Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rhinbeck Knitting

Yup Yup Yup the plan right now is to attend the NY Sheep and Wool Festival this year! It's been two years since I last went and three years since I last went with my sister.

Since a Summer vacation of having my sister come here was out, we decided that a Fall visit would be nice and coming for Rhinebeck even better! Airline tickets haven't been bought yet, but I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that she is coming. I need my sister fix!

Now, I am on a mission to complete a sweater in time for the event.

I spent a few hours days stalking perusing through Ravelry trying to locate the perfect knit. I've narrowed it down to two choices.

Choice #1: Pinoli Cardigan
I absolutely love this cardigan. I knitted the CPH Hoodie many moons ago and ended up loving it very much. I always wanted to knit another one, but never got around to it. I am thinking this one would be a good replacement for it.
 
Choice #2: Montauk
Of course, I absolutely love this cardigan too! I actually came across this pattern first and thought right away this would be my Rhinebeck sweater. I think the collar gives it a unique look and with the heavier weight yarn, it would be a tad warmer.

I think in the end, I will eventually knit both, as I may have already purchased both patterns. It's just a matter of deciding which one will be the winner for this Fall.

What are your thoughts? Does one stand out as a winner in your eyes? Is there another pattern that should be brought to my attention to make the decision even more difficult? I'm all ears! Talk to me.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

MIA and an Upcoming Adventure

I know it's been a couple of weeks since I last posted. I have a real good reason as to why and I'll just say that life left me feeling out of sorts during the past week or so. However, I am back and hope to get some of the posts that I had planned on publishing out here on the blog (one includes a blogiversary which may, or may not, include a giveaway)!

However, the big news I have from this past weekend is that my honey and I booked tickets for our next backpacking adventure together! We are going back to Europe for another three weeks!! (cue the excitement!!!!)

So of course, I immediately got these babies:
Last year we went from Barcelona, Spain, through France into northern/middle Italy. We knew for this trip, we wanted to concentrate the first 10 days or so in Italy, as we fell in love with it last year.

My current travel guides didn't really go into southern Italy past the Naples area (and was really outdated - 2011), so I bought Rick Steves' guide (Sidenote - I used his guide exclusively last year and loved them) dedicated to Naples area and the Lonely Planet's guide to Southern Italy since we want to make it all the way down to Sicily.

And so far the Rick Steves' guide looks a little like this:
And my planning calendar is already taking shape:
This is how I planned our trip last year and it worked out beautifully. Being a super organized person really helps. By doing this, I know where we will be when and how many days we will spend in each place in order to reserve hotels. As for planning what to do, we will go with a rough idea of what we want to do, but not lock ourselves into anything.

After the first half of our trip, we will once again head to Athens, Greece. My honey's father lives there so we will spend a few days with him before taking the ferry out to Chios, where we will be doing a lot of swimming in this:
Uh, yes please!
 
Just like last year, I'll be updating my Instagram page as much as I can with snaps of what we experience. Everyone seemed to truly enjoy seeing them and joining us on our little adventure.
 
The countdown is officially on!!!! Less than three weeks until take-off!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Oakley NY Mini 10K Race Recap

Just over three weeks ago, I participated in my first race of the year. I thought it was high time I got my race recap done, especially before I run race number two in just a few short days.
 
The Oakley New York Mini 10K is one of my most favorite races to run. Not only is it one of the two women's only races put on by the New York Road Runner's Club, but it is also the only race where you get to run up Central Park West before continuing the race inside of Central Park.
 
On June 14, I participated in my fourth New York Mini race. The first time I ran it was when it was called the Circle of Friends New York Mini 10K back in 2006. In 2009 I ran it when it was called the NYRR New York Mini 10K. Then I ran it again when it was renamed the Oakley New York Mini 10K in 2013.
 
The day before race day, I headed uptown to the NYRR Club's office to pick up my race bib and tank top during lunch. This was my first time doing this during working hours, so I wasn't exactly sure how much time it would take me. Thankfully, by the time I got back to the office I still had 20 minutes to spare. Good to know for future bib pickups!
When I woke up at 6am race morning, I was grumpy as all get out. I was stressed that I had to take 3 different trains to get to the race start, due to subway work in Astoria. Those of you who know me, or have been to a race with me, knows just how much I hate being late.
 
