Monday, June 24, 2013

Birthday Week!

I headed down for a quick cities trip this past Friday and Saturday to see my two oldest friends- Heather had flown in from Denmark for a little bit (she's living there for a couple years while her husband teaches at a university there), and Sarah took the night off from babysitting.  We had an amazing time- talking, shopping, breakfast at a local bakery, and crazy news all came about in a couple of days.  I haven't had girl time in awhile, so this was a fantastic treat.
When I got home, I was incredibly surprised to see that Scott had done a little decorating when I was gone, commencing my "Birthday Week"! :)

My birthday is officially tomorrow, on the 25th, but since I've been big on celebrating birthdays more than just on the birthday (it's important to celebrate the important people in our lives!), he's followed suit by doing the same!  I've gotten things to unwrap- a bottle of wine after a full day at the climbing gym on Sunday, a bag of Caribou Coffee beans this morning, the second season of Game of Thrones on DVD Saturday night- and it isn't even my birthday yet!  I feel very spoiled, and very lucky to have an awesome guy like him in my life. :)
Tonight we're heading up to Tofte to drop our kittens off with Scott's Mom before heading off to Devil's Tower to do a bunch of climbing!  We'll be stopping in the Twin Cities tomorrow for birthday dinner with my Mom, brother, and his girlfriend before shooting across South Dakota all day on Wednesday.
I'm really excited- climbing trip for my birthday week?
Yes, please. :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Finally summer?

After getting back to Duluth, I've been keeping busy with a lot of household chores, cleaning, getting back into running (and working out in general), and choreographing for this week's competition auditions for my dancers.
For starters, the garden needed planting...

after the night temps finally have reached warmer than 40 degrees.  I'm really excited for this year's crop- we have big tomatoes and roma tomatoes, peas (can you see the trellis on the upper right?), broccoli, mint, and a slew of other tasty veggies that will hopefully spring up within the next month here.  Our weather forced a (very) late start for a lot of these plants, but hopefully there's enough summer left to get a full crop!  There's just enough room on the deck leftover for two deck chairs and a small table, which are perfect for eating lunch outside!

I've had a fair amount of take-out lately, and I'm trying to turn that around a little bit.  Today is my favorite: grilled cheese with spinach and avocado- nom!

I even got a little knitting time on the deck, and finally got into the third color on my Spring Affection shawl!
Can you see it, down in the lower left hand part of the shawl?  The turquoise is a nice addition, and I can't wait for these rows to multiply and the color to really hit you!  The shawl itself is miles and miles of garter stitch, but the colors switch enough that it's not terribly boring...
Scott and I are taking a short jaunt out to the Devil's Tower in Wyoming next week to get a few days of awesome trad climbing in, and I can't decide whether I should take this shawl along for my car and camping knitting or bring along Christmas knitting.  Logically, a lot of time in the car will be great for getting a start on some Christmas knitting.
But really... I kind of want to enjoy knitting a little for myself ;)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Garage Sale!

The end of my visit to the Twin Cities was helping my family put together a big garage sale!  This meant there was time spent with my Mom cleaning out cupboards, as well as going through my own closets, drawers, book collection, and clothes that have been sitting at my parent's house for awhile now.  I got rid of 99% of the things I had down there, which felt awesome to purge!
Bright and early Thursday morning (and boy do I mean early), my mom, my aunt, my cousin, two family friends and I all lugged 5 family's worth of stuff outside for the big Long Lake city-wide garage sale.

The stuff spread onto my aunt's lawn and over in the driveway of the house next door!  We were busy within minutes of opening, negotiating and laughing with people out for the day and drinking strong coffee as the sun started to warm everything up.

My aunt had stolen all the Grad Party signs from my cousin on her way out of his grad party a weekend ago, and she put them to good use in advertisement!

She also made sure that those of us working the money table and helping lug stuff out to cars were well taken care of- including several pots of tasty coffee, a full fruit platter, mini loaves of banana bread straight from the oven, and even a round of Bloody Marys around 11 when things started to slow down!  Gotta garage sale in style, after all... :)
I scored pretty big from my relative's cast offs!  Besides clothes, I got a bunch of new artwork, a beautiful queen-sized comforter, a new set of bright yellow dishes to replace my hand-me-down set, and a great bright red table-and-chairs set that my cousin's going to haul up next weekend!  It needs a new paint job, but other than that it's in fine shape and will fit perfectly in our little apartment!  I'm pretty excited- I can finally get rid of our folding chairs and makeshift table.  Huzzah! :)

Besides that, I also got some family hand-me-downs, including my Grandma's old Aebleskiver pan and waffle maker.  My Mom had a wok buried in the back cabinet as well, which means lots more tasty thai dishes for Scott and I!
It was so busy at the garage sale that I got absolutely no knitting done, but I'm a few rows away from adding my third and last color to the spring affection shawl.  Hoping to get at least to adding that color today.  Also hoping to get out for a run if the weather stays nice- haven't done that in awhile, and I can feel it.  Bleh.
Time to go hunt down my grandma's old aebleskiver recipe...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dance and Onward!

