a dinky little blog.  I know, that means I need to be better about actually posting, but I have to start somewhere, and this decision is the first step.  I’m also working on making some changes to my career.  I’m hoping to slowly move to just one job, and that might take some time, but it’s on my list of priorities.

And, running.  I ended up having to skip Philly.  It was really hard, but it was the right decision.  I’ve been out of running mojo for a while, so it’s time for me to take a step back, deal with stress in a couple other areas of my life, and get back to a space where I enjoy running and am motivated to do it.

 

On another note, tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  M’s parents are hosting us and my parents.  My brother started boot camp this week, so he’s going to miss the turkey goodness, but my mom insists they’ll have halfway decent food in the mess for them.  We’re on the hook for potatoes, vegetables, and a dessert, officially.  So, we have our 10 lb bag of potatoes for mashed and roasters – his dad will make the roasters, I’m making the mashed, and I bought creme fraiche for it.  I’m definitely doing bacon roasted brussels sprouts for our vegetable, but I’m also considering a batch of bourbon maple glazed carrots.  And, for dessert, I’m making a pear and cranberry pie.  I’m also making a cabernet cranberry sauce, and maybe an orange bourbon cranberry sauce.  And yesterday, I made cranberry jam to put on turkey sammiches.  Nom.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I’ll be back once the conference starts and I have some down time!

 

xo

Today, We Remember

The Pentagon Memorial.  Photo Credit: George Clack

The Pentagon Memorial. Photo Credit: George Clack

Fourteen years ago today was a pretty ordinary day.  I was your average 7th grade “unpopular” girl – dorky, bullied…I didn’t want to go to school.  In fourth period, my algebra teacher was pulled out of the classroom for a few minutes, but came back and continued the lesson.  For the rest of the day, kids kept getting pulled out to go home.  No one ever said anything.

After school, my dad picked me and the girl we carpooled with up.  As I opened the door of our van, he asked, “did you hear what happened?” I shook my head, no.  “A plane crashed into the Pentagon.”  My heart dropped.  “Where’s mom?”  His response came only a moment later, but the space between my question and his response seemed too long.  I still feel as though my entire life could fit in that space.

Mom was at home.  My brother had broken his arm the night before, and had had an appointment with the orthopedist that morning.  Mom had taken the morning off to take him in, and they’d been sitting in the waiting room at the Fort Belvoir hospital when everything happened.  She didn’t go in when they were done.  My mother is (now) retired from the Army.  In 1998, she was moved out of that first wedge when renovations started and over to NGB Headquarters, 4 miles away.  Because of what she did at the time, she spent a lot of time over in the Pentagon for meetings.  She had been there the day before, she likely would have been there if my brother hadn’t broken his arm.  Things were “fine,” in the way that nothing is fine when everything you know comes too close to the edge of catastrophe.

That moment, standing next to the van outside my middle school, was the moment everything visibly changed for me.  Older generations have Pearl Harbor, JFK, Martin Luther King.  Songs have been written about it.  “Where were you when the world stopped turning?”  I know now that I was in algebra.  That the superintendent had decided that schools would not share the news with students.  We had too many students with parents in the Pentagon, too many military families, too many parents who traveled.  To share the news would have incited mass panic, and the phones were already tied up.  We were just far enough from DC that we weren’t in danger, it was better to maintain as much normalcy as possible.

I’ve always been grateful for that decision.  11-year-old me would likely not have recovered from seeing those images before seeing my mother.  When I finally did see the horrors on the news that afternoon, it was while my mom held me.  I knew, solidly, she was safe.  We, like so many of our friends, were lucky.  Several years later, we talked about how she saw it then, and I found out she had been prepared to go pick up friends’ kids, because we hadn’t heard from them.  They were okay, but we teetered for a while.  The question rang, “why?”  One of our closest family friends had come exceedingly close.  Both parents were military, both worked in the Pentagon.  She was on the other side of the building when the plane hit and went through his office.  He was home sick.  There are so many of these stories.  So many people who wonder why.

My brother is 3.5 years younger than I am, and was 8 at the time.  He watched everything on live television in the waiting room that day.  We both exist, like so many millenials, in a place of “before” and “after.”  We stand at the cusp of having been old enough to know and remember life before the attacks, and having grown up with everything colored by what happened that day.  We both insist on phone calls or texts any time anyone flies anywhere.  We need to know you landed safely, that everything was fine.  That’s where the similarities between my brother’s reactions and mine end.  We stand at wildly different places politically, we have very different world views, colored by the same event.

