Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beautiful Bag

I have to share something with you. It's something that was handmade for me by a dear friend for my birthday.
A darling bag, with fabrics picked out at a local Duluth shop and crafted to fit my needs for a personal tote, complete with divided areas to keep knitting, planner, camera, phone, wallet, book, and any other oddities I would stick in there separate from the other (specifically splitting up the knitting and the wallet- the zippers on the wallet triumphed in a battle with the knitting, resulting in re-tying of broken pulled bits of knitting and swearing by me). I'm lucky enough to have a trip planned with this friend in a couple of days to this fabric shop, where I'm sure I'll discover inspiration abound.
First I have to get through a full double-shift day at both jobs. Good motivation to stay excited though, eh? :)My flowers are in full bloom and kept me company while I spent my late afternoon catching up on work and correspondences (all of the latter with my Grandma's old typewriter, of course!). I've loved watching them bloom the last couple of days. They make me want to have live flowers around more often.
Time to have a small bite of Italian chocolate before bed... mmmm... :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Knitting Spot

You know how a lot of people have one perfect spot that they work for motivation, inspiration, and enjoyment? I'm pretty sure I found mine. Unfortunately, it's on my parent's back porch.
The unfortunate part is not that it's at my parent's house- I love visiting and hanging out there- it's that my parent's house is located 3 hours south and west of my home in Duluth. When I have hardcore knitting or projecting to do, I can't just pick up everything, do the 6 hour round trip just to figure out a section that I need peace time with. It'll be my luxury spot, to be enjoyed very occasionally but appreciated even more when I get to be there.This weekend, it inspired me to go full steam ahead on my Vivian sweater.
It was hard not to love sitting out there, watching the weather move in and out with the lake right in front of me. The 3 seasons porch sticking out overhead kept the rain off me, and I enjoyed a light breeze off the lake all evening and morning.It's secluded enough to feel snug, and open enough that I can still enjoy being outside.
Needless to say, I got a lot done on the cardigan. I got even more done as a passenger on the ride back to Duluth, and I'm happily over halfway done with the body. Time at work today will hopefully amp that to over 3/4 done.
Snuggled inside the knitting, I have gorgeous brand new stitch-markers- a birthday gift from Cheryl!I'm not sure if they're bought or if she handmade them (my guess is the latter) but they have STARS on them and they fit beautifully over my size 8 needles- exactly what I needed.
Now that my batteries are re-charged and ready to go from a weekend relaxing at home, it's full steam ahead on my very long to-do list for the week.
It's it silly to say I'm excited?

Sunday, June 27, 2010


My birthday was a ton of fun, with food, friends, and goodness all around!
I got three different types of birthday cake- my climbing boys got me a coldstone Chocolate and Ice Cream cake on Thursday night while I worked, which was delicious and chocolaty!Friday morning at work I was greeted with some very special cupcakes from Terry, one of my fellow B&N co-workers. She made cupcakes that looked like 'golden' balls of yarn, complete with knitting needles made from pretzels and caramel drops covered in white chocolate- yum! They were accompanied by the staff singing "Happy Birthday" to me over the loudspeakers- huzzah!
Fresh from Europe, Tyler's Mom made me her famous raspberry-cream filled cake, decorated with ballet slippers and a book. Her cake definitely tops my tastiest cakes list- the filling is light and heavenly. It was delivered by Tyler's sisters, who also brought me flowers and Italian chocolate!
It was a fantastic birthday, and I'll show you some of the special things I got later- I'll just give you a quick teaser- Cheryl definitely went above and beyond, and I got not just one but two homemade things!
At the end of the day, when the weather turned to crap, my friends and I made a "best of" food tour of Duluth- we started with artichoke dip at Pizza Luce, lefse at Tak for Maten, then rounded it off with burritos and guac from Burrito Union. I was in a food coma by about 9:30, and it was delicious. :)
Down in the cities at my parent's house through today to hang out, then back up to Duluth tonight to relax and enjoy my pretty flowers. It was a pretty awesome birthday. :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tomorrow... 25 :)

Tomorrow is a day for me to relax, sit back, and realize that I am midway through my twenties.
Which feels very, very odd.
It's also my Golden Birthday, which is something more well known in the midwest- when the year you're turning matches the day you were born on (25 on the 25th of June).
I reflected a bit tonight and realized that when I was little, I thought that turning 25 would mean I was getting really old (mostly because when you're 12, 25 sounds crazy old) and would probably be already settled into what I'm going to be.
Well, I'm still working out the details, but I have to say overall I'm pretty happy with where life has taken me so far. A lot of the time it hasn't been easy, and I've had to work pretty hard to get where I am, but I'm safe, healthy, happy, and frankly I don't think I could ask for much more.
I have love from those around me I care about.
I have a goal I'm aspiring to.
I find something to laugh about every day.
And I find myself content with a good book, getting a hug from someone I care about, a cup of coffee, hearing the rain pour down outside, feeling strong and confident climbing up a beautiful rock, or knitting as snow covers the ground outside.
Turning 25 doesn't seem bad at all. I've still got a long way to go and a lot of kinks to work out, but the journey so far has been amazing.
I'm excited for what's coming up...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Flowers from the Rain

