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.

Ooops.

Huh.  Somehow, it’s been a month since I last posted.  I do have four posts sitting as drafts, and I will get to posting them.  I promise.

It’s been an eventful month.  One of my best friends from Germany came to visit for a week, which was so much fun.  We did some touristing during the week – I worked on the move while we did the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History.  American History was a lot of fun with her – Europe does American history in broad, broad strokes, so it was really exciting to talk to her about the details, and how history has influenced culture and current events here.  I also took a few hours to take her up to the Hill and introduce her to a staffer friend of mine.  He was able to give us a great tour, including a fantastic extra stop at the Speaker’s Balcony!  As many times as I’ve done the Hill tour, that was the first time I got to do that!  Her last day here, M and I took her up to the National Cathedral, and then over to the Zoo.  We were expecting some massive crowds, especially when we saw that they didn’t have the pandas out in the yard (that pavilion is TINY), but they were doing really great crowd control and the pandas were more active than we’ve ever seen them.  I got some fantastic pictures.

Oh, and M and I were pretty cute too.

mandi

 

After the zoo, M and I took her out to Wolftrap to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform with Sarah Chang.  Immediate reviews on twitter were pretty glowing of Sarah Chang’s performance, but I have to be super honest, we weren’t that impressed.  Don’t get me wrong, she was good.  But there wasn’t anything terribly special about her playing ability.  All in all, it was a great week, and I was definitely sad to have to take her to the airport Sunday morning.  I DID manage to also get her addicted to embroidery while she was here, and I sent her off with a bunch of scraps, floss, needles, a bag to put it all in, and a mini quilt for her to embroider.  Because it’s not a vacation at my house unless you also sew. 😉

Beyond that, it’s just been busy.  Work has been crazy hectic, M started a new job and has been stressed out beyond belief, I started marathon training, and I’ve also been trying to stay on top of swaps AND also put together a travel set for BFF.

BFF found out last month that she’s going to be doing her PhD at Max Planck in Germany!  It’s SUCH a big deal, and I am SO proud of her.  I mean, I love Germany.  It is an amazing place, and I’m so happy for her to get to know the country.  I’m also so so proud of her for pushing forward on the grad school dreams.  Max Planck is a huge deal.  I can’t get over it.  BUT, I’m also heartbroken that she’s moving halfway around the world.  We don’t see each other very often – she lives in Boston, but there’s something to be said for the ability to call her in the middle of the night, or the ability to jump on a plane and be with her in an hour and a half – it’s not cheap, but $300 here or there isn’t the end of the world at the drop of a hat.  This is the end of an era, and I’m crossing my fingers that she gets WhatsApp the second she gets a cell phone over there so I can at least text her.  Because otherwise, I might lose my mind.

Obviously, since she’s leaving, I had to make her a travel set, and it needed to include every bag/wallet she might ever need.  So, I started with a Weekender Bag, and then promptly lost my damn mind.  A Wherever You Go Wallet, an Open Wide pouch in each size, a Jane Market Bag, a Manicure Kit, a Travel Kit, a Document Wallet, a Luggage Tag, a Wet Bag, a Bobby Pin Pouch, a Hair Tie Pouch, a Jewelry Clutch, a Toothpaste/Toothbrush Bag, and (theoretically) cord keepers.

Not all of these things are done yet, but I’m making decent progress.  Not great progress for flying to Boston for our last hurrah in less than 24 hours, but I don’t need to sleep tonight!

I promise to have more pictures once I get home from Boston.  In the meantime, I’m going to go grab a drink and head home to sew!

Sewing, Planning, and Running

I opted to skip the Freshly Pieced link-up this week.  I’ve been fairly horrible about taking pictures and not sharing them on instagram, so I didn’t see the point in re-documenting it here.

It’s been a kind of terrible week.  We got some news last weekend that I’m still trying to digest, and I’m definitely not okay with it.  But it seems that there’s nothing we can do.  It’s been killing me, and I took a day or so to sit around and feel sorry for myself, and I’ve been trying to turn the rest of the horrible feelings into sewjo, which has worked kind of well.  Usually, when bad things happen, I run.  I run out the anger and the frustration and the sadness and I get to go home without the ability to feel anything else.  Running usually helps give me some power back when I feel like everything is out of my control, but this is the one time it’s not going to work.  Everything that’s happened has honestly brought into focus the fact that we/I have no control, that we can do everything right and it still won’t matter, and there’s nothing that we can do to change it.  I want to run, I want to fight, but I feel so defeated.  And that will be the end of the vague-blogging.

