Thursday, January 30, 2014

January Review & February Forecast

Without intentionally setting down resolutions (ok I set a couple), there were a few things I started doing routinely in January.

  • More often than not, I left a note for my eldest every day in her lunchbox
  • I left Facebook 
I want to talk more about each of these, as they tie into (especially the first), some things I'd like to work on in February.  I love the idea of setting monthly goals, rather than year long (in my opinion) obstacles.  This way, it's a "commitment" of 30 days, not 365.  If it doesn't pan out, try again the next month (or try something new!).

The first - my husband and I before we were first married, took a course on the 5 Love Languages.  We took this as part of a Christian course.  I say this because I'm not sure if the book is Faith based (maybe it is?).  But Faith aside, I would say that knowing your, and your spouses Love Language, is great for a relationship.  I can give him as many gifts as I want.  I know he appreciates it, but it doesn't show him love.  For him to understand how much I love him, I need to speak to him in his language.  And vice versa.  So, I've been sending these notes to my big girl in her lunchbox.  For the first week, she didn't make a peep about them.  The second week I think she mentioned it once.  The wake up call for me here, was I was speaking to her in my language.  (Most people do this.  They 'love' others in their language as it is what they understand the most.  An easy way of knowing your own language, is looking how you show others that you care for them).  I knew that they came out with a Love Languages book for kids, and I decided to seek it out.  Today I was out with a girlfriend, and found a copy at a local book store.  For February, I'm going to read it, and see if I can figure out (for this first month), the love language of my eldest.  

Facebook.  Ah Facebook.  It's good for a miriad of things, but oh gosh is it also a time warp for me.  I did check in a few times near the end of January.  The first couple times it was ok.  About 10 minutes or so.  Then I started finding myself spending more and more time.  NO.  So, this continues into February.  Facebook free.  It's just not a good thing for me.  

I also want to quickly touch on my running and knitting in January.  I ran distances in January I never would have thought possible the beginning of December.  I'm especially proud of the 20K I ran just last weekend, and the 18K before that.  WOW.  I'm still running for 10 minutes, and walking 1, and am ok with that.  For short runs, I've managed to run for 6K without stopping.  I'd gradually like to see that increase to 8K.  I think for February I'll try for 7, and for March perhaps that 8.  Knitting, I finished up the sweater I've been blogging about.  Yes!  Another WIP (work in progress) off my list, and another garment to wear.  I just need to find buttons and will do a post just for the sweater (soon I hope!).

January has been good, and I'm looking forward to some new goals for February.

To recap I'm:
  • Reading and focusing on the Love Language of my eldest
  • Working on being Facebook free
  • Running my 1st half marathon!!!
  • Working on getting to 7K consistently with no walk breaks
  • Starting a knit dress for my big girls upcoming Spring birthday
How was your January?  Have you set any mini goals?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Running Free

Last night once the littlest was tucked into her crib, I prepared to go out for a 6K run. On Saturday, when I came home from my long run, I was negligent in putting my Garmin watch back into the running bin.  I remember the littlest and my middle playing with it on the couch (it has this little man that runs across the screen when you turn it on).  They thought that was great fun.

Fast forward to last night, and I couldn't find my watch anywhere.  I looked under the cushions, under the couch, in my bin (thinking maybe I was smart and DID put it away).  Nope.  It has disappeared.  After a good twenty minutes of searching, I decided it best to run without it as it was getting late.

So I set out.  It felt strange not seeing how fast I was going, or how far I had gone.  And at stop lights, I would naturally reach down to stop the timer.  Right, no watch.

So I ran, for about 30 minutes, maybe about 5K (I did a familiar loop), and came home.  Just me, the pavement, and my music.  It was a bizarre, but fun sense of freedom.  I may need to add in a watch free run from time to time.  But today, that watch needs to be found.  It was good for a 5K, probably not so smart for my half in the next two weeks!  If you were a toddler or a preschooler, where would you stash a watch?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Night Knits

My eldest takes ballet on Monday nights.  It's become my quiet time to knit and drink a latte, while I wait for her to finish her 45 minute class.