In college, I had planned to major in International Relations.  Sitting in a class on Human Rights, I discovered that geographic lines had been drawn in experiences.  So many people had just watched the attacks, maybe an aunt or an uncle or a distant relative had died that day, but the attacks weren’t deeply personal to them.  They hadn’t existed in that horribly vast expanse of time between knowing and not knowing.  The attacks had happened here, and that was horrible, but they were roughly as relevant as the tsunami that had devastated Sri Lanka.  I decided, after that semester, to drop the major and switch to Biology.  But I did one more class.  I had the wonderful opportunity to take a Terrorism/Counter-Terrorism course from an FBI agent who had been on the Terrorism Taskforce.  His classes were wonderful, and the case studies we did were cases he had worked.  We covered the 9/11 attacks on 9/11/08.  I sat in the front of the classroom and silently cried through the entire class.

Today, we remember.  We remember the men, women, and children who died at the hands of extremists.  We remember those who sacrificed their lives to save others – the first responders, the passengers and crew of UA flight 93, and the military servicemen and women who have fought in the ensuing conflicts.  We honor the fallen, we honor the survivors.  We thank our lucky stars that our loved ones are safe.

It’s been 14 years since our trajectories were so violently altered.  And today, while we remember and honor the survivors and the fallen, we need to remember to practice tolerance and love.

Bretagne, the last surviving 9/11 rescue dog,  with her owner Denise back in 2001 Photo Credit: Texas Task Force 1

Bretagne, the last surviving 9/11 rescue dog, with her owner Denise back in 2001
Photo Credit: Texas Task Force 1

August Recap

I know I’ve said this before, but the past month has been extraordinarily crazy.  I’ve started posts so many times – on scratch pieces of paper, napkins, sitting here at the computer – and they all just get pushed aside for something else.  I don’t know the last time I was as mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted as I’ve been this month.  This is a LONG post, and it starts out a little heavy, but it lightens up.

I started out this month in Boston.  I had a weekend trip up to spend one more weekend with BFF before she moved to Germany for her PhD.  I cannot even begin to express how wonderful that weekend was, but it was also incredibly difficult.  I’m not sure how you get to the point where you’re okay with your best friend moving halfway around the world, but I am not okay with it yet.  She’s been gone for a couple weeks now, and I already miss her in the worst way.  Most of the time it’s totally fine, but sometimes I feel like someone cut out my heart and a lung, and then had a go for a kidney while they were in there.  We’ve been friends for five years, and of those, four have been long distance.  Nothing horrible has ever happened to make it necessary, but it was always possible to jump in the car or onto a plane and fly to Boston if she needed me, and the other way around.  It came close one year though.  It was New Years Eve 2012 into 2013.  M and I had left the bar we’d all gone out to early to go back to his place, make some pizza, watch the ball drop in our pjs, and then go to bed.  I have no idea what time it was, but we were sound asleep and my phone rang.  I sat straight up in bed, knew it was her without looking at it, and answered “what’s wrong?”  She was on the other end bawling her eyes out, and it was all I could do to calm her down and tell me what had happened.  I came incredibly close to getting on the first flight to Boston the next morning, but she promised it would be okay, and it was.  Getting to Germany in the case of something like that is not anywhere close to that simple.  And it would be a big fat lie if I said I wasn’t worried about that.

On a happier note, I did send her off with a metric ton of bags and travel things.  She doesn’t do organization well (I swear we’re the same person), so I wanted to make sure that she had, at the very least, cute tools to maintain some semblance of order while she’s traveling.  I didn’t get everything on that to-sew list done, but that’s what Christmas is for!  She did get a lot of it though, and then promptly tested a bunch of it out on her trip to PA with her mom.  So, without further ado, here’s what she got!

  • A Weekender Bag (Amy Butler)
  • 1 Large Open Wide Pouch (Noodlehead)
  • 1 Small Open Wide Pouch (Noodlehead)
  • 1 Wherever You Go Travel Wallet (Fishstick Designs)
  • 1 Manicure Wallet (Noodlehead/Robert Kaufman)
  • 2 Tiny Neat n Tidy Zippered Pouches (Erin Erickson)
  • 1 Jane Market Bag (Alicia Paulson)
  • 1 Large Wet Bag
  • 1 Travel Document Wallet (Thimble)
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Most of the stuff I sent to Germany with BFF. She’s got a fantastic Christmas coming too!

