Sunday, September 29, 2013

End of a Chapter

Friday was a really big day for me.  I went in for some evening climbing, but I had a little business to finish up at the climbing gym.  This included signing some papers, doing some last bits of filing, and turning in my keys to a place I had worked for over 5 years.  As of Friday evening, I'm officially no longer a climbing guide, shift manager and instructor.  And boy does it feel good. :)
I now officially only work at two places- my college and my dance studio.  Both those jobs (minus during competition season) are during the week, meaning that (at least I feel like) I've made the transfer over to having career-type, adult jobs.  Crazy!
It's a good thing, for sure.  I definitely spent a large chunk of this weekend grading papers.  I made sure to have coffee with a friend that came in town yesterday (which was fun despite the rain!),

and I did a little choreographing and chores today.  Mostly, though, I worked on making a dent in the ~75 papers towering on my desk.  As you can see, Maeby did her best to be helpful.

It's pretty slow work- I'm marking up my students' first papers quite a lot, so they feel like they have something to work on for the semester.
I've also been slogging away at the Cafe Du Monde cowl.

You can't tell, but it's at least a couple of inches longer than the last time I put up a picture. :)  I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to keep it.  There's someone I know that would enjoy the colors and the pattern a lot, so it's going to end up under a Christmas tree for sure come December.
And I have a rapidly-approaching deadline for a little baby boy's shower in November...

even though the pattern and I have having a few ::ahem:: disagreements.  AKA I think the way the pattern is written is more than a little stupid, and requires a lot of extra busywork, so I might be making a few modifications.  But more on that later.
For now, it's grading, grading, grading, a little bit of dancing this evening at the studio, then my workout, and knitting before bed.
I have to admit, being an adult and having these weekends- even though mine are pretty full of work stuff anyhow- is pretty nice. :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I realize I've been silent on here for way too long.  The blame is on two things- first, my Mom came up and visited me last weekend!

We went down to check out Oktoberfest, put on by Tycoon's here in Duluth.  I got to try Reuben Won-tons, which was interesting, and Bier Cheese Soup, which was delicious.

We also went to Fall Fest up in Chester Bowl, and found some cute little knick-knacks made by locals (I had to personally restrain myself from buying a few pounds of coffee from Duluth Coffee Company... actually, my lack of cash restrained me).  We ended the evening in Canal Park, where my mom did her best to try out my camera...

a few times...

to get a picture of me with the ore boat...

Ah well, we can't win all of them. :)
After that lovely weekend, I got these:

My first batch of papers!  Huzzah huzzah!  I'm hoping to get these back to my students by next week, so today through Monday is going to be lots of reading, marking, and grading.
Due to the increase in visitors and the bash of grading, my knitting has suffered.  As in, it became non-existent for the last week or so.  Hopefully I can rectify that tonight.  I made a deal with myself- school this morning (with grading), I get a half hour or so when I get home to put up some fall decorations and put a soup to simmer for dinner, then 3 hours of grading before climbing with a friend at 4.  If I can stay focused and get a lot of grading done, I'll let myself watch New Girl tonight and work some more on either Scott's sweater or the Armadillo for Sarah's baby shower.
Then tomorrow I will (hopefully) show all of you lovely people here some progress.
Hopefully. :)

PS- Climbing workout coming soon as well.  Promise. ;)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Knitting Update and a New Workout Tracker

I get my first round of papers today from my Composition students, which means I spent last night relaxing and doing a little knitting.
I finished the first of four golf club covers.

Look vaguely familiar?  That's because they're made to look like the heads of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  I'll be cutting out little grimacing eyes out of felt to glue on to the heads, but the main body of the first one is done.  Note the large pumpkin white chocolate mocha next to the knit- essential when the weather is foggy, chilly, and (finally!) turning to fall.

I'm also making slow progress on the Cafe Du Monde Cowl.  I haven't decided yet if I'm going to keep this cowl, or if it's going to be a Christmas present.  I have a nasty habit of starting a knit for myself, then giving it away when it seems to "fit" someone better (like the Fruit Loop socks).
 I finally found a way to keep track of my training that works for me!  I know a lot of people use different apps, writing it down in a notebook, or just remember what their training is.  I find that if I have a chart that I have to fill out right in front of me, I'm much more apt to plan out my workouts, challenge myself more, and also follow through on my workouts.