Right before this picture was taken,
I had commented to my boyfriend that I didn't want to go. He laughed because seconds later I posed with a big smile on my face. Honestly, I did want to go. I love, love, love to participate in races. At the time I just wished it was going to be a little easier to get to the race and that I had someone going with me. This is where I need to make more running friends who like to race.

But alas, I got myself out the door. Three train rides later, which were surprisingly smooth, I arrived to the race start with 30 minutes to spare. Thank you Subway God's!

I hopped into my coral as soon as they opened and immediately snapped this picture. Taking advantage of them being empty to try and get a glimpse up Central Park West.
The race start was right outside of Trump's International Hotel and Tower...
...with the big globe in Columbus Circle...
...and of course no race start would be complete without the obligatory selfie...
I look excited, right?

Then moments later, that empty sea ahead of me looked a little like this...
Yup, it was crowded. About 6,000 runners crowed. I even overhead someone say during the race that they had no idea that so many people would run this race. Um hello. It's a woman's only race that let's you run up Central Park West. Of course it's going to be crowded and I love that so many women come out and participate.

Heading into this race, I had a goal finish time that I only my boyfriend I was hoping to hit which would give me a PR. I wasn't confident that I would be able to run that fast. A speed that I hadn't done in a race in seven years. He told me before I left that I could do it, but I had to convince myself that I could and at the time I wasn't buying it. So I told myself I would be happy to finish in under an hour, but of course I kept in the back of my mind what my PR number would be.

So at the blow of the horn at 8am, we were off! The first mile takes you up Central Park West and it was nice to see that the cars had been cleared from the side of the road this year.

At 90th Street you make your turn into Central Park and head towards the Harlem Hills. I was thankful for all the hill training I get during my Sunday long runs on the trails. The hills felt like a piece of cake and when I hit the 5K mark I felt amazing!

The last 2 miles of this race are always the toughest for me. It's a combination of just finishing a major hill climb, the heat and knowing that the finish line is on an uphill. It's not a major hill, but it's tough enough of a one on tired legs that you are wanting them to sprint to the finish line.

As I crept closer and close to the finish line I kept peaking at my watch. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was on point for a PR as long as my legs didn't give out.

When I crossed the finish line my watch told me I finished in 57:03! I did it! I set a new freaking PR!
Official Finish Time: 57:01 - Average Pace: 9:11
New PR by 24 seconds (In 2007 I finished my fastest 10K in 57:25. Average pace: 9:15)
Almost 11 minute PR from 2013 finish (01:07:54)

Splits: 9:26, 9:18, 8:46, 9:08, 8:50, 8:44, 8:16 (for the last .2) (Negative Split Race Too!)
When I think about it, I still can't believe what an amazing race I had. I truly pushed myself and saw what I was totally capable of doing. I proved that I had what it took to get that PR my little ol' heart wanted so badly.

My boyfriend texted me after the race and said: "You are getting faster and wiser the older you become!". I never imagined my 42 year old self could beat my 35 year old self! Just shows that hard work, dedication and perseverance pays off. Lord knows I have put in the work and sweated buckets to get where I am today.

The day after the race, I thought it would be fun to see a side-by-side comparison of myself between last year's race day and this year's race day.
This is what a 30 pound weight loss looks like! Never give up my friends!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Iced Eucalyptus Beret

Ever heard of Craftsy? I hadn't until last August. It's actually a pretty cool website that hosts online workshops for quilting, sewing, knitting, cake decorating, art, photography and so much more. You can sign up for a workshop, ask the instructor questions and basically complete it in your own timeframe.

A few weeks before I left for Europe, my dear knittingholic cohort had brought to my attention that a mutual knitting friend was hosting a mystery knit-a-long for a pattern she designed on Craftsy. I had no idea what the pattern would be, but I just knew I had to participate and support her even though I knew I wouldn't be able to start with everyone else as I would be in Europe when the class started on September 1st. (Again, the one thing that appealed to me was that I didn't have to start, or finish, with everyone else participating.)

So, I clicked the linky that my knittingholic cohort tagged me on, signed up for Craftsy, enrolled in the class, forked out the cash and before I left on my trip, I received the yarn we all would be using for the project! Easy peasy.

