A tiny cross stitch update.

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I kind of dropped off the face of the earth last week. I blame it on the holiday and on things going on in my personal life that I don't really want to get into here. I haven't been doing much crafting, so I haven't been writing or taking pictures of what I've been working on.

That changes right now.

Harry Potter cross-stitch progress
Look, it's my man Neville, and a little bit of Moaning Myrtle!

I started the cross-stitch I received in my swap package a few weeks ago and it is so much FUN. I've been on a huge Harry Potter kick recently, so this sampler's been super up my alley. However, I forgot how slow going working on a cross stitch project can be, especially a cross-stitch project with a ton of colors. I also haven't worked on a cross-stitch project for about 8-9 years, so I'm needing to get back into the groove. I'm working on it.

I am hoping to get more of this done now that the weather's getting cooler. It's been rainy and in the 60s the past couple days too, so I've wanted to craft all the things. The apartment is comfortable enough to knit and spin again, so I'm very happy.

Finished project - Aila Grace shawl

Hey look, I finished a shawl! Well, I finished knitting it last year, but I finally got around to blocking it last week, so technically I just finished it.

Aila Grace shawl

Pattern: Aila Grace shawl by Jennifer Lassonde
Yarn: Araucania Huasco in the '3' colorway (such an original colorway name)
Needle: US 5 - 3.75mm

Aila Grace shawl

This shawl was so much fun to knit. I love all the different textures - garter ridges, eyelets, slipped stitch patterning - it kept me excited to move to the next section.

Close up of Aila Grace shawl

The yarn was perfect for the pattern, too! I got it from a dear friend of mine at our knit night's Christmas party a few years ago. She knows me and my color palette well. I love all these colors together and since I wear a lot of pink and blue, this goes with a lot of my clothes. It also goes well with my hair!

Modeling the Aila Grace shawl

I'm also happy it's getting cool enough here to wear shawls again! I have a couple more shawls I knit earlier in the year that I still need to block, so hopefully I'll be posting about those here soon too. I love shawls.

Catching up on spinning.

It's been a tough summer for spinning here in the Pacific Northwest, with temperatures in the 90s and 100s for most of the season! Plus, our apartment doesn't really have air conditioning, so the last thing I really wanted to do most of the summer was hold a bunch of wool in my hands. Sweaty hands are fun for no one.

have been able to spin from time to time the last couple months, however. Here's what I've finished recently, and here's a couple spinning projects I've had on the wheel now that the weather's finally cooling down.

Two finished spins, August 2015
Two finished yarns from August 2015, close up

These two yarns are some of the favorites I've ever spun. Want to hear more about them?

Moonrover April yarn

Back in March, I signed up for Moonrover's three month fiber club. I loved the different colors I saw in her shop, and I'd never joined a fiber club prior to this one, so I signed up right away. This is spun from April's club colorway, and while the browns and greens aren't usually my wheelhouse, the blues and purples kind of pull it together.

I spun and plied this on my brand new Schacht Ladybug, the first yarn spun on my new wheel! I received it right around the time the April shipment arrived in the mail, so of course I spun that colorful bit of fiber right away. I ended up getting around 480 yards of 2-ply fingering weight from the 5-ounce braid of 85% superwash merino, 15% nylon. I'm thinking this will become socks someday.

Michigan Autumn yarn

Next up is an oldie but goodie! I thought I bought Michigan Autumn way back in 2007 at the Michigan Fiber Fest, but I don't see a picture of it in my festival recap. Time to rack my brains to remember what fiber fests I attended when I lived in Indiana!

I love the colors of Michigan Autumn, and find the name to be pretty apropos, but spinning this wasn't incredibly fun. Kids, don't leave your fiber hanging around for 8 years before spinning it! I'm a glutton for punishment and am attempting to spin all my old 2006-2008 era fiber, but it takes a ton of prepwork and predrafting to make it do what I want.

Either way, I got a few hundred yards of 2-ply sport weight yarn out of this bad boy, which is a merino / bamboo blend. I'm thinking I'll knit a hat out of it eventually, but I'll probably sit on it for a bit. I love looking at pretty fiber.

Currently spinning: Teal fiber

Speaking of old fiber, I'm spinning this beautiful thing right here. I love this blue so much, even though this stuff is also a pain to spin. This is another braid that's getting the prep and predrafting that Michigan Autumn received.  It's 4 ounces, but I have no idea the fiber content, though I'm guessing it's merino of some sort. I'm spinning this kind off thin and I'm planning on chain-plying it.

