Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Weekend in Nederland

Memorial Day weekend here started with a bout of severe weather and Nugget, D and I hunkered down in our gloomy basement for our first tornado of the season!  Well, it thankfully manifested for us only as strong winds and horizontal rain.

Good thing, too, since we took off for a weekend in Nederland, Colorado shortly thereafter!  I lived in Colorado for four years and yet I had never made it to this little mountain town.  How?!?  We've overnighted in Denver or the ski resorts intermittently since then - most recently, for Labor Day last year when we visited the Botanic Gardens and DMB concert, but we never ventured far from the cities.

So for Memorial Day weekend we rented a cabin to enjoy the cool, spare air, go hiking, and eat fabulously. Check!

Nugget came with us since we are last-minute planners and doggie daycare was full (imagine that).

9 hours after leaving home we settled in to our adorable cabin (which is larger than our home!) in Nederland, 15ish miles into the mountains outside of Boulder.

We enjoyed coffee and breakfast burritos at Happy Trails and The Train Cars Coffee and hiked around the Walker Ranch Loop.

We ate splendidly in Boulder - Backcountry Pizza (pretty good, but no match for Moose's Tooth) and CafĂ© Aion (best veggie burger I can remember, D loved his Aion burger too, but the show stopper was the hummus (really!)).  We even made time to visit the Celestial Seasonings HQ for a cute tea tour and samples of course.

The weather held beautifully all weekend, chilled only by a few mild rain showers - a welcome respite from the very Colorado sun that energizes us to enjoy the outdoors all day.

At some point we loved our weekend so much we considered moving here instead of Alaska.  I poo-pooed this immediately but D is still unconvinced so we scouted out some properties.  Boulder is definitely too crowded for our taste, and Nederland a little too far removed from the rat-race, so no big changes yet.  No worries mates, I will hold strongly in the Alaska camp!

Memorial Day holds many memories and sadnesses, and this break from our usual habits and fast-paced humdrum is part of acknowledging the day.

In my absence from this blog, I have had some running challenges.  My back pain is a beast I now manage instead of cure.  I'm learning to deal with that.  The slower pace of trails has helped, so to indulge I recently bought the Salomon Fell-raiser trail shoes at a discount - a good gamble.  Very well-suited to the Colorado dry trails, but the tread on the bottom collects A LOT of mud here in earthy, boggy, Kansas.  I don't mind so much, but I did stop often along my 10-mile WYCO loop on Monday to clap off the caked mud.  I think I just made room for more :)

Several times now - on recent runs, at my new slower pace - I've noticed the return of our songbirds!  We host a beefy cardinal pair that nibble corn from our back railing, but I've seen more exotic birds, too - blue jays, mourning doves, indigo buntings, a summer tanager, red-bellied woodpeckers, black-capped chickadee, red-winged blackbirds, and even a goldfinch.  Oh yes and starlings by the busload, of course.  Just the other day while D shoppied for his NB Leadville shoes at the Running Well store, we noticed a Backyard Bird Center store in the same strip mall.  I've had such luck with my bird-watching lately so we bought a bird feeder to more easily spy on our chirpy friends.  Nugget is completely disinterested - certainly for the best.

I finally finished up my kitchen island based on one from Ana White.  It looks great -- what a surprise!  It definitely isn't used as an "island" (40 sq ft kitchen here, folks) but it holds our miscellany well.  I drill my pocket-holes without a jig, but even so it is still in one piece and level (amazing).  I left the top as plain cedar though heavily sanded and with several coats of wipe-on poly.  The base is a weathered gray with a coat of wipe-on poly for protection, too.  The cedar grain is lovely to look at and I am glad I rustically nailed the top planks down vs more pocket holes...oy.  I added a small decorative hook on the front to hang kitchen towels and D is under strict instructions not to let a single molecule of water linger on the cedar surface.  So far, A+ for his compliance :).

Here, some pictures:

Yep, I sure have no interest in messing around with photos, do I? :)

Summer is sort of here, let it be a safe and happy one for all!

Friday, April 1, 2016

March, in like a lamb and out like a lion

Did you find all your Easter eggs last Sunday?

We didn't, because we woke up to layer of wet snow!