Now ten whole months later, I can finally call it done and share it with you all!

Pattern: Iced Eucalyptus Beret (Ravelry Link) by Angela Tong
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Venezia Sport (Deep Sea) - 1 Skein
Needles: 4 and 6 circs/dbl pntd
Started: 09/13
Finished: 06/29/14

The pattern is really quite lovely. I made the smaller size, and as you can see, it covers my head nicely. If you had a big ol' hunk of hair to put under it, you wouldn't have a problem. As with beret's, I find they have a lot of breathing room.

There were two options for the brim. I chose to complete the folded over brim, as I thought it would provide some extra warmth during the colder months. Even though it was a bit of extra work, I am happy I chose that option. Since I like to wear my hats down on my forehead, I feel this brim adds a little bit of sturdiness.

At first glance, you would think this pattern is more complicated and advanced than it really is. The pattern included a bit of lace and cabling work, but nothing difficult for a newbie to those techniques. I would label this project as "easy" and great for beginners, even with the folded brim.

The only thing left to do is give it a good soak and blocking, but since the summer weather is in full swing (I was literally sweating buckets in these pictures), I will put this away until the cold weather returns.

Knitting Goal No. 2 is complete! I really could of had this finished months ago. When I sat down to complete it the other night, I had only10 rounds to finish. I know I stopped working on it last time when I realized I needed to order size 6 double pointed needles. However, when the new needles arrived back in February, my life was in total apartment renovation chaos and everything took a backseat.

Stay tuned to see what else I've knocked off the list! Until then, share with me what you have on the needles right now? I'm always curious to hear what everyone else is knitting!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Honey Cowl FO 7th Installment

Since my last post, I have been a busy knitting bee! I've managed to finish three projects since last night. What basement rock was my knitting mojo hiding under all this time? Give me daylight and I am off!

Today I will share with you another one of my Honey Cowl's. This was the seventh one I have knitted and I made it for myself.

Pattern: Honey Cowl (link to free pattern) by Antonia Shankland
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK (Winter Night) - 4 Skeins
Needles: 8 circs
Started: 12/15/13
Finished: 06/28/14
When I picked this project back up Saturday, I was a wee bit surprised at just how little I had left to finish. I am embarrassed to say, but I think I finished in less than 10 minutes. I only had to knit half a row and then bind off the stitches. Not exactly sure why I didn't finish it the last time I had it in my hot little hands, but at least it's done now and my first FO of the year!

I absolutely love this pattern! I really must since I have made it seven freaking times, and most likely will not be my last. As with the previous versions I have knitted, I chose to knit the longer version so I can wrap it close around my neck. I like to keep the cold air off my neck so this is perfect.

The Knit Picks Gloss DK yarn was a perfect choice for it. It's soft, airy and warm! Plus there are many colors to choose from and it makes for a less expensive project. I did not have but a smidge of yarn leftover when all was said and done.

Goal No. 1 is complete!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Knitting

Back in January 2013, I wrote a post talking about my "Unfinished Knits of Years Past" (which you can read here). At that time I had 11 UFO's on the list. Today there are 14, as witnessed here in a screenshot of my Ravelry (angelny29) project list:
So are any of the original 11 still on this list? Yes, 11 to be exact. I know.

During the past year and a half, there have been some finished projects. I completed four Honey Cowls and one pair of vanilla socks. All were Christmas gifts.
Honey Cowl #1 - For my niece Ashley.
Honey Cowl #2 - For my sister MB.
Honey Cowl #3 - For my niece Kaitlin.
Honey Cowl #4 - For my sister Kathy.
Vanilla Socks - For my nephew Jeremy.

Back in the day (yes, I talk like it was 20 years ago instead of just six or seven) I was a knitting machine. In 2007, I had 21 FO's. In 2008, there were 47 FO's (my all time high). I was still going strong in 2009 with 23 FO's. Then it went drastically downhill from there for one reason or another.

While I am not necessarily looking to rock that many FO's in a year anymore, I am wanting to complete more projects than I have during the past couple of years.