On the top column, I have the days of the week.  Down the left hand side, I have six different categories: Running/Cardio, Climbing, Yoga/Stretch/Dance, Strengthening, Opposing Forces, and Campus Board/Hangboard.  I then plan my week out in pencil, giving either hours I should do things (dancing, climbing), miles I should run or bike, or for strengthening, which of my printed workouts (either from Pinterest or my own creation) I should do.  Opposing Forces is a category I need as a climber, which includes push-ups and my tailored workout to help me avoid climber's elbow.  This is really important as I work more overhangs and harder stuff.  I'm also trying to incorporate stretching more in my workouts, either at the end of climbing or doing yoga before bed.
When I complete the workout, I write over it in black fine tip Sharpie.  Sometimes I erase what I was supposed to do and add more of what I did, or (as you can see for Tuesday on my picture), I erase what I was supposed to do and put an "X" if I didn't do that category for that day.
This really helps me keep track of what I've done when, plus it guilts me into filling the categories for the day.  I'm very visual in this aspect, so seeing it forces me to feel like I have to do it.  Yay personal guilt!
Today it's really foggy and muggy out, but I'm supposed to do a run, a bunch of strengthening (pullups and pushups), some stretching, and my opposing forces.  Tomorrow is climbing, biking, more strengthening (frenchies, which I'll explain later), and a campus board workout.  I'll go more in to detail later about what exactly I do for my campus board training and my pull up/pushup/frenchie routine.
For now, I'm off to read papers and lesson plan a little more.
This week for my students- grammar!

I'm hoping my students find it as exciting as I do... yeeeeeah commas and semi-colons... :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Birthday Weekend and FO: Northlady Mittens

Scott celebrated his 29th (!) birthday this weekend!

Festivities were plentiful in the apartment, with banners, balloons, confetti, cards, and streamers that the kittens enjoyed trying to tear down.

Instead of baking a cake, I decided to try a tasty Blueberry Tart recipe (thank you, Pinterest) that turned out really well (and of course, now I can't find the link to the recipe).  Crazy rich and custardy, but really tasty!  I had enough for three little tarts, which will definitely last us a couple days.  You have to eat them in shifts.

I even went so far as to make little breakfast quiches in the morning for us- egg inside of a buttery pastry crust, with a little seasoning for fun.  Excellent breakfast surprise!  Super easy to throw together.  Next time, I plan on sauteing some mushrooms, garlic, and perhaps even throwing some ham in there to add a little extra oomph.  SO tasty!
It was pretty rainy and gross the last couple of days, so I took advantage of the oven being on to finish a little drying job that was taking a long time.

And Voila!  The Northlady Mittens are blocked, dried, and ready to be wrapped!

Pattern: Northman Mittens by David Schulz
Yarn: A white and a teal in trusty ol' Cascade 220.  The teal is actually left over from my Cable Love Sweater.
Time Period: August 14th-September 15th, 2013

Mods: The mittens are supposed to be double-layered, but the needles I used knit them to be a perfect fit without the second layer.  I'll be knitting one more pair before Christmas, and I'll definitely be going up at least one needle size so I can get that second layer on the inside.
Worst Part: Not much, really.  I'm not a big fan of the edging, so next time around I'm going to see if there's a better-looking mod I can do.

Best Part: Feeling more and more comfortable with fair isle.  The whole doing fair-isle-til-I-drop attack has really helped me feel comfortable with it.  I love the colors together, too!
Now that I've done a couple of slightly more hardcore fair isle projects, I've got plans.  I'm going to finish my Dad's Dale of Norway sweater (come hell or high water!), and set my sights on one of two more difficult fair isle projects for my after-Christmas knit.  This blanket in particular looks fantastically difficult, and I would love getting my butt kicked at the same time!

Friday, September 13, 2013


I looked up from my grading today and realized... holy crap!  It's Friday!  How did that happen?
Oh yeah... I've been spending almost all my time in three places.  Most of the time is here:

planning planning planning for the weeks to come, trying to make my lesson plans better, organizing handouts, grading worksheets, and getting as far ahead as possible before the papers begin rolling in.  I spent last weekend with these two awesome people:

climbing up the shore at Shovel Point.  It was Jake's first time outside ever.  I love bringing people outside climbing for the first time- their face as they're lowered over the side is fantastically petrified, but then the smiles as they work hard to reach the top... it's so cool to see that excitement!