Snow - then church, followed by tasty brunch at June's with friends.  Our same Christmas routine.  We are so blessed to have great friends, full healthy lives, and good food to enjoy.  D is also a local celebrity at June's, and he's never left without a hug from June herself.  The fantastic holiday buffet and festive atmosphere are tops and we passed three easy hours enjoying the company of our friends, (who we don't see often enough, despite the fact they live close by, that happens too often, doesn't it?) totally impervious to the bustle of others out for Easter brunch.  Afterwards, D and I returned home to our latest project:

We took a gamble on Veranda Charm and won!
That's our living room, re-painted (well, the half above the paneling) from an oatmeal/porridge/okayu color to that calming pale gray/blue Veranda Charm.  I was worried that the color would be too dark in a north-facing room, and our marriage too tested by a DIY, but we finished the whole thing in about 90 minutes.  Thank you, tiny living.  We both feel soothed by the color and I refer to it as our "spa room" now.  Not a bad under-$50 project.  Under $30 had we not bought rollers, sponges, brushes and masking tape, drop cloth etc.  We had fun and amazingly no horrible paint accidents (one flip flop may have been accidentally veranda-charmed, but it will live to see another foot, so that doesn't count).  

You can see D re-attaching our coat hooks in the photo, and please ignore the mess on the left as it waits to be re-placed once the paint dries.  D's new rule for tiny living is "nothing in the house that's not beautiful or useful" which he thinks is SO FUNNY.  I am sure he gleaned it from a baitclick solely to pester me when I come home with bags of sale candy, boxes of pens, nests of yarn, pounds of tea.   Don't get him started on the over-stuffed shoe crate either.  He just doesn't understand that some running shoes have sentimental value, before working themselves down the hierarchy to retire as lawn-mowing attire.  

Speaking of which, it's almost lawn-mowing season, isn't it?  Though March ended with snow, April has been breezy and mild, and the grass, the few blades of it left among the dandelion/poison ivy farm, creeps steadily upward.  Nugget loves the scent of springtime and as part of her pre-dawn toilette she tells the whole block exactly how much. 

We look forward to our next 10K and I have toned down my mileage respectively.  I am a busy bunny at work and with knitting and sometimes, at the end of my day (which starts very early) I just need to go home and not run.  Most days I do, but I'm getting better about tossing out garbage miles and replacing with other things that grownups do, like work, study independently, further my career, steward the profession, you get it.  I really don't need to do everything everyday, do I?

Cutie among the fruities....pattern not my own - Henri from Ravelry
This weekend we'll run I'm sure, and we caught the spring itch to paint the kitchen now!  It's nice to have this little home that we can revamp in a matter of hours.  I'm very task-oriented (in small chunks, puhleeze) so a room at a time suits me just fine.  

I'm getting excited for our upcoming TX trip and for morel season.  D already spotted mushroom hunters in the woods yesterday - no fungi however.  My gut and the lack of may-apples tell me it is just a few weeks too soon...though tomorrow I want to check on our secret spots from last year.  Not that I found any mushrooms, but it's never too early to oversee my terroir.  

Happy weekend!

See?  I put all that yarn to good use!  This guy also from a Ravelry pattern.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring cleaning...'bout time I dusted off this blog!

What have I been up to lately in addition to ignoring this blog?

Breaking 1:45 in a half marathon last weekend, that's what!

And completing my 20-mile trail race in late February (though with less impressive results, IMO).

The Psycho Wyco 20 miler...well, I did it but I lost a little love for the trail-racing process.  What a great race day - late February and 60s and sunny with no precip in the preceding weeks?  Great conditions!  All of my worry over inclement weather gear was for nothing.  Good thing I procrastinated the purchase of any...still procrastinating in fact. 

The first 10-mile lap went well.  The few wet/muddy parts were no match for my new Balega socks which saved the day with such a dry, cushioned ride.  On the second lap of the race, I lost a little interest.   I was lonely and I felt as though I were just pounding out miles in single-file in packs of random strangers along a 10-mile lap.  Maybe I was just too familiar with the course, having run those same trails while training?  I don't know.  Just not as fun as I expected, though I can't really complain about a beautiful day in a beautiful park.  Really not every day can be magical run-nirvana, but it can still be a great day, and it was.  Also, I have never seen better aid stations or support crews.  I felt well taken care of -- a truly top-notch production, which is standard for the Trail Nerds

Also, I love the hoodie and super cool race medal with a spinning tornado!