It's a great little getaway from my usual busyness with the three kids.  The highlight is always being able to drink my latte with no lid (& still hot!)

It's a short school week this week, and as a bonus, my daughter has been assigned no homework (I think we are equally pleased about this).  I had all my knitting packed, and was about to head out with G, when my hubby suggested that I keep her out late, and take her for a drink.  At first, after dropping her off, I headed out the door to cross the street to my "watering hole".  And I stopped.  He's right.  That would be fun.  So in I went, found a bench, and worked on my knitting outside of G's class.

My daughter shares the love of sitting in a coffee shop, so she was pleased as punch I invited her to join me on my Monday night "escape".

We sat and people watched, visited, she opened up and told me stories of school, dance, and bus stops, as she spooned whip cream, and I sipped my latte.

I'm glad my hubby suggested I share my Monday night :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Where my Knits are at! (Spoiler!)

I've been steadily working away on both my January challenge, as well as the mystery socks.  

I have finished and blocked the back and fronts of the sweater, as well as seamed the sides together using mattress stitch, and using a three needle bind off to attach the shoulders.  I've picked up the stitches around the neck and back to start on the hood.  The hood in the pattern looks HUGE, so I'm following others mods and making it shorter, with fewer increases and decreases.  I hope to have the hood done today.  The next task is to pick up approximately 270 stitches to start on the button band.  Gulp.  Good thing I'm a bit twisted in that I enjoy picking up stitches (and generally all matters of finishing a garment).  Ha!

 The cuffs of the socks I knit on double pointed needles (dpns), then placed both on circulars so I can knit them two at a time.  As a result, getting through the leg portion of the clue takes a bit longer.  I have figured (I'm a gal that likes a plan), that if I do 8 rows a day I'll have both legs done and ready for the next clue (the heel), next week.  I'm already short of that goal, what with working on the sweater, and taking a night off last night to build lego with my eldest, and drink a glass of wine with the hubby :)

Today my littlest is running a low grade fever, and is already looking to want two naps today rather than one. It's 11C outside, so I think I'll take the kids out for a long walk to our local Starbucks.  I hit 3K on the treadmill, so this will even out to about 7K total today.  The rest of the day will be full of knitting amongst all the other little day to day activities that need to be done (laundry, dishes, playing, bus pick up etc.)

Sunday I will do my longest run before the Hypothermic Half Marathon on February 8th.  A total of 20K.  It's supposed to be a mix of snow and rain but only 0C.  Think of me and send along some sunshine vibes!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Frappuchino Run

With my long run last Thursday, then the 5K race on Saturday, I gave myself two days off, skipping Sunday and Monday, meaning I really needed to get a run in on Tuesday.

But the second mystery clue was released for my sock, and when naptime came, knitting took my attention.  Then when a friend called and asked if I had plans that night, and would I like to go for a coffee, I said "Yes!".  It was only after I hung up the phone that I remembered I needed to do a run.  So far knitting and coffee were taking priority lol.  So I made a compromise.

I ran to the coffee shop.

My hubby said in a joking way that it was a lazy run.  That the hash house harriers were my next step (they run and drink beer).  All I know is it was a super tasty run!  2K there, a chai frappuchino and a wonderful friend to visit with, then a long loop home of 4K.  Pretty nice way to do a run.  It was so great, I hope to do it again :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lemon Meringue... Puddle?

It has become tradition (if doing something two years in a row makes a tradition?) of making my husband a pie on his birthday.  Last year was a blueberry pie from scratch.  I usually go the easy route of buying a pre-made shell.  Last year I did it all by hand and it was SO tasty.  This year I decided on Lemon Meringue.  My Mom can do it, so I can too... right?

FAIL.  It tasted like Lemon Meringue.  The meringue worked like meringue.  But the filling flopped, and turned to a pool on our plates.  I'm not sure where I went wrong.  The graham cracker crust?  That's my only  theory.  That the hot filling on top of  the graham crust, caused the crust to get soft and it turned into a pile of mush.  The recipe didn't call for a graham crust, but graham crusts are so tasty I couldn't resist.  I did bake the shell prior to adding the filling but?