I got in a few climbs as well, enjoying the breeze coming up the rock and watching the storms roll in over the lake.  It definitely sustained me over the week.
Besides grading, my evenings have been filled with my first week of dance class and climbing training at the gym.  I'm very excited tonight to chill out, eat some Thai food, watch a movie, and finish the thumbs of these:

I have all weekend to do more climbing, grade more worksheets, choreographing some dances, and drinking lots of pumpkin chai lattes. Today is for me to relax, knit, and enjoy the cool breeze that signals the beginning of fall... :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Staying Motivated

Scott and I have been deep in the third season of Game of Thrones from HBO, which has allowed me to blast ahead on some knitting projects.

The Northlady Mittens are getting very close to completion!  After dinner tonight, I plan on finishing the top of these.  That leaves the thumbs for the weekend- finished just in time for the September 10th deadline I was aiming for!
This pair are going so quickly and so well that I already have the yarn for a second pair ready to go.

They will be another Christmas gift for the year.  The white is more off-white, and the blue is a darker, deeper blue.  I stuck with Alpaca for the liner- super cozy, and dark blue to keep them looking cleaner longer!  I plan on knitting the next pair one needle size up, to make sure that this pair will have a liner on the inside!

Can anyone guess what this is going to be?  Here's a hint- I'm knitting 4 of them as a set to give to 4 golfers.  Wait until the more interesting part comes out... :)
I climbed quite a bit yesterday- first with my friend Amanda for an hour, then later in the evening with Emily for a couple of hours.

Last night was definitely one of those sessions where I only had a few moments where I truly enjoyed being there- mostly when I was in the midst of doing a difficult problem.  Otherwise I sulked around a bit, not terribly motivated, climbing mostly because I needed to climb and get a work out in.  Don't get me wrong- I had 3 solid hours of climbing in, including laps on the overhang, bouldering, and doing some campus board training at the end.  It just didn't feel terribly motivating.  One of my favorite pro climbers, Steph Davis, said in an interview once that those are the types of days that it's most important to climb.  It's important to have that base, that way on the days you feel great, they're really great, because you kept going on the days when you felt just bleh.
At least, that's what I kept telling myself last night when I clipped the anchors of the overhanging hueco wall for my 3rd lap in a row... :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I finished Ian McEwan's novel Atonement yesterday morning over coffee, and thanks to friends, was able to watch the movie last night for a fun comparison!
Let me start by saying that I've enjoyed McEwan's writing in the past- I'm thinking of Saturday in particular- and he has a particular style that one must be in the mood to enjoy.  His prose is very dense, wordy, and ultimately descriptive.  For example, over half of the book in this case- 174 pages- covered the events of a single day from various perspectives, with very little dialogue.  Saturday was the same way, though the entire book covered a one-day period in that novel.  I remember really enjoying the intricacies of McEwan's descriptions in Saturday, but for Atonement, it felt like it was getting long-winded.  I hate to say it, but I found myself losing interest, putting the book down, and having to convince myself to pick it up again to finish the darn thing.
Don't get me wrong- McEwan is a fantastic writer, and if his style sounds like your bread and butter, then definitely put Atonement on your to-read list.  Perhaps it was the hot summer days that affected me so much, turning my brain to gush that could only thoroughly enjoy "fluff" fiction like Game of Thrones or young adult novels.  Perhaps I had tried to read Atonement too many times in the past, and just had a mental block against reading it.  Personally, I think Atonement is better suited to reading in the depths of winter, where the heavy subject matter can be properly digested with the weight of cold, dark evenings.  
Great book- just not the right time or place for me to read it.
The movie did a fantastic job of taking all of McEwan's descriptions and inner monologues and turning them into a great visual while upholding McEwan's aversion to dialogue.  To be fair, the performances by the actors was rather fantastic, especially the young lady playing a naive Briony Tallis.  A novel-to-screen adaptation such as this would have failed miserably if the acting talent was anything but amazing.  This was one of the first times I've watched Kiera Knightley and truly appreciated her acting chops.  She was perfectly cast as Cecelia.  James McAvoy was also great as Robbie, seeming both strong and exceedingly vulnerable at the same time. 
One thing for me that really was incredible for the movie was the score.  I'm a sucker for scores that feature piano solos, so this score was right away up my alley.  What pushed it above and beyond was the inclusion of typewriter sounds as the percussion.  Given the nature of the story, it was a perfect addition without sounding gimmicky.  The movie was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, but only won the statue for the score (to be fair, that's the year of No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and La Vie En Rose, to name a few).  
I did enjoy going straight from finishing the book to checking out the movie.  I may have to do that again as I keep blasting through my pile of books for the year. :)