Hoodies for everyone!
I did take this trail race opportunity to eat real food while running.  I hate gagging down gels and I get real sick of stuffing little bags of gummy candy in my sports bra, which is a sweaty tacky mess by the time I want a lickie/chewie.  The night before the Psycho Wyco i made some frozen peanut butter energy balls (no recipe needed, just scavenged ingredients from my tiny kitchen) which D loved and tested thoroughly.  I am not much for peanut butter, but with ground oats, pretzels, dates, honey, and just a little peanut butter to bind it all in little balls, I had a nice compact treat for me on the trail (and for D at the aid stations).  Of course, the aid stations were so well stocked that I would've been fine (and likely overstuffed) even without my homemade fuel.  Still, it was a fun project and I'm glad these treats provided a more palatable alternative to normal race "foods."  And as a bonus, I suffered no GI emergencies as a result.  That can be a real issue for me and hence why a lot of my training is on treadmill or in vicinity of facilities. Bummer indeed.  Pun intended, bien sur.  At this point I think I just need to get some bentyl. 

After trail running so much this winter, I missed the almighty road race.  I know, I know, it's a completely different gestalt but I am in love with asphalt's ability to test my training and my mettle and really challenge the clock.  I do not reach that happy I-can-barely-hold-on-to-this-pace-and-yet-here-I-am-holding-it-while-the-miles-whiz-by feeling while on the trails.  For me, the trails are pure fun/playtime and that's the mindset I should've embraced at the Psycho Wyco.  The road?  Well, that's where I see if my horsies can still take the age group. 

Last weekend I ran the Ray-Pec Lucky 13.1 Half Marathon in Peculiar, MO.  How could I pass up a race in a town with such a cool name?  Actually, after the 20 miler I felt trained up and ready for a nice road race half and the most convenient one happened to be sponsored by the Raymore-Peculiar High School cross country team.  The price was right, and my training was right and the weather cooperated too - gorgeous 55 degrees and light rain.  Perfect recipe for me to break the 8:00 pace, which I finally did after years of banging my head in the wall about it.  Nice that my time allowed to me win the age group, but the two ladies who finished overall ahead of me were like for reals light years beyond.  Maybe one day, that'll be me, when I drop 10 pounds and find a less all-encompassing job and stop knitting, and cease watching Acorn TV while eating is more like it :)

The chip-timed course started at the high school with a lap around the track and then departs into the rolling hills of farm country.  It ends with the same lap around the track and at the end there is mac and cheese, fruit, raffle prizes, and an "old as dirt" cake for the 72-year old gentleman who was this year's most senior participant.  I hope that's me someday.  He finished in the low 2H area I believe.  Dang.  There is also a 5K race option.  The turn around was along the same course as the 13.1.  Some real quick kiddos out there, in both the 5K and the half!

The high school sports teams provided nice aid stations along the out-and-back course.  It's always refreshing to see high schoolers acting so courteously and with such pride in their school and community.  Man do I feel old having written that!  Anyway, I felt like Peculiar would be a nice place to live and raise a family (or chickens and dogs, also known as "family" in my world) not to mention a nice place to break 1:45.  

Remember all this blather?  Well I tossed training plans out the window long ago in order to de-regulate a littleMy go-to workouts have been like this:
  • Long runs of ~10 miles or so at a chill pace.  Boring but necessary for endurance.
  • Speed work: 6 or 7 miles of warm up mile/ half on 3:30 or faster, half mile at 4:00 or faster x 4 or 5 sets/cool down mile.  These are my favorite days.
  • Tempo runs, done properly. Embraced, but not beloved.
  • Hilly runs of about 5 miles done for mental fortitude. 