That said, I decided to take the week off of running and just let myself exist and sew, which seems to be what I need.  It’s been unusually satisfying to create this week, and it seems that my soul is crying out to make beautiful things from little pieces.  Because I don’t have enough projects on my plate, I think I’m going to start working on a postage-stamp scrap vomit quilt.  We’ll see when that gets started, since I have a ton of other stuff that HAS to be done first.  You can see my WIPs on the WIP page by clicking on the pink menu button.

In the past week, I’ve finished the second handmade item for my SPD Fairy Tale Swap partner, made fantastic progress on the mini quilt for that, finished the Alison Glass Angel Mini and thread catcher, accomplished my June DCMQG Bee block, and added about 15 projects to my plate.  I need to do individual posts for the Alison Glass packages I sent, as well as for DCMQG, so those are coming.

I’m also on the hunt for my next planner.  For the past 6 months, I’ve been working out of a Kate Spade agenda (large, gold dots.)  I love it.  I love how it’s organized, I love the font, I love all the extra space for notes to keep track of my swaps, I love the paper, and I especially love that it’s spiral bound, but with a hard cover over the spiral.  Each month is color coded with the important stuff.  Last minute stuff tends to get tossed in in regular black ink when I’m sitting at my desk at work, but theoretically, each month is a different color.  What I don’t love about it is how the hard cover has worn.  My dots are faded, it looks dirty, and it’s not.  So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been researching hard.  And I’ve come to a few conclusions.  Some of these conclusions might insult some of you, and I’m sorry, but this is where I am.

1. I do not understand people who need 7 leatherbound planners.  If you need this many planners for your life, you are doing it wrong.

2. I do not understand the purpose of spending $60-75 on a planner and then using it as a scrapbook.  If you really want to scrapbook your life, there are gorgeous albums for that.

3. Why, why, WHY is it so hard to find a planner with a covered spiral at roughly the same size as the Kate Spade?

4. WHY does KS not make vinyl covers for her planners?  I mean, yeah, it’s $36 for the large one and that’s not breaking the bank, but I HATE that in 3 months I don’t want to show off my gorgeous KS planner because the dots have started to rub off.

5. WHY ARE DISPOSABLE PLANNERS SO EXPENSIVE?!

6. There are not enough real-people review blog posts about planners out there.  I actually also feel this way about fashion, but that’s another blog post entirely.

I’m honestly down to one of two options.  I’m either going to re-order a KS planner, although I’m incredibly sad that the fun quotes each month are gone for 2016, and then cover it with clear contact paper to prevent some of that wear and tear.  OR, I’m going to suck it the fuck up and order an Emily Ley Simplified Planner in Pineapple when they are available in September.  I’m not super okay with either option, but I feel like there’s not much choice.  Thanks, universe.

And, finally, I’m in the process of trying really hard to reorganize my sewing space.  I’ve been using these fantastic drawers for my fabric, but I’m having a hard time keeping everything folded when I’m constantly rifling through them to find what I need.  And my blue and neutral drawers are about to explode.  They are stuffed full.  In addition, my notions are a disaster and I can’t ever find anything, and I don’t have a good storage option for my UFQs/WiPs.  I’m getting really frustrated with the mess, and I don’t know how to make it better.  I’m also really tired of having to cut on the floor or move my sewing machine off to the side of my table, which usually involves moving eight million other things in order to get enough space to move my machine and cut.  Basically, my space is a mess and I can’t function anymore.  I need some serious help.  Suggestions would be much appreciated.  We don’t have a ton of space here – M and I share a small bedroom as his office/my sewing space.  So, adding a table in the middle of the room isn’t an option (although I feel like that’s where I might be.)  Help.  Someone help me.

Weekly Running Recap

I know we basically just did this, but I’m trying to get back on track with blogging.  Since this particular blog is still so new, I’m still figuring out an actual post format.  The overall goal is still to keep this blog as a mostly quilting/sewing/fabric-porn blog, but running is a humongous part of my life, and if I’m only going to talk about it once per week, I’m going to cram as much into it as possible.  Which brings me to my next point, I’m going to try and delve into the technical as well as the fun for these posts.  I want to talk about how much I love running and why I run and all that jazz, but there’s really only so much I can do with that before you’re all like “shut up already, we get it.”  So, I’m going to try something else.  I’m going to try this thing where I do some data analysis and don’t just tell you what I ran this week.  Which means you need some background.  And then we can talk about the running and I promise there are pretty rainbow graphs.

I run with a Garmin Forerunner 620.  No, they didn’t give it to me for free, and no, they don’t pay me.  My Garmin has a chest strap to monitor my heart rate, as well as eight million other fantastic awesome things.  I go for a run, and then it spits out fantastic interactive graphs for me to look at.  It gives me three standard graphs that are basic, straight data.  Elevation over time, pace over time, heart rate over time.  The other three are percentile-based, which makes them a little harder to read but a lot more fun to look at!