Currently spinning: Sushi by Fat Cat Knits

Last but not least, it's sushi yarn! I bought this when Rebecca of the Fiber and Dice podcast posted a picture of it on her Instagram. (Her spinning is freaking awesome, by the way.) The fiber is Sushi from Fat Cat Knits and it was dyed up as part of the #sushiquestyal and named after the Sushi Go! game. I love both the game and the food, so spinning this made me happy!

This my first time ever spinning with Targhee, and I wasn't too impressed. It was more grippy than I expected it to be, and I actually had to predraft it a little to loosen it up. I think the singles spun up pretty well, and I'll try Targhee again, but this braid surprised me. I'll eventually chain ply this, but probably after I chain ply the blue yarn so I can get more practice

. . . . . .

I'm so excited to be spinning again. I'm looking forward to the fall so I can sit by my wheel and drink delicious tea and chocolate and not worry about it being eleventy billion degrees outside.

Our Big Move - Day 7

Finally, I'm getting to the last part of our drive across the country! It's short, only because I didn't take a lot of pictures. I was too excited to finally be done with the driving!

Day 7 - Idaho to Portland

We slept well in Boise, and more importantly, we slept in, as we only had a 6 and a half hour drive ahead of us. We woke up, packed our things in the car, and ventured to a Whole Foods to pick up pastries for breakfast. Soon, we were on the road!

After less than an hour of driving, we saw a very welcome sight.

Oregon! Finally!

So, the landscapes of eastern Oregon completely took me by surprise. I expected most of the state to be forest and thought we'd be driving through lots of trees, but no. I couldn't have been more wrong.

This, my friends, is what eastern Oregon looks like. Not a forest in sight. We definitely didn't expect rolling hills!

Landscapes in eastern Oregon.
More landscapes in eastern Oregon.

Another welcome sight? Driving along the Columbia River for the last few hours of the trip!

Columbia river.
Another view of the Columbia River.

I drove most of the way after I took these pictures, so I don't have any of the last couple hours while we drove through the Columbia River Gorge. I also don't have pictures from when we first arrived in the city, driving over one of the many bridges that span the Willamette River.

I just remember being happy we finally made it to our new home, ready for our next adventure.

Our Big Move - Day 6

Our drive from Colorado to Idaho was our last long drive, but possibly the most scenic. I took a TON of pictures on as we drove through the mountains of Colorado, past beautiful rocks in Utah, and over interesting landscapes in Idaho. This recap will just be of all the pictures we took. Enjoy!

Day 6 - Colorado to Idaho

Colorado mountains.
Colorado. I've never seen views like this.
Colorado clouds
Awesome clouds in Colorado.
Colorado mountains and clouds
Colorado mountains.
Colorado trees and hills
Trees and hills in Colorado.
Colorado red rocks.
Western Colorado, where rocks started turning red.
More red rocks in Colorado.
Cool rocks in Colorado.
Even more red rocks in Colorado
Cool red rocks!
Cool rock formation in Colorado.
Even more rocks in Colorado.
Welcome to Utah!
Welcome to Utah!
Utah mountains.
Utah mountains.
Utah hills
These... hills? mountains? looked pretty cool.
Cliffs in Utah.
Cliffs in Utah.
Fields and amazing clouds.
Fields and amazing clouds.
Utah speed limit
In northern Utah, no one cares how fast you drive.
Welcome to Idaho!
Welcome to Idaho!
77 miles an hour!
Ted hit 77,777 miles on his car while going 77 mph in Idaho.

We reached our hotel in Boise at around 10pm, and we promptly fell asleep after procuring some free beer from the hotel bar. (Score!) We fell asleep fairly early, ready to finally arrive in Portland the next day. Six and a half hours of driving separated us from our new home.

Our Big Move - Days 3, 4, and 5

Our drive to Colorado was the longest drive of the whole trip - 16 hours! We didn't look forward to driving for so long, but we knew we'd be crossing two time zones, so we told ourselves it was like driving for 14 hours. I'm not sure that worked.

I also didn't take many pictures of our time in Colorado. I felt woozy from the high altitudes, and we spent most of our time laying low and relaxing, gearing up for our next long drive. We were happy we spent two whole days in Colorado before driving again!