In other recent events, work is going well.  I got promoted, so that's cool.  In my free time I have been knitting a lot and tried using cotton yarn for the first time.  What was I waiting for?  It's lovely to touch.  It feels solid and American and resilient and doesn't stretch :).  I'm currently working on a washrag for the dog.  Yes I know, a hand-knit washrag for my dog.  It's just that she likes being lathered in the bath, and I don't want to use our hand-towels on her.  She abhors having water poured over her and yet loves to be scrubbed, so for $1.77 in Walmart cotton yarn I will aid in her bathtime compliance while keeping D happy that we don't share bath towels with a floor-licker (The dog.  Not me).  Long-haired short-legged dogs in muddy Kansas spring get bathed, often.  So it goes. 

Easter is around the corner and I am ready for Spring....though yesterday it snowed!  My neglected bulbs have prospered and popped up in huge patches and are unfettered by the chill so we enjoy some lovely blooms.   

I have two trips to Texas coming up (one for work and one for a wedding/follow on 10K, but as a workaholic they will both be mega-fun of course).  Unfortunately my medical mission trip to Haiti for April was cancelled.  I'm bummed and annoyingly out some $$ but it wasn't meant to be.  I am frustrated as I feel like I could have made a difference there -- yes, in a small way, but so important to me (and how I view my professional and moral responsibilities) and to the orphans we planned to treat.

Yesterday D and I finally had the chance to eat Korean food at Hyundai Korean restaurant in Leavenworth.  Boy oh boy -- good authentic bibimbap.  The restaurant appearance may dissuade you but be not afraid, the food is top notch and took us back to all the time we spent in Korea.  The huge portions may intimidate you (D couldn't even finish his) but be sure to make room for kimchi and all the little banchan sides that accompany your meal.  Prices completely reasonable.  

We love bibimbap in all forms but I suspect we will have it hot-pot style next time.  They also feature my other favorites of standard Korean fare- jap chae, bulgogi, khalbi.  Luckily I am going to take some leave to Korea this fall to visit friends, and for now this restaurant makes me miss them a little less.  The building is redolent with the scent of the land of the morning calm which I think crucial to any amazing Korean dining experience.  

We also enjoyed browsing in the attached Asian market.  I picked up some jasmine tea from China and wanted to grab piles of sweets too but Easter is next weekend and we have a pastel candy explosion in our house right now.  It's for Easter baskets for my coworkers, I swear!!

 In other news, I got my bangs back.  Finally feel like myself again.  The Division finally made its way into our home so D feels like himself again now too.

Happy Easter and enjoy your spring running.  I am looking forward to longer days, and sweat and shorts.  Sending lots of love your way:

So...yeah...maybe I was having a rough last mile and D suffered the wrath...SR-71s for everyone!!  Carefully displayed without any other witnesses of course.  This remains a favorite photo of his and may or may not grace the fridge at home :)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas time and other favorite things

We've had some lovely days here...

...and done some Christmas preparation at Fulk's Tree Farm where I caught this 4-footer white pine, last Saturday after we ran the muddy North Ridge in Weston:


And Nugget even followed the rules, as much as she would've liked to become one of Santa's Lil' Helpers:

The tree lights sure brighten the entire tiny house:

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

I've been indulging in the Acorn TV subscription free trial on Amazon now that we cancelled Netflix...does anyone else watch Doc Martin and imagine living in his perfect village?  I sure do...though I'd rather he not be my GP!  The way I see it, trade the Missouri River for the cliffs of Cornwall, and there you are, Leavenworth is Kansas' version of Portwenn.
Among other unbearable quaintnesses, we've a tea shop walking distance from home, next to a knitting shop, yoga studio, various restaurants and bars, and cupcake shop.  How this small town supports such enterprises is a mystery to me, but I won't complain.  D and I support local shops frequently, and hope lots of others do too.  We don't just buy twee nonsense in town -- our title company is downtown, our major appliances all came from Dolsberry Appliance and local contractors did all the work on our house, apart from the 150 feet of privacy fence that D built by hand in 2 weeks, after work and on weekends.
Last week, after our office Christmas party at Ten Penny restaurant, some galpal workmates and I walked a few blocks to The Queen's Pantry as we delayed our return to the had I missed this wonderful place before?