Do you know?  Have you made a successful Lemon Meringue?  I'd like to try again if anyone has a recipe to share :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

MEC Race One Review

Yesterday my younger brother and I ran in the MEC Race 1 at Shouldice Park.  This race came at an amazing price of just $15 (half marathons are running around $90 here in our city!).  My brother thought this a good chance to check out just what a race of $15 is like - I'm glad I joined him for the experience.

We arrived to a really easy and fast check in.  Music playing, a great race start line (heck it was in snow, but it is January after all), a warm-up and an efficient start.  The 10K group headed out first, followed shortly after by the 5K runners.  The organizers were great about warning about the worst icy patches (we had some warm weather, followed by low temps, and most sidewalks and roads are pure ice).

I was pleasantly surprised at the 2.5K turnaround point to find an aid station with gatorade and water.  My only gripe has nothing to do with MEC, but rather general race etiquette.  Runners are pretty friendly folks.  We are competitive, but with ourselves.  Running is not generally a team sport.  Near the finish line, I love to push it and give the last kilometer a great kick.  A man in front of me, probably in his fifties, would not let me push past him.  Whenever I tried he would speed up or block me, almost coming to a complete stop at the finish line.  It was so infuriating.  Mostly also because being a man, and evidently not in my age group, it wouldn't have even been about trying to place higher than me in those categories.  As my brother pointed out, it is a $15 race and can pull runners that are just starting and have never raced before, and may not know general race etiquette.

That however, was my only negative of the entire run.  At the finish line they had gatorade, Clif bars, medals for the top finishers, and gift certificates to spend at MEC for those that placed.  They had the rest of their races outlined and I will be sure to do another one.  They even have a marathon coming in October!  Great cheap runs ahead :)

Timing wise I was really happy with my result.  I normally run during the week at a 5:55min/k pace, so focused on a finish time of 30 minutes.  When I was at about 3K I noticed that my overall pace was at 5:47min/k which I was really excited about.  I thought I'd see if I could kick it up a notch and lower that even more.  In the end I finished with a chip time of 27:59!!!!  That was an overall pace of 5:33min/k.  A great way to start off the running year!  My brother placed third overall for the men with a time of 20:32.  Incredible!

Here's an image posted on the MEC Flickr site of my brother and I visiting after the run :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Runners High

Wikipedia describes the Runners High as:

A publicized, putative effect of endorphins is the so-called "runner's high", which is said to occur when people exercise so strenuously that their bodies reach the threshold of endorphin release. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts of moderate to high intensity, corresponding to prolonged physical stress. This also corresponds with the time that the muscles use up their stored glycogen. The presence of endorphins would presumably mitigate pain sensation by negatively regulating pain-carrying signals from nociceptive neurons in the spinal cord. Notably, such analgesic effects of endorphins could potentially increase the likelihood of injury, as pain sensation could be more easily ignored. Experiencing a runner's high has also been known to cause feelings of euphoria. 

This morning my Mom (on her birthday even!) watched C (the littlest) so I could do my long run.  I dropped the big two off at their schools, and set off for my run.  I used mapmyrun to figure out a 9K loop, and was aiming to run it twice.  What I didn't count on was the ice.  Yesterday was 7C and all the snow melted on the sidewalks, then froze overnight.  It was treacherous.  I had 3K to run on the sidewalks, before I hit a paved pathway system.  The pathway system had it's own challenge of large dogs running amuck.  I love dogs.  We have a Golden Retriever.  But dogs I don't know running, while I'm running, honestly terrify me a little.  I was briefly "chased" by a black lab who I had to return to it's owner.  

The first 6K felt like a slog.  My legs felt heavy, and the hills though moderate, felt like I was tackling a mountain.  Then something switched, and from 6K on it started to feel easier.  I did the first loop and honestly thought "that wasn't so bad" and easily started the loop a second time.  Then this happened at around 11K.