Day 3 - Indiana to Colorado

We left Indiana bright and early and zipped through Illinois and Missouri. I've driven through Illinois and St. Louis many times, but after we drove through the city, we hit uncharted territory. We couldn't find a place to stop for lunch in Missouri, so we pulled into a rest area and made sandwiches. Worked for us!

Kansas wind
Lots of wind in Kansas!

Then, we hit Kansas. We thought it'd be flat the entire time, but we drove through parts with rolling green hills. We also didn't realize the altitude started changing in western Kansas, and as we crossed into Colorado, we were already a few thousand feet above sea level!

By the time we reached Colorado, we were tired. We just wanted to sleep, but we still had a few more hours to go. Ted and I switched off driving as the sun set, and once we reached Colorado Springs, I let him take the wheel to navigate the pass though the Rocky Mountains where his dad lives.

Colorado views
This is the view from Ted's dad's house. Pretty awesome.

We slept well that night.

Days 4 and 5 - Colorado

We spent two full days in Colorado, to rest from our long drive and to see friends who live in the area. We spent the first day in Denver, and the second day in Colorado Springs closer to his dad's place. The drive to and from Denver tired us after the first day, so we laid really low on the second. We did get to walk around Manitou Springs, drink some Colorado beers in Denver, and eat at a decent tapas place in Colorado Springs!

Driving down to Manitou Springs.
Driving down to Manitou Springs.

We made sure to go to bed early our last night in Colorado. We were still so tired from the 16 hour drive, and exhausted from the altitude! I didn't realize being 7000 feet above sea level would affect me that much. We did get used to it after the last day, which helped the next day when we had to drive through even higher altitudes...

Our Big Move - Days 1 and 2

Yes, we've made it across the country, to our new home in Oregon! In the process of our move, we chose to drive across the country. I'm happy we made the decision to drive, though at times, we just wanted to be there!

Day 1 - New England to Indiana

I didn't take many pictures this day, mainly because I can drive from New England to Indiana in my sleep! I drove this way so many times when I lived in Indiana. I took some pictures in New York, but that's about it.

Upstate New York.
Upstate New York.
NY storm.
A storm in upstate New York. Driving through this sucked.

We drove through New York state in the morning. We had an uneventful first part of the drive, but as we neared the PA border, storms blew in and we had to drive though some pretty severe weather! We were glad to be done!

Indian food
Delicious and CHEAP.

We stopped at Banana Leaf, an AWESOME vegetarian/vegan Indian place in Columbus, Ohio. We got the above food, a little dosa, unlimited mango juice, AND unlimited food from a buffet, for only $13.99. I couldn't even finish it all!

Because of our late stop for dinner, we arrived in Indianapolis incredibly late. We checked into our hotel, exhausted, and crashed. We definitely slept in late the next morning.

Day 2 - Indiana

In hindsight, we should have stayed in Bloomington, as we spent most of our time in Indiana there! We spent the day in my old college town, walking up and down the streets and around my old college campus. I loved showing Ted one of my two alma maters!

Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana.
Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana.
A little chipmunk on the Indiana University campus.
A little chipmunk on the Indiana University campus.

Next up, our drive and stay in Colorado. I started taking tons of pictures from Kansas onward!

Race recap - 2014 Market Square Day 10k

I hadn't yet experienced a terrible race until this past Saturday's Market Square Day 10k.

MSD 2014 logo
credit: Pro Portsmouth

I blame my sub-par run on my lack of training. Since my half marathon a month ago, I've been taking a little break from running. I know I'll get back into it, but my lack of running hurt my chances of running a sub-hour 10k this weekend. Still, I'm not too concerned.

I woke up at 7, ate my oatmeal, and walked to the start around 8:20. I picked up my bib and my free shirt, which I wasn't expecting this year because they had run out of my size last year! So, I had to run with a shirt in my hand the entire race, which, yeah, isn't ideal. I used the port-a-potty, found my friends, and warmed up for the race. Soon, it was time to line up, and we were off!

MSD 10K 2014
Running. I look tired here.

Right away I knew this wouldn't be my race. I thanked my lucky stars that the sun wasn't out, but temps were in the 60s and a little on the humid side, which causes disaster for me. I ran the first two miles at around 9:30 minutes each, and then... I had to stop to walk.

I know, stopping to walk isn't the end of the world, but when I ran this race last year, I ran the entire time. I was crushed I had to stop to walk, but really, I hadn't been training. My breathing was a mess and I felt like crap, so walking was the best decision. I rode the run-walk train the rest of the race.

