Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Winner revealed!

First off I have to give a BIG thank you to all who voted for my friend DeAnn.  The awesome news is that DeAnn got enough votes to make it into the finals!!!  She now has a 1 in 3 chance of winning 4 weeks at the biggest loser resort!  I can’t tell you how excited I am.  I talked to DeAnn and she was really overwhelmed with the support she has gotten and wants to thank all of you.  I will let you know if she is selected as one of the actual winners but for now, thank you, thank you for helping me get her in the finals.

Now the randomly selected winner of my favorite things package…

Megan from Stockinette Zombies! (awesome blog name)

Check out Megan’s blog where she and her friend Amy post videos and talk all things knitting while, you guessed it, knitting.  They are really cute and fun to watch. So tune in!

(Megan, I have emailed for your mailing address so just send it on over and I will send your package next week.)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Okay folks, I realize I haven’t been back in the blog world for that long so it might be a bit early to ask for your help but I am going to do it anyway.  I have a friend.  A great friend.  Her name is DeAnn and she is trying to do something amazing.  She wants to get healthy, lose weight, and change her life but is hoping for a little help.

Fitness Ridge (or the biggest loser resort) is holding a video contest and the top vote getters will receive 1 month FREE–an amazing opportunity for her to get some serious help to kick-start her journey.  DeAnn posted her video (if you look closely I make an appearance wearing one of my knits), was approved for judging, and we just found out she is #33 out of 124.  We have until January 15th to get her in the top ten.

I realize you don’t know my friend DeAnn but if you did you would know how worthy she is of this prize.  She is good, kind, funny, selfless, and completely deserving.  Win or lose, I will do whatever I can to help DeAnn with her goals but wouldn’t it be great if she could win this?

So…

I think it is time for another giveaway.  All you have to do is go here, vote for DeAnn, then leave a comment on this post that you did it.  For more chances to win, you can vote once a day until the 15th.  Just leave another comment and you will have another entry.

And what will you win?

I thought I would put together a “My Favorite Things” package.  Yarn, fabric, Hatch Family Chocolate, target gift card, peanut butter M&Ms and more will all make an appearance.  It will be good folks.  So all you have to do is vote and then tell me about it.  Simple right?

Thanks in advance. Oh, and knitting content is next. Promise.

A 2011 itemized list

Just so everything I experienced in 2011 is not forgotten, I thought is was time for a random, itemized list.

1. I have become completely obsessed with homemade popcorn. (And not the kind you microwave.) One weekend my lovely friend Shelley came to visit and shared with me a caramel popcorn recipe that is out of this world. I even bought a pan so I can cook my popcorn kernels better. I also make really yummy kettle corn and buttered popcorn.

2. I ate way too much popcorn in 2011.

3. After 13 years with my Honda Civic I decided to upgrade and bought a lovely Audi named Michael.  RIP Ali.

4. I bought an iPad in the spring.  Hands down the best and most used purchase of the year.

5. I probably could have saved more money in 2011.

6. My Canadian grandpa passed away in the fall after years of living with some pretty hard physical trials. He was a really good man and my mom delivered an exceptional eulogy that made me wish I had known him better.

7. If I die before them I want my Mom and Dad to speak at my funeral.

8. Baby sister Bri gave birth to baby number 2 on December 28th, a beautiful girl named Lydia.  I love her.

9. I am really glad Lydia wasn’t born on Christmas day.  That would be the worst.

10. I am addicted to Shellac manicures.  I love that it lasts 2-3 weeks and I love having color on my nails – even if my friend Laurel thinks it looks a bit tart-y. :)

11. My Mom and sister Kara and I like to watch British shows together.  It is the most fun.  Among my favorites this year was Sherlock, Middlemarch, and of course the exceptional Downton Abbey.  (How good was the Season 2 opener last Sunday? Answer: SO good.)

12. I recently taught knitting to a few new friends from church.  It has been a while since I have shared the craft and I like the feeling of having knitting children around.

13. Is it weird to call them “knitting children”?

14. I went to New York City with my Mom and sister in the fall.  Every time I visit the city there is a part of me that is sad I never lived there, if only to prove to smug New Yorkers that I can hack it too.  And I could.  But then I get home and sit in my car and drive to Super Target and realize that I am doing just fine where I am.

15. 2011 wasn’t the best year ever for me but it wasn’t bad either.

16. If you believe a myriad of mystical sources (Chinese horoscope, tarot cards, intuits) then 2012 is a big year for me.  As in good big.