I fell.  Hard.  I wasn't too worried about my hand.  I was mostly worried about my knee.  It must have been quite the thing to see as a woman pulled over in her truck to check on me, and wasn't sure about leaving me.  She asked me twice if I was sure I was actually ok.  At that point I decided I was done with the sidewalks, and started running on the road facing traffic.  

I was euphoric finishing the 18K.  18K.  I feel really stinkin' proud of that.  I felt just last week that 16K was a wall I wasn't sure I would pass, let alone hit the 18K that I had needed.  A friend at A's preschool told me as I put on his boots to head home that I was "glowing with endorphins".  That made me grin from ear to ear.  My hubby told me just a few weeks ago that I am at my happiest after I've been for a run.  And I suppose that's why I keep going out, even after runs that feel impossible, and I question why?  Because those hard runs, are also replaced with amazing runs.

And you know what I did with such a kick?  I signed up for this:


Crazy.  On so many levels.  I'm ridiculously excited with an equal mix of fear.  This will be my 7th marathon (that makes it lucky right?).  It will be 11 years since I ran my first Calgary marathon, and 5 years since running my last marathon.  My 1st as a Mom of three.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Through the Loops Mystery Sock KAL 2014 (Spoiler!)

Today I cast on for the Through the Loops Mystery Sock Knit a Long.  Every week until February 12th a portion of the sock pattern is released.  Last night coming home from my knit group, I received the e-mail for the cuff :)

I'm knitting it in Plucky Knitter, colorway Vintage Icebox, and my most favorite colorway of all, Lettuce, by Malabrigo.

There may have been a bit too much TV watching of Curious George this morning, and a willingness to put the smallest one down for an early nap, just so I could wind the yarn and cast on.  I have a not so sneaking suspicion it may be this way for the next few Wednesdays (the day the clues roll in) ;)

By noon I was feeling some Mom guilt and I got the kids dressed, fed them (this is important - ha!), played games, went to the grocery store, made pie (there's a birthday tomorrow!), and picked up the big one from school.  I will also admit there was knitting done at the lunch, and dinner table while I waited for the little people to finish up.  And the needles were picked up as soon as the peanut was put in her crib.

Something nice about finishing the night off, finishing this clue beside the gas fireplace.

I have enough double pointed needles in this size that I will probably cast on the second before next week as well, and try to keep up doing both socks at the same time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake

Growing up my Mom had a subscription to Canadian Living Magazine.  I'm not sure if she actually used it for the recipes, but I remember reading through the recipes as the magazines came into our home.  When a friends child had a magazine subscription fundraiser come up last Fall, I had a "Mom moment" of subscribing to the magazine for myself.  Without realizing it, I have a few resolutions I've made, one of which is to make something from the magazine each month.  February's edition arrived last week, and in it a recipe for "Ultimate Chocolate Cake".  We have alot of birthdays we are celebrating this month, so I wrapped them all up into one big event.  What is more fitting to celebrate four people, than a four layer chocolate cake?

I started off trying to be sophisticated and added white chocolate shavings to the top.  Then I added sprinkles to a quarter of it for the 4 year old in the group.  The sprinkles were so fun I added them to the whole top.  Then A wanted bugs on it.  So 9 gummy worms were also added :)

It was a moist delicious cake, and one I know I will make again.  It was so good A even licked his plate :)

Ultimate Chocolate Cake

3C all purpose flour
2C sugar
2/3C cocoa powder
2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
2C cold brewed coffee or water
1C veg oil
2tsp vanilla
3tbsp cider vinegar (this part scared me)

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix in water or coffee, oil and vanilla.  Stir in vinegar.  Bake in 350F oven for 25-30 minutes.  Top with icing of your choosing :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Good Things