I went for a palette of teals, aquas, corals, and purples.  Bright colors, a lot of her, a little of me, and where I could get away with it, some fabrics that reminded me of our time at Roanoke together.  We went from pretty much not being able to stand each other to best friends on a May Term trip to Mexico after junior year of college.  We were both biology majors, and the class was a Tropical Marine Biology thing.  After that class, we ended up having vertebrate biology and our senior seminar together, which means we had a lot of very interesting times in classes together!  I used some florals (we also had the same advisor, and she mostly works with plants,) the coral reef on her weekender bag was because Mexico, same with the Cuzco plume on the wallet.  Inside her weekender, there are a couple of zippered pockets.  One of them got a fish print, the other one got a print that has always reminded me of kelp.  The Jane Market Bag was a different beast.  I’d been hoarding that fabric for a WHILE.  Two years, maybe?  I picked it up off of one of the first destashes that Quilt Barn did, and I never really had a use for it.  It’s a home dec fabric, and there isn’t anything in my home that I wanted in those colors.  I was considering destashing it, and then I started pulling fabrics for this project and they insisted I use them for the Market Bag.  I was happy to oblige, and amazing happened.

Sometimes, the projects design themselves.

In any case, I showed up in Boston with a pile of stuff for her, and she was thrilled.  I still had to finish a few things (like, um, sewing in the lining of the weekender.  Oops.), but for the most part, we used them to transport her stuff from work home, and then as we started cleaning up her bedroom to take back to her parents’ or over to Germany.  I did get this really awesome snapshot of her while I was working on sewing in the lining…

We had a fun weekend in Boston, with lots of good food and some pretty unintentional BFF things happening.  I got to see the sights, we did a lot of walking, I skipped my runs.  All in all, it was a solid weekend.

I got home late Sunday night, M and I had a lovely few hours together before bed, and then he woke me up at 5AM Monday to drive him to the airport.  He spent a week in Dallas for training, came home Thursday night, and we had a bunch of errands to run, family stuff to do that weekend.  I got not a whole lot done, but I did get my Broadway and Hogwarts swaps shipped out mostly on time!

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Broadway Mini Quilt!

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This doesn’t need much introduction! This was the Hogwarts Swap Mini I sent out!

M flew back out to TX for more training the following Tuesday, and I peaced out on Friday for the DCMQG Quilt Retreat.  It was SUCH a fun time.  I honestly could not ask for a better guild.  Everyone is so supportive and inspirational.  I had a super productive two days at retreat, and managed to get a bunch of swap work done, plus a little tiny bit of selfish sewing.

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Unfortunately, I had to leave retreat early on Sunday to get to the airport to head to the National Meeting for work.  I spent Sunday-Wednesday in Boston, and I was so tired by the time it was over.  It was a great experience to be able to go to the meeting, and I’m really hoping I’ll be able to keep going!  I did manage to get a little bit of work done, and I spent some time in our booth on Tuesday (the last day) working on my (drumroll please…) Epic Chemistry Quilt.  I’m not spilling the details on the full design, but it’s going to be pretty sweet.  More than one member was super excited to see me working on it, which was pretty exciting for me!

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I ended up spending most of Wednesday sitting in the airport.  I got the call at 12:30 that my 3pm flight was cancelled, so I hustled it over to sit on standby and hope to get a flight.  I managed to get a little something finished for my Zodiac Mini Swap, and also finished up the embroidery piece of the Best Birthday Ever package I shipped out at the end of the month.

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When I finally got home (on a 6pm flight that was delayed until 7pm,) I was pretty much ready to sleep for a week.  The last week of August was mostly just a cluster of exhaustion, but I finally got my life together and finished up that Best Birthday Ever swap, and got back on the Marathon Training bus.

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So, it’s now September 2.  My next post is going to be a run down of the swaps that I’ve finished/received starting with Alison Glass, as well as the DCMQG Bee update that I’ve been slacking on.

Pinterest, We Need to Talk

(I promise you, a real post is coming.  It’s sitting in drafts waiting for pictures.  Soon.)

Dear Pinterest,

We’ve been friends for a really long time.  I joined not long after you first launched, and I talked a ludicrous number of friends into jumping on board.  This was the tool I’d been looking for.  Something that allowed me to catalog things by pictures I’d seen on websites, and group them together so that I could skim through each visual folder to find what I was looking for, instead of having to have endless folders in my bookmarks, and then figure out what to call each thing so that I could distinguish one meatball recipe from another.  It seems absurd to say “Pinterest changed my life,” but in some ways, it’s true.  We’ll come back to that later, but for now, I’ll only say this about how you’ve changed my internet life – I have 3.1k pins on 53 boards.  That is a lot of pins.