17. I feel the need for a disclaimer: I am not calling the psychic hotline at night or anything. (Does that even exist anymore?)  The above prediction has been accumulated over the years, by different sources, and quite by chance.  Stop judging.

So I didn’t mean to take a blog break.  It is true that my crafty productivity has gone down quite a bit which is the reason for spotty posting in the first half of last year but then a lot of life stuff has been happening and frankly, I didn’t know how to proceed.  Part of me wants to share every detail of my life on the blog.  Then there is the other part of me that gets worked up over being too vulnerable on the internets.  So I put off posting. Next thing you know it is 7 months later.

Why am I posting now?  Well, my sister Kara basically told me I am not a blogger anymore.  That just didn’t sit right with me so here I am.  And after thinking about my reasons for having a blog, I realized I wanted to share and record my story.  So here goes…

About six months ago I woke up to numb feet.  It was strange but nothing too concerning because I could walk just fine.  It was just weird.  As the week progressed the numbness started spreading up my legs.  About 5 days in, the numbness was at my mid-thigh level.  It was super strange.  While at the gym that week I was talking to a friend about how weird my legs felt and that I knew something was wrong.  She promptly told me it sounds like a symptom of diabetes.  It didn’t matter that she followed that statement up with “but you don’t have diabetes”–in my mind, I was as good as diagnosed.

Since it wasn’t going away I went to instacare.  Instacare sent me to the emergency room.  The emergency room admitted me to the hospital with a diagnosis of Guillain–Barré. (Yeah, I had never heard of it either.)  As I was being wheeled up to my hospital room I couldn’t help but feel sheepish as I peeked into the rooms of my fellow hospital mates and saw legit sick people.  I kept thinking “I must have explained my symptoms wrong.”  Kind of like in the movies when sane people get checked into mental institutions…THAT is how I felt.

So there I was on a hospital bed feeling really silly.  So silly that when my friend played hangman with me in my room, the word she chose?…hypochondriac.  (We both thought that was pretty hysterical.)  The reason they needed me checked into the hospital was that GB can spread pretty quickly and if it spreads to your core then you can stop breathing pretty fast.  They woke me up throughout the night and made me blow into this contraption that gauged my breathing.  The next morning I met with a different doctor who started to doubt my diagnosis as he felt my symptoms were not completely consistent with GB.

After physical therapy and a 2 hour MRI I was starting to actually feel like I belonged in a hospital.  The doctor came in and informed me that as he suspected, their earlier diagnosis was not right.  Instead, it was pretty clear that I have Multiple Sclerosis .

For those who remember my previous fundraising efforts, my brother also lives with MS and for that reason I was a little surprised by the news.  MS does not have a strong biological link so it is not common for siblings to both have it.  When I first heard the news, my immediate thought was purely superficial.  Something along the lines of, “great, I’m never getting married now.”  I looked over at my Mom (who was thankfully visiting me when the doctor shared his news) and she maintained a pretty stoic face until he walked out and we shared a moment of emotion together.  These were the only tears I shed that weekend as I pretty quickly got into a good head space about the whole thing.

I was released from the hospital that night and spent the next few months waiting to see a specialist and figuring out the right treatment.  I am not yet on a therapy because I was under my work’s super economy insurance plan which didn’t cover “specialty medication”.  I was gratefully able to switch plans and with the dawn of a new year am ready to start on the road of treatment.

I realize that was super detailed and maybe more than you wanted to read but I felt the need to record the experience before it gets too far in my memory.

With this experience, I did learn some things about myself and life in general:

1. I have amazing friends and family.  Those who did learn of my situation immediately came to the rescue with love, support, and any practical needs fulfilled.  It is overwhelming to be in a position of receiving so much love and charity and it made me want to be a better and more thoughtful friend in return.

2. Stay away from chat and message boards when it relates to a medical condition.  You will always hear the worst case scenario stories that will make you want to crawl into the fetal position.  Just trust me.

3. The big thing with MS is that you don’t know how it will affect you or how severe it will be. In addition, the drugs they have available now are pretty great.  Who knows what other advances will be coming down the pike? Thus, there is no point in being depressed and obsessing over a future that is not determined yet.  (I think this perspective can apply to lots of things in life.)

As of now, I am doing really great.  I feel mostly normal and only deal with numbness when I engage in high impact activities like running or jumping.  My balance is not great but I don’t know if that is MS related or just because I am clumsy.  But really, I am doing great.