The graphing behind cadence, vertical oscillation, and ground contact time is done the same way.  Each point is ranked individually based on data that Garmin has amassed and determined percentiles based on the rest of everyone.  So, purple points put you above the 95th percentile, blue 70th-95th percentile, green 30-69th percentile, orange 5-29th percentile, and red is below the 5th percentile.  Vertical Oscillation and ground contact time both want low numbers – the less you move up and down, and the less time your feet spend touching the ground before you take your next step, the more efficient you are.  Cadence wants higher numbers, since the faster you move your feet, the faster you run.

One last note before we dive into this week.  I love data, and I do have some experience with data analysis.  I do not, however, have any real qualifications as far as analyzing this data.  If you do, and I’m wrong on anything regarding this data, let me know.  I’d love to get it right!

Monday, June 15: 
Planned: 3 Miles
Actual: 2.83 Miles
Pace: 9:19/mile
I was a little short on Monday, but it was hot.  We ran our 5 States route, and by the time we got back up to 15th St, I was not at all interested in running up Rhode Island to 14th to get back to the store.  But hey, I’m good with it.

Capture ALL the data!!!

Capture ALL the data!!!

Overview!

Data Overview

So, what does this data mean?  Well, for starters, it means that I didn’t have the BEST run on Monday, at least technically.  I felt pretty good, which has to be worth something, right?  My cadence was pretty solid, as it looks like I’m tracking mostly green.  The red spots match up with breaks in pace, which is where we hit traffic lights.  My ground contact time looks even better, although there are those red spots again, but they seem to line up with the breaks in pace as well, which makes sense.  I need to improve my vertical oscillation, which is tracking orange.  So, no more bouncing, I guess?

The summary data tells us that based on my heart rate, I had a fantastic run and that I’m seriously improving.  This information is probably the most interesting for me.  I’m on stimulants to deal with a sleep disorder, which increases my heart rate.  Without meds, I have seriously low blood pressure and my resting heart rate is something like 58.  It’s fun to watch it skyrocket, and I’ve been enjoying watching the changes.  My average cadence was 167.  The overall target is 180, so I’m doing well there.  Vertical oscillation is high, which is really interesting.  Higher vertical oscillation is connected to shorter ground contact time and faster pace, but it’s theoretically less economical.  So, run fast but not too fast?  As far as ground contact time goes, I’m actually really happy with 237 milliseconds.  Elites track at under 200 ms, which means I’m really not too far off there.

Tuesday, June 16
Planned: 6 Miles
Actual: 5.83 Miles
Pace: 11:15/mile
Hm, I’m seeing a pattern here.  I was a little short on Tuesday, and WAY slower than normal, but I had good reasons.  To start with, I’ve never run this route all the way through before.  I’ve never been fast enough to run this route before.  You see, we start off essentially racing the clock if we’re not careful about leaving basically right at 7PM.  We ran from the store to the Zoo.  It’s about 3.5 miles to the Zoo, and they close somewhere between 7:45 and 8:00.  When you add in traffic and the heat and the hills (oh god the hills), it can run late.  I did opt to walk the hills, but Garmin says it was 93* outside, and it was way too hot and humid.

Graphs June 16

June 16 Graphs

Overview June 16

June 16 Overview

So, clearly my watch and my run were off a little.  I love that as soon as we were walking up the hill, it looks like I was floating.  That’s right guys, I can fly!  But otherwise, I look good except for the two hills we walked up.  I can live with it, I think.  As far as summary data, it’s interesting that the training effect is “overtraining.”  I don’t feel overtrained, although I did wake up out of a dead sleep screaming later that night with a charley horse (cramp in my calf) that’s left a very sore knot.  I’m really okay with this route looking so freaking terrible, as far as data goes.  Or at least, I’m trying to be.  We’ll run the route again either later this summer or in the fall, and I’m hoping there will be significant improvement.

Thursday, June 18:
Planned: 1 mile to track, 400m sprint, 200m rest, 800m sprint-ish, 200m rest, 400m sprint, 200m rest, 200m all out sprint, 1 mile back to store.
Actual: 0.5 miles to office, 1.5 miles to track, 200m sprint, 200m rest, 400m sprint, 200m rest, 800m sprint-ish, 200m rest, 400m sprint, 1 mile back to store.

