Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Week Away: Florida Edition

After a whirlwind week away in Florida, I feel refreshed, energized, and a little bit tanner. :)

BF & I got to head right to the beach when we got there- here we are at Bahia Honda National Park.  Got in some snorkeling and sun right away!

We went diving out of Islamorada (south of Key Largo) with my amazing friend Tony.  It was BF's first time diving after 15 years, but he was a champ getting back in the water right away!

I think the weirdest thing for me when diving in Florida is that I didn't have to wear an addition 20 pounds of drysuit.  All you do is hook your BC up to a tank and a regulator and you're off!  It made my checks feel incomplete.  The water was so warm, in fact, that I didn't even have to wear a wetsuit for some of my dives!  Just a long-sleeve and cutoffs to protect against the crazy sun!  No wonder everyone likes diving in Florida so much...

My friend Tony took us out fishing on his boat between dive trips!  I caught quite a few fish, and even though we didn't keep any, it was still a ton of fun!  It was great to get the "locals" tour from him, from fishing to boating to food.

Our second day of diving included a 100-ft dive to a wreck called the "Eagle".  My mind was blown by the amount of wildlife we saw around the wreck!  It was covered in coral, and the number of fish hanging out and swimming around was incredible!

We definitely made sure to get in some beach time as well- it is Florida, after all!

Lots of waves, boogie boarding, and relaxing to be had.  Being on the beach was an amazing way to relax, unwind, and be able to let go of my crazy and (slightly) stressful year.

It was also great to be able to spend a bunch of time with my parents!  I haven't been able to really hang out with them for an extended period of time since my cousin got married before Christmas, so we made sure to pack in the bike rides, games, and laughs.

One thing I have to relinquish is that Pictionary got rather stressful and competitive at times...

All in all it was an amazing week of fun, and I'm so happy that I went down to visit!  Pretty cool that BF decided to tag along on the ride... though really, can you blame him? ;)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Why, Hello!

It's been awhile.
It's not you, it's me. ;)
Wow, did the end of the year get insane for me.  I had two weekends in a row of dance competitions, and then the following weekend was full of grading before finals week at my college.  I've been pretty much living at either school or the dance studio, and got occasional bits of climbing in to keep me sane and keep me myself (though not really enough to stay as in-shape as I'd like).
Luckily, all that time at the dance studio paid off.
I couldn't be more proud of my dancers.

They have received amazing scores, and more importantly, they all danced their hearts out and left it all onstage.  They were excited, respectful and polite, helped boost each other up, and were exactly the amazing types of girls that I couldn't be more proud of.

It's always a weird juxtaposition at this time of the dance season- I'm going to be partly relieved when our final special showing is done this weekend and I have a little more time to myself, but I'm also going to be really sad to see some of these dances conclude.

Luckily, the recital is still a month away, so there's a couple more performances of my big groups!

As you can see, my little Revolting Children are psyched. :)
Other news- remember that crash I was in a couple of months ago?  My college has Auto Body as one of their tech certifications, so I brought the truck in for students to use as part of their final project!

It's really cool that we have this service for the employees.  As a bonus, I got to see parts of the process happen right in front of me!
I've been so busy with school and dance, I haven't really had a lot of time to myself.  I usually have been getting home 4 nights a week around 9 to start grading (or sometimes knit one row before falling asleep, exhausted), or occasionally eat a super late dinner while watching an episode of The Walking Dead (finally started it and I'm only on Season 3).
After competitions concluded after the first weekend in May, I made sure to schedule in some outside time for myself as the weather finally starts to turn up here in the north.

BF and I went to Sawmill dome up in Tettagouche State Park for a full day of trying really hard, really sharp, and really fun climbs.  I'm definitely out of shape after not being able to climb regularly for what feels like the second half of the winter, but every time I get out it motivates me even more to get back in the gym.

This weekend was even better- BF and I got to see The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum, which was my second time seeing the show and his first musical in years!  We both really enjoyed it, and it made for a great date night.  Best part- we even started trying to figure out which shows we wanted to see that are coming next season!
Yesterday we went to Willow River State Park to climb up a really steep cave right next to a waterfall.