So there you go, my big story.  I am not telling you this so you will be sad or tell me how great I am or so that a bunch of people feel sorry for me.  In fact, that is mainly why I haven’t blogged about it to this point.  So really, no need for any of that.  (You know, if anyone is still reading my blog and/or this post.)  I just wanted you to know that I am still here and still have things to share.  I do hope you haven’t completely given up on me.

Talk soon. (I promise.)

I have never liked distance running.  In fact one could say I hated running.  I did it as much as I had to at the gym so I can stay fit but more than that never has appealed to me. I am just not a runner.  Which is why, for those who know me especially, the next sentence is a shocking one.

Today I ran a half marathon.  It was never on my bucket list of things to do.  In fact, I only signed up because for the past 6 months I have been the workout partner to my good friend Laurel who has been working her tail off (literally).  She made the decision then that she wanted to run a half-marathon and has been working to get her body into shape enough to do it since.  She inspires me and I signed up thinking I too wanted to run my tail off with her.

Thing is, I didn’t.  About a month after I signed up–and after my first few weeks of more intense running training–I remembered, I don’t like running.  Never have.  I don’t want to do it.  I don’t want to go for 8 mile training runs.  Or to have to think about chaffing.  Or eating Gu.  Or losing toenails (as my Mom assures me happens to serious runners.)  I shared my feelings with a few friends (including Laurel) and they all agreed.  There was no reason I had to run.

Relieved of the burden of running the half, I settled back into my normal workouts with Laurel.  The race was still her big goal and a huge milestone so I wanted her to succeed.  I knew she needed to do more running outside and not on a treadmill so a month or so ago we started longer runs at the park.  These runs were all about her so we ran at her pace and everything we did was to get her better prepared for her race.

Most people will tell you running is a mental game and I can attest to that.  After the first run it became clear to me that Laurel could physically make it on her own but the mental challenge would be the harder battle.  I was still registered for the race so I told her then that I would consider running it but only if she needed me to do it with her, at her pace, and just be her support.  She thought about it and accepted my offer.

So I have known I was going to run for about a month now and frankly, I wasn’t that excited about it.  This past week I had moments of “this just might be fun” but overall I thought my hatred of running would overpower the race and I imagined that I would feel a bit like a fraud at the finish line.

One of my favorite memories today was on the bus to the starting line.  It was 4AM and the bus was virtually driving the race course.  It was long.  So long in fact Laurel and I started to giggle.  “We are crazy!” “Why did we not drive this race before signing up to see what we were getting into?” “Would running a 10K first have killed you?” (This last one is from me to her.)

The race started about an hour and a half from the time we were dropped off by the bus.  It was dark and cold and reminded me of what a post-apocalyptic world would look like.  10 different bonfires were flaming and people were standing around trying to keep their bodies warm.  Once the race started I was ready to run just so I didn’t have to stand around anymore.

Laurel was amazing.  We have this thing were I will run a bit ahead and then look back and find her.  If she is okay she gives me a thumbs up and we keep moving.  All I got for the first 6 miles were thumbs up.  Perhaps because I didn’t need to focus so much on her in that time I slowly woke up to what was happening to me.  Once I hit mile 4 or 5 I had to acknowledge, I was having fun.  In fact, I was loving it.  I didn’t want to walk and I didn’t have my normal internal dialogue of “I hate this” running through my mind.

Things got a little more dicey for Laurel around mile 7 when she started to get a severe cramp in her calf.  We both walked and ran the next few miles which was discouraging for her because of how strong she started.  “I don’t want to stop running” she said in frustration.  I knew how she felt.  Thankfully, the race wasn’t over for either of us and there was no other option but to finish.

I started to feel like there should be a time when I took off at my own pace and finish the race for me.  At the same time I didn’t want to leave Laurel in the lurch–I told her I was running this race for her and so I didn’t want to leave her if she needed me.  We talked and she was struggling with pain but she wanted me to run too and I think she let me go and worked hard to make me think she was in a better place then she actually was.  (She is a good friend like that.)

Around mile 10.5 I left her and proceeded to run the final 3 miles.  I don’t know how to accurately describe how I felt except that the feelings I had in the first 6 miles had not gone away.  I was loving it–even when my breath started getting heavier and when my body started to hurt.  I further picked up my pace during the last mile stretch and then sprinted the last 200 meters to the finish line.  I thought I might faint for a minute but some water and chocolate milk made me feel a little more normal.

Laurel ran across the finish line about 15 minutes after I did.  And just like that, we were finishers.

Yay!

I learned several things during the race this morning that I want to record.