My dance season is pretty much wrapped up for the year!  Gifts were given out, dress rehearsal went fairly smooth, and my ladies all performed their pieces for the last time.
I'm going to miss the dances I choreographed this year- both the younger groups were a lot of fun to choreograph, and both were great to watch the kids get in to.

Jet Set went incredibly well, and I think I'm getting better at choreographing for this age group and ability level.  It's harder than you'd think...

Newsies was probably my favorite number I choreographed this year, and I'm going to miss this one.  The girls did such a great job with it, and looked great- it'll be hard topping that next year.
I definitely was crying at the end of the recital when Stacey was saying a goodbye to the seniors, and after the curtains closed I had a big tearful hug with my three seniors graduating on my top line.

These girls were amazing over my last 3 years with them, and I'm really going to miss them.  It's always hard to say goodbye to dance at the end of the year, but these ladies made it amazing this year!
I went down to my parent's house on Sunday to see my Dad one last time before he heads back to Florida for a bit.  This was less a "fun" visit than last time, and more a "get crap done" visit.  We spent Sunday cleaning out our giant attic space in the garage, and I got to be the voice of reason to help my parents sort through tons of crap that has piled up over the years.  They're putting our house back up on the market this summer, and with my Dad there, they had time to help their potential move down the road by getting rid of pounds of stuff they don't need.  My aunt is having a huge garage sale in a couple days, and we wanted to get our stuff over there before it starts on Thursday.  We did more cleaning and sorting yesterday, but when it cleared up later in the evening, we had to get a boat ride in around the lake!

It was beautiful out- warm, but not too hot, and the lake was nice and quiet for the evening.

I brought along the Spring Affection shawl, which is coming along rather nicely, and got some more rows done while out on the water.  Hard to beat a view like that while doing easy garter rows.

It was also fantastic to get some great family time in- with my parents in Florida for so long, and my brother and I working, we haven't had just-family time in awhile, so that was fantastic to get in.

And boating in with the sun setting in the background... hard to beat that. :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Projects Galore, plus FO: Platinum Tap Cowls

I feel like I have projects coming out of my ears right now.  The end of the dance year means I hand out "thank you" things to my dancers, which range from just handing out little dance bags of candy to my non-competition ballet kids to something a little more for my competition dancers.
My younger tap dance competition team did the dance "Jet Set" from the musical Catch Me if you Can, and their costumes (which won best costume at one competition) were reminiscent of the old school airplane stewardesses (don't worry, they were nice and modest).  To go along with the theme, I found an adorable pattern for the Pan-Am type of bag on Etsy, which I cut out and glued together over a day or two:

and filled them up with some sparkly hair binders and a couple of chocolates.  Instead of saying "Pan Am" on the side, I had the person I bought them from on Etsy put in "Red Tap", which is the name of the competition line these girls are on.

I handed them out last night, and the girls loved them!  Teaching middle school age means that I can get them pretty much anything sparkly and they love it.  Helpful. :)
I finished the Platinum Tap cowls for my three graduating seniors the day before I had to hand them out, and they turned out squishy and lovely.  The weather had a break in the clouds long enough for me to run outside for some pictures- you can kind of see the sparkles!

Pattern: Marian by Jane Richmond.  Again. :)
Yarn: Baby Alpaca Grande Glow from Plymouth Yarn.  I've made a cowl for a friend in this yarn before, and it is delicious to work with.  Absolutely nom.  I did a skein per cowl.

Time Frame: 3 cowls finished between May 29th and June 2nd.
Needles: Made on the borrowed size 17 needles from my friend Kim.  I almost want to just buy them from her, or get my own pair, because these 3 cowls bring my total number of cowls made from this pattern up to 6.  I can foresee more in the future...

Worst Part: Deciding 5 days before the last day of class to make 3 cowls for my seniors to hand out on the last day of class.  Mild time crunch.
Best Part: Finishing them (early!) and handing them out to 3 very excited and mildly emotional 18-year old girls, who all put them on immediately and kept saying how soft they were and how much they loved them.  They could have been just saying that, but I'm thinking (and at least hoping) that they weren't. :)

I also had a little bit of time yesterday to sit down and finish part of another project.  After too long, I finished the back section of the Dude Sweater!

I have to admit, I made a small mistake modification concerning the arm decreases on either side of the piece  (or, as you can see, lack thereof...).  I was so excited to just go-go-go with the color pattern, that I completely forgot to decrease for the arm holes on each side as I got closer to the top of the back, and didn't realize it until I was almost to the top.  When I found my mistake, I was waaaay too many rows past it to frog back to where I was supposed to put them in... oops...