(My friend Anthea working on a 5.12 called Couch Potato)
It was full of trying hard and hanging out with a great Minneapolis climbing crew.
I even managed to get up a tougher climb called Natural Selection- a mid 5.12 that wasn't too hard, just super overhung (see picture above for how steep the cave is). :)

As you can see, I cut my feet a couple of times and still managed to hang out tight, though I definitely got my butt kicked by the end.  Guess I'll just have to start doing more core workouts... :)
I haven't gotten a lot of knitting done over the past few months, but I did manage to finish a couple of presents.  Now that school is done and dance is beginning to wind down, I'll hopefully be able to share a lot more of my projects and update at least weekly.
Next week I'll truly get a vacation as BF & I head down to Florida to visit my parents.  It'll be a week of diving, beaches, margaritas, crocodiles, and some relaxing time.  Stay tuned, or check out my instagram for much more frequent updates!
Later this week- knitting projects finished in the last couple of months (hint- not many).
I hope you've all been fantastic.
I'll keep you updated more now that things are chilling out a little.  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

FO: Climber Handwarmers

I'm on Spring Break from my college this week, and boy has it been nice.
March started off crazy, though I did get moments of fun in there between dance, grading, and other stuff.

(Game night at boyfriend's house with my brother and his fiance!)

Unfortunately, I succumbed to the fever/flu bug for the majority of last week, which put things behind a little bit.  I actually had to cancel class and call in sick to dance, which shows you how bad it was... ;)  See that handwarmer?  I was sick enough that I didn't even have the brainpower to knit for like two days.
Luckily, it passed by the time the weekend came, and I even bundled up and went outside last Saturday for a bit of outdoor bouldering time!

(Climbing low at Taylor's Falls)
The nice thing about getting over being sick is that I'm always more energized when I'm better, and with spring break this week, that means I've turned into a productive machine!  I've had time to get a bunch of grading done, clean and organize a little bit, prep and begin to execute my spring climbing training program, and get extra practices in for our first dance competition this weekend!
I even had time to finish a pair of Climber Handwarmers, which will be nice for staying warm since it's still snowy and chilly outside. :)

Pattern: Fingerless Pomatomus Gloves by Tobi Beck (link goes to Ravelry page)
Yarn: Malabrigo sock yarn, but I can't remember the colorway.
Needles: size 1 bamboo
Timeframe: January 22-March 15

Mods: I did 10 rows of K1tbl, P1 to top these off instead of the 8 called for, and I did the bind of with Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off.
Worst Part: Yet another project where I could have finished it much earlier if I had actually worked on it a little more here and there.  That seems to be a pattern with my projects...
Best Part: This is one of the first times that I've made this pattern as a gift (twice, in fact!), loved it, said I should eventually make a pair for myself, and now I finally did!  It's magic!  And right now, when things are so crazy with dance and school, it's kind of nice to have a little something that's just for me. :)

The last couple of days here of spring break are busy with dance and grading, but I also need to finish a certain Yeti present for a certain little boy that was born to one of my best friends YESTERDAY!  I'm visiting them tomorrow so they can rest a little today (apparently it was a little tough during the birth), so tonight I'm going to be completing his present so it's ready to go tomorrow!
For now, more coffee, more grading, and maybe even an hour at the climbing gym... gotta get in shape for summer!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

All of the February

February is going by fast.
I think that the more things I agreed to do, the quicker the time goes (probably because there's just less time in general to get everything done).
Everyday things I've been doing- school, grading, lesson planning, teaching dance, trying to keep my house clean and cats entertained, and hanging out with my guy on the weekends.
Extra cool things I've been doing:
My office hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays finish at 1 pm, so on my way home from work, I stop at Cross Country ski trail that's about 3 minutes from work to get a 5-7K classic ski in.

It's a great time for me to get outside, wind down a bit, and get a tiny bit of cardio.  I'm officially in the get-rid-of-winter-chubbs mode with climbing training starting again and a trip to Florida in a couple of months.  I'm going to try to start upping my climbing time from zero times a week (had a bit of a break there when there was so much dance going on) to 3-4 times a week.  I have lofty goals for this summer, and I need to be in shape to pull them off!
P took home the win on Valentine's Day this year.  He kept his plan for our dinner out a surprise until I walked in the restaurant.  Turns out he made reservations at a local amazing seafood place in the cities, and he pre-ordered us a 4 course lobster meal with a bottle of wine.

