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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!

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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.

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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.)

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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?

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Favorites of 2010

Inspired by a post I read on Jacey’s blog, I thought it would be fun to take a look back on 2010 by choosing some of my “favorites” from the year.  It was fun for me to compile, so hopefully you enjoy reading them too. Here goes:

Favorite knit: Carp

carp front

This knit took me so long to do, I can’t say it was my most favorite to knit but once completed I was so pleased with the result and really felt like I accomplished something challenging that was actually wearable.

Favorite meal: Shake & Sweet Potato Fries

I know this doesn’t sound like a meal (or a healthy one for that matter) but when I am trying to eat right and I need a little shake and fries fix I blend up my favorite shake (1 cup light chocolate soy milk, 1 small banana, 1 TBSP peanut butter, 8 ice cubes) and serve it with Alexia Sweet Potato fries (which can be found in the Natural Foods freezer section).  It is divine.

Favorite blog post: Erin in the 10’s

I had so much fun writing this decade-in-review post. When I read this blog I am reminded of how fast things change and of all the great experiences and blessings I have been given.  Both good things for me to remember.

Favorite purchase: Kindle

I was raised a reader and for most of my life have been a voracious one.  Admittedly, the last few years I have read less and less and had been missing reading (although obviously not enough to do something about it.) Enter, the Kindle.  I bought mine this fall when they came out with the new model and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I can take my Kindle everywhere and always have something great to read.  The battery lasts forever.  I can easily read in bed without needing to hold open a book with my hands.  When I hear about a book I just download a sample and never lose track of a recommendation.  In short, it is perfect for me and has brought reading back to my life.  For that alone I will forever love my Kindle.

Favorite sewing project: Twinkles

Ellie presents Twinkles

If I was picking my favorite end result I might have chosen my dress but in the end I had to go with this perfect day of sewing with my niece.  The day we made Twinkles was so blissfully creative and fun.  I can still remember her joy over our creating something together and hold that day among my most favorite ever.

Favorite home project: Living room chairs

Living Room Chairs AFTER

So what if I didn’t recover these myself.  I am so in love with how these chairs turned out.  I could only hope that the fabric I picked worked with the style of the chairs and when I saw the chairs for the first time when they were being delivered to my home I couldn’t have been happier.

Favorite arrival: Margaret (more commonly known as Maggie)

week+28

My brand new niece is pretty much the cutest baby ever.  Have you seen her cheeks?!?  I love her. So much.

Favorite TV on DVD: Prison Break

Thanks to Netflix I watched the entire series of Prison Break this year and became completely obsessed.  AWESOME show.  The first 2 seasons are the best, I didn’t love the 3rd, but the 4th and final season was a satisfactory end–plus, it has an ending which I always appreciate.  (There is nothing I can’t stand more than a show with a narrative storyline that is canceled and not allowed to wrap up.)

Favorite TV Show: The Good Wife

I wasn’t sure I would like The Good Wife when it started but it has grown to be the show I always choose to watch first when a new one records on my DVR.  I love the style of it and the complex characters and think the acting is perfect.  I do have to give a shout out to Parenthood though as my second runner up–it stands to reason that I would watch anything Lauren Graham is a part of but the sibling dynamic and the real (read: not soap opera-y) family drama makes this a must-see regardless.

Favorite trips: Chicago, Middle East

Us at the Bean

Us and the camels

I had some pretty amazing trips this year and am so grateful for these opportunities.  I am picking two trips (because I can)–one domestic (Chicago) and the other international (Middle East).  Chicago was the perfect long weekend trip.  I met up with long-time friends and we toured and walked and ate our way through the city.  It was perfect.  Then there was the Middle East.  I know I didn’t talk about this trip on my blog (Kara summed it up beautifully here and here and here and here) but this was two weeks and 4 countries with my parents and sister and was a trip I will remember for the rest of my life.

Favorite book: The Hunger Games

I didn’t want to pick The Hunger Games and even considered picking a less trendy book so I would appear well read and cool but in the end I have to be honest.  I delayed reading this book for the same superficial reasons that keep me from wanting to own it as my favorite.  Everyone had or was reading it and thus I wasn’t interested.  (It is for this same reason that I didn’t start reading Harry Potter until the 5th book was out.)  I ended up reading all 3 books in the series and enjoyed them all but The Hunger Games stands apart as the most compelling.  It is creative, shocking, and emotional and I loved it from the start.

Favorite movie: Pass

I didn’t see a lot of movies this year and of those I saw I didn’t really fall in love with any.  Although I am not willing to choose a favorite, I did enjoy Inception, The Social Network, and Tangled.

Favorite new period piece: Lark Rise to Candleford

I think this would be my favorite regardless but the fact that I watched all episodes of this gem of a show with my Mom and sister Kara helps solidify its status.  The show is light, emotional, funny, romantic, and sweet.  We laughed, we cried, we mimicked their country English accents…watching this show with Mom and Kara is among my favorite memories of the year.

Favorite picture: Standing in the Sea of Galilee

Me and Sea of Galilee

First, I think this picture makes me look really tiny so obviously that is one reason I love it.  Second, every time I look at it I can feel the cool, clear water from this sea with such a storied history.  Being there was a powerful experience for me and this picture reminds me of how I felt.

So there you go folks.  My favorites of 2010.  As you can see, it was a very good year.  I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!

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Wanted: Inspiration

Thanks to my blog and it’s handy archives, I have noticed a pattern with me.  At least over the past 4 years, I tend to get a little sluggish around this time of year.  The end of summer/pre-fall season.  I don’t want to knit or sew–can’t really think of anything I want to make.  I don’t want to cook or try new dishes.  I certainly don’t want to blog.  I am tired.  Bored.  Uninspired.  Simply put, in a funk.

If I could write this off as an isolated occurrence I would feel better but using my blog as evidence, this is a pattern.  This discovery is troubling to me.  Fall is my favorite season…or so I have always thought.  Actually no.  It is.  Fall is my favorite.  I love the weather and the food and the holidays and the clothes and everything about how it feels.  So why aren’t I anticipating it?  Gearing up?  Planning my fall adventures?

My worry is that (as in years past) the funk that falls over me bleeds a little too far into the actual season.  Thus spoiling, or at least preventing me from fully enjoying fall.  I am not sure how to snap out of it but I figure recognizing the pattern is my first step.  Second step…Inspiration.

My first thought was knitting.  I need to start knitting something I actually want to wear and make.  Everything I have started since I finished the carp hasn’t done anything for me.  I go to ravelry for the first time in ages and the first pattern I see…Delancey Cardigan!  Ummm…I love it!  Looks different and fun to make.  Plus it looks like something that would actually look good on me.

Could this be it?  The answer to my post-summer/pre-fall funk?  Maybe it is that easy but just to be safe I think I need a little more inspiration to wake my soul up a bit.  So I was thinking, maybe you guys (the faithful still reading my blog) could help me out.  What has been inspiring/exciting you lately?  Doesn’t need to be knitting or craft related–really anything: a recipe, pattern, song, book, quote, activity…whatever.  Thanks in advance.  As you can see, I can really use your help.

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Just in case you were wondering if the shoes I made little Maggie before she was born fit…wonder no more.

Sigh.

I love her feet.  I love these shoes.  I love her.

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