The entryway is full of delicate china tea sets, displayed amid all sorts of treats and sweets from the UK.  Further back, an entire wall of shelves houses large jars of tea, with canister samples for sniffing each and every blend (which I did, tyvm). There is of course a corner set aside with Styrofoam cups and thermos for tasting the day's featured tea.  Boxed teas are available too, and just about any tea-cessory you'd like - cozies, towels, balls, jams, marmalades, tea cakes, fruit slices, sugar tongs.  I even spied Marmite and Colman's mustard for those of us who prefer our treats savory. 

The teas are grouped by red/black/white/green with some set-aside novelty blends featuring additions like marshmallow and chocolate chips...which I really don't like in my tea at all, but might tickle the palate for others.

Can we take a moment to talk about tea?

I have lots, of all sorts.  My ol' reliables are Yorkshire Gold, Darjeeling and Lady Grey.  I like spiced teas in the colder months, like Twining's Christmas Tea and of course Constant Comment.  Green tea is nice at work late in the afternoon when I wish to avoid too much caffeine.  I've convinced myself that it aids digestion, and it reminds me of all the time I spent in Japan and Korea years ago.

Lately I've been warding off the evening chill with the tisanes I just purchased from Queen's Pantry.  My favorites are Lemon Souffle Rooibos (creamy and lemony just as it's named) and a highly aromatic Men's Herbal Brew (yeah, yeah, so maybe I call it Men's Urkelgrue) which tastes mostly of anise, lemongrass, ginger with a pleasant cardamom (or pepper?) bite, nestled in a base of rooibos as well.  Isn't it funny and sad that after all these years I can pretty much quote every episode of the Office by heart?

And here is me not starting down the path of discussing gender-specific tea (fairly, they do sell a Women's Herbal Brew) so all you SJW can have a nice cuppa and calm down right about now!

I've enjoyed red teas for years and the new ones I picked up are pleasant excursions from the typical vanilla-dominated blends.  The rooibos are not truly teas, and have no caffeine, so I allow myself to drink these teas by the pot!

Only 938709858364+ more teas remaining from Queen's Pantry for me to try...

A tea Snellen!  I love it so much I can't bear to use it as a tea towel yet!
Though I haven't visited the Leavenworth Yoga Co-op or yarn shop (for fear of overdosing on downward dogs and skeins of merino) we've ordered cakes from Karma Cakes on several occasions.  I declare them the best bakery in town and at reasonable prices, too.  You can't go wrong with a bake shop that decorates freshly-baked cupcakes with not just homemade frostings but cookies and candies too.

If you don't have a local tea shop, feel free to support mine and order online!

After all these tea parties I've been having, D and I cure our cabin fever and run the trails in Wyandotte County Park weekly as we prepare for the Psycho Wyco.  It's lovely to run in the chilly rain and just yesterday in the late afternoon, after work, I tested out some more variations of my winter gear plan.  I wore shorts (yes! this was a good move), my old trail shoes, a base-layer long sleeve shirt with zippered collar, a looser, fleecier middle layer with thumb-holes, and a light zippered jacket.  For 40 degrees in mild rain and minor winds, with the addition of a hat (the one I'm wearing in my tree-catching picture) it was perfect.  We ran one of the hilliest and muddiest segments of the race path yesterday and I could moderate my temperature well with zipping/unzipping/donning/doffing.  Learning has occurred!

Today we are off of work for the rest of the day and planning to run some errands before heading to midnight mass.  I'm not sure where we will run today.  D got called in to work at 1 am this morning and so I'm trying hard not to wake him. 

Tomorrow is Christmas brunch out with friends. 

It's a lovely day here, as long as I stay away from streaming news and thinking about work too much.

The sadness of the whole world weighs heavily, but Christmas gives us all hope that maybe this won't always be so.  I'm ever thankful for the blessings in my life and I wish the same to you.

A Merry Christmas to you and yours!

*** No affiliate links or sponsoring whatsoever ***

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Pose running method...

I'm doing the clinic for Pose running this weekend...still in progress...hence my lack of mileage updates...I don't know if I love it...the evidence in its favor sure is plentiful...what do you think?  Why am I cranking my hamstrings 180 times a minute...I don't know about this...I don't know that anything was wrong with my running style all seemed ok and now over the past 2 days I'm told that that's not so...what is the what...who is John Galt...more to follow when I cage my thoughts!