HA. Last night was just off.  My normal routine is to change at work, walk to the store dressed like a normal person, drop my shirt in bag before we run, run, get dressed, metro home.  Well, last night, I got all the way to the store and then realized I forgot my watch in my office.  So, I dropped my shirt in my bag, told the group I’d meet them at the track, and then ran back to the office to grab my watch.  And ran in to my boss.  Awk.ward.  Fortunately, it seems that he’s not going to make it a thing.  So, I got up to the track and missed the first 400m sprint and the first 600 of the first 800m.  I jumped in and started there.  It did feel good to be on the track, and I did feel fairly in control of my pace and my legs and my body.  That was nice.  I ran my 800 in 4:00, which is an 8:00 mile, and then seemed to be holding on to a 7:30-7:15 pace for the 400s.

Track Workout June 18

Track Workout June 18

Overview: June 18

Overview: June 18

I’m still working on figuring out the best way to work this data, so I’m going to leave it at “ooooh, pretty colors!” for now.

It’s Wednesday?

Oops.  I swear, you guys, I actually had planned on posting on Friday, and then work is insane and this weekend was insane and then it was today and I don’t know where the past week has gone.  I’m sorry.

So, three posts in one?  Here we go!

Last week’s running was kind of intense.  I did 3.23 miles on Monday, and then 3.89 on Thursday.  Monday’s run was our basic 3-ish miler, and we did our normal P&Q route.  Thursday was track, which was ROUGH.  You guys, it was hot.  It was awful.  But I pushed through.  I did drop the last 200m sprint off my workout, but I’m blaming it on having not done track in forever and then it being so hot.  No weekend runs yet.  I’m planning on adding in the long-er easy run this weekend, and then by the middle of next month, I’ll be running Saturdays and Sundays.  I missed Tuesday’s run last week due to a work dinner, but don’t worry.  I’ll be back on track.

I don’t really have much to report as far as my normal rambly Monday post, so we’ll just dive right on in to the WiP Wednesday fun!

This week, I shipped out my Alison Glass Mini Swap, and it’s actually out for delivery right now!  I seriously can’t wait for my partner to get it.  I went a little crazy, but I refuse to feel bad about it.  🙂

That’s the big project that’s been eating my life for a while, so I’m getting prepped to move onto other things.  The next big ship date I have is the SPD Fairy Tale Mini on July 6.  I’ve been playing with part of the pattern, and I’m really not loving how it’s working, so I’m going to have to run back to the drawing board with it.  It makes me sad, but I don’t know what else to do.  I had planned on doing a two-sided mini for that one, so I may just make it one-sided with your standard backing, but we’ll see.  If I do that, I probably need to get a better fabric option for it.  Maybe something from Heather Ross’ “Far Far Away.”

Other ship dates that are looming? The DCMQG Bee block for June still needs to be started.  It’s a challenging pattern, so I’ll be super honest and admit that I haven’t had the courage to even decide on fabric yet.  And, I’m also planning on submitting two blocks for #FloodTexasWithLove.  One from me, and one for one of my very good quilty friends.  She’s actually from Houston, and she really wanted to submit one, but she’s so swamped with work that I’m going to make hers.

That’s where we are this week.  I’ve also been sketching/doodling ideas for my Michael Miller Fabric Challenge Quilt entry.  I made the horrible mistake of looking through previous winners, and I’m kind of super freaked out about putting together a good design.  Since the challenge is focused on the “Celebration Glitz” line, I’ve been trying to really focus on the “celebration” aspect.  I’ve thrown around the idea of a memorial quilt for my grandmother, but I’m not completely on board with it yet.  I’ve also played a little bit with the whole “runner with a fabric problem” concept, and I’m kind of loving that direction, but it has the potential to get really busy if I’m not super careful.

I did also finish cutting out 118 hexie paper pieces, which are for a surprise selfish sewing project.  I want to dig in HARD to it, but I’m trying to exercise some restraint.  You know, because I have eight million other things to do.  Points to anyone who can guess why I need exactly 118 hexies.  It’s going to be epic.

And, since I need an actual picture of something that’s a work in progress in order to participate in the official link-up over at Freshly Pieced, here’s a new bag pattern I’m working on.  This had been planned as an extra for my Alison Glass MQS, but it just did not work as it is.  I don’t love the execution, but I do love the concept and I am definitely going to be continuing to play with it as I have time.  Eventually, it’ll work and I’ll write a tutorial or a pattern.  I couldn’t find either when the concept popped into my brain, and I think the world needs this.

Bag!

 

I want it to work so badly!

So, as long as we’re all here, just a reminder that you can access my running calendar and my swap calendar by clicking on the coral menu button at the top of the page.  In addition, I’m going to be adding my WiPs either on a new page up there, or in the sidebar. Look for it!