After my post on Saturday, alot of good started falling in my lap.  First a text came through from my younger brother asking if I'd like to run a 5K race with him.  This felt like just the kind of fun I needed to help my perspective.  But as quickly as I thought how fun that would be, looking at the calendar and the distances I still needed, disheartened me again.  There wasn't a way for me to run both a 5K on the weekend, and a long run as well, both due to physical limitations, but also balancing time to be with my family.  Then the phone rang and it was my Mom, asking how I was doing that day.  I filled her and my Dad in on how hard it is to get runs in during the week, how disheartened I'm feeling about my pace and distance.  The difficulty of finding the balance of doing these runs and being a Mom.  And my Mom jumped in without hesitation, and offered to watch the kids for me mid week, even getting one from the bus if needed, so I could do my 18K, and then be able to do the 5K race with my brother on the weekend.  Kind of like the Grinch, my running heart grew a little bigger again.  Things didn't look so bleak or hard.  My awesome family lifted me up.  And I think I have a plan going ahead.  Get this half marathon distance under my belt, then keep working away at that distance.  Then maybe next year, two years, when my body is ready, it will start to feel better/easier, and a marathon may come.  But for now, I have a great week of running ahead, and a plan going forward :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Journey of 16K

I didn't start my run until after the littlest woke from her nap.  I'm still nursing her, and runs are still planned around her needs right now (and mine. Not nursing and running this far seems like a sure sign of a disaster to come).  All that to say, I didn't hit the pavement until 2:45 in the afternoon.  I was hoping for an 18K run today, but my body starts to shut down after 10K which I'm having a hard time with emotionally.  I know I've come really far, but I've been churning out these longer distances for a few months now, and they should be getting easier.  But surely enough today at 11K I felt like I hit a wall, and those last few kilometers were pure mental will.  I felt like I could have pushed out 2 more K, but the clock won.  It was nearly 5pm and I needed to get back home to my people and dinner.  

I need to decide where I will go after this half marathon in February.  I know for sure a full marathon isn't in the near future, and that 10K would be a reasonable place for a Mom of three to settle.  But saying that and typing that feels disappointing to someone whose life used to be spent working around a marathon schedule. I need some time to think through it all so that my head and heart are in the same place.

Today I'm thankful for legs that can carry me 16K.  For shining sun, and a beautiful river.  For family and friends that cheer me on, and a hubby who makes my long run running needs a priority on our weekends.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Robots, a Duck and a Latte!

1.  I fixed A's hat.  I used my Moms idea and picked up stitches around the brim, knitting it long enough that when flipped up it would cover the cast on edge but also add extra length to cover his ears.  I tacked it down in four places to hold the brim up.  I do wish the extra length would have been incorporated as part of the main knit, but this works and will keep his ears and forehead warm.

2.  Emmitt, the beloved duck of my littlest.  C has a knack of chewing on his felted nose, and yesterday I decided some repair work needed to be done, as the poor thing was down to half a beak.  Rather than knitting in the round I knit it flat then seamed it.  I split the tails in half and used a small needle to attach it to the beak and Emmitt's noggin'.  C wasn't very impressed.  Tugging at it, passing E to me saying "off!" "off!".  She's tried a couple times this morning to show her protest, but poor Emmitt needed a new nose.  I think in time she will adjust to his new look er beak ;)

3.  I've been Facebook free for 9 days.  I'm not actually counting but I last logged on to say I was quitting on January 1st.  Ive done this before and really enjoyed the freedom being Facebook free provides.  It is such a time warp for me it's a bit ridiculous.  I'm still on Instagram, and on Ravelry, but both of those I can log on and log off without issue.  No more life lurking for me.

4.  One of my daily splurges is a latte.  I do have a machine at home, and only buy one out a couple times a week.  A free tall Starbucks latte landed in my inbox today though for the new Caramel Flan.  This seems like the sweetest drink on the planet - caramel whip, caramel topping, caramel flan syrup - gag.  But, it's free so I'm going to go for it.  Have you tried it?  What do you think?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Some runs go like this...