MSD 10K - finish line
Almost to the finish! Yeah, I look 12.

After what felt like forever, I crossed the finish line at 1:07:00, not very happy with my race performance. I know I can do better with training, and that's what kept me going. Plus, I enjoyed the course and really enjoyed the support, with houses along the route playing "Eye of the Tiger" and the Star Wars theme. All the cheering for the runners also perked me up at times during the race!

This race was my last race before our move to Portland, which makes me a little sad. I'll be sad to miss the Seacoast Half Marathon in November, but I know PDX will offer many races this fall. I'm hoping to get back into running the last few weeks we have here, and as soon as we move to the great northwest. I'm confident I will get a sub hour 10k, but I need to put forth the effort. Running has taught me that the more you practice, the better you get. I'm still improving.


Providence Half Marathon race recap!

Yesterday, I ran the UnitedHealthcare Providence Half Marathon, my very first half marathon. Even though I put in the training and hit all my long runs, I still can't believe I did it.

Half marathon route.

The weekend

Ted and I drove down to Providence on Friday to spend an extended weekend in the city. Neither of us had ever been to Providence, so we were excited to see what we could find there! After a few stops on the way, we made it down to Providence at around 3:30.

After checking in, I picked up my bib at the expo, then we did some exploring! Our hotel was also attached to the Providence Place Mall, so we wandered around there for a bit. This mall was HUGE - Apple store, Cheesecake Factory, PF Changs - we don't have any of these at the mall here in town! We ended up eating at PF Changs that night and Cheesecake Factory with my sister and brother in law on Saturday night.

Aubrey with cheesecake
This is the biggest cheesecake I've ever seen. Yikes.

We also found a few cool places to eat and drink outside of the mall! We went to Trinity Brewhouse for beers on Friday, and for lunch on Saturday we ate at Veggie Fun, a vegan Asian place. I'm a huge fan of vegan Asian food, so of course I really dug this place! We also went to see Aziz Ansari perform some comedy on Saturday night, which really helped loosen me up for the race. He is hilarious.

The race

I felt really nervous on Sunday when I woke up at 6am. I had been sick the past couple weeks with some sort of cold that attacked my sinuses, leaving me with a stuffy nose that wouldn't go away. Thankfully, I finally started feeling better the weekend of the race! Whew!

The morning was a blur. I ate my breakfast of an english muffin with butter and a banana, put on a tank top and shorts, and paced around the hotel room waiting for the start. I worried a bit about chafing, as I hadn't worn the shorts or the tank top since last year, so I liberally applied Sport Glide in all my chafable places and hoped for the best. I didn't run into any chafing problems during the race, which made me happy.

Finally, I made my way to the start. I got pretty emotional as we started moving. After DNSing my first half due to injury, this one meant more to me. After all my training, all my preparation, finally, I was going to run my first half marathon. I couldn't believe it.

The first few miles alternated between feeling pretty good and feeling like a chore. I kept on thinking, "Holy crap. I'm going to be running for HOW long? No way can I do this." but I put one foot in front of the other, and somehow made it through the first 5k.

Miles 4-6 felt great. We started running through a park area and I decided to take water and Gatorade at every stop, just to avoid overheating. This was a fantastic decision because the heat didn't bother me much at all. Also, I ate my first package of Honey Stingers at mile 5, and that kicked me back into gear for the next few miles.

Miles 7-9 weren't bad, but not as great as 4-6. I plodded along, we entered Pawtucket, and we turned around to head back into Providence! We ran back through the park and heard many people cheering us. I gave a little kid a high five and just kept going. I felt strong.

Miles 10-13.1 were the worst. I've only run 10+ miles twice prior to the half, and both times, I started really hurting around miles 10-11. It also didn't help that the last couple miles contained some hills, which I really didn't want to hit right at the end of the race! We ran a lot by the water during the last couple miles, which was nice except for the screaming winds! I started to really struggle, and it felt like the miles would never end. I was so happy to see the 12 mile sign.

About a quarter mile before the finish, I rounded the corner to see Ted! This perked me up a bit and gave me the energy to power it up to the finish. I kept on telling myself, "Only 3-10ths of a mile left, only 3-10ths of a mile left".

Providence half marathon 2014
Hey, I just ran 12 miles!

Finally, at long last, I rounded another corner and saw the finish line looming ahead!