(It's a pretty big piece of knitting- here is an Albert for size comparison!)
I don't think it's too big of a problem.  As in, I'm going to just keep knitting and hope for the best when I have to connect everything together.  Worse case scenario... I'll just deal with that situation when I get to it.  I'll just cast on for the first front piece in the next day or two here and get cracking on that.
Today is dress rehearsal day for the big end-of-year dance recital, and I'll be down at the performance hall from about noon until probably close to ten pm tonight.  I'm going to bring some knitting in the hopes I'll get more stripes done on my Affection Shawl, since dress rehearsals are usually a lot of "hurry up and wait".
Yay for lots of progress!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Glass Class

My parents decided to come up to Duluth the last couple of days to hang out and get some time with Scott and I in, which was a lot of fun despite the chilly temps.

We had one nice day of hiking in the Hartley Nature Center, just up the road from my alma mater UMD.  The temps were in the mid-50's, which of course meant that I was in T-shirt and cut offs, while my parents opted for long sleeves and fleeces.  Living in Florida has thinned their thick Minnesotan blood a little...

Despite the chilly temps, we got a couple miles of hiking in before the sky started to darken.  I had warned them about the ::ahem:: fickleness of Duluth weather, so they were expecting it.
I knew that it was going to be raining the next day, so I found something completely new and really cool for all of us to do together.  We headed down to Lake Superior Art Glass in Downtown Duluth, and we took an afternoon class called "Intro to Torchwork", where we learned how to manipulate glass!

It was just the three of us in the class, and it was a really new and fun experience!

(Dad is squishing the molten glass down into the shape of a pendant with a graphite tool)
We made three projects as we progressed through the skills, making a pendant with colors, a marble with colors, and an icicle that I plan on hanging in my bedroom as a sun catcher (if the sun decides to come out anytime soon).

(You can see my Mom's icicle forming on the left side of the flame)
This was a totally new experience, and we had a very patient teacher helping us through the entire process.  There were definitely a few stressful moments in the class- our teacher Dan had warned us that we had to keep heated-up glass warm so it wouldn't crack, but the heated-up glass would be pliable, especially when making an icicle, which was supposed to be straight- trying to keep everything in order was a little stressful at times.  It was a good thing Dan didn't mind a few expletives as I worked on my projects... oops...

(I'm mixing colors in this pic- you can see the colored glass on the left side of the flame, which I'm mixing with the larger clear glass rod on the right side of the flame.  This was for my marble project!)
We all loved it, and when we picked up our finished cooled pieces yesterday morning, we were all very excited to see how well they turned out!
My parents are back down in the cities now, and I'm in full-on end-of-year dance mode.  Final practice night is tonight, and tomorrow is a full day down at the theater for dress rehearsal run-through.  My next post  will be about the finished cowls that I gave to my senior Platinum tap girls last Monday (they loved them!), along with the finished product of the Pan Am bags I'm giving my middle-school aged stewardesses.  Besides finishing up dance thank-you gifts, I'm hoping that it stops raining long enough today for me to get a run in, since all I was able to do yesterday was maybe a half hour of climbing at most.
I love it when my parents visit, but it takes a few days out of my training schedule. :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Flurry

I've been a flurry of activity since I last wrote, in several different ways.  On Friday, I did a run, went climbing for a bit, and after the rain stopped briefly, ventured to the Duluth version of the "Shire" for a Hobbit-esque wedding of a good friend!

Val and Jake got married in a gorgeous wedding up on Woodland Avenue, which is high enough on the top of the hill to have an amazing overview of Lake Superior.  
It had been drizzling and raining and even hailing all day on Friday, but when the wedding started at 7, it was simply overcast, and stayed that way for the remainder of the night.
Scott and I were decked in our finest- covered by raincoats, of course. :)  It was a great time- live band, beer from local breweries as well as brewed by the bride (using Scott's brewing equipment!), and lots of good people.  
Yesterday I finally got down to business, pulling out all the supplies to make goodie bags for my Monday night dance students.  
You can see Maeby not helping next to the box I had to hide the gift bags in.  She kept trying to eat the ribbons I was tying the bags with, and even nosing the box open when I closed it to keep her away.  There were so many bright and shiny things for her to chew on- it was like kitten-heaven and Katie-nightmare as I tried to keep her out of trouble.  I finally ended up throwing her in the bedroom and closing the door until I was done.  Bothersome little girl...
This morning I cast off for the second Platinum tap cowl, and I'll be casting on for the third and last one in early evening after Scott and I get back from climbing outside a bit today.  I need to finish it tonight... so no big rush, of course!  The sun is out for the first time in... a week?  We're going to stay in town by heading over to the Whopee Wall to climb some easy trad for our first day trad leading.  We would go to Ely's Peak (bigger walls), but the cracks there will be seeping from the recent rain- plus at this time of year they're filled with hornets.  Not very nice. :)
Still so many projects to finish before dance stuff, and not much time!  My parents are coming up tomorrow morning for a couple of days of Duluth hospitality, so hopefully we'll get outside for some hiking, some hang out time, and bring them to the new brewing places in town.  Tasty!
One more cup of coffee and I'm outside.  These sunny days seem to be few and far in between right now.  Gotta grab them while they're here...