Winter this year has been colder than I remember years prior.  Or maybe that it is that years prior I wasn't attempting to train for a half marathon during the winter.  But either way, I see alot more of my treadmill, than the sidewalks.  This past weekend I woke to a temp of -32C, and found myself watching 'The Vow" on Netflix while pounding out 16K.  That was three days ago and today I was starting to feel the 'Runners Itch'.  (This is probably a real term meaning something horrible, but I describe it as the urge you get to go running when you haven't been in a few days).

It's lovely out today.  The sun is shining, it's only a few degrees below zero, and I had two options.  Hit the treadmilll during naptime, or wait to run when my hubby gets home and it's dark (and slightly colder).  The itch was strong, and I hate running in the dark, so I hit the treadmill.  To make it more fun I decided to run in these awesome new compression socks from Lunatik Athletics (which would probably require a whole seperate post).

I got 3K in and my son who had been watching cartoons, came and bounced around on the couches infront of me.  3.92K I heard my littlest crying from her crib, up an hour earlier than she would normally nap.  I was hoping to hit 5K so figured I would nurse her back down (this trick usually works).  It didn't.  And by now my son was also in the room rousing her even more.

I'm lucky to be at home and have the ability to run on a treadmill when little pockets of time during the day allow.  But many days home solo while trying to run, the run never really reaches it's full potential lol.

So today was 1K short.  One more run on Friday, then I'll try to hit the pathways and 18K on Saturday Eek!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cookie of the Month - Ninjabread Men!

My SIL told me about a 'Cake of the Month' idea she has been doing with a friend of hers.  I loved it, and decided for 2014 that I would do a cookie of the month.  It's hard enough for my family to finish a batch of cookies, so there is no way I could have us eating cake every month ;)  (Here's my trick.  I usually make the whole batch of cookie dough, then freeze half.  That way when the kids want cookies I can easily bring some dough out to thaw and pop them in the oven.  If you freeze them rolled into balls it makes the thawing and baking even easier! No more stale cookies) :)

January's cookie is inspired by a gift my son was given for his birthday.  A LOVES to bake, and a friend of ours gifted him some Ninjabread cookie cutters.  Aren't those fantastic?  A asked me on Sunday if we could make them and I had him wait until yesterday as I figured it was a great birthday activity to do :)

11 years ago (wow!) when my hubby and I were married, my SIL gifted me the Betty Crocker Wedding Cookbook.  It is my go to recipe book for almost everything.  The recipes always turn out great.  So when it came to looking for a gingerbread recipe for our Ninjas, it was this book that I turned to.

 The only downside about this recipe is that it would yield ALOT of gingerbread.  As I was running short on molasses, I split the recipe into thirds which ended up being a perfect amount, giving us two dozen Ninjas.

Gingerbread Cookies

1C packed brown sugar
1/3C shortening
1 1/2C dark molasses
2/3C cold water
7C all purpose flour
2tsp baking soda
2tsp ginger
1tsp ground allspice
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground cloves
1/2tsp salt

1.  Beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses and water in bowl with mixer on medium speed.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hrs.
2.  Heat oven to 350.
3.  Roll dough 1/4" thick on floured surface.  Cut with cookie cutters (or Ninjas!)
4.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched.  Cook on cookie rack.

The recipe above is the original amount so my guess is it would easily yield 60 cookies, or a gingerbread house :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Finished Knit - Robot Hat

I'd apologize for all the birthday themed posts, but as my eldest says "A is so lucky!  He has the first birthday of the year!"  I love her perspective, and I love birthdays :)  Fortunate for you (ha!) you get a shwack of birthday posts to start out the New Year with.

One of the things I love to do for my kids on their birthdays, is to gift them something handmade.  I expect that this will only last a few short years before they decide that they are too cool for their Moms gifts.  But, as long as they will let me, a handmade gift will be given.

This year for A, I made him a new hat.  I realized I haven't knit him a hat since his 2nd birthday, and it was getting much too small.  A quick search on Rav for "Robot hat" came up with this gem.  I followed the mods other people had done for the child size, and cast on 92 stitches.  After completing the hat, I agree that the childs size would have been too big, but the 92 is a big snug on my boy with a 21" head circumference.  I would suggest adding in a few stitches in between the robots (and dropping the final robot) to give it a bit more room.