Almost to the finish line
Here I come!

Even though I hurt a bit, I still felt good enough to crank it up for the last .1, so I used up the rest of my energy to power my way to the finish line.

Heading to the finish line
Almost there!

I crossed the finish line at 2:18:42, a time I'm very proud of. I was hoping to finish by at least 2:30 and was wondering if I could do 2:15, but I'm pretty happy with my time. Volunteers gave me my medal right as I crossed, and I wore it with pride.

Race medal
My super awesome medal.

After picking up some Gatorade, water, and a Clif Builder's bar, I made my way to my sister, her family, and Ted, and we chatted a bit about the race. My legs and feet HURT at this point, and I really wanted to sit down. I felt so happy that my sister and her family came to watch me run, and I'm happy she took so many great pictures of me at the finish!

Me after my half marathon
Standing by the finish line!

I absolutely loved my first half marathon experience. I am so proud of myself for not only finishing, but pretty much running it the entire time, barring the 5 seconds or so that I walked through each of the 4 water stops. I am really, really sore today, but I'm happy I had the foresight to take today off work so I can just relax! Now, I'm going to spend the rest of the day thinking about my experience!

Hops and Heat beer social

A week and a half ago, Ted and I attended the Hops and Heat beer social at the Portsmouth Brewery here in town.

Hops and Heat list
Hops and heat, with meatless options!

This social paired spicy hot foods with hoppy beers, which go together nicely! We were excited to attend, especially since the dinner included vegetarian options!

Hops and Heat centerpiece
Appropriate centerpiece for a hot and spicy dinner!

I arrived promptly at 6pm, excited to begin the tasting! I situated myself at a big table in the center of the room, which featured a centerpiece of jalapenos and habaneros. Yes, let's get started!

Chex Mix, wasabi peas, and British IPA.
Chex Mix, wasabi peas, and British IPA.

I grabbed the first pairing - wasabi peas and chex mix (anyone who knows me well knows I LOVE LOVE LOVE both wasabi peas and Chex mix), paired with the brewery's British IPA. The Chex mix and peas were delicious - the Chex mix contained just a hint of spice and the wasabi peas cleared my nasal passages! The IPA tasted how I expected, mild with a slight hoppy taste. I thought it went well with the more subtle spiciness of the Chex mix.

Chili-garlic soup with Project X: Summit.
Chili-garlic soup with Project X: Summit. A fabulous pairing!

Next up, a spicy chili-garlic soup with chili-rubbed crostinis, paired with the Project X with Summit hops. I've been a fan of Summit hops since Earth Eagle put out their own single hopped beer with Summit, so I was eager to try the Portsmouth Brewery's version. It didn't disappoint. This soup was a little more on the spicy side, so the IPA really helped neutralize the hotness!

Pho with Ginga Ninja
THIS pho was spicy. Hoo-boy. The Ginga Ninja helped the pain.

Third on the menu was another soup - a tofu pho with a spicy ginger vegetable broth, paired with Ginga Ninja. Now, this soup knocked my taste buds out of the water and I had to take breaks from eating it, because it was almost too hot and spicy! This beer went perfectly with this meal, with the spices in the pho complementing the gingery spices of the beer. I liked this pairing the best, though I couldn't actually finish my soup as I couldn't feel my lips or tongue anymore!

Mole! With a delicious sample of Night Nurse!
Mole! With a delicious sample of Night Nurse!

The last main course was a tempeh mole, paired with the Night Nurse IPA. Night Nurse is a Black IPA, a style I only kind of enjoy (I am not a fan of stouts or dark beers in general), but I loved this one. I also incredibly loved the mole! Apparently the kitchen spent a few days making the mole, and I could tell. The flavor complexities were amazing. Another excellent pairing.

Flan with 5 C's
Dessert time, complete with some 5 C's!

Last but not least, dessert! We were given orange and habanero infused flan with rosemary and chili whipped cream, paired with the 5 C's IPA (the 5 C's being 5 varieties of hops beginning with C). I hadn't ever eaten flan before, and I can't say I'm its biggest fan. I did like the habanero flavors and I loved the 5 C's with it, but it's not a dessert I'd pick out on my own if I'm out.

All in all, a great beer social! The Portsmouth Brewery plans on holding a different beer social roughly once a month, with the next one being Beers Around the World on February 12th. If you're in the area, I highly recommend checking this out.