Major win and points for this guy.  We ended up getting a little room all to ourselves, and I felt really happy and spoiled!
That same weekend, I met a bunch of amazing dancers from my studio to see the touring Broadway production of Newsies!

This is quite possibly one of my favorite musicals ever, which I think says a lot for how much fun and how awesome it is. :) I have to admit, though- one of the reasons that I enjoyed it so much was because I was surrounded by this group of lovely ladies that were also excited to see it:

It's so cool to share my excitement for seeing this show with all these girls, especially since most of the them danced one of the songs a few years ago as one of my tap dances!  Seeing the show got me all excited about it again, and made me think about my possible dances for next year... :)
Next weekend is the Duluth Ice and Mixed Climbing Festival, so I'm working with the Duluth Climber's Coalition the rest of this week to get that ready on top of getting back to dance after a week (sort of) off.
Lots of awesomeness going on, and (once in awhile), I even have time to catch my breath... ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

FO: Winter Winds Set

I can finally retire Jared Flood's Scrollwork Pattern.  I used it to knit 4 hats for friends (my Venga Las Chicas series) as well as a matching set for myself, which I've dubbed the Winter Winds Cowl and Hat.  After 5 hats and a cowl, I'm done with this pattern for the time being.
Though, to be fair, I'm really really fast and good at it now... :)

Pattern: Jared Flood's Scrollwork from Wool People vol. 4 (link goes to Ravelry pattern page)
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in the adeptly named "Purple Mystery"
Needles: Both sizes 4 and 7 for the hat and the cowl, all bamboo.

Timeframe: Sept 24th, 2015-January 28th, 2016.  I actually finished the hat in like two weeks, then didn't cast on for the cowl until after Christmas knitting was finished.

Mods: I only did 8 pattern repeats on the cowl, so I cast on 112 stitches instead of what the pattern called for.  I like it better- it fits well under jackets, and I personally like having a cowl close to my face when it's not an infinity scarf.
Worst Part: By the time I got to knitting this hat for myself, I wasn't as psyched about doing the pattern yet again as I thought I would be.
Best Part: Finally finishing a matching winter set for myself!

(Weird lighting picture so you can see how pretty the pattern is!)
I'm really happy to FINALLY finish this set.  It's an involved enough knit that I can't bring it with me places easily, and it takes enough concentration that I can't just have a conversation while making it.
I officially only have a handful of items in my Ravelry queue now.  Two toys- a Sasquatch for a new baby and a Yeti for a baby who is due in the next month- need to be finished quickly.  Those are definitely at-home knits, as I don't feel like dragging a giant bag of stuffing everywhere.
Another at-home only knit is the Ivy League Vest that I would love to finish before the end of the school year.  I was chugging away so well before I got distracted with other knits... oops...
Those are the only real big ones I have currently on needles... weird...
I also started a pair of handwarmers for myself as spring approaches, mostly because I don't have any travel knitting right now.  I have some time in the car this weekend, so hopefully these will get a bit of mileage on them before next week.
I also really want to knit a quick Turn-a-Square hat for BF for Valentine's Day.  I can usually punch one of those out fairly fast, and I think it would be a nice gesture to have a hand-made present for him while it's still winter.
I should actually cast on for that today... right when I get home, especially since spring knitting is beckoning from around the corner...
I'm excited to clear some of these projects out so I can start on others. :)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Frosty Month of January

It's been a crazy month as Spring Semester takes off!
I can officially say that I'm pretty sure I've bitten off more than I can chew this semester.  Things have gotten insane between dance rehearsals 4 nights a week for up to 5 hours, to 12 credits of teaching at my local college, to being a board member of a local non-profit, to helping plan and execute a local ice climbing festival, to being the adviser for a local student honor chapter, to trying to fit a boyfriend, climbing, cross-country skiing, and even just time with friends or the occasional evening knitting and movie.  My planner is color-coded and filled out to within an inch of every available space, and every night I feel like I forgot to do something as I fall asleep.
And I'm only 3 weeks in to the semester...