I was also a bit concerned about the length and blocked it quite aggressively.  I still would prefer it have a bit more coverage over his forehead.  My Mom gave a great suggestion this am of picking up stitches around the brim, adding a couple of inches, and folding it over.  I might just do this as I'd like him to get a couple years out of it.

Oh and can't forget the pompom.  The last pompom I made (and my first) was a disaster and fell apart.  That was about 5 years ago.  I thought this hat really deserved a pompom, and used this awesome tutorial.  It's a great sturdy pompom that I'm not worried will disintegrate from the top of the hat (ha!).  I held all the different colours together and wrapped around my fingers about 40 times.  I then shaped it quite a bit to made it nice and thick.

Best part is A loves it!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Let there be cake!

Yesterday we celebrated our middle turning 4 (his actual birthday is on Monday).  This was his first friend party where he chose all the guests.  There were 6 kids from his preschool and two family friends.  Such a special special day.  The kids all did amazing with the Lego build (we had a company come in), and everyone enjoyed the cake.  I'm a bit timid sharing my creation here, but given it took me all day, I figured I would post it up :)

The idea came from a Betty Crocker tutorial, but once the cake was done, I figured I would try stacking them like A does his actual towers.  I also made two cakes (one chocolate, and one vanilla) so that I could make cupcakes for the parents.  With extra batter left, I used my mini loaf pan to make smaller Lego pieces.

The birthday boy loved it.  Even one of his guests who has never eaten cake, and claimed he didn't like cake, gave it a try and loved it :)

We still have about half leftover to celebrate with a second time tomorrow on his actual big day :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Making running a priority

Today started early, being woken at 6:30 by my littlest, soon joined by my eldest, then my middle.  By 8:30 they were licking the beaters, and we had As birthday cake in the oven.  From that point until 4:30, most of my time was spent working on his cake for his party tomorrow.  There was also groceries, a nap for the wee one, cartoons, but mostly cake.  Freezing, crumb coating, stacking, icing.  At one point I did think "this is why people buy cake".  It was shortly after that thought crossed my mind that my middle hugged my leg tight and said "is that my block cake!!!", and as I lifted the toddler up to see she exclaimed "WOW!".   That makes all those hours worth it.

While working on the cake, I also had pizza dough going in the bread maker.  My boy and my hubby both adore pizza, so I've decided 2014 is the year for pizza once a week.  By the time (4:30) the cake was complete, 5:30 (the pizza was eaten), and 6 (the babe was in bed), I sat down on the couch by the fireplace and DID NOT want to get up.  One of those days where a million things were completed but two very important tasks were left to do - clean the kitchen (again), and run.  I really wanted to do neither.

Somehow though, I got up off the couch, found some running clothes, and hit the treadmill.  The treadmill is the only way I get running in during the week.  I prefer to do it while the toddler is asleep, the big one (G) is at school, and while A is watching cartoons.  With three little ones, I don't manage to get in more than those two short runs a week, and one long run on the weekend.  I'm starting to feel ready to kick it up a notch, adding in core work, or making those short runs longer, but need to figure out how to do that and maintain a balance with everything else that goes on in our lives too.

Back in October, after running a 5K Thanksgiving run with my family, I decided to make running a priority.  I spoke with my hubby about it, and he was onboard with me taking the time I needed on the weekends to get in my longer run while he watched the kiddos.  Since that time, I've kept up with the three runs a week, and feel really proud I've been able to do that, when there are many nights like tonight, I'd like to do anything but put on my running shoes.

I have a half marathon scheduled to run at the beginning of February and the kilometers are creeping up.  This Sunday I have 16 to run.  A 2K jump from 14 last weekend.  My goal for February is to cross the finish line.  Preferably under 2:30, 2:15 would be a dream.