1. I am fitter than I think I am.

2. We humans, we can do hard things.

3. Some of the things we think of as hard, are probably easier than we thought.

I realize this is a long and involved post and I am impressed with anyone who has actually has made it this far.  I just felt it was important to document what happened to me today.  Some have said I was selfless in running the race with my friend’s needs in mind but the reality is she gave me an excuse to finish something I had committed to that I had so easily talked myself out of.  I needed Laurel to run this race.  If it weren’t for her I would never have attempted or finished it.  If I weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be now researching my next race.  (Which in and of itself kind of blows my mind.)  For this, among so many other things, I am deeply grateful to her.

Me after the run

Looks like I am a runner after all. Who knew?

Hexie Afghan

I should have finished this blanket a couple of months ago.  I could have.  Really, it is all Kara’s fault.  Let me explain…

The pattern calls for 39 hexagons.  When I was about 80% done, I laid out my completed hexagons to see how the colors were looking.  The color balance looked great but all laid out together the blanket looked a little small.  Now, I knew I wasn’t making a queen size quilt or anything but I was thinking the afghan would at least be big enough to cover my feet.  Knowing my blanket preferences, Kara looked at the laid out hexagons and declared there was no way I would be done at 39 hexes.  Her thought was I would need double the number I had.  Double!??!  I was deflated.  I did NOT want to be half-way done when I thought I was almost done.  So instead of hunkering down and getting back to work on my hexagons, I took a break.  I stopped all work on the blanket–just didn’t want to deal with it.

A month or so later I decided it was time to pick it up again.  I finished the initial 39 hexagons pretty quickly and seamed the blanket together, hoping on the off-chance it would be bigger than we imagined.  The blanket was in fact bigger but it was definitely still just a lap blanket.  Remember, I wanted something that would keep my body AND toes warm.  Thanks to my really long legs, the size of this afghan just didn’t cut it.  I knew I would need two more rows.  11 more hexagons.  This time though, seeing how beautiful the seamed hexagons looked made me super excited for the finished product.  So I got to work immediately and finished my longer afghan a week later.

Hexie Blanket fullLove.

Seriously, how can you not love these hexagons?  I loved crocheting them.  Choosing the color combos, watching the hexagon grow, completing one hex and then stacking it with other completed hexagons.  All very satisfying.

So many hexagons

As my first entry into crochet I thought this project was perfect.  Easy enough for a beginner like me to complete but cool looking enough that the end result does not feel beginner at all.

And even though I was grouchy about needing to crochet more hexagons, I am super glad I went ahead and did it.  Here is what the 39 hexagon afghan would have looked like:

Hexie blanket - too short

But my 50 hexagon afghan:

Hexie Blanket - perfect fit

Which results in me feeling:

Hexagon Blanket - happyHappy.

As you may be able to tell, I love it.  I think everyone should have a hexagon blanket!  And crochet?  No way is it trumping knitting but mark my words, this will not be the last time I pick up a hook.

Stats

Pattern: Ruby Hexagon Blanket by Nova

Yarn: Cascade 220 in many various colors.

Hook: G

Mods: Added two rows (one of 5 and one of 6) for length.

Hexie Blanket

Arnold the Peacock

I’ve never been able to get into embroidery.  Which is particularly funny considering how a couple years ago I decided I wanted to learn how and so in true Erin style I dived right in, bought a hoop, needles, special scissors, a rainbow of DMC floss colors, and a handy carrying case to keep all my embroidery supplies in…all before I had tried one stitch.  I am crazy like that.

I tried to do a couple things over the years but couldn’t really get excited about anything.  That is until I came across a free vintage pattern I found on the internets.  (The pattern takes a few clicks to get to and is part of a multi-page vintage embroidery booklet but I found the pattern here.)

I was really excited about this project but then became daunted by the idea of transferring the pattern from paper to fabric.  So, I put it aside and the project stalled until last weekend when I needed a distraction from my current project and so I figured out what I needed to do and got to work.

A week later…

Peacock Embroidery I am in love.

As you may or may not know, peacocks are male.  Mine is named Arnold.  I think he is very regal looking.  See what I mean?

Peacock head embroidery close up

My favorite part of the embroidery is the feathers.  I used only one strand of floss (as opposed to the two stands I used for the rest of the project) to give them a light feather-like feel.  I also love the gold floss.

Peacock feather embroidery close up

For the most part this was a fairly simple embroidery.  I only used back stitch and french knots.  It was an easy beginner project but so satisfying because the end result looks more advanced.  And just in case you are wondering, embroidery = super fun + really easy.  Perhaps my embroidery supplies investment wasn’t such a crazy idea after all.

Peacock embroidery 2

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.