It rained pretty much every single day this week, which worked okay for working extra hours but not okay for trying to get out bouldering around town. Almost seems like it'll be ages before it's dry enough to throw a bouldering pad down. To counter, I've been training in the gym as much as possible to be ready for my next trip up the shore, and when there's been a break in the rain (like last night) I went out slacklining instead in Leif Erikson Park. In other notes, I finished a hat for a lovely little lady!This is the third Upside-Down Daisy hat that I've made, and this one knit up in literally record time. It fared well as my "mindless knitting" with endless stockinette, though it did take me away from my KAL (which I'm working on ONLY from here on out, due to my scolding). I used some great cotton yarn that won't be scratchy for her, and easy to wash for Mom. Lucy seemed to be okay with it- she pulled on the petals a little bit, but didn't just take it off and throw it like most 15-month olds. Well behaved little lady, that one is. :) She even posed for a picture when I wanted one!
I'm off to walk down to work super early today- it's Grandma's Marathon up here in Duluth, which is a lot of fun for runners and their families, but a small headache for locals. Parking is atrocious, and there's thousands of people crammed into Canal Park. Not quite sure how I'm going to get down to VE today... that should be interesting. We'll either be slammin' busy or completely dead is my guess.
Guess I'll have to go and see...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Check and check

After having a fantastic time catching up with this pretty lady on Monday:I came back to Duluth ready to tackle my giant to-do list waiting at home. This included lots of reading to catch up on for writing syllabus and a lesson plan, going over research papers to see what lacked and what worked, and cleaning a supremely messy room. I got a good chunk of stuff done, and with tomorrow afternoon off plus a thunderstorm in the forecast hopefully I can finish a good portion of what I need to finish very soon.
I managed to fit watching the well-done but depressing movie North Face while the rain poured down yesterday afternoon, and despite reading subtitles (the movie was in German) I finished the main part of Lucy's hat. I'm going to finish the petals at work tonight really fast and get back to the Vivian, especially since receiving a slight reprimand from my KAL partner. :) Sorry Cheryl- I'm back on track now!!
Climbed hard for a bit at the gym yesterday, including working the mean finger crack. This rain-everyday thing has to stop- I'm starting to get cabin fever from climbing inside so much. The worst part is, even if it stops for an afternoon or day, it'll still be soaking wet everywhere.
Is it too much to ask for to get dry climbing?
I suppose that's Duluth. :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lovely Ladies

I had a nice couple of days in the cities, seeing friends and getting some much-needed relaxing time. I got to see my lovely friend Larissa be beautiful in "Father of the Bride" at the Lyric Arts Theater in Anoka (great theater!), as well as hang out with some of my oldest friends S and H for a light lunch in uptown, before wandering for shopping and gossiping. Last night, I was able to help H make some first steps into knitting!
I taught her a cast on, as well as knitting and purling so she could begin to make the Turn a Square hat in one color. I figured it would be easier to make that than a scarf, since it wouldn't take nearly as long to finish. After some practice stitches and discussing the "Happy Triangle" as your base place for your fingers to be before the stitch, she did the "Loop, Schwoop and pull" method, and 96 stitches later was happy to finally start the project.
Meanwhile, I started another Upside-Down Daisy hat for lil' Miss Lucy, who is now over a year old and is still holding on to the elephant I made her before she was born. Her mom has been putting up adorable pictures of her in these cute dresses with flowers, and I figured she needed a little hat to go along with them. Watching Wall Street last night with my Mom helped the hat be over halfway done, so this project should go nice and fast.
I have a couple of afternoons and nights off later this week, so I'm hoping the weather will (finally!) cooperate so I can climb outside. Two days without climbing this weekend feels a little odd, and I'm excited to climb a little tonight with my buddy R before swing dancing the night away... :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rainy Summer Fun