You’ve made a lot of changes since I joined.  Some of those changes have been pretty awesome.  You launched an app, which has made it easier to add inspiration I spot randomly “in the wild.”  You launched secret boards, which I have used for gifts, surprise parties, and so much more.  Other changes, I’ve been pretty neutral about.  The addition of “promoted pins,” has been kind of irritating, but I get that you’ve got to make money somewhere, so ads are a necessary evil.  There are a few changes, however, that have seriously killed my use of your tool, and I want to talk about those.

Let’s start with these godforsaken “picked for you” pins, and the introduction of “News”.  One of the things that I have loved for so long about Pinterest is that my “home feed” was a place to go to see what my friends and family were pinning.  What is interesting/funny/pick an adjective to them?  I repinned a lot of these things.  It was quick and easy to jump on, scroll through what people I chose to follow were pinning, and then go find what I really wanted by either searching or popping the board I needed up to find my pins.  Since the release of these “picked for you” pins, I spend about 20 minutes looking at crap I didn’t sign up for and don’t particularly care to see.  Why do I spend so long on this?  Because I’m having to go into each of these pins, click the x,  and then “hide all pins related to x.”  I set my settings to tell you not to use personalization on my feed, and yet, here we are.  I want to be able to tell you, Pinterest, that I do not care what you think I’m interested in.  I don’t care that you see everything I pin, I don’t care that you’re trying to give me things that I could also be interested in based on what I pin.  If I want recommendations based on a specific pin, I will click on it and then scroll all the way down to see “related pins.”  And damnit, I want you to listen to that.  I also want you to stop deciding that when I tell you I don’t want pins related to a board, it means you can pick things related to a pin.  STOP IT.

On that same note, if you get rid of these “picked for you pins,” you can ALSO get rid of the “News.”  The fact that Jen pinned 30 pins to her baby board is absolutely not news.  I should be able to scroll down my home feed and see that she pinned all these pins.  I don’t need another notification about it.  Notifications used to be “hey, someone repinned your pin!” or “hey, your pin got 15 likes!”  They were fun.  They were a way to track how other people were viewing the things I was pinning, which is pretty cool when you’re signed up for a business account based on your little blog.  Fix the home feed, lose the fake news, and then I will probably come back more.  I say probably because we still have a pretty big issue.

Can we please also talk about your categorization issues?  Maybe this isn’t completely a Pinterest problem, maybe this is also a Pinterest-User problem, but if that’s the case, we need a way to fix it.  You see, one of my favorite things to do when I’m having a crappy day is to open Pinterest, click on “Humor,” and scroll.  It mostly fixes things.  But pretty often, I’ll come across something that terrifies me.  Like the fact that pins with study tips for the NCLEX are often categorized as humor.  If you’re going to let this happen, Pinterest, I need the ability to click the pin and tell you that this pin is in the wrong spot.

This is so not okay.

This is so not okay.

And as long as we’re talking about pins being categorized incorrectly, I’m going to pop back to that little thing where I said I was mostly neutral on “promoted pins.”  Please stop putting ads for shoes and clothes and whatever into the middle of a recipe search.  When you launched “promoted pins,” you promised that they would be relevant, and that we would see promoted pins that related back to the searches we were doing (in case you’ve forgotten that bit, here’s the link).  In your update earlier this year, you reiterated that that was the intention when your product manager stated that she was looking for ideas to redecorate, and found a rug that was a promoted pin from Target – that was what these pins should be.  These pins are not that.  I’ve got pins about engagement rings showing up in recipe and humor searches, pins on weight loss in craft searches, and my favorite from just now has to be “how to help your best friend through breast cancer,” promoted by HealthLine in the middle of “Quotes.”  You’re better than this, Pinterest.

I want to love you again, Pinterest.  I really, really do.  But for some reason, you are hell bent on driving me away.  You used to be comprised of like-minded people who genuinely cared about making your site a place to be inspired, a place to carefully store things until they were needed. A place to laugh, a place to cry, a place to be consoled.  You held words, art, and food to bring people together.  Dreams were tucked away on pins.   Now, that orderly little place is gone.  It’s a mess of ads and things I didn’t sign up to see, poor algorithms including irrelevant things in my searches.  Please, Pinterest, be better.  It’s time to look back at the intentions that drove your founders to spend all that time creating you, and figure out what went wrong.

With Love,
Brandi

 

If you got this far and use Pinterest, congratulations.  This next part is for you.

For the love of all that is good and holy in this world, check your links before you pin.  I swear to Jesus, if I click through on ONE MORE adorable pin and then have to google because you pinned off someone’s front page, and NOT off the permalinked post, I am going to lose my mind.  If you love something on someone’s blog so much that you have to pin it, do us all a favor and click through to the actual post before pinning.  Because, JFC, you’re going to kill me.