(Albert looking how I feel most of the time...)
Luckily, I have a very deep supply of coffee, my love for my dancers and their awesomeness, and a strong support system in parents, friends, and boyfriend for encouragement.  I'm also making sure that I keep my weekends fairly open to keep up with grading, projects, cleaning and chores, and allowing myself to have some relaxing (knitting) time.
I've also had some wrenches thrown in to the craziness this past month.  For example, a couple of weeks ago, I got into a small car accident!

My car slid gently off of an icy road going only 20 mph, but a bunch of trees that stopped the slide in the ditch dented in my passenger door and smashed the window.  It was far too expensive to repair quickly, and since it's my parents' car in the first place, I'm going to have my college's auto department fix it when body work comes up in their syllabus.
This meant that I- for the first time ever- bought a new car!

It's a 2015 Subaru Outback, which is exactly what I've always wanted for a trip vehicle.  Climbing road trips just got that much more awesome!  After driving old and dying vehicles my whole life, having a new car feels like an insane luxury.  AC?  Amazing!  Heated Seats?  WHAT?!

Pretty nice. :)
I have managed to throw in a little friend time among the crazy!
My friend Heather stopped in from overseas.  She moved from Denmark to London recently, which of course means I need to plan a trip to one of the few European countries I haven't been!  I met her and my other old high school friend Sarah to meet Sarah's new little boy Carson.

Isn't he cute?
Just this last weekend I went shopping for bridesmaids dresses with my brother's fiance, and it was a rockin' good time with all 7 of the bridesmaids there!  We had breakfast, laughed at ugly dresses, drank coffee, and got our dresses ordered for the July wedding.

I also helped set climbing routes for the first time at a local climbing competition!  My boyfriend is a route setter, and when we got to a gym that I was supposed to try out the routes for the competition, we found out that there were no routes to climb.  So I got a crash-course in putting up routes, and it was tough but a lot of fun!

(Another local hard climber, Sean, stopped in too to set some routes.  He helped me finish one of my last routes before BF and I signed out for the night)
I haven't been able to get in a ton of knitting lately, but I have finished one big project that I'll blog about later this week, as well as start on a pair of handwarmers for myself for chilly days at the climbing gym!  The Pomatomus gloves are a pattern that I've made twice for friends already, and I'm finally making myself a pair.  These are my travel knitting, as the rest of my projects don't really lend themselves to being tucked in a bag...
In the meantime, I'm trying to focus on little things that can help keep me stress-free and are a little bit of self-care since my schedule is so insane right now.  Little things like eating healthy, making vegetarian crock-pot dishes that I can eat at school all week, or trying to maintain schedule of getting to bed by 11 and up at 7 to get things done right away in the morning.  Starting my day with 5-10 minutes of yoga while my coffee brews, and being thankful for all of the awesome things happening in my life.
It's busy, but I'm definitely enjoying it. :)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

FO: Snowflake Paws

The New Year has been rung in and I'm really excited to make 2016 fun, exciting, productive, and adventurous!  
Before I get into exactly what that entails as far as my 2016 plans are concerned, I need to finish off the year with a FO that I (finally!) gave to the recipient for a Christmas present.  My roommate has been slyly hinting at getting a pair of mittens in the several years that we've been friends, and now that we're actually living together, it was time that I make her a pair of Snowflake Paws!
Pattern: Kate Davies' Snawpaws (link to Ravelry page)
Yarn: Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift in Granite and Gentian
Needles: DPN's size 1 in bamboo
Timeframe: I accidentally forgot to put in Ravelry when I started, but I know it was super late, so I'm tentatively saying December 1-28th, 2015.  We gifted things to each other late, so finishing them after Xmas was okay... :)

Mods: Alex has small hands, so I eliminated the last repeat of snowflakes to make them shorter.  I also didn't go up a needle size as the pattern suggests, and only stuck with size 1's the whole time.  If I were to make these again, I would probably lengthen the cuffs, but that's mostly personal preference.
Worst Part: Not much, honestly.  It was a great small project, easy enough to follow and memorize that I could do it while chatting with friends, and I love the way it turned out.  Yarn was a little scratchy for my personal taste, but I think Alex likes them, so that's what matters!
Best Part: I love the way this wool looks and works with colorwork.  Again, a bit scratchy for my taste, but I could be persuaded into making some mittens for myself with it...
(They look really nice when cross-country skiing...)
I have a few Works In Progress that I need to get working on and get out of my queue, because there's so many pretty things to make this year... :)