I'm trying to stay nice and cheerful as the rain pours down all this week, and luckily I've had help along the way.A quick trip to the Co-op meant fresh raspberries for a lunch treat yesterday! Raspberries are my absolute favorite berry, and raspberries on sale are something I can never deny. :)Cheryl and I also got together to pull out our tap shoes for the first time in over a year. We worked hard for awhile on basics, warming our muscles back up so we can hopefully make a weekly thing out of it... perhaps resulting in a cute little choreographed number by the end of the summer!I got to oogle her newest project during coffee- a beautiful little bag she sewed up with material from a local shop. I sense an undiscovered gem that I will be spending oodles of paychecks at... :)
She also snuck a present in with some books I'm borrowing this morning- cute stitch markers with sayings on them, like "INC" and "START" to keep track of my knitting! When stopping at Yarn Harbor today I also picked up some pretty violet cotton yarn to make another baby/toddler hat, which helps counter the gloominess outside.
This weekend- time with friends and family, seeing a beautiful lady in a show, and hopefully getting farther on the Vivian cardigan. ;)
Stay dry, everyone!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Little Victory

Just a quick update before I rush off to work on my to-do list!
Monday was fantastic for climbing- barely 70 degrees, with the sun keeping you warm on top of the rock but cool enough in the shade to work hard while climbing. After some warm-up climbs, I was able to work Mr. Lean- and got up the entire thing with only one fall! I got passed the cruxy finger crack in the middle of the climb, and only fell because I got pumped while searching for a hand jam- which was hiding a couple of feet above my head. Next time I go out, I plan on getting it clean for sure! That will then be the hardest climb I've gotten clean yet when I finally achieve it- a 5.11d, huzzah!
High on the success and with some time to shake out my arms, I jumped on Hidden Treasure next- a 5.11b that for the life of me I haven't ticked off clean yet. Luck and positive thinking were with me as I finally got passed the section that always stumped me, and climbed over the lip of the cliff, victorious with no falls! It feels so good to finally believe that I'm advancing in my climbing ability, at least a little bit.
I took yesterday off to rest, baking brownies and watching "Lilo and Stitch" to relax while I heard the rain pour down all day. Tonight after work I plan on doing some harder laps on climbs to keep my fingers in shape and endurance up. It's going to be a great summer for hard climbing, I can feel it.
Come August, when I head to Thunder Bay to help with some first ascents, I'll be excited to tackle anything. Maybe even a 5.12...? :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Relaxing... or trying to...

It's been a rather long weekend.
Since Tyler left on Wednesday night, I've been working both jobs pretty much non-stop. I felt a little burned out on Saturday especially, since it was my second 13-hour work day in a row. After I was done at VE, I decided to relax and do some knitting at the Takk for Maten cafe right next to Pizza Luce.It has become one of my favorite relaxing and knitting spots. Relaxing, a couch in the corner to snuggle back on with a Mojito and lingonberry jelly on toast, I cruised through quite a bit on my Vivian cardigan. Once the pattern was established, it's been easy to know what to do for the cabling. I didn't get as far as I wanted, but I'm happy with the results right now. I'll be working on it more later this week wish a little more time off.
I biked off to home, feeling content and ready to take on Sunday, with only 8 hours at one job.
I got home, dumped my stuff on my bed, and opened my closet to grab a long sleeve shirt, and this is what greeted me:The bar holding my clothes decided to collapse.
It took a few tries of putting the bar back up, rehanging half my clothes before it collapsing again before I finally poured a glass of wine and got out the pliers. One jerry-rigged coat hanger rod holding the bar to the top shelf and lots of re-hanging of clothes later, my closet was finally cleared.
I felt that deserved a second glass of wine to celebrate. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bright Stuff

I've been spending the last few days home helping someone get organized for a big long trip overseas:Tyler's going to be in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, and France for just over five weeks. He's going to be climbing in Chamonix, France, which of course makes me really happy for him but also really jealous that I'm not going too. It only hardens my resolve to get overseas again soon, or at least on an extended climbing trip.Speaking of climbing, if you look closely at my gear, you'll see that something has been added... look carefully in back... it's skinny and doesn't weigh much at all...I ordered the new Black Diamond Aura harness awhile back, and it finally came in! It's bright and weighs close to nothing, and I absolutely love it. It's made specifically for hard sport, though the two gear loops are big enough to probably hold a small trad rack. Yay, no more big wall harness! I also added a .4 cam and a couple of locking caribeaners. Hopefully I can get out Monday to Palisade to use some.
Climbing last Monday was fantastic- the weather was perfect, and I got to work a bunch of routes, including Gun Fight (1 fall!). I'll be going back to work Mr. Lean later- a small accident with a knife while washing dishes rendered one of my finger pads very cut, bloody and unhappy, so I may have to take a break from crimpy climbing for a little bit. Hoping for fast healing.
I've also gotten quite far on my bright summer scarf, mostly from a random ten or fifteen minutes of down time all over the place. I love the way the color is turning out- zig zagging all over the place! I'll have more time to work with the Vivian this weekend- I'm gearing for 4 inches of back by Sunday night (we'll see if that happens...), and if it's quiet at VE this weekend that goal is very likely.
Until later, happy climbing and speedy knitting. ;)