Sometimes I think of where I used to be before kids, and how much faster or more efficiently I ran.  Then I remember this slogan I read "focus on how far you've come, not how far you have left to go".  16 short months ago our littlest was born, and my first 10K since her birth was ran in June of 2013.  I look at going from there, to a half marathon in February, and am really proud of how far I have come in such a short amount of time.  I'd love a marathon under my belt again, but am doing my best to focus on the now, and then maybe that dream will one day come.

Here's a photo G snapped of me while I was running tonight :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lego Loot Bags

My middle will soon be turning 4, and he requested a birthday party this year.  We've always had one for him in the past, but this will be his first inviting friends from his preschool.  We've hired in a company to come and build Lego with the kids (I figure at the age of 3-5 it is best to have someone else responsible for controlling the kids lol).  My son ('A') LOVES to build so this is right up his alley.  He's been busy telling people he is having a 'block party'.

Today we set about making the loot bags.

I like to include the kids when it's something that is intended for their friends.  It adds for a bit more time and work involved, but they love being helpers.  My eldest who is 6.5 is becoming particularly good at helping with some of the more intricate tasks.  Today she added all the dots to the paper sacs to turn them into Lego bricks (I used a Stampin Up 1 1/4" circle punch, regular kids craft paper, and raised them up with foam dots).

A is just getting into drawing people, so I put him to work adding smiley faces to Lego heads I cut out of yellow craft paper.  While I got to work stuffing the items into the loot bags (Mega Blocks Smurf figurines, Lego stickers, a Minifigurine coloring page, and Candy Blox), A started cutting yellow paper.  He cut up an entire page and started adding them to the bags while saying his friends names :)  I loved that he wanted to do something all by himself for his buddies.

On the back of the Lego heads I wrote a little note thanking the guests for coming.  I think they turned out really cute and think A's friends will enjoy them :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year brings new things!

Happy New Year everyone!  I have been feeling for quite awhile that I wanted a space all to myself.  I loved my old blog but it was mostly to do about my kids, who I have been feeling I want less and less out there on the big ol web.  That's not to say that they won't cross these pages from time to time (as alot of my crafting does involve them), but this space is to focus on my pursuits - my love of running, knitting, and baking.

I'm lucky to have a great group of friends that I meet up with to knit and visit with, on an almost weekly basis.  For the past few years, one of us has created a yearly challenge.  This year, the challenge is a "create your own knitting adventure".  The premise is you choose a knitting project every month, and associate it to one of the following categories.  You can only choose a category once though, so I imagine by the end of the year, it's going to become quite tricky!

1.Knit something from your Favorite listing (must have been added at least 6 months prior to starting it) 
2.Knit something from your Queue listing (must have been added at least 6 months prior to starting it) 
3.Knit something for yourself 
4.Knit something for someone else 
5.Knit something for Christmas 
6.Knit something using a semi solid or solid yarn colour 
7.Knit something using a variegated yarn colour 
8.Knit something using a self-striping yarn 
9.Knit something as a surprise (must be kept at a secret WIP until gifted-this includes finding or borrowing your own “secret WIP” picture) 
10.Knit something using at least 2 colours of yarn 
11.Knit something that includes some kind of lace patterning 
12.Knit something with buttons, ties, beads or other embellishment 
13.Knit something that challenges you when you knit it (the reason it challenges you must be listed in the project notes such as; working on this project for three years, hate the knitted on border) 
14.Knit something for an event (the event must be listed in the project notes such as birthday gift for someone, baby arrival in April etc.)

To start off I'm knitting the Heather Hoodie Vest.  I cast it on in 2013, and after doing most of the back, it was put aside to do last minute holiday and birthday knitting.  It's so tempting with a New Year to pick up a new project, but I want to get some of my WIP's complete.  My extra challenge I'm continuing this year is to continue to knit down my stash.  Oh gosh HOW did I accumulate SO much yarn.  It's a good thing my husband is understanding of this wool indulgence.

I'm looking forward to sharing my pursuits with you - please leave comments!  I love to know people have stopped by :)