So here I am setting some goals. I work well with goals. Goals help keep me going and motivated. I love being able to tick the completed section of each goal one by one. I'm a goal junkie.

Goal #1 and #2: Finish "Deborah's Honey Cowl" and "Iced Eucalyptus Beret" pronto. Both of these items are mere inches from being finished and sadly could of been done during the Polar Vortex so I could of enjoyed them.

Goal #3: "Bacon Socks" - I seriously need to finish sock number two so I can have the leftover yarn for my "Sock Yarn Blankie".

Goal #4: The "Boneyard Shawl" will be the next item to complete. I know it is also almost at the completion point. I believe I stopped because I was trying to figure out how many more repeats I could do and still have enough yarn left for bind off.

Goal #5: "Some Cloudy Day" legwarmers - One legwarmer complete, the other halfway done. Enough said.

Ongoing Goal: Complete at least 5-6 squares on my "Sock Yarn Blankie" each week. I have been working on this blanket since 2010 and know that this is a long term project. I would really like to finish it before I am in my rocking chair so hopefully this will help put a dent in it.

For right now, these are my top knitting goals. Once I check some of these off the list, I will update and revise accordingly.

To hold myself accountable, because really I want to finish so I can start new, I have decided I will dedicate at least one post a week to knitting. I honestly miss talking about and sharing my knitting. So I am going to change things up and get a little something of what started this blog in 2007 back. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Did I Succeed?

Before the month of June is over, I thought it was high time I revisited those fitness goals I set for myself in May!

As a refresher, here is what I stated as my goals and the actual post on them is here:
So how did I do?

The HIIT workouts and weight training were nonexistent during the month and still have yet to make a reappearance in my life. I blame this on the lack of space we had in the basement apartment. As we got closer to moving out, the little bit of floor space I had completely disappeared. I know that once things get really settled in the new apartment, I will be working this back into my routine.

My weekly meal plan/prep received a little kick in the behind in May. I didn't give it the dedication as I have in the past (as seen here, here and here), but I did make sure to think about what I wanted to have for my lunches during the work week and made it happen. So what if it was the same meal everyday for five days? The variety will come back to me now that I have the time and space to prepare.

H2O, H2O, H2O, I drank so much H2O I could of floated away!

Lose 4 pounds - Didn't happen. I did lose 1.5 pounds though and I know that if I had added those extra workouts in, I would of knocked this goal out of the park. I am seriously not stressing over it. I have since lost an additional 1 pound and my pants have gotten considerably looser. I am heading in the right direction and that's all that matters.

Run the entire month of May (#31daysofrunning)...

If you follow me on Instagram (angelny29), or friends with me on Facebook, you already know the outcome of this huge goal.

I did write a post recapping the first 8 days, but then life got all kinds of crazy and things took a backseat, with blogging being one of them.

However, I did CRUSH this goal!!! I posted faithfully every day to my social media accounts with a snapshot of my running watch to hold me accountable. When all was said and done, I ended up running a total of 33 days straight. I ran the last 2 days of April and didn't stop chugging along until June.

I am still amazed at myself whenever I take a look at this:
Each of those blue entries mean I ran that day!

I ran 119.7 miles for a total of 21 hours, 5 minutes and 19 seconds and burned a total of 11,286 calories in the month of May.

I never, ever thought I would be able to run that many days straight.

Were there days I didn't want to lace up my shoes and go for a run? Absolutely. What got me through those days was knowing that I only had to run 1 mile that day if I wanted. That's 10 minutes or less of running for me. I can do that.

Did I learn anything from this experience or see any benefits from running every day? Absolutely. I learned that my body is quite capable of running every day without having to take a rest day. I just needed to remember that when I felt tired or sluggish, I need to run slower or keep it short.
I also learned that I can actually have an awesome long run despite not taking any rest days. Some of my best runs during the month were my long trail runs. The weeks my total mileage was in the 30's, I knew I needed to cut back a bit the following week. My speed also returned to me a lot quicker than if I had run only 4-5 times a week.

Would I do it again? Sure would! I always fancied the thought of extending the challenge to running 100 days straight, but right now I am in no hurry to jump on that bandwagon.

So talk to me. Tell me what kind of goals you've set, or would like to set, for yourself. Just remember, anything really is possible!